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Motoeuro 2008 - Le Sauza du Lac

We ride side-by-side over a bridge that sits only feet above this lake.

I know, we’re spoilt...

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The Alps have been kind to us; great weather, breathtaking views and stunning roads. If this was the end of Motoeuro 2008 we'd still be chuffed. But it isn't, we've got the N85 Napoleon Route to ride today - Voted the best motorcycling road in Europe by Bike Magazine.

We’re up early, packed and waiting for our breakfast at 8am on the terrace. We’ve both heard stories of The Napoleon Route; the Police bikers with heavy fines, the sheer drop off the edges and the crashed sports bikes that don’t make it back to the UK. To treat the N85 like any other road would be foolish, each corner demands your attention; we need to be on-form today.
The N85 starts from Grasse, north to Gap and then on to Grenoble and was voted Europe’s best biking road. We ride the beginning of the N85 and love every corner, there’s a few bikes around from all over Europe and they are all delighted to be here with enthusiastic waves and nods. From Ducati’s to Harley’s if you have a bike you must ride this road.  After an hour we pull in for photos and to catch our breath, this is magnificent! The road is wider than I thought, the plush, smooth tarmac is a joy to ride on, you can ride every corner as hard as hell or simply soak it up, we opt for a bit of both. In 90 miles the longest straight we can remember is about 1 mile long. This is now our favourite road and is worthy of its legendary status. The road is technical and very, very twisty, left corner....... scrape……  right corner, scrape……..both the  VFR’s pegs touch down on the hot road surface and I don’t think I am even trying.    

We pull in for more photos, Stevie checks our tyres - there’s not much left of our rubber - That’s how good this road is. We pass through small villages, but the corners and cambers don’t let up on route to Gap, the sun is out in all its glory, this is one hell of ride on our 2008 trip and I can barely contain myself. I remember digging out an old copy of RiDE magazine before we set off, a picture of two bikes on the N85 riding through a stone arc over the road sits in my mind, we ride the same point and get a kick out of actually being here.
The Napoleon route gives up around Gap where you join a motorway before jumping back on N85, we take a diversion on the N1085 towards a lake Steve has seen on the map, somewhere on the N94 we stop in a small village and  take lunch with coke and coffee, we’ve done this to avoid the motorways and make the most of today. An hour later we’re at Le Sauza du-Lac, a fairy-tale lake with the brightest blue water, more photos, more  corners, more tunnels, we ride side-by-side  over a bridge that sits only feet above the water. I know, we’re spoilt.

Rejoining the N85 North of Gap we ride the last 100 miles to Grenoble, the road is still blinding and quiet, I am laughing to myself. More twisties, hairpins, hills and cambers we’re in La Mure, a few short miles before the end. Grab more photos at this very beautiful part of the  route, then ride on into Grenoble.
We’ve done it, ridden the finest road in Europe and loved every minute - it’s taken us all day to do the 189 miles and also the extra 70 to Le Sauza du-Lac and we’re chuffed to say the least. Near Grenoble a statue of Napoleon stands proud in a small park on the road side, an old inscription tells of when the road first opened in 1932. We’ve done this route deliberately to ride the N85 upwards  from Grasse, if you get the chance, do the same.  You’ll see what I mean when you are there.  You know, reading this you’d think we had planned the whole thing. Like I said, Carlsberg don’t do motorcycle holidays……
Our night in Grenoble is similar to Dijon, lovely town centre full of bars and cafes, we dine outside and retire back to the hotel ready for  the journey to the Chunnel - if it’s not still in flames. We had planned to stop in the Champagne region or Loire valley to break up the motorways back to Calais but as we head north the odd UK car at coffee stops tell of the Chunnel operating a limited service.

We make the decision to head back as quick as we can and get back to Blightly on time. This evening it’s the first time we stay in a Motorway Hotel, Etap style. Just happens to be next to a massive Yamaha dealer so we spend time playing with new bikes and taking our steaks over the road in a Campanile Hotel. Next day, we’re up on the road and at Calais for 1pm. The trip back has got flatter and colder by the hour, we can't believe we’ve seen so much but we could be on the M6 at the minute. Another stop and Stevie’s 1150GS has developed an oil leak, we top her up and press on. The queues at the Chunnel aren’t bad at all, after we apologise for someone losing their ticket, we’re told boarding is in 10 minutes. The only other bikers on the train are an elderly couple who have just done 3,000 miles on their maxi-scooter to Slovenia, kind of gives me hope for my  retirement.

30 mins later, we’re in Blighty and within an hour or so, at Stevie’s with a cold beer and take-away food ordered. Next day, I’m off back to Newcastle in glorious sunshine but with terrible traffic, I lose my temper at these insane, packed roads and overtake anyway I can. Before long I am at Weatherby sitting in the sun with a coffee, an hour later I’m home and the end of Motoeuro 2008 with 2,732 miles done.

We’ve had the time of our lives and this will take some beating, but for now, I’ve got a hot bath and a cold glass of wine with my name on it. Cheers for reading our story.

The late nights before the big trip.....

We planned the route by using old copies of Bike Magazine, the odd forum and joined up the dots with Google Maps. Stevie has an uncanny knack of finding superb roads. Unlike previous Motoeuro trips, we booked nights of accommodation in advance, this really helped us make the most of each day saving time trying to find hotels and all the palaver that includes.
It's easy with two riders, just each other to keep an eye on. Add an evil sense of humour, a mutual love for biking and a decent map and you're sorted for a great time away. We didn't get hammered each night so being on the road for 8.30am was a massive advantage, too. You don't need new bikes to do this, Stevie's GS had 70,000 miles and my 1997 VFR had 50,000. It's amazing what you can do when you're determined to get away.
You could be in the Alps in one day's ride from Calais, what are you hanging around for?    

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Motoeuro 2008 - Riding the N85 Napoleon Route

Riding the legendary N85.

Motoeuro 2008 - Riding the N85 Napoleon Route

Yep, this gets our vote too.

Motoeuro 2008 - Coffee time

We take our refreshments Al Fresco.

Motoeuro 2008 - Napoleon Route

On-route to Sauza du-Lac.

Motoeuro 2008 - Riding the N85 Napoleon Route

Just being silly really.

Motoeuro 2008 - Napoleon Statue

Napoleon marks the end of the road for us.

pdf-icon.jpgDownload the 2008 album. (6mb)