Day 6 Route

The night before we had noticed strange lights in the sky, and concluded that they weren't in the sky, but on the surrounding mountains, and so it proved to be in the morning. There even seemed to be a road, as we had seen headlights, but no sign of it could be seen in daylight. Anyway, we were off into the mountains ourselves, the plan was to take the Petit St Bernard pass into Italy, across a little bit of Italy and then the Grand St Bernard pass into Switzerland.
A swiss town, taken on the move,
The plan was to not stop in Switzerland as it was likely to be horribly expensive. The Petit St Bernard was another pass, glorious scenery, and lots of hairpins, or so I assume. Glorious mountain vistas and vertiginous switchback roads all tend to blur together when you are doing 300 miles of them a day, and it is 300 miles hard riding too. We passed enormous numbers of other bikes, and only two passed us. Italy happened very slowly, the cultural borders in that area bear little resemblance to the national boundaries. We passed through Italy and then ascended the Grand St Bernard Pass. It is a big one, very bleak at the top and with an 8 foot snow bank by the road near the top. I knew that Jeremy and Ian(?) were not far behind, so waited for them at the top. They took ages to arrive, during which time I saw at least two groups of cyclists having photos taken at the top. Loons! Curiosity got the better of me, and I had concluded that the delay was something to do with the snow bank. I went back down a few bends, and it was indeed the snow which had waylaid them. They were picking out the word "Ixion" in black pebbles in the snow. I joined in and did a big smiley.
The bleak and dreary top of the Grand st Bernard PassThis was a snoe bank, 8 feet tall. It was August.
The far side of the Grand st Bernerd, dropping down into Switzerland
Photos taken we set off again, after slight struggles to start the bikes in the rather rarefied air. We were feeling a bit short of breath ourselves, 2,400m is quite a lot of feet. Heck, it is quite a lot of miles to be up in the air! (nigh on 8,000 feet) Once into Switzerland, and having shown the route to the border guards in order to avoid buying an autobahn vignette we found ourselves on very straight, very dull roads, all with no overtaking allowed. And a 50 limit (or metric equivalent). We passed through mile after mile of fruit groves and vineyards, all on terraces on the valley walls. The vineyards surprised me, they were hundreds of them yet I have never seen any Swiss wine for sale. We stopped for lunch at a restaurant, where I had a really good Calzone. Marvin got chatting to a Finnish motorcyclist who was on a long tour of his own, He told us that he had never had any trouble for speeding in Switzerland, so we became a little less law abiding about the no overtaking thing from that point on. Eventually we arrived at the foot of the Furkerpass (2431m), the name of which was the sole reason for marvin including Switzerland on the route. I was amused to see that the instant we got off the long, wide, straight roads and on to a small steep pass with a long sweeping right hand curve into a tunnel we were free to overtake to our hearts content. Bizarre people, the Swiss.
Loking back down the Furkerpass into the valley.Looking up at the Furkerpass, with a glacier to the left.
The Furkerpass glacier
We separated a bit up the pass and down the other side. At one point I found myself being chased down by a springer forked Harley, with Hungarian plates. I soon lost him though (when he stopped to let his friends catch up), then he passed me when I stopped to try to figure out where the heck I was meant to be going. A little further down the road I saw another Harley in a recumbent posture, and a yellow van with a dent in it. Things looked under control so I rode past, and soon caught up with a group of bikes. I tried yelling to them that one of them had fallen off, and eventually a girl at the back stopped and set off back up the road. At the next junction Mr Springer Harley was waiting. It looked like I had flagged down the wrong group. Oh dear. I sent the Hungarian chap back off up the road, and made good my escape.I ended up taking the sign marked 'Chur' rather than the different coloured one marked 'Chur' just outside Chur. In Switzerland green in Motorway and blue is minor road. Which is why I ended up going to Chur by autobahn, sans vignette. Ooops. I arrived there eventually and met up with Ian just in time to see Marvin heading the other way looking lost. Ian and I dithered round a bit, eventually asking for directions and being sent up an unsignposted road. Most of the roads were unsignposted. I have a feeling that, contrary to what is commonly believed, Switzerland has been invaded countless times, but the invading armies have got lost and ended up back out the country the way they came in.
We got on to the right road (The Julier Pass, 2284m), for the directions were good, and set of up the next pass, heading for St Moritz. We didn't get far, a couple of miles out of town we were flagged down my Mike, it turned out that Crispin had made one sarcastic overtake too many and managed to hit a pair of cars. Going for an overtake into a gap the overtakee had accelerated and closed the gap, just as a brace of Golfs had rounded the corner ahead. One had taken to a lay-by, as had Crispin, and he had managed to bounce his panniers off of both of them. The bike was undamaged, as was Crispin. To balance the car/bike karma Mike had dropped his bike in shock when parking up to see if Crispin was OK. broken fairing, (indicator pushed through) and a bust mirror was the toll.
It looked like things were going to take a while to sort out, so I volunteered to chase down marvin (who was ahead) and form an advance party to sort out accommodation at journey's end (Treseda in Italy).
A swiss Village. The roofing material is fascinating
Marvin had said he would be waiting for us in St Moritz, so I was surprised not to find him even after two laps of the place. I assumed he had pressed on to Treseda and did likewise, up over the Berninapass (2323m) into Tirano and thence to Tresenda. I could see no sign of anyone in Tresenda, nor any sign of anywhere to stay. It is a rather stark industrial roadside town, or so it seemed in the dark. Doing a U turn I heard my phone ringing. It was marvin who, along with the others, was in St Moritz, I appeared to have missed him. It turned out that Jim was also in Tresenda, and had found a hotel back up the road in Tirano. I elected to join him and after a drug-deal like rendezvous met him outside the hotel. Food had long since finished at the hotel, and it appeared, almost everywhere else in town too. We eventually found a bar which did panini (toasted sandwiches) and after a couple of beers to accompany them retired for the night. My expectations of an orgy of Italian food were coming to naught.

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