Europe 2012 Maritime Alps ans Vosges

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by PFFOG, Sep 24, 2012.

  1. g®eg

    g®eg Canadian living in exile

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    yeah?
    what time next year?

    we're thinking July~ish for a change....

    :deal
    #21
  2. enduro0125

    enduro0125 Sticks and Stones™..

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    Orchard Park,NY
    Almost always September for us.
    Kids back at school,shoulder season,cheaper rates ...etc,etc.

    Remember July in France = Td'F .
    100 year anniversary next year.
    #22
  3. PFFOG

    PFFOG Richard Alps-aholic

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    Gopro 2, to get HD on YouTube, click on the gear shaped icon in the lower right corner of the menu tray, it gives you several choices of resolution.

    Just got a remote microphone for the GOPRO, so I can play with different location without wind noise concerns. I will have to play, come spring.
    #23
  4. PFFOG

    PFFOG Richard Alps-aholic

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    Sunday 9/9


    Today was a free day meaning we did not have to ride as we would be returning to the same hotel tonight. But there was not much chance of that happening. The wife did decide to stay in town, so today I would be riding solo. Today’s route would include the highest paved pass in the Alps, the Col de la Bonette, and going the other way two very nice Gorges.



    The morning view from our room .



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    AL, the van driver was riding today on the spare bike, and I had ridden with him since 2007 so we took off together. When we got to the bottom of Vars, we ran into Rob and another rider from the tour, so we grouped up for part of the day.


    A view from the top of Col de Vars


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    Even though it was Sunday, traffic was very light, there were, however quite a few Motorcycles on the road today. After heading up and over Col de Vars, we stopped for a cappuccino before heading up Bonette.



    Not sure what this is, but they will never have to replace the roof.


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    Being the highest paved pass, and with the weather clearing nicely, the views were gorgeous so we lingered amongst the several other riders and took a bunch of pictures. Along the ridge near the top there are still some military bunkers probably from WW II. It must have been very lonely and cold, sitting there watching and waiting for the enemy. On the other hand without war many of these roads not exist.


    Top of one of the observation bunkers is visible here, with a wonderful but lonely view .



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    And the bunker on the other side and its view, I assumed they are connected underneath the ridge.




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    How we get up here



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    View from the top



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    How we’re getting down






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    Remains of Camp des Fourches just down from the top of Bonette, it was built between 1896 and 1910, and like the bunkers on the other side, served as military outposts.



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    After descending Bonette, next up was Col de la Couilloie. a cool little narrow, gnarly road that clings to the side of the gorge, as it winds to to the top.


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    Village with a view



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    We stopped to fill up in the quaint little village of Beuil, and then headed into the Gorges. Although the Gorges offered a reverse view of the passes, they are great little roads that twist and turn first down the Gorge du Cians then back up Gorge de Daluis.



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    On the way back we decided to take the less traveled Col des Champs and Col d'Allos, both were very nice little road, although Allos was quite rough, but the views were wonderful.




    View from the top of Col d’Allos


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    Man I love to see this on the GPS



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    And in 3-D Vision



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    #24
  5. fredster

    fredster Clueless Adventurer

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    Any idea why the 2 people walking facing left in the middle of the photo just above the black and white awning look like ghosts? Just curious. Beautiful pics by the way.
    #25
  6. PFFOG

    PFFOG Richard Alps-aholic

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    Funny I never noticed, that pic was one I was playing with HDR, I had taken 3 shots bracketing the exposure, the software blends the shots, so it was one person running, and the software must have played tricks with it, trying to blend it.
    #26
  7. Olirider

    Olirider Been here awhile

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    The country of stinky cheeses
    Thanks for the nice pictures from some of my preferred roads that I try to ride at least once per year.

    The bunkers you saw on top of the Bonnette road were part of the Maginot line from WWII. It is not well known but the Maginot line was very efficient in the Alps against the Italian army which attacked AFTER the French army was nearly completely destroyed by the German army.

    These specific bunkers are https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ouvrage_Restefond

    There are a lot of the Maginot forts in the Alps and there are always in beautiful places. Some are restored by associations and open for visit.
    #27
  8. Mark_O

    Mark_O Drain Bamaged

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    Moran Nation
    Great pics and report. Subscribed
    #28
  9. PFFOG

    PFFOG Richard Alps-aholic

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    Gorges du Cians. Again sound sucks, just turn it down most of the way, and pretend you forgot to put your ear plugs in.




