Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Sept 8th 12th- The Club Triumph 10CR finally arrives!

      A 6.30 grey and bleary September Thursday morning saw me leaving my home town and making the relatively short trip to the start location of the Club Triumph 10CR in Enfield. The 40 minute journey time took me 1 hour and 20 minutes due to the usual crap on the M25, but I still made the start before the 8am deadline. After finding my co-driver, Peter for the event and loading his gear into my car, we set off along with 70 other Triumphs for Dover for our 13.15 Ferry booking.
     The Ferry crossing was smooth and uneventful and we were soon at our first control point at Steenvorde in France to meet up with the European starters. A quick coffee saw us heading towards Lille and Valenciennes  before coming off the motorway near Maubuege and heading down the national roads. (Their version of our A roads) Before coming to our second control point in the town of Charleville-Meziere, we were lucky enough to witness a French man standing by the side of the road with his trousers and pants round his ankles pulling long strips of toilet paper off of a loo roll. I felt sorry for the cars behind us because I knew what part of the process was coming next! The town was pleasant enough and had plenty of places to get something to eat - providing you liked Pizza or Kebabs! (It was like being in Basildon!)
After leaving here we settled in for our night run through more of France, Belgium, Luxembourg and France again before ending up at our next control point at Bartenheim near the Swiss border. We managed to grab a couple of hours sleep here before daylight loomed on Friday morning.
Friday Morning. Our organised 'rest area' turned out to be in the flight path for Basle airport and the jets coming into land were incredibly loud. Although apparently I slept through three of them before Peter woke me and told me it was time to head off! (I must have been tired!)  Switzerland certainly is a beautiful (but expensive!) place and we took the opportunity to get some great photos. (See below)

We worked our way through the Brunig, Grimsel and  Furka passes before stopping at our next control point at the St Gotthard pass. One of the stall holders took exception to me parking where I did and bellowed at me: 'You cannot park here! You must park far away!' I then realised I had parked in the seating area for her food stall! We then covered more alpine passes at St Bernadino, Splugen and Bernina before crossing the border and into Italy and covering the Forcola Di Livigno, Ofen and Umbrail passes. 'Gertie' took a dislike to some of these strenuous climbs and started running hot, so we decided to remove the thermostat in an attempt to make her run cooler. This worked for a while, but on the climb up the 2,758 metre high Stelvio pass the temperature ran into the red. She still made it though and not once did she overheat or boil over.  
                                                                       (Pic - Stelvio pass)
While at the top of Stelvio, we also removed the front grill to try and get more airflow to the radiator. (The air was very thin due to the high altitude we were at)
   With Stelvio conquered we headed over towards Cavalese and our hotel stop for the night. With very little sleep the night before we were both looking forward to stopping and resting, but fate had other ideas and decided  to extend our day even more by proving us with a puncture. In a tunnel!
With the wheel quickly changed (tunnels are not the place to be with puncture's!) we carried onto the Alla Rocca hotel in Italy and quickly joined many other Triumph peoples for much drinking of beer! A good night was had by all. (Especially my co driver who got to bed about 2.30am!)
     Saturday morning- The start of the day saw us trying to find somewhere to get the tyre repaired, but after finding three tyre places closed and one who was open but wasn't interested, we gave up. Today's task was more alpine passes in Italy, crossing the border into Austria and climbing the 2,509 Metre Timmelsjoch pass, then onto Liechtenstein before entering Germany for our next hotel stop.
     The scenery was outstanding and the weather was beautiful. Peter managed to get busted by the Austrian police for doing 74kph in a 60kph zone and also managed to get abused by a cyclist that he got too close to! (I think 'Aishole' was the exact expression used!)  Perhaps he should have had a can of the below to calm down a bit!

With night time falling we pulled into the 'Gastoff Rossle' hotel and once again much merriment and drinking ensued. We'd had another good day and Gertie was behaving herself.
      Sunday morning- While carrying out general checks on the car I discovered another puncture on the car! Luckily, with our spare already in use, my friend Russell was good enough to lend me his spare. With another wheel change completed we left our start location at Aichstretton and set off for the 450 mile journey through Southern Germany and up to our next stop over in Holland. We stopped for a brief lunch at Pirmasens and then settled in for a stint up to the next control point at Spa in Belgium. We managed encounter some amazing weather on the way up there and its the first time that I have encountered rain and hail at the same time along with thunder, lightning and gales! There was no warning it was coming either. No light rain first, then heavy rain, it was just like driving into a car wash at 70mph! We and all the other cars were reduced to 15mph while waiting for it to clear.
 At around 6pm in the evening, we finally reached the official finish location at Rolduc in Holland. Rolduc is an old monastery that's been converted into a hotel. A lot of the original monastery is still there and its architecture is outstanding. It's still a popular location with the tourists.
    The atmosphere was electric and everyone arriving was on a buzz at completing this mammoth journey. It was great to see the majority of cars that started in London all those days ago pulling in with all of their crews and drivers looking so happy.  Dinner was enjoyed by all and then the serious drinking started. Old friends were caught up with, stories of breakdowns and issues were exchanged and favourite bits of the run were remembered. All too soon it was early hours of the morning and everyone was retiring ready for the trip home.                                                   
                                                                   ( Rolduc Monastery)

 Monday Morning-  Ouch my bloody head! Who's idea was it to move onto Rum? Oh yeah, I remember, it was Peter my co-driver!  A hot shower and a breakfast of Scrambled eggs and bacon was the order of the day (it made a change from the meat, cheese and bread diet of Italy and Germany!) before checking out and making the short drive into Belgium before eventually turning up 'the corridor' and heading towards Dunquerkue and then Calais. The news from the ports wasn't good and the storms that had been allegedly battering England all weekend had also affected the sea crossings. With trepidation we booked in at Calais and found that the boat we were booked on was running two hours behind. Still feeling the effects of the night before, I reclined the drivers seat and went to sleep. Sometime in between 4 and 5pm, we boarded our ferry and set sail. (We had arrived at Calais at 12pm) Thinking it wouldn't be long now until we were home, we were dismayed to find that the port of Dover was only letting in one ferry at a time and the boats were queued up outside the sea wall waiting to dock! This lead us to being stuck on the ferry for a further 90 minutes! (Three hours including the crossing time!) Just after 7.30pm, the boat docked and we made a dash for home. I was tired and fed up by now and Gertie was forced to go the fastest she'd been the whole trip reaching my home one hour and twenty minutes after leaving Dover!
All in all though, it was an absolutely fantastic trip and apart from the 2 punctures and the warm engine, Gertie ran absolutely faultless. Bring on the next one!

The run up to Timmeljoch pass.

Beautiful sunny Italy

Climbing the Grimsel pass in Switzerland.

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