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Old 06-29-2012, 12:09 AM   #1
MikeO OP
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Dolomite Sprint

28th June 2012

After a couple of long and busy days working in London, I eventually got home at about 20:00 last night and completed my packing. The plan was to get a good night’s sleep and then set off at about 05:45 today.

All went according to plan until I wake at 04:00 (despite being absolutely knackered when I went to bed at 22:30) and cannot get back to sleep. I give up the idea and get up at 4:30, complete a load of chores that would otherwise have to be done on my return and then get the Adv out of the garage…



For various reasons – mostly connected with my work and social life being pretty chaotic – I have hardly ridden the bike since last year, when a crisis forced me to abandon my Alps trip early. This winter, though, the Adv has had a complete refit. Last weekend I fitted new tyres and did an oil & filter change and we’re both ready for a trip.

Despite my getting up much earlier than planned, I still manage to leave late. This is not the first time this has happened…

There is a light rain falling, but it is so warm already that I keep my waterproofs in the pannier and set off for King’s Lynn, some 25 miles away.

I have new tyres and the road is wet after a few dry days – making it greasy – so I am careful with use of the throttle and when cornering (new tyres have a slippery coating, partly a lubricant to aid removal from the mould on manufacture and partly preservative, which has to be ‘scrubbed off’ before the tyre is able to give its full grip). The Adv is fairly heavily laden, but set up correctly, and the trip to my riding buddy Peter’s house is uneventful. I arrive to find Jake helping him pack…



Peter’s wife Linda is asleep in the bedroom above the garage, so we’re very quiet so as not to disturb her. This works fine until Peter pushes his bike off the stand and drops it…

We quickly have it back upright (kicking myself for not getting a pic) and examine it. Damage seems to be limited to a small dent and mark on the right hand pannier…



We set off into the (now dry) morning. It is already warm and we ride down the A10, joining the M11 at Cambridge. This section of the ride is uneventful. Boring, even.



We stop for fuel just before crossing the Thames at Dartford and meet up briefly with David, who is on his way to a big scooter rally in Picardy.



His bike looks deceivingly old – it’s actually a retro styled 2009 version – although he has an original Lambretta t home. Even he admits that it would be madness to try a long trip on that, though…



Onward!





We eventually reach the Channel Tunnel at about 09:30...



Our train is departing at 10:50, so we stand about in the beautiful sunshine and watch the world go by…



Quite a large proportion of the world seem to be riding old Kawasaki Triples…



It turns out to be a club tour. These bikes were notorious in their day. They were very fast (two-stroke engines and capacities of 250, 350, 500 and 750cc, if I remember correctly), but handled terribly. I can remember a bloke I met back then telling me that if he accelerated hard from 50-80 on the motorway he needed at least two lanes, because the bike would snake so much. Like all bikes with flawed reputations, they have now achieved cult status and it's interesting to see so many in one place.



The smell of two-stroke oil and the zing, dang dang sound of the throttles being blipped takes me back 40yrs – which is how old these bikes are.

Where did the time go?

It’s soon time to board the train. As usual, bikes board last and we are in a compartment with half a dozen other bikes.



We spend the 35 minute crossing chatting and doing stuff like resetting the GPS to read in kilometres (giving us a kph speedo at a glance). We are – rather ambitiously – booked into a hotel in Dijon tonight. This is 400ish miles from Calais. We arrive at 12:20 (clocks went forward an hour when we entered France). Bettie says we’ll be at the hotel at about 18:00. I don’t think so (she has calculated the non-stop ETA).

We get on the dreaded AutoRoute, set the speed at 130kph and head south. The weather is beautiful and I already have all the vents open on my riding gear. I’m wearing sunglasses behind my dark visor and it’s still bright.

We pass the hours of AutoRoute by riding ‘Escort’, a riding technique we both learned in earlier lives as traffic cops. It involves riding in close formation, offset to the right from the leader and keeping your position when the leader overtakes and comes back in. It takes a good deal of concentration to keep up, and – with the aid of my iPod, makes the time pass quicker.



We stop for fuel several times...



The Euro exchange rate being favourable compared with last year, so prices are little different – marginally cheaper perhaps – than the UK.



I am drinking almost continually from my CamelBack and am pretty comfortable despite the heat (around 90° F).

You see some strange sights – helicopter on a trailer…



…I see Peter photographing it at the same time…

We pay the first set of tolls - €21 - and just before arriving at the second set, Peter discovers his Peage ticket has fallen out of the pocket he put it in. We stop at the automatic barrier and Peter takes several minutes trying to explain in French what has happened to the disembodied voice at the end of the intercom.



