Long range campaign #3 – 24th of August to 7th of September 2022

We’re in the middle of summer 2022. We’re approaching the critical dates for this year’s Jungfrau-Treffen. This is going to be a very special event, as it’s the 10th anniversary of this fantastic Morgan 3-Wheeler meeting, prepared with so much love and great effort by Laurens and Rineke.

The exact dates to be in Grindelwald are September the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. The plan of our squadron is to arrive to Grindelwald the 31st of August, leaving as usual from Montignac-De-Lauzun a few days before that.

Last year experience was incredible, although quite tiring for all of us. In particular, the return from Grindelwald to Montignac-De-Lauzun was especially hard on the day we crossed Nîmes, with those terrible floods and torrential rain in some sections of the way (if you want to know about this awful day, you can find all details, pictures, and videos in our post “Long range campaign #2 → Day 12 – September the 14th: Nyons to Montignac-de-Lauzun).

Ana Maria and I found it especially hard and long. We made the entire trip in the 3-Wheeler from Madrid to Switzerland and back because we did not have then a proper car with which to tow the trailer with the Morgan on it. Exciting, but too long.

Fortunately, this year we have an amazing new “bomber” to tow the trailer: the brand-new Land Rover Defender. It will make our trip much more comfortable between Madrid and Montignac-De-Lauzun.

Our new Land Rover Defender, with our trailer.

We discuss about this year’s route with our friends. To avoid repeating roads done the previous years, we agree to take a route going a little bit more North and enter Switzerland from the Northern side of Geneva.

The squadron’s philosophy remains the same: enjoy as much as possible small country roads. However, to avoid too many driving hours each day, we agree to use motorways in some parts of the way. And on our way back from Switzerland we decide to make a full last day on motorways, to make the comeback one day shorter.

The Speedy Marmots are asked to choose the routes again, and after a long research and detailed work, we create another navigator’s roadbook.

The new navigator’s roadbook for this Grindelwald 2022 adventure.

These navigator’s roadbooks are now becoming a classic! We always create one when we do a new “short fighter mission” – depending on its importance and distances – and any “long-range campaign”. For the long-range campaigns, we believe it’s mandatory to create this navigator’s roadbook. It helps me to memorize the route, with the critical images in the back of my mind. It gives us confidence. And Ana Maria, being such an amazing co-pilot, has a useful tool to make sure we never get lost.

Same format. It proved to be really efficient. We just optimized some indications and signs.

We’re optimizing the information and the details, so this year we can make just one navigator’s roadbook for the whole trip. But it’s true that the comeback is one day shorter, and that we use motorways in some sections of the trip, simplifying a lot the indications on the roadbook.

The plan is to do two overnights on our way to Grindelwald. Leaving on Monday the 29th of August, and arriving to Grindelwald on Wednesday the 31st in the afternoon. And only one overnight on the comeback. Leaving Grindelwald on Sunday the 4th of September, and arriving to Montignac-De-Lauzun on Monday the 5th in the evening.

Apart the navigator’s roadbook, we create the files of Google Maps routes too, as a back-up for everyone. The positive aspect of having this technological backup, is that the other squadron members, who drive solo, can use these Google Maps routes in their smartphone if needed. We never split, but who knows?

During these weeks, Steve has done the big upgrades to our little rocket: Bleazey drive train upgrade, Walbro fuel pump, rear disc brake conversion, Öhlins shock absorbers, etc. This year our 3-Wheeler will be much more reliable and racier for such a long and demanding trip! We can’t wait to get there and test the Morgan with all these new improvements!

If you read our post “Hangar works #22 – The front turn lights support”, you’ll know that I took our beloved 3-Wheeler to Southwest France beginning of July, to M3W Services in Montignac-De- Lauzun. And I left the trailer there too. We plan to do a one-day trip from Madrid to Montignac-De-Lauzun in the Land Rover. It’s long but feasible and relaxed in such a comfortable car.

Day 1 – August the 24th: Madrid to Montignac-De-Lauzun

Ana Maria and I planned to drive together the Land Rover to Montignac-De-Lauzun on Wednesday the 24th of August. But this summer of 2022 seems to mark the real end of the Covid-19 pandemic. And this means that, fortunately, Ana Maria’s business – a bespoke travel agency – is overloaded with clients hungry to travel again after the last two terrible years. Because of that, we decide that I’ll drive alone to Montignac-De-Lauzun in the Defender, and she’ll fly on Saturday the 27th to Bordeaux, which is 45 minutes’ drive from Montignac-De-Lauzun, where I’ll go to pick her up. She’ll have three days and a half more at the office, and she really needs it.

The drive to Montignac-De-Lauzun is really nice. This new Defender is a fantastic car: quiet, powerful, and super comfortable. Despite the very long journey (720 km, mostly on motorways) it takes me to the destination without fatigue in more or less 7h30min. We’re so happy to have this new “bomber”.

Le Papillon guests house, at montignac-De-Lauzun.

I stay again in Le Papillon. I love this guesthouse! Just for the fun, because there is no need to, I check if the huge Land Rover fits in the garage. And it does. It helps a lot to download all the luggage direct into the house! But being practical, after unloading the luggage, I park the massive car in the main square, where there is plenty of room and that it’s just seconds away from the front door. Montignac-De-Lauzun is a very small village!

Day 2 – August the 25th: enjoying the countryside

This Thursday Steve is not at the workshop. I take my day to enjoy some relaxing solo drives in the area. I discover new places with the Land Rover, reaching few isolated villages not too far from Montignac-De-Lauzun.

The small roads around Montignac-De-Lauzun are so beautiful!

This region is beautiful and deserves a longer stay than just a couple of days. The narrow roads are so relaxing to drive, and I can see some old country houses and barns abandoned that would do a very nice restoration project.

The area is plenty of abandoned old houses and barns.

The Speedy Marmots are thinking about it. We would love to buy a property in the area. We just need to wait for the right moment and the right property to buy! It would help winning a lottery too, of course!

Day 3 – August the 26th: testing the car and installing the new LED headlamps

This Friday morning, I meet Steve at the M3W Services workshop. We discuss about the pending tasks on the squadron’s cars before we leave for Switzerland and see how I can help him.

It’s Chas’s car the one that needs more attention. Apart it needs a new set of front tyres, it’s misfiring at 4.000 rpm. We get crazy trying to find the cause. Apparently, all sensors run properly. After many tests, Steve decides to reset the ECU and download a fresh new software, as a corrupted software seems to be the only possible problem. And bingo! After the reload, the car runs smooth again. What a relief! There’s nothing worse than having an electronic “gremlin”. It’s the most difficult problem to find and solve.

Chas’ 3-Wheeler on the “operating table”.

Another task is mounting back all the upholstery on Charles’s car. The old tan leather has a beautiful patina but needed a serious cleaning. Chas cleaned it a few days ago, and now that the leather is dry and nourished it’s time to put all the parts back on the car. What should be an easy task shows to be more complicated because of a couple of loose nut rivets. Steve and I fix them, and I finally manage to finish the task.

Meanwhile, Mario arrives from Erfurt. He drove his 3-Wheeler from Eastern Germany, making the 1.350 km drive in non-stop-mode. What a brave man! We move the cars in the garage to do some works on Mario’s. It’s still fun to me to see many 3-Wheelers together!

Mario’s 3-Wheeler just arrived! Time to check few things on this one.

Regarding our 3-Wheeler, all modifications and upgrades have been done but the LED headlamps. Not a big deal because I can do it myself. It happens to be a fast and easy task.

Our new LED headlamps.

The new LED headlamps look like an easy pop-out & pop-in. But there is a little modification to be done in the wiring, as the new headlamps have a horizontal bar in the middle for the daylights that also can work as a turn light indicator. I decide to keep the original turn light indicators on their reinforced brackets, so the change is easier without rerouting any wires.

Fast and easy installation!

Just a cut and fitting a crimp connector and we’re good to go! It takes me half an hour to do the change, with the appropriate tools and taking my time.

The new LED headlamps change the front look.

I do some short test drives in the area, and I feel the car much more comfortable and faster on corners. The Öhlins shock absorbers are a massive upgrade! Everything works perfect. The only thing I can’t really test properly are the LED headlamps, as it’s daytime. I could see a clear difference when the car was in the barn, but we’ll have to wait to drive at night to see the real difference.

In late afternoon, Rob comes from his place in his Caterham Super 7. It’s another long trip of 700 km between Courchevel and Montignac-De-Lauzun! And Rob made it using secondary roads, where his Super 7 is one of the fastest and funniest machines you can drive. Another brave driver!

Day 4 – August the 27th: all pilots together

We’re all pampering and preparing our machines for the takeoff scheduled for Monday. And there is still an important task to do: fit new front tyres in Chas’ Turrino wheels. But as these are tubeless, and the Blockley they got are for tubeless mount too, it happens that the tyres’ wall is so hard that the usual Point-S garage can’t fit the tyres in the Turrino rims.

Saturday morning, Rob and I take the wheels, and a set of softer tyres in case the Blockleys can’t be properly fitted, to Marmande, where there are a couple of tyre shops that may help us with this. We first get to the DSN bike shop there. What a nice bike shop! Rob and I are drooling over some of the machines they have there. We give them the wheels with the Blockley tyres, and they try their best but can’t make the tyres’ wall to stick over the inside wall of the rim, so they can’t inflate them too. The Blockleys combined with the Turrino rims are a no-no for their motorcycle tyre machines.

We end up at Leclerc motor shop, where they finally manage to fit a set of tyres to the Turrino rims. During the wait, we explore the shop. What a gold-mine! We find many bling-bling accessories, some of them that would fit with Chas’ Squint Studio upholstery! Or the modern-looking black and orange Steve’s 3-Wheeler.

So classy!

We send to the squadron’s WhatsApp chat the pictures of the best they have and try to convince Chas and Steve to add a few of those accessories to their 3-Wheelers, to make them more fashion trendy.

Bling Bling Crystal! LOL!

Our efforts are in vain. They’re too old-fashioned and can’t appreciate how cool is to have a pink vinyl steering wheel cover with Swarovski crystals. What a shame…

We look for more conservative stuff, such as a super-classy dream catcher, a set of perfumed dices, or the mythical head-shaking dog. But they still refuse to drive in style.

Why? Just why?

Seeing that it’s impossible to convince our friends to modernize their Morgans, we focus on what’s important, which is to recover the wheels with the new tyres mounted and return to Montignac-De-Lauzun. Finally, Chas has a new set of tyres!

During lunch, we receive a message from Charles. He just landed at Toulouse airport and will take an Uber car to Montignac-De-Lauzun. We’re surprised he got an Uber to do such a long distance, but the driver accepted the trip at a fair price apparently, so we’ll sit and hold a beer waiting for our friend!

Then it’s Ana Maria who writes from Madrid’s airport. She’s relaxing at the lounge with a mojito in hand! The holidays mood is in the air!

Mojito time!

After lunch I drive to Bordeaux’s airport to pick her up. And we’re back in time for dinner at Chas’. The whole squadron is reunited again! But Steve and Annette who have a family dinner. We enjoy a nice dinner at Au Bosq, with some fights against huge hornets that end up in a hornet killing competition. Those awful big stingers seem to love the terrace and keep flying in like bullets, hitting the fans and the walls and anyone in their flightpath!

Day 5 – August the 28th: getting ready for takeoff

This Sunday there is nothing special planned. Apart Steve, who still has work to do on Mario’s car. And as he has help from Mario and Rob, the Speedy Marmots we decide to take the Land Rover and drive around, to enjoy this beautiful region.

Saint-Avit-Seigneur.

There is a special village we want to visit: Saint-Avit-Seigneur. It’s just 45 min of relaxed drive from Montignac-De-Lauzun. The reason why we want to get there is that we’re dreaming about buying a property in the area, and we’ve seen a stunning property for sale in this village. It’s just a dream, because the price is way over our budget, unless we win a huge lottery. But hey! Dreaming is free! And we love looking at beautiful houses.

Saint-Avit-Seigneur; a beautiful medieval village.

After clinging to the fence of the mill that we dream of being able to buy, and dry our drool, we enter the town and park to have a coffee in the town square, in front of the fortified church.

The façade of the fortified church at Saint-Avit-Seigneur.

The place is so quiet, so relaxing and beautiful, that we keep on dreaming about buying something there. At the café where we sit, they sell local products. We look at canned duck and goose, as this is the region of France best known for its foie and products from such delicate birds. The products are handmade, prepared and packaged by local producers, which make them even more appealing to us. So, we buy a bunch of canned duck and goose food. Not the best for a healthy diet, but we’re on holidays, so, who cares?

Delicious! Duck’s French delicacies.

We talk with the lady owning the café where we’re buying the cans. She’s very kind and recommends us a couple of restaurants in the area. We call the first options but, being a sunny August Sunday, they’re already fully booked. She recommends another nice local bistrot in the closest village, where we manage to make a reservation.

After the coffee and soda and the food shopping, we visit the church. It’s surprisingly big inside, and it shows a strong fortification with a walkway around the walls.

Saint-Avit-Seigneur.

Saint-Avit-Seigneur is a small medieval town, very cozy and with very few inhabitants. A classic dream French village, with its cafés under the shadow of plane trees, it’s boulangerie, a little épicerie, and nicely restored medieval houses.

Saint-Avit-Seigneur.

Within the town we can see few houses apparently abandoned. The dream keeps on… How nice it would be to buy and refurbish one of these!

After the short walk, we jump in the Defender again and drive to the closest bigger village: Beaumontois-En-Périgord. It’s just a 10 minutes’ drive. We park at the village’s entrance and walk towards its main central square.

Beaumontois-En-Périgord.

This is another beautiful village. Bigger than Saint-Avit-Seigneur, but not too big either. While we walk the narrow streets, we can see many little cafés, shops, local groceries’ shops, and various restaurants.

Beaumontois-En-Périgord. Main square.

We sit down in the main square, at the local bistrot where we made the reservation: Le Jean Bistrot. And we have a fantastic lunch for a very fair price. In this region of France, it’s not just the quality of the food, and the landscapes, but the kindness of its people, and the relaxed ambience everywhere. We’re enjoying so much these days here!

Beaumontois-En-Périgord. Main square.

After the nice lunch we take another short walk within the village. We see a few houses for sale. Some to be refurbished and others looking good. We’re starting to get obsessed with buying something here!

But we wake up to reality and drive back to Montignac-De-Lauzun. We drop all what we bought at Le Papillon. Then we drive to Steve and Annette’s place to say hello, and check if Steve has finished or if he needs any help with the Morgans. Everything is done! M3W Services has done its magic and all the little rockets are ready for takeoff!

Ana Maria comes back to Le Papillon with the Land Rover, while I drive our 3-Wheeler to Castillonès to fill the tank with fresh 98 octane fuel. We’ve decided to refuel today, instead of tomorrow morning as the others, because tomorrow we’ll have the luggage rack mounted with the big bags on top fixed with the leather straps. We prefer to refuel now that it’s much easier. After refueling I take the Morgan to Le Papillon and keep it in the garage, ready to be loaded tomorrow morning.

At 19:00 we meet with the rest of the squadron at Au Bosq. From there we drive to Seyches, to enjoy dinner at Le Vieux Porche. Another fine dinner with the best company! We chat about tomorrow’s route and where to meet with Kevin Rose, another 3-Wheeler pilot, and his wife Cath, who will join us tomorrow, just for the day.

Everyone is ready for the takeoff!

Day 6 – August 29th: Montignac-De-Lauzun to Murol

We wake up early and pack everything. It’s takeoff day! We drive both cars to Steve and Annette’s place, where we park the Land Rover. We ‘ll leave it there until we come back from Switzerland. Ana Maria jumps in the copilot seat of our 3-Wheeler, and the Speedy Marmots and Steve do the short drive to Au Bosq, where Chas, Mario, Charles, and Rob are waiting for us.

All vehicles ready for takeoff!

All cars and pilots ready! We do the last checking and make sure we forget nothing critical for the trip. This year the squadron is complete again. Just Ari, Charles’ wife, couldn’t join us. But she has an excellent excuse: she’s taking care of their newborn son!

Au Bosq. The squadron is about to start the engines.

We revise the route and agree to make a first stop at Castillonès for refueling the other cars. We expect to be at noon at Uzerche, where Kevin and Cath are joining us.

Minutes before departure.

We’re six cars this year, but one has four wheels! Rob is coming with us to Switzerland, driving his Caterham Super 7. Unfortunately, he will come back to Courchevel on Wednesday before we reach Grindelwald.

Steve’s – Speedy Marmots’ – Charles’ – Mario’s – Chas’ – Rob’s.

In the pictures and video, from left to right: Steve’s black & orange, ours in the Morgan Sports Green and the luggage in the back rack, Charle’s RAF-style one, Mario’s classy heritage, Chas’ Squint Studio special, and Rob’s Caterham Super 7.

Very last checking, a kind goodbye to Chris and Annette, message to Kevin confirming our departure, and “gentlemen, start your engines”!

Ana Maria will lead us again, as she’s in charge of the navigator’s roadbook. Helmets on, intercoms linked, chronograph in hand, and… GO!

Ana Maria’s navigation tools.

Our route today is as follows:

346 km – 5h20min

Montignac-De-Lauzun (Au Bosq) → Castillonès (D254, D227, D145 & D254) → Bergerac (N21) → Notre Dâme De Sanilhac (N21) → Uzerche (A89, A20 & D920) → Chamberet (D3) → Bugeat (D160, D940 & D979) → Millevaches (D164) → Eygurande (D21, D982 & D21) → Les Gannes (D21, D110, D73 & D73C) → La Bourboule (D987, D601, D922 & D996) → Le Mont-Dore (D996 & D130) → Murol (D996).

The first section of today’s route is easy on good roads, with some traffic due to roadworks. It’s a main regional road, and we chose this one because we’re heading North to connect with the A89 motorway at Notre Dâme De Sanilhac.

Once we’re on the motorway, we push the machines to the speed limit and glide to Uzerche. The driving on motorways with a 3-Wheeler is generally a little bit annoying for us, because almost everyone who passes you is trying to get a nice picture or are filming with their smartphone. The fact that we’ll appear in more Facebook and Instagram posts than Prince Charles or Cristiano Ronaldo doesn’t bother us, but it’s how they drive while passing you and taking these pictures and videos what can be dangerous. Because they don’t pay attention to the traffic ahead and they stay aside your 3-Wheeler at your same speed much longer than necessary. Those who own a Morgan 3-Wheeler and are reading these lines know what we’re talking about. But we’re on holidays and trying our best for not getting stressed by any baboons behind a steering wheel.

We get on schedule to Uzerche. Perfect timing! Kevin and Cath are already there waiting for us. We refuel and park the cars in front of the Intermarché and sit down for a quick lunch. The fun roads start now!

We restart the engines and exit the parking, now taking the kind of roads we like to drive. We’re seven cars now! Everything goes perfect, until we reach Chamberet. I check the rearview mirror again and we’re just two cars. Where’s the rest of the squadron? When we don’t see all the cars behind us for a mile in a simple and easy road, we know that something happened…

We stop and wait. But no one else is coming. We decide to drive back and see what’s going on. And we find the rest of the squadron parked on a small street on the side of the road, before the entrance to the village. Apparently, something’s wrong with Mario’s 3-Wheeler. His engine stopped suddenly.

We park our car and join them in the action. We’re betting for a broken time belt, as the symptoms are pointing to this problem. If this is the case, it’s not a big deal. We carry the spares and tools and it’s an easy repair we can do in less than half an hour.

Steve removes the engine cover, and we can see the time belt loose. But not broken. Strange…. What happened? And then, the big shock… A camshaft snapped! It broke clean! Oh my God this is almost impossible!

Broken camshaft!

It’s the first time we see this in a X-Wedge engine. And it’s a major breakdown. To get Mario’s car running again, we’ll need to open wide the engine and change the camshaft!

Incredible but true: the head of the camshaft snapped.

And these are major works! And we need the spare camshaft (obviously no one carries camshafts as spares!), and Mario’s is a Stage 2 car with 569 camshafts, which are rare. Mario looks devastated. And we totally understand him. This looks like a very complicated situation. Will he be forced to call the road assistance this first day of the trip to Switzerland, and come back home to East Germany on a flatbed truck? This is not looking good at all…

Time belt removed. Beheaded camshaft.

But hey! We’re with Steve and Rob, two super skilled mechanics! And on the top of that, M3W Services has 569 camshafts in a drawer in their workshop, back in Montignac-De-Lauzun! Steve makes a call to a friend in Montignac-De-Lauzun, gives him the list of the tools and spares he needs, the exact place he can find them in the workshop, and asks him to take the van and drive to our location in Chamberet. It’s just 2 hours’ drive from Montignac-De-Lauzun! So, we’re relatively lucky that this happened the first day and not further from the M3W Services’ headquarters.

Ana Maria and I drive back to Chamberet to buy some drinks and snacks for everyone. When we’re back, we’re told that the rescue van with the spares is on its way, and Rob and Steve have already partially opened the engine.

Dismantling the engine by the side of the road.

This is amazing. Looking at our two friends, Steve and Rob, dismantling a still hot engine by the side of the road is unbelievable.

Impressive mechanical works performed by the side of the road.

After a long hour, as there is nothing we can do but just watch, we talk about the options we have, and we all agree it’s wiser to leave the place. Heartbroken, part of the squadron leaves and keeps driving to Murol. We think it’s better to do so, and get there before the sundown, making sure we’ll have the keys of all the rooms, so whatever the time they make it to Murol they’ll have a nice bed to sleep in. Mario, Steve, Rob, and Charles as backup, stay trying to solve the situation.

Now we’re happy we made the Google Maps routes too! Because, as soon as they’ll repair Mario’s engine, those left behind will be able to follow the same path to our destination, using their smartphones’ Google Maps navigation app.

So, Chas, with Kevin and Cath, and the Speedy Marmots continue our route to Murol. The roads selected are beautiful. We’re crossing the Parc Naturel Régional de Millevaches first. Beautiful landscapes and, as usual on these isolated narrow roads, almost no traffic at all. We’re enjoying pure 3-Wheeler driving!

Parc Naturel Régional de Millevaches.

After less than a couple of hours driving, we make a short stop and try to get in touch with the ones left behind. The engine is totally open now and the van has just arrived.

Pushrods out!

Travelling with Steve and Rob is always a pleasure. But if you add to the equation that they’re capable of dismantling your engine by the side of the road, change a camshaft, and put your car back on the road in less than one hour (if they have the spares on hand, of course!), you realize that it’s not only a pleasure but a real luxury.

There are no words to thank them for being there, and their skills. Mario’s car is quickly fixed just after the van arrived with the spares! In less than half an hour Mario is driving again! Impressive! A true exploit that will remain in the memory of the squadron forever!

We keep going towards Murol, now entering another national parc: the Parc Naturel Régional des Volcans d’Auvergne. Again, an amazing scenery!

Parc Naturel Régional des Volcans d’Auvergne.

We finally get to Murol and find the hotel. While we download all the luggage, Chas tries to get in touch with the ones behind: now they’re driving towards Murol trying to reach town as soon as possible. They might get here approximately in an hour and a half. Great news!

Hotel de Paris, at Murol. The City Hall is the building on the right.

The Hotel de Paris is managed by a lovely couple. The owners were waiting for us, warned by telephone about the problem on Mario’s car. We have a very nice conversation with them. They tell us where to park the Morgans safely, just by the City Hall, a few meters from the hotel, and they give us all the keys so, when the rest of the squadron arrives, they’ll have access to their rooms.

Because here in France the restaurants close relatively early, we decide to go for dinner. If we want to have dinner, we can’t wait for the others to get to town, as restaurants will be closed. We walk to L’Arbalète, a classic regional restaurant, where we have a very nice dinner with cold beers and a very nice ambience.

L’Arbalète, in Murol. A nice place to have cold beers and good food.

Murol is a cozy small village, with nice old houses and a big medieval castle on the top of the hill that dominates the valley. From the hotel we can admire the castle illuminated at night. The place is beautiful.

Murol’s Castle in the back. The church’s bell tower in the front.

It’s dark when we’re walking back to the hotel, and we can hear the roar of the V-Twins in the distance. We can’t believe they’re here! The rest of the squadron finally makes its entrance to the village, and we meet them in front of the hotel. What a relief to see them here! We still can’t believe they managed to fix Mario’s engine after such a major breakdown!

The heroes of the day are tired and are not thinking about dinner. It’s been a very long day for everyone. We go to bed, as we need to rest for tomorrow’s long drive, that will take us very close to the Swiss border.

Day 7 – August 30th: Murol to Crozet

We wake up in a partially cloudy day. But according to the weather forecast, we’re not expecting rain today. At least not before we get to Crozet, our destination today. The sightseen from the hotel over the hill with the castle is fantastic and refreshing.

Same view, in the morning.

We have a nice breakfast at the hotel, and we start packing and loading calmly the luggage in the cars. The parking we used is in fact the schoolyard, just by the City Hall. All the 3-Wheelers (and the Caterham) are aligned under the trees, ready for another exciting day.

Our 3-Wheelers, parked in the schoolyard.

We check Mario’s car carefully, to make sure it’s not leaking oil or if there is not any other hidden damage caused by yesterday’s fatal camshaft failure. We are relieved to see that everything is correct.

With full daylight, we can appreciate better the village and the views from where we are. It’s a very nice area, close to some ski stations, and it might be very cold in winter we guess.

Left: Murol’s Castle. Right: Hôtel de Ville (City Hall).

It’s a fresh morning, probably because of the clouds hiding the sun. But this is precisely the best weather and temperature to drive the 3-Wheeler! Not too hot and with no sun hitting our heads along the route is the perfect scenario to enjoy driving these little rockets.

As Kevin and Cath are leaving us today, we take a nice picture with them before saying goodbye and starting the engines. It’s a pity they’re not coming to Grindelwald this year. We hope they’ll do it next year!

The gang before leaving Murol.

The first thing to do is to refuel at the village’s petrol station. As usual, the convoy attires a lot of attention at the petrol station, and a French couple on a motorcycle stops by to chat with us and take some pictures. It doesn’t take much time to fill all the tanks, and we’re good to go.

The route today is taking us very close to Geneva. Just 20 minutes North this city. To cover such a long distance, we’ll use motorways again. Mainly to drive around Lyon avoiding its terrible traffic. The idea is to drive the outskirts of Lyon, on the North side of the city, and as soon as possible to avoid the rush hour. The timing should be good if everything goes smooth.

This is the planned route:

370 km – 5h30min

Murol → Champeix (D146, D150 & D996) → Vic-Le-Comte (D996 & D229) → Cunlhat (D225, D996 & D225) → Chalmazel-Jeansagnière (D65, D267, D906, D268A, D268, D40 & D6) → Boën-sur-Lignon (D6 & D1089) → Feurs (D1089) → Vindry-sur-Tourdine (D89, D60, D111, D7, D111 &D27) → Bellegarde-sur-Valserine (A89, A6, A466, A432, A42, A40 & D101) → Crozet (D101, D101F, D1206, D984, D884, D35 & D35A).

