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I got back late on Saturday afternoon from a 2 week trip around Europe in the 86, so I thought I'd share some pics of our hols. We went through France > Switzerland > Italy > Switzerland > Italy > Austria > Germany > Belgium > Holland > Belgium > France, so quite a few border crossings.

Starting off from Surrey on a very early Friday morning to catch a P&O ferry to Calais, I couldn't wait to get my first brew on board. While these days I prefer the tunnel as it's far quicker, the ferry was £160 cheaper this time around. That's a nice breakfast on the ship.

My wife and I are both keen cyclists, so we had two road bikes attached to the car with a very cool Seasucker vacuum rack. A bike rack attached to the roof of GT86 attracts a lot of attention and I was getting questions about it wherever we went.

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First stopover in Dijon, then onto Morzine where we had an apartment for a week just on the start of the climb to Avoriaz.

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We cycled up the local cols - the Joux Verte, Joux Plane & Ramaz.

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The local mtb trails looked great, so we hired out a couple Cannondale Jekyll Enduro bikes and went on a mega chairlift-assisted epic into Switzerland, back to Morzine and around Les Gets. Absolutely breathtaking scenery up in the high mountains.

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Naturally, I waited until later that evening to take the car for a quiet lap of the Col de la Joux Verte.

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Towards the end of the week, and with an eye on the weather forecast we booked a hotel in Bormio, Italy to drive and ride the Stelvios and Gavia passes. These are huge climbs, well over 20-26km long and finishing at 2700 metres - best avoided in bad weather. Luckily we appeared to have a weather window appearing.

A days driving over, passing through Switzerland (keeping off the motorways as I wasn't gonna pay a years road tax for 2 hours use), into Italy via the St. Bernard tunnel (29 euros - ouch!!) Aosta and Lake Como. It was super hot and 30+ degrees most of the way, until we popped out of the last tunnel 5 mins from Bormio to be greeted by torrential rain and a massive storm!

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The next morning was fine though and we cycled up the 2700m Stelvio in the sunshine. There were a fair few slow cars on it, clogging up the road for petrol heads, so I made a mental note to get up early the next morning to drive it. After a cracking 65kph descent on the bikes we then both still felt a little bit fresh, so climbed the Gavia 2600m pass after lunch. This nearly broke me, really hard.

After a fairly large recovery pizza and Gran Reserve Peroni the alarm was set for 6am to get the Stelvio pretty much to ourselves for an hours worth of hard driving. By the time we reached the top, oil temperatures were at track day levels - so I pulled up next to a glacier to cool them down. You don't get these at Donny.

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Following a morning of dossing in the local spa, we then drove up to Bad Liebenzell in the Black Forest, which involved going back over the Stelvios pass (again!), in and out of Switzerland, back into Italy, then Austria before hitting the Autobahn in Germany. It all got a bit confusing with the myriad of border crossings and at one point we honestly had no clue what country we were in.

German autobahns themselves are awesome, really smooth, and free. I couldn't go crazy what with having a fairly novel vacuum-mount rack on my roof (see pic), but the miles went by very quickly cruising at a legal 150kph.

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The next day we set off for..... yeah you guessed it, the Nurburgring. We had a cracking apartment in Adenau, 5 minutes walk from some of the best viewing points on the track.

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After unloading we quickly made our way down to the Nordschliefe entrance for a couple of evening laps. I last came here in 2005 and a lot of things have changed. There's still a great post-lap atmosphere in the car park though, as everyone chills out after a lap with a drink from the cafe. There was at least four 86's circulating so a decent turnout from the twins.

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Naturally we returned the next evening for some more laps, but the track had already been closed before I'd made the ticket office. Someone gone out straight from the start and had a massive crash, flipping their beemer over the barriers into the woods at the Foxhole, just 5 minutes into the session. It didn't reopen. 

Friday morning was spent having a good day noseying round the new facilities, weird closed rollercoaster (it was closed down by public health after it crashed twice, and they can't dismantle it as it's part of the building complex) and GP track pits while the VLN endurance race practice was on.

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After that it was an autoroute cruise back through Belgium, Holland, Belgium and finally France to make Calais. On arrival we were greeted with a minor farce. Despite being 1 hour 40 mins early for our ferry, we missed it! UK Border Controls screwed everyone over with a massive queue to get through - thousands of people missing their ferries for extra checks. P&O looked after everyone and put us aboard the next available crossing an hour later.

Arriving home, we covered around 1900 miles, at an average of 32mpg. Best fuel ingested was 100 octane in both Italy and Germany, although I did see 102 near the ring.

 

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4 minutes ago, Bfranklyn86 said:

I get a bit envious of the Europeans for some of the landscape they've got.

Also... I think those wheels work well - silver with the silver.

Cheers, yeah I think they work :)

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10 hours ago, Bfranklyn86 said:

I get a bit envious of the Europeans for some of the landscape they've got.

Also... I think those wheels work well - silver with the silver.

Do you need wheels? I can hook you up with RAYS as well :)

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looks an epic trip and something on my bucket list! 

that bike rack looks to be resting on your rear window which surely is a bad idea? any issues with it? i could do with one myself 

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Thanks for post, looks like an awesome trip! Something I'd like to do. Did you plan the whole thing yourself? You seemed to of covered a lot in under 2000 miles. Have you got any photos of the car with the bikes on it? looks very novel.

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Car holiday aside, you've got some cojones climbing some of those routes on bicycles! Proper respect for that. Any clown can pay his fee and crash on the ring, but it takes a lot of commitment to pedal up those neverending slopes.

I have visions of the rear window glass lifting off and sailing away with your bicycles, but it can probably handle the drag.

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Thanks all, kind comments :).

Yep the rack is vacuum mounted to the rear window. I was a little suspicious of Seasucker racks, but with them being sold globally for a few years without many horror stories I gave them a go. In my opinion it's an awesome bit of kit. I cruised at a steady 150kph all day on the autobahns, drove pretty hard on alpine passes, and didn't have any problems. The car handles better than with a rear-mounted rack too. 

The mini bomber model we have won't mount to the 86's roof because of the contours in it.

My wife wrote a review of it here with a few more pics: http://www.cyclingweekly.com/reviews/bike-locks-racks-storage/mini-bomber-2-bike-rack

 

 

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I should add, in the dire case the rear window let go (!), there would be 2 suckers on the boot still there which are rated to 95kg each, but I can't really see it happening. People all over the world have been using these.

 

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6 hours ago, Varelco said:

Thanks for post, looks like an awesome trip! Something I'd like to do. Did you plan the whole thing yourself? You seemed to of covered a lot in under 2000 miles. Have you got any photos of the car with the bikes on it? looks very novel.

Yeah I guess we half planned it. Booked the ferry, booked an apartment in Morzine, another one near the Nurburgring and did everything else on the fly. 

We decided to goto Italy and the Stelvios pass the day before, although my wife had been keen to ride it for a while. When it's that high up the weather can be quite unpredictable even in summer, so booking anything was left really late until we got a clear forecast. (A week later the Stelvio was covered in snow!)

It's really easy now to book hotels on the go using booking.com and Expedia apps etc. If enroute to somewhere and wanting a nice stop-off, we have a rule to pull over and book somewhere by 4pm. Some hotels out in the sticks, particularly Italy, seem to slash the online prices late-on. 

We've stayed in some absolutely stunning hotels for Travelodge money, but had the odd one that makes a Premier Inn look like a palace. Makes it interesting though. :)

 

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