Eventually we get let off (another €24 ) the AutoRoute and carry on our way.

We eventually arrive at Dijon and find the pre-booked B&B hotel – just ahead of a nasty looking thunderstorm.



I like the B&B hotel chain – they always have free Wi-Fi and are clean and well located. Tonight I am lucky and get a disabled-access room…



…which has a vast wet-room shower.



I get de-kitted and stay under the shower for a long time. Dialling the AC to the ‘Pluto’ setting, I upload the few pictures from the day, then join Peter for a meal in the restaurant next door (where we get a 4% discount for staying at the hotel - how did they come up with that number, I wonder ).

Peter has a Hippo Burger…



…and I have a chef’s salad.



We both have a couple of cold beers.



Life is good. The hills to the south are continually lit with flashes of lightning. I have a feeling that’s where we’ll be headed in the morning…

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Old 06-29-2012, 12:22 AM   #2
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Bookmarked!

Can I ask how you take pictures on the move, I've never come up with a practical method,

Cheers, Martin
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Old 06-29-2012, 04:01 AM   #3
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loved reading the thread. first time ive been on this felt like i was almost there very jealous of your partner.:
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Old 06-29-2012, 02:53 PM   #4
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Bookmarked!

Can I ask how you take pictures on the move, I've never come up with a practical method,

Cheers, Martin
Hi Martin,

It's a complex process, which involves taking the camera out of its pouch on the rear of the tankbag, taking the picture and then replacing it...

And before the safety nazis chime in - please don't attempt this if you are not confident you can do it safely etc...

Mike
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Old 06-29-2012, 02:55 PM   #5
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loved reading the thread. first time ive been on this felt like i was almost there very jealous of your partner.:
Hi Lou

PARTNER?

I don't think so...

Mike
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Old 06-29-2012, 04:29 PM   #6
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Hi Martin,

It's a complex process, which involves taking the camera out of its pouch on the rear of the tankbag, taking the picture and then replacing it...

And before the safety nazis chime in - please don't attempt this if you are not confident you can do it safely etc...

Mike
Ah... Ok, well do continue with the tale
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Old 06-29-2012, 09:17 PM   #7
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29th June 2012

We have a lazy start. Lying in bed I hear the fall of rain – bugger. Then I get up and open the window to find a beautiful – and already very warm – morning. The noise I had heard was someone taking a shower in the room above…

I grab some coffee and juice from the breakfast buffet and make a start on the first day’s journal. If I don’t keep up a daily routine, it really becomes a chore - plus I forget so many little details.

By the time I’ve posted the thread, it is about 10:00. Peter and I load the bikes and note that it is already 85° F and humid.



We decide to pay a visit to a couple of shops in the trading estate where the hotel is located. Firstly the Leclerc supermarket, to buy some fresh fruit and veg for lunch, then Intersport, so that Peter can buy a CamelBak – yesterday convinced him that he needs to stay better hydrated…



After loading both bikes up with fresh food, we head out to Intersport. I wait with the bikes…



Whilst Peter selects a CamelBak with a subtle colour scheme…



By the time we’ve finished pfaffing about, it’s about 10:45. It’s great to get moving, the warm breeze cooling the layer of perspiration that has built up whilst shopping…

We head off down the AutoRoute for a while, positioning for our first ‘Col’ (mountain pass). It’s a quiet day on the road…



There’s an ‘Aire’ (rest area) just before our turn off. Peter suddenly overtakes me at high speed and signals to turn into the rest area. He quickly parks his bike pulls his helmet off and is obviously in some distress. Apparently he was riding with his visor up and, as he passed a car, felt something like gravel hit his face. Immediately his eyes started watering really badly and his vision became blurred.



He washes his eyes in fresh water and takes an antihistamine as a precaution. We rest in the shade for half an hour until he’s happy to continue – what happened exactly is a puzzle…

We set off again and leave the AutoRoute almost immediately. We start wending our way up into the hills on some great little D class roads.



Soon it's time for lunch. We stop at a roadside picnic are - there are thousands of these dotted all over France...



...and eat the unusually healthy selection of food we have brought with us as we watch the world go by...



After an hour or so's grazing, we get kitted up again. We've decided to head towards Annecy - we'll probably stay there this evening...



We ride southeast down some fast sweeping bends, before turning up a series of tiny D roads into the hills...



