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Stelvio 2004

GrahamWalsh

Day One – Home – Pub Meet – Reims, France

  • Late getting to pub.
  • Late getting to ferry as i had to go via halfords for get some number plate pads.
  • Drove out of halfords car park and thought it was a one way road. Asked them why was there no white line on my side of the road. Realised why, as cars started coming towards me, it was two way. Had to reverse back up the road. I call it practise for driving aboard.
  • Got pulled over by the police at the docks as the car has no front number plate. Luckily i had just got the pads and said I was going to put them on in the boat – which i did.
  • Sailing was running 1/2 hour late so that was good – as we were late.
  • Got off the boat and now driving on the other side of the road for the first time (by law).
  • Long drive down the motorway to Reims. Nearly the last to get there, but met everyone and had a few drinks.

Day Two – Reims, Old GP Pits – Braunwald, Switzerland

  • Went to the old GP pits at Reims for the start. what an amazing sight. Apparently Max did a certain speed past us.
  • Decided to take the motorway route and cut out some of the country roads. Had a blast down the motorway at a certain speed to catch Gerald & Andy.
  • Just before we got to Switzerland, we stopped for lunch. This turned out to be going to a supermarket and getting some french sticks and fillings and making lunch in the car park – how pikey.
  • Nearly ended up using the motorway in Switzerland but turned around just in time – I blame my navigator (although we both agreed it was a short cut).
  • Drove round the lake at Brunnen which had some fantastic views.
  • Started the Klausenpass in daylight and then on the other side it was dark and wet. Caught up with tut who had a damaged rear suspension mount.
  • Arrived at the cable car with 5 minutes to spare. Guy behind the counter was not the quickest, but luckily they waited for us.
  • As the norm, went to the bar for a few quite drinks.

 

Day Three – Braunwald – Obergurgl, Austria

  • Woke up to rain which meant either the pass in the wet again, or an alternative – decided to take a different route.
  • Missed the train as i had to have a shave – you never know who i might meet, got to look my best.
  • Drove in convoy (about 8 of us) in the wet and got to the start of the Albula pass. Was nearly dry, so the roof had to come off.
  • Great pass to drive along, full of bumpy roads. Drove by a town called Beaver – didn’t pop in this time, maybe next time.
  • Then we decided to nip over to St Moritz for some lunch. Met back up with Gerald and Andy who found a place next to a lake which had the Grand Prix on a big screen. Life doesn’t really get much better.
  • Then did the drive though the town. Had everyone pointing and staring at us.
  • Managed to cook my throttle bodies (or something like that) as i was loosing power and the car was jumping in low revs. Stopped and let it cool down. all was ok.
  • Over the border into Austria and again, some more fantastic roads.
  • Arrived at the hotel to find it was awful – not. Went for a swim and then the usual drill of sitting in the bar till 1am. Myself, Ben and Rob were the last to leave – we beat the Scottish.

 

Day Four – Obergurgl – Stelvio – Zone, Italy

  • Left Austria and did the Rombo pass up over into Italy, what a road.
  • Adrenaline starts rushing through my body as i see the signs for Stelvio. Lead our group with Em’s filming, we start to climb Stelvio. Hairpin after hairpin (glad i got some new rear tyres), grounding the front up into a hairpin, who cares, its only a front clam.
  • Arrived at the top and it wasn’t snowing. Met even more people and I felt I deserved my Stelvio sticker from Bob and had to put it on the car.
  • Emma was really cold, so Bob offered to warm her up, by putting his car fan on of course.
  • Presentation to Tony and Jane at the top of stelvio video here
  • Back down the other side of Stelvio, managed to avoid the old bill who just pulled an Elise over.
  • Over to the Gavia pass with near nil visibility.
  • Had to stop at the bottom as there was the old bill doodling along at 40mph. Little rest brake and met with Kurt who has seen a few Stelvio’s.
  • Following the route to zone we had met up with Luciano and a few others.
  • Sitting in traffic, Luciano was apparently enjoying my music, four cars behind 🙂
  • Got to the final approach road to Zone and it was closed. One local started to explain to me which way to go. I called Luciano over to understand the locals and then he suggested that we lead. Didn’t let him get away with that one.
  • Funny watching 10 Elise’s trying to turn around in a narrow street on a hill.
  • Back along the road, flying through tunnels and come to a roundabout. we all stop apart from someone on the other side of the road who slams into another car whilst they were staring at us.
  • Arrive at the top to find tut’s car on blocks with wheel bearing and ball joints knackered.
  • Our hotel is apparently 500m down the road. What a nice room – ok, maybe i’m fibbing.
  • Had to get back up to the main hotel, so the driver comes down to get us. He is in a Fiat Multipla and there are 8 of us. We all pile in and he still drives like Schumacher.
  • Usual story of more food and drink.