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    #29
  10. PFFOG

    PFFOG Richard Alps-aholic

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    Mon 9/10
    Staying high


    Today’s profile


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    Every trip he has special days, with images that are indelibly burned into your brain, today was one of those days. After booking the tour I preceded two order detailed Michelin maps of the region's we would be traveling. While perusing the maps, doing a little reconnaissance, I spied a road along the French and Italian border that piqued my interest. Boy you have to love technology. I sat down at the computer and fired up Google maps. Google street view has extensive coverage of small back roads in Europe, which is a great tool to plan routes. Sure enough the road looked just as phenomenal close-up, 30 switchbacks in what measured to be five kilometers! And street view confirmed it was a narrow paved road, the type I live for.


    While looking around the area in street view I also spied another road, it didn't look that twisty but looked narrow and remote. I dragged street view icon over to the road and my screen filled with a wonderful panoramic view. I continued to drag the icon along the road and everywhere I stopped the scenery was just breathtaking. Although not paved, the road looked easily passable on a GS, even 2 up. It is a destination road for off road riders and bicyclists, in fact in the summer it is only open to bicycles a couple days a week, called the
    Strada dell' Assietta. It is so obscure it doesn’t even show up on the GPS and several maps

    I had talked with Rob about the road and he said he had been up there but not in a few years. He was a worthwhile trip, but said he would not send everybody up there, as it could be challenging in places, but said he had no problem with the capabilities of the people on this tour.


    Looking at the routes on the tour, it appeared I could incorporate this road into the tour a couple of different days. When we woke up a clear whether this morning, after an overnight rain, so today was the day to head up.


    We headed back north over the Col d'Isord. When we were coming back to the hotel last night often the distance we saw some black clouds and even a few strokes of lightning. Luckily we did not get wet getting back, but the storm must are settled over the Col. The pavement was littered with stones in several places where their rain had washed them over the road. There was even some remnants of snow, that had accumulated along the road, and still evident in the grass, but this morning was brisk and clear.



    Morning at the top of Col d'Isord.


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    We headed east toward the Assietta. As we came into the town before the turn off we ran into Rob and two other riders from the tour. It was mid-morning so it was time for cappuccino before heading up the road. It was a perfect clear day so I knew the viewers would be gorgeous, and sure enough they were. As we headed up the road, I began to worry that two other riders who were on street bikes with street tires might find this a big challenge.


    West ramp to the Assietta.


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    About five kilometers of climbing through ever rising Meadows, we crested a ridge and were greeted by the breathtaking view of the valley before us.


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    Two R bikes pretending they are GS’s


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    The dirt road was approximately 30 km long traversing a high ridge the entire way. Each kilometer brought ever changing views of the valley's on both sides of the ridge.


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    #30
  11. PFFOG

    PFFOG Richard Alps-aholic

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    9/10 part 2

    We rolled along sidestepping rocks, ruts, and crossing mud holes, all will time in awe of the scenery. We stopped atop Mont Genevris, among some ruins from a time passed, parked our bikes, grabbed the food and ate in one of the most beautiful places I have seen in the Alps.
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    We had purchased some bread sausage cheese and water for a mountaintop lunch at 8250’ above sea level.


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    I don’t know the age of these ruins, but are likely military on origin, as the desolation of the area would not be conducive to settlement.


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    There was a famous battle, in 1747, where the locals from Piedmont clashed with the French, according to Wikipedia, in a 5 hour battle 5000 French were killed and only 77 Piedmontese. With the great strategic views, and proximity to the border, I would guess that it was also strategic in the World Wars.


    More history here:


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Assietta


    http://www.johnsmilitaryhistory.com/Assietta.html


    Not my video, but shows the road and conditions better than I captured. This was just down from where we ate lunch. We luckily had a few mud holes, but it was just damp enough to keep the dust down.

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    The ride down we past a Shepard working his flock to a water hole


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    On the way down.


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    Pictures do not capture the beauty of this ride. Everyone made it down safe, with no incidents, and happy that they cut this unusual side trip.


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    The F800R decided to collect a little sample of the road


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    Next up was a beautiful paved road that climbed again over the Col delle Finestre, before turning into dirt on the north slope, for about 8 km and leading back to that little paved road with the 28 switchbacks.


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    What does 30 switchbacks in 5 km look like? The rapid fire ones come about the 3 minute mark. BTW switch the quality to HD if you have the internet speed, much better to watch.

    On a map:

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    On a bike: The rapid fire ones come about the 3 minute mark. BTW switch the quality to HD if you have the internet speed, much better to watch.


