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Thread: Primo giro d'Italia

  1. #1
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    Apr 2010
    Terra Firma

    Primo giro d'Italia

    Prima parte

    This one has been a while in the making. If there is one place to go and see the MotoGP then the San Marino GP is one of the must do's.

    A group of us has decided to attend the meeting but because of the fear of flying I elected to take the bike down to visit the
    eyeties and in the process explore a bit more of this world. It didn't start well. By my own stupidity I deleted a few photos of the
    start of the trip

    Sunday evening we beat a trail to Ashford to stay over for the night. On the way there we pass the Moto GP trucks. On a tighter schedule
    than us to get to San Marino. The air is warm and the view at night on the QE II bridge over the industrial area is something I rarely
    see and my missus even less. A good sleep, an early rise and a train to Calais. Just in time to see the people arriving to protest the
    migrant camp which has made the news for the wrong reasons.

    The road was very monotonous but before Bastogne we turn off to enjoy the country side. Not planning on the detour we encountered so we double
    back and try another way leading us past a bridge destroyed by the Americans before crossing a farmers field to join the road into Bastogne. A stop
    in the centre of Bastogne to enjoy some of the irresistible cuisine.

    Onwards to Vianden and another detour through a village where roadworks force you through a farmers yard. Fun for me but the missus is a
    bit more concerned. And so the operator failed his satnav practical which lead us to some really good roads and eventually Vianden which
    comes into view as you round the corner.

    I, I mean we, liked the place but not the restaurant were we ate. This place is to be avoided in
    the future together with the hotel next to a very busy road. You live and learn.

    The next morning is straight out of a children's book with layers of fog drifting through the forest. Beautiful. The roads leads us away and
    out of the forest and into sunshine.

    Here once again the operator failed his resit of the nav exam. Fear not for he is stubborn and failure
    is not an option. Onwards through the Northern Vosges, lunch break in Haguenau, before crossing the Rhine to Baden Baden and the B500.

    Afternoon tea is at Mummelsee and we beat a path to our overnight accommodation near Engen. The place has some dramatic views across southern
    Germany, the Bodensee and into Switzerland.

    Next morning the sunrise has me reaching for the phone. Such a view is rarely seen and I click away. Also spotted the couple downstairs who
    made quite an enthusiastic noise last night

    From previous dispensed advice I knew the road to Lindau is going to be busy and it was.
    Somewhere we stop for a brief coffee and snack and a chance meeting with some bikers on a holiday. We will see more of them later on.

    Eventually made it to the Alpenstrasse. Now it is starting to feel like a holiday. It is beautiful in the crisp clear air and the mountains tower over you.

    The road snakes through the green valley past alpine cottages and blue lakes. You breathe the fresh air and all is right in the world. The
    missus clicks away happily on the back of the bike. Immenstadt calls for a toilet break and a chance to replenish the food stock for later
    consumption. Also a good place to meet Ausies, the bloke kept me amused for a good 10 minutes before we set off. The sausage we bought is on
    my mind. The Hahntenn Joch provides the opportunity to sample the local delicatessen and enjoy the views. Loads of cars and bikes out today.
    Some flashy, some a bit more workhorse like. We are heading to the tourist mecca of Imst and Oetz.

    It is cooking in the valleys and the spots of shadow provides some relief until we climb the pass again. The deeper you go into the valley
    the steeper the climb out of it is going to be. The Timmelsjoch does not disappoint. The view from the top is breathtaking. The restaurant
    is most definitely recommended. At the altitude the sun beats down on you. With a cool breeze blowing we seek out the leeward sunny side and
    relax with a milkshake. This is a spectacular pass and a lesson in road building practises. The Italian side is narrower and seems steeper. The
    road surface is also noticeable poorer.

    It has been a long day and we still have some distance to cover. 2 more passes before we laid eyes on Vipiteno and 15 minutes later we stop at
    a selfcatering holiday let in Reisenschuh. Perfectly positioned for a trip up the ski lift and magnificent views of the surrounding mountains.
    The hosts are most welcoming and I suspect the hostess would set Flatdogs trousers on fire A small restaurant nearby provides the last meal of
    the day, traditional Italian pizza before we retired to a good nights sleep.

    What I come to appreciate of the mountains is the clear crisp air, the views and the reflection of the morning sun on the mountain peaks. It
    is food for the soul and you drink it up never to tire of it. With a clear head and purpose we set off. Today would be a proper introduction to
    the Italian way of building roads. Vipetino to Bolzano Bozen avoiding the motorway. The road twist and turns with switchback after switchback
    of narrow road until you reach the top. We found ourselves overlooking the Penser Joch early in the morning. From here we drop down into the
    valley to follow the road all the way to Bolzano Bozen. It is a road that eggs you on notwithstanding the undulations caused by years of neglect
    and patchwork repairs. It is fast and flowing interrupted by little settlements and light traffic.

