I spent the day looking for gravel passes in the mountains but every gravel road I get to was foot or pedal bike traffic only. After a few nice passes it started to rain and I found a guest house called Halslhütte. They had a restaurant and bar. Dinner of warm soup and Hot tea to warm up from the cold rain.
The owner of the Hotel and a little munchkin.
Monday October 15, Halslhütte to Laces Italy. 116 km
Rain all day. I took a wrong turn in Bozen/Balzono and went north toward Stelvio pass instead of continuing to go west over Passo della Mendola. After another hour of cold rain I pulled off in Laces. A hot shower and a nice pizza at a local pizzeria were what I needed to warm up. Stelvio pass has a few internet cameras and before I went to bed, the pass had already received quite a bit of snow.
Snow getting close...
Rain the rest of the day. The only pics all day.
Tuesday October 16, Laces to Bellano (Lake Como) 261 km
The report from Stelvio pass said 16cm of snow overnight. The weather was sunny and the mountains were beautiful with the new snow. I backtracked south from where I came, the only way I could go. As I climbed Passo della Pasade, the roads were wet but they were clear from snow. The last 400 feet of elevation I was in the snow. A beautiful winter wonderland. Passo del Tonale had even more snow. Its quite fun riding through a ski town and seeing the looks people give you. A dude on a moto.. But its cold and there is snow? I stayed at a hotel right next to Lake Como in Bellano. There was a nice sunset over the mountains and Lake Como.
Pass #1 that day.
Waiting for a construction light. These "tunnel" things are very typical. They keep the avalanche, rock slide or water off the road.
Number 2 or 3.. I'm not sure which one.
20 minutes after being in snow, I was in moths? Thousands of little white moths. It was strange.
Saw this Moto Guzzi sitting outside a bar. So I turned around to find the owner. This guy was great. He looked at my KTM as hard as I looked at his Guzzi. A 1955 (I think) 500 cc. bellissimo.
Wednesday October 17. MOTO GUZZI MUSEUM
Even if you are not a fan of Moto Guzzi, the museum is very worth a visit. First off, its FREE! Second, there are over 300 great bikes dating back to 1919. Third.. there is a 500cc V8 that was built in 1955. Yeah. If you do the math.. it's 8x 62.5cc (scooter?) pistons. My favorite were some of the old speed racers, one with skis, the Paris-Dakar bike, the Baja bike and the V8 racer. After the factory I went to Sala Comacina and found a hotel. I was not planning on staying at lake como another night but I took a wrong turn. I had a great dinner of steak and mushrooms. Since I didn't go very far, I used my "fuel" budget for an amazing dinner.
Here are a few of my favorite. I took 221 pics at the Museum.
All pics from the Moto Guzzi Museum
The first one. Even it had amazing style.
38 hp supercharged 250cc in 1938?
I needed this one a few days later..
I want this. Bad.
Love of motorcycles transcends age, money, time, and language. If you get it. You get it.
Thursday October 18 Sala Comacina (Lake Como) to Cesana Torinese, Italy 327 km
Motoway to Milan then west of Torino to get to some nice gravel.. Books on tape are a life saver when on a motorway. Right now it is The "Theory That Would Not Die: How Bayes' Rule Cracked the Enigma Code, Hunted Down Russian Submarines, and Emerged Triumphant from Two Centuries of Controversy". Colle delle Finestre was a great climb and after a few miles it changed to dirt. I was in the clouds the whole way up. On the road to Colle dell Assietta I climbed above the clouds and it was amazing. Good to be in the mountains again. I found this route by searching for "the best gravel motorcycle road in Italy". Hotel in Cesana Torinese was cold but a good sleep.
first part of the pass... after a few hours of motorway.. this was welcomed.
Climbing through the fog.. or clouds?
quick stretch of tarmac and the valley below.
Not sure how far down.. maybe it is better this way..
Taking a small hike.
Woops! missed me!
I found these pine trees to be very common. They change color and loose there needles in the fall like a tree with leaves?
Friday Ocober 19 Cesana Torinese to Demonte 205 km
A few days earlier I downloaded this GPX from GPSies http://www.gpsies.com/map.do?fileId=xnbwkssmyindazym. This track was apparently for a moto tour so I thought it would be good. It brought me over some nice passes, some crazy canyons and just when I thought it would all be pavement, it lead me up the Colle del Preit. This turned to gravel.. then to mud.. then to rock.. then to a combination.. then to snow. Yup snow. I had 20 km to backtrack or what looked like a few hundred meters to go forward. I new I only had 4km to blacktop and 2 hours left until the sun set. I was already in the shadows of the mountains so i decided to keep going. A wee bit of snow never really scared me. With the weight on the ktm, she actually got pretty good traction. I walked her along thorough the snow and kept going. Just before the tar I found a few old army buildings and a gun bunker. Hotel that night in Demonte. I walked to a "snack bar" and had a sandwich with 2 local guys. 3 or 4 drinks later and we were best buds. A combination of Italian, Spanish, English and Shrades and we could communicate.. Kind of.
