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Old 24-09-2015, 12:00 AM   #1
MooN's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Auxerre, Burgundy, France
Posts: 368
Default doing what it says on the tin

My Bike has " Transalp" written on it, so it's only natural to take it transalpine from time to time and the last time was a looong time ago.

Saturday 07h00, met up with 7 others on the N6 at Vincelles. Overcast sky and around 10 deg.c

Myself( transalp) 1 Tiger 1000, 2 FJR 1300's, a fazer 1000, an R1, an R1100S and a K1300S. We then headed to Avallon to hook up with another nutter on a suzuki 1800 intruder and switch on to the autoroute A6 at the same time.

By the time we got to the entrance booth to the A6 it was raining "halberds" as the french say, with about 2 inches of standing water on the road and visibility down to under 50m... we rode at around 40 km/h for about 15 minutes before it eased enough to boot up to anything like acceptable speeds and by which time we were all pretty much half drowned despite waterproof layers. To be honest, with the amount of "ambient"water anything short of snorkel and flippers just wasn't going to be sufficient..

I kept expecting people to take any exit and “exit off out of it” but they kept going and we held it all together eastwards down the A6, north on the A31 and east again on the A36 as far as Seurre, where we stopped for coffee and a dry out, as the rain had stopped. When leaving, the fazer refused to start... it's fitted with an alarm and immobiliser and the key fob button thingy just didn't deactivate the thing. We dismantled the remote control bit, thinking water had got in, dried it out, jiggled the battery, cleaned the contacts but to no avail. the seat came off the bike and various tools started coming out with the intention of tracing the wiring and binning theF*#*ing thing. The owner wouldn't let me near it with my hammer... We'd got as far as identifying the power feed to the unit when the petrol station bloke cleaning the pumps said "it's the telephone antenna, move the bike 50 meters down the parking and it'll work..." and it did! Apparently they have endles problems with the phone relay antenna on the site interfering with car key remotes. We'd only lost nearly an hour...

We got going again and headed for Poligny, Champagnole and les Rousses where we stopped for lunch ( having first checked the proximity ofphone relay antenna's)

After Lunch the fun bit started, from Les Rousses we headed down the Col de la Faucille, which is always fun and with the roads rapidly drying out the riding got proportionally sillier...erm... faster...

Gex to Bellegarde is decidedly boring but doesn't last long and allowed us to avoid switzerland ( more on this later).

A quick blast up the autoroute from Bellegarde to contamine saw us ready for some more twisties before calling it a day and heading for the Gite at Sixte. there are any number of possibilities here, but the weather closed in rapidly again and the temperature started to drop dramatically so we just rode the D907 from St Jeoire toTanninges, and then on to Sixte via a stop at the supermarket in Samoens to stock up on "apero" ...

Great twelcome at the Gite, and Christophe, the owner, soon settled down to some serious pastis guzzling with us, in spite of his other clients,more numerous than last time.

many bottles were drunk, much Tartiflette was eaten and loads of bullshit was shat... a thouroughly enjoyable evening.

Day 2 didn't get off to a good start, I had a flat rear.
the bloody thing was brand new last week, tyre and tube!

I borrowed a stirrup pump from the owner of the gite and started pumping. After a couple of minutes, one of the guys provided a pressure gauge which showed 1.5k ( that's 1.5k per sq cm) Someone else supplied 2 small C02 canisters which we chucked in as well, bring the pressure up to 2.2k, more nearly normal for a loaded transalp. I couldn't find a leak so guessed a dodgy valve and decided to leave it half an hour whilst packing and paying before testing again and making a decision about whether to carry on or not.

The original plan was for me to split from the group this morning and carry on into Switzerland alone whilst the others rode home to be at work Monday morning.
the choices were;
Ride home with the groupe
Ride home via autoroute where compressors are supplied at regular intervals, even on sundays.
Say " Duck it" and call the break down insurance, who would run me home in a taxi but only take the bike to the nearest Honda dealer, to be dealt with and collected at a later date...
Ride on as planned and deal with the problem as and when it really becomes a problem

As my plan was to take the autoroute as far as Chamonix any way, I decide to ride the 30 odd km to the autoroute, check the pressure there, as Bruno kindly suggested I keep his pressure gauge so's to keep an eye on the pressure at regular intervals, and then make the call as to carry on or run for home. Either way I was going it alone, so I decided to let the others leave first as I expected them to ride faster than I. As they pulled away the R1 ran flat at the rear!

the joke was starting to wear a little thin at this point...

We found the culprit, a heavily worn tyre and a small sharp stone. We pulled the stone and repaired with a "meche" ( I've no idea what you call this in english) and 2 canisters of tyre repair foam stuff.
we also found a young lady undecorating her car, which was covered in "Just married" stuff, in a next door shed who said we could borrow her compressor if we liked. What a top lady! 9 am on a sunday morning, having got married the day before and been up all night for the party, still found time to propose to help us out and then stand around chatting whilst we got tyre repair foam all over her shed floor...