    Bolzano Bozen is our gateway to the Dolomites and we waste no time there. Ferrari, Lamborgini and Fiat tractors. You will find them all on the
    road and on the slopes covered in vineyards. By now we can see the Dolomites. For a biker the Dolomites is tarmac heaven with the sights to go
    with it. During the course of the day we navigate more passes that you can shake a stick at but the ultimate goal is to ride the Passo Di Giau.
    I have first seen it on the KTM Super Duke GT launch video. Rest assured. It doesn't disappoint. No wonder this place is a UNESCO world heritage
    site. You have to see it for yourself because no words can desribe the sight of the pale limestone peaks. Sturdy and strong as it can never me
    moved and as old as earth itself. It attracts all sorts of adventurers but for today it seems the conditions are right for paragliding. Leaving
    it behind via Passo Pordoi we descend down the mountains into the valley. Another comfort break before we deviate slightly to avoid the string
    of cars forming on the road to Cavalese. And so we stumbled on the Passo Lavaze or the SS620. This road rewards an aggressive approach to ragging
    a loaded GSA up and down and round the corners. For once the tarmac is smooth and predictable. It was a joy playing the gears up and down the box.
    The missus is protesting and making promises of a severe see to when we stop. Well, better make it worth it.

    Cavalese gives the impression of being a sleepy town. We have opted for a hotel south of the village with a swimming pool to relax in. That
    evening we indulged ourselves and took a walk in the eveing to see more of our surroundings before bed time. Cavalese would be the last stop
    in the mountains for us before arriving in Cattolica. It was with some anticipation that we set off on the Friday to join the group arriving
    during the day in Cattolica. Instead of going to Trento and then down to Verona we took the road to the south of the river out of Castello di
    Fiemme. The road winds its way round the slope of the mountain loosely following the river. It is early morning and in the shadow so we are
    gratefull for the extra time in the cool morning air. The traffic is light and the pace makes for a comfortable ride as the miles click by.
    Then we turn off to cross the mountain and instantly we are back on the now familiar crappy Italian roads. The GSA soaks it up. In the mean
    time my mandibular molers are swimming and despite the effort of searching for a toilet near Lake Caldonazza relief had to wait till we found
    a secluded spot on another pass a mile or 2 away.

    By now the weather has set the tone for the weekend as we travel further south. It is getting
    hotter and the camelback is refilled more often. We are in the sticks and get a good view of what Italian life is like in the rural areas.
    God knows how they cope driving from one village to anther. A stop somewhere for a break and restocking our supplies with a surprising poster
    in the mens room

    As a last goodbye the mountains rewards us with another unexpected good road and I make the most of it unaware of how tedious the rest of the
    day is going to be. By midday we made it to Camisino. Here the landscape changes in a dramatic way. You arrive at the edge of the mountainous
    plateau and the floor drops away as you wind your way down numerous switchbacks with the equivalent of the fens stretched out as far as the eye
    could see. This is the agricultural heartland of the north. From here there is not much excitement apart from what the traffic can dish up.
    A few stops to refill the camelback and rest in the choking heat with all that protective gear on. Getting to Cattolica is the only mission and
    the roads are straight and fast. Ducati and Ferrari will have to wait for another visit.

    Fine della prima parte

  2. #2
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    Jun 2007
    Galway Ireland
    Really good, thanks for posting.

  3. #3
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    Jun 2012
    Apart from the strange bit about holding another mans todger it was great and thanks for posting.

  4. #4
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    Apr 2010
    Terra Firma

    Seconda parte

    We made it to the seaside resort that has become home to many a Moto GP rider in the past few years. Probably because of VR46 being situated
    close by. Even Frankie Chili is rumored to have a beach nearby. The hotel is located on one of the main roads and easy to find. Close to the
    beach and about 40 minutes walk to the track. The afternoon is spend relaxing on the pool side and walking along the beach. This pretty much
    sets the rhythm for the rest of the weekend.

    Saturday and it would be rude not to take the missus to go and see the country of San Marino. As part of a group we booked an organised tour.
    You cannot miss the imposing hill that the old town is build on. I must say that the history of the region is interesting and the government
    certainly different to what we experience here in Blighty. The weekend festivities included a food celebration at the old part of San Marino.
    It is a proper tourist trap and a big part of the finances is made up by tourism.

