As the car's preparations for this year's edition went fairly smoothly I had high hopes that she wouldn't throw any last minute problems at me. She didn't. So on Tuesday late in the afternoon last week we set of towards Lendelede near Kortrijk in Belgium, for out first overnight stop. This way we would be closer to the official start location in Lille. But despite that we missed the official start there at 8 o'clock in the morning. The early breakfast at 7:00 o'clock wasn't early enough!
Day one; Lendelede - Göschenen
(896 km, 13:24hr)
The first day dawned glorious. But sadly there had been a heavy rain shower shortly before sunrise. As a result of this the hood of my car was to wet to fold down. So the first part had to be driven with the hood up so it could dry;
With the luggage stowed in the boot we set of for the first stretch. The official route would finish in Mulhouse, but as it was only slightly over two more hours to the foot of the Oberalppass near Andermatt, we had decided to book a hotel in nearby Göschenen. But that was still many hours driving away.
The first days drive was a pleasant combination of motorway stretches interspersed with some lovely country lanes, departmental road's and some of the famous "Route National"
But certainly the best bit of driving on the first day was the stretch through the regional nature reserve "Ballons Des Vosges". In several previous editions we drove through this area at night. This always meant dense fog and as a result of which very difficult driving conditions. Luckily this time we passed through in broad daylight, but even so in some isolated areas there was dense fog (or should I say low hanging clouds?). Together with some heavy rain that had just passed before us, made for some very entertaining driving!
But by the end of the afternoon we reached the outskirts of Mulhouse, and the motorway towards Switzerland. Time for the final few hours to our first overnight stop. But before tackling the last section we halted for a final rest just outside Basel;
Two hours later we had reached our hotel for the night. And with the cars tucked away it was time for a few well deserved beers.
Day two; Göschenen - Sankt Martin in Passeier
(459 km, 9:58hr)
The second day dawned cloudy but dry over Göschenen and the surrounding mountains;
So after a decent breakfast and a rather routine inspection of the car, the hood went down and we headed of into the mountains towards the first pass of the day, the Oberalppass. As Roger had turned into Andermatt in search of some much needed fuel I decided to stop on top off the pass and wait for them to show up. They did soon after, together with lots of other people and cars. And as the light conditions were rather fine I decided on a little photo shoot;
From here the route took us through the Tavetschtal, the Medeltal and from there over the Lukmanierpass into the Valle Santa Maria, the Val Blenio, and finally into the Valle Leventina. Just north of Bellinzona we turned onto the A13 towards the San Bernardino Pass. As the old pass road is so much nicer to drive than the motorway pass we left the A13 near Mesocco and headed up into the mountains. Was a lovely drive towards the top with only very little traffic. And in time for lunch we reached the Rasthaus at the top;
After lunch we headed down towards Splügen. The original route would take us over the Splügenpass into Italy, but the road between the Splügenpass and the Majolapass was closed, due to a major landslide caused by heavy rain. So we had to take an alternative route over the Julierpass. Turned out to be a very nice road indeed. I think the tyres left a fair amount of their rubber on the tarmac there!
At the foot of the Julierpass we joined the official route again, clocking up some more passes (Berninapass, Forcola di Livigno, Munt la Schera (tunnel) and Ofenpass. And not to long after the Ofenpass we reached the foot of the Umbrail. But by this time it was already late in the afternoon. And as my navigator was feeling the strain, so we decided to skip the Umbrail and Stilfserjoch and head straight into the Vinschgau Tal. Knowing it would at least take us another hour and half to reach our hotel in Sankt Martin in Passeier. In the end it took more than two hours to get there. But the local food and home brewed beer did us a lot of good!
Day three; Sankt Martin in Passeier - Singen
(412 km, 10:21hr)
The official route for this day would be heading south from Meran, making a loop south of Bozen and from there through the Dolomites towards Austria. This section would again go over a fair number of mountain passes. Six to be precise, the Gampenjoch, the Mendelpass, the Karerpass, the Sellajoch, the Jaufenpass and finally the Timmelsjoch. We thought that slightly overambitious. So we had chosen a hotel in the northern part of the Passeiertal, close to the foot of the Timmelsjoch and Jaufenpass. This was because the route I plotted would take us from there to the end of the Passeiertal, over the Timmelsjoch into the next valley, the Ötztal.
