The Fabulous Swiss Crazy Run 2013

 

I took part in the first running of the swiss Crazy Run in 2012 and therefore I was prepared for what the 2013 run would entail. To make it easier this year I decided to take my bike and Nick's (my cousin) bike to Switzerland in my Renault Master LWB van. Believe it or not this saved Nick and me over 50 each.

Nick using a phone that appeared to be smarter than him!

OK, I've got a smutty sense of humour!
We had to go via DFDS as my van is classed as commercial and the Chunnel wanted far too much money. They would carry my van with a maximum of 3cubic meters of goods as private but my bike alone is 2.6m3!
I left my home in Devon at lunchtime on the 17th June and drove to pick Nick up in Bicester. We left Bicester at 8pm and drove sedately down to Dover to catch the 2am sailing to Dunkirk. We had planned to get to Switzerland in one hit so we could have a day off in the sun on the Wednesday.
The crossing was smooth and we both had a kip in the lounge chairs. Not terribly comfortable but enough of a sleep to ensure I could carry on through the rest of the night and following day to make it to Estavayer-le-Gibloux fairly easily.
We took the SayNav route around a very busy Brussels - which left me wishing I had missed Brussels out - as this would save us a small fortune in Autoroute Tolls. Coupled with a large tank capacity on my van (100lts) I could get to Luxembourg where Diesel was reported as being £1.10p per litre! The plan was to fill up which would get us to Estavayer and back to Luxembourg via my friend's house in Sargans. This was not to be...read on...
We stopped off at the Louis Moto Shop, in Weil am Rhein, to have a look as Louis.de are a very big, internet, motorcycle clothing, company. I had bought a helmet from them that I liked a couple of years ago and the helmet had been reduced in price. I had already e-mailed the company to see if either their Saarbruken or Weil am Rhein branches had it in stock but they had said no. They didn't have a Large Antracite Highway 2 in stock at either branch. I was keen to get another one as I had left my first one in Almaty after my bike caught fire there! See www.aatw2013.com.
Nick wanted to see the shop and so we stopped off just before (100mts) we entered Switzerland and had a good look. They sell a lot of Harley badged accessories/clothing as well as the largest selection of helmets I've ever seen. I found an XL Highway 2, which seemed to be exactly the same size as the large, so for £44 I bought another one. I like this helmet as it has a peak, a sunvisor and an ordinary visor.
We arrived at Estavayer-le-Gibloux at about 7pm and met Didier (the run organiser) and Cedo (Saydo) the owner of the house whee we would be staying.
Cedo is a fantastic chap married to an equally amazing woman, Valerie. They have a weekend retreat which is an old Swiss house where the animals would have been kept in one half of the house. They are restoring it and plan to have a Bar and a Bike Museum in the animal side. We had a room in the loft where both Nick and I had our own beds.
We had all the mod cons we would need and then found out that Cedo's bar had draught beer and every spirit imaginable. Nick was in seventh heaven but as I don't like alcohol it was good to find that non-alcoholic drinks were available.

OK, so it won't mean much to some of you but I like stainless steel plumbing. This is part of the plumbing under Cedo's house and it is fantastic. The plumbers did all the water and heating in 2 days.

Nick checking the primary chain oil level on his bike.

Wednesday morning, 19th June and it's Cedo's birthday. here's the great man himself.

Stephane's bike. He's the salesman at Marly H-D outlet.

Yes, it's a cow!

Cedo's amazing house with a cow on the grass out front.
We also discovered that Cedo's 40th birthday was the following day and that he was having a party on the Saturday which we were invited to! Result or what!
Wednesday morning saw both of us sleeping until 09.30! Wow! I can't remember the last time I slept that long. There was nobody about when we got up as Valerie had gone to work and Didier had called round toget Cedo and go and get food and drink for the pre and post Crazy Run Bar-B-Que's.
We unloaded the bikes from the van and checked them over. mine's a Honda so kick the tyres, start the engine - service done! Nick's needed a drop of oil in the primary chain case (Harley FXR with RevTech engine) and all was pronouced "hot to trot".
In the afternoon, Didier returned and Nick and I accompanied him to Marly where there is a Harley Dealer. Didier's bike was having an oil change etc., before the run and we went along to see a very efficient and professional looking HD dealership. Whilst the bike was being attended to we strolled along the road to the Ice Rink, where there is a cafe, and had a couple of drinks.
Returning to the HD dealer we bought an embossed plaque for cedo as thanks for putting us up and for his birthday.

