MALLE FIELD REPORT: RIDING THE ALPS
A WILD CAMPING TOUR OF UK, FRANCE, ITALY AND SWITZERLAND
Jonny Cazzola – August 2016
We’d been discussing a trip to the French Alps for a while now, but amidst the months of planning for the last Malle Mile, this obviously fell to the bottom of the list. It was only once the kick stands were down after the last race of the day and a cocktail was in hand that we got a spare minute to say ‘right are we riding to the Alps…. tomorrow?’, the response all round was ‘let’s do it!’.
Born in Sallanches, Haute-Savoie, Malle director Jonathan had memories of taking the mountain passes with his family, crossing over into Italy and Switzerland for the afternoon with talk of wild marmots, mountain lakes and winding roads that stretch as far as the eye could see. This was enough for good friend Calum of deBolex Engineering to get on board.
Setting off early Monday, still hazy from the weekends racing we gave the bikes a once over and loaded the two Triumph Bonnevilles with everything we needed in a few Malle panniers and duffels – tents, sleeping bags, cooking equipment, a few euros, a change of socks and we set off for Dover. Typically you would do everything you can to avoid the arduous French toll roads, we only had a few days for the trip so we decided to bite the bullet and get there as fast as possible, stopping only for fuel, croissants and coffee.
The first day’s riding was long! It was baking hot and the straight roads of the Peage drain the life out of you, but with the promise of Alpine twists and turns, you push on. As soon as we came close to Geneva we made a group decision – no more Motorways! So we took the mountain pass down into Geneva and that’s when we realised why we chose this part of the world to explore.
For the first couple of nights we camped out in farmers fields, it was like they knew we were coming, each time we snuck down a seemingly unused track and into a field there was what appeared to be a freshly mowed pitch, just the right size for two bikes and two little tents. As soon as we arrived into Sallanches we spoke to some of our motorcycling family and laid out the route:
Col. de Montets
Gran st Bernard Pass
Courmayeur, Aosta Valley, Italy
After a good nights sleep in Sallanches, we set off for the mountains. I always take it for granted how beautiful so much of Europe is, especially the Alps. Hosting Mont Blanc – the biggest mountain in Europe, with an elevation of 15,777 feet. Nothing quite compares to the extreme mix of snowy topped mountains, crystal clear mountain lakes, winding streams flourishing with wild flowers and pine forests as far as the eye can see.
There’s nothing quite like the roads.. The roads! It’s like reading an unpredictable story where each turn is like a page of a book and each turn of the page flips you and the bike from left to right, trying to focus on the road while your eyes are constantly drawn away by the epic scenery that surrounds you. The foot pegs got a good scrubbing as you corner lower and lower, the tyres got an even wear and the weather was perfect the whole time.