The first part of today’s route is still in the Parc Naturel Régional des Volcans D’Auvergne. The scenery is fantastic, and we cross few small cozy villages like Sapchat and Saint-Nectaire Le Bas.

Then we quickly enter another natural parc: the Parc Naturel Régional de Livradois-Forez, where the scenery is as beautiful as before. We’re really enjoying the driving today, with very little traffic.

Parc Naturel Régional des Volcans d’Auvergne & Parc Naturel Régional de Livradois-Forez.

We drive towards the Col Du Béal. We struggle a little bit behind an army truck, as in these narrow roads you don’t have many chances to pass a big truck. But most of the time we’re alone on the road.

Col du Béal.
Col du Béal. Speedy Marmots’ 3-wheeler in the front, Charles’ in the back.

We stop at the top of the Col Du Béal to enjoy a hot coffee. It’s a nice spot and we can’t see any other car up here.

Col du Béal – 1.390 m altitude.
Steve’s rocket at the Col du Béal.

The day is still clouded, and the clouds on the downhill side of this col look very dark and menacing. We check the weather forecast just in case we have rains from here. But apparently the risk is still at the end of the trip, close to the Swiss border. Let’s cross fingers and keep going, hoping to stay dry as much as possible!

We enjoy a lot the downhill. The road is very twisted and fun to drive with our agile little 3-Wheelers. And the clouds are still holding the rain. In fact, we see the sun in some parts of the road. It looks like we’re avoiding the shower!

Downhill from the Col du Béal.

We’re getting close to the motorway, and we decide to make a short stop to visit the toilets. We better do so, as we don’t want to be in a “exploding bladder” situation while driving fast around Lyon. We get into a roundabout with a service area, and Charles and Steve are leading the squadron at this point. We see them getting into the roundabout and, before we do, without any reason, they do one extra 360 round into the roundabout, fast as lunatics. Maybe just for the fun or were they a little bit disorientated and couldn’t see the right exit to the service area? Who knows!

But here is what happens: after such a fast turn in the roundabout, while we stop at the service area just a few meters further, Charles detects an oil leakage over his footwell. His car is a right-hand drive one, so he could see the oil beneath his feet when he gets out of the car. We can’t see why there is oil there. Where does it come from? It seems to have leaked from the top of the gearbox. Quite unusual. But with the car stopped and on flat ground, there is no more leak at all. We’re suspicious about the reason of such an unexpected oil spilt from, we guess, the top of the gearbox. But we’re reluctant to open the area, as removing the gearbox cover implies removing almost all the upholstery of the car. We think it might be caused by the super-fast roundabout turn he just made. And as everything seems to work properly, we decide to keep going.

We finally connect with the motorway towards Lyon. Right foot on the floor and we drive around the big city without much traffic. We have passed the most feared part of today’s route, and the traffic from here should be fluid. And all cars are running very well. Good news for the squadron.

But then, on the motorway A40, some kilometers before the exit we must take towards Bellegarde-sur-Valserine, it starts raining. Light at the beginning, then very heavy rain. Ana Maria juggles and manages to put on her waterproof windbreaker, but when I’m behind the wheel I can’t put mine on. And on the highway, we cannot just stop at the edge to put on our raincoats, because of the danger it represents.

So, the only solution is to keep going, letting the 3-Wheeler’s aerodynamics and the small windshields deflect the water over our heads. Also, we are lucky enough to wear helmets, so the rain is not too bothersome for driving. But I inevitably end up drenched.

We finally reach the exit and stop just after the toll station. It’s not raining anymore, and we have good laughs because of the rain and how each one of us managed it. Charles was wearing a heavy cotton sweatshirt, and a T-shirt underneath. And with the rain the sweatshirt looked like something out of a car wash. He managed to remove it on the fly, but not without also taking the shirt with it in the maneuver. And when he got to the toll, the highway ticket is so soaked that the machine can’t read it. He has no choice but to call the toll help through the intercom, and a charming woman answers him and ends up opening him. But telling him with good humor that she can see him through the cameras – without saying exactly that she can see him in the 3-Wheeler with a naked torso… We all admit it must be quite a peculiar and funny vision!

From here, we drive with intermittent light rain and finally arrive to the Hotel Bois Joli, in Crozet. The clouds still menace with heavy rain, and Rob and the Speedy Marmots we choose to park the cars under cover, while the others let them in the open, trusting in the impermeability of their tonneau covers.

We’re soon at the terrace, protected by the open awnings, enjoying a cold beer, and chatting with some peculiar guests about cars and travels.

Ana Maria petting a huge dog at the Hotel Bois Joli. And the nice cold beers we’re enjoying.

We can see the famous Geneva water jet in the distance. We’re really close to Switzerland.

It looks like the hotel’s restaurant is famous, because the parking, that was almost empty when we arrived, became little by little really packed with many cars arriving for dinner. Even a bus! And then it starts raining like hell.

Heavy rain again! Fortunately we’re under cover now!

Rob is unfortunately not coming with us to Grindelwald. His plan was to keep driving this same evening to his place in Courchevel. But the rain is too heavy, the beers so nice and cold, and the restaurant looking so nice, that it’s not difficult to convince him to stay here with us for the night.

Heavy rains at Crozet!

We are all very tired, but we enjoy a fabulous dinner. And with our full bellies we head to our rooms for a well-deserved rest.

Day 8 – August 31st: Crozet to Grindelwald

It looks like a sunny day! The rain we suffered yesterday seems to have gone for good. There are just few clouds in the sky early this morning.

We gather at the hotel restaurant for breakfast and discuss about today’s route. Sadly, Rob is leaving us today, and will drive back home to Courchevel. But the rest of the squadron will be driving into Switzerland and use the motorways on the North shore of Leman’s Lake, avoiding entering any big city such as Geneva or Lausanne. This year all the group made sure we have the Swiss vignette for the motorways, so we don’t have any stress selecting the roads.

We will exit the motorway at Lutry, because our dear friends Pedro Freitas and Didier Leuba, who live in Montreux, are joining us there for the rest of the journey to Grindelwald.

The route today is the following one:

225 km – 4h00min

Crozet → Lutry (D89, D984C, D15C, D1005, D984E, D984C, D15, 1 & 9) → Vevey (Route de la Petite Corniche & Route de la Corniche) → Bulle (12) → Broc (Route du Jaun & Route de Pra Riond) → Jaun (Route de la Jogne, Route Pont-du Javro, La Tzintre & Haupstrasse) → Boltigen (Jaunpassstrasse & 11) → Wilderswil (11, 6 & 8) → Grindelwald (Grenchenstrasse, Haupstrasse & Grindelwaldstrasse).

Getting ready. Today we arrive to Grindelwald!

After packing and loading the luggage on the Morgans, we drive downhill to the closest petrol station to refuel. Once all cars are filled and ready to go, we drive through few villages before crossing the border. Once in Switzerland, we take the Swiss motorway towards Lausanne.

Charles decides to keep straight on the motorway, splitting from the squadron. He doesn’t feel very confident with his gearbox. He feels something is not working as it should, after the oil leak he got yesterday.

We drive carefully to avoid speeding, and we make it to Lutry on schedule. When we get to the agreed meeting point, Pedro and Didier are already there waiting for us at the Coop parking. It’s so nice to see them again!

Pedro has some nice things for us: the 3D printed bins for our 3-Wheelers! We are many who always thought about putting some kind of tray in front of the gearbox stick. There is space for a little tray, and it could be useful to drop keys, garage door remotes, sunglasses, or anything else.

Pedro’s fabulous 3D-printed bin.

But Pedro is the first one (as far as we know) who has made a proper 3D design and used a 3D printer to manufacture these amazing bins. The best point of using a 3D printer is that we have a huge palette of colors to choose from! And it can be personalized with a logo if you want to!

Part of Pedro’s orders! Well desserved success!

When Pedro shared his idea on the big WhatsApp chat of the Grindelwald assistants, the success was immediate. He got dozens of orders for this fantastic bin. In our case, he proposed to print ours with our Speedy Marmots logo at the bottom of the tray. We love it!

Our personalized Speedy Marmots’ bin.

And we can see it’s, as expected, a very practical bin! Pedro carries his sunglasses, EarPods and wallet there on hand while he is driving, showing that this bin is larger than we imagined.

Useful bin. Perfect size!

After the warm reencounter with Pedro and Didier, we buy some light sandwiches at the Coop, as we plan to continue without more stops until Grindelwald. Sandwiches finished and we’re good to go!

Route De La Corniche. LavauxVineyards.

From here we’re not taking more motorways. And we’ll do first the beautiful Route de la Corniche. This is a narrow twisty road over the Leman Lake, in the middle of the Swiss vineyards.

View over the Leman Lake. Lavaux Vineyards.

This is the area called the Lavaux Vineyards, a stunning landscape qualified as Unesco World Heritage site, and it’s totally worth a drive. The terraced vineyards pour their intense green into Lake Leman.

View over the Leman Lake, Lavaux Vineyards.

The beauty of the place is overwhelming. It is these kinds of roads that make our trips on the Morgan so special.

Lavaux Vineyards.

As usual, and because we’re leading the squadron, we regularly check the rearview mirrors to make sure that everyone is behind. But when we’re arriving to the small village of Cully, we can’t see any other cars but Didier’s. He is just behind us but no one else is following. We stop and wait, hoping nothing serious happened.

After a few minutes we receive a WhatsApp: Steve’s car had a small fuel leak. He smelled the spray and stopped immediately. One of the high-pressure hoses was leaking at one connection. Nothing serious, and easy to fix. At least for him, of course!

It takes them 15 minutes to solve the issue and get where we are waiting. We hit the road again, still enjoying these amazing views over the Lake Leman, as we drive relaxed in the middle of the vineyards.

Lavaux Vineyards.

We finish our trip through the Lavaux Vineyards in Vevey, just by the shore of the lake. From there, we take the road 12 (not the motorway) uphill and reach Bulle and pass very close to Gruyères. Maybe next time we’ll stop at Gruyères for lunch? Raclette and fondue mandatory! And of course, some meringues with heavy cream for dessert… But not today! We keep driving towards Jaun, looking for the Jaunpass.

Swiss landscape.

We’re driving through the classic Swiss scenery: green hills, dense forests, cows grazing on the roadside, and today the extra of an intense blue sky and the sun shining!

We pass Jaun and climb to the Jaunpass. The uphill is a very twisted but fast road, that delights all members of the squadron. And the downhill is even better! Not that fast, but because we find a series of hard hairpins, challenging the steering of the little 3-Wheelers. But this is the perfect type of road for these machines! If the driver is skilled and experienced, there are very few vehicles capable to follow a 3-Wheeler on this type of road.

Jaunpass.

After enjoying the descent of the Jaunpass like children, we connect with the well-known highway 11 that takes us to Thun and Interlaken. From here the driving is calmer and allows us to enjoy the alpine landscapes on the way to Grindelwald.

More Swiss landscapes.

We arrive to Interlaken relatively soon, and while crossing Wilderswil, and in the valley towards Grindelwald, we still enjoy a beautiful blue sky.

Arriving to Grindelwald.

We’re back! Yes, we made it another year to Grindelwald! We arrived relatively early in the afternoon, and we quickly make ourselves comfortable at the Bernerhof Hotel.

Charles has also arrived, but his gearbox is apparently broken, stuck in reverse when he maneuvered to park in the back of the hotel. He calls Steve for help. Now there is no choice but to take off the seats and other pieces with upholstery out of the car, so we can access the gearbox. And what a surprise: his gearbox upper part, the one holding the stick, is open. The bolts came loose and that’s why he got this oil leakage yesterday! But the worst part is that with the top cover loose, the stick lost the connection with some kind of Teflon ball joint that connects the stick and its movements to the inside of the gearbox. That’s why he couldn’t change gears anymore!

If this happens to anyone else, it could be catastrophic. But Charles is skilled, and Steve is from another planet when it’s about 3-Wheeler mechanics. So, they fix the mess together in approximately one hour, and Charles’ car is ready for action once again!

Meanwhile, Ana Maria and I are shopping around in Grindelwald. She needs new technical trousers for the Morgan! She finally finds a pair she likes, and we’re back to the hotel with our shopping bag and a smile on her face.

Tonight, there is a welcome dinner at the Hotel Kreuz & Post, organized by Laurens and Rineke. But unfortunately, Ana Maria is working until late with her laptop, and when we try to join the party it’s too late and all tables are full. So, we walk up the street and have a nice couple dinner at the C und M. The sightseen from the terrace is incredible.

Our dinner views from the C und M restaurant.

After dinner, we join the party at the Kreuz & Post for the drinks! It’s being another great day enjoying the Morgans and our friends! After the mandatory beers, it’s time to rest for tomorrow’s first day of this 10th Anniversary Grindelwald meeting!

Day 9 – September 1st: first day of the 10th Jungfrau-Treffen

Today the sun is shining in the blue alpine sky!

After the mandatory breakfast at the hotel, first thing to do in the morning is to refuel the Morgan. I drive the machine solo to the Shell fuel station, planning to fill it with nice and fresh 100 octane juice. It’s still relatively early and the fuel station is empty. When I’m refueling, the first colleague 3-Wheeler I see today stops to refuel here too. And it’s not just another 3-Wheeler, but a P101! One of the latest beasts to leave the Malvern factory!

Refueling with Michael’s P101 aside.

The owner is Michael Ittensohn, a Swiss enthusiastic driver. He acquired his P101 recently, and I believe he just told me that I’m the first 3-Wheeler he sees on the road, apart his, obviously. It might be quite curious to see another one for the first time but coming from Spain! We have a super nice chat. What a nice guy!

We end up filling our tanks and drive back uphill towards the main parking in Grindelwald, in front of our hotel, where we’re all supposed to meet this morning.

Some of the drivers are already there, with their Morgans sunbathing at the back of the esplanade. Michael and I park ours side by side. And keep talking and looking at the spectacle of the many 3-wheelers arriving little by little.

The number of 3-Wheelers arriving increases every minute!

Michael is waiting for a friend of his, Jose, of Spanish origin, who will join him as a copilot today. This is a surprise for Jose, as Michael hasn’t told him he bought his P101 and even less that today he’ll be joining a gang of crazy 3-Wheeler drivers coming from all over Europe!

Michael and Jose onboard Michael’s P101.

Jose is another car enthusiast, and he seems to be enjoying as much as Michael such an original surprise!

This is the 10th anniversary of this Jungfrau-Treffen meeting, so a special year! And we’re expecting many to participate. This first day we can count thirty-four 3-wheelers in the parking! And Laurens and Rineke expect a few more to arrive for the weekend!

More and more pilots and machines arriving!

It’s impressive! It might be the largest Morgan 3-Wheeler meeting in Europe! What an incredible meeting. We can see so many modifications and different styles. It’s overwhelming. We can clearly see why the Morgan 3-Wheeler is such a peculiar and incredible vehicle.

Thirty-four 3-Wheelers together! Impressive!

Laurens and Rineke do their mandatory debriefing for today’s route, and we’re ready to go! The sound of such a massive swarm of 3-Wheelers starting the big V-Twins is like a thunderstorm. Many people who gathered by the parking to admire our machines cheers the roaring and wave goodbye as we drive down the street.

Takeoff!

Today’s route was carefully planned by Laurens and Rineke. The morning part goes as follows:

78 km – 1h45min

Gridelwald → Wilderswil → Sigriswil → Heiligenschwendi → Thun → Steffisburg → Kreuzweg → Buchholterberg → Röthembach im Emmental → Gasthaus Siehen restaurant.

It’s always a fantastic experience to drive with other 3-Wheelers. We really miss this in Spain, where, despite our efforts, we haven’t succeeded to find other 3-Wheeler owners willing to share adventures with us.

On our way out of Grindelwald, driving down to Interlaken, we’re the center of attention of everyone crossing us. It’s not every day that you can see a Morgan 3-Wheeler on the road! So, how about thirty-four of them?

What a huge swarm of 3-Wheelers!

The road on the North side of the Thunersee is an amazing piece of engineering and offers stunning views over the lake and some great tunnels in which the 3-Wheeler exhaust are much louder than usual… probably because many downshift on purpose to rev the engine and make it louder just for the fun!

Downshifting in the tunnels. Let’s make some noise!

The expedition today is enormous, and despite the large number of vehicles, we manage to keep all together during the whole morning and without incidents.

The squadron progresses towards lunch.

The driving through the Swiss landscapes is beautiful today, with a bright sun shining up in the blue summer sky and very little traffic on the selected roads.

Some nice hairpins!

The views are stunning. This region of the Swiss alps is probably one of the best places in Europe to enjoy the drive.

The views over the Thunersee are fantastic.

Once we’re in Thun, we drive uphill again, and cross Steffisburg. While we’re crossing the village, we see a few groups of children walking aside the street. And they immediately cheer up with our passage, some of them asking us to rev-up the engines to amplify the sound. It’s fun to see how everyone enjoys the passage of the 3-Wheelers.

Swiss country roads.

We finally get to the lunch stop: the Gasthaus Siehen restaurant. We align the cars properly in the large parking and sit down in the terrace to enjoy a nice meal. During this lunchtime, Rineke gives us the t-shirts and badges specially made for this 10th anniversary edition. The badge is beautiful. Ana Maria and I are happy we ordered one!

The 10th anniversary badge.

It’s a very nice badge, made of steel and with a proper enamel drawing. It looks fantastic!

After the nice lunch and some coffee, it’s time to hit the road again! We all go to our cars and little by little start the engines, getting ready for the afternoon drive back to Grindelwald.

The route back is planned as follows:

71 km – 1h40min

Gasthaus Siehen restaurant → Oberlangenegg → Eriz → Teuffenthal → Sigriswil → Wilderswil → Grindelwald.

Just after leaving the restaurant, we’re driving behind Steve when we sense a strong gasoline smell. It’s Steve’s car that got another fuel hose connection leaking! We stop by him and ask if he wants us to help or just wait for him, but he seems calm and just tell us to keep going. He is confident he will fix it fast. And he does! So, few minutes later he is catching up with the group.

We get back driving on more small secondary alpine roads, crossing woods and small villages. We find very little traffic and the whole group drives relaxed back to Grindelwald.

Once in Grindelwald, Ana Maria and I head direct to the parking. This year, instead of parking outside with the rest of the members of our squadron, behind the Bernerhof Hotel, Ana Maria got an indoor garage spot included in the price she negotiated with the hotel. It’s a strange feeling not to park aside our friends, but the advantages of an indoor garage are clear, and we don’t hesitate to use it.

We have just time to get a quick shower and get ready to drive again, this time to do an amazing uphill to the restaurant where we’ll enjoy dinner tonight: the Schreckfeld restaurant at 1.962 m altitude.

On the way up to 1.962 m altitude!

We’re taking the Grosse Scheidegg pass, which is a tiny road usually not open to the public. We enjoy every meter of this route! The weather is still nice, and the views get better and better as we gain altitude.

The road is getting narrower.

The road is tiny and steep, so the convoy progresses relatively slow. And this is fantastic as we have time to enjoy the sights, and we appreciate more details of the landscape.

The views are breathtaking!

This is a very isolated road. No cars here, except the residents’ ones. And few valiant cyclists.

Still climbing!

At a certain point we cross a car pulling a trailer. The 3-Wheeler is not precisely easy to maneuver but we’re forced to, as the car has the priority because he is pulling a trailer, meaning we are the ones having to reverse. After some funny minutes of 3-Wheelers pulling aside here and there, we manage to leave a gap big enough for the farmer to drive down the road, and we’re free to keep going up again.

Fantastic road. Slow driving but fantastic views to enjoy!

Midway up to the restaurant, Franck’s 3-Wheeler starts misfiring seriously, and he is forced to stop and let pass the whole swarm. As usual, “Steve the Savior” stops by and stays with Franck trying to find the reason why his car said “enough” in such an uncomfortable cold and high-altitude spot.

We stopped! Something’s wrong with Franck’s 3-Wheeler…

While Steve and other good Samaritans try to restart Franck’s stubborn 3-Wheeler, the rest of the gang progresses uphill, reaching the restaurant.

The only way is up!

We arrange the 3-Wheelers here and there while many approach to admire the machines. The funny thing is that these are not human, but a big herd of cows!

Hello cows!

The cows literally run from all over the hills around the restaurant towards us and stay as close as possible to the cars, staring at everyone here.

More cows arrive. Such curious animals!

Just in case any vicious cow tries to assault the cars, we leave Pierre the mog-bear in charge of the surveillance!

Watch the cows, Pierre!

While we wait for Steve, Franck, and the others to reach us, we admire the breathtaking views from such a high position.

Laurens enjoying the views.
Top left: Mario and Chas. Bottom right: Charles.

The sightseen over the Grindelwald valley and the peaks in front of us are stunning.

The mirador in front of the restaurant.

From up here we have quite a clear view over the road we’ve taken to get here. And we try to spot Franck and Steve, but no sign of them yet.

The Speedy Marmots.

It’s getting dark and cold. So, just after seeing a fat fox running not far from where we are, we decide to get into the restaurant.

The Schreckfeld restaurant.

A few moments later, Franck and Steve arrive. They couldn’t fix the misfire, and they left Franck’s car parked where it stalled. They’ll recover it after dinner on the way back. As it’s downhill from there, for sure Franck will be able to drive it back to Grindelwald, and hopefully at some point, with lower altitude and air richer in oxygen his engine will come back to life.

We enjoy a classic cheese fondue, cold beers, and the best company! We must thank Laurens and Rineke again for such a wonderful organization!

After dinner, now totally dark, we drive back to Grindelwald. It’s not raining but foggy at some points of the tiny road.

This is the first time that we really drive at night with our new LED headlamps…. And Holly Molly! The improvement is simply amazing. We can properly see at night now! In some zones we drive a little slower, leaving enough space with the cars preceding us, so we can put the high beams on. Oh my God! It’s like having military anti-aircraft spotlights! The safety improvement is incredible. We hardly recommend everyone to change their standard halogen headlamps for these LED ones. The improvement is simply stunning.

We make it comfortably warm to the hotel, covered with our fleece Morgan blanked and the heated seats on. It’s been a long and beautiful day!

Day 10 – September 2nd: second day of the 10th Jungfrau-Treffen

We wake up with another sunny day in Grindelwald. It seems that the unpredictable alpine weather is going to be kind to us one more day.

Nice sunny morning in Grindelwald.

We gather again at the end of the main bus parking area in front of the Hotel Bernerhof. The departure is planned for 10:00.

We start the engines on time, and the 3-Wheelers’ swarm takes off towards Wilderswil, down the valley.

The route planned for this morning drive is as follows:

105 km – 2h20min

Grindelwald → Wilderswil → Leisingen → Aeschi → Wimmis → Zwieselberg → Amsoldingen → Thierachern → Wattenwill → Gurnigel Pass → Riffenmatt → Pfaffeien → Schwarzsee.

The indications given by Laurens and Rineke warn us about some road deviations. We must pay attention as we are many cars, and this time of the year the Swiss roads’ maintenance works are frequent, and we may find unpredicted deviations on the planned route.

The pack drives along the South shore of the Thunersee. No one has issues taking the indicated exits and turns, early this morning, despite the long convoy is split at some points with other vehicles inserting between the Morgans.

The Thunersee.

But when we pass Wimmis, the convoy is clearly split in two big groups. We’re driving in the second one, and at a certain point, we need to stop by the side of the road and check maps and navigation systems, because it looks like we missed a turn somewhere.

It takes just a few minutes to get on the correct path again and reconnect with the other half. Reunited, we drive towards the beautiful Gurnigel Pass, crossing some nice small villages and forests before reaching this famous mountain pass.

Swiss green hills and wood houses.

We’re really enjoying the drive, under a nice sun and through these Swiss alpine landscapes!

Enjoying the drive.
Such a beautiful day!

The Gurnigel Pass is a very nice road, and the sunny day is simply perfect, offering stunning views and a nice warm temperature. Some sharp turns, fast drive, and a lot of torque-enjoying moments with the S&S big block purring.

On the way to the Schwarzsee.

The destination for lunch is a known place: the Schwarzsee. There is a very nice and posh restaurant there, the SchwarzseeStärn, where we enjoyed a lunch last year.

When we arrive, we have a great surprise waiting for us! Parked at the front door of the restaurant there is one prototype of the brand-new Morgan Super 3! How is that? Laurens contacted Morgan Motor Company and they talked about this special 10th anniversary of the Jungfrau-Treffen he was preparing. And they thought it was the perfect occasion to show the new 3-wheeler model to a lot of enthusiasts.

Surprise! A prototype of a new Super 3!

The prototype was driven from Malvern to Switzerland by Steve Morris, Morgan’s CEO. He came accompanied by his wife as copilot in the Super 3, and a couple of friends who were driving a new Plus Four.

Parking at the SchwarzseeStärn.

This is a fantastic surprise. And everyone in the group highly appreciates the gesture of Steve Morris to drive the Super 3 here to show it to us.

Nice looking new model!

This prototype vehicle comes in a nice metallic silver color combined with blue leather upholstery, and most of the options such as the side luggage bags, and the rear luggage rack.

The new Super 3.

It’s really nice to see this new model amongst all our 3-Wheelers. We are all inspecting the new model in detail and can see many differences, obviously. Some say they like it; some say they don’t. But the truth is that this is a fantastic new product, with apparently a clear step forward in technology and assembly quality.

Amongst friendly vehicles…

Is this just the first impression, at first sight? Or has this new vehicle really an improved engineering compared to ours? Only time will say!

Plenty of questions and comments pending. But it’s time for lunch!
Everyone is happy to see this new prototype.

But there is something clear regarding the new model: this is the logical and only possible evolution of a 3-Wheeler, at least for the European market. Because there is no V-Twin available that you can couple with a traditional transmission such as the one on our beloved machines, and compliant with the Euro6 emissions’ mandatory specifications.

Nice looking luggage rack and interior.

The look of the Super 3 is so much different than our model. It doesn’t look “vintage” anymore, it’s bigger, and the engine is 3 cylinders hidden under the bonnet. No bright exhausts, nor a massive V-Twin at the front anymore. But I insist: we’re told there was no possible way to couple a modern V-Twin to the classic Mazda 5 speed gearbox. All possible candidates complying with the Euro6 norms are pure motorcycle engines, that come with their gearbox integrated, and constructed in such a way that they can’t be coupled to a 3-Wheeler without dramatical modifications.

Come on everybody! Lunch is waiting!

This said, we personally think this new Super 3 is a beautiful machine, very different but with its own charm. And we hope it will be a success for Morgan Motor Company.

Steve Morris will stay the next days in Grindelwald with all the gang, so, we’ll have many more occasions to check over this new Super 3. After the surprise encounter, we all sit down for the nice lunch that was waiting for us at the SchwarzseeStärn.

Delicious meal at the SchwarzseeStärn.

