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Old 12-04-2008, 03:14 PM   #16
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Nice

Thanks for the Euro fix... it sure beats riding around here

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Old 12-04-2008, 05:10 PM   #17
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Talking Nine passes in one day

Le Ballon d’Alsaces, was nothing more than a rite of passage, it had been foggy, cold, and dusk was settling in. Both of us were ready for a more positive experience for our next mountain pass.

Today would truly be a learning day for Valentino.

Under a beautiful, sunny, warm spring day, Viviane and Gilles both experience mountain riders on their DR 650, took us on a 250 km ride that turned out to be an experience of a lifetime, pure adrenaline rush, between breath taking scenery.



We left Vif at about 10:00 and headed towards le Pont du Brion over a river giving life to an electricity producing damn on le plateau de Trièves.



From there we had an impressive view of le Mont de l’Aiguille, one of the most recognizable peaks of this region of the French Alps.



We then headed through our first pass of the day, on la route du Col de Menée, where my riding skills were quickly put to the test by several hairpin turns, thigh S turns and even tighter U’s.

Two Happy people


Our second stage in the twisties was le Cirque d’Archiane, where we stopped for a pic-nick.



Too tie the morning up we stopped in the medieval village of Chatillon en Dios, the pillions indulge in a cold local beer, and the riders in a stiff espresso.



Europe is so civilized!

The sun was shinning and we decided to go for a walk through the village, where we met a local elder who explained to us that the reason that all the narrow streets in the village have the prefix Viol (rape in French) ahead of their name had nothing to do with the violent act, but more with an old French deformation of the latin Via (for way).



One more


Relieved by her explanation and slightly less dumb, we went on, on our visit. There I drank from the fountain’s icy cold water flowing down from the glacier high above us.



Gilles then asked me if I was now ready to go for a ride? This morning’s passes, at some 1450 meters were just a warm up. Be ready he said. And so we headed to la route du Col de Rousset, and le Col d’Alexis.











There we stopped and spent a few moments reflecting on the lives lost, and to the memory of the French resistance who took heavy casualties as they combatted the German oppression during WWII (La Flamme ne s’éteindra jamais).



Next we headed to le Col de la Chau, after which we stopped at le Font d’Urle, a natural wind tunnel. Hold on to your hat because if you drop your done.



Just a bit windy


We made our way back down to the plains, contemplating the green pastures of the valley, and passed la Forêt de Lente where the wolves still roam free.



Next would be the most challenging, and breathtaking ride of the day as we took le Col de la Machine, and headed for la route de Combe Laval, where the road literally carved out of the mountain was not more then a few meters wide, and wrap by spectacular sheer cliffs dropping more than 400 meters deep.





Needless to say that my piloting abilities were improving by the minute, or should I say by the meter.

And the classic

Entering


A quick look back


Just a few more




This one


And that one


Lots of really cool french bikers


We winded down the pass and made a panoramic stop at the village of Pont en Royans with its typical houses build over water.

From far


From close

Just one more said Gilles with a grin as we headed for la Gorge de la Bourne, and winded down le Col St Nizier before stopping at a cheese-maker's shop to purchase some traditional goat, and lamb cheeses.
Did I mentioned that Europe is civilized already?



We made a last scenic view stop of Grenoble lying flat deep in the valley surrounded by the magnificent white peaks of le Massif de Belledonne, and the rest of the white powdered tips of the Alps.

Far to the outstretch of the horizon, stood out like a king among its court, the majestic Mont Blanc.



Wow! what a day it had been, both of us dizzy from such breath taking beauty. Try to remember the last time you did a 250 km ride, and never had a chance to hit 3rd gear before it was time for the next curve.

Well that’s the kind of day it was for us in this part of the world.

Tuesday we head West through the Massif Central for a night in Aurillac, to the Atlantic coast of France, along the coast to cross the Pyrenees, and enter into Spain.

Till then...
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The motorcycle chronicles of Jackie & Valentino
The Southern Episode

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Old 12-04-2008, 05:41 PM   #18
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Great ride report so far and a history lesson , awsome.

Amsterdam is such a great city , we were there a few months ago and had a great time . I had a blood test today for a new life ins policy and hope all that fun we had isn't going to come back and bite me in the ass !!!
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Old 12-04-2008, 05:50 PM   #19
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Keep it coming...

Those are some great pics right there...I got a little nervous about being close to the edge on that road
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Old 12-04-2008, 07:27 PM   #20
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I just got back from two weeks in Belgium and Germany with a stop in Amsterdam. Was over there for work, rented a K1200R and took a trip to the Nordschliefe. Best 70 euro I've ever spent.

Thanks for helping me remember what I'm missing.