 

Day Five – Zone – Monaco – Moustiers Ste Marie, France

  • Left Zone, heading for France in heavy traffic. Must have been about 10 of us. Again, other people looking at all the cars, one slams into the back of a truck.
  • Driving along and there was an ambulance going at a fair speed, but too slow for us, so we had to over take it.
  • More rain on the climb up towards france. Had to put the roof on. Through the tunnel into France and decided to take a detour – Monaco.
  • After getting lost, met with Jez out of the blue as he was there for a wedding and eventually got down to the circuit after going through some of the tunnels. Back end stepping out in the wet.
  • Then drove the actual circuit, what an amazing experience. Again, had the back end out in the tunnel just like with F1 guys and i didn’t come out sideways.
  • Carried on along the coast into Nice and some nice roads. Stopped off in Grasse and it took us over an hour to find the way out. Wouldn’t have happened if I had my navigator, but Rob had to kidnap her to keep him awake.
  • Myself, Ben and Jaye were the last to arrive at the hotel after doing the final pass in the dark.
  • Ben managed to hit a boulder, rip his front number plate off and put a big dent in his undertray.
  • When Ben parked up, he managed to crack the surface of his rear clam by reversing into a metal pole.
  • Brought a couple of bottles of wine to take down to our hotel.
  • Went to bed at 2:30am after drinking the above red wine.

 

Day Six – Moustiers Ste Marie – Gap, France

  • Breakfast at our hotel was interesting, the owner wanted us to eat as much jam as possible and questioned me whether I was laughing at her – of course I was.
  • Started out to do the south side of the Canyon du Verdun trying to keep up with Cris Duddridge & Andrew Lees (who were just warming up!). About 10km into the journey we stop near the top and some bikers point out that there is something leaking from Cris’s car. We all stop and try and see what it is – coolant.
  • We make up a ramp and get the car up and Mark Banham is a star trying to find out the problem.
  • Booted up my laptop and look at the diagram for the cooling system and it seems it could be the pipes in the side rails, phoned AA – unfortunately game over for them.
  • Back down the south pass to do the north pass to save time as we lost 2 1/2 hours.
  • One of the best roads I have driven has got to be the Col de Vers – cooked the brakes to a stage where i had next to nothing going into a hairpin – had to let them cool down for a bit.
  • Cooked the throttle bodies again on the way to gap.
  • Another heavy night drinking with free drinks from a bar that enjoyed singing the theme to the Lion King. Obviously we were singing it in English and they sang it in French! – click here for the video clip. The bar staff were also drinking two drinks to our one, hence why they couldn’t add up.
  • After a night on the town, Andy Baker had a few too many drinks – click here and here. A few people took it in turn to carry Andy home and Iain and I had to carry him to his room (Room 101). We put Andy on the bed and he immediately fell off, so we had to put him in the middle hoping he won’t fall anywhere. We checked on him every few minutes – all was ok.
  • Bed at 1:30

 

Day Seven – Gap – Troyes, France

  • Funny enough, Andy started out with a sore head. However, he was driving Rob’s car and we lost him after about 4 corners – what a fantastic bit of driving by Andy
  • As we were travelling along one of the roads, Ben, Andy and I overtook some cars, next thing, i look in my mirror and i see 8 elises on the wrong side of the road – what a great sight.
  • Was going along one of the roads and Ben basically flies in the air and lands back down damaging his rear under tray and possibly his flexi pipe. also damages the front.
  • When we met with Andy and Rob, apparently they were caught out on the same bump. Luckily it was only the number plate for Rob’s car.
  • Decided to take a slight detour and did the Tour de France pass – Aples-d’Huez – and had to go back down it.
  • We decided to change our Hotel Ibis booking and drove up to Troyes to make Friday an easier drive back. Thanks to Ben for sorting out a really great hotel.
  • Along the motorway, myself, Iain, James & Kevin get split up from the rest. Eventually found them after me travelling at a certain speed for near 30 minutes.
  • Again, out on the town again and we ended up in an English bar with French karaoke, funny how we didn’t stay there long. Sample the singing here
  • Ben and i decided to call it a night (well via the hotel bar) and Andy and Rob stay out. Find out in the morning that they thought it would be fun to test out the fountain at 3am.

 

Day Eight – Troyes – Calais – Home
A well deserved lay in today and went around the town of Troyes which was really cool
Got to calais in a good time and was only 5 hours early for the ferry, so paid the extra to get home quicker
While waiting in the queue, we notice a lot of people who have been on the Cannonball Europe run. They were telling us the stories about being fined for having all the stickers on the cars and how the organiser got done for doing 190mph by the Spanish police.
One thing to remember about the Cannonball runners is happiness, happiness.
One of their guys told us about a police speed trap on the M20 – thanks for that
We explained stelvio to them and they were shocked that it had no barriers – wimps
Eventually got home after 2507 miles and every one of them was worth it and a very big thanks to my navigator, Emma who made the trip even better by bossing all us blokes around.
Also thanks to the following people who made the trip so special. Jaye & Frank Tillson, Ben Rye, Rob Talbot, Andy Baker, Gerald Wooldridge, Iain Watt and everyone else in our group.

Roll on next year.

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