Ronda Ronda #6

Another way of travel. The hotel in Gap was packed with a Harley riding group from the Netherlands. Fine guys and gals, always riding in a convoy, on a loop to the Cote d'Azur. Suspiciously clean bikes...

Another way of travel. The hotel in Gap was packed with a Harley riding group from the Netherlands. Fine guys and gals, always riding in a convoy, on a loop to the Cote d’Azur. Suspiciously clean bikes…

Well, I’m back home, time for conclusions.

But first, two photos from the penultimate day in the Alps:

I did a big loop from Gap. First East, then North a while through Italy. When I went back North-West into France, fog shrouded the scenery. This was at the (open) border, climbing up to the rugged Mont Cenis plateau.

I did a big loop from Gap. First East, then North a while through Italy. When I went back North-West into France, fog shrouded the scenery. This was at the (open) border, climbing up to the rugged Mont Cenis plateau.

The pano of the day at the descent from the Mont Cenis. Those were the last whisps of fog and the last patches of snow, the weather stayed sunny and uncommonly warm for May in the Alps.

The pano of the day at the descent from the Mont Cenis. Those were the last whisps of fog and the last patches of snow, the weather stayed sunny and uncommonly warm for May in the Alps.

There were more imposing mountains and wide sweeping roads on that day, it ended in Bourg-en-Bresse, which is often my first or last stopover going into or coming from France. Then Karlsruhe, then home, didn’t photograph that much on the last two days.

A technical aside for those interested in photography, too: I took my Nikon D800, a Nikkor f/4.0 18-35 mm G ED wide-angle zoom and the fabulous AF DC Nikkor f/2.0 105 mm. That last one has “defocus control” and produces bokeh sans pareil. The gear sat well-cushioned in a little Crumpler bag inside my tank bag so I could get to it even without dismounting. I can see through the viewfinder with my helmet on and the camera in landscape orientation, in portrait orientation, I use Live View. The panos were done in that last mentioned orientation, the camera being on slow motor drive, ISO constant at 200, manual mode, exposure set as a compromise for the sweep. I did all post-production at the evening in the hotel room on my pink (!) MacBook, stitched the panos using the free, open-source Hugin plugin, the results and the other camera RAWs go into Aperture, effects added courtesy of Google’s Nik Collection.

So, what does a tour like this do to you?
Well, my waistline has gone down a bit but I’ve gained two pounds, so I must have gotten stronger. I wish…
It changes your perspective, you see things through a different lens (and I don’t mean the lenses mentioned above). They say travel opens the mind, but I think it rearranges priorities. Grand vistas, exhaustion, perseverance and lots of time for contemplation will do that to you.

This is how that french rear tyre arrived home, bald in the middle. I think it only made it because it was old and hardened. Made for some exciting rear wheel slides on the last stages!

This is how that french rear tyre arrived home, bald in the middle. I think it only made it because it was old and hardened. Made for some exciting rear wheel slides on the last stages!

The motorbike appears in a different light, too. I cherish my BMW R 1200 GS Adventure but at some time along the way, you become less precious about it. A functioning motorbike becomes more of an ideal worth aspiring to than a state. Some compromises are good enough, like that tyre, and you gain peace of mind. But if I were to venture further (Africa beckons!), I’d do it on a simpler, older version of my bike, perhaps an air-cooled R 1150 GS. More hands-on, less gremlins.

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