Not quite cold enough to make snow.. right?
Ducked into France for a second. Fuel is .30 euro cheaper. (fyi)
Day starting good...
In the alps, people had a severe case of "lets build a castle on top or on the side of a hill"
Are you guys getting tired of pictures of twisty roads yet?
Lunch time spot.
This road scared me.
You can't tell its about a 14% grade.
with quality galvanized pipe for the guard rail.
Rocks.. Is that snow over there?
Not to bad.. a few peddle bikes and a moto went through..
Sick of the mountain shots yet?
The road I came up. I almost did a big loop back around the "bowl"
Washed out road.. not to bad.
Slimy mud. The type that doesn't want to clear your lugs.
The point I almost turned back. Where snow had slid into the "road". I kicked a trench through the snow so I would have a path for the tires. The down hill side of the trench was packed snow from the earlier moto. I didn't want to go in his icy track but use it as a guide. The snow had that "spring corn" feel to it.
Long way down if I mess up. Not an option.
The road forked and I went on a dead end route (on purpose).
Not to welcoming...
Back on pavement.
About to get cold again...
Bye bye sun.
Saturday October 20 Demonte to Latte 176 km
The day I had been waiting for. 60 something km of roads built by Italy in WW2 along the French/Italian boarder. "ligurian border road" I have to thank my buddy Harry from Germany for pointing these roads out to me. Here are the GPS tracks I used:
This website (even though in German) has been a great help to me. I downloaded ALL the passes for the French, Italian, German, Swiss and Austrian alps as 1 GPX file. So all the highest points of each pass are a way point. They also have it as POI adder for Garmin. Great website if you want to tour some great passes.
I met up some CRAZY Italians on bigger bikes. The reason they are crazy is because they are on street tires on big bikes. There were times where if you effed up, it was over. All over. 50 meter cliff to death. After riding a few km with the 3 Italians, I kept going by myself. They were moving so slow and I didn't want to get caught in the dark on these roads. Gotta keep moving. That evening I made it to the coast and stayed in the town of Latte near the French boarder. 10 Euro for a campsite. I met some 20 something guys from the UK who had won some money on a horse race and were celebrating with a road trip in a camper-van. We ended up drinking until 2 in the morning that night.
The start of the north side of the military road takes you right through Fort Central. Most people would take the tunnel below and never know what they are driving under.
Wee bit of a gate to step around.
Starting to get good!
Getting toward the south end of the northern section.
Last 10 or so km of the northern section were 3rd gear stand up cruising.
Climbing to start the southern part.
There is sun!
See this often.
Really? 2 up? Thats crazy.
Seems almost like cheating..
The licence plate draws a crowd.
Village on a hill..
And another... I think the Italians used to just find a nice hill and decide to build a town on it.
Sunday October 21 Latte Italy to Banon France 278 km
Got a late start this day. On the road by noon. I decided to take the cost road to Monaco to see what all the fuss is about. I was getting a bit happy with the throttle in the tunnels and around the curves. Around one corner I rolled on the throttle and I felt the ass-end slide out some so I rolled off the throttle and pulled over. Turned out the valve stem on my rear tire tore and evacuated all my pressure in a split second. Luckily I always carry spares. Guess how many people stopped to see if I was ok? I thought for sure a guy in a Ferrari would stop to get their hands dirty with me. All kidding aside, I was a bit disappointed not a single moto stopped. Probably 30 or so went by. They probably saw my bank account wasn't big enough to care about. I went somewhat north/west and when it was getting dark I found myself in the town of Banon. The campground gate was closed so I found a road into the woods and a clearing to camp. Beautiful night until it started to rain around 2:00 am. Then it started to thunder and lightning. The closest it got was Flash.. one one thousand.. two one thousand.. Boooom! Surprisingly I did get some sleep.
Looking toward Italy.
Monaco (I think). I wanted to get a picture of the HUGE boats in the harbor. Its just one big dick waving contest. I could ride for years on what it take to fill them with fuel once.
Flat. Can you guess how many people stopped to help?
One more fall colors shot.
A place to camp.
Monday Ocober 22 Banon France to Asson France 637 km (tons of motorway fun)
Alarm went off at 6:30 and its raining. 7? Raining... 8? Raining.. 9? Still raining. Time to bite the bullet and get up. I hate starting the day wet. When you are camping, you there is no way to pack up with out getting wet before getting on the bike. When you are in a hotel, you can get on to the bike and start moving before getting soaked. After some small roads I got on motorway. I had some ground to cover.
Next stop... MOROCCO!