    Unfortunately we didn't make it to Sic's memorial. It is on the list. A must do is the visit to Tavullia. The town has become an international
    attraction. You pass the VR46 HQ on your way there. The ranch you can spot in the distance. But then you have to find parking for the bike.
    Bloody hell. The place is brighter than the sun with all the yellow about. No point in breaking out the Spartan colours Best to play along and
    get your official Rossi T-shirt from the shop. Just a mention about the local roads. The worst one is the road that leads to Tavullia.

    That evening we spend a bit more time out and about ending up in the pre Moto GP party which probably would be the season ending party. There
    is a lot of yellow and you don't spot much of anything else. Being foreigners we did as the Romans do. Drink copious amounts of alcohol, party
    like the locals and stagger like the locals No yobbos about and everybody is in the mood for a good time. For some the good time would carry
    over to the next day but with more of an aftertaste like chocolate covered brussel sprouts. Plenty of swimming pools on our way back to take
    a dip in. One thing you do notice about the locals is the varying degrees of tan. From bronze like the characters in Spartacus to a something
    that would not look out of place in Africa. We are of course easily identified by the pale skin.

    Race day. And in Cattolica it starts early. We are woken by the traffic as first a trickle of yellow and then later a whole wave of yellow floods
    the streets. Some walk, some on scooters, some in buses, some stuck in the traffic. We walk. A brisk pace sees you there in 40 minutes or so with
    time for a refreshment on the way. The Brutupela stand is at the far end where you are issued a flag. This has to be prominently displayed and
    waved with vigor when the man comes past. A few riders are singled out for special treatment from the spectators. As chance will have it we were
    seated next to Khulu and his missus. Having never met them it was quickly discovered that 2 saffas were sat next to each other. I was there to
    watch Brad Binder win another GP. Watching Rossi was a bonus The atmosphere is phenomenal and it carries you on till the end. And where else than
    in Italy can you invade the track. Brilliant. Everybody made their way to the podium waiting for the man to appear like the messiah and make a short
    speech. Something to experience for yourself.

    One issue with walking to the circuit is that you have to walk back. This proved a bit too much for the missus with her shoes so I carried her for
    the last few hundred yards. No sweat and some brownie points booked. Another afternoon at the swimming pool and a walk along the beach before we turn
    in. The next morning we take one last walk on the beach and then saddle up, say our goodbyes and slip away into the Monday traffic.

    Fine della seconda parte

  5. #5
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    Jun 2007
    Galway Ireland
    When we did San Marino we stayed on the coast near Ravenna.
    It was wonderful.

  6. #6
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    May 2010
    Falkirk, Scotland
    Great trip and photos, takes me back to the Dolomites tour a few years ago - fantastic roads and scenery.

  7. #7
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    Mar 2016
    Speaking of "Poster" above......

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    All the best.....


  8. #8
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    Apr 2010
    Terra Firma

    Parte terza

    Tuscany. A dream destination depicted as idilic by many a TV house hunting program. In reality it is just an extension of rural Italy where the roads
    are so so. A bit further on and the views come into play. We were stuck in a valley for some distance but now we are climbing into the hills. At some
    places you have a view of the green leafy hills. We pass some small settlements. The buildings are a bit delapidated. Small enclosures keep next years
    ham or tomorrows milk and patches of orchards populate the surrounding hillsides. Small settlements surround the bigger towns and it is a one such
    town where there is a market and an impromtu stop to rest and sample some icecream. We are about halfway to Florence. The nature of the roads and the
    route we chose makes for a slower pace today and we are settling in after the weekend in Cattolica. By mid afternoon we skirt around Florence and
    take the most boring road to Livorno. South of Livorno we pulled into a holiday camp. Lucky for us the girl at the counter speaks 3 lanuages fluently.
    We settle in and head to an outlook over the west towards the sea where we are rewarded with a beautiful sunset.

    Since we are not far from Pisa a stop was planned before we carried on to Genoa. Regarding Pisa. It is a proper tourist trap like I have not seen.
    Maybe because all that there is to see is in such a small space. It is worth the visit just to lay eyes on the art created by masters. If I have to
    dispence advice it would be to go there early in the morning.