Ian
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Old 12-04-2008, 08:51 PM   #21
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Cool2 Heading for the coast

Vif lies in the Alps, just a few kilometers from Grenoble, the flattest city of France, surrounded by one of the most magnificent mountain range in the world. As we rode into the village of Vif the day prior to this amazing ride, I stopped to ask for direction since GP (that’s how Jackie named the Zumo, everything and everybody’s got a name for this adventure), was slightly confused, due to major construction been done on the streets:

“ I am not lost, just recalculating” says GP.

At that very moment, a pleasant and smiling, friendly teenage girl walks up to us and says: “bonjour c’est Eloise”.

Eloïse? I replied, how is that possible?

She was maybe 4 or 5 last time I saw her. Serendipity had struck again, one of the daughters of our friends surely had an excellent sense of timing.

Jackie stepped off ST, received a warm embrace, and both of them slowly guided me home through the narrow streets of the village of Vif.

The night coming back from our fantastic ride, we had a great meal together, feasted on a stew of crayfish and chicken, a side-dish of Gratin Dauphinois, a sampling of local cheeses, and a home made strawberry tart for desert.

Resonating from the stereo speakers’, Mano Negra, and Manu Chao kept us entertained.



If my memory serves me right, there might have been a copious amount of wine involved. On that topic, I have been trying to keep track, and I think this is where we stand so far:

Cheese:

Chalancé, une epoisse affinée au marc de Bourgogne.
Cancouillotte du Franc Conté.
Petit Livarot de Pays d’Auge.
Morbier du Juras
Munster Cumin-Carvi, production locale.
Bleu Brest du Juras
Beaufort.
Laguiole.
Bleu de Sassnage.
Chêvre sec et Chêvre crémeux du Vercors.
Ti-Loup.
Reblochond.
Carré à la Sauge produits du Diois.
Cantal, region d’Ardèche.

And Wines (those are the ones I could remember)

Clairette de Die.
Cerdon Rosé, du Bugey region Bourg en Bresse.
Crémant production Mousseux local.
Graves.
Gewitztraminer Grand Cru 1974.
Rosé Pinot Noir.
Chateau Neuf du Pape.

Although Viviane (our host), and I have only met but a few times, we are deeply bonded to each other. To understand this bond, you need to know that as the war was raging through Europe, both our grandmothers Simone and Liliane already friends for quite some time would give birth to two girls. As the war ended the daughters would become equally close growing up in the sleepy village of Les Essars le Roi, no to far from Paris.
They in turn would each have their first child named Viviane and René, (aka Valentino), this time born countries apart.

To add a little twist to this story, consider that I married a women named Liliane (aka Jackie), who bare the same name as my Grand Mother’s best friend, and my brother married a women who bares the same name as my friend Viviane.

Hope I didn't confuse anybody, needless to say that if you ask me if I was really surprise to see Eloïse show up just at the right place, just at the right time, I would have to say no...

Seems like names and serendipity really want to be playing their part in this trip, I like it.

Sunday,our ride through the twisty was our warmest day yet 25C. Monday we rested, and as it should, it rained for most of the day.

The plan was to cover the 1000 km to Biarritz on the Atlantic coast in two sleeps. Stop around Millau to go see the viaduct then another stop when we would start seeing some palm threes (loosely following El Camino de Compostela). After all this is not the European edition of Iron Butt, we were just starting to get into a rhythm, just realizing that we did not need to be at work anytime soon, so why rush it.

Something like this


We Left around 10:00 this morning, heading South South-West once again, direction Valence,le Puy-En-Venay, l’Ardèche et le Cantal, destination Aurillac. As we raced through the elevated plateaux of the massif central, ACDC’s thundering drums and squealing guitars kept my adrenaline level in check.

Far far to the West I could see white peaks, could it be the Pyrenees already taunting us with the promise of Spain looming close.

A few random pics








Then Rush’s Red Barchetta came on, and I opened up the throttle, ST responded with a roar to the screeches of Geddie Lee’s voice. Indeed life was good.



We stopped in Murat for a well deserve sugar and caffein fix.



It was pretty cold, and it was about to get wet, we just didn’t know it yet.


Hum it all looks good what should I get?


I'll take a bit of everything please.


When Jackie is happy so then is Valentino


By the time we reached the village of Estaing, we were wet cold and ready to call it a day.


This is one of the oldest best-preserve village in France, despite the cold rain, we couldn't resist taken ST for a bit of sightseeing.


The narrow streets


And a couple more




There was about 60 km to Aurillac and that would be enough. Since our intention was to avoid the superslab as much as possible, and I kept our speed in check through the many small villages, we ended up covering, less ground than we had planned.

I also forgot my heavy gloves in Vif, so needless to say that my mesh gloves did not do much too protect my hands from the cold rain.