After lunch, we make sure we visit the toilets before jumping again in our cars. We still remember the critical situation we suffered last year after the lunch here! No more exploding bladders please!

Everyone gets into their cockpits, and we fire the engines. All cars align on the road after exiting the restaurant’s parking area, ready for takeoff.

Aligned in the runway, waiting for the takeoff.

And we’re good to go! Revs up! And the huge roaring of the more than thirty S&S V-Twins echoes in the valley.

The route back to Grindelwald is as follows:

96 km – 1h55min

Schwarsee → Sangerboden → Gurnigel Pass → Rüti → Wattenwill → Blumenstein → Wimmis → Wilderswil → Grindelwald.

But we’re forced to stop very soon. Why is that? It happens that this time of the year is the Swiss tradition of taking the cows from high in the mountains back down to the valley, and they use the roads.

Crossing a cow’s parade.

We need to stop the engines and wait for the cows and the villagers to pass us. We shouldn’t scare the animals! These big cows can do a real mess on a regular car, so we can imagine what they can do if they get nuts, and it occurs to them to ram one of our little rockets!

Big cows, and small cars.

We’re talking and admiring the animals walking down the road when we suffer a biological attack! And a pretty stinky one… As animals they are, the cows decide to evacuate the processed grass anytime and anyplace. So, while they’re passing by us, one of them decides it’s the best time of the day to empty its tripes just by our Morgan.

The big problem is not the smell, but the shrapnel… As the soft paste falls onto the hard asphalt, barely one meter from our car, it splashes, leaving the Morgan’s side and my left arm covered in hot shrapnel. I think I even have some fragments stuck in my beard. While Ana Maria cries with laughter, it comforts me to think that I am not a vegetarian, and that any day I will have my revenge, with a good T-bone steak from one of these terrorist cows on my plate.

“Hello! Good afternoon! Who are you?” – “Hello miss cow, my name is Pedro.”

Not very further, we cross another cows’ parade. This time we’re luckier and they don’t shower us with their detritus.

More cows! Take cover!

We keep driving back to Grindelwald, enjoying the nice country-side Swiss roads, but it’s not sunny anymore. The sky is getting darker and menacing as we’re approaching Thun. It looks like the alpine weather is preparing a big summer thunderstorm…

The calm before the storm…

We hope it won’t rain until we’re back to Grindelwald, but we soon see there are high chances it’s going to happen. So, we all stop and put on our raincoats, just in case. Ana Maria and I also remove our front GoPro, as its foam wind slayer gets soaked when it rains. And lucky we did it! Because few kilometers later, before reaching the Thunersee shore, it starts raining cats and dogs!

Progressing under heavy rain.

Ana Maria and I have nice raincoats, but it’s raining so much that’s not enough, and everyone gets wet for good! From time to time, it stops raining, but these are short intervals between big showers.

Nice rainbow!

We’re thinking about Steve Morris and his wife. What a baptism! Now he knows the hard side of driving a three-wheeler! Maybe he’ll ask the engineering team in Malvern to design a proper hood for the Super 3?

And more rain…

We decide to keep going as we had no guarantee that it’s going to stop raining soon. We manage to reach Grindelwald without stopping, despite the rain is very hard in some parts of the road.

We quickly park the 3-Wheeler in the indoor parking. The good news is that the rain has cleaned the cow’s shit, and the Morgan looks clean again. We run into the hotel and enjoy a nice hot shower.

But the day is not finished! We have plans to climb up to 2.222 m altitude to enjoy dinner at the Mannlichen restaurant! This year again, Laurens and Rineke managed to have the mountain road open for us – it’s normally closed to regular traffic, as it’s used only for maintenance – and we all reunite at the parking around 19:00.

Climbing up to 2.222 m altitude.

We take our best and warmer clothing for this short drive uphill, but it seems that the heavy rain has stopped. It’s still clouded, but not raining hard anymore. Just some light drizzle here and there while we’re reaching the top of the mountain.

The road up to the Mannlichen is another beautiful climb.

Once at the top, we’re delighted by a beautiful orange and grey colored sky, as the sun goes down.

The light is spectacular up here!

The stormy skies offer a stunning view over the Grindelwald valley, with the Eiger, the Jungfrau and the Monch peaks between golden clouds and some rainbows.

Beautiful picture.

Everyone enjoys the moment and take many pictures before getting in the restaurant, where we’ll enjoy some Swiss specialties another year.

The Speedy Marmots.

The dinner is delicious and the atmosphere, as always, very lively and fun.

Good ambience at the MannLichen.

We share anecdotes, interesting conversations, and at one point the group offers Laurens and Rineke a special gift – a weekend at a spa hotel – as a thank you for so much attention and such a fantastic organization.

Laurens and Rineke.

We also have a special mention and thanks for Steve and Craig, from M3W Services, because they’re not just friends but our saviors on many occasions. Their mechanical skills with our 5-speeders are becoming legendary!

Craig in front and Steve in the back receiveing their special “thank you” gift from the group.

Time to drive downhill, back to Grindelwald! Fortunately, it’s not raining at all anymore, and we can drive carefully back to the hotel.

Nice drive downhill. No rain this time!

The heated seats of our 3-Wheelers, combined with the fleece Morgan blanked and warm clothes, makes this drive back quite comfortable despite the freezing cold in such altitudes.

This year we have no complaints about the headlamps. The new LED ones are fabulous!

It’s been a wonderful day, but hard because of the late afternoon heavy rains. We’re going to sleep deep tonight!

Day 11 – September 3rd: third day of the 10th Jungfrau-Treffen

Today is meant to be the greatest day. With the big mountain passes on the route. And being a Saturday, we expect even more 3-Wheelers to join the party.

But we wake up with a very cloudy sky. And the clouds are very dark, menacing heavy rain, as it happened yesterday late afternoon. In fact, we can see from our balcony that it’s already raining in part of the valley.

Rainy morning at Grindelwald.

The WhatsApp chat is on fire! Everyone is checking his weather forecasts, and not only here in Grindelwald but along the planned route. Most of the apps are announcing a terrible day everywhere. In our case, we use the WeatherBug app. I personally like this particular app because it’s based on the information collected by the nearest airports’ meteorological services. What’s more precise and accurate than an airport meteorological service? It seems it’s going to be a very bad day. Rain and thunderstorms are announced almost everywhere.

But the summer weather here in the alps is so unpredictable! You can leave the valley under a sunny and blue sky and get soaked in a blink of an eye minutes later. Or you can start the engine under the darkest clouds but enjoy one of the best sunny days of the year! So, we’re many discussing and with mixed feelings about today’s drive.

The route that Laurens and Rineke planned today progresses first along the Brienzersee (Lake of Brienz), then heads towards the Brünig Pass, the Susten Pass, the Furka Pass, and finally the Tremola Pass, to reach Airolo and have lunch there. The only pass we haven’t done before is the Tremola, and I personally really want to do it. But this road is not asphalt but has an old stone pavement, and when it rains it is very frequent that they close it because it is slippery, especially for motorcycles.

In the parking we are some having this same bittersweet feeling: the itching for jumping into the Morgan and hit the road with the risk to get soaked and freeze or be conservative and stay warm and dry in Grindelwald. The ones convinced about the driving get prepared with their best rain clothes, helmets and all sort of scarfs and blankets.

Steve Morris (right) showing his fancy Malle london suit.

Steve Morris shows us the fantastic clothing he got from Malle London, a superb-looking rain jacket with a special knee guard, that are tailor-made for the Super 3!

Perfect jacket and knee guard, made specifically for Morgan and the new Super 3 launch.

After many minutes weighing the pros and cons and knowing that driving the 3-Wheeler under heavy rain can be miserable, Ana Maria and I decide that today it is preferable to stay in Grindelwald. Thus, Ana Maria will also have the opportunity to carry out a lot of work that has been delayed. And if we see that the weather improves, we can visit the Lauterbrunnen area, which is very close to Grindelwald and is said to be beautiful.

So, we say goodbye and wish the best for the day to all the valiant pilots that will drive today. We really hope they’re lucky and don’t have much rain!

Mario (pilot) and Chas (copilot), in Chas’ 3-Wheeler.

Some who don’t want to drive under the rain, but still want to go, decide to share the 3-Wheeler, instead of driving solo. Chas and Mario will go together today in Chas’s 3-Wheeler. And Steve gets a copilot too.

Steve gets a copilot too!
Takeoff under the dark clouds.

After the big squadron departure, we get back to the hotel. Ana Maria switches on her laptop and dives into work, while I relax and enjoy the warmth of the room, keeping an eye over the windows, hoping for a ray of sun to show up.

We have no news from the group. I’m checking the radar images and my guess is that they had a little rain clearance before getting to Brienz, and rain just after and up the mountain passes. The first few pictures they share in the WhatsApp chat show that the weather forecast was correct, mostly.

A little bit of sun by the Brienzersee.

But in Grindelwald it keeps raining insistently for a couple of hours. It is not until noon that we see the first small clearings of blue sky between the black clouds. And the progress of the clouds in the radar image seems to offer a sunny window in the Lauterbrunnen area for the next hour.

Rainy day… Views from our balcony in the Bernerhof Hotel.

We decide to jump in the Morgan and visit this village and the natural wonders it offers around. For sure Ana Maria will appreciate this break from work! The road to Lauterbrunnen is relatively short: while exiting the Grindelwald valley, instead of turning right towards Wilderswil and Interlaken, you turn left and drive upstream along the river. It’s just 17 km, meaning 25 minutes’ drive.

Beautiful watefalls everywhere!

The scenery is beautiful. High stone walls on each side of the road and many waterfalls here and there.

Stone walls by Lauterbrunnen.
Lauterbrunnen. Beautiful village.

We pass the village and stop to visit the famous Trümmelbachfälle. It’s a series of ten glacier-waterfalls inside the mountain, made accessible by a tunnel-lift carved into the mountain. This amazing natural spectacle drains the glacier defiles of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau, with an average water flow of 20.000 liters per second!

The Trümmelbachfälle scheme.

After parking the Morgan by the café at the entrance, we pay the 14 CHF (Swiss Francs) each fee and walk to the elevator. The place is absolutely worth the visit! The engineering works done to carve the elevator’s tunnel, and all the path up along the waterfalls is impressive. And the force of the nature in this place is overwhelming.

Trümmelbachfälle. What an amazing place!

This is a place you shouldn’t miss to visit if you’re in the area! On the one hand we’re sad because we’re not driving with our friends, but on the other hand we’re happy to have the opportunity to visit this place.

The way to do the tour is taking the elevator first, stepping out between waterfalls 6 and 7. And then walk up to waterfalls 7, 8 9 and 10. To walk downstairs back to the bottom. The complete tour inside the waterfalls takes approximately one hour. There are a lot of stairs! You better are in good shape!

Inside the mountain.

And take a raincoat in there! The spray of the waterfalls and the humidity in some parts of the path can get you soaked if you’re not wearing a waterproof jacket!

Trümmelbachfälle.

The glacier’s water has carved its path through the hard limestone for centuries and the magnitude of the water’s path is impressive.

The green is so intense here!

We have enjoyed a long hour of partly cloudy weather, but as we walk back to the parking lot, it starts to rain again. This alpine weather is so erratic! We take refuge in the cafeteria next to the parking lot and wait for the rain to stop.

We enjoy our hot coffees for half an hour, until the sun appears again between the dark clouds. Then we drive back to Lauterbrunnen to enjoy our lunch there.

We park the Morgan at the end of the village and walk to the Weidstübli restaurant. We have a nice warm typical Swiss meal to recover our energy. We check the WhatsApp chat if there are any news of the group, and if they’ve being lucky avoiding the rain.

Our friends progress towards the mythical mountain passes.

We can see some nice pictures of them driving up the Susten and Furka passes, and of course some of the Tremola Pass.

Dense fog at the Tremola.

They suffered scattered showers along the route, and they crossed the Tremola under a thick fog hiding the scenery, and drizzling. What a pity! These are definitely not the best conditions to enjoy such wonderful roads.

Foggy and drizzling in the Tremola.
A brave cyclist!
Slowly and carefully! Stone pavement can be slippery!

According to some messages, it’s been raining hard in some parts of the route. But it’s not being a persistent rain at least! We agree it’s better to suffer short intense showers than having a permanent annoying rain. But the weather forecast was right. Rain and more rain, here and there.

Hairpins in the fog.
Very poor visibility.
Tremola pass.

They are now stopped having lunch, still with fog. We hope they’ll have better weather on the way back.

Parked for lunch.

At least Ana Maria and I are enjoying few rays of sun here in Lauterbrunnen! The meal is delicious, and the restaurant is very calm and cozy. A nice spot to be noted for future visits to this village.

We miss our friends, but not the fog they’re in!

We drive back to Grindelwald before the heavy rains come back in our area. Even though the sun timidly shows up from time to time, intermittent showers continue to fall, although fortunately the rain is still light.

It’s being a short drive today, but the visit to Lauterbrunnen and the Trümmelbachfälle was absolutely fantastic. And it helped us to rest and recover our energies.

Driving back to Grindelwald.

Entering Grindelwald we fill the tank to the top, again with juicy 100 octane Shell V-Power gasoline. And after parking the Morgan, we check everything is in order for tomorrow’s trip back to France.

Back in the hotel, we are happy to be here dry and warm, as outside it’s starting to rain intensively again. And it doesn’t stop raining until late in the afternoon, around half past five.

Is it really stop raining?
First time we see a real blue sky today!

We’re enjoying the light and sights from our balcony when we receive a message from Christian and other ones that stayed in Grindelwald, saying they’re downstairs having a beer.

Would you reject such and offer?

No need to say that we quickly join them! We enjoy our beers checking the WhatsApp chat for news and waiting for the squadron to come back here.

The group driving back to grindelwald.
Look at that road uphill!
Good fun!

It seems that they’re having much better weather on the way back. Still with intermittent showers, but shorter and not so intense, and even some blue skies now that they’re arriving to Grindelwald.

Finally some dry road!

They crossed again some of the cows’ parades around Innertkirchen. There the people of the town dress up in their typical costumes and decorate their cows with more care, since Innertkirchen is precisely where the most tourists are attracted by the celebrations related to this colorful event.

Cows’ parade at Innertkirchen.
The shore of the Brienzersee.

We admire the Morgans entering Grindelwald, by groups. Some have a big smile on their face, and others look really tired. It’s been a hard day! It’s logical, as it’s being a long drive, and under the rain in many parts of the route.

We enjoy the mandatory beers with the anecdotes of the day. A good one is that Charles was driving down the Grimsel Pass when he saw a suction cup on the asphalt. He stopped and collected it, and it happened to be the suction cup of a Morgan 3-Wheeler luggage rack. It was John and Marian’s! They’re lucky that Charles has a very keen eye! Otherwise, their trip back to the UK, without a proper support in the back of their luggage rack, would get unnecessarily complicated.

At 20:00 we all meet again at the restaurant Da Salvi for the farewell dinner. There is a great ambience. Chas and Mario decide to put on the Scottish kilts they bought during their recent trip to Scotland. Pure Afghan wool and manufacture! LOL!

Chas, Ana Maria and Mario.

Dinner is great. It’s so nice and relaxed to share these moments with so many friends!

Leaving dinner, it’s time to say goodbye to everyone. Because tomorrow morning we may not see most of them before we takeoff back to France.

We walk the street back to the hotel, behind Chas and Mario. We don’t know if crossing these two at night, dressed like this, is funny or scary!

Mario and Chas.

Back in our room, we pack things as much as possible, and make sure than all batteries are full, helmets clean, and the navigator’s roadbook and stopwatch ready for the copilot.

The organization of this 10th Jungfrau-Treffen was incredible! We thank again Laurens and Rineke for such an amazing work! Your gathering in Switzerland always let us with wonderful memories!

Day 12 – September 4th: Grindelwald to Pérouges

This is the last day in Switzerland. Our small squadron splits here another year. Mario will drive back to Germany, but the rest of us will keep together back to Montignac-de-Lauzun. Charles is coming with us too, because he wants to let his 3-Wheeler in the hands of M3W Services with Steve and Chas, instead of driving it back to the UK as he did the previous years. We’ll be four cars then: Chas, Steve, Charles, and the Speedy Marmots.

For the first section of today’s route, to the outskirts of Montreux, Pedro and Didier will join us this year again. So, the squadron’s debriefing and takeoff today is for six 3-Wheelers.

Pedro with his son.

We all meet as usual at the parking area in front of the hotel. We do the very last checks, say goodbye to Mario, Victoria (Pedro’s wife) and Caroline (Didier’s wife), and fire the engines.

The route today is as follows:

350 km – 4h45min

Grindelwald → Wilderswil → Thun (8) → Seftigen → Wattenwil → Rüschegg-Graben → Riffenmatt → Laubbach → Hirschmatt → Zumholz → Plaffeien → Oberschrot → Plasselb → Giffers → Le Mouret → Épendes → Arconciel → Riaz (12) → Bulle (12) → Lausanne (12) → Geneva (9) → Varambon (1, A40, A42, D984) → Chalamont (D90) → Pérouges (D90A, D904, D22, D4 & D4B).

Yesterday it was raining cats and dogs, but today the sun is shining in an intense blue sky. The weather is so crazy and unpredictable here! But hey! We won’t complain if the road is dry, and the traffic is light!

The sun is shining today!

The first part of today’s route is taking us through some areas we already know. But we’ll go a little bit further and reach the shore of the Gruyère Lake. The roads are a pure delight today! Sunny weather, twisted roads crossing green prairies and dense forests, and very few cars in sight. We just need to be careful with cyclist. On Sundays these isolated roads are precisely full of them, because, like us, they try to avoid the main busy roads.

Enjoying our last day on Swiss roads.

We make a first stop at Plaffeien. A classic short stop to drink a coffee or soda, and the mandatory visit to the local coffee shop toilet. We will keep together until the outskirts of Montreux, but as we don’t plan to stop before that, we say goodbye to Pedro and Didier here, because they’ll split from us in the motorway.

Stop at Plaffeien.

The route today takes us across many of these beautiful Swiss wooden bridges, over small rivers here and there. These roads are not mountain passes, but they offer a great Swiss charm too!

As we commented at the beginning of this very long post, this year we decided to use motorways too, instead of driving only on secondary roads. Because we want to get faster to Montignac-de-Lauzun, with just one overnight instead of two.

Once on the motorway, we cruise at nice speeds in the traffic. But it’s not too dense and we keep all together without any incident. Just after crossing the border, in France, we make a refuel stop and grab something light.

Continuing after a short stop.

The French motorways allow us to drive at 130 km/h. The 3-Wheeler his plenty of power to keep this speed – and more if necessary – and the airflow is great to keep the engines cool.

Cool acrobatic airplanes over the motorway.

We don’t drive as a pack, as with the curious filming and taking pictures become sometimes annoying. Therefore, we change speeds and lanes accordingly to make our trip more comfortable and agile. And Steve and Chas have the little transponder for the tolls, so they pass them using the special lanes much quicker than we do.

Charles in the motorway.

We take the exit taking us to Varambon. We could keep on the motorway more kilometers, but we planned the route that way, to have a nice end on isolated secondary roads before our arrival to Pérouges.

Arriving to Le Vieux Pérouges.

Pérouges is a beautiful medieval village, just before arriving to Lyon (from Geneva). Ana Maria chose this village for our overnight, because it’s really worth a visit. The village inside the city walls is for pedestrians only, but as we’re going to stay at the Hostellerie du Vieux Pérouges, inside the walls, we’re allowed to drive the Morgans to the center.

Le Vieux Pérouges.

Our entrance in the old city, as you can imagine, is a big event for all the tourists that are walking the narrow streets this afternoon. Plenty of pictures taken and dozens of curious people gathering around the 3-Wheelers.

Le Vieux Pérouges. Parked in the main square.

We leave the cars parked in the main square while we’re doing the check-in.

People love the 3-Wheelers.

The Hostellerie du Vieux Pérouges is a really special hotel, composed by few of the medieval buildings of this historic village. We’re sleeping in rooms situated in a very old stone tower, few meters away from the main square.

Our room at the Hostellerie du Vieux Pérouges.

The rooms are decorated according to the historic place. Very large rooms, with high ceilings and wood flooring, and medieval furniture. The wood cracks everywhere, but it’s part of the charm of this hotel.

Medieval style rooms. Special charm.

After dropping our luggage in the room, we come back to the main square to move the 3-Wheelers to a parking place, hidden in the garden of another building of the hotel. We leave the Morgans resting under the shade of the old trees, but Charles, who prefers to leave his under the sun. When we ask him why, he reminds us that birds sleep in trees, and that he doesn’t want to be cleaning bird drops all over the car in the morning. Good point. But we’ll take the risk!

The Morgans resting for the night.

We come back to the rooms to have a nice shower. Ana Maria goes first, and she has no complaints with the bathroom. But when it’s my turn, I struggle to regulate the water temperature. I’m showering with warm water, suddenly it’s freezing, and seconds after I try to regulate opening more the hot tap, it’s boiling. What’s going on? I’m getting crazy!

After the shower we all come downstairs and walk to the main square, to sit and enjoy a cold beer in one of the terraces there.

Time for a cold beer!

It’s very sunny, and we relax watching the tourists leaving the place little by little, until the main square is almost empty.

Little by little, the tourists leave the place.

It’s a beautiful place. And the last rays of the sun enhance the charm of the buildings around the square.

Pérouges. Beautiful village.

Talking about the shower and my issue with the water temperature, Charles tells me, giggling, that he was cleaning some clothes in his bathroom, side-by-side to ours, opening and closing intermittently his hot tap. And we assume he was the cause of my despair. The water system in the hotel is clearly not of the latest technology!

Pérouges.

We finish our beers and head to the hotel restaurant, across the square.

Pérouges.

The sun is hiding fast now. The village is really quiet, and we don’t see tourists anymore. It seems like closing time.

Pérouges.

As we’re taking some appetizers and reading the menu, we see through the window some girls dressed quite weird. Like disguised in a burlesque way. And taking many pictures of themselves posing in strange manners. What’s going on?

Strange people appear just before sundown…

We guess there is some kind of comic convention or meeting. It’s fun to see their aspect and the silly ways they pose for the camera. Moments later they disappear as fast as they came, and the village seems deserted again.

We have a fabulous dinner. Really nice chef they have here! The menu is classic French cuisine, and the quality is excellent.

Pérouges. Iluminated at night it gets even more beutiful.

After dinner, we do a short walk around the village. It’s a very small village inside the walls. Genuine medieval. Most of the buildings are nicely restored.

Pérouges by night.

There is no one else on the streets now. This is clearly a day tourist place. At night it’s silent and absolutely empty.

Pérouges by night.

The only thing alive we cross is a caring cat. She purrs during minutes while we pet her, and she follows us for a while asking for more.

The Speedy Marmots have a weakness for cats. This one was purring so loud!

We love this place. It was a very good choice for our stop tonight! We walk for half an hour, more or less, and come back to the hotel.

Pérouges by night.

We climb the stairs of the tower and head to our rooms for the night. The building is in total silence. We only hear the distant cracking of the wood flooring when someone walks in another room close-by. We guess we are the only guests tonight. At least in this building. We quickly fall asleep.

Day 13 – September 5th: Pérouges to Montignac-De-Lauzun

We slept like logs! The place is so quiet! The village is still completely empty when we come downstairs.

Pérouges. Morning light.

We have a nice early morning walk in the village. We love Pérouges! It’s being a fantastic choice for our stopover.

Pérouges.
Pérouges.

We look for an open coffee shop where to have a light breakfast. They are not many in this tiny village, but we manage to get some coffees.

Chas enjoying his first coffee of the day.

After enjoying the hot drinks and the morning rays of sun, we take the 3-Wheelers to the main square for the check-out and to load the luggage here.

Pérouges.

We take a lot of nice pictures with no one around, because the village is still totally deserted. The scenery is really unique!

Pérouges. Chas’ and the Speedy Marmots’ 3-Wheelers.
Pérouges. Steve’s 3-Wheeler.

It’s not every day that you have the main square of such a beautiful French medieval village for your own!

Pérouges.
Pérouges. Steve with his Morgan.

The cars shine with the morning light, and the frame is perfect for the photo shoot.

Pérouges.
Pérouges.

It’s going to be another sunny day. As we’re not anymore in the Alps, the weather forecast is stable and announces sun along the whole route. We revise together the planned route before jumping into our cockpits. Today we’ll drive on motorways as much as possible, as we want to get to Montignac-De-Lauzun just after lunch.

Checking the route.

The route today is as follows:

550 km – 5h40min

Pérouges → Bergerac (D4B, D4, D22A,D1084, A42, A432, A46, A466, A6, A89, A20, A89 & N21) → Castillonès (N21) → Montignac-De-Lauzun (D254, D145 & D227).

Everyone gets ready, route clearly in mind, and we start the engines!

Charles.
Steve.
Chas.
Javier.

Ana Maria is our navigator again. She jumps into our Morgan, after taking the pictures above, and we put helmets on, check the intercoms are working, and go!

Pérouges. Main entrance gate.

We exit Pérouges through the main medieval gate, and head to the closest petrol station first.

Today we’re not driving with the GoPro in the front, just the one on hand for Ana Maria to take short videos if we see something worth it. Because today we’re driving hundreds of kilometers on motorways, and there it’s unusual to have interesting video situations. But we still get a few nice pics of our rockets at high speeds in the French motorways.

Charles on the French motorways.

We need to be careful and drink regularly, as driving in the open air makes you feel fresh, but reality is that it’s still summer, and it’s a very hot day with an intense sun hitting our helmets and bodies. Under these circumstances you can get dehydrated very quick without noticing it!

These 3-Wheelers are fast on the motorway too! The 2.0 liters massive V-Twin has such torque that we need to be careful not to speed over the 130 km/h limit.

Chas on the French motorways.

After a couple of short stops, we finally arrive to Montignac-De-Lauzun. Ana Maria and I head to Steve and Annette’s place, to pick up our Land Rover and take it to Le Papillon in the village.

Ana Maria driving the Defender following me in our 3-Wheeler to Le Papillon.

Once we’re at Le Papillon, we quickly download all the luggage and keep the Morgan inside the garage. A nice refreshing shower and we’re like new!

We go back to Steve and Annette’s for dinner at 19:30. Wow! Annette is an amazing cook, and again this year she has prepared a special menu: a lot of Indian stews and side dishes. Everything is delicious! The dinner is so relaxing and nice! When we’re here in Montignac-De-Lauzun, despite we’re hundreds of kilometers from Madrid, we feel like home. The company of our friends, the home-made food, the relaxed ambience. We are totally in love with this French region.

Day 14 – September 6th: French local markets

We wake up at Le Papillon, comfortably in “our” room, after a great night. Dinner yesterday at Steve and Annette’s was amazing. A little bit of excess of delicious Indian cuisine with beers took us to bed early, where we fell asleep in seconds.