The air is a little cooler as we gain altitude. At one stage we follow a road running alongside a river. It’s twisty and there is a lot of traffic built up ahead of us. Peter is a couple of cars ahead of me and it becomes clear that there is a slow moving truck at the head of the queue causing the tailback. Eventually we come to a piece of road where the view opens slightly and its possible to get an overtake in. Peter is about four cars ahead of me and directly behind the truck. He accelerates past, followed by two cars (obviously locals who have been waiting for this stretch of road). I take the two cars ahead and move back in, as the view is restricted. I get a view up the inside (right) side of the truck, then accelerate out to overtake.

There’s a car coming the other way.

Stupidly, I have committed to the overtake, rather than coming out to have a look and then accelerating. My training clicks in and I aim for the small gap between the oncoming car and the truck. The car moves over to give the maximum amount of room and I get past – which is the reason I am able to type this now.

Stupid mistake – but that’s what it was. It unsettles me for a while and I discuss it with Peter at the next stop, after my arse has let go of the seat.

Onward!



We enter alpine meadows and descend again towards a lake…



…it’s just beautiful – nothing but the view and the road…



…built for these bikes…





We pass through the occasional village…



…sticking impeccably to the speed limits…



Newly gravelled roads slow us for a while…



…but we’re soon back on empty, well surfaced roads, heading towards the Swiss border…



…passing through the occasional town…



This bunch…



…joined us for a few minutes, before we turned off onto a less travelled road…



Life is good…





We enter another series of switchbacks…



…and once again start gaining altitude, out of the oppressive heat of the valley floor…



…and stop in the shade for a few minutes to refill our CamelBaks and book hotel rooms. French cellular coverage is outstanding and I book us two rooms at the B&B at Annecy, getting an immediate confirmation email on my ‘phone. Technology like this has made travelling so much easier…



Suitably refreshed, we set off again…



I love eccentricities like this – built out of scrap timber and duct tape…



Eventually we reach the top of the pass, where a roadside café…



…seems like the place to stop.



At €3 for a tiny iced tea, we drink slowly…



As we ride down the other side of the pass, the ground drops away and the view – even in today’s heat haze – is spectacular. It must be fantastic on a clear day…



All too soon we’re back in the heat of the valley floor, entering Gex, right on the French/Swiss border…



…where I notice they have a museum dedicated to fire fighting.

We stop at an Intermarche to fill up…



The Adv is much more economical doing these roads – fast AutoRoute travel makes the fuel consumption soar…



Bettie sends us onto the AutoRoute towards Annecy. We pass briefly through Switzerland on the way, before hitting major traffic congestion as we re-enter France. No pictures, I’m afraid – we watched the local riders filtering (lane-splitting, for the benefit of American readers) and followed their example. I’m waiting for the summons to appear in the post…

Eventually we get past the gridlock and are on open roads again…



…arriving in Annecy at about 17:30…



…and checking into our pre-booked B&B hotel…



After a shower and change, Peter and I walk towards town and find Madigan’s – an Irish bar (is there a town anywhere in the world without an Irish bar?). We are served incongruously by an oriental youth, wearing a Scottish tartan kilt…

Never mind, the food…



…was excellent…



…as were the two pints of Caffrey’s and the puds…





I am kept awake for most of the night by the sound of my arteries hardening…

A good day.



By the way, one of these hotel rooms is occupied by a member of this forum. Can you work out which room?

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Old 06-29-2012, 11:20 PM   #8
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Nice read MikeO.
It's always a treat to follow you in France
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Old 06-30-2012, 12:58 AM   #9
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fabulous views great thread x
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Old 06-30-2012, 01:13 AM   #10
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Cool2

im sorry to show my ignorance but how do you keep cool when riding. it is obviously very warm and sunny.
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Old 06-30-2012, 02:10 PM   #11
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Nice pics , you'll be pleased to know you've escapes some truely horrific weather here.

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PARTNER?

I don't think so...
The cucumber and bananas aren't doing much for dispelling that myth
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Old 06-30-2012, 03:19 PM   #12
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hum...and I thought this was going to be about Triumph Dolomite Sprint....
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Old 06-30-2012, 04:05 PM   #13
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These bikes were notorious in their day. They were very fast (two-stroke engines and capacities of 250, 350, 500 and 750cc, if I remember correctly),
You forgot the S3 - 400cc. Replaced the drum braked 350 with a single disk (and Dunlop TT100's - remember those?). I can vouch the 250 and 400 were indeed very fast.
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Old 07-01-2012, 11:23 AM   #14
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30th June 2012

I wake at just before 05:00 - a quick glance out of the window reveals a beautiful day dawning. I had some snags with my SmugMug (online photo album) account last night – couldn’t get it to rotate images. So I gave up and resolved to put the ride report together this morning. I post the finished article at around 06:20, then start getting packed for an early start.

