I fired up the mac and started to write a follow on post to the "Awww Bollocks" tread and although I had shut the door to my pokey-hole the lock had not engaged and it had creaked open a teeny-weeny bit.
Do you know the feeling when the hair on the back of your neck starts to prickle and stand on end?
As I was hammering by keyboard I started feeling more and more uncomfortable and turned my head, landlady was giraffing her neck around the door post trying to see what I was doing.
Time to blow this baitshack of lala-land and a half hour later and I was kitted up, ready to roll.
To be fair I must say that as late she had become a bit dozy and sleeps in her chair in front of the telly for most of the day, must be some new meds, however the trade off seems to be that they give her the explosive shits. waking up at three in the morning to the sound of her shotgunning the loo leaves me huddled under the cover, desperate for unconsciousness right up until the alarm goes off.
The pig was feeling better though, kitted out with new fork-tubes and a new battery, also by now I was feeling confident that the clutch would hold.
I had rung around the local "Fachhändler-circuit" and was by and large was quoted the same amount for a re-clutching, in short, more than the bike was worth, so in desperation I rang Björn from http://www.bikerbjoern.ch/
Iron Pigs former home and lamented over how life was like just sooo unfair.
Björn just snorted and told me to loosen the thingamajig from the do-dah, tighten the whatzit, with a you know what and stop bloody whining. It took me a half hour to do and he was correct, after almost 1000 K's later and up and down some Austrian and CHian passes the pig's clutch is still firm.
Iron pig II, re-batteried, tubed, lubed, fueled and ready to boogie.
But first a quick pit-stop at the Bank to settle MoaB with the AHV, a little something left over from my time as AnobAG, without going into, for you meaningless details, lets just regard it as the fee to live in CH if you wanna be self employed and of course MoaB is Mother of all Bills.
I have never, ever paid so much for so little to so many in my life and the experience had left me light headed and I rode all the way to Austria in a daze.
Stepmom had been in the body shop for a new knee and was bringing it online in Schwangau near Füssen, a medieval walled town in Bavaria, going to visit and to say "Hi, how are ya?" was the reason for this trip, however the reha-clinic was keeping her so busy that apart from a "Hi, how are ya?" we did not get to speak very much and a half hour later I was back in the saddle, in a slightly indignant huff I rode up to King Ludwig's castles for a lookie-see, I had not been there for over 20 years, still unchanged though, however I did notice that the Japanese tourists have been replaced by Chinese tourists, almost all wearing surgical face masks and a neck full of cameras, also among the busses from all over Europe there was a bus full of Brits with their very annoying and loud mouthed tour guide, I grabbed a coffee and watched him with growing loathing, he was talking to his charges in a exaggerated and pronounced manner, like talking to children.
"Up there, walk a bit, then Photos, you take your photos, then come back here and eat sausage."
He was also openly ogling the teen girls among the group.
These buggers give guided tours a bad name and I felt like I wanted to punch his frikkin lights out.
A bit of trivia here for you, the film Chitty chitty bang bang that was filmed in part in Neuschwanstein was a Albert R. Broccoli production and is based on a story by Ian Flemming, Chitty chitty bang bang is in reality a "Bond car…!"
Hohenschwangau, just across the road, the other white meat of the mad kings castles.
Schloss Linderhof, the baroque third castle is situated near Oberammergau, 50 Kilometers from these two, a fourth castle built on the ruins of Burg Falkenstein was in planning, however the cost was so expensive that the people of Bavaria said "Fuk that" and killed their King (according to legend)
Seems that Ludwig had the last laugh after all, the revenue from visitors from all over the world have paid for the castles and their upkeep many times over.
As a matter of interest Burg Falkenstein is rumored to be the base for the Hogwards of the Harry Potter universe.
later in the afternoon I set a course for Austria riding past Germanys highest mountain the 2962 Meter high Zugspitze, Germans are quite proud of the Zugspitz and portrait it most lovingly in the "visit beautiful Germany" kind of glossy brochures and they are generally not amused when you point out that 80% of the entire massif is actually located in Austria, just the kind of thing you can mention for the sake of light banter in the farmers pub shortly before closing time.