Today we have two things to do. The first one is changing our front tyres for brand new Blockleys. It is time, as the Avons we have right now are almost gone. They lasted for a couple of Gridelwald trips and few “short fighter missions”. But after thousands of kilometers, it’s time to get new fresh ones. It’s nice that M3W Services has Blockleys on stock, amongst other brands. It’s the first time we’re mounting Blockleys, and we heard nothing but good critics.

We take the 3-Wheeler to M3W Services magic barn, and we take out the front wheels. We take the wheels, and the new Blockleys, to the Point-S at Miramont-De-Guyenne. They tell us that it’s going to take them a few hours, as they have previous appointments. No problem! We leave the wheels and tyres there and wait for their call when they’ll be ready.

The second thing we want to do today is getting to Castillonès, because today is Tuesday, meaning that there is a local market full of street food stalls, gathered with delicious products made by artisans from the region. As foodies we are, we can’t miss that! There we go! It’s just 25 min of relaxed drive from Miramont-De-Guyenne.

The Speedy Marmots at the weekly market in Castillonès.

We park just by the street where the market is, and we start walking, drooling in front of every food table. The first one is dedicated to home-made pâtés. Goose, duck, pork, beef, volaille’s, wild boar, deer… Ana Maria has to pull me out of there as I was hypnotized staring at the clay molds in which they present all these delicacies.

Incredible cheese shop.

A little bit further we feel some kind of traction beam pulling us towards a big white food stall. And this smell… It’s a cheese shop. Artisan French cheese, in a French village weekly food market! If you like cheese, you’re in paradise. We stare at the dozens – maybe more than a hundred? – different delicacies.

But the best is to come: the guy asks us if we would like to taste some. And as soon as Ana Maria replies, he detects her accent and asks where we’re from. She tells him she is from Guatemala but we live in Madrid, so we’re just passing-by, and then he gets like crazy and asks us to stay. And he starts offering small pieces of everyone and all possible cheese he offers, explaining with such passion each one of them! We stay there like half an hour and buy some kilos – yes kilos, I’m not exaggerating – of different French cheese.

The good point is that we have a portable cool box, almost hermetic, in which we can carry the smelly cargo to Madrid. Otherwise, the Land Rover would be like a gas chamber after a few kilometers!

After the market visit in Castillonès, we head towards Eymet, where we want to have lunch in a restaurant called La Cour d’Eymet.

La Cour d’Eymet restaurant. Fantastic!

When we come into the restaurant, we see we’re just the second guests they have. So, just two tables. The chef comes out to say hello and explains the different options he offers today. Everything sounds delicious, and we take few minutes to decide.

Nice menu. Everything looks delicious!

The descriptions on the chalk board look quite complex. They look very good, but we don’t know if the result, in a small village such as Eymet, will be as good as it sounds when you read it. But we’re in France! And here “cuisine” is a very special word… Oh My God! The meal is outstanding! What a place! We enjoy every plate we’re served. Each one more delicious than the previous one! This is a place we’ll remember and come back for sure next time we’ll be here.

Some food porn.

After the fantastic meal, we drive back to Le Papillon. We quickly put the cheese in the fridge and think of having a nice repairing siesta. We need to recharge our energies, as tomorrow we’ll drive back to Madrid, pulling the trailer with the Morgan in it.

But we still have our wheels at the Point-S! They still haven’t called, so I decide to drive there and put some pressure with my presence. Ana Maria stays at Le Papillon working on her laptop.

When I arrive to the Point-S, the tyres are still untouched. I kindly ask them if they can do them next, explaining that we’re leaving early tomorrow, and I need to load the Morgan on the trailer as soon as possible this afternoon. They’re nice, and despite they’re overloaded with appointments, while I just jumped in without previous notice, they tell me they’ll do one more car and then they’ll take care of our wheels.

Excellent! I even have time to buy a white marker and paint in white the Blockley lettering on the side of the tyres! I like the result. The car looks more vintage with the Blockley letters painted in white.

Our 3-Wheeler in November 2022. See the detail of the white-painted lettering on the Blockley tyre.

Once they’re finished, I come back to Le Papillon, and take time to clean the wheels properly, as it’s much easier when they’re off the car. Then we both drive back to M3W Services and put the wheels back on and load the 3-Wheeler into the trailer.

We say goodbye to Steve and Annette because the plan is to leave tomorrow relatively early. We check the pressure of the tyres of the Land Rover and the trailer, and finally we hitch the trailer to the big Defender. Minutes later, with a heavy heart, we say goodbye to such good friends and head back to Le Papillon.

We park the trailer and the Land Rover in front of the City Hall. I secure properly the Morgan with the strong ratchet straps, leaving everything ready for tomorrow morning.

Day 15 – September 7th: Montignac-De-Lauzun to Madrid

Today we have a very long journey. 720 kilometers and, as we’re driving with a trailer, we’re limited to 90 km/h on both in French and Spanish motorways, it’s going to be long…. Very long….

The route today is as follows:

720 km – 9h30min (as we’re limited at 90 km/h)

We leave Montignac-De-Lauzun at 8:30. The first part of the route is on French small narrow roads. After crossing Saint-Barthélemy-d’Agenais, I hear an unusual noise coming from the trailer. I switch on the rearview camera to see the front of the trailer and I see that the jockey wheel came loose, and might be touching the asphalt at some points, causing that noise. I stop and put the jockey wheel back to its secure position.

We cross the Canal De Garonne, which is part of the Southern canal network of France, connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea.

Crossing the Canal de Garone.

We finally connect with the motorway and can use the cruise control and relax driving South towards Spain.

We cross at noon the French-Spanish border and stop to refuel. Everything is going well. We revise the trailer and no signs of anything going wrong. And we keep driving through the Spanish Basque Country. But I check again with the rearview camera the jockey wheel, and I can see it’s loose again! Why is that? It’s normally very tight and secure, but something is happening to it that it becomes loose. We stop at a petrol station, and we buy some elastic thick strings to hold it even more secure; and we take the motorway again, hoping it won’t bother anymore.

Then, like 20 km later on the motorway, we hear a bang and we clearly see there is something wrong with the trailer. I check the rearview mirrors and I can see that one of the left tyres is flat. We thank God we have two axles in our trailer! As we’re on the motorway, we can’t simply stop, so we slow down and keep going looking for the next exit, hoping the second left tyre holds the load as it should. I check the rearview camera thinking that the strings we just put may be the cause. That one came loose and fell under the wheels. But they’re in place.

We finally get to the next exit, and we stop just before the toll, in a large side area where we can replace the flat tyre.

Exploded tyre!

Flat tyre! That’s not a flat tyre! It’s a disintegrated tyre! Holy cow! We check the broken tyre, and it looks like it exploded violently and was ripped away from the rim. Maybe the fact that we drove a couple of kilometers to this exit for sure made more damage to the tyre, but not so much! Looking carefully at the inside of the tyre we can clearly see that it’s a bad quality crap. We’re furious!

Damn these low quality chinese tyres! They could have caused a serious accident!

We send a picture of the incident to the squadron’s WhatsApp group, and Charles immediately spots a detail on the tyre wall: “Made in China”. No comments…

The good point is that we can change the tyre without even disengaging the trailer from the Land Rover. As it’s a tilting platform, when we tilt it, the front tyre – the one we must change – lifts in the air without needing a jack. So, the wheel change is relatively fast: it takes us approximately twenty minutes.

Fast tyre change. We’re lucky that the trailer is properly designed!

We’re lucky that we designed the trailer with two axles, and with a spare wheel. When we designed and ordered it, the two axles were mandatory for us. And now we thank to have taken this smart decision. If this accident would have happened with a single axle trailer, we can’t think of the consequences, carrying the Morgan on it.

We stop by the next petrol station to check the tyres pressure, and more precisely the one of the spare wheel we just put on. After having everything properly checked, we hit the road again, driving carefully and hoping we don’t have a second tyre blast.

We make it home without any other incident at 20:00. So, the total trip today took us 11h30min. We’re glad to be home!

Our Grindelwald trip came to an end. Fifteen days of adventures, enjoying the 3-Wheeler and our friends! We’re looking forward for the next “Long range campaign”!

NOTE: by the time we wrote this post, we already went to a tyre garage to check about the tyre blow. The specialist pointed out that the tyres we have on our trailer are very bad Chinese quality. With few (three) internal layers and not appropriate for a trailer that heavy. Thanks to the two axles, the tyres resisted until now, but the risk of another blow is high. The guys who made the trailer saved peanuts on the tyres! Really worth the savings? We’ll change the tyres for good quality appropriate ones as soon as possible.

Long range campaign #2 – 3rd to 17th of September 2021

2020 was a very complicated year to enjoy travelling due to Covid19, as you all know. Despite this disease has affected us hard in many ways, the Speedy Marmots have been fortunate and we had few “sunny windows” within this Covid storm. Enough to keep us cheerful and optimistic. Life goes on and it’s obvious that better times are coming our way!

2021 started better, apparently getting things more under control. Slowly but steadily winning the battle against the pandemic and being ourselves and a huge percentage of the Spanish and European population vaccinated, we could start having a relatively normal life. The 3-Wheeler was claiming for some action! And we managed to do few “short fighter missions” with the little rocket, getting more and more confident with the machine and its reliability.

The month of June arrived. And sadly, our beloved Jaguar F-Pace had to be returned, as the five years renting contract reached its end. For different reasons we did not renew nor ask for a new SUV. One reason is that, for more than a year and a half, due to the pandemic, we rarely travelled with the Jag. The travel restrictions were still uncertain, so we decided to wait and see what will happen within next months. But the Morgan was still there, sending his positive vibes and asking for more kilometers!

With this feeling of tense calm, and the Morgan-driving itching, we are discussing about our holidays, and if they could be or not with the 3-Wheeler. And then we have fantastic breaking news! Chas confirms the news in our squadron’s WhatsApp chat: LAURENS AND RINEKE WERE CALLING TO ARMS AGAIN! THE JUNGFRAU-TREFFEN WILL BE HELD!

We have no SUV to pull the trailer to Montignac-de-Lauzun, meaning that if we want to join the squadron there, we’ll have to drive the 3-Wheeler from Madrid! We don’t hesitate. Let’s do it! From Madrid to Southwest France, then to Switzerland, and back, in our little rocket. Who said fear? With Whitesnake’s song “Here I go Again” sounding loud in our home speakers, we start the planning.

With Rob – our 2020 squadron navigation leader – not joining us for this year’s long-range campaign to Grindelwald, Chas, Steve, Mario and Charles ask us to prepare the routes to Switzerland. Ana Maria and I will lead the squadron! Challenge accepted! My friends, hold my beer! It’s time to choose the nicest possible roads for the 3-Wheelers and show how’s to navigate with an incredibly efficient copilot!

Step 1 – Let’s prepare the routes and create the navigator’s roadbook! Driving with a copilot is much funnier, as we can drive the “old fashion” way. It means that we won’t rely on modern electronics such a smartphone or GPS. But the copilot will have a detailed navigation roadbook, with full indications of every turn, roundabout, crossroads, etc. Do you want to know how a Speedy Marmots navigator’s roadbook looks like? Check out next pictures!

The Speedy Marmots roadbook.

For such a long-range campaign, we create two books. One for the days from Madrid to Grindelwald, and the second for the way back from Grindelwald to Madrid. A total of 186 pages. Three indications / maneuvers per page, with the following data:

  • The time to get to this point / maneuver from the previous one.
  • The distance to this point / maneuver.
  • The total accumulated driving time.
  • The total accumulated distance.
  • A brief and clear written description of what must be done while reaching this point: a description of the maneuver, in large size letters to be easily read in movement.
  • A large picture of the place, with thick red arrows showing the way.
  • Additional information with icons indicating if there is a petrol station, supermarket / restaurant, or anything else of interest nearby.
  • When there are many roundabouts to be crossed without major direction change, also an icon with the number of roundabouts to be crossed.
Detail of the Speedy Marmots roadbook.

Ana Maria will be the copilot most – if not all – of the days, as we’ll be driving very fast in country and mountain roads, and for many hours each day.

She needs a nice stopwatch, easy to use and with large and nice screen and buttons. But, if possible – yes, we admit we are a little bit too posh when it comes about accessories for the Morgan – with a vintage looking. So, we find her this nice electronic chromed stopwatch. She is really happy with it.

Nice looking stopwatch for the best copilot!

The roadmaps will show later to be really accurate, and the most important: the timings really match with our driving speed, and thanks to Ana Maria and her stopwatch we’ll be warned in advance with high precision of each maneuver.

Two roadbooks are needed for such a long range campaign!

Step 2 – Improve the comfort of the 3-Wheeler with a nice set of new headrests. Since last year‘s long-range campaign, we have in mind to order a couple of headrests for the Morgan. We order a nice pair tailor-made, and with a new specific design and size that proves to be excellent for our needs, as we drive with helmets for these long distances. If you want more details, we have a specific post about the headrests. Check it out in the Hangar Works section of the blog!

Our beautiful new headrests.

As our upholsterer had to buy a large piece of leather to do the headrests, we have quite a lot of extra leather. We decide to do another bag for the heavy and thick Barbour coats we carry with us for such a long trip to Switzerland. Because we never know if the weather will be good or find ourselves under a snowstorm in the Alps!

New bag for the thick Barbour coats.

We have this trapezoidal large and thin bag in mind since last year, so we finally ask the craftsman to make it. And we are very happy with the result!

Perfect size!

Even with both Barbours inside, this bag isn’t too thick, and it fits perfect underneath the two main bags.

Our fantastic luggage set is now complete!

Another good point of having this bag, is that it’s much easier to refuel, because to reach the fuel cap we simply fold it upwards instead of moving the two loose Barbours. We still must remove the main big bag on top, but we find out that now the refueling is much easier and faster.

Step 3 – Let’s protect our arms against the sun! Oh yes! We learned the lesson the hard way during previous “missions”, under the merciless Spanish sun… While you’re driving feeling the fresh air in your face and arms, you may not realize you’re getting sun burnt! We use UV protective arm sleeves to avoid such a bad experience.

New customized design UV arm protection sleeves.

Again, under the “be posh while driving your Morgan” philosophy, we decide to make some customized arm sleeves. Just for the fun. After some hours designing, printing, cutting, and ironing, we have nice-looking new UV protective arm sleeves for us and our squadron colleagues, plus some others for gifts.

The result after many hours of design, printing and ironing…

Step 4 – Check the 3-Wheeler and get it ready for the long-range campaign! Our Morgan is in very good conditions. We made very few kilometers since last “short fighter mission” to Valencia, but it’s always mandatory to check again all fluids and general mechanics. Then I detect something wrong in our Morgan: the front left tyre is worn in an uneven way. The inner side is way more worn out than the outside.

Our front left tyre is worn in an uneven way.

The inside is already at 2 mm depth, while the outer side still in good 4 mm!

It’s a fact that since we got our Morgan, if we take our hands off the wheel while driving straight, the car immediately tends to go right. And while driving in sharp curves on country and mountain roads, it was always heavier to take the left ones than the ones to the right.

It’s clear that we have a toe problem on this left front tyre. I ask our good friend Steve how to solve this problem. Steve is a member of our squadron and an impressively skilled mechanic for Morgan 3-Wheelers. I follow his instructions, and I fix the steering problem in minutes. I only have to do one readjustment after the first adjustment in the garage and short test drive. Now the car handles perfectly straight, and we feel the steering wheel much lighter and agile under all conditions.

Despite we solved the steering problem, the left tyre needs to be changed. Meaning that both front tyres need to be changed. We ask Steve and Chas if they have a new pair of Avons, Blockleys or Excelsiors in their M3W Services stock. And of course, they do! So, we reserve the pair of Avons they have. Because those 2 mm depth on the inside of this left tyre are not good enough to drive back and forth to Switzerland, and even less if we have some risk of wet roads. The front tyres will be changed when we’ll join them in Montignac-de-Lauzun!

The night before we’re all excited and exchange some last messages with the rest of the squadron. Mario has just left Erfurt (Germany) and right now he might be driving his superb Heritage Edition on the German autobahn: our valiant friend has 1.350 km and more than forteen hours’ drive ahead before he reaches the squadron headquarters at Montignac-de-Lauzun! Charles is in the UK and still don’t know if he’ll be able to join us for the squadron takeoff next Monday. And Steve is working intensively on a new M3W Services creation: the secret “Project Mario”: will this be ready for the trip to Grindelwald? Continue reading and you’ll know…

All checks done. All packed. The Morgan is full of gasoline, and we’re ready to go. Next morning the big adventure begins!

Day 1 – September the 3rd: Madrid to Pamplona

All packed and ready! This is the first day of our two weeks adventure! We haven’t really summed the kilometers we’ll do in our 3-Wheeler. Does it really matter? We just know that we have two weeks of fun in front of us!

Packed and ready to go!

Today we will make it the fastest possible way to Pamplona. Let’s reserve the nice country roads for the following days! Using the motorways, we can make Madrid to Pamplona in approximately four hours and fifteen minutes. A little more as we’ll have to stop to refuel and grab a sandwich. Helmets on and let’s start the engine and make it roar!

GO!!!! Ready for thousands of kilometers on our 3-Wheeler!

This is our route today:

440 km – 4h15min

Madrid → Burgos (A-1) → Pamplona (A-1, AP-1, A-1, A-10, A-15 & AP-15).

The rocket runs like a dream on the motorway. 120 km/h are so easy to keep despite the terrible aerodynamics of our luggage on the rack. The power and torque of the V2 is so impressive that we must be careful with the radars on the motorway. Just a little bit of extra throttle pedal and we’re easily over the 140 km/h.

We stop after 250 km, some kilometers after passing Burgos. We grab a sandwich with a soft drink and take the Morgan to the petrol station to refuel.

And here the magic of the 3-Wheeler happens again. Just consider this: in Spain there are less than fifteen 3-Wheelers in the whole country; it’s obviously very rare to see one. And how many people from the UK, travelling in Spain, may cross one of them? And on the top of that, what are the chances that this person from the UK is friend of one of our squadron members? I would say one in a million. Even less chances for this to happen. But it happened! At our only stop to refuel, a friend of Charles T Kirby, from the UK, spotted us and took this video of the Speedy Marmots at the petrol station. Unbelievable! Pure magic! It’s a pity that this friend of Charles didn’t approach us to say hello. He immediately sent his video to Charles, and Charles shared it in our chat. We are still amazed of such coincidence!

We refuel quite fast and continue our way to Pamplona. Approaching the city, we have several cars cheering the Morgan! There is always plenty of thumbs up and happy faces celebrating the 3-Wheeler!

We reach this beautiful city faster than expected. We drove just four hours. A total time of 4h30min if we add the stop to eat the sandwich and refuel.

Santa Maria La Real – Pamplona’s cathedral.

We stop again here this year for two reasons. The first one is that we have a couple of nieces studying here, Camila and Valentina, and we can stay at their place. They live in a beautiful apartment in the main old city square. And the second is that the city is really worth a visit. It’s known worldwide because of the San Fermines (the famous runs in front of the bulls) but it’s also a beautiful old city with a superb ambience in the streets, and the food and tapas are really amazing.

The famous San Fermines. Famous Worldwide.

Pamplona is definitely one of the most beautiful cities in Spain. If you ever have a chance to visit it, don’t hesitate to do it!

We have the good news that Mario made it from Erfurt to Montignac-de-Lauzun without problems. He is now enjoying a beer with Chas at Au Bosq (Chas’s place).

We have a nice dinner with Valentina, one of our nieces, and then we walk the old streets to a very nice shop of typical Spanish delicatessen, where we buy jamón ibérico, lomo, chorizo, salchichón and a nice manchego cheese, for the dinners at Montignac-de-Lauzun with the team. We’re already drooling!

Enjoying dinner with Valentina.
Some Spanish cold meats we bought as appetizers for our dinners in Montignac-de-Lauzun.

Day 2 – September the 4th: Pamplona to Montignac-de-Lauzun

Today we’ll enter France and reach Montignac-de-Lauzun. We’ll cross the Pyrenees from Pamplona through Eugi. It’s a road we’ve done many times before with “heavy bombers” but never with an agile and light “fighter” as the 3-Wheeler. And we were expecting this day for a long time! Because the roads we’re about to take are amongst the most beautiful we know!

Our route today is as follows:

330 km – 5h30min

Pamplona → Eugi (PA-30, NA-2517, PA-30, N135 & NA-138) → Saint-Étienne-de-Baïgorri (NA-138, D58 & D948) → Ossès (D948, D918 & D8) → Iholdy (D8) → Saint-Palais (D8) → Orthez (D2933, D933 & D23) → Grenade-sur-l’Adour (D947, D933, RD933S & D924) → Houeillès (D924, untagged road, D11 & D933N) → Aiguillon (D8 & D642) → Tombeboeuf (D813, D271, D126 & D120) → Montignac-de-Lauzun (D667 & D254).

It’s Saturday and the sun shines bright in an intense blue sky. And just few light white foamy clouds. We can’t ask for a better weather to drive today! We refuel after we leave Pamplona, just when we take the NA-138 direction Eugi. This is really an amazing road, probably the most beautiful to cross to France from Pamplona, with a superb green forest full of wildlife. We are lucky and cross very few vehicles. It’s a peaceful easy drive, a pure dream behind the wheel of a 3-Wheeler.

The NA-138 is a beautiful road full of wildlife.

Once in France, renamed as D58, the road offers more amazing landscapes, with green hills, sheep, cows, and typical Basque country houses, before entering the deep valley of the river Nive des Aldudes, a river with crystalline waters and famous for its trout.

Those cows sunbathing by the road…

This time we don’t stop at our favorite spot: the Hotel Arcé in Saint-Étienne-de-Baïgorri. We have a long way to go to Montignac-de-Lauzun so we decide to keep driving.

We leave behind the French Basque Country and its curvy and hilly roads to enter the Landes. These roads are so relaxed! Long straight country roads under the shade of the trees and no traffic at all.

Happy!

The 3-Wheeler purrs at 3200 rpm in fourth gear, maintaining a cruise speed close to 90 km/h. We enjoy the views, the trees, the sunny day… what a fantastic drive!

While approaching our destination, the chosen country roads get more twisted and fun for the driver.

We cross beautiful French small villages.

Still relaxed and with no traffic, we make it to Au Bosq – Chas’s place in Montignac-de-Lauzun, where our mates are waiting for us with nice cold beers.

Again, Ana Maria proved today her skills as copilot and navigator. We are glad to see that the roadbook is precise, and that the timings we put on it are totally realistic. It’s more helpful to know, stopwatch in hand, how much time you have until next maneuver than just keeping an eye on the distance you’ve done since the last one. The dozens of hours creating the roadbook show to be worthy!

Arriving to Au Bosq.

Steve is not there. He is still in the M3W Services workshop, close-by. We are staying at his place, so we finish our beers and go to Steve & Annette’s place to say hello before dinner, that will be hold at Au Bosq tonight. The following video shows the entrance road to Steve & Annette’s and… M3W Services! Simply heaven for any Morgan 3-Wheeler 5-speeder. Here is where the magic is done!

We have a fantastic dinner at Au Bosq. Beers, wine, our Spanish cold meats and cheese, tasty German sausages bring by Mario, duck confits and many other nice delicatessens. We don’t walk but roll into bed that night!

Delicious dinner at Au Bosq.

Day 3 – September the 5th: hangar works at M3W Services

Today we’re not driving, but staying at Montignac-de-Lauzun. This Southwest France area is so quiet and relaxing!

But we’re not laying on the grass sunbathing! It’s working time! Chas and Steve decided some months ago to create their own specialized 3-Wheeler workshop: M3W Services. They transformed Steve’s old garage and workshop into the 5-speeders paradise that it is now. Equipped with a brand new car lift and all imaginable tools, it’s the dreamed mancave for any 3-Wheeler’s lover. Ana Maria comes and goes, but stays most of the time working outside the house, while I’m with Steve, Mario and Chas in the garage.

Look at these orange Ohlins! What a machine!

The first thing I see entering the garage is Steve’s 3-Wheeler. But then I walk in a little bit more, see left and… OMG! Their secret project 3-Wheeler is there! They talked about it few times in the chat, and yesterday night they talked about it again. And now I can see it. Wow!

The ultimate 3-Wheeler!

At first sight, it’s a black and orange Morgan 3-Wheeler. The color scheme is inspired in the Bugatti Veyron special edition Super Sport Carbon Black-Orange.

The Bugatti Veyron Super Sport Carbon Black-Orange Edition.

But apart the sporty color scheme, the keen eye of a 5-speeder owner immediately spots big differences. Walking around the car, the first details I can see are: the S&S black edition engine, a beautiful pair of frontal Ohlins with customized orange springs, orange seat belts, and the orange heat shields covering the straight totally free black exhausts. Also carbon fiber mudguards over the orange Turrino wheels with Michelin Commander tyres, carbon fiber air intake filter cover, LED front lights… I’m drooling.

The S&S Black Edition engine is beautiful on this car!

But I knew that this car wasn’t special just for the aesthetics. So, I got deep into it with plenty of questions to those mechanical geniuses. And the complete technical description is simply jaw-dropping. If you’re a 3-Wheeler lover, please read carefully the following dream list:

  • New S&S black edition engine
  • Cerakoted cam chest & rocker covers in black
  • 569 cams
  • Unlocked ECU
  • OJZ exhausts cerakoted in black – OMG that sound!
  • G56 carbon-kevlar air filter cover.
  • Magnecor plug leads.
  • M3W Services fuel system.
  • M3W Services rear disc brake. YES REAR DISC BRAKE!
  • Bleazey Centa drive conversion.
  • Uprated clutch
  • G56 carbon-kevlar mudguards.
  • Turrino aluminium tubeless lightweight rims.
  • Michelin Commander tyres.
  • Krazy Horse Empire Kit.
  • Front Ohlins suspension in orange color.
  • Back Ohlins suspension.
  • Orange seat belts.
  • Carbon fiber dash panels.
  • Carbon fiber style rearview mirrors.
  • Sports steering wheel.
  • Rubber bonnet catches.
  • Relocated battery to passenger’s footwell.
  • BOSCH large capacity battery
  • LED headlights.
  • LED mini indicators.
  • Cut lower windscreens.
  • Black roll hoops.
  • Black quilted interior upholstery.
  • Etc.

It’s mean, it’s fast, it’s loud, and it has all the possible extras to make it totally reliable. It doesn’t matter if you like the color scheme or not, or if you think it’s too loud,,, these are secondary subjects! Because what’s not debatable is that this is the ultimate version of a 3-Wheeler taken to the – reasonable – limit.

Really nice looking rocket!

What a machine! I’m still drooling while writing down this post. But the best of it, is that all these upgrades can be fitted in all the existing 5-speeders! Please Santa Claus, add many of these upgrades to my wish list!

By the way, if someone is interested, M3W Services has this rocket for sale!

