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ROCKIN' DA ROCK

As the seasons change, summer in Sayoye turns yellow. A mythical transports winds its way from the boiling plains to the cool switchbacks under the clouds, big inching machines swarming round it, piloted by helmeted batallions, whose inner compass is firmly set for weekend fun.

When the altimeter in the ultimate hairpin reads “Valloire/Punta Bagna”, the yellow behemoth crawls to a stop between vendors’ stalls, parked bikes and more bikes coming in. We get a feeling that this party could be BIG.

Friday sees long treks of two wheelers

from all over Europe, no, from all over the world thundering up the mountain, to join the yellow W&W Magic Bus here in the thin air. Choppers cluster around the bus, the best base for the entertainment program. Wall-of-Death mayhem, the Burn Show, the Builders’ Camp, artists doin it with paint or leather, and of course the Bike Show tent. In here remarkable machines are assembled that all are worth a second and third look.

But the biggest challenge still waits for them. If you want to have a go at the King of the Mountain trophy (and the brand new S&S engine that comes with it), your bike has to make it up the seriously switchbacking 18,6 kilometers (and 1237 vertical meters) up to the Galibier pass (altitude 2642 meters above sea level) in the searing sun under its own steam (and down again, hello, brakeless wonders!). It’s not a race, but still hard work for engines, brakes and the riders’ steering abilities.

Before all this can happen though, the organizers have put the Lords of Altamont on the big stage, who have the mission of drumming out the Friday with their dark mix of noise and grungy depression.

It’s Saturday, and it’s “Galibier? Galibeer! Let’s go!”

After the show bikes have stormed the mighty Galibier, it’s time for the true highlight of the weekend, the Girls Run. After the return from their ride to the top, 25 smiling girls brave the flashlights of the press.

For a change we take a stroll round the Old World alleys of Punta, to check out the food and try to meet celebrity wrenchers such as Bill Dodge of Bling‘s Cycles, who turns off his legendary grin as soon as you point a camera at the man …

In the more quiet moments, we grab an aperitif, gather round the bus, drink to the health of the summits around, to the moment, to ourselves and our favourite toys. The bands deliver just the right soundtrack to the falling night.

Sunday morning, and it’s judgement hour. 65 bikes are up for judging, outstanding in one or more ways are all of them. Awarding the points isn’t for the slow witted.

5 machines make it into the glare of the lights:

David AVAT’ART’s Shovel makes Best Paint. Also in the limelight are Virginie’s fab Shovelhead, Christophe’s cafe racer, and Enrique from Spain with his wonderful Ironhead Sportster. The highest high goes to Switzerland though. Stephane’s Knucklehead wins the King of the Hill 2018 trophy and the S&S engine. The mayor’s here to deliver congratulations, the press get their pictures, the winners get showered in presents and trophies. Not to forget the champagne.

Thanks to Manu and his team for their impeccable organization and creativity, we had a summit of fun. See you again next year, when there’s the 10 year anniversary to celebrate. The bus already knows the way.