The barn looks like the end of Cedo and Valerie's house and the bike....well, have Harley's ever changed?
During the afternoon, quite a few more guests arrived. Some of them were there for the Run and some for the party on Saturday as well. The evening was a riot of "carousing and quaffing" at the run HQ. Didier explained the route in faultless French and we had several people translating it for us. there was only a couple of things I wasn't sure of but by 10.30pm I had all I needed and set off back to Cedo's to transfer the route onto my SatNav. Even when I had finished (past midnight) the stragglers were still coming back from the run HQ. So much for an early night.

Duh-o'clock and there's signs of life...not the intelligent sort that should be still in bed - like Cedo and Valerie!

Cyrille's stealth bike
The start was at 6am so everybody taking part was up by 5am and riding the mile or so to the start outside the church in Estavayer. 25 bikes appeared (I think) and we set off. The route was much easier to follow this year as Didier had used more main roads than last year. The first section was a fast blast down to Albertville via Martigny on the A12 and A9. Then taking the E27 we arrived, via a tunnel, at Martigny-Combe where most stopped for fuel. During this blast along the autoroutes it had rained quite heavily as we passed Montreaux and at the stop Nick declared that he was wet through to his underwear and that his expensive boots were leaking. Not a happy bunny. He changed and put the liner into his trousers. On reflection it was the liner that was waterproof, not the trousers. The water "stain" on his socks indicated that the rain had come down his sock via his soaked legs. This proved to be the case as once his feet had dried out later in the day he stayed dry for the rest of the ride.
Carrying on we went via the Route de Forclaz, the French/Suisse border at Barberine, the D1506 to pass Chamonix - amazing views of lots of cloud and the occasional glimpse of Mont Blanc (Mont Grubby...certainly not white this day), Saint-Gervais-les-Bains, Megeve, and then we all met up at the McDonald's in Albertville. Nick's bike (Harley FXR with huge RevTech engine) was letting water into it's rear light and blowing the bulb. After a quick regroup Nick and I set off for a supermarket where we could get fuel and some spare bulbs. The Super U on the N90 at Chantemerle proved sufficient for our needs and it was "en route". Fuelled up, bulb replaced we carried on. Only a few bikes had passed us by and we soon caught up with a couple or three. The next stop was at the Champion supermarket in St Jean de Maurienne. This may look like a direct route but we had the added pleasure of riding the, Col de Madelaine, the Col du Glandon and the Col de la Croix de Fer on the way. A superb SW loop and back to the main D1006 to meet at the "Carrefour" supermarket - Yes, that's right, it wasn't a "Champion" only mildly confusing but as it was on a roundabout it was easy to spot. Thank goodness I'd checked all the stops on Google Streetview the night before.
Nick looking happy at the top of the Glandon

Nick and I bought a couple of sandwiches to eat and after a quick word with Jan, we bought a couple of salad rolls to put in the coolbox in the VW towing the "remorque". We were destined never to see these rolls again!
From St Jean we went along the D1006 to turn right in St-Michel-de-Maurienne and ascend, the very pleasant, Col du Telegraphe, descend the Col into Valloire and then fight horrendous, gusting, winds to get to the top of the Galibier. This would be the highest pass we would go over at 2645mts. Didier/Winston had told us that we may have to go through the tunnel, which is quite a few meters below the peak but when Nick and I got there the road was open over the top.


