Friday, 20 August 2010

Tour Des Alpes part 3


Day 5 (478 km)
This would be the start of our home journey, and as it turned out in the end, the longest driving day of the whole trip.Aim was to drive as far as the town of Thun in the heart of Switzerland to meet up with fellow TR7 owner Thomas. And as the Stilfsèrjoch was open, we incorporated that one in the route. But sadly before we reached that, we first had to endure a serious traffic jam. The only road through the Vinschau valley was blocked due to an accident. So we got stuck right in the middle of a tunnel with the air temperature and the engine heating up alarmingly. So nothing we could do but switch of the engine and sit it out. As a result of this we lost almost an hour.
So by the time we reached the foot of the Stilfserjoch ...


The tourists were out in force, anxiously waiting to spoil the fun as much as possible. Needless to say I took revenge on a few of them. Luckily the view up to the top remained as impressive as ever with the road snaking its way up the North face ...


For the rest of the run up the Stelvio I can be very short, rather uneventful, even boring in the dense traffic. Only the engine tried to liven it up, by pretending to overheat a bit. But halfway up the temperature gauge’s scale, it remembered that it was built to be reliable. At the very crowded top I only halted briefly, so René could take a picture of the sign ...


After which we quickly headed down the southern slope, where we stopped briefly near the old Italian border post to re-enact a picture taken 8 years earlier when we did the Stelvio with ‘t Kreng ...




With the photo taken we continued with the descent which luckily was much less crowded and thus more entertaining. So we made good time to the bottom off the pass from where we headed west towards Livigno and Switzerland. But before we could enter Switzerland, we first had to cross three more mountain passes, the Passo di Foscagno, the Passo d'Eira and the Forcola di Livigno. After which we entered Switzerland over the Bernina pass. As we still had quite a few miles to go till we reached Thun, we pressed on. We opted for the “shortest” route over the Albula pass, which turned out to be a very good choice indeed. As this pass isn’t on one of the larger through roads, it is still fairly quiet and unspoilt. But in true Swiss style the road itself is in pretty good condition, they even went to some length in inventing an original/period way to prevent speeding ...


At the top we stopped for lunch ...


only to be reminded of the fact that Switzerland is very expensive indeed. At least it was a good lunch. And with the lunch and the discussion with the waitress over the bill finished, we headed down towards Thun ...


But in between there were some more great driving roads, and not only mountain passes ...


Although, due to the sometimes spectacular views, the mountain passes impressed most. And probably the best of them all was the Süstenpass ...


with nice flowing corners and a smooth road surface. Sadly René was so impressed by the scenery, that he forgot to take some more pictures from the navigator’s seat ...




As it was by now nearly six o’clock in the evening we pressed on towards our final destination for the day, the lake side town of Thun, situated at the north-western shore of the Thunersee, which looked very nice in the early evening sun ...


In Thun we would meet up with fellow TR7 owner Thomas. I had phoned him from the top of the Albula pass, to tell him that we probably would be much later than originally planned. So to be sure that we wouldn’t have to sleep on the floor he decided to book us a room in a nearby hotel, again thanks very much for that. So as a reward for that we invited him for diner. Needless to say that the remainder of the evening was spent on food, drinks and (mostly) Triumph talk ...

Day 6 (395 km)
Next day dawned quite early, and after a hearty breakfast we set of for the German border town of Bad Säckingen some 25 kilometres east of Basel. But not before I filled up the car with some decent 100 RON fuel. Was amazed to find out that over 478 kilometres and 8 mountain passes the engine had consumed only 46,5 litres of fuel. Very impressed with that.
We choose Bad Säckingen for the border crossing as there was no Motorway heading there directly, thus making the navigating that much easier (we didn’t buy a vignette, so had to keep of the motorways, I know thrifty Dutch) . But before we crossed into Germany we had a few hours of great flowing country lanes ahead of us. What the scenery lacked in spectacular views was more than compensated by the quality and layout of the roads ...


And despite a few navigational errors we reached the German border just past noon ...


From where we headed for the narrow Wehrtal ...


and lots of other great driving roads through the heart of the Schwartzwald (Black Forest). But all these lovely roads eventually took much more time than planned, and by the end of the afternoon I called it a day. So instead of somewhere north of Kaiserslautern, we found ourselves a nice hotel in the little town of Appenweier, not far from Strasbourg, still a fair distance from home. Here we put the car to rest for the last time ...


While we spent the last night of the trip with some good local food and beer.

Last day, going home (532 km)
The last day turned out to be one not really worth remembering to long. While preparing to leave it started to rain, and that stayed with us more or less all day. As we still had a fair few kilometres ahead of us, we decided to take the Autobahn till Karlsruhe, from where we headed over the Bundesstraße B48 through the Pfalzerwald ...


to Kaiserslautern, and from there to Bernkastel-Kues. After lunch in one the many little villages along the shores of the Mosel river we headed toward Adenau, and the Nürburgring. We shouldn’t have done that. Scarcely out of the Mosel valley we met some road works, with a very un-German diversion. Yes of the variety that isn’t signposted correctly, as a result of which we were running in circles. And in true Eifel style the downpour began. Luckily the hood is pretty much waterproof.
To cut a long story short we managed to find our way to the Ring and from there to the A1/A61 ...


where she again proved to be a very relaxed long distance cruiser ...


And home in the end. Sadly most of the road grime she collected over the week was washed away in the Eifel downpour.



The car clocked up 2825 kilometres without too much trouble and with pretty good fuel economy, averaging 10.7 km/litre (or 30.2 mpg) over the trip. Looking back I have to admit the car behaved pretty well, although there were some issues that spoiled the fun a bit;
Firstly the grip of the Continental tyres is rather poor under braking (in wet and dry conditions). Although this could be caused by the Mintex pads biting to hard when cold?
And secondly not being able to rev the engine when needed was a bit of a disappointment, especially on the passes. The little skirmish with the M3 on the Jauffenpass clearly showed that the car can be quick and handles rather nicely (although the tyres will start to screech pretty quickly).

So we again have a few small issues to sort in the coming weeks;
  • Fit other tyres and only use these for sedate events;
  • One side of the instrument lights stopped working (probably a loose contact);
  • Speedo cable bounces up and down wildly (probably caused by a broken strand);
  • A slight water leak along the fuel filler cap surround;
  • And of course the oil leak at the water pump.

At least I don’t have to worry that I have nothing to do in the next couple of weeks. Will start on the water pump tomorrow ...

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