It turns out Peter has also been awake for a while and has been plotting some great cols and passes for today. We get the bikes packed…



…have a spot of breakfast (cereal, juice and coffee) and quite cheekily ask the receptionist if we can fill our flasks from the coffee jug. He’s quite happy and I fill my large flask with black coffee and the small one with hot milk.



At 07:30 we get rolling…



It’s a beautiful morning. The air is fresh and the temperature in the low 70’s F…



We head down some good sized D roads towards our first col of the day (Des Aravis). Peter will be providing a list of these at the end of this report.

Probably.

Anyway…



We start climbing and are soon in the winter ski villages, their cable cars and ski lifts marching up the sides of the hill to our left…



Climbing further we reach open alpine meadows – vivid green grass with a dusting of red and white wild flowers…



There are some serious peaks to my right…



We pull in at the summit and have a coffee, courtesy of the B&B Hotel…



…and note that St Anne apparently deputises for St Christopher from time to time…



There seems to have been a bit of a fire across the road, which must spoil the view for this restaurant’s customers…



Recaffeinated, we press on. There’s a lot of haze at the moment – probably mostly pollen…



Imagine what these views would be like if there had been a rainstorm last night to clear the pollen out…



Peter stops to sneak up…



…on a spectacular rock formation. It’s hard to comprehend the forces necessary to fold solid rock like this…



By the church, a local is using a scythe to cut the grass…



Moving on again, through some beautiful villages…



…we crest a brow and the whole valley opens up before us…



I get ahead and lie in wait for Peter – trying to get a picture of him completely out of shape.



No luck today, but it’s only a matter of time…

Peter goes on ahead, I stop to take the occasional picture…



I’ve taken pics of these views before – I know that the best photographer in the world would be pleased if he or she managed to capture just 10% of the impact of these scenes…





At length, I catch up with Peter at the top of the col and we stop for an iced tea on the veranda overlooking the lake…



Returning to the bike, I can’t find my key. I search all my pockets, inside my gloves, helmet etc without success. Bugger

I go back to the veranda, but I’m not optimistic – the floor is slotted decking with a thirty-foot drop into undergrowth below.

I walk slowly back to the bike, scanning the gravel – nothing…



Peter gets out my spare keys (we always carry a spare key set for each other) and we take the bike key off the ring and I’m just getting kitted up when Peter spots the key – trodden into the edge of the grass.

Excellent!

We set off again, with the lake to our right. It’s a Saturday and consequently busier than normal, so Peter and I get split up once again (as I keep stopping to take pictures - like this one)…



I manage to sneak ahead and snap Peter again...



Also on the picture are a couple of cyclists. Cycling is like a religion here – there was obviously a time trial or something similar going on today. We see hundreds of cyclists in total.

Not one of them looked in the least happy to be cycling up these hills.

We stop at the top of the Cormet de Roselend – reputedly the prettiest of all the cols – I wouldn’t disagree, although it’s up against some stiff competition…



After another breather we set off down the other side…



Interesting looking agricultural vehicle stopped in a junction…



...collecting milk churns, by the look of it...



We descend the col...



...and then start up Petit St Bernard Pass – we stayed at a ski lodge here a couple of years ago.

Peter and I have a difference of opinion on what to do next and it’s quite clear that we are not going to have a meeting of minds. We decide that we’ll meet up at a hotel (to be decided) in Verbania – some 160km distant – this evening.



Peter stops for lunch whilst I prompt Bettie into plotting me a route to Verbania. To my surprise (and – as it subsequently turns out – to Peter’s), she directs me back down the Petit St Bernard…

However, after 3.5km she turns me left and I find myself on a brilliant series of roads…





I end up at the ski resort of Val D’Isere, mostly closed up at this time of year...



After riding through the town (slowly) I start the considerable climb up the Col D’Iseran…



It’s a breathtakingly beautiful ride...



The rate of ascent is very quick and the valley soon opens out beneath me and I can clearly see the tiny chalets and hotels I passed just a few minutes earlier…



I keep on climbing, following Bettie’s directions. Peter and I rode here last year. In fact I am following the route that we were navigating when I had to cut the trip short…



The pass tops out well above the treeline and the parking area looks like Tranquillity Base, so I stop only long enough t take a pic of the Adv in front of the sign, then ride on.

