A couple of days ago I wrote that I had thoughts about my new girl not being suited to the mountains. I slept on that and further pondered my words as we rolled along the Autostrada in the Lombardi sunshine; was I right or was there something else that had got inside my head?
Well, nothing gets a free ride inside the Dookes head – nothing, understand!
I came to the conclusion that I was somehow talking myself out of love with this wonderful machine that I was riding. We have a phrase in Britain that sums up what I had convinced myself; it’s called “talking bollocks!” Something so ludicrous that it is beyond mere stupidity!
I thought about all the places I have ridden her stablemate, Harls; more importantly, how I felt when I first took her into the Alps. The first big Col, or Pass if you like, that we went up was the biggest of them all, Col de la Bonette with it’s wonderfully pointless Cime at 2802m/9193ft and today I had planned to ride it again, but this time from the South, the side I hadn’t done yet.
I seemed to me that basically I needed to rethink the whole process, relearn it if you like, certainly learn how to ride my new bike and forget how I did it on Harls, like any two girls they are different! The problem appeared to be the nut behind the handle bars!
Leaving Cuneo the road to France is pretty much dead straight, “like a Roman road” I mused to myself . . . idiot, of course it’s a Roman road, we were in the land where they invented Roman Roads! The road is a minor trunk route, a bit to tight and slow for most commercial traffic but fairly busy nonetheless. Although it climbs quite high it’s certainly no great challenge over the pass at Col de Larche. We could stay on it. Option two was to go left and over Col de la Lombarde, renowned for being narrow, twisty, bumpy and like climbing the side of a house, a it’s definitely a tougher prospect. I mulled it over as the miles ticked by.
I purposely didn’t fill up with petrol before we began any climbing, I reasoned that if I could keep the top side weight down it might help a bit with the handling.
Then came the junction and now I had a choice, go easier or turn left and attack Col de la Lombarde, which at 2350m is right up there.
We turned left and I took a deep breath!
The road suddenly narrowed and began to climb sharply, the first hairpins appeared and the scenery looked stunning. Right, down to business. Forget taking photos, forget the scenery, just concentrate on riding. Read the road, feel the road through the bike, feel the bike reacting to the road, get into the zone. Get the speed right, get the right gear; forget what you’d do on Harls, listen to what this girl is telling you and she’ll listen to you!
Gradually we began to get it together. We got sharper through the hairpins, nicer lines and much smoother. I started to feel the brake better, not easy with a 410kg bike plus the luggage and me, call it half a tonne, hell that’s heavy!
Best of all I started to really enjoy her again. We crested the summit in style, very happy with the job we had done and now paused to take in the view; fuel was getting a tad low, but it was downhill for a while now. We took on a splash of petrol in Isola, not much just enough to do the job, and set off towards Bonnette; I had unfinished business . . .
Before the big climb really got going, we paused. I needed to take on some water and sugar. The way ahead didn’t look daunting now, it was calling us on and Baby and I were ready.
“Come on with me, tramps like us, baby we were born to run.”
PS Still suffering from either poor WiFi or poor WordPress App and I can’t post pictures! Pictures will follow soon, I promise!