Let’s stop dreaming and come back to reality… There is work to do! We need to remove my front wheels so we can change the tyres. On Mario’s car, we must install the new front Ohlins suspension and the totally customized Turrino wheels. And of course, the Black & Orange rocket needs to roll and be tested again to make sure it works fine for the trip to Grindelwald. I thought that Mario ordered nice new Turrino front aluminum wheels, but simple ones probably matching his Heritage Edition 3-Wheeler. But he always takes things to the next level! First, he has upgraded his Centa drive for a Bleazey converted unit. Really wise thing that I’ll do as soon as possible! Then the front Ohlins suspension.

Mario’s Ohlins, with their classic yellow color spring.

But about the wheels… He has installed new G56 carbon – Kevlar mudguards but made them paint with 5 layers of paint and lacquer. They’re so well painted that you don’t know they’re carbon-fiber until you take one in your hands and feel the super lightweight! Impressive paint job! But hey! Then they unwrap his new customized Turrino wheels. Another jaw-dropping vision! Look at those wheels! An image is better than any description. Please look at that!

Custumized tubeless Turrino wheels. Beautiful!

And yes, the mudguard you see in the picture, shining black and with the fine gold line, is a carbon-fiber one. What do you think? Isn’t beautiful?

After the “basic” jobs, it’s the turn of the Black & Orange rocket. It’s not running smooth enough. Chas takes it for a short drive, and we can clearly hear it’s misfiring. Steve connects the laptop and checks every possible problem with the S&S Protune software, but there is something wrong beyond a simple ECU map adjustment… Steve analyses carefully all the parts of the engine, and he decides to change the intake unit. It might be one of the sensors it has that is wrong and causing the misfires. I help him to change it for a new intake unit and then start again the engine to see how it goes. Bingo! No more misfires. Still a couple of very fine and delicate adjustments to the throttle / intake unit, and the terrible misfiring sound becomes a mellow loud purr. Is the car ready for action? Steve then takes it for a short drive. From the garage we can hear the sound while he is kicking down the throttle pedal on the roads around Montignac-de-Lauzun. And it’s simply amazing. He comes back looking 20 years younger! Probably the speed and acceleration made the airflow on his face act like a lifting. I think he lost some hair in the process too, probably ripped off by the wind. Or was he that bold earlier?

The day is ending, and all the cars are ready for the race. What a fantastic day. “Vive Montignac-de-Lauzun and M3W Services!”

We go to Au Bosq again for dinner. And again, what a dinner! If we stay a couple more days here, we’ll need an extension belt for the 3-Wheeler… if we manage to get in it! Chas and Chris made a delicious pork leg in the AGA. Juicy and with this nice crackling all over… Just look at this Pavlova we had for dessert…

Pavlova… Excellent home-made dessert!

During dinner, we receive excellent news from Charles: he is still in the UK but packing his things into the Morgan. He is joining us tomorrow en route! Great! Tomorrow we’ll be five 3-Wheelers on the road by the end of the day!

Another fantastic dinner at Au Bosq!

Day 4 – September 6th: Au Bosq to Salzuit

The night before we packed everything but the essentials for the night and morning. We’re ready! But there is a first task to be done before we take the cars to Au Bosq for departure: we need to go to Miramont-de-Guyenne to change our front tyres. The wheels were taken off the Morgan yesterday, and Chas comes to pick me at 07h30. We drive fifteen minutes and we’re at the tyre workshop as they open. They quickly remove our old Avons and put the new ones and balance both wheels. In less than one hour, total, we’re back to the M3W Services garage putting the wheels back with the new tyres and then the mudguards.

Now let’s go to Au Bosq for the short briefing and the takeoff! The cars are all clean and polished. The day looks fantastic, with a nice mild temperature and sunny weather forecast.

Ready to fire the engines!

We fire the engines. All four 3-Wheelers are purring, shining under the fresh morning sun. Ana Maria has the roadbook ready, stopwatch in hand. Let’s go!

The route today will be as follows:

342 km – 5h50min

Au Bosq (Montignac de Lauzun) → Castillonès (D254, D227, D145 & D254) → Villeréal (D2) → Prats-du-Périgord (D104, D2, D660 &, D58) → Salviac (D54, D13, D63 & D673) → Saint-Chamarand (D673, D81, D12 & D17) → Gramat (D704, D2, Untagged road & D807) → Saint-Céré (D840, D807 & D673) → Laroquebrou (D673, D31, Untagged road & D653) → Jussac (D653, D18, D461, D59 & D922) → Chateau d’Anjony (D922 & D160) → Mandailles (D60, D35, D246 & D17) → Massiac (D317 & N122) → Brioude (D909 & D588) → Salzuit (D912 & N102).

The roads chosen are the favorite type of our squadron: small country roads with no traffic, crossing woods and small charming French villages.

Beautiful sunny day for driving!

It’s important to comment that even the smaller road in this part of France has an excellent tarmac. It’s extremely rare to find a pothole. They might not have white painting or be really narrow, but the surface is always amazingly good. It’s a pure pleasure to drive.

We can see many castles on our route today.

The squadron progresses reasonably fast and smoothly through the French countryside. Most of these roads aren’t so demanding when it comes to driving, so we can enjoy magnificent views. The sight of another castle on the top of a hill announces we’re about to cross another village. Old French houses, cars from the seventies and antique tractors working the fields transport us to a different era, far away from the stress of the modern cities.

This morning Charles told us that he expects to join the squadron when we’ll cross the A20 motorway, nearby Montfaucon. But when we slow down and stop to check on his progress, we find out he got a puncture! He managed to take the Morgan to a garage on a flatbed truck and repair the flat tyre. So, he is late on schedule. He won’t catch up until late evening, probably at the hotel in Salzuit.

Oh oh…. Charles suffered a puncture!

The navigation has been perfect. No mistakes and the accurate roadbook are helping a lot. And of course, Ana Maria’s readings and indications. Now we’re approaching an interesting milestone: the Chateau D’Anjony. She tells me we’ll have to take right a small road towards the chateau, crossing a beautiful dense forest. She says she’ll tell me exactly when to turn. My anxiety makes me take right a little bit earlier, in another small road few meters before the correct one. The whole squadron follows. Ana Maria tells me I turned wrong, but stubborn as I am I think that the road will take us to the chateau. After a nice circle, crossing a small village, and come back to the place where I did wrong, we’re on the right path again. I suffer a couple of jokes and laughs from our colleagues while I admit I did wrong and should listen to her more carefully.

Once we stop by the Chateau D’Anjony, admiring the views, both Ana Maria and I tell each other that we smell something funny. Like burnt caramel. We can’t see anything wrong and guess it’s just the car that is really hot after few hours driving. We continue towards Saint-Jacques-des-Blats.

Before the village, we stop for a soft drink and coffees. Still, this burnt smell… Then Steve spots the problem! Oh no! A classic: the front right indicator support has broken. And of course, the indicator felt over the exhaust, melting like a marshmallow. That’s the burnt caramel smell! Bad luck. But it’s not a fatal failure. No big deal, so we simply cut the wires and keep the melt indicator in Steve’s boot. We’ll get a new one and fix that when we’ll be back in Madrid.

Our front right indicator support broke, and the LED indicator fall over the exhaust and melted like a marshmallow.

After the short break, we keep moving. We still have more beautiful roads ahead! We’ve been driving for almost four hours, but we are all still fresh!

Such nice landscapes!

The roads and the speed are comfortable. Nicely twisted and demanding on some sections, but mostly relaxed with no traffic and fun to drive.

We finally arrive to our destination: the Hotel Domaine Saint Roch, at Salzuit. It’s a beautiful hotel, super quiet – despite the loud 3-Wheelers’ exhausts – built on a XVIII century old building. We park the Morgan in the entrance yard, near to the medieval tower. A beautiful scenery.

Hotel Domaine de Saint Roch.
Our four Morgan, waiting for Charles’ to join them!

We’re having a beer at the terrasse, just a little more than half an hour after we arrived, when we hear the unmistakable sound of a 3-Wheeler. Charles is here! Excellent news! We’re happy to meet our friend again, safe, and happy after his solo journey from the UK, despite the flat tyre.

Nice and fresh! Enjoying a beer waiting for Charles to arrive.

Now the squadron is almost complete. We still miss Rob, but he has another great compromise this year: a vintage motorcycle race in Imola. He won’t come to Grindelwald this year, but he writes us in the chat and says he’s joining us for dinner tomorrow in Annecy! More great news!

After Charles gets into his room, we drive to the little village of La Chomette for dinner. Because it’s Monday (restaurants are normally closed on Monday in France) the only recommendable restaurant open today is there. La Crèche offers a classic local menu from the region – Auvergne – for a fair price.

We enjoy a nice dinner with local beer and exchange our impressions of the day. We are all really happy with the roads chosen and the accurate navigation by Ana Maria. The Speedy Marmots we are proud of the work done with the chosen routes and the huge roadbook!

Day 5 –September the 7th: Salzuit to Annecy

We slept really nice in this hotel. We highly recommend the Domaine Saint Roch to anyone who wants a quiet and peaceful place in this area.

After a nice breakfast we’re all ready to go. We’ll have another sunny day. Now with five 3-Wheelers, the squadron fires the engines at 10h00.

Today the route we’ve planned is as follows:

320 km – 5h50min

Salzuit → Allègre (N102 & D40) → Saint-Paulien (D13) → Lavoute-sur-Loire (D25) → Yssingeaux (D7, D72 & D103) → Riotord (D105 & D501) → Serrières (D503, D1082 & D820) → Val-de-Virieu (D4, D51, D37, D51, D51K & D17) → Les Abrets en Dauphiné (D73 & D1006) → Peyrieu (D592 & D992) → Praz (D24A, D31B, D1504, D992, D904, D921 & D57) → Albens (D991, D991B & D991C) → Annecy (D1201, D5, D141, D241 & D41).

Just after we leave the hotel, we make a stop to refuel. Now we all have our fuel tanks full of gasoline, and we’re ready for more action! As soon as we leave the N102 and enter the small country roads of the Southern part of the Natural Parc of the Livradois-Forez, the fun starts. Nice little country roads, with no traffic, nice tarmac, and beautiful landscapes. And with some sections with demanding hairpins. What else can a 3-Wheeler driver ask for?

After one hour and a half driving on these beautiful roads, we make a “technical” stop in Montfaucon-en-Veley. As usual, the five Morgans parked in front of the café attire many curious people. The 3-Wheeler is not a usual machine. And having five together with French, Spanish, German and British plates is a rare show.

Montfaucon-en-Veley.

Now we’re driving into the plain of the River Rhone. The roads get more relaxed, and we can speed up driving down to the valley of this big river. We cross it on a beautiful bridge at Serrières.

We’re still followed by these strange vehicles! Who are they?

And then we continue on nice roads to Val-de-Virieu, where we stop to refuel and grab a sandwich. As it’s already very late for lunch in France, we park the Morgans at the main square of the village in front of the church, and Chas goes to a nearby supermarket to buy the sandwiches and soft drinks. It’s a calm and nice village, and we eat peacefully under the shade of the big trees. And we have a public toilet conveniently situated in the main square.

After this nice light lunch, we hit the road again. Now we’re driving by the River Rhone, cross it a few times, and reach the shores of the Bourget Lake. Here we take a very narrow road that climbs the cliffs by the lake, to cross to the other side where is Annecy. The views are breathtaking. It’s a pity that our GoPro is fixed looking forward, and the second one with the short handle is in the boot!

Once we’re on the other side, we take another beautiful road that takes us to Annecy through a very dense forest. Again, we’re lucky as we cross very few vehicles. We feel like we’re driving on a private road!

Once we’re in Annecy, we reach the hotel relatively fast despite the traffic. We’re staying at the Hotel Allobroges. We chose this one because it’s very centric, so we can walk to the beautiful old city center and the shores of the lake, and because it offers private parking. Having the Morgans sleeping in a safe place is important, and even more if we’re staying in a relatively large touristic city such as Annecy. The parking that this hotel offers, is not only an underground private parking with security cameras, but on the top of that each car inside the parking has its own private closed box. There is no better and safer place in Annecy to park your car for the night!

The Morgans sleep in private boxes in a nice garage. At Allobroges Hotel in Annecy.

Charles is not staying with us at the same hotel. He decided to remember his childhood sleeping in a camping! He has a tent in his 3-Wheeler and missed the last beautiful road entering Annecy as he went looking for a clean camping. We make few jokes about the camping offering hot water and clean toilets or banning him for dinner. But apparently it’s a really nice spot and he seems happy to spend the night in the tent.

Charles’ suite for the night. It has a huge living room with LCD 56″ TV and a jacuzzi.

After doing our check-in and having a quick shower, Rob contacts us saying he is already in Annecy with his sister and his niece’s one year old charming Labrador retriever. They came from Courchevel driving his beautiful red Triumph TR4 to join us for dinner. After some nice beers at the hotel, we walk through Annecy’s old city center to the lake shore, crossing some of its canals. This city is known as the “Venice of the Alps”, and it’s really a beautiful place.

Annecy. The “Venice of the Alps”.

We walk towards the lake, enjoying the narrow streets and small bridges over the canals of Annecy. We decide to sit down at a very nice terrasse. Charles joins us just one beer after we’re sitting. The bistrot is called La Taverne de Maitre Kanter, just by the main canal between the Pont Perrière and the road bridge, in front of the Saint François de Sales church. Superb spot!

Our sight from the restaurant.

We all enjoy a fantastic dinner here by the main canal, just by the lake. The size of the main courses is quite impressive! But the best as always is the good company. The squadron is almost complete!

So nice to have Rob with us for dinner!

We say almost, because we miss Ari, Charles’s wife. Another brave copilot! She joined us last year but couldn’t make it this one. We hope to see her again soon!

Dinner time!

After this generous dinner, we walk with Rob and his sister and the dog to their car. It’s a pity he is not driving with us this year, but his plan for Imola with his vintage Norton racing motorcycle looks like a superb plan too!

Annecy at night.

We make our way back to the hotel. This city looks even more beautiful by night with its old buildings lightened and the terrasses of all the bistrots crowded.

It looks even more beautiful at night!

What a beautiful day! Nice and funny roads, amazing landscapes, excellent destination, and better dinner with friends! We hope all days could be like today!

Day 6 – September the 8th: Annecy to Grindelwald

We wake up in a fresh and sunny morning! Again, the weather forecast from Annecy to Grindelwald is very good. We shouldn’t see a cloud! Just blue skies.

We load the Morgans and get ready to fire the engines. It’s a Wednesday, and we don’t expect much traffic. Probably only when we drive by Thonons les Bains and Evian. We’re avoiding entering Geneva and will cross the border to Switzerland in the southern shore of the Leman Lake. The route planned for today is this one:

265 km – 5h15min

Annecy → Nâves-Parmelan (D5) → Thorens-Glières (D5) → La Roche sur Foron (D2) → Évian-les-Bains (D903, D1206, D903 & D1005) → Saint-Gingolph (D1005) → Aigle (21, H144, 9 & 11) → Saanen (11) → Thun (11, 9, 11, 9, Simmentalstrasse, Gwattstutz & 6) → Interlaken (Hofstettenstrasse, Staatstrasse, Längenschachen, Seestrasse, 9 & 6) → Wilderswil (Wagnerenstrasse, Unspunnenstrasse & Rugenstrasse) → Grindelwald (Grenchenstrasse, Haupstrasse, Stegmatte & Grindelwaldstrasse).

We cross Annecy looking for the D5 towards Nâves-Parmelan. No traffic this time of the day: it’s 10h00. The Morgans roll smoothly through the streets and avenues and finally take the D5. What a surprising road! It’s beautiful! We’re climbing uphill on a nice tarmac, crossing very few cars coming down to Annecy. Green hills, beautiful houses, dense forests… we really don’t feel we’re just minutes away from a city the size of Annecy!

After packing his tent, Charles reconnects with the squadron up in Thorens-Glières. Perfect time coordination! We cross the village and continue uphill towards La Roche sur Foron. This road is truly beautiful. So quiet and peaceful! The landscapes are relaxing and the road not too demanding, which we appreciate being the first section of our route today.

After we cross La Roche sur Foron, the roads get a little bit ugly, as we’re forced to take fast lanes and some short parts of the motorway to get around Thonons and reach the Leman Lake’s shore before entering Évian-les-Bains. The road / street along the lake shore is really nice. The traffic gets slow in Évian, but that’s normal as we’re crossing a big village and there is only this main street taking us to the Swiss border.

The entrance to Évian-les-Bains.

We refuel in Évian and then go to Saint-Gindolph to enter Swizterland. Steve is warned that he must pass the border at idle or even stop his engine, as the Black & Orange rocket he is driving can be really loud! But we pass without any problem. We’re not even stopped, and the Swiss border policeman simply smiles and cheers the Morgans as we pass by. Few meters after crossing the border, we kick down the right pedal and the 3-Wheelers roar loud again.

Our next stop is Aigle. This Swiss village has a beautiful castle in the middle of vineyards.

Aigle, already in Switzerland!
Aigle’s castle.

We will meet there a new 3-Wheeler owner: Pedro Freitas. He lives in Montreux, and we will meet in person for the first time. As we chatted via WhatsApp frequently, the 3-Wheeler made us already friends, and he wanted to join our squadron at Aigle and get together to Grindelwald. Pedro was waiting us there with his wife Victoria and their dog Raul.

The squadron gets bigger!

And another good surprise is that Didier and his red-devilish 3-Wheeler is there too with Pedro, waiting for us! So nice to have two more “fighters” joining our squadron on the way to Grindelwald!

Pedro, Victoria and Didier were waiting for us at Aigle’s castle.

Didier’s 3-Wheeler, and Didier himself with his outfits, are fantastic! Such a nice character!

Beware of the Swiss devil!

We rest for half an hour, the time to conversate and grab some watermelon that Pedro offers to us. Once everyone is re-energized, we get again into our cockpits and prepare to leave town.

At Aigle’s castle door.

We drive downhill from Aigle’s castle, slow and carefully, as the streets are narrow within this old medieval town.

The narrow streets in Aigle are the perfect size for our little rockets.

Then we take the road across the vineyards, and the landscape when we get closer to the hills gets even more beautiful. The classic landscape with green hills, and a dream road with nice hairpins across valleys and forests of the Gruyère region. Can it be more Swiss?

We reach Saanen and we can see the Gstaad airport. Now the road goes along the Kleine Simme River. It’s easy and relaxed to drive, and we’re enjoying fantastic landscapes on our way to Thun, the city on the western extreme of the Thunersee Lake.

Today we decided to drive to Interlaken taking the Northen shore of the Thunersee Lake. It’s more a street than a road along the lake’s shore. But despite the traffic and speed limit, it’s a really pleasant drive.

Then, at the entrance of Interlaken, we take the shortcut right uphill to Wilderswil, and from there we continue to Grindelwald.

The valley taking us to Grindelwald.

After we pass Wilderwil we let Chas take the lead of the squadron, as he knows exactly how to get to the parking of the hotel in Grindelwald. It’s nice to have a 3-Wheeler in front of us because it can be seen in our GoPro footage!

We’re finally arrived! We do the check-in at the Hotel Bernerhof and get into our room for a quick shower. But first, we go on our balcony and admire the views. What a beautiful place! The views are breathtaking today. As it’s sunny and with very few clouds we can see all the peaks around.

The views from our balcony, at the Bernerhoff Hotel. Grindelwald.

After the shower and getting comfortable at this hotel where we’ll stay four nights, we go downstairs and walk around the village. It’s a typical area focused on winter sports, but of course also an excellent spot for summer hiking and many other activities.

Classic wood buildings.

Looking at the landscapes and the views over the Eiger, the Mönch, the Grünhorn, the Jungfrau, and other surrounding mountains, we totally understand why it’s such a famous and nice place.

Breathtaking views over the alpine peaks.

We meet other 3-Wheeler owners that, like us, have already arrived to Grindelwald, and have some beers and a nice dinner. After dinner, we come back to the terrace of the Kreuz & Post Hotel and meet more 3-Wheeler owners. We finally meet Laurens and Rineke, the organizers of this fabulous yearly event. It’s nice to know other crazy pilots and share our experiences and be here all together. Laurens says he expects we’ll be twenty-two to twenty-five 3-Wheelers this year! We’re anxious to see so many together! Time to go to bed and get ready for the adventure tomorrow.

Day 7 – September the 9th: Grindelwald

We had a nice sleep, but we wake up early as we’re nervous for today. It’s our first day at Grindelwald! After last year’s attempt, frustrated by the Covid-19 restrictions imposed by the Swiss authorities, we’re finally here with the Morgan 3-Wheeler! The departure for today’s trip is scheduled at 10h00. But we all want to be at the meeting point earlier! It’s the moment to meet and know all other pilots and see their machines. So, we want to be there at 09h00.

After a quick fast breakfast, we go downstairs to the parking early to wash the cars. Everyone wants his “fighter” to look clean and shiny. It rained early this morning, but now it seems that we’ll have a sunny day!

Cleaning and polishing. They need to look neat!

The cleaning and drying operation takes a good half an hour before we’re totally satisfied. Cleaning the spoked wheels and the engine is the hardest task. Mainly the engine, because of the roasted insects stuck between the cylinders’ fins.

A lot of “elbow grease”!

After removing all the smashed bugs, dust, and other dirt from our 3-Wheelers, we fire the engines and move to the meeting point. This is above the main big parking, in front of the hotel. Normally it’s a closed area just for pedestrians, but Laurens and Rineke have the right contacts to get it open for us. So, all the 3-Wheelers can gather there with plenty of space and no other vehicles around.

Look at this squadron!

We are twenty-one Morgan 3-Wheelers this morning. It’s an impressive show. Lots of curious people are looking and taking pictures of our little rockets while we introduce ourselves to the other owners.

It’s easy to see that we’re all quite unique. There are not two 3-Wheelers that look the same! Some of the customizations are incredible. And of course, some of the outfits are spectacular! We love Didier and Caroline’s devilish style in total harmony with their hell-machine!

Didier and Caroline. Don’t be afraid! They’re really nice people!

A couple of small dogs, of course many copilots, a huge teddy bear… the pilots and crews are all really special.

But soon we’re getting nervous… We can hear all the S&S engines singing together “Start me up!”.

Let’s go! We align the Morgans and get ready to hit the road. It’s the first time we drive with such a huge squadron of 3-Wheelers. We hope it’s going to be easy, and that no one gets detached and lost.

Takeoff! More than twenty S&S massive V-Twins roaring together!

But very soon, just after we jump on the cockpits and run the few meters out from the meeting point, we see that Laurens and Rineke are the best possible pack leaders! Rineke gets up the street and crosses her 3-Wheeler in front of the incoming traffic, blocking the street for us, with strong authority. She’s the ultimate Swiss traffic commander! All 3-Wheelers take off one after the other in perfect order while the pedestrians and the stopped drivers watch astonished the huge squadron. When we’re all out, Rineke closes the formation, and as soon as she can, she passes all of us to get in front to repeat the same blockage maneuver in the next crossings and roundabouts. No Swiss driver dares to protest! If a powerful-looking woman behind the wheel of a mean machine crosses it in front of you, while twenty other “fighters” pass fast as lightning and roaring like hell… would you protest? You better don’t!

The route planned for this morning is as follows:

68 km – 1h35min

Grindelwald → Wilderswil → Interlaken → Merligen → Gunten → Sigriswil → Eriz → Oberlangenegg → Schallenberg Pass

Driving downhill from Grindelwald to Wilderwil and Interlaken, we can see that the rhythm is fast. Good news. It seems that we are all comfortable driving at Laurens’s speed. Then when we take the road on the North part of the Thunersee Lake.

Beautiful morning with beautiful cars and beautiful people.

We must slow down because of the speed limit. We drove this road yesterday, but we don’t mind repeating as it’s a beautiful drive. And this time we’re a huge Squadron!

Driving bu the Thunersee lake.

And as soon as we start climbing uphill from the lake, at Gunten, we enjoy narrow roads with no traffic.

The only ones on these roads!

This is such a special moment for us! Our first time in Grindelwald with so many 3-Wheelers on these beautiful roads!

Nice roads this morning!

We pass some bridges with traditional alpine wood ceiling. We’re enjoying the drive, the scenery, the company.

Some bridges with classic wooden roof.

That’s a fantastic experience we highly recommend to every Morgan 3-Wheeler owner.

Enjoying the drive.

We enjoy the beautiful drive up to the Schallenberg Pass, where we stop for lunch.

At the Gabelspitz Schallenberg restaurant.

The restaurant is the only one up here: the Gabelspitz Schallenberg. Simple and nice typical Swiss lunch with the corresponding beer – only one; we’re driving! But please don’t ask about the size of the jar… – and a nice opportunity to chat with the others.

At the Gabelzspitz Schallenberg restaurant.

We really like the restaurant. And we can eat outside at the terrace as the weather is still sunny and warm. This has been a fantastic morning. But we need to continue! Laurens tells us that we have more beautiful roads to drive now, and with breathtaking views over the lake! Let’s go!

The afternoon itinerary is planned as follows:

85 km – 2h

Schallenberg Pass → Siehen → Röthenbach → Oberei → Thun → Heilingenschwendi → Tschingel → Gunten → Interlaken → Grindelwald

As you can see in the previous video we have a little bit of confusion at Röthenbach. Laurens misses the turn left and the whole squadron must do a 180º turn within the village. Not an easy task with a 3-Wheeler! If you ask why, just know that we always make the same joke: it has the same turning radius than the Queen Mary…

The Morgans and a stunning Jaguar XK150 crossing each other.

This happens when we cross a beautiful Jaguar XK150. The driver sees us, and he also makes a 180º turn to follow us, just when he finds out we’re changing direction too. A funny moment that allows us to enjoy the view of many of our 3-Wheelers coming towards us and a little bit of chaos, and of course again the superb Jaguar XK150.

We continue driving direction Thun, and the roads get more demanding, getting narrow and curvy within the woods. When we get out of the woods, we’re surprised with breathtaking views over the lake, as Laurens said. What an excellent itinerary!

We finally drive down to the lake’s shore and head back to Grindelwald. This is such perfect day! We’re so happy to be here with all the rest of the 3-Wheelers owners!

Approaching Thun.
The Speedy Marmots.
The pics by Pedro with his 360º GoPro are excellent!

Driving behind Jürgen’s 3-Wheeler, with his huge teddy bear as copilot is hilarious. The teddy bear is called Pierre (check his Instagram account mog_bear_pierre), and depending on the speed and curves, Pierre waves his right arm saluting everyone. A brilliant funny copilot this Pierre! We love it!

We arrive back to Grindelwald and park the cars at the meeting point to discuss about the day and exchange our impressions about the afternoon drive. Everyone has a huge smile on his face. What a great day!

Laurens and Rineke remind us that we must be here again soon. At 19h00 we’ll take off again and climb to the Männlichen restaurant at 2.222 meters of altitude! This said, we go back to the hotel and have a shower. Then join Chas, Mario, Steve, Charles and Andy for a beer at the terrace of our hotel, enjoying the views. We talk again about the day and the cars, relax, and enjoy the views of the Alps. Pure holidays!

