Monday 9th September
We had a plan for the day which required good weather for part of it. It was another beautiful sunny day so the plan was on.
While my brother was
dicking about packing his bike
preparing for the journey ahead, I rode along to the next village looking for somewhere to take a picture.
Mandello del Lario and Lake Como.
I donít think you can see the Guzzi factory in this picture, itís somewhere over on the far left.
The plan for the rest of the day was to head north past the top of the lake and then turn off the motorway and head towards St. Moritz, turn left and go over the Julier Pass, but with a maximum altitude just a couple of feet short of 7,500 we needed that sunshine - no point in going that high to look at the inside of clouds. After that weíd come down and get back on the motorway again at Chur, head up past Zurich and back into France at Mulhouse.
We had nowhere booked for the night, but were going to rely on technology - when we had an idea of how far we wanted to go Iíd use one of the apps to find a cheap hotel.
We stopped at the factory gates to take a few more pictures and then left Mandello heading south to Lecco to get on the motorway. Before we got there though we stopped so that my brother could fill up.
Road vehicles fill up one side, boats on the other.
We turned off the motorway at Chiavenna and onto the road towards St. Moritz. Itís not a big road, so speeds werenít high - but there was very little traffic, and mountains either side. About 10k along we crossed the border into Switzerland and the road surface improved and houses were much tidier - nowhere needed decorating or the grass trimming.
In the 40k between Chivanna and the turnoff for the Julier Pass the road climbs about 1500m, but itís not continuous, nearly half of the journey is alongside lakes. Itís very pretty - the sort of scenery that you get in holiday brochures.
This is the Silsersee.
Thereís a stunning 360 degree drone shot on google maps
(not mine, I just saw it when I was writing this)
5k further along you turn left and start climbing up the Julier Pass
And get to the top. Itís 2284m high, so Iím not sure if the tower is there to allow you to climb to 2300m.
As you can see, plenty of snow - but heated grips meant that my hands were still comfortable wearing summer gloves (my brother had taken his off to take some pictures.)
Lots of snow, but the road looked as if someone had been along with a snow plow, then swept it and then wiped it dry!
Actually, apart from the roadworks that was true of the entire country.
Coming down the other side the scenery was very pretty, eventually we dropped below the snow line and started going through small towns in the valley - being very careful to keep below the speed limit. I didnít want to have to sell a kidney to get out of the country.
Between Chur and Zurich we made a stop for a late lunch at about 3pm in the motorway services. How much? I know we didnít stint on the calories, but it was only a Burger King! I was slightly surprised that I didn't get a phone call from the fraud deparment at the card company.
Not much further on, heading towards Zurich you come out of the mountains (well, the real ones) and the road was quite boring.
At Basel the road went into lots of tunnels, splitting routes inside them and we needed to make sure that we followed the correct tunnel to get to the border. Adding to the fun it was the evening rush hour so it was hard work keeping together, but we managed it and the French motorway was sanity after the last few miles.
Technology had got us a room in a budget hotel on the outskirts of Nancy, a bit over 200k away and the sun was going down. I enjoy riding at night (when itís warm), especially on a motorway or dual carriageway where the bends arenít suddenly going to tighten up but my brother was less keen blaming Italian electrics so he tucked in behind me. Such trust.
Going through the Vosges mountains thereís a 7k tunnel which saves going over a pass. Iíve just looked it up and it has an interesting history
. It was very strange because it had originally been built as a railway tunnel so is fairly straight, but we seemed to be the only vehicles in there.
Somewhere after the tunnel the motorway was closed so we followed diversions along the D roads, which was harder work at night and cut our speed back (to the annoyance of some French car drivers) and we didnít get to the hotel until 11pm. But the room had all the important qualities - two beds and a bathroom.
Distance for the day 371 miles.
---------------------------------------------------------------------Tuesday 10th September
It might have been a budget hotel, but there was no shortage of breakfast, so we fuelled ourselves up before setting off on another sunny day to ride across northern France.
The motorway must have been closed at some point, because I wouldnít have stopped on the motorway to take this picture.
And I know from the metadata that timewise it was about halfway between the hotel and lunch.
We stopped for lunch in the motorway services just before we got to Reims. The food was lovely and much, much cheaper than our Swiss lunch.
South of Cambrai we made another stop for coffee and snacks, and soon after parted company.
I had booked my crossings in the tunnel, but my brother insists on taking the ferry from Dover to Dunkirk - and back again. I reckon that with the extra road distance on each side and the crossing time it must add 3 hours to the journey.
I had a short wait at the terminal and then onto the train with a couple of other bikers and back to old Blighty.
I donít know why, but I dislike the M20/M26, so although I had no need of a break I stopped at Maidstone services for a coffee. I could have gone straight into south east London and picked up the south circular to go to the bit of south west London where I live, but itís slow going, so I went round the M25 to Leatherhead and then across to the A3, which passes close to where I live.
Despite the extra stop I was home at 21:46, so a little less than 12 hours from Nancy.
Once Iíd said hello to my wife and the cat, had a cup of tea and unloaded the bike I took it round to the garage. But despite having to be in work the next morning I couldnít go to bed yet. I had persuaded my brother that instead of travelling 100 miles further on to his home he should stay the night with us, which eventually he had agreed to. But, with the extra time taken on that ferry crossing, and then getting caught in road works coming round the south circular ďitís quicker than the M25
Ē (clearly itís not) it was about 2am when he arrived. Ah well, I can catch up with some sleep tomorrow evening.
Distance for the day 425 miles.
Originally this story was going to end there, but Iím going to add a postscript (not tonight though), and I'll see if there are any odds and sodds of motorbike pictures left over.