The motorcycle chronicles of Jackie & Valentino

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by V@lentino, Dec 3, 2008.

  1. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

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    I have been a member of this forum for a few months now, and have been mesmerized by all the amazing ride reports. I make it a point to spend too much time everyday reading another great adventure, as my ST 1300 now sits lonely in the garage, parked on her center stand. I have more time to drool over the fantastic pics and enjoy the first hand accounts of the “wriders”. The comments generated by the rest of the inmates tie the whole thing together perfectly.

    I just love it:raabia

    For the last few months I have been longing to put a ride report together, but could not find the time to do it properly.

    Well guess what? I now have a bit more time. Although I maintained a blog during the trip, the interaction you get from the RR is not just the same.

    Here we go enjoy:

    My wife and I had been planing our trip for just over a year, and it was now coming to the last few days before push back.

    April 10 2008.
    Adequately prepared, farkled, packed and crated, the Black Beauty would start ahead of us making her way across the pond. All we needed to do was finalize the last minor details before we would made our way to the airport on April 16.

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    So we re-counted all the days between the last day at work and the first day we would have to be back, came up with the magic number of 115, divided the bulk of the trip between Spain, Italy, and Greece about 60 days. Saved a few days to acclimatize, ship the bike back to Canada, and recover. Decided where each of us absolutely wanted to go, and opted for loosely connecting dots on the map of central-western Europe for the remaining days.

    In the end it looked like this.

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    And the plan was something like that

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    By now ST was on her way from Winnipeg to Calgary in the back of a truck, than on the jumbo jet to Frankfurt, and another quick solo road trip to Amsterdam.

    We would take a much more direct route with just a quick stop in Minneapolis.
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    Leg one Amsterdam to Winnipeg via Mall of America.
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    See you in the Netherlands

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    If you wonder what’s the deal with the Jackie and Valentino bit, stick around.
    #1
  2. GB

    GB . Administrator

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    Wow!! A dream come true!! :clap

    Looking forward to your excellent European adventure!!! :tb

    :lurk :lurk
    #2
  3. LoCat

    LoCat Time it's a bitch

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    Sounds like a great trip looking forward to it.

    Jumbo jet to Frankfurt for the bike hmmmmm wonder what that runs :eek1
    #3
  4. Moraflex

    Moraflex Banned

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    :lurkI'm ready
    #4
  5. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

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    April 16

    We love Amsterdam, It’s one of my top 3 favorite cities in Europe. As soon as we landed in Schiphol, I pulled out the Macbook and skypped the receiving broker to see if ST had made it safe and sound.

    Hum... No sorry he says, the motorbike is not here yet, call me back tomorrow.

    Ok dank u, no problem we had a couple of days until the 18 for a planned ride to see the keukenhof accompanied by the ST Owners Club of Holland. All of it arranged by a friend that I was yet to meet in person.

    What are the chances of meeting a rider through a motorcycle forum that rides the same bike as you do, make and color. Has the same first name, and has a warehouse 5 ms from the airport where you want to ship your motorbike, makes himself available to help with the logistic for shipping and receiving a 800 lbs bike and all the crap 2 people carry for a 3 months trip. Well if you’d asked me, I’d tell you they’re pretty good.

    So my next call was to my Dutch homonym:

    No worries he says, call me when the bike gets there and we will come and pick you up.

    Kewl, plenty of things to do in Amsterdam. :freaky

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    So we hopped on the train to Centrum to take tram 25 to Sapharti park. Our future dwelling for the next few days, no stress we are on one hell of a vacation, and Jackie wants to take a nap and go to the Albert Cuyp market.

    Meet Jackie
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    #5
  6. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

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    Actually not so bad, but there's a trick:

    Marry a Flight Attendant, they are good looking, resilient, don't take crap from anybody, and come with all kinds of fringe benefits.:wink:

    Like the marry me fly free program. :drif
    #6
  7. GB

    GB . Administrator

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    Lucky bastige!! You married well :nod

    :lurk :lurk
    #7
  8. Nelson

    Nelson Shadow Boxer

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    :lurk In for some good winter reading!
    #8
  9. divingbiker

    divingbiker True Blue Adventurer

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    :lurk

    Cant wait to enjoy the tour!
    #9
  10. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

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    Friday April 18

    When was the last time you got to see a dog sing the blues,

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    a young mom carry 3 kids on two wheels while speaking on her mobile and passing a 3 wheeled car. Had an Irish breakfast, see an original Van Goth, snacked on fries spiced with mayo and curry sauce, had nutty chocolate truffle made right in front of you for dessert, a Turkish pizza for lunch, and fresh fish with a hottie named Jackie for dinner.

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    Well in a nut shell that was a very small part of my first few days in Amsterdam.