The gang eventually got off around 9h15 and i left shortly after. I got to the autoroute entrance without further mishap and stopped to test the pressure again... 2.5k
ok, so it's increased a little the pressure due to heat, having been ridden 30odd km. sounds good to me, GAME ON!

I hit the Autoroute for the 40 km from Cluses to Chamonix and then took the D1506 up the vally towards the Col du Forclaz and Martigny in switzerland.

I had to stop this far up to swap riding gloves in favour of winter gloves. I dunno how high this was but it was quite cold out of the sun.

I was surprised by the amount of cars and bikes out on a sunday morning, but thinking about it, this is a mountain pass on a sunny Sunday morning, judging by the snow line, probably one of the last snow free sundays of the season at this altitude...

A little over 5000ft

On down the other side and into Martigny in the bottom of the valley. the ride from Martigny to brig seemed to last forever. Not wanting to pay an annual fee for the swiss autoroutes I stayed on the minor road along the valley floor which passes through endless industrial zones and commercial retail parks, and when it isn't limited to 50km/h for the towns the national speed limit is only 80 which the transalp doesn't like at all as being too fast for 4th and too slow for 5th and the swiss actually stick to the limit and there's little opportunity to overtake.

Once Brig was reached, things got better as the bulk of traffic didn't keep on towards the high passes. I stopped for Lunch in Visp and checked rear tyre pressure again: 2.3k ...acceptable. Reassuringly, all the service stations I had gone by had been open and they all seemed to have compressors for the use of their clients.

I carried on up route No 19 qs far as obergoms, where i came across this sign

I have wanted to ride these roads for so long now that i was strggling to realise that I was actually here for real. My original plan had been to ride the Grimsel pass up and back down and then go on over the furka and back around to Interlaken via the Susten Pass. However, with the malarky of this morning and the Martigny > Brig stage taking much longer than I had planned I now had a decision to make. You can see in the background the Furka Pass winding up the mountainside

Either I could stick to the plan and try to make up time ( not going to happen)
I could ride the grimsel pass and keep going to Interlaken, missig out the furke and susten passes
I could leave the grimsel and ride the Furka and Susten passes, leaving myself time to ride relaxed, stop for pics etc... That's the way to go, a shame about the Grimsel but I don't want to rush this and I don,t want to have to finish in the dark either.

heading up the Furka pass, looking back at the Grimsel

As I rode up the Furka, i couldn't help recalling the ride up through the vercors with the Tornanti III crew and saying to Pete " you stop for a photo of a breathtaking view, the best you've ever seen & then round the next corner there's an even better one!"

This was much the same, only more so...

at the top,

and down the other side

You really don't want to get this wrong, cos there's no parapet or barrier most of the way and the drop off is, well...

So it was down the Route 19 through Realp and into Andermatt. Left onto Route 2 and follow the valley to Wassen, then left again onto Route 11 and the start of the Susten Pass.
"Artificial Intelligence is no match for natural stupidity"
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Old 24-09-2015, 12:19 AM   #2
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Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Auxerre, Burgundy, France
Posts: 368
Default Re: doing what it says on the tin

Those of you who ski will be aware of the various contraptions used in the ski stations for hauling your fat rich arses up to the top of the slopes. I pulled over for a smoke break and tyre check and saw this machine. I would love to see this one in use, and find out what they use it for, people? sheep? hay bales? the mind boggleth...

the first part of the route 11 taking you up to the Susten Pass has a few surprises, starting with a couple of hairpins in the dark. The bends are actually carved out of the rock walls either side of a gorge and you then pass over devils bridge. I didn't stop to get any pics of this which is a shame but here's some pics pinched of the web ;

looking up the road to the pass

further along this was a lot of fun


Rode up into cloud over the last 100metres or so of altitude. The afternoon was coming to it's end and despite there still being another 3 or so hours of daylight left, the heat had gone from the sun and the passages that remained in the shadow of the mountains were very cold and the gusty wind smelt distinctly like snow. I stopped for a pic but wasn't about to hang around, you REALLY don't want to get caught up here in the dark, or in close weather.

the "crash barrier" is what you can see in the forground of this next pic, a 3" curb with upright 24" stones every 4 feet or so... that's it, no armco, no reflective posts, no cats eyes, no health and safety, you play silly fecker, you die! Posted Image Posted Image the drop of is mindboggling and if you're alone, the chances of being found if you went over the edge are probably close to zero. I'm not trying to make out that this is a really risky adventure or anything, but it's what went breifly through what little cognitive mind I have left when I realised that I was going to have to ride down the west side through cloud an fog...

after about half a km i rode out of the cloud, so stopped for a pic

The ride down went without a hitch though I'm not so keen on downhill hairpins and the tunnels were fun as I was wearing sunglasses

Down and down along Route 11 through Innertkirchen and on to interlaken via the north bank of the Briensersee where i stopped for a smoke and a little reflection, play on words fully intended

Once I'd found the right road out of Interlaken towards Lauterbrunnen and the days end, the scenery started getting better again

I got to the campsite in Lauterbrunnen recommended by Valleys DRZ from Max bikes, they have all mod cons, including auto flush toilets:

I ate an outrageous porc schnitzel and chips, drank a large pot of beer and was in bed early, having sorted with the tech services bloke about the use of his compressor the next morning.

