Home Pan-O-Rama Events Events Archive 2015 FRENCH ALTITUDES, FRENCH ATTITUDES
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FRENCH ALTITUDES, FRENCH ATTITUDES

It's been a while since controls have been seen at European borders, so we were kinda surprised, when Monsieur le customs-inspecteur wanted to step inside the bus. We racked our brains: is the cooler full of Wrecking Brew inside the legal temperature limit? Or did we use period incorrect parts on our three bikes? Let's see: the ‘59 XLCH Sportster should be fine, it's (apart from its fork setup) pretty stockish. Its grandson, the 2010 Sporty had been converted a long time ago to a „Bootlegger“, which is a sort of cafe racer, but not with the sprints between cafes in mind but rather the contraband smuggling off road rides to the moonshinin‘ distilleries out in the boondocks. Then there's the ‘46 Knuckle, upgraded with a double Mikuni and a prototype electric start system for rigid frames, pothole proven on Cuban roads - altogether some 140 years of Harley history. Nothing wrong with that for us, but what's the custom man's take? We find out soon enough: the guy owns and rides a Dyna, knows all about W&W, and just had to see the bus from the inside. And of course the bikes. Could he take a closer look if possible? Yeah, you can't beat cubic inches, even when they help to improve international relations. We hand our new friend a catalog and get rolling again.

Slowly, the mountains heave in sight, and when we say mountains, we do mean MOUNTAINS. Between Torino and Lyon, just around the corner from Mont Blanc, you'll find nothing but big, fat, humongous mountains. The sun is glistening on the snow fields, so we unload the bikes and hit the road snaking up the valley in glorious switchbacks. The shower behind the next bend spices up the vertigo inducing views, but we don't care, we have a date up there with Valerie and Georges of W&W France and their two Shovels. Together we power up the legendary Col du Galibier pass (2645 m above sea level) between walls of last year's snow. On the way down we roar, rumble, crackle and whine through the reverberating tunnels, just awesome, dude! We celebrate the day with a cup of the black and steaming and/or a cold Gali-bière in no particular order in a roadside cafe.

Back at the bus the official part waits. Punta Bagna is a high point in the French customizers‘ calendar, and not just elevation-wise. WILD magazine is putting on a big bike show, eligible however are only machines that have made it to the col and back under their own power. One of the prizes is an S&S engine out of the box, sponsored by W&W. Now, if that doesn't get you up to the pass we don‘t know what will.

While we are setting up camp, around us there's constant going up and down the mountain, and the place fills quickly. Tonight's go-to party is courtesy of DicE magazine.

The next morning brings rain. And lots of it, fog and drizzle thrown in for good measure. Great. Still, we need to go up the Col again, rain or no rain, so off we go through the fog, breathing the sweet, wet mountain air. On the way down we meet all that water again in the form of a roadside torrent. Awesome! Even the night turns out to be wet, but rather from the inside: there's a big party in the marquee, with after-party-rehydration in the bus.

The new day brings new weather: The sun is blazing, and we climb the mountain on our Milwaukee hardware to snap some pictures. Later (and further down) we have a tasty petit dejeuner with coffee and croissants, Gali-bière style. Valerie and Landi meanwhile get ready to do the Girls' Run, an idea of WILD magazine. As with the bikes, the girls have to make it to the pass on their own bikes. Up on the Col there's a photo shoot, back down there's champagne. A bunch of dudes ride shotgun, wanting to see what the girls are up to.

Meanwhile, the show zone is well filled with party ready folk, hellzappoppin‘ is the word. The bus is the focus of Georges' and Valerie's friends, talking shop, dropping off bottles of wine and Ricard, and business affairs slowly turn into liquid affairs, until it gets dark ... in our brains.

The next morning there's another cold shower and more rain. Many start for home in early. The prize giving is pulled forward two hours, and the S&S engine goes to GUILBAUD Jean-Pascal, aka "El Padre“. He says, he'll drop it into his digger project. Congratulations, mate!

Luckily our bus has a roof, and we chat and petit-dejeuner into the afternoon, when the sun decides to come back. Well, it is a sun-day after all, you know … and we soak up the sun, the good people, the many, many bikes, the exhausting French ways of dejeuneering the day away, the cheese bought from the roadside, the overwhelming alpine greenery and how extremely nice it is to have a bus with a big fridge and a roof. Which brings us on monday (not the roof, the bus) in 13 relaxed hours back to headquarters.

Will we be back next year for Punta Bagna? Oui, oui, oui – très Génépi!