Ciao from Torino
After waking up, sometime between 2:00 am to 3:00 am to open the window because the air-condition didn't work, it was only natural that this would be the time when the traffic began on the roads. I was already washed (behind my ears as well mom) and shaved by 6:00 am. Beautiful day outside. After breakfast I am go for a tour in town. Like every other European city, Gap has own old water fountains, antiques, street statues and stone walks. But in here, the view surrounding it, is what counts. The town is just 'planted' in the Alps and you can't avoid waking up optimistic in the morning. The other truth is that tourists always see things in 'tourists' eyes. It is 7:00 am and the bakeries are already open. They are full of people some of which look as though they just got out of bed and are still wearing pajamas. The same goes for the market and the butcher shop! Again, it is 7:00 am! What are they looking for so early? I take some pictures and return to the hotel at 9:00 am to get ready for the daily route. In the meantime, Gidion has awoken and we are leaving the city around 10:30 am, heading toward Torino, Italy. Remember that yesterday I said the the road is unforgettable? (and the day before?) - forget what I said.
We start climbing. On the way, I decide that today, as we have enough time, I will stop at all kinds of nice, small and forgotten places. So I take all the right (like the opposite of left) turns I can usually to the point where Gidion's bike can make it, but sometimes even beyond that point. And so, we find ourselves on an edge of an amazing lake. What a beauty. And I think to myself, today is Saturday, 29 degrees (later on it climbed to 31), and everyone in Israel is on the beach,, and here I am screwed in these ugly Alps, with those lakes, and those mountains. Don't you feel for me? And again, I thank whoever I need to thank from above, that I am here.
By the way, did we talk lately about donations? What did you think? That I will give up on you? Hundreds of people have already donated their money. It's your turn now. Send me an e-mail and I will tell you how.
On the road again. There are really no words to describe the scenes. I stop every five minutes and do not want to continue. Towns, mountains and lakes. I am heading toward some small town of which I am convinced I can find a path that climbs the mountain and indeed Ifind it, and I don't want to come down. On the way down, I have another surprise - an old Simca (a name of a French car) and the driver just arrived and I can see it is not a collector's car but just a car, something he uses on a daily basis. Simca? To go like this? The picture is dedicated to my father who wanted to ensure that generations of Simca drivers in Israel wiould enjoy their ride by taking us on trips to just to test those vehicles ( built for short people). That is when I started to love cars and traveling. So at a certain point we reach a lake that is sitting in a green valley and I decide that A) I am looking for a path up to the mountain to take a picture. And B) I need some time to myself. So I enter a small, tiny town. Taking the narrow roads up, I notice the two and a half people who live there staring because they've never had tourists here. But this time I am not interested in the locals. I ride as high as the road goes and there I say good-bye to Gidion who can't continue because the road is rocky. I start climbing rocks and stones and love life. I stop at the top (they always recommend to stop at the top, don't they?). The heat is killing me. I am off the bike and take the camera with me. I start taking off my riding jacket, the helmet is still on my head and I can hear stones moving. Immediately I understand what is going on but too late to react - the bike fell down. The mirror is disconnected. It lays on its side (a sad sight) and I am running toward it as fast as I can. First thing I disconnect the power, put it in gear, put the camera aside and start to lift it. It is difficult. Very much so, because the road is very steep and the bike insists on rolling down and I am hardly able to stabilize it and more than this, I decide that I must take a picture so with my leg I pull the camera to me and hope that you will get the general feeling of the scene. It didn't work. The mirror broke. Let this be my only problem! I am sure that there are tribes that believe the broken mirror is a good omen. Now, I am slowly rolling the bike down (and carefully) but the breaks don't 'kick in'. The bike has quite
a sophisticated ABS system that 'kicks in' only after short ride (and I must ride because just running the engine is not good). Only then do all the sensors and computers begin to work. But what? It doesn't work now. So I am using the hand break (which has the same effect as the foot break) and somehow there is a reaction but I see the red light is on and the foot pedal is too soft. I tell Gidion on the radio what has happened (he heard the horn of the bike when it fell) and I'm rolling toward him slowly. When I get on the road, beside him, it is a paved, so I put my feet on the pegs, and when I arrive, I put my right foot on the break and.... nothing. The pedal is stiff and not responding. At this angle I am facing down and quickly loosing all the tan from my face at once, but I stop with the hand break. I am sweating. Now it is 31 degrees, my helmet is on, I am wearing a dark riding suit and I just lost my breaks. Gidion, who has yet to learn that in cases like this, just to leave me alone, makes a huge mistake and puts his hand on my shoulder - on the dark jacket that is on my shirt that is on my sweating body in 31 degrees heat. It doesn't matter what happened next. He will not do it again. First things first, I find a small creek in which to cool down. Life is nice when you have some shade and melting snow water.... And guess what? The breaks are working again. But, I don't really trust them when I am about to face very long and winding decent from the Alps. So I run a full checkup and verify my 'emergency list' that I've prepared ahead of time and everything is back to normal.