Tonight we would spend the night in the very small village of Giou de Mamou at the house of Michèle and Alain Lafon a quaint B&B just 4 km from Aurillac, the heart of le Cantal and the umbrella capital of France.

Next pit stop would have to involve a palm three...
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FEAR ===> False Expectation About Reality. GSA08
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The motorcycle chronicles of Jackie & Valentino
The Southern Episode

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Old 12-04-2008, 09:46 PM   #22
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Great RR - You're managing to make me forget Trailer Park Boys blaring in the other room!
Keep 'em coming!!!!
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Old 12-05-2008, 08:12 AM   #23
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Very cool photos!



Great ride report &Great pics I’ll continue to follow your adventures
Thanks for taking us along.
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Old 12-05-2008, 08:50 AM   #24
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Your great trip is making me soooo jealous.
Nice photos.
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Old 12-05-2008, 09:08 AM   #25
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wow perfect


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Old 12-05-2008, 04:15 PM   #26
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Merci

Wow! your pictures bring back deep memories. Thanks for posting your report. Post more pics.
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Old 12-05-2008, 05:03 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gaulstat
Wow! your pictures bring back deep memories. Thanks for posting your report. Post more pics.
Intalles toi confortablement


Quote:
Originally Posted by samuraider
wow perfect
yup you gotta have cheese
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FEAR ===> False Expectation About Reality. GSA08
Work is just the time you have to spend between rides.

The motorcycle chronicles of Jackie & Valentino
The Southern Episode

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Old 12-05-2008, 07:14 PM   #28
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Question Bridges and stuff

April 30th
Today would prove to be the most challenging riding day yet (in terms of weather).

We left Giou de Mamou around 08:30, after breakfast. I was reading this while eating a croissant.


First stop would be a motorbike shop in Aurillac to replace my gloves than, head for Millau for targeted sightseeing. That was the original plan anyways, but as we made our way to Aurillac under a gloomy sky, large black clouds heavy with rain were sitting low on the plateaux, where they had left some snow early in the morning. Brrrr!! We had just lost 1 more degree. Time to head south. Thank you Merino, IceBreaker is one of the best piece of gear you can wear.

Under a light drizzle we started the day. What a great opportunity this would be to test my new PR2’s

I felt as good on ST while rolling on the sinuous roads of the Massif Central, as I had under dryer conditions.

Half way to Millau we revised our plans and decided to head south in search of warmer weather.

Sometimes a bridge, is a bridge, is a bridge.

Not many pics of the morning

There is always crap somewhere, we humans are good at that


An also that

Not before arriving in Rodez at about 1330, after having made little progress towards Biarritz, had the sun decided to peek and the mercury to raise to 12 C.

Better, but not quite there yet. Our minimum level of comfort for ridding (with the gear we have) is 16 C, 14 is ok but 18 is much better. Further south we caught hail, and had to waited it out under a bridge for a while. So it kind of made up for that other bridge that we missed. The next 50 km were on the highway, and we where constantly bounced left and right by strong crosswinds especially on the bridges.

And than it got reeel nice reeel quick



By the time we hit Toulouse temperatures had warmed and we hit some minor traffic around 1700.



Should have "planed" for a tour of Airbus.



This was a great chance to learn more of the European traffic protocols. Indeed, Europeans have quite different driving habits than North Americans. First they know the difference between a stop and a merge, two they know how to yield. Cell phones are hands free, we did not see many drivers with a phone in their hands or stuck to their ears. There are fewer traffic lights, and even fewer stop signs. Instead of having a light signal you have a roundabout , sometimes several lanes wide with many exits.

To enter: you look, if you can, you go, if you can’t you yield, when your in you have priority, signal to exit and your done.

Complicated? These ethereal concepts haven't quite made it to this side of the pond yet.


Lane splitting is allowed and drivers gave us space, cagers are more aware and respectful of motorists than on North American roads.

The same is also true of bikers, both vehicles share the road without antagonizing each other. Although traffic moves quicker, the drivers have been relatively predictable. Threading is also easier because cars are smaller. After passing, bikers will regularly extend their right foot to wave to the accommodating driver.

It was to the tunes of Bob Marley that we arrived in Gimont. A bit short of Auch, the sun was shinning again and we had a promise from the weather lady, that the further south we went, the better it got.

It had been another great day of riding.

Jackie & Valentino were slowly getting their groove

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FEAR ===> False Expectation About Reality. GSA08
Work is just the time you have to spend between rides.

The motorcycle chronicles of Jackie & Valentino
The Southern Episode

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Old 12-05-2008, 07:53 PM   #29
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Alien territory

Thank you for the peek into your old "neighborhood".
Beautiful and strange to a country boy from the middle of the USA.
We do have a common love of cheese and espresso!
Be safe and enjoy the road with your mate.

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Old 12-05-2008, 08:10 PM   #30
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Very nice!
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