Thursday, December 8, 2011

October Saturday

Umm... 2 shirts, 2 jackets, 2 pants, gloves, muffler ... the Alps don't care. You freeze if you are on a motorcycle.

But then, your day includes 160 kms of half-frozen riding fun, over 500m "mountains" that lead you to 1000m mountains, across fields of frozen grass, through tiny towns that seem to only live off motorists and motorcyclists that pass by, through valleys cooled by the long shadows of mountains that surround them; over deep narrow gorges that make any climber's eyes sparkle, passing by hours of watching cars race across narrow mountain roads.

It's morning, 8 am. You grab a cuppa coffee from a small make-shift snack joint, exchange a few sentences about warm gear with the motorcycle riding cops who are there to block traffic for the car rally, and amble off into the spectator zones to find a good spot. A few hours later, after watching close to 50 cars roar into, and out of, the curve you prop open your backpack. Settle down into the now-unfrozen grass, and prepare your sandwiches. The sun has been good.

For the next leg of the rally, you head to a different section. You pass through 2 tiny villages, stopping by at various places on the way to take pictures. Frequently, the road is just a one way affair - you have to stop to let the car approaching from the opposite direction pass. Sometimes, even the motorcycle has to stop to let the car go safely. And those rally driver idiots are gonna vroom past these places.
Aiglun, nestled in the mountains
You reach the finish point of the stage, a small village perched in the mountains. Park the motorcycle and  hike along to find a good spot. Now, you are not on the plains as before. There are some sharp bends in the road, next to which run some tiny trails that lead you to a nice vantage point with an overhead view of the bend. You grab a spot along with 20 others. From here, you see all the cars mid-turn, in all their rubber-burning glory. The light is fading, so for the final few cars, you decided to go into the inside of the turn. Makes for great pics.

A few dozen pics later, you realize you are tired. You walk back to your motorcycle, gobble down a few more sandwiches and head back home. It's been a great day.