Now come the slopes. Look, some of you have been there so feel free to help me here. How do you describe it? I will try but it is only words because you must smell the trees, the air and sometimes the fear. The road starts to bend and climb the mountain. You speed. You see a left curve (like a snake?). As tradition goes, you shift gears down to third, pull to the right of your driving lane and enter as deep as possible before you lean the machine so you can see the dept of the curve. And it doesn't end. So you must slow down more and quickly shift gears to second and the engine RPMs are climbing like a Japanese motorcycle, and the curves! Not only that they put you at 180 degrees back in a very tight loop, but sometimes even more. And it goes like this all the way along, except that sometimes the turns go right and sometimes left. The road itself is very narrow to begin with. The problem is that in some places the road just disappears. It collapsed, washed away with the snow and melt. So there is just great depth. Suddenly you have a light, yes yes - a trafficlight in the middle of the curve and you stop. It is there to allow the traffic coming ahead of us to use the only lane that remains. And the road is surrounded by trees. At times there is no more than 25 cm between you and a free fall to a depth of 1,700 meters. And everything feels like one big party. And it continues like this for 140 km! Gidion, behind me, is waiting for me to check the curve for him before he enters. Regardless, the Gold Wind is too big for him and he is exhausted not less than me. In short, I hope that the pictures will give some of the feelings.
We arrived in Italy. They have this 'gate'. Funny. I choose an alternate route to Torino that bypasses the highway. This way, I am loosing one toll and win great scenery. The road is along the edge of the mountain, in a great area, beautiful views and short tunnels, and cows, and farmers, and kayaks in the angry river below us and it is just a big celebration. The road is full, just full with bikers. Everybody is waving hello. Friendly. Everyone is leaning their bikes in the curves and feels like me. After I loose Gidion twice, I decide to give him a break and 40 km before Torino we move to the highway (an act that give the Italians the opportunity to collect toll twice). At one toll booth, the girl who worked there was talking on the phone and with no shame told me to wait!!! And we arrive in Torino. Now, where to decide to go. Intuition. There is a river? So first of all lets get closer. After that, every time I see traffic becoming more dense, that is where we drove to. And we hit the center of the city. Stop by a small bar (it's around 3:00 pm) and ask the owner about an hotel. And he, with his two and a half words in English, goes out of his way to help. I feel uncomfortable but he insists and continues and eventually we say good-bye. And then, with Gidion is to my right and the guy to my left, I open my mouth and ask the guy, in Italian, if the hotel has a garage nearby. OK, I know you don't understand. So let me explain. Never in my life, and I mean never in my life, have I spoken Italian. I didn't learn Italian. I didn't watch Italian movies (well, in Israel we had the San Remo festival once a year but it doesn't count) and I have no clue what is going on. I ask him, just in case, "that's what I said, right?", And the guy, now sure that I made a joke of him because I said I don't speak Italian, confirms. Later on I killed myself trying to repeat the sentence and I couldn't. How did I do it? I DO NOT speak Italian. That's all I need, to become our Italian interpreter as well... Later that evening, in the restaurant (pay attention to the customer in the right), I repeat the trick and this time it really scares me, and I ask the waitress to leave me for a minute because I feel like I'm in a weird dream. Ask me how you say, for example, good evening in Italian. I swear I have no clue. I do not speak Italian.
Remember the guide about waiving from few days ago? So there are updates. In France, they don't have time for that nonsense, so they, who must be different because it is in their genes, straighten their legs forward and to the side and shake it a little bit. There are the cool ones as well. They do not remove their legs from the pegs. They just wave their foot in heavy French accent and if you don't really concentrate you can miss it (and it's a good thing). Gidion adopted the system. After all, a second language is important. I gave up. To me it reminds a dog that lifts a leg to.... forgive me - piss. I stick to my hand wave. If they don't understand? They can buy a translation dictionary.
About two or three years ago, I was a passenger in car traveling from a city in Germany and the person who drove, lets call him H (for Him), drove at speeds of 240 km/h for about 5.5 hours, at night, until we made it to our destination. It was after a long flight, and I knew that H had already destroyed several cars before. But I was still under the impression that he is local so he probably knows what he is doing. It didn't occur to me that this sentenceswas said in a different contest years before. However, I thought that's how 'real' Europeans drive and as we had a business relationship between us, I shut my mouth, moved to the rear seat and there I laid down and said all the prayers I knew.
Few days here, and I have some conclusions of my own. You can, of course, stereotype the driving/riding according to the region/county you are in and I promise to do so gladly at the end of this journey. On the fast highways you see drivers from every country. And surprise - they drive 240 km/h without any relation to what country they came from, and sadly enough, with no relation to what car they drive as well. I've already seen a Ford Fiesta pass a Porsche at an amazing speed that you can only try to guess what it was, while still respecting other driver on the road and as such, doesn't scare you and/or risk your life. But there are as well (sorry again), the SOBs (that by the way, has not been a bad word for a very long time now) that even at speeds of 80 km/h' stick to your tail whenever they can. They will pass you without moving to their own lane, they will flash their lights from a distance even if you are faster then them and they will not let you pass safely even if they are slower than you. And then I understood H and the type of drivers. If you are ok, and know how too drive, you are ok on the road as well. But if you are a son of a bitch, you are a SOB driver as well. Stay at home. (brought to you as a service by an angry rider).