10CR Day two; Laffrey - Cheresco (448 km)
"... It was a quarter to 5 in the morning, time for a well deserved bit of sleep ... "
Which we had, well sort of, as it turned out to be a rather short rest. We were woken up by a few Triumph 6-pots blasting at full chat up the hill by 6:00 o'clock. Although it was still a bit early I have to admit that it was the best wakeup call ever! As I felt pretty good and Roger in the TR4 couldn't sleep at all we decided to hit the road too. A quick check of the car showed there was nothing wrong, no visible leaks and all fluids were still at the correct level. And less than 90 minutes after we stopped, we were back on the road again. By this time it was close to sunrise, which was an added bonus as we could enjoy the ever more impressive scenery of the French Alps.
From Grenoble till Gap the route would follow the N85 which is probably better known as the "Route Napoléon". In Gap we left the N85 and turned east onto the D900B. So far traffic had been light but here we got stuck behind a heavy logging truck. Luckily I managed to pass it within a few kilometres, but Roger wasn't so lucky. And this meant that when we pulled over at a fuel station in Remollon they didn't notice this, despite my navigator waving feverously at them by the side of the road. So we had to carry on alone. Via the D900 and the N64 we eventually reached the high pass of the Col de la Bonette. Despite a (mandatory?) idiot on a motorbike it was a great drive up to its 2715 m high summit, made even better by the nice smooth new road surface. As the weather was very fine we decided to take the road around the Cime de la Bonette, reaching 2802 m above sea level. And because of the fine weather this detour was rewarded with some very fine views.
After enjoying the views for a few minutes we headed towards the "Camp de Fourches", an abandoned workers colony and the first control stop for the Friday. Here we met up with Roger and Els again. But there again were some issues with their car, but in that they were not alone ...
Again the problems with the TR4 were not life threatening, and the abandoned buildings provided a nice backdrop for some pictures of my car ...
From the abandoned village we wanted to join Roger and Els again, but when they got held up by slower traffic I decided to follow Andy and Michael down the D2205 for a while.
Right from the start I didn't have the intention of going to Nice or Monaco, because I didn't fancy the dense traffic along the coast. Especially as there is a much more entertaining option available, in the form of the Col de Turini. So after following the D2205 through the Gorges de Valabres and past Saint-Sauveur-sur-Tinée we took the D2565. Heading ever deeper into the mountains. It was by now almost noon and as we hadn't had a decent breakfast yet, we decided to stop in the little village of Saint Dalmas for lunch.
After lunch we drove further down the D2565, through rather French villages like Saint-Martin-Vésubie and Roquebillière, until we reached the D70. And one of the three roads going up the Col de Turini. So far traffic had been very light since leaving the D2205, with hardly any traffic worth mentioning, and it stayed that way right till the top. It certainly added to the entertainment value! While reaching the top of the Col de Turini we met two familiar cars reaching the top just before us and coming from the Lucéram direction of the D2566. And as they were heading down the Col in the same direction we had planned, towards Moulinet and Sospel, we followed them for a while.
At Sospel we turned onto the D2204, to rejoin the official route. From here it was rather straight sailing towards the border crossing at Tende. My original plan had been to cross into Italy via the Col de Tende but in the end I decided it was not worth the risk of taking this (partially unsurfaced) pass, so we took the tunnel into Italy instead. Which meant a 15 minute wait (yes it is a one way tunnel) before we eventually crossed into Italy. After which it took less than an hour and a half to reach the finish of the second day. And shortly after 5 o'clock in the afternoon we turned into the parking lot of the Holiday Inn hotel in Cherasco. Day 2 was almost at an end, time for a shower, a thorough check of the car, and a few well deserved beers. Sadly this turned out to be very few beers indeed, as the hotel ran out of beer very early in the evening with teams still coming in. So after diner we went of to bed for a very welcoming sleep. At least this way we would be fully rested for the third day. And the next evening we'd be in Germany, good food and beer guaranteed :-)
10CR Day three; Cherasco - Singen (563 km)
Fully rested we woke up next day and after breakfast we headed for the car park, where we were again greeted by some lovely weather.
