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Nick Jones

Not the 10CR......

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We planned to do a 25th (wedding) anniversary continental tour last year, repeating elements of our honeymoon tour.  Health issues prevented that. 

This year, I did put in an application for the 10CR, which I had to withdraw as Senior Management was not up for it and the dates didn't fit well with tacking our own tour on.

So initially we decided to go it alone, visiting relatives in Switzerland (as in 1993) then spending time in the Alps.  Later came the opportunity to tack something a bit different on the end.....

Unlike Roger, I'm not organised enough to provide a running commentary so you're getting a retrospective report.......

.......which begins pre-dawn on the final Thursday of August with a run up to Dover to catch the 10.30 ferry to Calais.


We made it.......

We then plotted a slightly erratic course across France avoiding the toll roads


The sun shone brightly, some of the roads were nice and empty.  Others, not so much, especially around Lille.  I belatedly applied sunblock.....

After about 300 miles in France (500 total for the day), we arrived in St Dizier and our hotel for the night.  As is so often the case in the France, the hotel was reasonably priced, clean and within staggering distance of a Buffalo Grill.  Sorted!

Day 2:

Off bright and early to the local LeClerc for fuel and breakfast, though as it turned out we were too early for breakfast as only the petrol station was open. 

We pressed on and stopped later.  France is abundantly equipped with roadside supermarkets.

As the Ballon d'Alsace was pretty much directly on route it would have been rude not to..... especially after Richies reminder of it's existence.  We didn't melt any bearings on the way up, but then I wasn't trying nearly as hard......


At the top we were greeted by the somewhat concerning sight of thousands (literally, the race numbers went over 2000!) of cyclists who had some up from the other (south) side.  Mostly Belgian as it turned out and on a charity run.  Some of them didn't look like they were regular cyclists or even regular exercisers...... But fair play to them, they were there, at the top of a monster climb, and it was a very hot day, even up there.  There were even a few who'd come up on unicycles.


The view was better looking the other way, but it was a bit hot and busy on the top so we pottered down the south side looking for lunch spot.  The laybye were we stopped for lunch in 1993 was found, but rejected as not shady enough


This one was perfect though.......  I didn't want to leave.  It was hot in the sun and there were still hoards of cyclists coming down the hill on their way to Belfort...... We were also headed for Belfort and I wasn't looking forward to going at bike speeds!

We did eventually leave and wove around 100s of bikes to get to Belfort.  Belfort is "blessed" with many traffic lights, very few in the shade and no signs to Switzerland at all, even though it's really quite close.  Fortunately Management was navigating and we popped out on the right road, if a little hot and bothered.  Somewhere in amongst it I managed to fill up with E10.  The car was displeased but kept going.

We reach the Swiss border, are inspected for our motorway sticker (as we are going straight onto a motorway).  I am happy to display my collection of stickers (all the way back to 1993) to the nice gentleman and observe that Switzerland owes me more or 6 whole years of motorway use..... he's heard it all before......

We proceed into Switzerland.  The roads are good, the scenery better.  It is however Friday afternoon and we spend a bit longer on the Bern ring-road than intended as Swiss traffic is becoming a problem (think UK about 15 years ago).

Arrive at Aunt & Uncles in good time, somewhat roasted...... Only about 300 miles today. 800 in total.


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Hello Nick

                 Looks like good trip but those cyclists are mad we met them in the pyrenes last year!

I am off to Spa 6hours next Wednesday via Dover castle and tunnels and Vimy Ridge memorial 

6 cars 2 Spitfires 1 TR6 1 13/60 1Vitesse 1Volvo Amazon (wine carrier!)



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I have a similar Tourmalet pic - on film - from the early 90s.......

Aunt and Uncle have lived in the same house since the early 70s.  The Swiss do tend to stay put.  But when you can wake up to view like this, why would you move.....


and this from just up the hill


When we stay there, we tend to get taken walking.  This is fine, except that although we are nearly 30 years younger, and not exactly couch potatoes, they can literally walk the legs off us!


Day one, we climbed into the hills (not really mountains apparently, less than 2000m.... :blink:).  It was beautiful..... very steep..... and hot.  Really hot.  Later we went to the pool.  Their village (5000 pop) has a rather lovely 50m pool.  Outdoor, but solar heated and with a rather excellent water slide.  The slide is for the children really, but kids come in all sizes, some quite grey and wrinkly!

Day two we walked some more in local area.  They cut these fields for hay......  They do have some interesting machines to do it with though


These picnic sites are provided by the local councils.  With BBQs and firewood provided.  This one even has a pizza oven (far right!)


Barn decorations.....


Farm shop in the village


Unmanned and self-service.  They do have cameras though....... and that big pumpkin with the face had a CHF 70 price tag...... perilously close to £ 70.....  We left it.



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End of day 2 it rained down, though it was polite enough to more or less wait until we'd go back in the house before it really let rip.  Then it poured all night - didn't matter.

Day 3 (Monday) dawned still damp and drippy but no matter.  We had a date with Mike of Rosslin Racing.

