An Otter on the road: From Lille to Limoges in 12 Days

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Loutre, Aug 2, 2012.

  1. Loutre

    Loutre Cosmopolitan Adv

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    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 &#8220;driving heaven&#8221;... but ended up doing the the San Bernadino (which I did last year).
    In 2013 you need to pay 5&#8364; (for a bike) or 10&#8364; (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 &#8220;non capiche&#8221;... 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 &#8220;roads&#8221; 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&#8364; 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 &#8220;have a nice journey&#8221; 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 &#8211; 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 &#8220;changing&#8221; and &#8220;disinfecting&#8221; 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&#8364; the half liter and in France 1,80&#8364;.
    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:


    [​IMG]
    Where the journey began


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    I really like this one. In winter the lake is frozen and you can walk to that church tower



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    Heading up to the Stelvio



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    Finally got it!


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    Ah nature :eek:)



    [​IMG]
    Even if I don't remember his name, we had a nice chat and I think he deserves a spot in my report.
    #21
  2. Loutre

    Loutre Cosmopolitan Adv

    Joined:
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    Day 12+13 (17/18/8/12): ~700km &#8211; 4100Total km


    Not much to say about that day. I swallowed the little roads and made some breaks. The bad thing was that I started 2h30 late so that I had no time for some family visiting. It was sad because I'm 600km from them away and now that I cross the towns where they live I can't even stop. Oh but some bad news: I lost my hat. Yeah that is really really sad because I loved it. The problem was that I wasn't able to know where I lost it because my only break was at 12:30pm to get something to eat and the next one was at 5pm.



    I arrived on time at 10:10pm and my girlfriend Zoé hadn't finished her service yet. Her mother came to me and said that she didn't tell her but that she &#8220;kinda&#8221; told the rest of the party about my surprise visit... oh yeah just 60 people. Her brother came to me with a big smile and helped me hiding my bike so that Zoé wouldn't know until the very last moment. I made the round and said hello to everyone and even though I didn't knew many people (about 10) everyone knew me already. Strange feeling. I offered Zoé's uncle the Ural mug for his birthday and for the first time I saw some emotion in his face. He really really liked it. I love that big family. Her cousins immediately came with a beer to me and asked me about my journey. Yes about 50 of these 60 people are bikers and are always open for some stories.

    At one point Zoé arrived and I saw from the look on her face that my surprise had succeeded. Mission accomplished.


    We spent the whole night talking, eating, drinking and dancing. A real party. And the next day would be the birthday of her Cousin. Sweet! The only thing that sucked on that day &#8211; except losing my hat &#8211; was the fact that my epc erased my RR... but who cares I'm back on track!



    We spent the next day next to a lake. It was really too hot to do anything else. I was able to test the underwater skills of my camera and I have to say that I am very pleased.



    So here it ends. That was my ride report. I hope you enjoyed it. I know I enjoyed my journey and I enjoyed writing it.



    Ride safe and see you next time around!



    Cheers,



    Tom &#8211; Loutre



    Pics of the day:




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    We had a couple of drinks too much :eek:)


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    Singing dirty songs


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    I'm really digging that Pentax camera :eek:)


    [​IMG]

    Zoé was happy to see the bike... and me? :cry
    #22
  3. lemovice

    lemovice Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    at Limoges in the Limousin
    #23
  4. Loutre

    Loutre Cosmopolitan Adv

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    Great! Next time I'm around there with my bike I write you a mail and we can have a beer "Chez Michard" :eek:)
    #24
  5. lemovice

    lemovice Been here awhile

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    ok :freaky
    #25
  6. Rango

    Rango Phaneropter

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    Crepi :evil:evil

    Thoroughly enjoyed your report.
    You also have a funny way to bring it on. Good.:1drink

    As you won't pay for showers so I won't pay for riding up the Stelvio. What's that about?
    If more of us react the same, we might be riding Stelvio again in 2014.:deal

    The Elefanten video was most entertaining.
    I hope you don't mind me doubling the link:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NgQgkPwojM
    I have a weak spot for Ural's, see.
    and Napoleon, und winterfahren...

    Bring on the good reports and have another :1drink
    #26
  7. Rango

    Rango Phaneropter

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    Sorry, messed up the title, Should read:
    in bocca al lupa

    mea culpa
    I owe you another :1drink
    #27
  8. Loutre

    Loutre Cosmopolitan Adv

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    Thank you very much mate! Always a pleasure to see that people enjoy my stories. I'd like to edit some other stories but the thing is that I don't make enough breakes to get some pictures :lol3. I just came home from a 2600km journey but don't have enough material to write about it. Next time I'll try to get something to write about, I promise :lol3.

    About the Stelvio... Well the Italian guy at the Gas station told me that for 2013 they will ask you money to ride the stelvio. It has become to "touristic" and for some ecologic (I'd say economic...) reasons they want to limit the access. I "checked" on wikipedia and they are saying the same story (that's where I got the price btw... but since it's wikipedia you have to take that informations with tweezers.
    It's not illogical since they have done it with the Grossglöckner in Austria.

    That will teach me not taking more pictures of these great spots... and not kicking myself in the arse to go up that "house thingy" on top of the stelvio.

    [​IMG]
    House thingy on top of the stelvio...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    After your post I took for the first time a closer look at this sign and I think it says that starting 2013 there will be a toll... FFS... I hate when these Italians are right :lol3

    Oh and BTW where are you from? Any chance we can take a ride together (or at least a beer) one day? :wink: :freaky
    #28
  9. Rango

    Rango Phaneropter

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    Hm, the ecological thing to do would be to remove the pavement. Give the mountain back to Hannibal and his elephants.


    i live just a skid north from Lille: near Antwerp, in the country of the brave (horum fortissimi sunt belgae).
    There is beer :wink:
    #29
  10. Loutre

    Loutre Cosmopolitan Adv

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    Oh dear! 130 kms away! that's some nice stuff, possible even with one tank of gas! This can't be a coincidence, it must be a sign. The big guy upstairs wants us to share a beer and go riding together :lol3
    Well since I have my exams from the 7. to the 25 how about I come by in february? I mean I still need the "B" sticker for my alu-cases :evil

    By any chance are you in the part where they know a little french? :lol3
    #30
  11. Rango

    Rango Phaneropter

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    Ach du Liebe, whatever language but my Chinese is rusty :lol3

    February is a good month: clear skies, usually sunny and not hot. Fine riding weather.

    When you're ready give me a PM.

    Good luck on those exams! :deal
    #31
  12. LethPhaos

    LethPhaos Been here awhile

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    Nice report, thanks :) Too bad the Stelvio will be paying for 2013, as I'm heading that way for the first time next summer :(
    By the way, I'm from near Antwerp as well :evil
    #32
  13. Loutre

    Loutre Cosmopolitan Adv

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    Well how about you hop on on the boat? We can never be enough men drinking beer !:freaky

    I'll keep you tuned :wink:
    #33
  14. Loutre

    Loutre Cosmopolitan Adv

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    Thank you with that, I hope I won't need it :lol3

    I've added you to my contacts, won't miss the PM :thumb
    #34
  15. epicxcrider

    epicxcrider Been here awhile

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    Great photos! I hope to ship mine over and ride there some day :)
    #35