It’s time to get to the meeting point, ready to drive again.

And what a drive! It’s really a steep service road uphill, very narrow, and with a last part a little rough.

Climbing to the Männlichen restaurant, at 2.222 m.
The service road is open just for the 3-Wheelers squadron.

Laurens warns us to drive carefully and slow the last section, avoiding as much as possible the central bumps. Yes that’s a negative point of driving a 3-Wheeler: in small service or dirt roads, you always have two clear lines for the front wheels, “cleaned” by the tyres of normal vehicles circulating on them. But the center of the road can be really dirt with stones, plants and roots, and it’s where your rear wheel must go if you’re driving a 3-Wheeler!

Do you like curves? Have some!

This small service road is impressive. Really steep and beautiful. We’re driving uphill slowly, passing below the gondola cable car that takes you to the First peak. The village of Grindelwald gets smaller and smaller deep in the valley below…

Uphill to 2.222 m!

When we’re arriving to the top, we have a little bit of rain. Nothing serious. The weather has respected us all day, but now, being so high in the mountain, we’re literally into the clouds and a light rain drops gently over our Morgans.

Almost at the top!

The ambience at the Männlichen restaurant is so good again, with all the group sitting in many different tables chatting and having fun. It’s been an incredible day, and this climbing to the 2.222 m altitude for dinner was the cherry on top of the cake!

Finally at the top! 2.222 m altitude.

But hey! Now it’s time to come back to Grindelwald! Oh yes… It’s dark, wet, and the only way down is the same service road we took up here! But nothing can scare us 3-Wheeler pilots! Start the engines, lights on, and slowly driving downhill, avoiding smashing the many toes that, attired by the warm and wet tarmac, jump in front of our light beams. And of course, paying attention not to drive over one of the huge anti-tank mines on the road… I mean the fresh massive cow “deposits” and their unique “Eau de Vache” scent.

Now let’s go back down! Slowly please! Don’t smash the toes!

We all make it back safely to Grindelwald. Our little group decides to pass by the Shell petrol station to refuel. Now with the tanks full of the nice 100 octane Swiss gasoline, we’re ready for tomorrow. We park the Morgans at our reserved spot behind the hotel and walk to the Kreuz & Post Hotel terrace for the last drink of the day.

Day 8 – September the 10th: Grindelwald

We wake up today with dark clouds menacing rain. But nothing will stop us from enjoying another big day with all our friends! We join the big squadron before 10h00 at the meeting point. Many pilots are already there.

Good morning!

We align our 3-Wheeler with the others, and walk around the cars, talk to our friends and know more about their machines and the people. It’s nice to hear their stories and experiences.

Warming up!

Little by little the other 3-Wheelers wake up in their garages and join the squadron. It seems that Pedro’s machine was possessed by a demon today! Was it too close to Didier’s devil-tailed 3-Wheeler? We love this picture!

The devil’s in the garage! Careful!

Laurens tells us that we shouldn’t worry that much about the rain, because Grindelwald is such a narrow valley, in the middle of huge high peaks, that it has its own climate. Now it’s wet here, but we’ll probably have sunshine after we leave the valley. We take the raincoats and get ready for scattered showers, just in case. But it’s not that cold. In fact, I’m just wearing a short-sleeve shirt underneath my thin raincoat.

The route planned for this morning takes us to the Western side of Thun.

95 km – 2h

Grindelwald → Wilderswil → Interlaken → Leissigen → Krattigen → Aeschi bei Spiez → Wimmis → Reutigen → Niederstocken → Oberstocken → Blumenstein → Wattenwil → Gurnigel Pass → Sangernboden → Schwarzsee Stärn restaurant.

Pilots and copilots get ready, including the two dogs and of course Pierre the teddy bear. We jump into the Morgans and fire the engines. It’s time to go!

Fire the engines!

As expected, the road is wet, and we have very light rain while we’re leaving the Grindelwald valley. But nothing uncomfortable. As Laurens said, once we’re out of the valley it stops raining. The day is still cloudy, but it doesn’t rain. The roads get dry soon.

Cloudy day.

The driving today is fast and comfortable. This morning the roads are not as twisted and demanding as they were yesterday, but they are so beautiful again!

The Swiss landscape is really special. It’s looks so green to us! In Madrid the weather is very dry, and the green color is not so common on our landscapes and country roads. And those Swiss wood houses with their flowers on the balconies are so unique!

So Swiss… Or British? Depends on which side of the picture you look at!

We slow down in a couple of places to admire the views. The mountains here are not as tall as the high peaks in Grindelwald, but worth to slow down and take some pictures.

Enjoying the morning route.

We’re getting closer to our noon destination when the squadron stops. A traffic jam on this road? Is it roadworks? We’re blocked by… a herd of goats! They take their time to cross the road, with their bells hanging around the neck tinkling. A big black and white ram watches us with unfriendly attitude.

He doesn’t like us!

After this peculiar pause, we kick the right pedal again and reach the Schwarzsee, a nice little lake, and stop for lunch.

The restaurant is in a beautiful spot, just by the little lake. We get in for lunch, as it’s still cloudy and the terrace is not open because it might rain.

At the Schwarzsee.

We park the 3-Wheelers properly aligned, as a good and disciplined squadron. As usual, we have some curious people gathering around the cars and asking many questions about these amazing machines.

Aligned for lunch.

When we’re talking with the others, we realize that two cars are missing: Andy’s green one and Steve’s Black & Orange rocket. Maybe a failure? Chas checks out sending a message to Steve’s mobile phone. He has an answer: Andy’s regulator failed. Fortunately, Andy noticed that the voltage shown on the dashboard was inappropriate: too low! Because he suffered this same failure before, he recognized the symptoms. So, he stopped to change it before draining the battery. The good point – lesson to be learned – is that Andy always carries a spare regulator in his 3-Wheeler. Experience is so valuable in a 3-Wheeler! Andy knows how to replace it on the side of the road, but Steve stopped too, and helped him changing the regulator in less than 15 minutes! It’s so nice to have such a skilled mechanic in the group!

We have an excellent meal. The steak is really good. When we want to pay with our credit card, we’re told they only accept cash. Thankfully Chas has enough Swiss Francs to cover our meals. Another lesson learned: always take cash with you. In Switzerland, still many places, in isolated areas as this one, only accept cash!

Ready to hit the road again!

We’re back in our cars and ready for the afternoon route. It should go like this:

124 km – 2h30min

Schwarzsee Stärn restaurant → Zolhaus → Plaffeien → Zumholz → Schwarzenburg → Ruti bei Riggisberg → Plötsch → Burgistein → Wattenwil → Forst bei Längenbühl → Thierachern → Amsoldingen → Wimmis → Spiez → Interlaken → Grindelwald.

We start the engines and align the Morgans, ready to go. Laurens takes the lead, and the fun starts again!

Takeoff!

We’re lucky because it’s not raining, despite the menacing clouds above our heads. We’re driving fast again, and we have some nice hairpins and curves on the road. A really nice drive.

In this black and white photography, can you see the difference? There are many! for the keen eye!

But then, an aspect of the physiology of the human body begins to reach its limit… We both had sparkling water during lunch. Too much water apparently. I’m the first starting to hear the call of my bladder. But very soon after Ana Maria too. We think it’s going to be OK and we’ll resist. But kilometer after kilometer, it’s getting worse.

We’re supposed to pass around Thun to take again the fast road of the Southern side of the Thunersee Lake. But we suddenly find ourselves blocked and deviated because of important road works. The squadron is forced to drive slowly into the outskirts of Thun. While we’re driving in town, Ana Maria and I see a petrol station. We stop and jump out of the cockpit. We look desperately for a toilet. There is none! Most of the Swiss petrol stations are like the French ones: self-service and consequently no shop nor resting area and… no toilets! And we’re in town, just by the main busy street. There are no trees nor bushes to hide behind. We run into a garage near-by. The man at the front desk doesn’t even ask. Just by the look of our faces he understands and points out where their private toilet is. Thanks God he allows us to use it!

We’re detached from the squadron. But that’s not a big issue as we were all heading now back to Grindelwald using the main big road.

Red and black devils race!

So, now calm and relaxed again, we make our way back to Grindelwald, talking about the maximum amount of water we may have for lunch tomorrow, and the nice and welcoming that our Spanish petrol stations are, always with a nice shop and café, and toilets…

The day is not finished! We have another nice dinner organized by Laurens and Rineke. Today we’re going to the end of the village for a classic cheese fondue. We all reunite again at the meeting point. Fewer cars, as it’s a short drive and we share cockpits. I’m driving with Mario as copilot because Ana Maria stays at the hotel. She needs to work. It’s unfortunate because she misses the dinner, but we’re happy she has a huge workload again. The last year, due to this terrible Covid-19 and the consequent restrictions, her bespoke travel agency was totally inactive. I’m happy to see her business taking off again, and stronger!

Pedro! LOL!

After a short drive, we align the Morgans in front of the restaurant.

And aligned for dinner.

Tonight, I share the table with Victoria, Caroline, Didier and Pedro. Such a nice company! We talk about a lot of subjects, but the most interesting related to the Morgans is our future trip to Morocco. Ana Maria and I have the route planned. I tell them about the country, as I know it pretty well. For leisure and business, I’ve been there more than thirty times. And for Ana Maria’s business, it’s one of the most demanded destinations, so she knows the country extremely well too. Ana Maria’s partner in Morocco told us that one of the passes we included in our route may not be in good conditions for the 3-Wheelers. So, we’ll go again soon to this beautiful country to check the roads. Didier, Caroline, Pedro and Victoria are really interested in this trip. If the situation Worldwide gets better, we hope to be in a good position to launch a solid proposal soon. And make it a reality for no later than 2023. It would be fantastic to make this trip with a nice group of 3-Wheelers!

Is this an old-fashion calculator, Steve?

We really enjoy this dinner. Nice white wine and the cheese fondue, that I love. I miss Ana Maria, but I know that she’s working hard, and she’ll be able to go to sleep sooner tonight.

And after the fondue…. some coffee please!

After this lovely dinner, and this long fantastic day, we drive back to the hotel. Let’s go to sleep! Tomorrow it’s Saturday and we take off earlier. It will be a big day, plenty of mythical mountain passes!

Day 9 – September the 11th: Grindelwald

Today is a big day. It’s Saturday, and we expect more 3-Wheelers to join the squadron. So, Laurens and Rineke reserved the most mythical mountain passes for today’s route.

This is the plan for this morning:

117 km – 2h20min

Grindelwald → Wilderswil → Interlaken → Brienz → Schattenhalb → Innertkirchen → Gadmen → Wassen → Göschenen → Andermatt → Alp-Hittä restaurant.

We go to the meeting point earlier, as the route is longer, and we need to take off sooner.

Getting ready at the meeting point.

We may encounter much more traffic than the previous days, because it’s Saturday and the sun is shining bright!

Nice friends and beautiful cars.

For sure many cyclists, motorcyclists and of course regular cars want to enjoy the mountain roads too.

Last moments befroe takeoff.

We’re getting ready. The ambience is great again this morning. We’re twenty-five 3-Wheelers today! And the weather forecast seems to be extremely good!

The pilots are getting anxious!

We have nice chats, fix some little problems on some of the cars, and exchange ideas and thoughts in such a good ambience!

Last minute arrangements.
And finishing the coffees.

When Laurens has the confirmation that we’re all here and ready, he gives the “fire the engines” signal. We all jump into the cockpits. The engines start to roar.

We drive down to Interlaken. We’ve done this road in and out of Grindelwald now many times. It seems a routine; like a warmup, and we don’t pay the attention it deserves! Today with this sunny morning we can see its beauty. Once in Interlaken, we can see that it’s going to be a busy day. There are a lot of tourists and heavier traffic than the past two days. Here is where our route today really begins.

After crossing Interlaken, we’re going East. This time it’s the Northern shore of the Brienzersee that we’re driving. Another beautiful road. We can see many paragliders flying over the slopes of the mountains that border the lake. It is an excellent sign of good weather. It indicates that it will be stable for at least several hours.

The Brienzersee and some paragliders. A beautiful sunny day!

It’s such a beautiful day! When we’re crossing Brienz, we can see the famous Brienz Rothorn Bhan, an 1892 steam train that takes you from the lake shore to the Brienzer Rothorn at 2.351 meters of altitude.

The Brienzer Rothorn Bhan.

Next time we’ll come to Grindelwald, we need to stay few more days and enjoy this kind of things!

This tiny old steam train takes you up to 2.351 m!

After Brienz, we leave the lake behind and head to Innertkirchen. The landscape is amazing, and we can admire some waterfalls on the sides of the mountains we drive by.

Mountains, forests, waterfalls… such an amazing road!

When we’re crossing Innertkirchen we can see that today they have a big festival in town. What is it? It’s the alpine descent of the cows! A very Swiss tradition that consists of decorating the cows and take them down to the valley from the surrounding Alps. We miss the cows as it’s still too early. What a pity. But hey! We have the Sustenpass to do! So, right foot down and let’s go uphill!

We’re enjoying the road and going uphill, with few cyclists and almost no traffic, when we see a medical helicopter ahead. It’s apparently static in the air, like collecting someone, and some seconds after it rushes down to the valley. The squadron is stopped immediately after. Something happened on the road ahead. After some minutes stopped we decide to switch off the engines. Whatever happened uphill seems to be serious. We get off the Morgans, we talk, relax, and take nice pictures, while waiting for some information.

After half an hour stopped, the Swiss police tells us to come back to Innertkirchen: the road will be blocked for, at least, a couple of hours more. The accident ahead was very serious. We all turn around and drive downhill.

Then, entering Innertkirchen, we are stopped again. What’s the matter now? The cows parade! We are stopped waiting for the cows to enter the village and let the road free again. We would love to walk down to the village to see the parade, but as we don’t know how long it will take them to reopen the road, we wait in the Morgans.

Stopped again at the entrance onf Innertkirchen. It’s the cow parade!

Laurens is concerned about the lunch. He phoned the restaurant earlier and warned them we’ll be late. And they will wait for us anyway.

Traffic jam day! Have you ever seen such a queue full of 3-Wheelers?
Waiting for the cows to pass the village.

As the Sustenpass is closed because of the accident, we’ll get there doing the route but the other way round. It means we’re doing now the Grimselpass and the Furkapass. So, our route this morning gets as shown here below:

160 km – 3h10min

Grindelwald → Wilderswil → Interlaken → Brienz → Schattenhalb → Innertkirchen → Turn around in Sustenpass → Inneertkirchen → Guttannen → Grimselpass → Gletsch → Furkapass → Realp → Hospental → Andermatt → Alp-Hittä restaurant.

We stay blocked at Innertkirchen’s entrance for another half an hour. But the scenery is beautiful and we’re with the squadron, so we enjoy more talking with the rest of the gang.

Let’s go again!

When we finally move, we can’t see any of these nicely decorated cows, but we can clearly see they passed on this same road… we must drive in short and brisk zigzags to avoid rolling over their “organic deposits”. Sometimes it’s inevitable, and we have to drive very slow to avoid the front tyres lift the fresh brown mixture up in the air and have it raining over us.

More beautiful landscapes on the way to the Grimselpass.

Now the squadron has a free road ahead. The blockage at Innertkirchen has this advantage! We really have no one ahead of us. Our right foot drops heavily on the right pedal and the big S&S V2 blocks roar very load as we climb fast to the Grimselpass. What an amazing road!

The Rhone River is born on the glacier on the top of this valley. This is truly a fantastic area of the Alps.

The Grimselpass. Innertkirchen side.
The Grimselpass. Gletsch side.

After such an amazing road, we climb the Furkapass, another mythical climbing in this valley. On our way up we stop to admire the views. The whole squadron pulls aside, and we get out of the cockpits to take nice pictures and share our enthusiasm after the Grimselpass.

View of the Grimselpass, from the Furka.
Short stop at the Furkapass to enjoy the views.

As we’re taking this pause, we check if the squadron is complete. Oh oh…. We miss two cars! Kees and Alice, the Dutch couple with their matt black machine, and Didier and Caroline with their red-devil fighter aren’t here!

The squadron awaiting news from the two missing “fighters”.
Picture at the Furkapass. The Grimselpass can be seen at the end of the valley.

Despite the amazing views on the whole valley, we don’t see them on the road making their way here. Quick calls and text messages and WhatsApps, and we only get a reply from Didier. No news about Kees and Alice yet… Obviously we’re all worried about our colleagues.

Furkapass.

Didier and Caroline are at the bottom of the Grimselpass but they have a failure. The car runs, but Didier has no response from the throttle pedal. The most probable cause is a broken throttle cable. We ask if someone has a spare throttle one, but within the chaos of being parked on the side of the road and being such a large group, we have no positive answer. Steve jumps in his Black & Orange rocket and drives back to join them.

Peaks over the River Rhone’s glacier.

Before he does so, Laurens gives him the appropriate indications to get to the restaurant. It’s useless that the rest of us wait here, and we’re already late for lunch, so we decide to move forward. We really hope that Steve’s magic mechanical skills solve the problem, and Didier and Caroline manage to rejoin the squadron.

We make our way to Andermatt. We enter the village to take the road that climbs up to the Oberalppass. And on our way up we stop at the Alp-Hittä restaurant for lunch.

Parked at the Alp-Hittä restaurant.

After we park all the Morgans, we check with Steve if he has joined Didier and Caroline. It’s confirmed: broken throttle cable. And they have no spare. Steve is trying his best to find a solution. There is nothing we can do but wait.

So, we get to the terrace and sit for lunch. The place is really nice. The views are breathtaking, and the terrace is the ideal spot for a sunny summer day like today.

Alp-Hittä restaurant terrace. Breathtaking views.

We’re having a light salad and pizzas but can’t stop worrying about the missing cars. As the news about Didier and Caroline’s broken throttle cable spread properly amongst us, we get a nice surprise: one of the pilots has a spare throttle cable! Great news!

We try to contact with Steve and Didier, but we have no reply. Maybe they have no mobile phone signal, or maybe they’re on their way here? Who knows! We’re nervous and keep trying to contact them. Then, we hear the characteristic roar of the Black & Orange rocket, followed by another S&S V2 big block. Steve, Didier and Caroline are driving uphill towards us!

How did Steve managed to fix the broken throttle cable? Well… he didn’t! But then, how managed Didier to get here? The temporary fixing is impressive for many reasons. Just read and tell us if the whole set isn’t brilliant!

The cable broke at the pedal end. It was cut just by its metallic end head, that got stuck in the pedal fixing hole. As there was no way to fix this at the pedal end, he removed the urban cooling kit from the back of the engine to have access to the cable at this other end. Then he decided to pull the cable off its sleeve. The cable was clearly too short to be re-routed inside the car to the pedal. So, he tied the end of the short throttle cable to an electric wire he carries in his 3-Wheeler as a spare. And takes it over the bonnet, and between the two windscreens, so Didier can accelerate pulling by hand the cable. And to avoid it scratching the bonnet, they use a towel that Didier and Caroline carry in their 3-Wheeler and put it over the bonnet. The towel and the improvised hand-throttle cable are hold with the leather bonnet strap of Didier and Caroline’s Morgan. The fan and cover of the urban cooling kit are totally removed, and Steve will carry them in his passenger’s footwell. Simply brilliant, isn’t it?

Didier and Caroline after their Epic drive of the Furkapass. Throttle by hand!

But Steve is not the only “hero” of this story! What do you think about Didier? Hey! He drove the Furkapass pulling the throttle cable by hand, changing gears with his left hand while he kept the steering wheel straight with his right knee, perfectly coordinating the acceleration and the clutch! In the Furkapass! And the most impressive of it all, is that no one passed them nor was even stuck behind them on the road! Amazing driving skills Didier! Impressive driving and impressive attitude! They can finally enjoy the lunch with all of us.

We finally get some news from Kees and Alice: their Centa rollers failed. As they haven’t done yet the Belazey modification, this is, very unfortunately, the end of the trip for them. Sadly, there is no way to fix the rollers on their car without removing the engine, and this means one or even two full days of work in a proper garage with a skilled mechanic and the appropriate tools. What a pity! They have called their road assistance and the car will be taken back to The Netherlands. Sad news for everyone. No one likes to see a squadron colleague “shot down” by this kind of fatal failure.

Lunch at terrace.

Coming back to Didier & Caroline’s problem, we check the spare throttle cable we have. Steve is not very convinced to be able to change it here, as the broken end head seems to be stuck in the pedal hole. He estimates it can take one hour to be fixed. But we check the footwell and the pedals after lunch, and with Steve and Chas at the front and me diving into the footwell to put back the pedal spring, Steve manages to change it in a little more than ten minutes!

Steve at work! What a skilled 3-Wheeler mechanic!
Broken throttle cable fixed! M3W Services saving another driver’s day!

When Didier fires his engine and accelerates it like if nothing happened, all the crowd applauses and cheers! Great job again Steve! Now it’s time to come back to Grindelwald via the Sustenpass that we couldn’t take this morning. The route back is promising too!

Back to the cars!

It will go like this; identical to the one we should have done in the morning, but the other way round:

117 km – 2h20min

Alp-Hittä restaurant → Andermatt→ Göschenen → Wassen → Gadmen → Innertkirchen → Schattenhalb → Brienz → Interlaken → Wilderswil → Grindelwald.

We go downhill to reach again Andermatt, and from there we head to the Sustenpass. The road starts with a series of covered sections to protect it from the snow and possible avalanches in winter. There is a little bit of traffic in this section. But as soon as we deviate towards the Sustenpass, the traffic gets much better, and the road opens again with more amazing alpine views.

Attacking the Sustenpass!

We’re enjoying again these classic narrow and curvy roads, and fortunately with not too much traffic. So, the squadron can progress fast and smoothly through the mountains.

Having so much fun!

Despite we’re at very high altitudes and driving through all these mountain passes, the weather is fantastic. The sun is shining, and the road is dry and nice. However, when we’re in the shade of the mountains or within the dense forest, the air at some speeds is fresh, so we wear our raincoat to be more comfortable.

Concentration face…

Another good thing of driving on this kind of roads, is that you cross many special nice cars. Of all kinds: from old classics to new modern super sports ones. At the top of the Sustenpass we see this lovely Fiat Cinquecento. What a brave driver to climb up here with this tiny old car!

An old Fiat 500 at the Sustenpass. What a beauty!

Reaching the top of the Sustenpass is a beautiful experience today. The low clouds cover the top and we come in and out of them. A really nice driving experience. Only then we have a few raindrops. But it’s not really rain, but just that we’re too close to the clouds.

We keep driving up and down on the skirts of the mountains, and finally start driving downhill again towards Innertkirchen, on a series of fantastic hairpins.

Lovely hairpins.

The downhill of the Sustenpass becomes familiar again. We have already passed the point where the accident occurred this morning. The road is clean and with no traffic now.

Steve gets scared when a small deer crosses the road just in front of his 3-Wheeler. The Black & orange rocket brakes perfectly! This rear brake disc is clearly an improvement! The poor animal is way more scared than him! He runs on the prairie before getting into the woods again. It can be seen on the next video!

We finally make it to Brienz and drive by the lake and back to Grindelwald, crossing, as usual, Interlaken and Wilderswil. Entering Grindelwald, we see that some are refueling, and we do the same, so we don’t have to worry about it tomorrow morning.

We stop all together again at the meeting point. It’s been a fantastic day today, despite the morning events that obliged us to do the rerouting. The fixing of Didier and Caroline’s throttle cable was quite a story! We just miss our Dutch colleagues Kees and Alice, but hopefully they’ll join us tonight for the farewell dinner!

Back in Grindelwald.

The rest of the 3-Wheelers have done a pretty good job today. After so many mountain passes, the machines are resting, with their characteristic cracking sounds of the hot metal parts cooling. Have you ever seeing a Euro4 pre-catalyzer exhaust after a hard day? Look at this beautiful glowing red color!

Please don’t touch!

Dinner tonight is at the 3692 restaurant. We decide to go walking, as it’s not that far away. But Chas asks for a big taxi and we jump in. It was the best idea, as we get there first and have time to enjoy a nice Weissbier and wine, waiting for the others to arrive.

Enjoying a nice Weissbier.

As the other squadron’s members come to the restaurant, the ambience at the terrace is fantastic. We finish our drinks enjoying the views before getting inside for dinner.

Ana Maria and I sit tonight with Didier, Caroline, Pedro and Victoria. And don’t forget Raul, Pedro and Victoria’s teckel! What a lovely dog! We have a really nice dinner, with “awards” for some of the pilots, fairly won because of special facts – Steve gets the recognition he deserves for being such a formidable mechanic and Didier gets one for his amazing hand-throttle-drive today in the Furkapass – and we make some toasts, especially for Laurens and Rineke for such a fantastic organization.

Dinner at the 3692 restaurant.

After this fantastic dinner and the good wine, Ana Maria and I decide to walk back to the hotel. It’s dark but it’s so nice to walk in the fresh night of Grindelwald! We have a heavy heart as this great stay in Grindelwald is about to end. But we still have days ahead before arriving back home. And of course, we can always come back next year to Grindelwald!

Day 10 – September the 12th: Grindelwald to Bourg-Saint-Maurice

Today we’re leaving Grindelwald. And our small squadron splits. Mario will drive back home in Erfurt and Charles will head up North to the United Kingdom. We’ll be only three “fighters” on the way back to Montignac-de-Lauzun.

It’s another sunny day. And the weather forecast for our route today is perfect.  The views from our terrace are amazing. Not a single cloud!

A glorious morning! These are the views from our balcony.

Our little squadron joins for the last time at the parking behind the Bernerhof Hotel to say goodbye. We hope we’ll be driving together soon again!

Ana Maria, Javier, Mario, Charles, Steve and Chas. The Speedy Marmots / Black Adder squadron.

The route we have planned today is very interesting, as we’re going to pass a couple of minor mountain passes in Switzerland, then cross to Italy through the mythical Col du Grand Saint Bernard, and from there to France via the Petit Saint Bernard. It goes as follows:

327 km – 6h25min

Grindelwald → Wilderswil → Interlaken → Spiez → Wimmis → Erlenbach im Simmental → Därstetten → Weissenburg im Simmental → Boltigen → Zweisimmen → Schönried → Saanen → Gstaad → Gsteig bei Gstaad → Les Diablerets → Col de la Croix → Villars → Ollon → Martigny → Col du Grand Saint Bernard → Aosta → Pré-Saint-Didier → Bourg-Saint-Maurice.

Yesterday during dinner, we talked with Didier, Caroline, Pedro and Victoria about our today’s route, and they decided to join us for the first part to Glacier 3000. Nice! We’ll have our friends with us a good part of the day! We all join at the Grindelwald’s train station parking at 10h00. We say goodbye to Caroline, who’ll be driving home on her own car, direct to Montreux, leaving Didier driving solo.

