Sunday, 11 November 2007

10CR 2007 Day 1

So on Thursday the 6th of September saw us (Roger and me) at last depart for the 10CR. As we did have till 19.15 to reach the continental start at Steenvoorde we opted for the easy approach. This meant we left home at 13.00 and headed for the small Belgium town of Ypres. As it lies only some 20 km’s from Steenvoorde it would be ideal to stay for a few hours and have something to eat and drink before setting off to the start.

We eventually arrived at the Elio Services in Steenvoorde together with the Luxembourg entrants in their Dolly Sprint, call it timing! After filling up the car we only had to wait for some 25 minutes before the first of the London starters arrived. Sadly though Ellis' Red Bus had already dropped out of the event so there was no (official) road book, stickers etc. for us. After a short chat with several of the other crews we set of on the first leg of our journey.

As the first stretch was over the French motorways it wasn't too difficult to set into a nice and easy pace. Well even that easy pace wasn’t easy enough as some flashing speed cameras on the Valanciennes’ ring road proved. This was all the more annoying as, shortly after that, we were passed (on the wrong side at that) by two bikes doing well over the speed limit. As the French speed cameras take your picture from the front off the vehicle, bikers have a wildcard to do just whatever they want speed wise, call that equal justice ...

After Valanciennes we carried on ever deeper into France. As so much happens during such a run a lot is forgotten by this time so I can’t bore you with too many details. The things that spring to mind are the fact that we managed to lose our way in Vitry-Le-François again. As it happened at exactly the same spot as two years earlier we hardly lost any time ...
Also the part covering the D996 between Bar-sur-Aube and Dijon was memorable. Despite the D996 being a great road to drive it wasn’t great this time. Due to the fact that there were some rather dense fog patches we had to carry on rather cautious, averaging no more than 80 km/h.

But at last we reached Dijon and, as it was already well past midnight, the plan was to stop at the services along the A39 south-east of Dijon and have a bit of sleep. But we only reached the services some two hours later. Due to a heavy accident the A39 was closed, but in true French style they hadn’t closed the road yet. There was only the one matrix signal stating that the A39 to Genève was closed. Being Dutch we presumed that there would be a diversion but there was none. So there we were sitting in the car in the middle of the night somewhere on a motorway in France, a 100 meters from the scene of the accident with nowhere to go. Only thing left to do was make ourselves as comfortable as possible and have some sleep. Although there was a constant screaming from trapped pigs, and the bright flash lights from the rescue vehicles were visible through closed eyelids, I did sleep for an hour and a half. We were woken by the trucks standing around us starting their engines as a signal that the road had been cleared. When we passed the scene of the accident we could see that they hadn’t even started with clearing the mess. They had only cleared one lane so the trapped vehicles (mostly HGV’s) could carry on their journey. We were glad that it was dark when we passed the scene of the accident, but even in the dark it was clear that it had been a really bad accident.

A bit sobered and, for us very important, fully rested we carried on to the next official halt of the run, Morez on the border with Switzerland. When we passed the services, we had planned to stop for some fuel and a rest, we saw that it had been closed, so we carried on. Luckily the DHC isn’t as thirsty as ‘t Kreng so there should be enough fuel left to reach Genève. Shortly after leaving the A39 and turning onto the N5 to Morez and Lausanne we caught up with Dave Pearson’s Stag. As he wasn’t hanging around I decided to settle a safe distance behind him and follow them till Morez.
Despite being held up by the accident we arrived in Morez still well ahead of schedule. As we didn’t see the point in hanging around there, we took a picture as proof that we’d been there and carried on. By this time the fuel gauge was getting rather low so I was glad when we at last found a service station near Bonneville, on the A40 south-east of Genève.

After filling the car up and having something resembling breakfast we set of for the mountains. Shortly after the service station, at Cluses to be precise, we left the motorway and turned onto the D119. From here on it was mountain roads all the way to Aosta in Italy. Just before sunrise we reached the top of the Col de la Colombière which was a rather beautiful moment;

So time to get the hood down and enjoy the glorious weather;

After the Col de la Colombière the weather turned out be gorgeous. As a few pictures say so much more than words;

After coming down the Col de Aravis we were meant to take a small road onto the Col du Pré, but we missed that one and took the road over the Col du Méraillet instead. While going up this pass we were held up slightly by a rather slow local in a blue Citroën Xsara, but luckily he soon turned into a side road.

So I was slightly annoyed when, after taking some pictures on top of the pass, this blue Xsara passed us just as I wanted to pull out into the road again. But after only a few meters it was clear that this wasn’t the same car. The driver clearly had some local knowledge, as he was hurtling the car flat out down the mountain. Jolly good fun to stick to his tail!

And before we knew it we were over the Col du Petit Saint Bernard and into Italy. As we were even more ahead of the schedule now, we decided to take the S26 to Aosta instead of the A5. From there on it was straight sailing over the A5/A4/A26 into Dormelletto were we checked into the hotel just past midday.
So more than enough time for a quick nap, a check over off the car and a shower before the rest arrived. Day one ended with some food and a few beers!

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