Saturday, 19 August 2017

Trans Euro Trail - Italy, High Mountains and the Police...

05th August 2017

The bikes were out, the kit was on, we were off up the hill to see where the trail went to by 8am this morning. A really peaceful nights sleep next to a bubbling river left us both relaxed after the last couple of days of driving.

This was a bit of an epicentre of trails from what we’d seen on the info received from Alessandro, so we were keen to explore, this was backed up by seeing loads of trail bikes & 4x4’s etc in Oulx where we picked up some food the night before. There are plenty of tyres available at a garage here too if you’re passing on the TET...

Our first trail was straight up the piste behind our camp spot, steady piste which led to an upland grazing area with a beautiful war memorial and then onto a small farming area where a few hardy campervans and some 4x4’s were parked up. Above this and heading towards the French border was the trail we’d come to ride. We arrived at the junction, (left went down to a few building and the Refugio Scarfiotti) and was really put off by the barriers and the toll booth, (5 Euros) to go to the Col de Sommellier at the head of the valley.

After some discussion, we turned around and went to look at the next loop on our GPX file. This turned out to be a great hill climb, (once we’d read the sign saying vehicles were allowed between May & November). However 10 minutes up the hillside was a ‘Closed’ sign, this led to us being confused, was this loop closed totally or open between the May & November? We turned around again to be sure.

3rd trail was the same, another ‘Closed’ sign, we rode on a bit as we were so confused about what was the actual case here but turned around again as we didn’t feel right passing the sign.

4th trail was a cracker, climbing up through the trees, out into the open hillsides, through some high hamlets, great views unfolding as we rode. We were on the trail with a couple of quads, two trials bikes, some mountain bikers and a large group of walkers. We took loads of pictures as we neared the summit, especially of the large cave entrances on the opposite side of the valley. We investigated the ruins from the wartime military bases and generally enjoyed being in the mountains at last.

Once at the summit though, things soured quickly. A group of Italian riders, (all on GS’s) pulled us to one side to warn us that the police were there, (4 of them) with a drone trying to catch folk going ‘off piste’. We also saw painted signs on the walls of the ruins up there saying ‘off road go home’.

We thanked the Italian guys for the warning, even though we had no intention of deviating from the trail and descended back to the villages below. Once back at camp, we found that someone had been through our little stash of beer left to cool in the river and had threw the milk on the bank. We packed up and left Italy for France as things were a little too like certain parts of Britain for us!

The TET route for northern Italy was being updated as we were passing through there, Alessandro had been very kind to pass on some of the info to us and we had followed some sections including the above. Our thoughts are that when you ride this part of the TET, just accept that there will be plenty of tarmac, enjoy the views and the places you pass through and enjoy the dirt sections when you get them but make sure you don’t expect huge dirt sections that roll on forever through the mountains. The whole area is way to busy for that these days and reading up on the history of the individual valleys and ranges we passed through, I’d hazard a guess that anything to do with the borders is still a touchy subject for the local populace and indeed Italy itself, so respect that.