South of Fernpass and the Zugspitze form the Austrian side.
Fernpass is an interesting place of real estate on its own, it was created around 4500 years ago by a gigantic landslide that filled the former valley and has always been a major route over the alps, just to put things in perspective the Iceman Ötzi is older by 1200 years!
During Roman times it was part of the Via Claudia Augusta, the main road from Augsburg (Augusta Vindelicorum) and Imperial Rome (IMPERIVM ROMANVM, hows that for Latin), it was also the main commerce route for the Fugger dynasty, a family so rich that they bought the Italy of the Habsburgs during the early middle ages.
Today the Via Claudia Augusta is totally walkable in it's entire length and in parts it has been restored to the spesifications of an original Roman road.
If you are ever in the area and looking for a bicycle ride or a hike:
In 1952 a valley was flooded by a earthwork that dammed the Lech river, the lake is now called the Forggernsee after the village of Forggern which was abandoned and is now lays in submerged ruin for most of the year, Forgernsee is a shallow, picturesque lake in the low-alpine region with a kind of post ice age charm, in winter the lake is drained and parts of the village appear in the hard silt, other things emerge as well, tree stumps from prehistoric times, bones from animals long extinct and interestingly, parts of the original Via Claudia Augusta, it is a strange feeling to walk an original, untampered with Roman road, unchanged from the time cohorts and tradesmen went about their businesses to and from and for imperial Rome.
..and again, Neuschwanstein is just to the right in the middle...
..and one 'mo time!
South of the Fernpass the road gives you the choice of turing west, back to Lake Constance and Switzerland or east to Innsbruck, it was too early to go back so I set course for the Brenner and Italy, besides I fancied a Pizza and red wine evening meal.
Going over the Brenner is actually quite tough for a motorbike, not for the usual pass related reasons but for the steady stream of lorries from Italy and the Balkans desperately trying to make time and as in the trucking trade, time really is money, you on your bike on the other hand amount to fly crap stuck in the radiator, an annoyance at best.
However the landscape going down to Lombardy makes up for boneheaded Balkan truckers and can be best described as a "Grandscape, just sayin!¨
After Bozen I joined the SS42 and headed towards Tonale, the plan was to find a hotel and chill, found one at 50€*a night with half pension, really an unbeatable price.
On the way up to Tonale.
A bit of snow on top of the Toanle pass.
Still trying to figure out how to best use iMovie.
Methinks a tad better
In the morning I carried on down the pass on a dry-ish road, however half way down I felt an ever so slight, slight "tug" on the rear wheel, some bikers say that they can feel with the seat of their pants when something is wrong, like the boast of WW1 fighter pilots, I, on the other hand have learnt how to interface the bike with my hemorrhoids, I was on an ice-sheet, I did not dare brake, shift gear, snap the throttle shut, change the center of gravity, I dared not do underpants soiling sweet fick all and I was running out of road to boot…!
…It is said that the god's look after small children and idiots, sometimes they look after Slammer too and I found a dry spot just as I had to brake, a full meter before the barrier.
The rest of the way down was taken at 10 to 20 Kmh.
I had a vague plan to go back over the Stelvio or Monte Spluga, but this was just too late in the year and all the high alpine passes are closed for the winter so instead I rode the SS38 along the Sondiro valley towards Lake Como, to my left and to my right the tops of the mountains of Lombardy shone brilliantly white in the afternoon sun.
I like the run along Lake Como, there you find narrow winding roads tucked between the lake and the mountains, the towns and villages encountered seem to defy gravity in the way that they are stuck to the sheer upwardness of the landscape and everything has a very warm Mediterranean feel to it, I briefly contemplating heading over Genua and back over Grenoble, but after the recent blood letting of the giro I decided that I was probably broke and headed to Switzerland and Basel using the Gotthard tunnel.
All in all a nice short run and it took my mind of a few things for a day or two, maybe there is another run in the near future, we will see.
By By from the Gotthard