As I had done a full check already the previous evening, I only checked for leaks underneath the car and the usual suspect locations in the engine bay. But everything was fine so we loaded our luggage in the boot, and went over to Roger to see how he was getting on. Not very well, as the spanners were out again ...
Turned out that after checking the gearbox oil level he nearly set fire to the wiring loom. So in true Top Gear style we left him there and at a quarter past eight we hit the road, heading North towards the Lago Maggiore and Switzerland. But first we had a few hours of Motorway driving ahead of us. As it was still pretty early in the day we made good progress through the western part of the Po Valley and the Piedmont area, reaching Arona and the shores of the Lago Maggiore at around half past 10.
About time for coffee but still too early for lunch. So we settled for coffee at the Lesa control stop. But we managed to drive past there without noticing it. Later I heard that the "Diner" had been boarded up. And as traffic thickened and parking space became almost nonexistent, we decided to skip the coffee and go for lunch at the earliest possibility in Switzerland. Seeing how some people parked their cars (or slammed doors into neighbouring cars), certainly did help in this decision! As ever the views along the entire shore were very nice, but that showed in the traffic ...
With heavy traffic all the way to Ascona in Switzerland, were traffic started to thin out a bit. And about time for some fuel for the car and ourselves, or lunch in Cadenozza. Although we were in Switzerland they didn't speak a language which one of us understood, so ordering food was a bit of a challenge. But we didn't starve, and after a simple but very good lunch we headed north-east a bit till we reached the A13, which we would follow for a while. There were only two relatively short detours from the A13. One for control 10 and the San Bernardino Pass. But when we got of the A13 and into the parking lot where the control stop should be we saw no Triumphs at all. As there was a tiny bit of rain in the air we just carried on towards the San Bernardino Pass. Here we at last saw (and passed) a few Triumphs, so at least it looked like we were on the route! At the top it was rather grey and so crowded that we drove on, cherishing the memories of the 2011 event ...
After the descent of the San Bernardino we rejoined the A13, which we followed right across Switzerland, and through some stunning scenery, till the Bodensee. As all control stops so far on this day had been nonexistent, we decided not to bother with Austria and Lichtenstein. We stuck to the A13/A1/A11 till the Bodensee were we followed the southern shore towards Konstanz. This last stretch was dominated by two aspects, very fine views over the Bodensee (aka Lake Konstanz) and bicycle tourists seeking self-destruction. Although some were trying rather desperately, I am glad to mention no one succeeded in his quest and didn't scratch my cars paint work either. But the end of day three was in sight and shortly before six o'clock in the afternoon we turned into the parking area of the Holiday Inn hotel in Singen. Here we were greeted by the sight of Mike Weavers Stag sitting there all alone. And at the far end of the parking area stood what looked like a very nice and very traditional Gasthaus.
Gasthaus Kreuz indeed was everything it looked like. And I think it is safe to say that all the teams who were there, had a good evening. And around 21:15 hrs it got even better, when Roger & Els turned up as well. The TR4 was still going, albeit with some problems from time to time ...
And despite some heavy thunderclouds in the (not to far) distance the weather remained fine, so we could enjoy a lovely evening outside.
10CR Day four; Singen - Rolduc (590 km)
On the last day of the event we were greeted by some very wet cars in the car park outside the hotel. Clearly the thunderstorm that had been threatening in the distance all evening, had passed over Singen. Glad to say the DHC's hood is fairly weatherproof, as no water had reached the interior. But this meant I had to drive the first few miles with the top up so it could dry out a bit before folding it down. We hadn't done the last control of day three so we decided to stop there and see if there was anybody there. Turned out there were a few Triumphs lingering there. But as it was rather chilly we decided to head on. As the roof was still rather wet I decided to keep it up for little longer.
From control 13 we headed north on the A81 till we reached the B27. And after some failed attempts to find the correct exit (navigator not yet fully functional) we joined the B27. From here it would be Bundesstraße almost all the way till the French border. But the mishap with the motorway junction meant that we had lost Roger & Els. As they were now somewhere ahead of us, I presumed we would catch up with them sooner or later. Which we did pretty soon afterwards. In the small town of Schramberg we bumped into them again when I pulled into a petrol station to fill up the car and lower the hood as it should be dry enough by now. Although the weather was dry it looked like it could start raining any minute. It would remain that way all day.