Monday morning, up bright and early having been to bed very early the night before and knowing I had a long haul to get home in reasonable time. I grabbed the tech services guy and pushed the poor old Tralp to their workshop, the rear pressure was down to less than 1k. Whilst waiting for his compressor to get up to pressure he came out with a can of leak detector spray saying, "this any use to you?" Having pressured up to 2.5k I sprayed the rim/ tyre join and found no leaks so sprayed the valve are liberally and found a slow but regular bubble from the Valve stem where it goes through the rim. The leak being localised and visualised I was more relaxed about riding with it. if it would old sufficient air to get me as far as Besancon, once on the autoroute all the service stations have a compressor and i could ride from one to the next if the leak got any worse.

A pic of the morning sights from the door of my "hut" in the Jungfrau Camping, Lauterbrunnen.

I packed up and set off back down the valley to Interlaken where I fuelled up, checked rear pressure ( cos the petrol station had a really cool compressor system and a man who came and did it for you... )

From interlaken I just followed the signs for Thun and Bern which is not as simple as it sounds for someone used to the french signage. I had to stay off the autoroute signed Thun and Bern on GREEN signs and find the BLUE signs signalling the smaller roads (free). This called for some mental gymnastics as in france the autoroute route signs are BLUE and the route nationale signs are GREEN... I just put my head on backwards and it was fine , I only got lost twice, once in the centre of Bern and once in the outskirts of Neuchatel. but realised very quickly and only lost maybe 10 minutes.

Despite not having to stop and map read ( due to excellent forward planning on my part...) I thought at one point that my odometer must have broken, it was only reading 102 km yet I'd been riding for nearly 3 hours! I'd usually have covered twice that distance in that time. I actually stopped and got the map out to check and that is effectively how slow travelling in switzerland is unless you take the autoroute. I'd averaged less than 40 km/h

I really wanted to get back into france for Lunch so that I didn't have to spend more Swiss francs on my card so I pushed on through Neuchatel up to La chaux de Fonds on Route 20. Turning left there for Le Locle and "france" I ran through the tunnel across the border like something chewed up and spat out... which is about what the traffic in switzerland had done to me.

I arrived in Morteau and much to my shame ate at a McDonalds as a quick and easy solution. I checked trye pressure again and it was still at 2.14 so I reckoned it would see me at least to Besancon. The D461 as far as Fuans is a hoot, back on french roads, with the less dense traffic I was able to wick it up a little and made a "slightly higher" average...

From Fuans onwards, other than a couple of short stretches the road is dual carriage way limited at 110km/h so again I was able to "make progress"

I had originally planned to be home around 18h00, which meant picking up the autoroute west of Besancon by 16h00 at the latest. I again stopped for a pressure check just before slipping onto the autoroute and it was still around 2.1 which is a little low for hot and loaded so I planned to stop after another hour for fuel, smoke, coffee and air. It was only 15h15 so despite the painfully slow crossing of Switzerland I was ahead of the game and could take it easy, staying at a comfortable speed rather than pushing the limit all the time.

I refuelled and re aired at Seurre and rode the reverse route to the departure, playing silly buggers up the col de bessey en Chaume with a load of bikes I think coming back from the Bol D'or ( was that last week end too?) Most of the way I kept it down to around 120km/h which is a speed the Tralp seemed happiest with and I still got home by 17h30.

I think that the Furka pass and certainly the Susten pass have completely recalibrated my references as to best biking roads, the Furka is great, with long series of hairpin after hairpin, but for sheer fun the Susten takes first prize, faster and more open it's more varied and challenging.

Despite the Swiss traffic and speed limits which I found frustrating and wearing, it was all worth it just for that one day of mountains.

1350 km over the 3 days.

I have ridden the Furka Pass and the Susten Pass, thus achieving one of the items on my bucket list.
"Artificial Intelligence is no match for natural stupidity"

Last edited by MooN; 24-09-2015 at 01:04 AM.
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Old 24-09-2015, 07:40 AM   #3
Paul n Dixie
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Old 24-09-2015, 10:24 AM   #4
Sir Francis
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Default Re: doing what it says on the tin

You utter utter bustard Mr Moon.....

T4 anyone.......
Follow me, I know the way.....

104 (142/70/147/10/193/105/63/211/305/471/635) days and counting...
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Old 24-09-2015, 11:41 AM   #5
<-- now went that way
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Location: Newport
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Default Re: doing what it says on the tin

That bought back so many wonderful memories....

Thank you!
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