Can you tell from my super-toothy grin that I was pretty excited to be at the top of the Col de L’Iseran? After seeing pictures of that dang sign on the web for years, it was incredible to be able to stand there soaking in the view with my own eyes.
We *may* have stuck one of our trip stickers on that sign. And a ZLA oval I had in my bag, just because.
When Kenny and I decided to call it a night on Friday, we were still on the Little St. Bernard pass. As we started our descent from the top of the pass we pulled in to a hotel that our friend Ed mentioned he was going to try to stay at.
We were hoping to see Ed’s copper V-Strom parked out front. Instead, we found 2 dozen other bikes. All those bikes were surely a good sign about the place, right?
Though their route initially put them in front of us, somehow we’d gotten ahead of Ed and Drea. When we landed in Milan (the four of us on the same flight) we split up – Kenny and I went to Stresa, Italy to fall asleep next to the lake and Ed and Drea set off for Zermatt, Switzerland to take a peek at the Matterhorn.
Our plan was to do our own thing on Thursday and Friday and then all come together on Saturday morning. The last part of the puzzle would be meeting Pimmie in Susa, Italy. Pim, coming down from the Netherlands, was the final member of our group to rendezvous with for a week of riding.
We Love Motorcycles
The Belvedere Hotel really catered to the motorcyclist. In their lounge they had motorcycle magazines and postcards, maps of good riding in the area. They had covered motorcycle parking and even made tools and cleaning supplies available in the entryway!
Motorcycle culture is quite different in Europe.
Being right on a corner of the pass, you got to see bikes whizzing by all the time.
One of the most interesting things we saw right from our room was several groups of French Gendarmerie motorcycle police strafing the corner. There must’ve been 10 groups of four FJR pilots whizzing along, each in perfect unison. They looked like fighter planes carving through the turn. It was pretty awesome:
Calling it a Day
After jettisoning our riding gear and having a shower, Kenny and I went down to the dining room.
We sat there in the warm light sipping beers feeling that “travel high” that you sometimes get when you realize just how fortunate you are to be floating in the world. There is a period at the beginning of a trip when you feel like you have all the time in the world and you are free. We were there.
Torn between the desire to stay up and shovel more delicious home-cooked regional dishes into our faces and the still nagging jet lag, we retired early to bed. We were fat, happy and excited to regroup with our friends in the morning.
What. Was. THAT?!
Sometime in the middle of the night I was awakened by an unfamiliar sound. I went from dead asleep to sitting up bolt straight in bed, heart thumping in my chest. What the…?!
Through our open window came the peculiar, discordant tones of… howling. When you’re dwelling in that hazy space between sleep and wakefulness, that is a sound that is quite unsettling. That’s the state where anything that your imagination conjures up is reasonable and it’s usually f’n scary.
There is was again!
In the dark of our room, I turned and looked out the window but saw nothing. Everything beyond the reach lone streetside lamp below was obscured by the envelope of pitch black darkness. Perhaps it was best that I didn’t see what was obviously a werewolf out there.
I turned and looked at Kenny who was also up now and said “Did you hear that?!”
I firmly believe that one of the less tapped into portions of our brains allows a spouse to actually hear eye rolling and the inner monologue of their partner. I have harnessed this ability.
“Yes,” he said.
Translation:“No, dummy. I’m sitting up in the middle of the night staring out into the blackness, at the very same moment you are, for no reason whatsoever.”
Because my brave protector’s inner monologue had time for sarcasm, I decided it was safe to go back to sleep.
The Belvedere turned out to be a great place to stop for the night. I would absolutely stay there again. It’s rooms were on the petite side but the beds were comfortable, the rooms were clean, the food was good and the atmosphere was lovely. And… they have werewolves. But for some reason they don’t mention that on the website.
The Berkshire Triple, an event hosted by the Berkshire Trail Riders in Massachusetts allows riders to choose between an adventure ride, a dual sport and a turkey run. Since I have not really spent any time riding off road this year the adventure ride was the perfect choice.
The route featured 140+ scenic miles that rambled through tar, dirt and seasonal roads in the gorgeous Berkshire Mountains. When I first saw the length of the route, my butt contemplated a revolt. Sitting on the Husky TE310 for 140 miles is a unique brand of torture.
My darling Kenny, perhaps half kidding at first, suggested that I do the ride on the Enfield. Laughter ensued. (Not by me.) But you know? It really seemed like the perfect choice. Vir, Harsh and the gang over at Helmet Stories ride their Enfields up and down the Himalayas, for cryin’ out loud. Dirt roads in Massachusetts oughtta be a piece o’ cake, right? Any street bike can do that.
So, I decided that the little Enfield that could would be my steed for the ride.
Again, laughter ensued.
“Hahahahaha, we’ll ride behind you to pick up all the stuff that falls off! Hahahahaha.”
When Kenny and I rolled in to camp, and my pokey, petite, low-slung bike mingled amongst the tall, leggy fleet-footed dirtbikes there was some more doubt that floated around. BUT I BELIEVED in the little Enfield
When Sunday morning dawned and we made our way to the riders meeting, I pulled in on the little Enfield feeling excited and happy.
Riding along on the dirt roads the Bullet seemed perfectly at home. The way that it carries its weight and its physical size immediately put me at ease. Strangely enough, I don’t think I’ve ever had quite such an easy comfortable ride on any bike on dirt. The Enfield just happily scampered along through the woodsy roads. We were never far behind any of those leggy orange beasts.
By the time the ride was just about to come to a close, while I enjoyed the big pan-like, sprung seat – I watched my fellow riders wiggling around, hanging cheeks off, standing up – trying to find some relief for their sittin’ muscles. THAT was when me and the little Enfield had the last laugh.
The Bullet performed beautifully. Nothing fell off, nothing felt scary or weird. It just motored along, puttering up and down hills like a little mountain goat. It turned out to be the perfect bike for the day. It was the most fun I’d had on a ride… since last time.