    We where expecting the motorcycle for this morning, but if looks like it it will have to wait until Monday. the bad news is we will miss a tour of the tulip fields on Sunday, the good news is that there are lot of worst places to be stuck-in for the weekend than Amsterdam.

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    The coffee shop where the scene in Ocean's 12 was shot
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    The canals at night
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    Some of the local talent
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    Finally Monday morning came, as I laid awake with trepidation I realized it was still only 0545. Waken by the pleasant melodious coo cooooo coo of white doves perched on the window sill.... Ok! Ok! so maybe they were just a couple of pigeons on acid, what do I know.

    The first call to the cargo handling company was at 0700, time to go get ST...hopefully

    “yes your crate as been received”, was the answer that came through Skype from a heavy Dutch accented English.

    Goed, goed I answered back. (but with a Dutch accent, sounds like good-with a guttural “gh”) You see I have only being in Amsterdam for four days, and my Dutch has improve enormously.

    Next, time to Skype my Dutch twin.

    Stand by for a call from Rob, he will give you a ring just before he picks you up in Sapharti park, be ready, he drives a VW van.

    Goed-goed I said (my Dutch was indeed getting better), we will be downstairs waiting.

    Jackie waiting
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    As I made my way down the perilous steps from our third floor flat, I felt a wave of frenetic energy running up and down my spine. I would have to be patient, then I noticed that right in front of our B&B was the only vacant spot on the very busy street, where shortly after Rob pulled in behind the wheel of his VW van. As I buckled up, and started to exchange my first few words with the jovial Rob, who I was meeting for the very first time,
    he told me:
    "I have have 10lt of gas, and I brought some tools just in case we need them."

    As I listened to his voice, I settled into my seat, took a deep breath, taking in the buzz of the city, then let out a comforting sigh, this type of process is rarely smooth, but I smiled, and relaxed, the sun was shinning, it was going to be a great day. :clap

    Yup the Black Beauty made it in one piece.
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    Gota have gas
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    Get rid of this please
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    Notice the Russel, who said an adventure can't be comfortable:evil
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    Almost done:rayof
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    From the time we got to the cargo, it took about 4 hrs, and I was pressing the start button, ST roared on the first try. The whole thing was seamless, and if the handler would have been more efficient, and if custom would have stamped the waybill the first time we went to see them we would have been done in an hour and a half.

    Our first ride was through the beautiful country side of Holland, guided by René who was virtuously opening the rode at the helm of his black ST.

    Meet the twins

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    And the Valentino Dood
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    -It must have been very confusing for the cagers- 2 black ST, 2 guys named René. :huh

    I was learning to negotiate the roundabouts, and slowly getting accustomed with the European traffic protocols. We winded down the day in Eden-Leur, still not quite sure what serendipity had brought us here.

    As I laid in bed under my duvet after an easy 250 km ride through the dikes, followed by a couple of local beers, I could not help but smile, and think goed, goed, you know with the guttural Dutch “gh”... I fell asleep knowing that by the morning I would be fluent in Dutch.

    Tomorrow we head for Luxembourg and the adventure begins.
    #10
  11. ChuckV

    ChuckV Itinerant Settler

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    :D Fascinating Rene! Thanks to you for taking the time to post. I look forward to following your adventure.

    C~
    #11
  12. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

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    April 22
    We woke up early, René was great, after helping with the bike and guiding us through his country, not only did he put us up at the hotel (he said the air mattress was deflated and he did not want to have his new Canadian friends sleep on the floor of his home-office). He did not even let us pay of breakfast, so generous, we were a bit overwhelmed by his kindness but, I reminded myself that random acts of kindness among bikers are nothing new.:nod

    We left at about 10:00 for Esh-sur-Sûre, in the course of the afternoon we would cover the span of the Benelux (Belgium-Netherlands and Luxembourg), we had already decided on by-passing Brussels, it’s my city of birth and we have been there on many occasions.

    Before heading up to Maastricht, we stopped in a little town where we hooked up with a friend of René, another ST rider recuperating from a bad fall during a trip to the States. We were invited for lunch and after copious amounts of food, we made our way to Maastricht where René double checked if I had the right track in the Zumo, we gave him a hug and we were now on our own.

    Jackie and Valentino
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    They say about Luxembourg that the south is only 2 miles away from the north. Well what else can you say about a country the size of Rhode Island with just about 2586 sq km, it, with Belgium and the Netherlands are in my mind the true heart of Europe. Indeed, they started it all with the Benelux back in September of 1944 while all 3 monarchies were in exile in London. This economic alliance would become the precursor to the CEE and eventually the EU. Small is truly beautiful.

    I think we scared him
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    Founded in 963, Luxembourg became a grand duchy in 1815 and an independent state under the Netherlands. It then lost more than half of its territory to Belgium in 1839, but gained a larger measure of autonomy.