After a short break we carried on, but I soon lost sight of the TR4 behind us. Don't know exactly where because the road was rather twisty as a result of which they were frequently lost from view. But as my navigator couldn't contact them on the phone we presumed they were still going. So we carried on, covering the roads towards Offenburg reasonably quickly. And just after half past ten we crossed the Rhine. We were back in France. Sadly we missed the entry to the control in "Le jardins des Deux Rives" due to a van standing in front of it, blocking the entrance from view. Twenty minutes later and having seen a large part of Strasbourg's harbour area, we were back at the entrance to the gardens. And this time I did see the entrance hidden beside some road-works and signs. As I was on the wrong side of the lane for us to enter, and we had seen enough of the bleak scenery of Strasbourg, we carried on towards the motorway. Luckily this turned out to be rather straightforward and soon we were on the A4 heading north-west back towards Germany. We crossed the Saar, being the border between France and Germany, just past noon. About time for a lunch stop which we didn't find along the route (maybe I am too picky). Decided to carry on till we found something decent. But as it turned out restaurants were either overflowing with guests or closed, not good. Luckily we still had some chocolates and drinks left, so we wouldn't starve.
By now we were well into Luxemburg, and as the route had been changed around Luxemburg City, the scheduled control stop had been dropped. So there was no need to stop and we decided to head towards Spa for the last control stop, and see if someone was there. And maybe find a nice Friterie along the route. But first I filled up the tank with cheap fuel just before heading into Belgium and towards Spa. But best of all was that the weather had started to improve slightly with the sun even making an appearance so now and then.
On arrival at the Spa control we again were on our own. But when getting out of the car Mike Weaver also stopped there. At least it looked like we had the location correct. So no reason to hang around to long so after a chat with Mike we started for the last leg of the trip. Over familiar roads towards Rolduc.
The road book would take the quickest route, over the E42 and E40 towards Aachen and from there towards the finish at Rolduc. But I decided to take a shortcut from the E42/E40 junction, heading due North towards Teuven. Here we had a rather relaxed light and late lunch in glorious sunshine outside one of the pubs there, before starting on the last 25 kilometres of the Run towards Rolduc. At 17:15 we entered the gate of the monastery. I think we deserved a few beers ...
Some boring statistics etc.
Distance covered: 2876 kilometres;
Fuel consumption: ± 282 litres;
Average fuel consumption: ± 29 Mpg
Maintenance needed: none
Well I only had to take the torque wrench out on a regular basis (about every 300 kilometres), because the freshly powder-coated wheels were fitted only days before the event. So as the wheels get hot the powder-coating on the mating face also warms up and softens, resulting in wheel nuts that slowly come loose and need to be re- torqued. By the time we reached Rolduc they were fine!
For the rest everything on the car worked more or less as it should, the engine was running fine, with the temperature sitting stubbornly somewhere on the ¼-mark. The gearbox was another of my worries as it had only covered 600 kilometres since its rebuilt, as a result of which it was rather notchy at first. But over the weekend the gear changes became better and smoother. They still are slightly "rough" at times, but all gears can be selected without any problems and there are no funny noises.
The only real problem I encountered was with the brakes. Sometimes, and only if the brakes hadn't been used for a while, the brake pedal would lock up when I wanted to apply the brakes. Easily sorted by applying more force on the pedal, but not very confidence inspiring in case of an emergency when a quick reaction is needed. Still haven't got a clue what's been causing this. I have driven the car a few times since and the problem hasn't occurred anymore, strange indeed.
Also the fuel gauge decided to throw in some entertainment on the last day. After filling up shortly after the start of the last day I noticed that the fuel level was still the same as before I filled her up. But over the next 50 or so kilometres the gauge slowly went back to its normal (full) position. At first I thought that the sender might be sticking but when I switched the engine of the gauge would point at the empty mark. But again it would slowly rise to its proper position over some kilometres. Probably something wrong with the low fuel delay unit? Not yet got around to fitting another one from the spares department.