    For the rest of the way we would follow the toll road before we turn off and head towards La Spezia. From here the road takes us into what is called
    the Cinque Terre. La Spezia is a port where you can catch a ferry to one of the towns located along the rugged coast. One is a beautiful and colourfull
    town called Riomaggiore. It is said curiosity killed the cat. I was curious to see what there is in this part of the world. The roads are very twisty
    and narrow. Some places it is barely wide enough to get a car and bike through. You ride with anticipation trying to keep one eye on the road and one
    on the views afforded over the inaccessable coast. Industry here is agriculture. On hills this steep they laid out terraces for olives and fruit trees.
    Once every often we pass a little tractor mounted on a rail system to carry the harvest and people up and down the slopes. It is steep and working in
    the orchards must be hard work. The day is hot and the only breeze is when the bike is moving. We stop for a rest at one of the more accessable seeside
    towns for a break. We would rejoin the toll road near Sestri Levante but not before we ride through what must be the longest single track road through
    a mountain. And it is not straight. It has corners and goes up and down and provides respite from the heat of the day. Rain looms ahead and we opt to
    change to waterproofs which adds to the misery of the day. By now I wanted to get to our destination. It didn't help that instead of stopping to pick
    up a ticket at the toll gate I carried on. Luckily the toll road is a fairly quick way to travel. After a bit of a wait at the exit toll gate and a wrong
    turn we ended up at our hotel. By now I was a bit irratated and the atmosphere around me was not a loving place for my missus to be. A good nights sleep
    set me right and a bit of a word from the missus pointed out the error of my ways.

    Rising and feeling much better we set off, once again heading into the hills to have a picnick for breakfast. The roads twist and turns but now the
    scenery changes. The hills are lower and the slopes not as steep. There are more grass and no sea view anymore as we travel inland. The mood is
    lightharted and we find a few good roads. Another break to eat something on the beach near a place called Savona. A blast along the toll road and a
    wrong turn somewhere lands us on what must be one of the best roads in that part of the counrty. The SS28. The tarmac is smooth and the course set by
    it is just the right amount and grade of corners to keep you enthusiastically entertaining yourself. This will not last and as we near the more
    major towns the traffic increases and more trucks crowd the tarmac. We arrive a bit earlier than we thought in Borgo San Dalmazzo to found our
    overnight stay. The owner of the B&B let me park in the underground garage. It gives the impression of an upmarket place for a reasonable price.
    That night it rains.

    The morning air is a crisp and the ground wet with clouds lingering around the mountain tops. From here we had a choice of routes on the way back.
    Colle Della Maddalena was closed and we didn't fancy to much of a twisty road today. Follow the SS21 to the west and at Vinadio turn left onto the SP255.
    This road leads you up into a mountain range which on the Italian side is spectacularly beautiful. It is what a pass should look like. We even spot a
    marmot near the road. Pass a herd of white cows grazing on the lush grass before we break through the tree line and another scenery delight greet us. It
    is cold and strong breeze adds to the chill. There is few others at the top. 2 bikes were parked up and a car pulls out and dissapear down the Italian
    side. A photo at the top of Col de la Lombarde and we make our way down the other side past the remnants of the French fortification. This fortification
    was part of the alpine extention of the Maginot line. Immediately the difference in tarmac is noticeable. As we head down the mountain into the valley
    we set course for anther pass.

    A spirited ride down what must be a short level road before we turn off and start climbing again. We are lucky. The sky is clear given a few clouds
    and the view to our next destination plays peek-a-boo through the trees and hills and the road winds its way higher. There is not much of a tree
    line here. Grass gives way to different coloured rocks and soil. There are loads of cyclists coming downhill. We can see the outcrop which is known
    as Cime de la Bonette. The air is thin and it is realy cold. We park up on what little parking space there is. Cyclists arrive one after the other
    to have their photo taken at the marker. We follow suit after a meal at the top whatching the eagles soar beneath you and the marmots grazing on
    the slope. The road back leads us past Jausiers, Col de Vars, where a stop is called for to sample some French desert, Briancon, Col da Lautaret
    and Grenoble. As we enter Grenoble the feeling descends that we are nearing the end of the trip. You can feel the pull of home.

    Fine parte tre

  9. #9
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    May 2009
    Stafford uk
    Great RR doing a similar trip this summer & stopping Cattolica for a week

  10. #10
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    Feb 2012
    Great trip your having,keep us up to date..

  11. #11
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    Apr 2010
    Terra Firma
    Quarta parte

    It is time to finnish this ride report.

    After a late night in Grenoble eating al fresco we could feel colder air moving in. The weather forecast looked dire and we had a lot of miles to
    cover to our next overnight stop. The alternative was to take the motorway rather than spending a miserable time getting wet on D roads. So the
    motorway it was. Very dull as you can imagine but the bonus was we routed around the weather and had a mostly dry ride al be it a bit quickish.
    It is very easy to find the Hotel Kyriad in Troyes, right next door to the Conforama and petrol station. The hotel is a new build and the decor
    is light and modern. Even has a underground secure car park round the back. Perfect spot. A trip into the town for the afternoon for a bit of
    look see. By chance we bumped into a couple we met on the motorway filling station. Troyes promises to be a good place for a more cultured
    approach to sight seeing and we enjoyed the time we spend in the old part of town. Lots of leaning buildings. We will be back.

