Day 7: Prettyness-o-meter kaput

Leaving the campsite I head up the Jaufenpass for instant satisfaction. The first stretch of road I rode the day before until I was forced back by the rain. And sure enough, when I neared the fabled bus stop where I hid the day before it started to rain again! Is this the universe trying to send me a message? Fortunately it was just a drizzle and I was able to keep on riding. The Jaufenpass does not wait long to provide me stunning vista’s.

Getting higher…
And higher still. I rode that road up.
And a beautiful valley to complement proceedings

It is a high one, this pass. And interesting to ride. But I ride on autopilot. It must be said, at this stage I was so used to riding corners that the autopilot is well capable of riding a pass on its own and letting my thoughts free. I think about how it must be to live here. And many other things.

When I close to the top the rain starts again. Bummer. The rain is never intense enough to stop me though and I exercise myself in riding in the rain. Smoothness is key. Let the tires work as little as possible. I am surprised how much grip my Dunlops still have and I get down faster then most things on the pass. When I get down, the rain stops. And only a very short ride on local roads brings me to the Pennes pass.

The lower part of this pass is interesting and I ride it fast. Leaving some bikers behind. There are not that many roads where you can ride like this. And to make it more challenging the road is quite bumpy and lumpy. Good. This keeps a lot of other bikers away so I have this little paradise for myself. Halfway up the pass I have a break. The cookies in my bag were dealt with as I gazed into the valley. Another beautiful view. A rock provides a comfortable seat.

Best cookies ever.

There was also a tree near the resting area bearing strange fruits. Then I realized this is how baby pineapples look like!

Baby pineapples

I cooed over the baby pineapples for a minute. But I had to get going. So I did. And it appeared this pass was also high enough to carry me into the barren, snowy high world. Amazing views lurked behind every corner.

High up the mountains on the pennes pass

All of the sudden I got passed by a BMW M5 as I was taking a photo. I decide to give chase, hoping for a demonstration of its power. But before it had the chance, we got to the top of the pass where a few of its stablemates were waiting for me.

The M5.
Very green Porsche GT3 RS.

I admired the icy cool metal and the amazing view for a while. It was a fun moment. I earn some reputation by complimenting the Porsche GT3 RS owner. He was a nice guy.

The view from the top

The way down is uneventful but deeply pretty. Again I am impressed how little effort it takes me to descend a steep mountain pass. This is partly because I have a good bike to deal with hairpins, but also because I had so damn much practice. I appears I found the essence of mastery: the ability to do something subconsciously, leaving the frontal cortex thought processes to evaluate what you are doing.

The pass flows into local roads at still quite a high altitude into a very secluded valley full of deeply pretty vista’s. The road as a silken ribbon draped upon glittering, almost fluorescent greens. Patches of pine and little pastures speckle the grassy hills and villages nestle between them, containing churches with elegant, narrow towers. This is the most beautiful valley I’ve been in so far. I ride slow. Not even thinking of riding. The bike is a throne on which I revel in this landscape. The pretty-o-meter broke at this point.

I was so enamored by these villages I decide to stop in one and visit its church. It was deeply impressive. Who would have known there would be such clerical richness in such a remote area? Seems God really is everywhere.

Shhh! Quiet!
Rich and beautiful inside
Hip hop rappers would deem this amount of gold and appropriate amount.

One of the most amazing things was the graveyard. I was not a gloomy place, but a cheerful one right in the middle of the living and the benevolent mountains.

Dying here is not so bad.

The journey goes on. As I leave the valley I almost end up in Bolzano. Not feeling in the mood for city traffic, I take a lonely road taking me back north again. A road great for fast riding. I rev the triple to its redline multiple times. Along the way I see amazing things. The prettiness-o-meter was already broken. The motorcycleness-o-meter detonated too. It is no use going into detail about every road I rode at that point. I will let the pictures do the talking. Pure motorcycle perfection.

The perfection was shattered by a rain shower forcing me to retreat to, you guessed it, a bus stop. I meet two meaty German bikes. We exchange tips about bikes as we wait for the rain to stop.

Rained out.
Still some nice roads when the rain stopped. I lost my German companions here.

I realized I should start thinking of heading a little bit the direction of home. I was riding in a high valley containing mostly skiing villages and at first sight I could not really find a campsite. I kept riding the main road until I stumbled upon one in the village of Capitello Die Fassa. The campsite was dead and the village as well. It looked really fancy. But for a minute it seems my only companions would be the towering stone giants above me. But rescue came in the form of a healthy, beefy man riding a BMW 1200GS through the gates of the campsite. In fact, it was a group the three GS’s and they were building a nice camp.

The GS expedition
My camp that evening

Interestingly they used the touring cases of their bikes to make some kind of table. I go up to them to have a chat. Their names were Jurgen, Martin and Johannes. We bonded immediately and I joined them for dinner. We ended up talking almost until midnight and drinking quite a quantity of wine. A lovely end to a lovely day. Again. I do travel alone. But I am rarely alone…

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