It was very cold at the top of the Galibier as you can see by Nick staying covered up in his PowerRanger Suit!
I've cycled over the Galibier twice in my life and I can only say "Chapeau" to those cyclists that were there today! The next stop was a bit vague. it would probably work if you lived in Briancon..."Point de rassemblement a l'entree de Briancon, sur la gauche sur les places de parcs vers la residence Chantoiseau". This translates as "Meeting point at the entrance of Briancon on the left of the parking spaces to the residence Chantoiseau"...no problem there but was residence Chantoiseau a private house, a block of flats, the Addams family house or what? Fortunately it appears to be a retirement home type affair and it was less than 100 feet from the sign welcoming you to Briancon. Nick and I appeared to be the first ones there so we waited. me full of apprehension that we were at the right place. A little while later 3 bikes went past and we thought "Aha, we're in the wrong place!" We set off after them only to find them coming back along the road. We turned around and went back, only to see them coming towards us again...What the heck was going on? I stuck by my guns and went back to the original stop and waited. Sure enough, it was the right place and one by one all the others turned up.

Nick and I needed fuel so it was off into Briancon and an about turn to get into the fuel station. Then it was off to join the mayhem that was the road works outside the old, fortified, town of Briancon. The weather was quite warm now and it was rather hot sitting in traffic but we finally cleared the town and made our way to Lac du Mont Cenis via the French/Italian border, Sestriere and the very memorable Colle delle Finestre. Only 2176mts high but by now we were in the middle of a cloud! Suddenly the tarmac came to an end and I stopped to try and see where we should be going. Have a look at this Col on Google Streetview, it's rather nice on a sunny day! We waited for about 25 minutes and then we saw some motorbikes heading towards us. You could see for miles from this high point as long as you were looking out of the cloud towards the South-West. We watched the bikes for what seemed like an eternity until they went out of sight. There was a "T" junction out of sight and if we had gone the wrong way we would have had to have stormed off after them. No, they came into view and climbed up to the top of the Col. Didier was first and he carried on so we followed. The route was unpaved and "very interesting" for the next 8kms/5miles including some hairpin bends which I would normally have laughed at...had I been on my TTR250! Coping with nearly half a ton of bike, rider and luggage was "amusing"! It isn't called the Swiss Crazy Run for no reason!
We stayed with the group to pass the Lac du Mont Cenis and arrive at Lanslebourg-Mont-Cenis. Turning right to start the ascent of the Col de l'Iseran we discovered the Col was shut. We'd been passing huge banks/drifts of snow that had compacted into rock hard ice at the top of some of the passes we'd done already so this was not really a surprise. We were now in the hands of those that knew the area better than Nick and I. The time was 8pm and a new route had to be decided. Unfortunately, if you look at a map, the closure meant a very long detour to get back on track.
The decision was made to return to Albertville and get "food" at the McD's we'd been to earlier. Luckily neither Nick nor I had eaten there earlier so I didn't mind a burger for dinner. Two in one day is too much for me to enjoy!
A high paced blast along autoroutes, once we had cleared Modane, and a passage through the Tunnel d'Oreille, saw us back at the McD's in Albertville. It was here that the trailer finally came back to us with Claude's Harley on it. He'd picked up a huge M10 bolt through his rear tyre and that was the end for him. I extracted the bolt to see if my professional puncture repair kit would cope but the hole was too big.
Five bikes were to let their owners down during this ride. Claude's puncture, an unamed biker broke down but arranged his own recovery, Greg lost his "Fly by Wire - crash without it" throttle, Cyrille's alternator/regulator gave up and finally Dutch's drive belt snapped! The drive belt is a major job on the Harley as you have to strip out the primary chain case, clutch etc. so Dutch was stuck. The pick up trailer could only handle one full dress Harley at the time so it was running all over the place. Cyrille rode off home whilst he still had juice in his battery so the remorque had the run around to get three bikes back. Dutch turned up at the finish at 10.30pm Friday night!
A new plan was drawn up which saw us return to the Super U where Nick and I had fuelled up earlier (much) in the day. After refuelling we all slept under the canopy of the supermarket which was preferable to being at the top of a freezing cold Col as was the original plan. The time was midnight.
At 04.00 hours we were on the road again and heading to cross the pass where we had been going to sleep. It was on the descent of the Colle San Carlo, that Cyrille realised, when his bike wouldn't start, that he had a problem with his charging. That left Raoul, Nick and I and we had become the vanguard for this stretch. What we didn't realise was that a couple of the others had decided to miss the Colle San Carlo out and head off for the next stop.
The three of us stopped at a little cafe just as you leave Aosta for the Grand St Bernard Pass. We had a coffee and a wonderful pastry which had almonds in it. It was quite a lot cheaper than I expected as well. We all regrouped at the top of the Gd St Bernard Pass but, as it was blisteringly cold, Nick, Raoul and I went on. We had started to come across nutcases on motorbikes. Hell bent on staying with their mates they were taking unnecessary risks to overtake us and it was amazing that no one had an accident. For some reason we got split up but after a few detours by myself, we all met up again at the B&B near Valettes.

