(Deutsch) Parlez vous francais?
Wima is based on different countries, different forms of the national organizations and accordingly also differentiated traditions.
Wima_Austria for example: We do have a season start – and season end tour as a national fixed point and we participate during the main season in regional and international events.
France, on the other hand, uses the General Assembly for a national meeting (rally), which traditionally takes place in September. And for motorcycle relevant reasons mostly in the Alps. And so Wima France has invited this year to its meeting – national rally – again.
Last year’s photos were very tempting, but there are a few important questions to answer before we consider participating:
Can any of us speak French? non
Does any of the interested people know the target area? non
Do we have good/current maps of southern, or western, France? non
Do we have French Franc? non,
but thanks to the Euro we don’t need them any more , after all, a Qui! We will go!
This is how the decision-making process developed, of course there was also a “little” curiosity.
That’s why Claudia and Versya registered to participate. As neither of them can speak French, and driving in a group on such a long journey is clearly advantageous, Wima Switzerland was contacted, and a representative from there also wanted to take part in the meeting.
So we decided to stop briefly on the way and then proceed further on together with Elsbeth. And as it turns out, two more girls from the north will join the group at the same time.
The first part of the journey was for time reasons with the transporter in which the motorcycles were stowed. But right after the Swiss border we were on our two bikes and stagger on endless mountain roads over one pass after the other. We calculated 4 days to complete the journey to Embrun , so we did plan our journey on the endless mountain roads. Therefore we can now enjoy the full potential of the route.
Klausenpass, Furkapass, Gr. St. Bernhard, Pt. St. Bernhard, Col de Iseran,
are the first sections that we cover without a rough mishap (but with a temporary cheese allergy 😉 ). The weather is fantastic, the route – which Elsbeth (our Swiss colleague) has woven together – is brilliant and the atmosphere is very good.
In Bessans, however, fate befalls us:
The first impact: We don’t ask for the price and order towels and breakfast in todays accommodation. This almost doubles the cost for the overnight stay in the Chalet l’Aubepine.
The price of the room: 36€/person/night but towel: 5€, breakfast 8€, tourist tax 7,5€ -> 20,5€ on top of it.
OK, we learned something again 😉
The second one:
After a very wonderful evening with Entrecote and red wine, Claudia’s motorbike doesn’t want to leave this gourmet area, it just won’t start.
Only here and there an asthmatic death rattle, but nothing more.
A few attempts later – with starting, changing fuel, rolling on, etc. – we give up, and Claudia contacts the Austrian Automobile Club (Öamtc) for support.
Thanks to her letter of protection, a towing service is ordered to bring her machine to Modane first… The rest of the group sets off to resume the planned journey – late, but still, they are on the road again. Versya accompanies Claudia and follows behind the tow truck.
During the ride, in the tow truck, Claudia checks the further options, but it looks gloomy: A further transfer of the motorcycle is not covered within her emergency contract. Motorcycle workshops seem to exist only in Albertville and in St. Jean de Maurienne. On the other hand, a train ticket for her to go back and a bring home service for the bike would be included and covered. Strange.
The clock is ticking. Meanwhile it is 2pm and we still have no substantial information.
2:30pm: Versya, has discovered a workshop in Briancon and via Elsbeth (parlez vous francais?) the workshop is contacted, and most important an immediate start of the repair attempt is promised by the workshop.
Perfect, so there is only the problem of motorcycle transport. The costs for this amounts to about 410,- € and Claudia is almost willing to take the risk to pay everything out of her own pocket and then go to Austria for a dispute. But then the news arrive that the French ATC will pay part of the transport costs. Whatever the reason, it is now 3:30pm and the transporter leaves with Claudia and motorbike for Briancon. Versya uses the time to start a race over the mountains to be on site before closing the workshop.
Col de Telegraphe and Col de Galibier are therefore passes that Claudia misses thanks to the tunnel ride, but at the moment there are more important things.
On the road Versya meets Elsbeth who has stayed behind for interpreting and is waiting for us. The workshop (Nico Moto – to be found on Google) is a classic workshop, it signals: “We can do it, let’s do it, pas de problems” 🙂
And really, Nico is working already , he has found the problems (the air filter is completely closed, and therefore the spark plugs are also gone.) No wonder, that the engine doesn’t want to run any more. As fast as the motorcycle was disassembled, it is reassembled. A high five for the uncomplicated technology before 2010 and a bravo! for Nico.
The costs for this ad hoc repair are also moderate: 180,- € for disassembling and assembling the motorcycle, changing 4 Iridium spark plugs and gasoline, cleaning the air filter (there was no original) + working time included. He worked on it from 17:25 to 18:45 and not even charged for the overtime.
And, because that’s not enough, he tips us for a place to stay on our planned way. High time, because it’s starting to dawn by now.
And so we end up in Gite Terre Rouge.
It is getting dark as we drive up the gravel road to the small houses on the mountain. Our host – Michel – welcomes us in front of the house and shows us the room that reflects the rustic ambience of a mountain hut, but is very comfortably furnished.
We unpack our picnic bought in Briancon and celebrate the successful repair like le Dieu en France.
Ham, cheese and baguette, in addition juicy tomatoes and a host, who spreads out the map in front of us, as a part-time motorcycle guide, and explains the most beautiful spots left and right of the next day tour to us.