We drive out of the Grindelwald valley and take the road on the Southern shore of the Thunersee. We’re trying to move quickly out of this area, and head towards Gstaad as soon as possible to avoid traffic. Being Sunday, we find plenty of cars on the road. We can clearly see that the traffic on the opposite direction is really dense! As we’re driving out of the area, we have less traffic, and the scenery is still beautiful. We really love those Swiss wood houses!

Big Swiss wood house.

At least, during a long part of the route, we’re driving behind a trio of Dutch Porsches 911, and later, after Gstaad, behind a Bentley Bentaiga. Much better than driving behind a white van!

We stop at Gstaad for a short coffee break. It’s a very nice terrace on the green grass at the entrance of the village. Raul, the teckel, enjoys running and playing with a couple of huskies while we recharge our energies. After half an hour, we jump back into our cockpits, and we climb up to Glacier 3000.

The road has much less traffic here and we can breathe and feel the end of the summer in this alpine area.

Arriving at Glacier 3000, we stop again. Here Didier, Pedro and Victoria will stay for lunch. We agreed to stop here to say goodbye, as after this stop, they will drive back home to Montreux in a different direction than us.

Glacier 3000 gondola cable car.

Chas, Steve, Ana Maria and I decide to continue instead of grabbing something for lunch, because we still have many hours ahead before we reach Bourg-Saint-Maurice. And being lunch time for the Swiss, if we continue driving now, we may have less traffic on the Grand Saint Bernard mountain pass.

We leave our friends enjoying their lunch and hit the road again. Few kilometers after Glacier 3000, at Les Diablerets, we take left towards the Col de la Croix. That’s a very nice choice of road! Almost no traffic, maybe because people is having lunch. Nice tarmac and beautiful curves through a dense forest.

Col de la Croix.

This is a perfect road to drive our 3-Wheelers! It ends up in Ollon, the last village getting to a valley full of vineyards.

We take the motorway along the River Rhone towards Martigny. There is no interesting alternative road for this section, and we still have many hours to drive, so there is no better choice than the motorway here.

After Martigny, the fun starts again. We’re driving uphill to cross to Italy, via the Grand Saint Bernard. The road starts climbing lightly and we enter the famous tunnel that takes you to the Aosta Valley, in Italy. But our plan is different: we’re going to leave the tunnel and its “easy” road to cross via the real mountain pass!

Just after driving by the Toules Dam, there is an exit in the tunnel that takes you to the old mountain road. And here we go!

Exit to the Grand Saint Bernard mountain pass. Let’s go!

This is a mythical mountain pass, so we’re eager to drive it through. We guess we’ll do very nice videos here… but… what’s going on? The GoPro is not responding. Really??!! We’re driving the Grand Saint Bernard mountain pass between Switzerland and Italy, in a very narrow and demanding road, and the stupid GoPro refuses to record! This is not the first time we have this issue with the GoPro, and we know that to make it work again we have to stop, remove it from the suction cap, remove the windslayer foam shield, then open the carcass, and finally take off the battery. And put all back again. We can’t do that here! There is no place to stop safely, and we prefer to keep driving.

Ok, we accept this fact and enjoy the drive. Sorry folks! There is no video for this section! You’ll have to trust us when we say that the road is amazing. It’s fun to drive on a 3-Wheeler, and the views, as you can imagine, are breathtaking.

We finally reconnect with the main road that comes out of the tunnel. We’re in Italy! Now let’s drive gently downhill to Aosta and find a place to refuel and have a light lunch.

We’re driving on the SS27, slowly. There is traffic and we can see that, despite the road is large and could be driven much faster, it has a speed limit of 70 km/h. And even 50 km/h in many sections. And there is no place to overtake. The vehicles in front of us seem to be “driving Miss Daisy”.

Aosta valley. Italy.

We relax and then think about refueling. It’s important that we do so before we pass Aosta, so we don’t get stressed. We have already done four hours and 240 km from Grindelwald. We still have gasoline in our tanks, but according to our roadbook, there aren’t so many petrol stations ahead!

While refueling I reset the GoPro. It seems we can record now. It’s already 15h00 and we are getting hungry; specially Chas and Steve, who live in France and are used to have lunch at 12h30. Let’s look for a terrace or small restaurant to grab something!

We leave Aosta and drive now towards Pré-Saint-Didier. The road goes along the river Fiume Dora Baltea, and we drive through nice looking vineyards and small villages with their old castles and churches.

Aymaville Castle.

The landscape is beautiful. But we drive slowly. It’s boring. Because there is traffic and because the road has a speed limit of 50 km/h. Really…. 50 km/h. You may think that in Italy the drivers speed like crazy, and they don’t respect that much the speed limits. But not here. Maybe the Aosta Valley is a “different Italy”. But oh my God can they drive slower!? At this speed we can enjoy better the views over the vineyards and the many castles. But we’re hungry and driving slowly. And all the restaurants, cafés, and bars we pass by are closed. Probably because it’s Sunday, and late for lunch here too. We really need to stop and refresh our minds!

Saint-Pierre castle.

While we’re looking for an open place to grab something and have a coffee, we realize why they do drive so slowly here. It’s full of radars! We don’t see one or two… we see at least twenty of these red posts! Incredible! This is a mine field! Ok, let’s keep driving slow then…

Radards every 500 m… really??!!

We keep looking desperately for a place to stop. And then in Runaz, we finally find an open bar on the side of the road! Hooray! There are people sitting outside a building with a big BAR sign. We pull aside immediately. The place is called Vineria La Barrique.

Bar Vineria La Barrique.

As I speak a little bit of Italian, and at least I understand more than I can speak, I’m in charge to enter the place and ask for coffees and something to eat. The place is quite… I won’t say depressing… but, at least, peculiar… Behind the bar are two girls. They look like they went to a rave party last night. They’re both smoking and holding a big glass of white wine. I ask for two cappuccinos and an American (long) coffee. The answer is clear: “this machine only makes one kind of coffee: expresso.” Ok I’ll accept three expressos then, and I ask for a couple of light sodas too. I can’t see anything to eat. I ask, and they don’t reply but look at me and smile like if I said something funny. I guess there is nothing to eat. The tallest girl tells me she’ll bring our coffees outside, as Chas, Steve and Ana Maria are sitting on a table by the window. I get outside and join them. I have a slight sensation that these girls are, maybe not drunk, but for sure quite happy on wine.

Ana Maria and I remind we have a smoked salmon sandwich and some Swiss Landjaegger (dry sausages) in the car! These, with the coffees and sodas, will make our improvised light lunch!

Our “emergency lunch package”.

The girl brings the coffees and then sees the 3-Wheelers. She runs back inside and comes back with a friend with a smartphone. She asks us if she can take a picture of herself with the cars. We politely say yes, and just warn her about the hot exhausts. We’re surprised when she asks if she can sit in one of them, when she’s already halfway in the cockpit. We’re amused and say yes again. She has chosen Chas’s Squint Studio 3-Wheeler for her photo session. She stretches her shirt to lower the neckline as much as possible and puts on sexy faces while his friend takes the pictures.

One of the Italian girls, in Chas’s 3-Wheeler.

But the funniest moment is to come! The other girl, in black shorts and a black stretch top, comes out too, cigarette and glass of wine in hand, asking loud to get a picture too! In my basic Italian I can understand the basics of this conversation between the two girls. The tall girl in the Morgan calls her fat, and that she’ll never take a picture with her in these black shorts and stretch top, because in between she has a huge single love handle. The reply is not very poetic, as you can imagine. The tall girl strikes back saying something about her friend’s black stretch top and the fact that she’s not wearing a bra, and some movements related with the bells of “la cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta di Aosta”. I can’t stop laughing inside while the two girls – obviously very good friends; there is no violence in their words – exchange insults with “love”.

Finally, the second girl holds her stomach and pulls up her “bells” by passing her arm below and grabbing the 3-Wheeler’s roll hoop for the picture. Enjoy the result…

No comments…

After this funny special moment and with renewed energy, we fire the engines and continue our journey. The traffic is much less now, and the road is faster with reasonable speed limits, so we can reach Pré-Saint-Didier relatively fast. The valley gets very narrow in some parts of the road, and we can enjoy its wild nature.

Lenteney waterfall.

Once in Pré-Saint-Didier, we continue towards the Col du Petit Saint Bernard. Despite the French names we’re still in Italy. This was a French zone before 1861, therefore the French names are still all over the place in this valley.

At the beginning of this mountain pass, on the Italian side, we find some traffic, so we progress slower than desired. But finally at the top, and on the French side, the road is almost empty, and we can enjoy again the fast cornering and lightness of our 3-Wheelers.

It’s been a very long journey, but we finally make it to Bourg-Saint-Maurice. The Base Camp Lodge hotel is surprisingly good. It’s brand new, and it offers a fantastic underground parking, nice rooms, and a modern restaurant with a nice terrace!

The Base Camp Lodge hotel restaurant. Great place!

When we sit down at the terrace for dinner, we have a warm welcome from a high-flying bird. He drops a fresh bomb over Chas. So big that the shrapnel hits the table too. It’s a sign of good luck, isn’t? When we’re laughing about it, with Chas cleaning his shoulder and the waitress changing our table placemats, we get a message from Charles. Bad news! Something went wrong with his 3-Wheeler!

Charles “little mess”. Bevel box’s bearing failure.

It looks like the bevel box has lost a bearing, and the displacement of its axle made the drive belt jump out of the rear sprocket. And the flange over the bevel box’s sprocket has blown out getting caught between the sprocket and the back frame. Apparently a big mess. But the most important: Charles is ok. He must call the road assistance and his car will be collected by a flatbed truck.

Charles’s Morgan, rescued by the road services.

After teasing Charles with silly jokes trying to de-stress him, and that he agrees with Steve and Chas that M3W Services will go for his car and take it on a trailer to Montignac-de-Lauzun as soon as possible, we concentrate on our dinner. A very nice dinner we must say!

We check the weather forecast for tomorrow. Our roadmap has two options. As we see it’s going to be sunny again, we decide to choose the long route: the Col de la Madeleine, the Col du Télégraphe and the Col du Galibier, some other mountain passes plus les Gorges de Saint-May and get to Nyons! Let’s go to bed! Tomorrow it’s going to be another epic journey behind the wheel!

Day 11 – September the 13th: Bourg-Saint-Maurice to Nyons

We wake up and have breakfast early. We intend to leave Bourg-Saint-Maurice around 09h00, because the route today is long. This is the plan:

380 km – 7h15min

Bourg-Saint-Maurice → Aime (N90) → Moûtiers (N90) → La Léchère (N90) → Notre-Dame-de-Briançon (D990) → La Thuile (D213) → Celliers (D213) → Col de la Madeleine (D213) → Longchamp (D213) → Lepalud (D213) → La Chambre (D213) → Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne (D1006) – Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne (D1006) → Col du Télégraphe (D902) → Valloire (D902) → Col du Galibier (D902) → Col du Lautaret (D902) → Villar-d’Arène (D1901) → La Grave (D1901) → Le Freney-D’Oisans (D1901) → Le Bourg-d’Oisans (D1901) → Col D’Ornon (D1901) → Entraigues (D526) → Valbonnais (D526) → Les Miards (D526, D26A & D212B) → La Roche (D212B & N85) → Corps (N85) → Saint-Disdier (D537 & D937) → Agnières-en-Dévoluy (D937) → Veynes (D937 & D994) → Serres (D994 & D1075) → Verclause (D994) → Sahune (D94) → Nyons (D94) → Saint-Maurice-sur-Eygues (D538, D94C & D94) → Maison d’Hôtes La Fontaine Au Loup.

We fire the engines as scheduled and leave Bourg-Saint-Maurice driving down the valley of the River Isère. This valley is one of the most famous of the French Alps, as you have many famous ski stations: Les Arcs, La Plagne, Courchevel, Val Thorens, Tignes, etc.

It’s a beautiful day. It seems that the weather forecast was right. We should have sunny weather all day long.

Another clear sunny morning.

The N90 gets larger as we drive downhill, and it’s soon a two-lanes fast important road. When we arrive to Moutiers, I find myself under the following dilemma: the roadbook and Ana Maria tell me I should stay on the N90 and keep driving some kilometers before the next maneuver, but my iPhone with Google Maps on the Ram mount of the dashboard tells me to leave the road and enter Moutiers. My advice: unless you see something obviously wrong on the road ahead of you, follow your copilot’s indications and the roadbook! Ignore the faddish electronics, or you will look like an idiot!

As you can imagine, I did wrong… So, after some silly ten minutes going back and forth in the streets of Moutiers and on a strange service road signalized as forbidden to regular traffic, we get back to the N90 where we left it…

At 10h00 we finally get to La Léchère, where we leave the N90. We drive few kilometers until Notre-Dame-de-Briançon, where the real fun starts!

We know this road, as Ana Maria and I drove it last year. And it’s as amazing and fun to drive as we remember! Plenty of hairpins climbing in a dense forest, with no traffic at all. We can’t ask for a better road to drive this time of the morning. Let’s enjoy and reach the Col de la Madeleine!

Col de la Madeleine.

We make a stop up there. It’s such a beautiful sunny day! We enjoy the views. And the coffees!

Panoramic view. Col de la Madeleine.

After this short break, we continue driving downhill toward La Chambre, passing by many little villages that are clearly focus for winter sports like skiing, as now at the end of summer they seem almost empty. We cross very few cars, and some cyclist. But there is no traffic on the road today. We feel like driving on a private road again!

When we’re at La Chambre, we‘re at the bottom of the valley of the River Arc. It’s a relatively wide valley, with some large villages and an important railway net. We drive along the River Arc until we get to Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne.

Until here, this route section has not a special interest, neither from the driving nor the landscape. But from Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne, as we cross to the other side of the valley upwards to the Col du Télégraphe, the road is fantastic again.

Mountains’ views from the Arc River valley.

The road and the landscapes are beautiful, however, as we’re still close to the valley and its largely populated areas, we find more traffic and cyclist than desired getting to the top of the Col du Télégraphe. But once we pass the top of the Col du Télégraphe, the road has much less traffic again as we connect with the road uphill to the Col du Galibier.

In fact, the uphill to the Col du Galibier starts few kilometers from the top of the Col du Télégraphe. On the other side of the mountain, is the Col du Lautaret. It means that this Col du Galibier (2.642 m) is a crazy super high mountain pass caught between two other high mountain passes: the Col du Télégraphe (1.566 m) and the Col du Lautaret (2.058 m). Just imagine that: a mountain pass over two mountain passes!

On our way to the Col du Galibier.

From the Col du Télégraphe you climb +1.076 m in just 23 km to get to the top of the Galibier! And from there, you descend -584 m in only 8,6 km! If you check these numbers, you’ll realize the kind of stunning road we’re driving!

Col du Galibier – Speedy Marmots
Col du Galibier – Speedy Marmots
Col du Galibier – Chas
Col du Galibier – Chas
Col du Galibier – Steve
Col du Galibier – Steve

We find many cyclists and motorcycles, but it’s normal here, because it’s one of the most famous mountain passes of the Tour de France. So, it’s really mythical for the cyclists and anyone who loves the high mountain passes in the Alps.

Donwhill towards the Col du Lautaret.

The following video shows the Col du Galibier’s drive almost complete. It’s long, yes, but from our point of view really worthy! We hope you’ll enjoy it!

When we arrive to the Col du Lautaret, it’s already 13h00. We stop for a minute and discuss about the best time to eat. We decide to continue driving, as we usually are satisfied with a very light sandwich late in the afternoon (or dried sausages like yesterday) and it’s better to keep driving while all the French are having lunch.

The drive downhill from the Col du Lautaret is another demanding road, with many hairpins and it’s quite steep in some sections. We took the right decision, as there is almost no traffic, allowing us to move away from these amazing mountain passes faster than if we had made a stop for lunch.

Crossing La Grave.

This valley is narrow and beautiful. And the road goes along the River Romanche. It’s not as demanding as at the beginning, at the Col du Lautaret, and this is welcome as we can drive faster but more relaxed. It still has some demanding sections, adding some spice to this gentle drive. But nothing like the Col du Galibier!

Amazing road again. See the waterfalls!

We cross several little villages and the Chambon dam. We’re really enjoying this drive. It’s the first time we’re coming this way, because last year, when we reached the Col du Lautaret, we turned left towards Serre-Chevalier, where we spent a night. This time we turned right, and it’s way more spectacular. We admire the narrow valley and some waterfalls that from the top of the surrounding mountains drop very close to the road.

We arrive to Le Bourg-d’Oisans. We should have stop here for lunch and maybe refuel too, but we’re driving so comfortably that we just keep driving. From here, we take another special road: the D526 to the Col d’Ornon.

This road is narrow and curvy again, progressing within a very narrow valley. We drive under the shade of the tall trees, and we pass La Palud. After some funny hairpins, the road gets easier, and the valley gets wider.

Bridges with wooden roofs are not exclusive from Switzerland! Bridge over La Bonne River.

We pass more little villages, but we can’t see any restaurant open. According to the roadbook, we have a petrol station at Valbonnais. Maybe we can find an open restaurant there? It’s already quite late – again – for French lunchtime. So, after refueling, we keep looking for a place to eat something, but everything looks closed. Plus, it’s Monday, and this day of the week is not precisely the best to find an open restaurant in France.

But finally, we find a place at Les Eglats. The Pizzeria Chez Bernard is open! It’s just on the side of the road. We’re the only clients this time of the day. And the lady in charge receives us warmly and makes some French fries and a nice sandwich for us. We even enjoy some ice cream, relaxing at the terrace.

After this refreshing stop, we jump back in our Morgans and keep going towards our destination. This road we’re on now is part of the Route Napoléon.

We cross the Sautet dam and get into a plateau that takes us to the last high mountains of our route today. In this plateau, we have a very long road section ahead totally straight.

Leaving the Alps.

I rev up our engine and put fifth gear. I’m enjoying behind the steering wheel cruising nice and easy at high speed when suddenly I see a huge locust flying straight towards my face. The beast has the size and looks of a Sikorsky MH-53 helicopter.

I can’t avoid the collision. The insect explodes right in the middle of my helmet visor, leaving a slimy paste the diameter of a quarter pound hamburger, after putting a lot of sauce on it … Thanks God I’m wearing a helmet with a visor down to my chin! Otherwise, I would be chewing it.

This carnage happens just before the village of La Posterle. I must lift my visor to see the road, hoping that the smashed locust doesn’t have a brother-in-law with the same suicidal tendencies and aim, because my face is unprotected now. I stop after crossing the village, take off my helmet and need to pour quite an amount of water over the visor to clean the mess with a handkerchief. After a few minutes cleaning and making sure that the visor is perfectly clean again, we restart the engines and continue driving.

If someone asks himself why we’re wearing helmets, while it’s not mandatory, he just got the answer! We’re used to have insects’ impacts on our helmets, but not so humongous! Fortunately, we have no more big insects impacts as we progress fast on this nice road.

Saint-Disdier.

As just said, this section of the road passes between the last tall mountains of our route. We can see we’re letting the Alps behind us. This is a narrow valley, with imposing very tall rocky walls. A beautiful farewell to the Alps.

Défilé de la Souloise.

The road takes us to the entrance to the Northern part of the Provence.

From there, the road is familiar again for all of us. We drove this back-and-forth last year when we went to Grindelwald.

The most interesting part of this last section is the Natural Parc of Les Baronnies Provençales, where we drive in the Gorges de Saint-May. We really don’t mind repeating this road! It’s a beautiful canyon.

Gorges de Saint-May.

We finally make it to Nyons, and from there in about ten minutes we arrive to our hotel for the night. It’s the guests house La Fontaine Au Loup, where Ana Maria and I stayed two nights last year.

We loved it! It’s not just because the place is quiet and relaxing, but also because Allain and Valérie, the owners of the place, are really charming.

La Fontaine Au Loup.

As soon as we’re installed, I put my swimsuit and jump into the pool. The water is cold, but I enjoy it so much! After such a long driving day, it’s fantastic to be in this place.

Sunset at La Fontaine Au Loup.

After a short bath I join Chas and Steve who are enjoying a beer under the olive trees. And when we thought that today’s adventure with the Morgans was finished, Steve notices that his Black & Orange rocket’s rear is looking unusually low. He approaches to check and…. the rear tyre is flat! He says that when he was entering the place, he noticed like a short drift on the stones of the entrance ramp. He clearly got his rear tyre damaged there.

Back to work! And let’s hurry up because the sun is going down! We remove the boot tray and the rear mudguard, and with a low jack lift the rear of the car. We find the puncture. No good news: it’s not a nail nor a classic thin, clean puncture, but a little cut of about 1 or 1,5 cm, probably due to a hard root or a sharp stone. The first thought of Steve and Chas is that we won’t be able to repair it. But hey! The Speedy Marmots have two magic things in our tools and spares! A Slime kit including a compressor, and a little black bag we bought on the internet consisting of a tyre repair kit, made in India, that looked amazing on the You Tube videos. It’s the Grand Pitstop Tyre Repair Kit. And it comes with some tools and some kind of rubber mushrooms / plugs to insert in the puncture.

Slime and Grand Pit Stop kits. Fabulous!

First, we try with just one of the Indian rubber plugs. But the tyre still loses air. Then we inject the Slime liquid into the tyre and try again with a second plug. And bingo! Despite the ugly puncture, it seems to work fine. But we won’t really know until tomorrow morning. Steve and Chas don’t seem to have much faith, but now there is nothing else we can do but relax and enjoy our drinks and dinner.

Enjoying dinner at La Fontaine Au Loup.

The dinner starts with a very nice cocktail by the swimming pool. It’s a blend of a melon local liquor with a white wine. The balance between the sweet melon and the white wine is perfect! And Valérie brings some appetizers consisting of caramelized cherry tomatoes and a mousse of olives tapenade.

A Belgian couple, also guests of La Fontaine Au Loup, joins us for the appetizer and dinner. They’re a lovely couple, both speaking fluent English and with excellent conversation and good sense of humor.

This is the fantastic dinner cooked by Valérie:

– cheese cake made of sheep cheese and roasted peppers

– caillette with ratatouille

– cheeses

– Eton Mess with red fruits

All accompanied with white and red local “Côtes du Rhône” excellent French wines.

If you’re asking what is the caillete, it’s a typical French recipe from the region – the Drôme – consisting of a mixture of pig meat, bacon, liver, spinach, salt, pepper, and spices, all wrapped within a thin tripe, and finally cooked in the oven. And Valérie’s personal recipe is delicious! Very light (despite what you may think looking at the ingredients) and tasty.

Caillete: main course for dinner at La Fontaine Au loup.

Dinner and company are really nice. We share our stories and talk about many current issues, exchanging ideas with our table mates.

This afternoon, my father wrote me, warning me that in the area of ​​the Mediterranean Pyrenees there is an alert for strong storms. During the dessert we review the weather forecast for tomorrow and indeed it seems that there is a good chance that it will rain. We decide that tomorrow, instead of making the planned long route over the Parc des Cevennes through the mountains to Montignac-de-Lauzun, we’d better take the motorway to get there as soon as possible. And with this in mind, we go to bed.

Day 12 – September the 14th: Nyons to Montignac-de-Lauzun

The waters rose higher and higher on the earth. And the ark floated on the water. The waters rose on the earth until all the high mountains under the entire sky were covered.”

Today we wake up early. We have two major concerns: Steve’s rear tyre and the black clouds in the sky.

But things seem to be right! Steve’s rear tyre is perfectly inflated and apparently it hasn’t lost pressure during the night. The true test comes now, as he’ll drive the car on the roads and motorways. We all hope it makes it to Montignac-de-Lauzun.

And we can have breakfast outside! It’s cloudy, but not raining yet. We double check the weather forecast and rain is confirmed almost everywhere in Southern France, under the form of summer thunderstorms. So, it will rain at random, here and there, which means that getting wet or staying dry will be just a matter of luck. As we decided last night, in order to be exposed as less as possible, we’ll make our way on the fast A9 motorway. Yes it heads South, but it’s the fastest way, and if we try to make it heading North passing by Lyon, it will take us almost two extra hours and the chances of rain are, as per the weather forecast, the same.

This is the route we planned for today:

548 km – 5h30min

La Fontaine Au Loup → Tulette (D94) → Sainte-Cécile-les-Vignes (D94 & D976) → Orange (D976 & D43) → Nîmes (A9) → Montpellier (A9) → Narbonne (A9) → Carcasonne (A61) → Toulouse (A61) → Damazan (A61) → Tonneins (D143 & D120) → Verteuil-d’Agenais (D120) → Tombeboeuf (D120) → Montignac-de-Lauzun (D667 & D254).

As we’re driving on motorways most of the route, and it might rain, we decide to keep the GoPros in their bag, protected and dry in the boot. As another precaution, and for the first time, we use the big rain hood for the luggage on the rack. All bags get totally covered. Only the leather straps are exposed to the rain, as they go over the plastic hood.

Let’s go! This should be an easy drive. And if it rains, we’ve done that before. With our nice quality raincoats and the helmets, combined with the speed on the motorway, we shouldn’t get that wet. Our previous experience under heavy rain, and for many kilometers, was much more positive than we expected. So, we’re not afraid.

After a proper goodbye to Allain and Valérie, we fire the engines and leave La Fontaine Au Loup. We’re driving on small roads until we get to Orange. The good news is that Steve’s rear tyre seems perfect. No loss of pressure nor unwanted vibrations. So, we take the toll motorway here. I give the paper ticket to Ana Maria, and she keeps it in a pocket of her raincoat. There is a light rain right now, nothing to be concerned about. But the skies are totally covered with dark clouds.

Today we’re using Google Maps on my iPhone as a navigation system, properly fixed in the RAM mount on the dashboard. Because today we’re not really doing nice mountain or country roads, and obviously our roadbook has a totally different route.

We leave Orange and drive fast on the motorway. We’re cruising at normal speeds of 130 km/h. And then the rain gets more intense. But we’re still good. Only Chas is struggling a little bit, as he is the only one that hasn’t a helmet. At that speed the raindrops can be quite uncomfortable when they hit your face.

It’s being forty-five minutes that we left La Fontaine Au Loup, and we’re approaching Nîmes, when hell from the skies starts dropping a massive amount of water. This is not a normal rainfall. It’s getting harder and harder and the day becomes night. I switch on my rear fog light as we try to progress at 70 or 60 km/h on the motorway. All vehicles are forced to slow down radically as we can’t see much further than 10 or 20 meters ahead because of the rain curtain.

And then it rains harder. This is insane. We are afraid. That’s humongous. We just passed the first exit for Nîmes, and Ana Maria and I are talking about stopping as soon as possible, probably next exit, when Google Maps surprises me alerting via the intercom. It says “Alert! Leave the motorway as soon as possible. Big accident ahead and motorway closed”. Just at the right time! The Nîmes West exit is few meters ahead. And thanks God we can exit, and that Steve and Chas follow us!