The next stop was a pre-planned refreshment of Brioche, chocolate and coffee near Sion. Everyone assembled here to find out what route we would be taking now.
Didier espoused his wisdom and we all set of in small groups. I mad a faux pas and had to turn around to get back on the right road at which point I'd lost Nick. he went off with another rider. I ascended the Nufenen and then Raoul caught me up and we had a fast blast up the Gottard. We tried to take the old road but it was blocked so we returned to use the new road. Meeting Nick at the top we set off for fuel in Andermatt and then a slight return on our route to ascend the Furka Pass - which Nick had already done before meeting up with me again!
We all met up again at Brunig and had quite a stop there. Slowly they all caught up and Didier said that we should all go back to the Start/Finish via Interlaken, Thun and the Gurnigelpass. This involved a blast along the "autoroute" to Thun. I put an emphasis on "autoroute" because it isn't as one would think. Most of the way it is a single carriageway road but it misses all the villages and towns out. It has an 80kph limit on most of it but you do get to Thun more quickly than you would do by non-autoroute ways.
At the fuel stop, just outside Thun, the rest of the posse discovered I had the Gurnigel Pass on my SatNav so for a few miles I was the leader. Didier had left us at the Brunig Pass to go and see if he could help recover Dutch's bike after it snapped it's drive belt.
The gang all stopped at a layby and I spoke to Nick and suggested we carry on. We arrived, at 19.10hrs, to much cheering at the run HQ as we were the first to return. Les Anglais est le premier rapatriés!
Slowly they all came back to the HQ and much fun and laughter was to be heard. Didier finally returned at 10.30pm and the breakdown trailer was with him. Dutch looked very tired but I expect we all did. Although we spoke to Jan we never did get to see our salad rolls again.
Nick was well shattered and after a good meal of Boeuf Bourguignon made by Cedo and Valerie we sloped off to Cedo's house. Nick went to bed but I was stoked on Coca-Cola or some such drink with too much caffeine in it, and was still wide awake. When everybody returned to Cedo's I asked Dutch how he was going to get home. The remorque driver said his son could take Dutch but was unhappy about returning from Valence (near Grenoble) by himself. I suggested that if Dutch paid the fuel and autoroute tolls I could take him the following day in the van. I told him to sleep on it.
The next morning I was up quite early (8am) and Dutch said he would like me to take him back. Then he said "When?" and I said "Now". it was Cedo's birthday party and I wanted to get back for the evening do.
We all helped Dutch load his bike up and he and I set off for Romans-sur-Isere slightly North-East of Valence and South-West of Grenoble. It was a very pleasant run down to one of my favourite areas of France. I have been visiting this area for over 20 years now and I'm always drawn back there if I don't see it for a couple of years. luckily, after doing the Cols, Glandon, Croix de Fer and Galibier, I should be OK for a couple more years.
I arrived back at Cedo's at 6.30pm and I got a standing ovation. Nick was all smiles and said that we were celebrities not because we were first back (it wasn't a race) but because we'd helped another rider to get home. Didier and others couldn't understand why we had done it but Nick explained that it was perfectly normal to help another biker out. I wasn't out of pocket except for time and the use of my van. It's a no brainer.
Will I do the run again next year....there are several personal details I will need to address but if I have a bike that will do it (Cruisers only) then "like a shot" would be the answer. After all, Nick and I have done the first two Swiss Crazy Runs so it would be rude not to carry on!
There are more photos and links to even more photos plus videos here and here