    It was not until 1867 that the country attained full independence. Overrun by Germany in both World Wars, it ended its Swiss like neutrality in 1948 shortly after forming the Benelux Customs Union, and further joining NATO the following year. In 1957, Luxembourg became one of the six founding countries of the European Economic Community, in 1999 it joined the euro currency area.
    We stopped for lunch and an espresso in the capital.
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    The com system and the Zumo are working well. I was getting used to the new PR2’s, and it felt great to be riding again. My last ride had been in November, so I was slowly easing back into the saddle. We arrived in Esch-sur-Sûre. Just before dark and after dropping our stuff in the room we headed to the local watering hole.

    Diekirch is the national beer, and we had one, or two, or three. :dutch We spend the night in this hotel, it was nice but way to expansive for our planned budget, it was the first night on the road so who cares. We'll have time to be frugal when we start to run out of Euros
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    April 23
    In the morning we walked around the walled city it was really nice, a bit brisk, not quite spring yet. After a hearty breakfast we geared up and headed for Héricourt.

    View from the top
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    As we made our way out of town, I had to negotiate a very steep and narrow road that ended in a T with an imposing wall in front. A car came in from the left not making a complete stop, as I was slowing down to make my stop, not quite at the top of the hill yet, I saw the cage committing to turn right, so I moved further to my right to give it more room, while edging slowly past my stop to make sure that there was not another car coming from the right, I lost my momentum, alas I was too slow, and I did not give enough throttle to compensate for the steep hill, ST decided to take a rest, and we went down from an almost static position. :baldy

    I still needed to get use to the weight of bike, we got help from a couple of guys to right her up, the lady behind the wheel of the cage got out and apologies profusely.

    Jackie gave me a dubious look and said:
    "What’s up with that Valentino, dood pace yourself its only our second day on the road, you sure your ready for the Pyrenees".

    I guess I had that it coming.:shog

    Oh well c’est la vie, we had about 400 km to do, perfect for the first really complete day of riding, and a walk in the park for the ST. Making our way to France in the region of Haute Saône, where my cousins awaited. I have not seen them in over 30 years. We would make a short loop around Metz, just south of Nancy, a beautiful medieval walled city. We had been there before but never together it was perfect.

    Beautiful Metz
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    And back on the road to Alsace.
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    More to come soon...
    #12
  13. Snowbeard

    Snowbeard maybe a bigger hammer

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    thanks for posting this!

    totally looking forward to more!

    :lurk

    :rayof
    #13
  14. Direktor

    Direktor Been here awhile

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    Nice ride. I'll keep my eye on ti! :thumb
    #14
  15. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

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    April 23
    The weather albeit a bit cool, between 14C and 17C, cooperated to make our ride to Franche Comté memorable.

    Nothing but blue skies
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    And yellow fields of mustard
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    We did our first pass, through le Ballon D'alsace, were we caught a bit of rain and the side of the road had still had some snow, the temp fell to 6C, it was a bit chilly. ST handled herself great through her first hairpins, and Valentino:wink: also did quite well, at least according to Jackie.:toney.

    We arrived just before night fall.
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    We would spend 3 or 4 days with the cousins.

    There is something quite heart wrenching to part with family you have not seen in 30+ years, of course it was great to be among people who love you even when they have not seen you since childhood, and it was even better to listen to the stories of my great aunt, who even past her eigthies insisted to clean and iron our laundry. But the most difficult is to say goodbye, when will I see them again I just don’t know...:cry

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    So it was with a heavy heart, and a basket laden with local delicacies that we left Héricourt, and my mother’s cousins' warm welcome.
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    Although we just spent but a few days together, it felt so right to be among each other after such a long a time apart, and funny to see that wherever you are in the world kids just want to play WOW... go figure. :huh

    30 years apart... how time flies and life passes you by. We are so caught-in and lost in the daily grind that so often we forget the essential. Last night we celebrated until late in the night, finishing the evening by reciting verses from Lafontaine as we drank Calvados and Poire William, all of us under the delectable ethylic vapors of Crémant, (a local sparkling wine) it was wonderful.

    This morning, as I let out the throttle, ST took us through the rolling hills of Franche Comté, we exited les Vosges to entered Le Jura. Under blue skies, the sun’s rays warming the back of our necks, we could do nothing else then take in the moment.

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    This mixture of parting emotions and anticipation of things to come, everything felt so right. In our helmets resonated the soothing voice of Cesaria Evora, and for while, the moment was just perfect bliss.
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    It was April 26 and we were now heading south-southwest towards Besançon, Chambéry.
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    A quick lunch break
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    Another sunny day
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    Then all along the Swiss border we entered the Alps with their magnificent peeks peering through our visors, soon we would pass Grenoble, then land in Vif where our friends awaited to make us discover the mountains of le Vercors.