    We had our fill at one of the restuarants and got back to the hotel just as the heavens opened. The weatherforecast promised much of the same
    the next day. I guess it will be motorway again. A bit of a anticlimax for the last day in France. We elected not to have breakfast at the hotel
    but instead stopped at a shop nearby for some traditional French ingredients for a midmorning snack. It was raining. We managed to ride out of
    the path of the rain clouds. At St Quinten we turned off for a detour. I had to pay my respect to the men of the 1st SA Infantry Brigade who fell
    at Delville Wood. This is a stopover every time we visit France. It is so peacefull and well kept. No South African Graves there. The men who
    perished in the battle were blown to pieces and little could be recovered for burial. The whole of the place is a burial ground.

    From Longuval it is a short hop to another one of our favourite stops along the route. A little patesserie in Arras. Located in the Place des
    Heroes it has ample parking for cars and bikes. Except this time. Ignoring the detour signs I rode through the market (the market was packing up
    but still required some nifty maneuvering) to park outside the shop. The owner was a bit upset but relaxed as soon as we told her we are there to
    visit her shop. Seemingly eager now to serve us coffee and cake. Plus a takeaway to enjoy at home and a few snacks for when we are on the train.


  12. #12
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    Apr 2010
    Terra Firma

    We were looking forward to this trip. It is was to be the longest we have spend on the bike together touring. A massive thanks to Simon Weir from
    Ride Magazine who emailed suggestions for a route. Thanks Simon. The planning had to be done in such a way so we had ample time for stops but
    still made good progress. One way of keeping the costs down was to buy our food for the day from a supermarket and have a picnic along the road
    somewhere with a view or shade halfway through the morning. I had a camelback that I carried so we could drink on the fly and that proved to be
    invaluable. Only thing is that I got tired with it on so we swapped and it worked much better with the missus carrying it. The days alternated
    between long and short days. The first day in the Alps was too long. I could feel the enjoyment being sapped by the endless hairpins on the Italian
    side on our way to Vipiteno. Also, if a road looks nice and twisty on a map in Italy then it is twisty but not nice after endless blind bends.
    Coming back from the trip I would have impressed any RoSPA examiner . Italian cities are an acquired taste. Fly there, do the tourist thing and fly
    back. The traffic and driving standards is not worth it. The Alps is a must. A motorcycle was designed to ride up and down those passes. Do it
    and then go back for more. The missus and me had a bit of a scratch on the way back but all was forgiven. It is important that you get along with
    whoever goes with you on a trip of any length. As for Italian tolls, miss a ticket at a toll gate and at the next one you will be issued with a
    fine/payment notice for the lenght of the toll road. However you can certify where you joined the toll road and only pay that bit when you are
    back in blighty. Don't take the piss though as they do check. We prebooked our stayovers and chose what looked like a reasonable price. Don't be
    fooled though. Our room in Vianden was small and faced a busy road so at 4am the trucks were rumbling past. If you plan to book near a city of any
    prominence then book it well in advance. I lingered on a place in Genoa and ended up with an adequate but souless room outside of Genoa. Or maybe
    it was just how I felt after a not so enjoyable ride with endless blind bends at 30mph or less. The shorter the day in the mountains the better
    and the more you have the chance to soak in the views.

    Since this trip the GSA has rarely moved. It has made any ride in the UK mediocore. I want more of the mountains and empty roads. You have been warned.

    Thank you very much for reading this and enjoy your trips. I enjoy reading about it and dreaming of going where you have been.


  13. #13
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    Feb 2007
    Ilkeston, Derbyshire
    Excellent report. Thank you for putting the effort in and posting it.
    Confirmed Boxer Addict

  14. #14
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    Feb 2015
    Good report

    We're going this year but because we're short on time and a bit stupid the plan is to take the car and drive down on the Thursday in one hit, have three days at the circuit then drive back in one go on the Monday. Because I like beer and the wife doesn't like walking we're taking push bikes to get from our hotel to the circuit and then into town for an evening blast so I'm expecting to fall off at least once.

  15. #15
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    Terra Firma
    Thanks for the comments. It is a very long way to drive. All good and well till you get to the Italian motorways and you will need your wits about.

  16. #16
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    Mar 2009
    Excellent, Really enjoyed that Sunday morning read.

    Sent from my SM-T580 using Tapatalk

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