So after a relaxed breakfast and a quick check of the car (again nothing wrong) we headed north towards the Timmelsjoch. The top of which we reached within the hour;
From here it was down into the Ötztal and towards Ötz, where we joined the motorway west towards Bregenz. But after Landeck our route took us onto the B188 towards the Bielerhöhe and the Silvretta reservoir. Which we reached in time for lunch!
After lunch we headed down towards Bludenz, from where we would take country lanes and Bundesstraßen towards Dornbirn. Here we could have picked up the official route, but we had set our sights on the northern shore of the Bodensee. But not before another short rest for man and machine at the fuel station in Dornbirn;
After this last rest for the day (well almost) we headed towards Bregenz from where we followed the northern shore of the Bodensee towards Meersburg. Here we took the ferry to Konstanz, but also met up with local Triumph owner Michael, who would accompany us on the last stretch towards Singen;
The final stretch from Konstanz towards Singen again went over local roads and was a nice end to a lovely driving day
Day four; Singen - Rolduc
(612 km, 8:36hr)
The last day of the event dawned cloudy and with a hint of rain in the air. And as the weather forecast for the day was rather wet and windy I decided to keep the hood up for the time being. It remained up all day and proved to be weatherproof!
For the last stage of the event we left Singen and headed northwest (being the general direction towards the south of the Netherlands. The first 60 or so kilometres were covered quickly, using the A81 north. But the fun started immediately after we left the A81 and turned onto the B462 towards Dünningen. Well that is what the road book said, but road work dictated an almost 10 kilometre diversion! Not the best of starts with still well over 500 kilometres to go. And when we reached the village of Dünningen we were confronted by another diversion!
Luckily after that there were no more road works. And it was a very enjoyable drive over some rather typical German Bundes-, Kreis- and Länderstraßen. Thus we headed towards Karlsruhe and a short stretch of motorway. And some more road works! They had actually closed the motorway exit which we had to take, time for another diversion. But we crossed the Rhine in the end, entering the federal state of Rheinland-Pfalz. By this time we had decided against an extensive lunch. Which meant a quick roadside snack at a filling station along the B427 in the small town of Dahn;
From here we headed ever more northwest towards the Hunsrück area and the Mosel valley. But not before we had encountered some more road works with the corresponding diversions, with a few heavy rain showers thrown in as a free bonus (we indeed were close to The Green Hell!). Luckily by now we were on familiar ground so I could concentrate on the driving, so we still made good progress. And by the end of the afternoon we finally arrived at Rolduc. Another 10CR finish for the DHC!
The day after
A few pictures of some of the cars on the Sunday morning in the courtyard at Rolduc;
Even the local police force turned up to immobilise Ellis' car!
Boring statistics etc.
Total distance covered: 2741 kilometres;
Total fuel consumption: ± 257 litres;
Average fuel consumption: ± 10,7 km/lt (or 30,1 mpg)
Maintenance needed: none
As on the previous edition I added about ⅓ litre of oil to the engine during the whole event. This time after the second day. But again that wasn't really necessary as the level hadn't dropped halfway down the max/min marks on the dipstick. All other levels remained where they should, close to their maximum marks
Overall the car behaved very well. But there will always be things that need improvement or repairs. However there were a few things that did improve or solve themselves during the run, the dashboard illumination, a still rough gear change and a long brake pedal stroke. The first problem solved itself on the last stretch of the first day. About an hour's drive into Switzerland I noticed that I could read all dials in front of me again. Which meant that the two bulbs to the left of the cluster decided they had been idle for far too long, and started to give of some light again!
At the start of the event the gear changes still were slightly rough, especially between 2nd and 3rd gear. But over the event there was a very clear improvement to the gear changes. So much so that when we left Rolduc on the day after the event the gear changes even with cold gear oil were pretty good. Final self repairing problem were the brakes. Due to the design of the self adjusting rear brakes, the stroke of the pedal is sometimes pretty long. Again during the event this too improved noticeably. Clearly the car needs to be driven more!
But there is one item that needs addressing in the not to distant future, the fuelling. Clearly the current set up with twin K&N cone filters in front of the radiator is efficient. But as a result of this there's more air reaching the carburettors than the current needles can cope with. So it is running lean, not dangerously, but it certainly lacks some grunt at the top end. And finally and maybe more worryingly there are traces of (dry) oil deposits on the spark plugs of cylinders #1, #3 and #4. Clearly something that needs further investigation. But another trip into the mountains is first on the list. This time with the Land Rover.