Day 11 (16/8/12): ~540km – 3400Total km Oh well, Day 11 should have been the day that would make me like Italy again. Hmm... Man was I wrong. Lets start the journey at the Reschenpass. A nice little pass that brings you from Austria to Italy. The first thing you see there are clouds above the mountains and a big green crystal clear lake. Wow impressing! I like it here. Finally Italy could be a nice place to spend my journey. Then you see out of nowhere a big church tower coming out of the lake... it's getting interesting! I stopped to take a pic and for a little history lesson. So: during WW2, Mussolini and his gang decided to flood 3 villages with a damm. He didn't ask the villagers if they'd agree but he was kind enough to evacuate the whole thing. If you want to read more about it here is the wiki page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reschensee Whilst I was reading the little article I saw 3 Katoom drivers making a pause like me. I decided to follow them as soon as they got ready (I still had no real plan and I thought that 3 katoom drivers in the alps are knowing where it's fun to ride). Indeed they knew where it was fun to ride! They got me through all kind of twisty roads and headed towards the Stelvio Pass! I always liked that Moto Guzzi so I needed to discover why these Italians named it after that Mountain. So here some fun facts about that Stelvio pass: 2<sup>nd</sup> Highest Pass of the Alps (2757 m)... Next year I need to do the highest one: the Iseran Pass 60 Twisties (48 hairpin turns) It's only open from June to September Top Gear was searching for it for “driving heaven”... but ended up doing the the San Bernadino (which I did last year). In 2013 you need to pay 5€ (for a bike) or 10€ (for a car) to do it... I'm one of the lucky few who was able to do it for free! It takes you a couple of minutes to climb it and it's amazing I mean really really amazing. The view is breathtaking and you feel how the air is becoming thinner and thinner. At one point you don't drive through fog but through clouds. With my fully loaded Pumpkin' it was getting physical and the 21' front didn't make the things easier. At hairpin 32 the weight of my panniers became too much and my reaction time was to slow to put more throttle into the corner. I dropped the bike. My very first dropping. Darn another reason why I don't like Italy. Anyway I decided to take a picture of the mountains before pulling it up again. As I got the picture, I turned around and my bike was up again! Two young man were holding it with a big smile and waited for my return. Very nice. But there was one problem that I realized once I had my hand around my bike. My helmet was 1 meter away and the bike was slipping on the side stand. Dear god what an awkward moment. I couldn't leave the bike or it would drop again and slide down and I couldn't go on because my helmet was just one little meter away. I made some signs to make the drivers stop. 4 cars stopped, 4 Italians, 4 times the same answer “non capiche”... Yeah I know that you don't understand what I say but I'm gesticulating, I'm showing you my freaking helmet HELP ME FFS!! Then for a good eternity no one came by... It's like yeah you're at 2000meters, thin air, a 250kgs bike, you did sleep 2 hours that night, you're kinda tired and desperate. What to do? Waiting is all I could do. Then finally 3 bikes came and immediately stopped. They understood my problem and even if we didn't speak the same language, two hold my bike whilst one was giving me my helmet and they waited for me to be on my bike before leaving me. TYVM guys! Finally I reached the top. It was great really. I still have the mental pic. I see the top of the Stelvio before my eyes. I went to the shop there and bought an overpriced sticker but it was worth it. I went down the mountain on the other side which was much easier. I started with some cows on the road. I forgot how 'illogical' they are. I mean you wait for 10 minutes to let them pass. Then there is a last one there and you turn left to avoid it and it's changing it's curse just to get you. After that just about 10-20 hairpin turns. But then again it's Italy... nothing is easy there. Freaking cross wind came up. Oh yeah just what I needed, cross wind with a fully charged bike with a 21' front doing hairpins. Did I find there a 3<sup>rd</sup> reason? Yes indeed. But never 3 without 4 right? So 5 minutes later, during my fight against mother nature, she used her joker: Rain. Not just a bit, it rained cats and dogs, it was flooding the roads. I got into the first village I saw and searched a place to hide under. Impossible. The “roads” were just large enough to fit a fiat panda (the very old ones) and they still had that ancient roman pavement. It was slick. On top of that you went from 0 to 1 meter in 20cm. It was worse than everything I've ever seen. My GPS tried to guide me though that but I always found myself in front of dead ends or one way roads. 4<sup>th</sup> reason why I won't go back to Italy in the next couple of years. Then my reserve light got on... I needed gas. Someone up there really doesn't want me to be in Italy. I headed to the next gas station... Oh surprise... 1,87€ the liter of gas. Are you kidding me? 20Km further away in Austria it's 1,45! 5rth and last reason why I won't go back there! Waiting for the rain to stop I had a chat with an Italian biker who was going to mount the Stelvio. We talked about bikes and he helped me waiting for the rain to stop. When I got back on the bike he taught me how to say “have a nice journey” in Italian: In Bocca Al Lupo. Thank you mate, you too! That was enough stress for today, I'm heading home to France. I programmed my GPS to get me the hell out of Italy and back to France through twisties in Switzerland. It took me the whole day but at 9pm I ended up in France. I decided to find a camping place – all I wanted know was a good shower. I ended up finding one near the border which was really really cheap. Great news. I mounted my tent and launched my cooker. Some hot cocoa, a good shower and I call it a day. As I was writing my journey on my epc, I looked at my tent neighbors. They were “changing” and “disinfecting” a wound. They clearly didn't know how to perform that and hadn't got the material. I saw that they came from Germany (German numberplate) and I proposed them my help. I always travel with a good first aid kit and since I did some Osteopathic studies I know how to fix some open wounds. The guy told me that he cut his hand whilst cutting a plastic bottle in half for space and recycling reasons... ah these Germans... always worrying about recycling and nature. His GF told me that they needed to go to the local hospital to stop the bleeding. I had a good chat with the guy later on. He needed to kill the time whilst his girlfriend was writing post cards. We talked about their studies (his GF was studying European law like me) and the difference about Germany and France. It came out that France was much more expensive than Germany... and how did the Germans study the price difference? With beer of course. Beer in Germany costs about 0,80€ the half liter and in France 1,80€. At one point he saw how tired I was and went back to his GF. I'm very sorry but I really don't remember their names. I wasn't that attentive that evening. The next day I wanted to get up early and to start my journey at 9am because I had to make 700kms before 10pm through country roads and since my French family is living on the road in Clermont Ferrand I wanted to pass by and say hallo to them. But apparently I was to tired and I slept until 11am. I wanted to take another shower but from 11am to 12 they closed the showers for cleaning. NARF! I returned to my camp and packed my stuff up. I said goodbye to the 2 Germans and told them about great sight seeings in that region of France, especially for the girl since she's studying the same thing as me. Pics of the day: Where the journey began I really like this one. In winter the lake is frozen and you can walk to that church tower Heading up to the Stelvio Finally got it! Ah nature ) Even if I don't remember his name, we had a nice chat and I think he deserves a spot in my report.