It is a miracle. Without a breakdown we would never have landed here and all these insider tips for the next day would have passed by unnoticed. 😉
From yesterday’s experience we got smarter, we first ask for the price for towels and breakfast, before we order it (Here – of course – they are very moderate 🙂 ). We shower and fall asleep.
The breakfast on the next day is also a pleasure and so we start the next stage of our trip. It wouldn’t even been 100km from here to Turin, but we head further to the mountains south of us, in direction to Col de Izoard.
The pass resembles a landscape of Mars with all its peculiar rock formations, but there are too many buses around and meanwhile we are used to the silence and “loneliness” on the roads and move on.
Back down from the pass we do not turn right towards Guillestre, but first we turn left, around the small chateau in Ville Vieille and then we continue, again into a side valley, to the mountain village St. Veran that is due to its high location and original structure a worth seeing jewel.
After a short visit we ride back into the valley. We miss another sight: The forêt d’amour, but meanwhile the day is so far advanced that we don’t feel like looking for the right entrance furthermore.
So, now we follow the valley in direction to Guillestre – which is very exciting to drive – and then we turn in direction to the Col de Vars.
There we also stick our pass “Souvenir” on the plate and after a short snack we ride down again into the valley. We follow the Val de Ubaye, until we reach Lac Serre-Poncon. We follow the lake after a short detour on the south shore, further on, on the north shore. Versya would like to try out the last tip: The D7, which shortcuts over the mountain, via L’Adroit de Pontis, to the eastern shore of the lake and apparently consists of many small hairpin bends. In addition, there is a weak asphalt surface, which increases the challenge even further. But it is well known that something like this attracts her even more.
So the group splits up briefly to meet again behind the mountain.
We arrive there in the late afternoon and are already welcomed by the other participants.
The rooms are quickly distributed and we explore the hostel and the surrounding area.
Dinner is classic French and tastes delicious. The atmosphere is very good and we are looking forward to tomorrow’s program… The day was long and so we crawl into our bed at 00:00… 😉
The next day, a good breakfast and the spirits are back… The route is similar to the day before, but in the opposite direction… Versya wants to take the “direct” route (la voie directe) and shorten it cross mountains via the … Col du Parpaillon …. As it is a gravel road, or worse, (difficulty 3-4 according to Alpenpässe.de), the others ride with the British Wima Ladies in the direction of Col de Larche.
The picnic at the pass is wonderful, the weather is simply unimaginable!
Another Wima miracle. It is the end of September and we are sitting here at over 2300m and it is pleasantly warm. Versya is also there, of course…… not without having driven yet another pass (Col de Bonette). Only her food hasn’t survived, as it seems it has “vomited” (at least it looks like so). So we share sisterly, it is truly enough there.
Of course there is still a group photo with our almost 50 head round and then we leave again in small groups. Back home over the Col de Vars and Guillestre . In the evening there is again a wonderful event.
Today we keep it rather short, because tomorrow we go back to the north in the direction of Gap and Albertville,
On the way there are again many passes and cool routes like: Saint de Appollinaire, Col de Parquetout, Col du Glandon, Croix de Fer, Col de la Madeleine,
That was again a huge amount of curves and vertical meters, and so we stop in La Lechere to drive up to the hotel La Radiant (a Nobel-Spa hotel) with our dirty machines and motorcycle gear. Great looks, but the price is OK and we enjoy the luxury of the room and the hotel and end the evening with a picnic in front of the balcony (which has already become something of a tradition).
It has become cold in the meantime, and the announced rain clouds are pulling together. And so it rains the whole night through and cools down massively. At higher altitudes it has probably snowed, because when we stop the next day in Chamonix the White Mountain (Mont Blanc) shines in bright white and lives up to its name.
Col de la Croix, Col de Montets, Col de la Forclaz, Martigny, Col de Pillon follow and so we arrive in the Simmental. In Boltigen we spend the night in the Hotel Simmental that even has an indoor pool where water gymnastics are offered.
The day was long again and really cold, so unusual after the last week. Meanwhile we have put all our clothes on. Elsbeth means only lapidary: Fuck sport, I will do only water gymnastics from now on 😉 And starts to sing: Are you the Count of Luxenburg Song…. clearly the preliminary stage to total exhaustion 😉 .
The room is huge and rustically furnished (the children’s room on the 1st floor could be from Heidi and Peter), the farmers in the restaurant are also rustic, and talk to each other? but what the topic is is simply not understandable 😉
The food and the warm bed are wonderful, so we go to sleep soon .
The next morning it’s 0° , but, we wanted to drive the Sustenpass (2260m)?
So first we pack everything up, had breakfast and went on into the canton of Bern. Followed the lakes Thuner and Brienzer and enjoyed the warmth of the tunnels along the way. In Meiringen we check the weather forecast again and ask oncoming motorcyclists. The pass is free, so we go…
At the top of the wonderful pass road the 0° of the morning catches up with us again. The varnishes are all frozen and a thin snow film is visible all around. Therefore, we only stay for a short time and make our way back to the warmer valley, where the sun finally thaws us again with warm rays.
Now we stopped briefly in Altdorf at the Tell monument (yes, that’s the guy who helped to throw the Habsburgs out of Switzerland) and on to the heartland in Schwyz to see the Rütli over the lake. Now, only the Pragelpass separates us from the canton Glarus and the Klöntal, so that we can finish our tour and – finally – search for some Chocolate.
We have to bring a compensation for the last 10 days for those who stayed at home and missed all this wonderful roads and scenery. And, of course we will find something 🙂