Great St Bernard Pass road down to Italy

Dawn in the high mountains, then an Italian breakfast and super coffee. Riding down from the col, gathering speed as the road improves but still with scary drops and hard landings at every turn. The Italians have this road in good shape, as did the Swiss on their side.

Mont Blanc, Italian side

Finally down in Aoste and feeling the full heat of the midsummer sun. My route takes me back up the Vallée d’Aoste to Courmayeur, the valley headed by the magnificent south side of Mont Blanc.


Hairpin bend on the Little St Bernard pass road

Up the Little St Bernard pass road. The speciality here is a stack of at least nine hairpin bends; originally very very tight and mostly with blind approach and exit  Since my first ride on them in 1982 they have been built out on ramps so they are possible to run at speed. Difficult to make full sport of the feature with the bag on the back but I could readily spend a morning perfecting technique on this little playground, trying to run the whole stack at speed including good body-shifting technique.Picnic stop on the Little St Bernard pass

Back up with the glaciers again for my picnic lunch just below the col of the Little St. Bernard pass (2108 m.).

At the col of the Little St Bernard pass

Passing trhough the Italian/French frontier at the col, the route down is on crummy French roads. Not just the summer routes to the cols but even the all-year route from Bourg Saint-Maurice to the massive ski resort Val d'Isère is in a poor state.

I stopped for photos on the way up to the col de l'Iseran; my bike toppled while parked on a crumbly roadside, I flagged down help, the bike was more than overturned so it took four of us to right it. Some scratches and one mirror broken but no serious damage. I was taking photos and didn't check the footing, it's a reminder that motorbiking requires 100.00% attention at all times, 99.999% is not good enough.

Col de l'Iseran, highest paved pass in Europe

The Col de l’Iseran (2770 m.) claims to be the highest paved road col in Europe, it’s not such a good ride as the col de la Bonnette (2715 m.), which I can play on as a day trip and get back to Marseille for dinner. The Iseran has the dubious glamour of the ski resorts at Tignes and Val d’Isère down below and is a useful link to the Southern Alps but it’s not great bike sport. Great for the big adventure bikes but not much fun for sports bikes like my CBR600RR.

Vallée de la Maurienne from the col de la Télégraphie

Down in the heat of the Vallée de la Maurienne, an important trade route leading to the col de Mont Cenis over to Italy, but I rode the col de la Télégraphie (1566 m.) to end my day in Valloire at a hotel with a friendly pool and sun deck.

Next day Galibier - Lauteret - Marseille