Saturday, 29 September 2007

Destination Italia

Today was tinged with a little sadness as it was time to part company, although I'm sure BT had had enough of watching re-runs of Le Simpsons on the teev and was keen to get home. It was no-doubt hard for him to have to watch us repeatedly leave in the morning and return in the afternoon with stories of a day he hadn't experienced. Having said our good buys, Karel and BT headed north direction Geneva, whilst the rest of us donned backpacks and headed south.

Being totally fed up trying to find a decent Italian meal in Albertville, we decided we'd fix that by riding to Italy. Not as simple as it sounds though. In order to get there we had to hall our arses over the "Petit" St Bernard (2188 m). The only thing petit about it, however, is that it is a fractionally lower pass than the Grand St Bernard, which we would be tackling the following day, all going well. The decision to cross into Italy was somewhat of a gamble, as once on the Italian side of Mt Blanc, the shortest route home (north to the far side of Lake Geneva) is via the Grand SB. Hence, we were counting on getting at least 2 days of good weather for 2 big cols. An extended period of bad weather might have made life tricky getting back for flights etc.

Anyway, the sky looked OK as well rolled out. Before getting to "THE" climb however, there was first the valley road to negotiate and a possible inconvenience in the form of the climb to Notre Dame du Pre, as we did on the previous day. However, arriving at the critical junction we unanimously decided to risk the freeway, although sections of it proved to be without shoulder. Once through the nasty bit we happened on a lovely shaded bike path by a fast-moving river full of Kayaks (lunch) which took us the rest of the way into Bourg St Maurice.

The climb itself was quite shallow for much of its length. Maybe I just had good legs but it seemed like one of the easier climbs of our tour, even with backpack. This is certainly the "easy" side. Ham and I had been down this side before, even passing a couple of French "youfs" carving the curves on monster skateboards! We descended to Pre St Didier, the run in of which comprised over a dozen nested switchbacks, and checked into the same "university" accommodation we used last time. Dinner over the road rocked, and Ham was in his language element. As luck would have it a local folk festival was happening in the piazza below our hotel windows - which had awesome views of the Mt Blanc massif BTW. This was intriguing at first - impressive were the stamina and stylish moves of the "Silver Fox" - although it became less amusing as midnight approached and it impeded efforts for some of us to get to sleep. All up, 113 km and ~1850 m gained for the day.

Ham and Kev with the Tigne valley behind them

more Cocas

Greg en route to winning the battle of the backpack

Mt Blanc from the Italian side, complete with anti-tank concrete thingies from the war

Dave and the dawg


  1. T'was a good day in the saddle, and was certainly the easier side of the Pet. StB. Back into a land where I can at least kind of get by. Arh yes, the Silver Fox, I too thought it was absolutely fabulous to see the town celebrate and after a few hours of the festivities and the growing need to sleep after our journey of the Pet. StB joined Kev in the denouncing of all town square post midnight festa. I tried very hard to keep to the positive pro-fun attitude (i hope Kev with atest to) but couldn't keep it together. I am sure the Silver fox didn't go for a ride that day and saved himself for the dancing with the young Italian girls (and not so young mature ladies). Long live the Silver Fox.

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  3. Just a general comment on Dave rather then a particular post - Oh yes, its time Dave joined the rest of the world (well a lot of it anyway) and get a mobile phone. I am here reporting to those reading that Dave has been using other people's mobile phones for his convenience. There have been several incidents of this and it should go unreported. I believe Dave to be a closet mobile user - Dave, its time to come out.....

  4. OK Ham, you got me! Might need some more prodding though to get me all of the way out of the closet.

  5. Hamster, I will most certainly back you up - you were very pro local music until about 1.00am at which time it turned from 'this is great' into 'alllllllright fella's give it a rest'. For what its worth I felt totally vindicated for being so grumpy once you started saying that enough was enough ha ha. Btw Dave I am pretty sure the concrete blocks are there to stop people parking their cars on the grass verge causing chaos rather than to stop tanks rolling over the col. The concrete does not look 60 years old to me. Good times fella's good times!

  6. Sounds like fun, I wish I could've got out and shown the Silver Fox a few Bald Badger dance moves.

  7. Neil Postman suggested that....

    "as each new piece of clever technology arrives on the scene, we should ask oursleves the question: What is the problem to which this is the solution?"

    However, he didn't have anything to offer on the pimping of others mobiles...


    Andrew K