The views on the way down are, if anything, more spectacular. I park the bike at the side of the road and realise whichever direction I take a picture from will produce a good photo…







As I approach the top of the next col (the Grand Borland, I think) the weather closes in and the temperature drops to the mid 50’s F – I luxuriate in the experience of being chilly for the first time in a few days…



Onwards! I head along the lakeside...



...and start the long descent into Susa, crossing the Italian border at exactly 15:00…

I stop for fuel in Susa - and visit an Aldi supermarket to buy some food. It has mirrored windows…



Amongst all the other stuff I buy, I get two large bottles of water, intending to drink one now and to pour the other into my CamelBak. As I undo the top, it hisses. Bugger – I’ve accidentally bought carbonated water (top tip – don’t even THINK about putting fizzy water into a CamelBak). Never mind – I’ll drink some now anyway…

Blech – I’ve bought cheap crappy lemonade.

I leave it in the trolley, pack the bike up and ride off.

Things all go a bit wrong then. Bettie directs me onto the Autostrade. Now, I will admit to following her instructions without thinking about it too much, as the route was so good. But now I notice that I seem to have 130 miles to go – I’ve already done the best part of 100 miles to get this far.

Never mind- we are where we are, so I set off – hoping that there will be a short stretch of motorway, then she’ll turn me off onto some more interesting roads…

Not so much, it seems.

I end up doing the entire route on the Autostrade. I stop briefly to eat and to text Peter and ask if he can sort a hotel, as I will not be arriving until 18:30 at the earliest...



By the time I turn off the motorway at Verbania, there is a text message from Peter directing me to the Campagnola Hotel, where an air-conditioned room awaits me for €71 per night, including breakfast.

I arrive at the hotel at about 18:30...



...and clump along the corridor carrying all my kit, before having one of the best showers of my life – it was like a religious experience.

I have some fruit for dinner and later join Peter for a stroll along the lakefront…



It’s a very warm evening, without a breath of wind and oppressively humid…

We had both put some insect repellent on before coming out and I am glad of it as the air is thick with bugs…

Eventually we get back to the hotel, and go to our respective air conditioned caves – even with the AC on full since I left, the room is only just bearable in temperature.

The receptionist told Peter the weather was going to be like this for seven or eight days…
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Old 07-01-2012, 01:38 PM   #15
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1st July 2012

I gave up the battle with the hotel’s Internet connection last night and went to sleep. I wake relatively late – try one more time without success to get on line and start packing. It's apparently going to be a bit warm today – over 100° F, if the forecast is accurate…

It’s already oppressively hot – you can tell it’s a warm day when you work up a sweat using a keyboard…

We are on the road just after 09:00, pausing to put some fuel in the bikes. Our UK cards do not seem to be accepted by the automated pumps here, so we use cash instead – I put €20 in the Adv, which will remove the need for fuel as a factor in the immediate future.

We then motor on down to the lakefront where, for €8 or so, we buy tickets to the ferry to Lavino, the other side of Lake Maggiore.



This will save us a lot of miles and avoid a lot of traffic. We board the ferry about fifteen minutes before departure and get ‘de-kitted’ – my silk liners are already drenched in sweat.



It’s relatively cool on the vehicle deck and pretty soon we set off. The breeze caused by the ferry’s movement is great. Peter now understands why Jake sticks his head out of the car window…



The crossing takes fifteen minutes or so. Peter keeps a careful eye on the route we are taking and is considering taking this up with the captain...



It's a beautiful day, despite the heat...



Soon we're docking and riding off the ramp into Lavino...



...where we press towards Lake Como...



...stopping at a roadside fruit and veg stall...



...to buy apricots, nectarines, tomatoes and peaches - all ripe and very reasonably priced...

There were a few people there with remote control helicopters, but none were flying at the time...



We continue towards Lake Como, through a series of small towns, all governed by a 50kph speed limit and with solid centre lines (meaning no overtaking). These rules are completely ignored by everyone.



What actually happens is that everyone drives or rides at whatever speed they want to and overtakes whenever possible (the definition of 'whenever possible' is an interesting topic for conversation).



At the end of the road madness, Lake Como appears, looking absolutely beautiful...

We pass briefly into Switzerland...



...filtering like a pair of scooter riders to get to the front...



It's horribly hot - at least 95° F and climbing - the only way to get any relief is to keep moving. Unfortunately we seem to be mired in an endless wagon train of small cars crawling along. Eventually we just emulate the local riders and ignore the rules.



