Italy 2022 Part 2

Good evening world, from my little shelter on the eastern edge of the Italian Alps. I think that’s another three days on the trails, but time is beginning to loose definition a little. In my last report I’d made my way through some of the French alps, I’ve now finished spectacular Section 4 and started to make my way south though Italia.

The first day of this three day block is a little bit of a blur. I remember grand vistas. I remember nearly falling over attempting a stupidly steep climb clearly more suited to swarms of sport enduros. Blue waters and quite a lot of street. A fine enough day, but nothing about the route to stand out in the memory. What does stand out in the memory was the group of three trials riders who headed out past the bakery. Or, rather, the last of the three. Fresh faced, beautiful and with that standing-i-don’t-have-a-seat trials pose and tight trousers… well. I’d have followed her anywhere, but, sadly, I had a fine patisserie in my hand and they were gone in a shot. Maybe she was a dream.

The next day, the eastern end of France 04, however is utterly spectacular. At Baisse de Caran you’re presented with a one way loop, I had no idea why, but being a good little boy I followed it. Great views, for sure. But then I turned the corner to find an abandoned WW2 fort and, finally, a vehicle older than my DR. A Stuart tank. Forts. Pretty cool. Onwards I went, to find that at the other side of the mountains the clouds were coming in and I was well above them. Beautiful. Stunning. Spectacular.

Onwards I went. Around the loop, up to the other forts, the observatory ruins, a little castle thing. Brilliant. Glorious. Fantastic. And then on around the loop again to rejoin the TET and descend through the clouds. Those clouds will, however, play a role later.

After the forts you’re making your way to Italy mostly on the street. All good. I was itching to break new ground. My enthusiasm began to somewhat waver when the first stretch was a bit bloody rocky and tad steep, old chap. I’m not a bad rider, it was within tolerance for solo riding, but only just – anything more hairy and I’d have turned around. Turning around will also play a role later.

After bashing myself to bits on the rocks I was down into the valley and the slightly sad town of Pigna. Which I guess used to be Pigna Terme. Other side of the river there was a grand old resort, now closed and utterly gated. No sneaking in for a dip. Unfortunately because I’m starting to smell pretty bad! After an envious chat with some trials bike guys at the café it was onwards and upwards.

Up to the top of the pass and the start of the next section, but I needed fuel, so down the other side of the pass I went. Where I met Junior. “Oh, here we go.” thought I, as the scruffy youth in the scruffy town at the scruffy petrol station asked for money in Italian. He was a funny looking bloody Italian though. “Sorry bud, don’t speak Italian, Scottish” says I. “Fantastic!” exclaims Junior, who in perfect English explains that his estranged brother is coming to visit and that he wants to buy him a can of Monster. A likely story. But it turns out the kid is from the Midlands. I’m not sure if my small change went to a good cause or the local Fagin. But what the heck, it’s not every day you meet a British scrounger in an Italian mountain village.

Back up the twisty twisty road I go. It’s 25ish km of 2000m high, steep, trails to the next sign of civilization. I have two hours of light. I can do that. Right? Well, as Matrix said to Sully. Wrong.

Tough trail. Vertical drops to the side. Clouds coming in. Loose rocks. No food. Very limited visibility. Getting cold and wet. Fuck that. Back down I went, slowly. Back down to Juniortown. 10km of hairpins is a long way. I needed a hot meal. Great, Google says there’s a place 300m from here. Which, here, takes 10min. Closed. Next place, next village, closed. Next, closed. Bloody off season, so it was crisps and cheese from the cute little shop. That’ll do, two beers helped.

Next morning and my fourth ride along the road to Juniortown and the clouds were all gone, the trail was still a little hairy but much more passable. The views, this time, enjoyable. But I think I found a Black Site for Dyslexic American spies. The rest of the day has been a mix of all kinds of trails, from rocky high altitude supervistas, though old tunnels dark as night and along fast flowing downhills. Perfect TETing. The only somewhat unnerving moments were deep in the forest, riding on a bed of beautiful brown leaves so deep I had no idea what was underneath me. Fortunately it was fairly smooth going, but caution was applied.

Let’s see what tomorrow brings, as I come out of the alps proper and see what the rest of this country has to offer.