    Can you see the white peaks far over the horizon
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    And a little bit closer to Grenoble
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    #15
  16. GB

    GB . Administrator

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    Nice :tb

    Thanks for the Euro fix... it sure beats riding around here :(:

    :lurk :lurk
    #16
  17. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

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    Le Ballon d’Alsaces, was nothing more than a rite of passage, it had been foggy, cold, and dusk was settling in. Both of us were ready for a more positive experience for our next mountain pass.

    Today would truly be a learning day for Valentino.

    Under a beautiful, sunny, warm spring day, Viviane and Gilles both experience mountain riders on their DR 650, took us on a 250 km ride that turned out to be an experience of a lifetime, pure adrenaline rush, between breath taking scenery.

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    We left Vif at about 10:00 and headed towards le Pont du Brion over a river giving life to an electricity producing damn on le plateau de Trièves.

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    From there we had an impressive view of le Mont de l’Aiguille, one of the most recognizable peaks of this region of the French Alps.

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    We then headed through our first pass of the day, on la route du Col de Menée, where my riding skills were quickly put to the test by several hairpin turns, thigh S turns and even tighter U’s. :clap

    Two Happy people
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    Our second stage in the twisties was le Cirque d’Archiane, where we stopped for a pic-nick.

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    Too tie the morning up we stopped in the medieval village of Chatillon en Dios, the pillions indulge in a cold local beer, and the riders in a stiff espresso.

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    Europe is so civilized!

    The sun was shinning and we decided to go for a walk through the village, where we met a local elder who explained to us that the reason that all the narrow streets in the village have the prefix Viol (rape in French) ahead of their name had nothing to do with the violent act, but more with an old French deformation of the latin Via (for way).

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    One more

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    Relieved by her explanation and slightly less dumb, we went on, on our visit. There I drank from the fountain’s icy cold water flowing down from the glacier high above us.

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    Gilles then asked me if I was now ready to go for a ride? This morning’s passes, at some 1450 meters were just a warm up. Be ready he said. And so we headed to la route du Col de Rousset, and le Col d’Alexis.

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    There we stopped and spent a few moments reflecting on the lives lost, and to the memory of the French resistance who took heavy casualties as they combatted the German oppression during WWII (La Flamme ne s’éteindra jamais).

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    Next we headed to le Col de la Chau, after which we stopped at le Font d’Urle, a natural wind tunnel. Hold on to your hat because if you drop your done.

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    Just a bit windy
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    We made our way back down to the plains, contemplating the green pastures of the valley, and passed la Forêt de Lente where the wolves still roam free.

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    Next would be the most challenging, and breathtaking ride of the day as we took le Col de la Machine, and headed for la route de Combe Laval, where the road literally carved out of the mountain was not more then a few meters wide, and wrap by spectacular sheer cliffs dropping more than 400 meters deep.

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    Needless to say that my piloting abilities were improving by the minute, or should I say by the meter.

    And the classic

    Entering
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    A quick look back
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    Just a few more
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    This one
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    And that one
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    Lots of really cool french bikers:super
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    We winded down the pass and made a panoramic stop at the village of Pont en Royans with its typical houses build over water.

    From far
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    From close
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    Just one more said Gilles with a grin as we headed for la Gorge de la Bourne, and winded down le Col St Nizier before stopping at a cheese-maker's shop to purchase some traditional goat, and lamb cheeses.
    Did I mentioned that Europe is civilized already?

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    We made a last scenic view stop of Grenoble lying flat deep in the valley surrounded by the magnificent white peaks of le Massif de Belledonne, and the rest of the white powdered tips of the Alps.
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    Far to the outstretch of the horizon, stood out like a king among its court, the majestic Mont Blanc.



    Wow! what a day it had been, both of us dizzy from such breath taking beauty. Try to remember the last time you did a 250 km ride, and never had a chance to hit 3rd gear before it was time for the next curve.

    Well that’s the kind of day it was for us in this part of the world.

    Tuesday we head West through the Massif Central for a night in Aurillac, to the Atlantic coast of France, along the coast to cross the Pyrenees, and enter into Spain.

    Till then...
    #17
  18. c munch

    c munch Destination unknown

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    Great ride report so far and a history lesson , awsome.

    Amsterdam is such a great city , we were there a few months ago and had a great time . I had a blood test today for a new life ins policy and hope all that fun we had isn't going to come back and bite me in the ass !!!
    #18
  19. LoCat

    LoCat Time it's a bitch

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    Those are some great pics right there...I got a little nervous about being close to the edge on that road :eek1
    #19
  20. iyeager

    iyeager I lost my avatar...

    Joined:
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    I just got back from two weeks in Belgium and Germany with a stop in Amsterdam. Was over there for work, rented a K1200R and took a trip to the Nordschliefe. Best 70 euro I've ever spent.

    Thanks for helping me remember what I'm missing. :thumb

    Ian
    #20