Southern France, Alps, August 2010
Another great tour into the Alps. This time a remake of 2006 Alps challenge. And again we did more than a hundred passes in 6 days of riding.
It was a so called self guided tour booked with M+F Tours. They do the hotel bookings, prepare the road books and GPS data, provide you a briefing for the next day (tell you where you might want to stop for views, lunch, gas, etc) and they have an assisting van on the tour which can help in case of technical issues and provide some water along the way. You do the tours on your own or in small groups with others.
I have booked the tour together with Thomas and Wolfgang. Tour guide was Marcellus (on a R1200GS) and Harald was there with the van.
A nice and comfortable setup for six days of serious riding in a biker's paradise.
More than 2200 miles within the mountains and a total of about 3000 miles to ride.
Our group consists of Tom, Wolfgang and Thomas
Wolfgang came with his BMW R1150GS. Thomas has a slightly tuned Ducati Streetfighter (just some carbon parts, more power, more displacement, some other extras). And I have my BMW K1300R with me.
From M+F Tours we have Marcellus (to the left, facing Gert in his red Ducati jacket in the middle) and Harald (to the right)
I went cross country to Schwabmünchen.
We picked up Matt and went from Schwabmünchen to the meeting point in Champery, Switzerland. Another ugly day for riding. Most of the time in pouring rain
It was so heavily pouring that we decided not to go over Klausen-Pass and Susten-Pass as originally intended.
We arrive in Champery in the evening not having made even one pass.
First day of the tour. It goes from Champery to Aix-Les-Bains. Weather has calmed down and we expect a sunny day with temperatures around 70 F. We will have this kind of weather over the whole rest of the tour.
Sun comes over the mountain tops
Lunch at Col des Glieres was great although it was about a mile of gravel to ride
Thomas decided to chose this particular beautiful spot ...
... to perform some serious repair works on his Duc. The electrical system broke down completely due to a loose cabel connection. But Thomas is an experienced mechanic and it took him about 15 minutes to locate the failed cable and to fix it temporarily.
From Aix-Les-Bains to Chichilianne
Usually you have a nice view climbing Route du Relais west of Lac du Bourget. This time it was foggy. So no pictures taken. Like in 2006 we encountered a road closure due to ralley car test rides but were allowed to pass.
Later in the day we had some great views like this one here at Col du Banchet
Thomas and Wolfgang enjoy some views
From Chichilianne to Barcelonnette
The hotel is an old castle and they have very good food there. But breakfast is very french (not much more than a Croissant and a coffee).
Gathering in the morning.
We had lunch at Col du Festre
Great views at Col du Noyer
Highlight of the day is Lac de Serre-Poncon with a tiny steep pass but unbelievable views
Thomas and Tom enjoy the view
The southernmost point of the tour is on today's menu. We stay in the hotel for the day and have a round trip towards Grasse where we will see the Mediterranean Sea
This day we decided to join Marcellus and Matt
First break in the morning after Col d'Allos. It is still quite chilly.
Matt, Tom and Thomas having a coffee in Castellane
Marcellus shows us the Mediterranean Sea at Col de la Faye
The little mountain village Sigale where we stopped for lunch
Col des Champs - difficult to climb with narrow roads and very bumpy but with a great view on top
Tom and Matt enjoying the view
THE day of the tour. The grand tour. 12 Passes, each of them above 6000 ft. And we start with the top one. Col de La Bonette. The highest paved pass road in the Alps. 9192 feet high.
The group on top of the pass
The GPS shows 2813 meters (9229 ft)
Colle dei Morti - my favorite pass view wise
Col des Agnels marks the border between Italy and France. So we come back into France after a day of riding some high Italian passes.
Our group consists of Tom, Wolfgang and Thomas
Thomas and Wolfgang enjoying the view
Back to Champery. The last day of the tour. And we will go over another favorite: Col du Pré
The other group called "The factory team" on Col du Pré
...with view to a reservoir called Lac de Roselend
The day ends in Champery with a nice sunset
Together with Marcellus and Matt we go towards Munich. The weather is good so we decide to go over some additional passes
There is a lot going on. There is a pedal bike race via Grimsel and Furka, there is a BMW 8 oldtimer ralley, there are some other old cars riding around.
We have the phantastic views from Grimsel Pass and from Furka Pass
Here you can see both. Grimsel in the background and Furka in foreground.
Just getting home after a great week in the Alps. There is dense fog around for the first two hours of the ride which then dissolves.