Turns out Mike is based just 30 kms away in Burgdorf and he needed real tea, so we took him some PG Tips!  The drive to Burgdorf was a little trying as the Swiss, though comparative newcomers to rural village speed limits, have cottoned on to the idea with enthusiasm.  The speed limit changes constantly, 50 kph, 80 kph, 60 kph, even 30 kph, all jumbled up and changing every 200m in places.  They have cameras too.....  Anyway, we weren't hurrying.

Mike is in the process of moving workshops and with the collection of cars and parts he has,  that is no small task.  I took no pics but he has a lot of stuff, mostly Mini (Innocenti) and older Triumph.  Well worth a call if you are passing.

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Looks like a great trip so far!  Wasn't aware of Rosslin Racing.. older Triumph as in, early TR?  (I'm restoring one and this isn't *that* far away my my neck of the woods)

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Time came to move on, heading for Aosta which is only a couple of hundred kms, albeit with one or two hills.

We opted to to take the semi-scenic route



Col Du Pillon (only 1546m).  There's a monster cable car here that takes you up to another cable car that takes you to a glacier.  It was operating but the prices were enough to cure any thoughts of trying it!


Instead we took a bit of a diversion and went to the Chateau du Chillon on Lac Leman, just south of Montreux.


It was quite scenic, with little boats.......


and bigger boats......


Then south to Martigny and a supermarket.  We didn't buy much.  The prices would have been similar to home were there 3 CHF to the pound - but it's more like 1.20!  

Then a bit of uphill.  The Grand St Bernard pass.  There is a tunnel but it's € 36 and there is a perfectly good road over the top, which was glorious in bright sunshine, if a little nippy towards the top



The top.


St Bernards on the Grand St Bernard at the museum.  They are pretty big...... but no barrels fitted.

There was another oldie up here, Opel Kadett two door, from Belgium carrying a newly-wed couple


We had the misfortune of following it down the pass.  It was painfully slow (I have previously observed that Belgians seem to fear mountain roads) and mild smoking from the exhaust near the top developed into wet bonfire proportions lower down.  Sorry to say that we were most relieved when it pulled over and did not stop to help them fix it....

This was also our first encounter with Italian speed limit policy, which seem to be that if there is a toll motorway going the same way, the alternate "free" road will have a 50kph speed limit for pretty much it's entire length regardless of hazard levels.  They also have MANY "speed cameras", the majority of which are obvious fakes once you've got your eye in, provided you are travelling slow enough to get a good look......

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So to Aosta.  Stayed in a very nice apartment found through AirBnB within walking distance (just) of the town and ski-lift. Some fairly random pics from 4 days of wandering in the area.....

One view from the apartment


They grow many apples and vines around here and the hillside is riddled with irrigation channels

The Roman city gates

What is left of the the Roman theatre (seen through a small slit in a wall which took a bit of finding - they would prefer that you paid to see it!)

The weather was a bit iffy that day!

Continuing the Roman theme up the Cogne valley a bit is this bridge over a deep chasm built in 34 BC.  Looks good for it's age, though has had some restoration apparently

Originally and aqueduct across the top and a walkway beneath.......

........ with non-original glass floor...... Management was unhappy - she HATES glass floors.......

We also had an encounter with an Italian customs agent looking for smuggled cat food.  When we convinced him we hadn't got any he decided that chocolate would be fine as a bribe!


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Some more mountains and waterfalls



An epic 20 minute cable car ride (that's Aosta in the valley)

Leading to a 10 minute chair lift ride above endless mountain bike tracks, this place really is special for mountain bikes

And then a substantial walk uphill...... got us to here.  Looking west towards Mont Blanc, hidden in cloud just left of centre........

and looking east

......and near enough straight down

Spotted this in the car park at the base of the chair lift

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Onwards towards Turin, stopping briefly to walk again in more mountains


And to look at Bard town and fort, which we just happened across (quite hard to miss it in fact!)

The red things are funicular railways/lifts.  The place is just vast with various museums in it.  View from the top

Then on to Turin.  Not the most fun part of the trip.  There is a motorway, but being an Italian motorway it's a toll road and ferociously expensive.  We decided to use local roads.  Trouble is that it seems that any local road that goes roughly the same way as a motorway will have daft speed limits for no visible reason.  Usually 50 kph occasionally rising briefly to 70 kph or dropping to 30 kph.  To make you think twice about breaking these limits there are hoards of speed cameras.  Literally every 300m in places.  Of course most are fakes, orange wheely bins with stickers on them so they look like cameras.  This is fairly obvious if you are travelling at the posted speed limit, but not so much otherwise.  Best method seems to be find a local and follow him - he knows where the real ones are.....

We also had to go through a couple a reasonable sized towns.  One was entirely cobbled - and quite rough cobbles at that - for about 2km.  Car didn't appreciate that and neither did we!  managed to buy fuel at the third attempt.  Italian petrol stations are mostly unmanned, especially on a Sunday, and their automated payment systems are a bit hard to figure out at times!

