The Parish Church of St George the Martyr, Waterlooville

While at Chamonix we entered July and on the 1st the site fees went up quite drastically, as it was now in high season and the schools broke up in France and Italy for their summer holidays. Another reason I had wanted to leave the UK at least a month earlier.

Leaving my friends behind, they did ask if I wanted to go with them as they were off to watch the Tour de France but I said no as I was going in the opposite direction, through the Chamonix tunnel into Italy. But I wish I had! Coming out of the tunnel into Italy the heat hit me so oppressive after the cool air at Chamonix, that night stop was at an air’s at Lac Como, parked up with some gypsies who were there. As I did not feel too comfortable I moved on the next day, not realizing it was Sunday. Big Big mistake! As I was going up and over the Stevio Pass which runs along the border with Switzerland and Sunday is the day all the motor cyclists remove their brains before putting on their crash helmets to race up and down round the hairpin bends, and through the tunnels making as much noise as possible, common sense linked with due care and attention does not come into the equation!

On reaching the pass I started the climb going slowly as there were multiple hairpin bends with odd short tunnels thrown in here and there. It was while going through one of these short tunnels about 150 yards long that the encounter occurred, I was going at about 10mph lights on and about 50 yards from the exit and taking up 2/3rds of the road when I saw and heard about 12-15 motor cyclists come roaring into the tunnel two abreast in the middle of the road; on seeing me one motor cyclist in the middle of the road panicked and started to wobble before falling over. I hit the brakes and stopped immediately, the bike was at least still 15 yards away at this time and there was nothing I could do but sit and watch the bike on its side sliding towards me, the rest of the bikes went past down my left hand side.

The motor cyclist was a girl and was unhurt I am glad to say, but was shaken up. Surrounded by the motor cyclists, I waited for the Italian Police to arrive. When two motor cycle police arrived only one could speak a bit of English, they said they needed to clear the tunnel as a backlog of motor cyclists had built up in the entrance, so that I would be able to get out of the tunnel they sent all of these into the tunnel roaring past me, with no problems getting past at all! Then when all was clear I moved out of the tunnel so we could do the accident report.

Festival Edition 2011

The Happy Wanderer - 2010 Europe Trip or “Why Me?”

While at Chamonix we entered July and on the 1st the site fees went up quite drastically, as it was now in high season and the schools broke up in France and Italy for their summer holidays. Another reason I had wanted to leave the UK at least a month earlier.

Leaving my friends behind, they did ask if I wanted to go with them as they were off to watch the Tour de France but I said no as I was going in the opposite direction, through the Chamonix tunnel into Italy. But I wish I had! Coming out of the tunnel into Italy the heat hit me so oppressive after the cool air at Chamonix, that night stop was at an air’s at Lac Como, parked up with some gypsies who were there. As I did not feel too comfortable I moved on the next day, not realizing it was Sunday. Big Big mistake! As I was going up and over the Stevio Pass which runs along the border with Switzerland and Sunday is the day all the motor cyclists remove their brains before putting on their crash helmets to race up and down round the hairpin bends, and through the tunnels making as much noise as possible, common sense linked with due care and attention does not come into the equation!

On reaching the pass I started the climb going slowly as there were multiple hairpin bends with odd short tunnels thrown in here and there. It was while going through one of these short tunnels about 150 yards long that the encounter occurred, I was going at about 10mph lights on and about 50 yards from the exit and taking up 2/3rds of the road when I saw and heard about 12-15 motor cyclists come roaring into the tunnel two abreast in the middle of the road; on seeing me one motor cyclist in the middle of the road panicked and started to wobble before falling over. I hit the brakes and stopped immediately, the bike was at least still 15 yards away at this time and there was nothing I could do but sit and watch the bike on its side sliding towards me, the rest of the bikes went past down my left hand side.

