Sunday, 15 August 2010

Tour Des Alpes part 2


Day 3 (334 km)
This was to be the first “touring” day. Original plan was to head up to the Stilfserjoch (probably better known as the Stelvio) and return over the Umbrai. But after sitting in a traffic jam on the SS38 outside Merano for quite a while I decided to pull into a fuel station. While filling up the car with fuel, the attendant told me that the Stilfserjoch was closed due to heavy snowfall on its northern flank. So we needed a change of plan. As we already had lost quite a lot of time in the traffic jam we opted for a short trip into Switzerland, over the Ofenpass and then back over the Reschenpass. Especially the Ofenpass was good fun with very smooth road surfaces and nice wide flowing comers ...


and some very nice views.




After lunch in the public house at the top of the Ofenpass we headed down into the valley of the River Inn.


Which we followed right till the border with Austria. But instead of taking the Finstermünzpass we took a shortcut, a rather lovely and almost deserted pass road between the villages of Martina and Nauders.


From where we headed back to the B&B in St. Martin. And as we passed the road leading to the foot of the north face of Stelvio for the second time that day we found out that they had cleared the snow there. So we decided to stop for a drink and see if there were some interesting cars come down. Not much really, only grey boxes and motorcycles. So nothing we could do but admire the views instead.




With the drinks finished we returned “home” to our B&B, only to find out it was still too early for some food. As the Jauffenpass is only a few miles from St. Martin we thought it a good idea to go up there just for fun, which it was. Added bonus were some fabulous views at the top.


Only problem was the low early evening sun, as a result of which in some places visibility was rather poor, with the sun shining through the trees and straight in my eyes. Not good if you can’t see where the road is going. Another thing which we noticed on the way down was that the brakes clearly were starting to get on temperature, they could be smelled very clearly. So René thought that they were overheating. But it looks like the Mintex M1144 pads need some heat in them to work properly, as the feel of the brakes was much better than the previous days.

But that evening, while returning from St. Leonard, they were up to their normal standard again. While slowing down to allow some bikers (on foot) to cross the road, the brakes managed to lock up the front wheels rather dramatically. The bikers also saw the fun of it ...

Day 4 (226 km)
I had planned a trip back over the Timmelsjoch, through the Õtztal and up the Kaunertaller Gletscherstraße. But after reaching the top of the Timmelsjoch ...


we found out that the weather on the north side of the mountains wasn’t brilliant. So after a little photo shoot at the top ...






... plan B was put into action. This plan consisted of driving to Bozen (Bolzano) through the Passeirtal and from there over the Penserjoch and Jauffenpass. Only problem we encountered was a filling station that didn’t deliver the fuel I paid for. Luckily that got sorted properly.
The drive up to the Penserjoch proved very nice, with the road gradually climbing out of Bozen through the narrow Sarntal, up to the pass itself ...


At the top we encountered a German woman who was driving a lovely coloured Triumph motorcycle. And judging by her friends rather sarcastic remark (“great you’ve chosen a colour from 1980”), she was not very pleased when I pointed her to my car a few yards away ...


And after enjoying some lunch and the views ...




we headed down ...


for the last pass of the day, the Jauffenpass.


On the way up to the pass road itself I was driving behind a modern BMW M3. As the driver was really hanging around I thought it a good idea to challenge him a bit. He took the bait, resulting in a very nice blast up to the top of the pass. Jolly good fun indeed. The down side was that I lost nearly half a litre of oil in 25 kilometres! Made a mental note to keep the revs down.

As we had been on the top a day earlier we decided to drive on and stop a few miles down the road at a public house with a nice terrace overlooking the valley below and enjoy a few drinks and the views.




Initial plan was to stay there till the first Triumph came up the road. But after a few drinks we left the idea and returned to St. Martin, otherwise we might probably still be sitting there! To end a nice day we were driven inside the restaurant by a fairly heavy rain shower that managed to find its way into the valley ...


To be continued ...

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