Monday 21st November
After a night of continuous rain masking the sound of church bells things got off to a bad start wen the coffee grinder gave up the ghost. Luckily we still had the old hand grinder so I could get my daily caffeine fix.
We are 20 miles from France, over the pass and the signs are all saying the pass is open so off we go. There are large lorries coming towards us which is a good sign that the road is OK and we keep heading onwards and upwards, noting occasional lumps of snow and slush on the road.
Gradually the snow turned to sleet but the roads are looking good, more big lorries have passed us in the other direction.
And then it started getting whiter. At this point I decided to put the snow chains on, I’ve practised (once, two years ago when it was sunny and warm), it can’t be that hard, the man in the video can do it in less than two minutes. After 10 minutes my fingers were numb and I’d nearly got one side finished!
They did both go on but I had to keep stopping to make sure everything was OK, the noise was horrendous and we couldn’t do more than 20mph.
Nice little series of hairpins going up and I’m starting to feel confident that we can get through this which is when disaster struck. Frankie’s fat rear end swung away from me and we clipped the stone wall to the side. I eventually found somewhere to stop (if you pull off the road you risk falling into a deep rut) and had a look. Big bits were missing and had fallen off half a mile back. I had to cable tie one of the light clusters to the bike rack as well.
We had to turn around (again not easy without falling off the side of a mountain) and found what we were looking for in the middle of the road, picked it up and put it inside just as the snow plough came along. Do we turn around and continue the journey, we are half a mile from France by now, or give up and follow the snow plough.
Easy choice really but the noise from snow chains on tarmac is even worse, we crawled downhill until the roads had cleared and there was a lay-by to pull into.
Taking snow chains off is even harder than putting them on, the bit you need to unhook is at the back and you can’t reach it, or see it. I ended up laying in 2” of very wet slush trying to get underneath to unhook the coupling and then disentangle the chain where it had got tangled around the brake callipers.
We’re now in Borgo San Dalmazzo, a large town 30 miles back from where we turned around. We’ve found the camper area eventually and had lunch while we looked at our options. Maps.me came up trumps and found us a car repair garage half a mile away so I walked down there and tried to communicate. They spoke no English, I speak no Italian but I had Google Translate and a couple of photos of the damage. No problemo they said, gave me a lift back to Frankie and I pulled into their large workshop and let them get on with it.
As good as new, except for the reversing light which is AWOL and the scuffing to the right side of the fairing. It’s a bit more than a T-cut scuff unfortunately. Two blokes, over an hour during their siesta – how much?
hey wanted €40, I gave them €70 which caused a lot of fuss until I did lots of drinking actions (I’ve practised those) and they finally understood that I was very happy. We’re in the sosta in Borgo, might have a look around but it is cold and raining and Frankie is very comfortable except for the large wet patch on the floor where I’ve been dripping on the carpet. Maybe we’ll get to France tomorrow but we will be going a different way for sure.