The motor cyclist was a girl and was unhurt I am glad to say, but was shaken up. Surrounded by the motor cyclists, I waited for the Italian Police to arrive. When two motor cycle police arrived only one could speak a bit of English, they said they needed to clear the tunnel as a backlog of motor cyclists had built up in the entrance, so that I would be able to get out of the tunnel they sent all of these into the tunnel roaring past me, with no problems getting past at all! Then when all was clear I moved out of the tunnel so we could do the accident report.

The accident report form was in Italian, but the policeman sketched out the width of the tunnel with me taking up 2/3rds of it, which I agreed with and I had informed him that I had been stopped long before the bike ran into me; also he had seen that I was almost at the exit end of the tunnel. While talking to the girl who had come off the bike checking she was ok, her husband or boyfriend was talking to the policeman and they had their backs towards us and were in deep conversation when after a while he turned round and gave her a big smile and a wink. I think to myself, I am being set up here!, and boy was I, going over to the policeman I notice he had scrubbed out the original wall of the tunnel and moved it almost up to my wing mirror, I told him he could not do that also that the rest of the group had gone past me with no problem. I was then told to go away as it did not concern me, it certainly does I said and reminded him that he had sent the backlog of bikes into the tunnel past me. His reply to that was, believe it or not, “When driving in Italy you wait for the tunnel to be empty before entering”, I then reminded him that I was the one coming out of the tunnel, this reply beats the lot, he said  “you should not be driving here you are too big for these roads”! Also I was to move on. Why me? There were larger motor homes than mine and coaches on the pass that I saw.

After getting my van repaired when I got home, I asked my insurance company Alliance, for my 250 excess back as there was no way that I was at fault, only to be told “The Germans had put in a claim against me in Germany” based on the police report which said I was at fault as I was encroaching on their side of the road. There was no mention of the due lack of attention on their behalf, or their speed, also that I had been stopped at least 15 yards before the bike hit me. Phoning up my insurance company to complain I was told they did not fight the case because it was cheaper for them to pay up than contest the case abroad, also it had all been settled, “thanks a bunch” I am the one to lose my no claims bonus and excess money, (Yes I was right, I had been set up!) By the way my quote for the van insurance this year has almost quadrupled!

Leaving the scene of crime, I drove to the top of the pass where there must have been a thousand motor cycles, sports cars plus a few coaches. The roads were jammed solid you had to fight your way through them to head down the other side; I certainly did not feel like stopping to admire the views.

Being very careful I started down, about a third of the way down coming round a corner I came upon three cars coming up. The lead car saw me and my size, (not me the van), and stopped to let me pass. The driver of the middle car a Porsche thought! This is my chance to overtake. Then seeing my van put his steering wheel hard over and pulled back into line, but did not realign his steering wheel so his front wheel was 90 degrees out of line with the rear tread stuck out in the road, you have it? As I passed his tread stripped out my Locker trims and side indicator lights also left a big black streak down the side.

So I stopped and got out, he was screaming and shouting it was my fault as cars coming up hill had the right of way; I agreed but pointed out that the car in front of him had stopped to let me pass, so why should I then stop?? He then started shouting at me that I had damaged the Porsche logo in the middle of his wheel, I pointed out that if I had done that he would not have had a wheel left, or a wing mirror or most of the side of his car. I also informed him that he must have damaged his hub cap logo on the edge of a pavement at some time. A lot of the broken orange Perspex from my indicator lights was in the tread of his tyre.  It turned out in the conversation that his daddy had only recently bought the car for him; I think most of his bravado came from having his boy friend in the car.  Oh why me! I was not having a good day. But I must not complain too much, I have had eleven years of motorhome travel without any trouble before.

Leaving the Stevio Pass behind I headed for Bolzano, feeling I had been put through the mincer, arriving at a very crowded site, but did not care I just needed a few days’ rest to get over the days’ events. Also to let the pain in my kidneys subside or even go away.

That’s enough Why Me’s for now one more to come later.

Christine L Culley