Then Turin.......  My hot tip would be don't go to Turin, but if you must, don't drive there, and if you must do that too then don't drive right across it, go round on the motorway and definitely don't do it in a thunderstorm.  Driver and navigator were both very stressed.  The sat-nav disagreed with google maps and both disagreed with the local signage....... Then there were the locals.  Apparently they all smoke a pipe or two of crack before getting behind the wheel...... and will double or even triple park as it suits them.  We had a moment when faced with a road mostly blocked by triple parked cars apart from the tramway, I took to the tramway thinking the blockage was only a couple of cars deep only to find that it went on for about 100m (there must have been some event kicking out) and also that there was a tram coming the other way...... :woot: . Then there were the vast puddles, small inland seas even, hiding the deep potholes.......

Very glad to reach our destination we were......

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The destination was the Lingotto building.  Vast former Fiat car factory converted to massive shopping centre, hotel, dental school, conference and exhibition centre and many, many offices.

We met up with a select band of other Triumph owners and stayed in the hotel (reminiscent of Rolduc abbey if only for it's sheet scale)

and admired it's internal ramp, used to move the cars upwards through the various stages of production.

The following morning we took advantage of the other key feature of the Lingotto building, which is it's rooftop test track, immortalised in the Italian Job.

Beautiful day for it.......
You can't do laps at the moment unfortunately as the other end is closed indefinitely for repairs, but you can drive on this banked section, which is very weird and rather steeper than it looks.  It's also very bumpy indeed!


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You weren't the first Triumphs there. these were taken in 2014 after Tom Hartley blagged his way into being allowed to go up to the roof, I think it cost 1 bottle of whiskey for the security guard. We were a group of Triumph nuts (all who have done 10CR etc) who arranged a European trip.

I loved the concrete drive up to the roof, fab design of 1930's concrete!






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Excellent - wasn't under any illusions that we would be the first Triumphs up there...… I assume the TR6 was yours and the Flying Banana needs no introduction.... not sure I recognise the others? Security? As far as we could tell there wasn't any. Anyone in the know could find their way up there without challenge and a few did (on foot). We had the amusement of a Japanese tourist and his Italian minder who had come up for a look-see and found us...… he was very happy. Especially when Phil gave him a ride in the V8 saloon - eyes like saucers as they screeched to halt...… Cost a lot more than a bottle of whiskey though - even quite a decent one! Nick

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from the Left

Tom Hartley's Herald 12/50 on a mk2 Vitesse chassis
Nigel Hill mk2 Vitesse 
Chris Gunby beautiful mk2 Vitesse
Vinnie's "yellow peril" 2.5 PI spit
Tim Smith TR5
My TR6 
Mike Carroll TR7
Toby Cowper wife's, Sandra,  Mini Cooper (Toby's Hurricane was in bits again).

We took the ferry from Harwich to Holland and then we put the cars on a overnight train in northern Germany to get them quickly to Italy and toured around working our way back to Northern France. Lots of Alpine passes, with the usual PI plug changing. We stayed in the old Fiat factory hotel.
At the time the roof had been damaged so they weren't letting anyone on to the roof but some how Tom managed it!
Happy memories of a great trip. We took the partners along and probably didn't make it very clear how much driving was involved and that there wasn't much time for shopping or leisurely coffee breaks.... 
Its interesting that once you have done a couple of 10CR's you realise that its easy to arrange your own European trips...


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Been organising our own European trips since the early 90, mostly in the Vitesse. Of the 85k miles I've put on it I reckon between 1/2 and 2/3 have been done on the continent.  Hopefully this might continue though new hazards such as Brexit and the ever-multiplying low-emissions-zones (LEZ) don't help.

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So, the excitement of Lingotto was all over by 11 am, including waiting for the following party of "25 Minis from UK", rather alot of which turned out to be Binis, Fiat hire cars and a stray MGF.  This left us to escape Turin without getting sucked into the LEZ (low emissions zone), forbidden to us old smokers on a weekday on pain of a large fine.  This in turn meant heading southwards, or the opposite direction to which we were headed.  Frankly, having already sampled the dubious delights of central Turin, this was fine by us. Even if it meant paying for motorways...... though in fact the ring road is not too horrendous.  However, being headed for Bormio, a fair trek, it was clear that motorway was the only sane way for the first half.  Certainly we made decent progress, but the tolls were knocking on £25!  One small pleasure for my navigator was that having agreed we'd leave Turin in convoy with the other Triumphs, she insisted I did not follow them when they all turned right at the first intersection (they're mad!).  Anyway, we spent the next 50 miles wondering if they were ahead or behind........ and it turned out they were behind - and going very much faster than we were.  Pride before a fall though - we missed the correct exit at Monza and took an indirect, but interesting cross-country path to rejoin the planned route.

Eventually we found ourselves going up the eastern side of lake Lecco, which then becomes lake Como.  Very pretty place but a rather slow road. 

Nice picnic spot found though



Bit further further up the same road


Then back into the mountains proper, including tunnels.....

before finally rolling into Bormio and finding the hotel...... look - Triumphs!

view from hotel room window.......






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