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Old 12-03-2012, 01:57 AM   #1
Aj Mick OP
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Over the St Bernard Pass

This is one day of a three weeks of meandering around Central Europe in the mid 1990s. I was riding 14 year-old Honda CB250RS, which I picked up for 500 in England, and used for over four years before it was stolen (in England) a few months after this trip.

Sorry, no photos. The few prints I have are 10,000 km away; digital cameras were yet to become ubiquitous back then. This is a story I wrote for use in a class. I have added a map, a link from google, and an image from Google earth.

One July Day


Link

https://maps.google.com/maps?saddr=C...ra=ls&t=m&z=10



I camped the night at Chamonix, near the foot of Mt Blanc, the highest mountain in Europe. Rising at first light I started a short walk to check the place out. It turned into a rather long hike as I was drawn on up a steep mountain track by the ever-changing vista. I came to a fork in the path. One way went on up, and the other headed to the bottom of a glacier. I chose the latter, and soon came to the surprisingly noisy ice face.

Apparently frozen solid, glaciers are really rivers of ice and snow, constantly moving, albeit ever so slowly. The movement of the solid mass, and its transformation into liquid gives rise to continuous crackling and popping sounds. I was transfixed for a few fascinated minutes before realising it was time to move on if I was to get on the road that day.

Returning to my tent, I decamped, loaded my motorcycle, and was on the road heading for Mt. Blanc tunnel by about 10.30. I stopped for a few minutes at the French end, wondering what to expect before entering its darkness for the next 12 km. The road is straight and narrow, just two lanes with no division barrier. The sensation is strange, with the constant echo of engines, the oncoming lights, and a feeling of being committed. There is no room for stopping, or passing; you have to keep going. Travelling at 80 km/hr, reaching Italy takes a very long seeming 10 minutes.

Eventually I did emerge, to be greeted by a large sign advising motorists of the bewildering range of speed limits on Italian roads – big, fast cars are allowed to go faster than small, slow cars! I headed down the steep, winding road to the valley below. Milan was just a couple of hours away, but I did not make it.

The Alps called again. I found myself leaving the main road at Aosta, and heading up an increasingly narrow and twisting alpine road. I stopped at a farmhouse to buy a block of homemade cheese. The climb continued eventually coming to the St. Bernard Pass on the Swiss border, where they really do have St. Bernard dogs. There was quite a bit of snow around, and an icy lake. The air was fresh, not chilly. In the afternoon sun I was wearing just a T-shirt, jeans, and a leather jacket.

Heading downhill again, I went through mountain grasslands, then vineyards, for about twenty-five thrilling, winding kilometres to the outskirts of Martigny. Again the mountains beckoned, so onward and upward I went. As dusk fell I came to a small pub not far from the French border, so made camp in a field behind it. After a hearty pub meal, I drifted off to sleep to the sound of cowbells in the surrounding hills. The day had been a taste of motorcycling heaven.
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Aj Mick screwed with this post 12-03-2012 at 02:24 AM
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Old 12-03-2012, 09:32 PM   #2
longslowdistance
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Need photos!
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Old 12-04-2012, 06:41 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by longslowdistance View Post
Need photos!
x2...
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Old 12-04-2012, 10:28 AM   #4
Aj Mick OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by longslowdistance View Post
Need photos!
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Originally Posted by obrianmcc View Post
x2...
Thanks for responding to my "word picture" of the day I went under Mt. Blanc and over St. Bernard Pass.

I did explain at the beginning of the post that the few prints I do have from those pre-digital days are at least 10,000 km from where I am now, to the south-east, in my native New Zealand. It will be some months at least before I return there. The St Bernard Pass is another 10,000 km or so to the north-east so just popping up to get new photos is not practical.

If you click on the Google Maps link you can play round with the map and find some pictures there.
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Aj Mick screwed with this post 12-04-2012 at 04:37 PM
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