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Travels on a Motorcycle

Overland journeys, allotment dilemas, cycling, open water swimming and walking a dog.

Month

August 2015

The Stella Alpina and life before a Triumph

A tale from 2013…..

The Stella Alpina is like any other bike meet; several hundred motorcycle enthusiasts sharing their love of two wheeled travel. But, the lure of The Stella runs deeper. It’s part right of passage, part pilgrimage.

In 1966, the Italian Mario Artusio rode his unmodified BMW up a mountain track to the snowline in the Alps.  This set a challenge to other riders.  From then, the Stella Motocilistica Internazionale, (or Stella) was born.  Every year since, Mario rides up the same untarmaced road and sets the bar.  Others ride to match him.

Riders gather in the Alpine town of Bardonecchia (Bokki for short). The Railway Station Cafe is the hub of activity.

Outside the cafe a row of bikes are parked with their front tyres nudging the curb, leisurely leaning left on their prop stands. An eclectic, dusty outdoor showroom.

Inside the cafe, riders fall into two categories.  Those contemplating the ride over a coffee and those celebrating reaching the snowline with a beer.

Coffee drained, it was time to go. I backed the Apprillia away from the curb and the Tigers, GSs, Africa Twins and other more appropriate off road machines. At least I was staying true to the ‘unmodified off road’ bike ethos.  Thousands of tarmac miles under my belt, zero off road miles. Under-biked and under-experienced, I set off.

The track introduced us gradually. Tarmac, tarmac with potholes, potholes with gravel, potholes and gravel with tarmac islands.  Then, gravel of all sizes and depths.

Hairpins become more challenging. As the gradient increased, the outside of each hairpin becomes a ridge of gravel. Beautiful views of Italy are fatally distracting.  The temperature drops and mountain streams grow icy edges.

There is consideration amongst riders. Slower riders giving way to faster ones.  More experienced riders giving spaces to the less experienced on more technical sections.

After 13km and with the snow line in sight, the gradient steepens again  and part frozen streams cross the track. Finally,  I’m looking for somewhere to leave my bike at the Col De Sommelier.

The t-shirt van was almost empty one small T-shirt was duct taped to the inside of the van.  I bought it. The last T-shirt for the last rider!

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Seals at St Ives

Not much time for writing but photos speak a thousand words etc!

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Like to think this shop at Perrenporth sells feather boas etc 🙂

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Bumped into a friend from the pub who had a canoe moored in St Ives – couldn’t resist a quick spin round the bay with hannah and ewan.

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Atlantic seals at seal island.

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Feeding seal is prohibited but this one has been scavenging fish from the fishing boats.

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House front at the lizard.

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Arch near coastal path between the lizard and Cadgwith.

The Lizard

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Some snaps from the Lizard and the SW
coastal path. Glorious day yesterday but the sea mist has rolled in and the fog horn is being sounded.

The Lizard and the UK’s most southerly campsite

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Walking the coastal path from the lizard to Cadgwith.

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Art at Henry’s campsite.

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Common sense reminder.

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We rode by touch today.  The rain so heavy that wiping my visor didn’t help. The rain was on the inside. So we rode along, visor half up and eyes squinting to keep the rain out.  A standard English summer.

We managed a couple of rain free stops. Here are the photos as evidence!

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A Cornish Adventure

The bikes are packed and ready for 2 weeks around Cornwall. True to form the English weather is terrible!

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Starting in Ilfracombe, North Devon and heading south.

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