13/07/2011 The chicken act – To and fro BSD and then from Colle del Moncenisio to La Thuile (Aosta)

TheAuthor / Alpine Arch, Journeys / / 0 Comments / Like this

I could not find a better title for this post; you will soon understand why.
As I said in the previous post, the fax machine at the hotel at Cesana Torinese does not work. I cannot even have a copy of my ID card with me. Now and in the next days I am going to and back from France, Italy, Switzerland, Austria etc. (and especially Slovenia, if I will have one spare day in the end) and I cannot risk of being stopped because I have not a valid ID card with me.
So, I decide to go back to Borgo San Dalmazzo and get my document back and then, as soon as I can, come back to these places.

This part is not really exciting. There is bad weather but I survive; a few showers well handled by my technical clothes (water resistant). I am moderately satisfied since I am back at Susa at around 13:00 (with my ID card back in my pocket).
Now I think, the rest of the day is going to be easier…
This is today’s route as it turned out to be:

13th July 2011 Route

The plan is to go from Susa, via Molaretto, to Colle del Moncenisio and then to turn to Lanslevillard to reach Val d’Isere via Col de l’Iseran.
After having left Susa it starts to rain, first lightly, then steadily and heavier. It will never stop for the rest of the day.
At Passo del Moncenisio a significantly strong wind starts to blow. Well, I think, wind and rain, I can cope with this (well, James Taylor sang about Fire and Rain; I am definetely in a better position than him).

From Susa to Col du Mont Cenis:

After Passo del Moncenisio the temperature starts to fall. Gently but steadily. I am wearing my water resistant clothes but, under them, I have my summer jacket. Ok for the wind and rain but not for the temperature. Am I not a tough guy, after all?
It’s rain and rain and rain.

From Lanslevillard to Bonneval-sur-Arc (no passes here but much rain):

The truth is that it is raining heavily and I cannot find a suitable place to change clothes (that’s for those who think the answer to the last question is ‘no’). I start to think “Ok I will do it as soon as possible”. I start to feel cold and my hands are really asking for some warmer place to be.
A strong wind begins to blow carrying even more rain with it, and this urges for slower – i.e. safer – driving. But then, I realise that something that I never experienced before is happening. The bike water indicator starts to drop slowly, but visibly, down to the minimum. This is happening while running. In the meanwhile, my hands hardly respond to my commands; they are actually two pieces of ice. And to stop would not help because I think that I am already too far, stopping would not better the situation (no hotel, etc.).
But suddenly a strike of fortune: a tunnel. I stop inside, near the end, to be fully visible to everyone, and slowly (I cannot do any faster than that slow because I am almost frozen) prepare the clothes to wear (the pile fabric sweater I ‘wisely’ took with me). I think that I can resist with that. After changing at the speed of light (at least it seems to me to be very quick, but it must have been quite robot-like looking) I prepare to go on, sure that it cannot be worst than that. What a chicken I am at times!
While preparing to start riding again, a SUV stops close to me; the lady next to the driver’s seat asks me if everything is alright (I can count two chicken now): thumb up and a frozen smile is my answer. I will never forget the look in the lady’s eyes. From her warm seat she was surely feeling superior and thinking something very bad about me.
I start back to ride and the rain grows thicker. And I have something more; little stones are hailing down now. Wow!
I keep on riding and I notice that the ground is changing, it is as if the hail were accumulating; once again I am wrong, it is not hail it is snow, simply.
Then I suddenly realise I am really in trouble. I have never driven on snow, not even on a minimum layer of snow as it is now laying along the road. If I fall it is really dangerous and it is going to be a major problem. So far the 226 kgs (including luggage) of my motorbike have been an advantage on the layer of snow; but if I fall this is soon going to revert to a big disadvantage: who on hearth is going to help me to lift it (assuming I do not get hurt?).
I try not to think about these scenarios and I keep on driving, trying to take advantage of the trails left by car’s tires. It is the place where the snow is thinner and – presumably – the grip available to my wheels is greater.
I slow down even more and I try to concentrate on every meter covered – I am constantly using the 1st gear, only the 1st gear.
I am surprised to have forgotten any other thing but to go on and leave that terrible place; when I reach the pass I am almost surprised.
And then comes the descent, with lots of cars in front of me (they are surprisingly driving at my speed).
As far as we get down the hill the snow vanishes from the ground and I start to feel (mentally) more confident. But I am a piece of ice, this is the worst present shortcoming.
Once again (remember that the rain – or whatever – never stopped falling) I think how far I can go before stopping. I decide to reach Italy, crossing the Colle del Piccolo San Bernardo. I force myself to hold on and drive till I cross the border to Italy where I stop at the first village I find, La Thuile.
I am so exhausted that I do not even realise that the hotel I am entering to ask some information is a motobiker’s friendly one (read here for more info on this).
I get a room from the very supportive lady of the hotel, I unmont cases, I get in my room, I throw every clothes I am wearing on the floor and… have a hot, delightfully, long hot shower.
I feel at home, whatever this might mean now.

Col de l’Iseran:

And this has been – by far – the worst day in my life as a motor biker[1].

BTW, I completely forgot that the videocamera was rolling tapes all the time (ok, ok, it is solid state, I know, but, you know, it is an idiomatic expression and after all I was born in the analogue era). When I get it back from the bike I realise that some water has spilled in the supposedly 60 mts waterproof housing of the cam. It is not working any longer.
I wash the housing – incredibly dirty – and I try to rinse the camera, that seems only slighty wet here and there, not too much, with the hair dryer. I disassemble it as far as I can and I leave it by itself. I will check it later.

I go to a local small restaurant, very nice and friendly. I deserve it tonight.

A long, hard day is over.

[1]So, you are not allowed to complain about the bad quality of the video; and the cam stopped working shortly after Val d’Isère.

Previous post Index Next post

Leave a Reply

Not allowed. This entire site is distributed under a CC License Creative Commons Attribution - Non commercial - Share Alike 3.0 Unported (see footer).