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    All I can say is today's ride was a memorable one. After getting back to the main road it was time for fuel stop. We all filled up grabbed some refreshment, and took a little breather. The gas station had an outside car wash and one of the attendants was spraying the customer's car with pink soap. One of the riders on the tour was a woman wore a pink helmet. In a moment of silliness Rob asked the attendant if he could borrow the soap wand, and called over Donna, and preceded to cover her in pink soap, before grabbing the high pressure wash wand and rinsing her off, while the attendants, customers, and we roared with laughter. That is one way to get 40 km of dirt road off your riding gear.


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    The ride back was pleasant, and we paralleled the main road on a small serpentine one, that darted and twisted bak and forth under the highway.


    Then up two more Cols, the Col du Laurtaret, and the Col du Galibier

    From Col du Galibier

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    We arrived, late as usual, at another great hotel, sat down to a great dinner, few great bottles of wine, and some great socializing amongst our new friends. This is what life is all about.
    #31
  12. Mark_O

    Mark_O Drain Bamaged

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    I am digging the scenery.
    #32
  13. Horton

    Horton Been here awhile

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    Niederrhein
    Nice RR of one of my loved areas. Maybe next time you try to see a little bit mor of the Elsass north of Strassburg. Wunderful small towns, Ballons (Hills). . .

    And very small roads!
    #33
  14. PFFOG

    PFFOG Richard Alps-aholic

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    I spent 5 days riding out of Kaysereberg in '09, and have been on a lot of the small roads in that area, yes another great place to put some miles on.

    I envy you guys that live there.
    #34
  15. Arek Kontrol

    Arek Kontrol Been here awhile

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    Ex-pat Poles in Adelaide Hills, South Australia
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    ...amazing, just amazing!












    #35
  16. PFFOG

    PFFOG Richard Alps-aholic

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    Tuesday 9/11
    Today was a relatively short day, following some small roads that paralleled the main highway. We rolled up and over Col du Telegraphe and headed For the Col du Mont Cenis.

    Along the way we saw passed a heard of sheep, being guarded by a Polish Tatra Sheepdog, it did let us know that it was on duty when we stopped.

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    After riding up we spied small restaurant with a balcony overlooking the Lac du Mont Cenis. It was getting close to cappuccino time so we ordered some cappuccino and headed for the back deck, soaking up the sun and enjoying the lake view.

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    Next up Col de Iseran, a great little road over a high pass. A stop at the top to take a few pictures and we were and a pleasant ride down, before climbing up and over the Petite Saint Bernard.

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    I was in need of some gasoline before heading up the Petite St Bernard, but was not having much luck finding a station. The GPS pointed to a station a few kilometers away, unfortunately the station was unmanned, and did not take cash or except are cards. Having no choice but to move on, we headed up and over petite Saint Bernard, riding a little slower than usual to preserve fuel.

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    This worked out well anyway, as there was major construction on the pass, with lots of gravel in most corners. At the base of the petite Saint Bernard we rolled into a gas station still running, luckily, and found a station that took cash. Just up the street I spied a telltale ice cream cone sign that indicates gelato. Couldn't believe I've been in Europe for a week and had not had any gelato yet, so it was a no brainer to stop and enjoy some gelato for lunch.

    We continue to ride into Courmayeur, a base of Mont Blanc, we had a beautiful room with a nice view of the backside of Mont Blanc.

    View from our room, Mont Blanc is up there somewhere in the clouds
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    As we were in early we relaxed, and some of the girls went into town to do a little shopping. Luckily most places were closed so the wallet didn't take a hit. We would be eating at a place in town tonight. The clouds started to roll in and by dinnertime there was a steady white rain falling, so we were undercover of umbrellas on our way to dinner.
    We had a great dinner, and a great time with the owner of the restaurant, he was one of those characters that make eating fun, and with great food and wine, what better way to cap off our evening!
    #36
  17. enduro0125

    enduro0125 Sticks and Stones™..

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    Great riding near mount Bianco.
    :deal
    #37
  18. whatsgnu

    whatsgnu Scheissekopf

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    S. VT / W. MA
    Amazing !! Looks like a wonderful trip. Thanks so much for posting this RR. :clap:clap:clap
    #38
  19. PFFOG

    PFFOG Richard Alps-aholic

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    I need to finish it, I always peter out on the last couple of days, as I hate to remind myself of the feeling I have to go home soon.
    #39
  20. bastimentos

    bastimentos Been here awhile

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    Ticino, Switzerland
    Im sure there are many more like myself eagerly awaiting the final chapters, thanks for posting what you have so far.
    #40