Corsica sojourn

       October 2014

 

Arriving in France after a 6-hour layover at England’s Gatwick airport and taking a day to acclimate to the time change while partaking in the country’s culinary delights it was time to prepare for the week long outing to Corsica.

Waiting at the docks in Nice the ferry arrives. More of a cruise ship then a ferry this is a small floating city.

On the lower level are loaded semi-trucks hauling their goods to the island.

Levels 2 & 3 are for cars and motorcycles. Deck 4 has a swimming pool, solarium, food court and shops. Decks 5 through 8 have sleeper cabins and general lounge areas and deck 9 has the bar, lounge and a great view.

Even with two decks for cars they’re packed in like sardines and the crew is very efficient unloading and reloading the ship inside 30 minutes.

Arriving late at night with my sister and her mate Francois in tow riding the VT125 to hour home for the next week we settle in.

The next morning it’s time to explore the surrounding mountains so under a clear sky I head out and soon find the beauty of the area.

Many of these roads are little more than goat trails.

They even come complete with goats.

In my travels along these curvy back roads I found many farm animals roaming the pavement in search for anything eatable. Among these were a lot of dogs, some horses, pigs and cows. With one exception they all completely ignore traffic and walk along the sides out of the way, the only ones to watch out for are the calves who haven’t yet learned the rules of the road.

And they're not shy about going for any tasty morsel they can find.
 

Taking a break I spot the village of Stazzona perched on a hilltop like many of the villages here.

Completing my planned loop I start back and as the elevation drops the Mediterranean comes into view.

The next couple of days I would snake my way through the mountains enjoying scenery like these.

It was decided we would go to Calvi on the other side of the island for lunch. They would take the main roads but I would cross the mountains with the bike. It's about 70 miles as the crow flies or 120 miles on my planned route.

On the way in the town of Morosaglia I had to chuckle, this town barely has running water but they do have a helipad.

Running along a narrow back road I come upon a one-lane bridge and spot a flatbed semi coming my way and he’s not sparing the horses, knowing we would cross paths on the bridge with just enough room for one of us I jump on the binders making a quick stop and pulling as far right as I dare as he flashes by with the empty trailer bouncing off the ground.

Crazy these Corsicans.

Later the road takes on a nice rhythm and I eat up the distance at a flowing pace with no other traffic or livestock.  

I arrive ahead of them and settle to wait while absorbing some rays

Once all parties were seated we salivated over lunch, I ordered the Captain’s salad which had clams, octopus, shrimp and assorted other seafood on a bed of lettuce followed by a plate of assorted local cheeses.

Time for the return trip. Once outside of town I see what lays ahead and I grin at the prospect of crossing the mountain range.

Along the way there are a few tombs by the roadside. In Corsica you’re allowed to bury the dearly departed on your property and the wealthier the family the more elaborate the tombs.

Nearing home with the tires fully warmed up I was gliding through the turns following the perfect line, braking late and getting on the gas early not letting any grass grow under the tires when I noticed one of the locals in a work van catching up to me. A Citroen Berlingo like this one.

He paced me for a short distance then on a short straight I waved him by and jumped in behind him for some fun but even so he started pulling away.

Coming near town are a series of speed humps designed for a 20 mph crossing and he hit them at about 50 mph never even touching the brakes.

Crazy Corsicans.

With our time at an end we load up and drove to Calvi to catch the ferry back to the mainland.

 

Back in Drap and an area I’ve come to think of as an all you can eat candy store I head up in the Alps for some gnarly curvy roads.

 

With breath taking views from the top.

Some of the roads are not in the best of shape but somehow it doesn’t detract from the fun factor.

The fun doesn't end just because you're out of the mountains.

Just before the Braus Pass I spot a road that looks perfect for motorcycling.

It would not disappoint. To call this one a goat trail would be generous. Both lanes are fit into a 7-foot wide strip of asphalt that stretch out for some 15 miles going to the top of the mountain.

At the top is a mountain climber’s paradise of steep rock faces and caves to explore

With the weather continuing to be picture perfect I head back up toward the Turini Pass. On the way I come around a blind right hand turn and slow to make a right turn but at the intersection is a man who looks about to cross the road with his dog. Braking for the event he spots me and pulls the dog back then havoc stuck. At about 10 mph I lose the front end on some gravel and face plant the pavement landing hard on my shoulder.

Two men are on the scene right away and stand the bike back up pushing it off to the side of the road. One of them asked if I needed help getting up but I decline the offer telling him he wouldn’t believe the reason if I told him. I crawl on all fours back to the bike and stand to review the damage. The crash bar took the brunt of it but the foot brake pedal is bent back.  

The soreness from the spill meant I would spent the last few days replacing the bent pedal and doing light maintenance on the bike.

All good things must come to an end and it’s time for the trip back home. I have an early morning flight back to Gatwick. Arriving in London I look around for the wheelchair I ordered and had to laugh when I spotted it. Behind the chair was a petite woman who had to be pushing 80 years of age. I wasn’t sure if she was there to push me or if I was going to have to push her. To my surprise she was on top of her game and spry for the advanced years as she whisked me away asking about my time in France.  

 

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