We do some fairly aggressive riding and overtaking and, if nothing else, manage to stay a little cooler...



We're both drinking almost continually from our CamelBaks...



...but the heat is stifling down here at low level...



...but the view is so spectacular I have to stop and take pictures...



When will I be here again?



I get back on the Adv, riding through a long tunnel - delightfully cool...



...and catch Peter up as he's stopped in some shade for a breather...



We eat lots of the fruit we bought earlier - it's delicious...



...and make some tea with a flask of hot water that the hotel receptionist kindly supplied this morning.

Eventually we put our kit back on and start again...



This old jeep was being taken out for the day - great condition for what is probably a sixty plus year old vehicle...



Lake Como really is pretty...



I noticed these solar water heaters in serried rows on the hillside. The sun's rays are concentrated by the reflector onto the glass tube in the middle - the heated water is pumped away in insulated pipes...



Onward!

Eventually Peter pulls over - points to a restaurant on the lakefront and suggests we stop for a long lunch. It will be expensive, because of its location, but we're on holiday, aren't we?

I don't need much persuading...



What a great meal...



There's a cool breeze blowing off the lake, making the table we are sat at very comfortable. Soon the food starts arriving...



Prawn cocktail - served hot, unusually - delicious...



Seafood pasta - can't remember the name of the pasta, but it was spaghetti to all intents and purposes. Excellent...



Lemon sorbet, to cleanse the palate...



Deep-fried things - just about every type of seafood

We notice the chef making ice cream using liquid nitrogen at the next table...



It's effectively a bain-marie in reverse - you pour liquid nitrogen into the cloth between the two bowls...



...then pour your ice cream mixture into the inner bowl, keeping stirring, to make sure it doesn't freeze too hard. It's a great bit of cooking theatre.

Anyway, what about our puds?



Crème Brule with fresh fruit - brilliant.



We sit listening to our skin stretch for a while, then pay the (substantial) bill and, declining the Grappa and Limon cello...



...offered for free (as was a small glass of sparkling wine when we arrived), get kitted up. MY jacket seems to fit more snugly for some reason...

I ask the waitress for some ice for our CamelBaks and the chef comes out and takes me to the ice machine and fills an industrial sized bucket for me. I cram all I can into our respective CamelBaks and thank him.

Time to get back on the bikes. The next couple of hours are going to be a ride along a valley floor - oh well, it's only heat I suppose...

Almost immediately we enter a long tunnel and this gets our core temperatures back to a reasonable level. When we exit the tunnel into the full afternoon heat, it's like riding into an oven.

I expect.

If anyone has actually done that.

Anyway, we stop at a flea market in the comically named town of Dongo, to have a quick look at what's on offer...



...but nothing catches my eye. We get back on the bikes and ride on.



Pretty soon we're on this road, heading vaguely towards Bormio. I find it difficult to describe how crazy the traffic situation was. There was, apparently, a 50-70kph limit for the entire length of the road. There were virtually no areas where overtaking was permitted.

This didn't seem to bother anyone - it was utter madness. The only way to survive is to join in, so we did. I won't go into detail about the number of traffic offences we must have committed every five minutes or so, but it was cartoonishly manic...



Thousands of bikes and cars - almost al returning from a day on the Stelvio Pass - raced in the opposing direction to us. I couldn’t believe there were that many vehicles in the whole of Italy - it just went on and on for two hours or so.



Top planning tip - don't ride along valley roads on Sunday afternoons...



We have a roadside planning session in the shade of some trees and then press on...



We (at last) turn off the main road and start heading for the hills...



Peter takes this snap of me, perfectly composed as I prepare to enter a tunnel - not knowing that it had a 90° left turn immediately inside...

Anyway...



We quickly gain altitude and the temperature gradually drops to a more sane level (I saw 105° on my thermometer today )...



We make a final roadside stop and decide to call it a day. We set Bettie the task of finding us a hotel in the next town - Aprica - and she points me at the Stella Alpina apartments.

I go into reception to find from the charming receptionist Melonia, that they only rent apartments. She then goes completely beyond the call of duty and finds us rooms at the Aprica Hotel, further down the street, rings the owner up and books them. What a top girl!

We soon find the hotel and check in. Big beds, free Wi-Fi and a garage for the bikes - it doesn't get much better.

I have a shower and then get to work sorting out two day's worth of journal. After our gargantuan intake of calories at lunchtime, I have some apricots and a couple of bananas for dinner.

A good day...
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