Ana Maria takes out the toll ticket. It’s still dry enough to be read by the machine, and we manage to pass the barrier while Steve and Chas, both with their tickets soaked, get blocked, unable to pay as the machine can’t read their tickets. We get to the roundabout in a huge traffic jam, completely wet, and still raining like hell. We can’t see Chas and Steve, but we can’t stay here waiting for them. So, we keep moving inside town on the street that Google Maps indicates is the way to follow.

The roundabouts and the streets are flooded, and it’s getting worse. We’re driving on 20 or even 30 cm of water. We don’t know if it’s even deeper in some zones, I can even see the water over the side exhausts of the 3-Wheeler. We’re desperately looking for a place to stop when we see a Total petrol station. We stop under its roof. But it’s useless as it’s raining sideways with violent wind gusts. The petrol station is closed, and we realize there is no mobile phone signal. The whole city of Nîmes is flooded and suffers a power shutdown! We can clearly see the water rising at the petrol station.

Then Ana Maria tells me that the Citroën showroom and garage nearby is open. I can’t see it is, but because they have no power! But yes there is people inside! I run in, by a side emergency door, and beg for mercy. The garage manager tells me to approach the car to their doors, as the petrol station will be totally flooded in minutes. He thinks we’re in a regular car. But I point out the 3-Wheeler, and he immediately tells me to run and get it inside the garage as soon as possible. He and his guys run to manually open the last large door. Now, being inside, covered, and with – for now – the Morgan in a safe garage, we feel relieved.

Finally under cover!

If you’re reading this, and are thinking that we’re exaggerating, please click on these links, and see what 168 mm of rain in only ninety minutes did to Nîmes this Tuesday, September the 14th 2021… We were there, in the middle of this mess!

Les images impressionnantes des intempéries dans le Gard | CNEWS

Inondations sur l’A9 dans le Gard : “Entre 3 000 et 4 000 usagers se sont retrouvés bloqués” – midilibre.fr

Météo Gard en Twitter: “🔴 Voici l’autoroute A9 complètement inondée au niveau de Bernis (#Gard) suite à une #crue du Valat de Vallongue, un petit ruisseau. N’empruntez jamais une route inondée ! 🎥 Stéphane Rochette pour Météo Gard https://t.co/610yKhGqcv” / Twitter

The motorway A9 at Nîmes.

Just imagine you’re driving a Morgan 3-Wheeler there! If we did not take the motorway exit on time, we would have found ourselves in the middle of the flood that took away many cars and trucks on the motorway, just few hundred meters after the exit we took! We would have lost the 3-Wheelers!

Terrible floods around Nîmes today!

We’re trying to contact Chas and Steve. We’re really concerned about them. But there is still no mobile phone signal. Still no power. Many of the workers at the showroom and the garage are around the Morgan and help us to dry the inside as much as possible. Our little 3-Wheeler is a brave car! It has survived this biblical rain and the water on the streets with courage, and it seems to run perfect! Respect for the little Morgan!

As a classic Mediterranean summer storm, it suddenly stops raining and the sun appears in the skies. Almost two hours have passed since we got into this Citroën garage. And we have no news from Chas and Steve!

Finally, the mobile phone signal gets back. It’s weak but good enough to send a couple of WhatsApps to our friends. They are safe! When they finally managed to get the toll barrier opened for them, the roundabout was completely blocked. But they were able to take refuge next to the toll booth, in a small parking lot with toilets where they stayed during the crazy storm.

Taking cover in the toilets! LOL!

Chas and Steve ask us where we are. We forward our position but warn them that the roundabouts and the street in front of the garage are still flooded. We all need to be patient.

The area recovers power, which means we can buy a small chips bag at the vending machine in the showroom. Now it’s been an hour since it has stopped raining, and we can see how the water level in front of the garage is receding rapidly. We tell Chas and Steve and hope they can make it here.

Twenty minutes later we can see them coming towards us in the main street! Such a relief to be all together again! Then we discuss about what we should do. There is no information, and the 4G network is down. We hardly manage to send or receive a simple text message. We think that we must leave town as soon as possible, escaping from the next showers. This said, we thank everyone in the Citroën garage, and we start the engine. No hiccups nor alarms or weird symptoms. We’re proud of our little machine!

That was not a good idea… We soon see that there are many streets and roundabouts still flooded. The policemen and firemen are working like crazy trying to solve as many situations as possible. But the whole situation exceeds them. We’re forced to return into town, and we decide that the best is to park the Morgans in a safe parking, grab something for lunch, and wait, hoping to get information of when and how leave this town that looks like Venice right now!

Paradoxically, it’s sunny. We leave the 3-Wheelers in the underground parking – first floor, just in case – in the city historic center, and we walk and enjoy the area. We can see all the terraces closed and the waiters and owners cleaning the disaster that the heavy rains have caused. Many big branches fallen from the trees, damaging awnings and tables. The walkways, covered with water one hour ago, are still dirt and slippery.

Arène de Nîmes.

We finally enter a coffee shop nearby the famous Arène de Nîmes. As they got no power for many hours, now they can only offer muffins and coffee or hot beverages. Good enough for us! We sit in a corner and keep checking the news, the weather radar images and the route maps, hoping for an escape route to be open.

It’s been six hours since we left the motorway, and we’re still blocked in Nîmes! Ana Maria is asleep, and Chas, Steve and I talk about the different options we have. The news say that the motorway will be closed for many hours, as it was flooded in five different points and the water took away cars and even big trucks, that now need to be recovered with heavy cranes. We are considering about looking for a hotel to stay the night, but it’s not really our preferred option.

Then, breaking news: there is one road open that allow cars to leave Nîmes: the N106 to Alès, a village forty-five kilometers North. According to Google Maps, it’s going to be very difficult to reach the main roundabout that allows us to take this road. Many streets are still flooded, and we shall do a lot of turns and detours to get there. And from there, what do we do? We decide we need to get out of Nîmes as soon as possible, despite the risk and the massive traffic jam we may encounter trying to do so. And once in Alès, if everything goes well, we refuel and try to get to Montignac-de-Lauzun using the mountain and country roads we planned originally. This is going to be epic.

Back to the cars again! We turn here and there, pass in front of flooded houses and parcs, the whole city is a total disaster. In one of these tiny streets, driving slow in traffic, our Morgan screams from the back. It sounds like a seized bearing, spinning ungreased about to shatter. With so much water and dirt, we’re afraid our Morgan said “enough”. I stop immediately and look underneath the car, thinking I will see a big mess, or something clearly broken. But instead, I find a piece of metal rail bent and hooked on the wooden body, which when dragging brushing the asphalt is what made such a noise. Is it a part of the car? It doesn’t ring a bell, but I show the bent piece of metal to Steve – who knows these cars by heart – with concern. Fortunately, the answer is quick and forceful: that is not from the Morgan. It is a garbage, surely brought by the water that flooded this street before, and that will have gotten caught in our car. Luckily it didn’t cause a flat tire or any visible damage!

We finally make it to the roundabout and manage to connect with the N106. The skies are getting dark again, but it’s still not raining, so we get as fast as possible to Alès. One hour later, we stop in Alès to refuel, and then do as we decided recently: let’s cross the National Parc des Cevennes on this N106 and other country roads! They all appear in green color in Google Maps, meaning they’re open and without traffic. And they’re the only way to Montignac-de-Lauzun! It’s going to be a long drive! Still more than six hours to reach Montignac-de-Lauzun if nothing goes wrong. This said, we expect to get there around 01h00 – 01h30 tonight.

This is our new route from Nîmes to Montignac-de-Lauzun:

450 km – 7h15min

Nîmes → Alès (N106) → Florac-Trois-Rivières (N106) → Ispagnac (N106 & D907bis) → Chanac (D907bis & D31) → Massegros-Causses-Gorges (D32) → Sévérac-d’Aveyron (D995) → Rodez (N88) → Villefranche-de-Rouergue (D994 & D1) → Cahors (D911) → Tournon-d’Agenais (D620, D653 & D656) → Monflanquin (D102 & D124) → Cancon (D124) → Montignac-de-Lauzun (D124, D145 & D227).

We are very lucky most of the road, as it doesn’t rain again. We are escaping the storms and despite the roads are wet, it’s not really raining. And we have to say that we’re really enjoying this route. Despite the dark light – the sky is permanently covered with dark grey clouds – the road is beautiful. We cross dense forests and nice little villages, and with no traffic. It’s a pity that our GoPros are in the back, and we can’t take videos. We just take some pictures with Ana María’s iPhone.

Crossing the Parc des Cevennes.

We progress better than we would have imagined. And we keep going as it’s getting dark. I really don’t want to be leading the squadron at night with my standard lights. And even less if it starts raining again.

It’s midnight when we’re reaching Cahors. And here we’re caught under another thunderstorm. It’s not raining as violent as in Nîmes, but it’s quite hard too, and we decide to stop in a petrol station. Covered by its roof, we refuel and decide to wait until the rain stops or at least gets lighter. We have time to remember that we had just a muffin for lunch and no dinner… But food is not our first concern tonight.

We check the weather radar images with the smartphones, and we see how the storm is progressing. We’re still under heavy rain, but if the storm keeps moving North-East as it looks like on our screens, it may stop within fifteen or twenty minutes.

But we have another concerning storm going towards the road we need to do now. If we wait for the storm we’re in to pass, we may be caught by the other storm in almost all the road we have to drive from now. We make our estimations, and we decide that it’s better to get wet now for ten or fifteen minutes than getting wet for one hour and a half.

These driving conditions are the worst scenario: it’s dark at night, it’s raining cats and dogs, and I’m leading the squadron on small and twisted country roads, most of them without paint marks, with my low intensity standard halogen lights.

It is under these circumstances that I’m proved to be blessed to have Ana Maria by my side. She’s a fierce copilot that never drops the towel! She takes the smartphone and covers it with our fleece blanked so the rain doesn’t blur the screen, and in the dark she keeps telling me which kind of curve is coming ahead, reading the map on the screen. On one and every curve she tells me if it’s a curve to the right or left, if it’s a long or sharp curve, and the bending of it (45º, 90º, 180º, etc). Thanks to her skills and perseverance, we get out of the heavy rain in less than fifteen minutes. Best copilot ever!

The night still gives us one more surprise. But this is a good one: on a very narrow and twisty stretch of road going up a hill, we surprise a fawn in the middle of the road. The frightened animal runs ahead of us for almost a minute. A lovely experience on a terrible day.

We finally make it to Montignac-de-Lauzun. It’s 01h30. We split with Chas. He’s heading home, and Steve and us are going to Steve and Annette’s place. We parc the Morgans in silence by the barn, trying not to wake up Annette or the dogs. Chas and Steve are home, and Ana Maria and I are staying at Steve and Annette’s guests’ house. Like home too now for us.

We drop the luggage in the guests’ house, and we’re amazed that the rain hood has kept the luggage totally dry. Not a single trace of humidity on the leather bags! It’s nice to see it’s really effective! After a hot shower, and hanging all the soaked clothes, we get into the dry and warm bed. I guess it takes us less than two minutes to fall asleep. This day was, by far, the hardest day in our 3-Wheeler.

Day 13 – September the 15th: Montignac-de-Lauzun

We didn’t put any alarm clock last night. We wake up later than 10h00. We can’t remember exactly when. We have a message from Steve saying that he dropped some hot fresh croissants by the door. Such a nice detail! They taste great to us.

Ana Maria and I talk about our plans for today. We are supposed to drive to Pamplona and stay there for the night at our nieces’ apartment. But we are too tired after yesterday epic journey and driving now five hours to Pamplona is not the best idea.

We talk with Steve and Annette if they agree that we stay one more night at their guests’ house, and they’re happy we’re staying. Another good point is that we will enjoy dinner with them, Jackie and John, and Chas and Chris. Annete is preparing some chilies for tonight. We know she’s an excellent cook, so we’re already drooling.

Montignac-de-Lauzun country side.

We go for a walk and enjoy the countryside of Montignac-de-Lauzun. It’s a peaceful area. So quiet and relaxing! We wouldn’t mind living here!

While Ana Maria is catching up with work, I revise the 3-Wheelers with Steve. Apparently ours is in perfect running conditions. But the oil level is too low. We fill it with almost three liters of fresh oil! I’ll have to check it more frequently, just in case.

We talk about the upgrades I want to do. First one, mandatory, is the Bleazey Centa conversion. I don’t want to find myself in the same situation than Kees and Alice, with the rollers gone and the car back home on a platform.

Steve shows me the different possibilities of better batteries. The standard Banner installed by the Morgan Motor Company is known for being erratic. Some live for years, but others just for months!

The fuel pump is like the battery. It can last forever, but many – too many I would say – fail quite soon ruining your trip. They’re not reliable at all.

As I don’t like to play the Russian roulette with the battery nor the fuel pump, replacing both by more reliable parts is a must-do job! On the list for this winter’s jobs!

Now I’m confident we’ll make it to Madrid without trouble. Once there, we must do the yearly revision at the dealer’s workshop, to get the maintenance book stamped and keep the warranty.

We enjoy this peaceful day. We recover a lot of energy! We truly needed a break from driving!

In the afternoon, we talk with our nieces in Pamplona. As we have delayed our arrival for one day, their plans will be jeopardized if we arrive tomorrow. It’s Valentina’s birthday, and she has organized a big party at their place tomorrow night. Ana Maria and I think about it, and decide that if we, the “old” couple, arrives tomorrow to their place, we’ll ruin the party and probably don’t sleep that well with the youngsters partying in the apartment until late at night!

So, we decide not to stay in Pamplona tomorrow. And we quickly check if there is a room available in our favorite place of the French Basque Country: the Hotel Arcé in Saint-Étienne-de-Baïgorri. Bingo! There is one room available for tomorrow night! We immediately make the reservation.

We’re in the garden, under the umbrella, resting and checking the emails with the laptops when Chas and Chris arrive for dinner. We quickly join the party. We have some Spanish cold meats and cheese as appetizers. They are part of the ones we brought twelve days ago. And as expected, Annette’s chilies are delicious. We talk about our trip and laugh with some of the anecdotes. Another fantastic dinner with such good company!

Day 14 – September the 16th: Montignac-de-Lauzun to Saint-Étienne-de-Baïgorri

We had a wonderful time in Montignac-de-Lauzun, and we enjoyed a lot our friends during the whole trip to Grindelwald. But it’s time to say goodbye!

Today we’re going to Saint-Étienne-de-Baïgorri, in the French Basque country. The route is on easy, nice and relaxed roads, and not too much time behind the steering wheel.

255 km – 3h45min

Montignac-de-Lauzun → Tombeboeuf (D254 & D667) → Tonneins (D120) → Villefranche-du-Queyran (D120) → Houeillès (D120, D214, D283 & D8) → Mont-de-Marsan (D933, D933N & D932) → Hagetmau (RD933S) → Orthez (RD933S & D933) → Sauveterre-de-Béarn (D23) → Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port (D933) → Saint-Étienne-de-Baïgorri (D15).

The weather forecast announces scattered showers during the whole day, but clearly lighter than the terrible thunderstorms we got two days ago. We hope we won’t get too wet. In fact, we’ve proved that under normal rain, with the raincoats, the fleece blanket and the helmets, there is very little water ingress in the car, and we don’t get wet.

After the goodbyes, and promises to see our friends again soon, we leave Montignac-de-Lauzun around noon, with a heavy heart.

Leaving Steve and Annette’s place.

Right now, the road is dry, and the clouds don’t seem to be a real menace. We make a short stop at Tonneins to refuel, and we continue our way on the relaxing roads of this Lot et Garonne region. We discuss about stopping or not for lunch. Today we decide to stop for good in a restaurant for a proper lunch. We’re not in a hurry. We are crossing Saint-Justin and we see a nice-looking restaurant with a full terrace. We parc the car just by the restaurant when some rain drops start to fall discretely. We get a table inside, as all the tables on the terrace are busy.

Le Cadet de Gascogne- Saint Justin.

The restaurant is called Le Cadet de Gascogne, and it happens to be the best restaurant in the area. Nice lucky choice we’ve made! The “Menu du jour” looks great and we order our starters and mains. Then we see all the people from the terrace running inside. It’s raining for good now! We’re lucky as we’re sit inside. Many of the guests don’t have a place inside to finish their meal and need to wait or pay and leave.

After the little chaos because of the sudden rain, forcing to clean the terrace, our plates arrive. Delicious! It’s really a recommendable place to stop for lunch! We have our desserts and coffees just in time, as the rain has stopped. It’s the right time to pay and continue our route!

We know it might rain again, so we get ready for it. We have our raincoats and of course the helmets. And now we take out the fleece blanket and put it over our legs.

We’re arriving to Mont-de-Marsan when it starts raining again. It’s light, sometimes gets heavier, then light again. But we’re good and dry. And the heating seats give us this extra comfort needed in such circumstances.

We’re driving for a while behind a beautiful metallic grey Jaguar E-Type. It’s true it’s one of the most beautiful cars ever made. Precisely when the Jag takes a different exit at the last roundabout of the bypass at Mont-de-Marsan, it stops raining. And it doesn’t rain again for the rest of the day.

After a couple of hours of nice and relaxed driving on the beautiful Basque Country roads, we arrive to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. Its walls welcome us under a clear blue sky.

Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port.

And just fifteen minutes later we’re in this paradise called Saint-Étienne-de-Baïgorri. We’ve been here many times. The Hotel Arcé is like our little secret escape site. When we’re stressed and need to get somewhere peaceful, where the mobile phone signal hardly gets, this is our spot. If you look carefully at the following pictures and videos you’ll understand why we say this is one of our preferred destinations.

Hotel Arcé – Saint-Étienne-de-Baïgorri.

We unload the luggage and, because the parking looks full, I ask Pascal, the owner – and chef, he is wearing his apron – if I can leave the Morgan at the entrance of the hotel. His first reply is “No please don’t let a car at the nice entrance!”, and he comes out to see. When he sees the Morgan he gets really excited. He loves the car – the 3-Wheelers usually have this positive effect – and tells me I shouldn’t leave this beauty outside because it may rain. But is there a covered garage? I didn’t know! And yes there is one, but it’s his private garage! He tells me to follow him. It’s the old building just by the entrance path. He opens the huge old wood doors with a very old iron rusted key, and what a nice surprise!

Private garage for the Morgan. With fantastic friends!

He has a neat, restored, original Jeep Willys! And a nice-looking motorcycle. To make place for the Morgan, he needs to move the Jeep to the back. He jumps in the Willys, turns the ignition and the beast starts immediately! He tells me he uses it frequently, as his daily car. This Jeep is in stunning conditions! And with all the original accessories: ax, shovel, jerry can, etc. It’s a delight to the eyes.

Pascal’s stunning Jeep Willys.

We walk back to the hotel, and I find Ana Maria talking to Christine, Pascal’s wife, and heart of this hotel. She knows Ana Maria for the many times we’ve being here. And because Ana Maria sends here her clients when they ask for a route in this area. We feel like home here. The views over the river, the little breakfast house, the church’s bell tower, the typical houses, the green colors everywhere… It’s so quiet… The only sound here are the birds singing and the sound of the water.

Views from our balcony.
That bridge over the river takes you to the swimming pool.

Ana Maria needs to work again until dinner. While she’s in front of her laptop upstairs, I enjoy a local beer under the platane trees by the river. I talk with some other guests that politely ask questions and make comments about the Morgan. It’s a relaxed time waiting for dinner, with good conversations.

The Hotel Arcé is not only a beautiful and peaceful hotel. It has a fantastic history. Founded in 1864, it’s now managed by Pascal and Christine, the 5th generation of this house! And it has one of the best restaurants in the area. Probably the best, at least in our honest opinion. Pascal and his team offer amazing plates, some based on centennial recipes, such as “La truite au bleu”, but with a contemporary touch.

Have a look at their website. It’s worth a visit: www.hotel-arce.com

We enjoy an excellent dinner. Ana Maria can’t resist and asks for the “Truite au Bleu”, a really old recipe for a fresh trout. They keep their trout alive in a fishing pot in the river. You won’t have a fresher trout than here!

The Hotel Arcé has an amazing restaurant!

After diner, we walk in the village. It’s so quiet. The warmly illuminated buildings transmit you so much peace. We cross the river by the Roman Bridge and come back to the hotel. It’s time to go to bed.

A night walk in Saint-Étienne-de-Baïgorri.

Day 15 – September the 17th: Saint-Étienne-de-Baïgorri to Madrid

We wake up in a superb sunny day. There is not a single cloud in the blue skies and the weather forecast from here to Madrid seems perfect.

Sunny again!

We have breakfast by the river, under the shade of the platane trees. We love so much this hotel! We talk about staying here again when we’ll do the tour in the Western Pyrenees with the rest of the squadron.

Hotel Arcé – Breakfast under the platane trees, by the river.

Before leaving this nice place, Ana Maria needs to do a couple of easy tasks in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. She has clients that will start there the Way Of Saint James (also known as Road to Santiago de Compostela or “El Camino de Santiago” in Spanish). She needs to get the pilgrim passports and check a hotel there. So, we drive to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. It’s an easy 12 km and fifteen minutes’ drive. We park the Morgan and walk into town.

Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port.
Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port.

Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port is a fortified village, with a big fortress on the top of the hill, the Citadel of Mendiguren, that was a strategic point to control the entrance of Spanish troops into the valley, this side of the Pyrenees.

Citadel of Mendiguren – Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port.

Today it is a beautiful town, very well preserved, and full of life. It is considered the starting point of the French Way Of Saint James. This is where the first stage of the “Camino” starts, which ends in Roncesvalles, on the other side of the Pyrenees, on the Spanish side. The large number of pilgrims passing through this village has made it a bustling town, with an extraordinary offer of shops and restaurants.

Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port.

With all tasks successfully done, we drive back to the Hotel Arcé. We just do another short stop to refuel on our way there.

Once we’re at the hotel, I ask for a small bucket and clean rags to wash the 3-Wheeler. Instead of taking me ten minutes, I spend more than half an hour cleaning the Morgan, because all the guests coming in and out the hotel stop by and ask many questions and give good conversation.

Cleaning the Morgan.

Now the car is clean and shining. We finally load the luggage, and despite the “traffic jam” at the entrance of the hotel, we finally leave at 13h00.

Clean and packed. Ready to go! But there is some traffic!

We’re going back home the same way we got into France two weeks ago. This is the route:

504 km – 5h30min

Saint-Étienne-de-Baïgorri → Eugi (D948, D58 & NA-138) → Pamplona (NA-138 & N-135) → Vitoria (PA-30, PA-34, AP-15, A-10 & A-1) → Burgos (A-1 & AP-1) → Madrid (A-1).

The first part to Pamplona, we’re driving on the beautiful roads across the Pyrenees. We know them pretty well. I can’t remember how many times we’ve done this road! But this is just the second time with the 3-Wheeler, and it’s obviously different than doing it on a closed and heavy SUV.

Crossing the Pyrenees, back to Spain.

We pass Pamplona and some kilometers after we stop to grab a sandwich for lunch. And from there, right foot down and motorway to Madrid! It’s a very sunny day, and being Friday there is not much traffic but just around the big cities such as Vitoria and Burgos.

Approaching home!

We finally arrive home around 19h30, after two stops (fast lunch and refuel). It’s nice to be back. We’re the last ones of all the Grindelwald gang to be home, and the good news is that we’re all safe back into our houses and happy!

Home! Safe and happy!

It’s been an incredible adventure! When we sum all the days driving, we’ve done 4.366 km and 72h10min behind the wheel. This is according to the mathematics. But reality is that our ODO shows almost 4.600 km more than when we left home two weeks ago. Who said that the Morgan 3-Wheeler is not a machine to do long trips? Ah, ah!

THE SPEEDY MARMOTS ARE BACK HOME, SAFE, AND ARE PREPARING MORE AMAZING TRIPS! STAY TUNED!

Long range campaign #1 – 28th of August to 10th of September 2020

The summer months of 2020 have been quite curious… The Covid19 international situation seemed to relax in July, but not really controlled.

Our trip to Northern Spain with a group of UK friends from the Talk Morgan forum, scheduled for the first two weeks of September, was cancelled by the British group as no one had a clear vision of how would be the situation in September.

So, the Speedy Marmots found ourselves alone for the trip. We still wanted to go touring with the 3-Wheeler, as these were our only holydays planned for this summer.

Chatting in the Talk Morgan forum another evening, we were teased by some members about the annual Grindelwald meeting in Switzerland. This Morgan 3-Wheeler meeting, called the “Jungfrau-Treffen” seemed to be a fabulous option. This year the “Jungfrau-Treffen” will be from September the 3rd to the 5th. We were really attired by this event, but as newbies within 3-Wheeler world, we were hesitant about driving alone from Madrid to Switzerland in our little rocket. It’s 1621 km from home to Grindelwald!

Then, I read that a group of members of the forum, with whom I had some contact in the past months, are planning to go to Grindelwald from Southwest France. It’s the Black Adder Team. We think it would be a great idea to join them in Southwest France and driving from there to Switzerland. So, we ask them if we can join them. Again, we are happily surprised by the amazing camaraderie of the Morgan 3-Wheeler world, as they immediately tell us to join them and even offer to leave our SUV and trailer at their place in France! We are so happy! Our first trip with other 3-Wheelers is going to happen soon!

The team will be formed by six cars. Chas, Rob, Steve, Mario, Charles with Ari and Ana Maria with me. A nice pack of Morgans. Five Morgan 3-Wheelers and a rogue Ariel Nomad driven by Charles and Ari, as Charles’s 3-Wheeler is, unfortunately, under repair.

We start preparing the trip. And doing the improvements planned in our trailer, such as installing a rear-view camera (see our “Hangar works #16 – Rear-view camera on trailer”), and – most important of all – passing the exams to get the driving license for heavy trailer. Despite the irritating delays caused by the Covid19 situation, I manage to pass my exams, and get the license a couple of days before leaving!

Mid-August we get bad news: Switzerland imposes a mandatory 10 days confinement for those travelers who have stayed or even just passing by Spain within the previous two weeks. This means that Ana Maria and I can’t make it to Switzerland. The devastating news are immediately wiped away by Ana Maria’s spirit and positive attitude: she says we should go anyway with the Black Adder Team, but just stay in France during the “Jungfrau-Treffen” days, enjoying solo the French Alps, to reconnect with the team when they’ll come back to the home base in Southwest France. Nothing more to say! We’ll go anyway to the Swiss border and back with our friends!

Day 1 – August the 28th: Madrid to Pamplona

440 km – 5h @ 90km/h

As planned, we leave Madrid on August the 28th, with the F-Pace towing the trailer with the Morgan in it. The Black Adder Team headquarters are in Montignac-de-Lauzun, not so South in France, and 740 km away from Madrid. As we are limited to a maximum speed of 90 km/h with the trailer both in Spain and France, we decide to do a first stop in Pamplona for the night of the 28th, staying at Camila’s, a niece of Ana Maria who’s studying there and who has room in her apartment for us.

We leave Madrid at noon. Boring 440 km of motorway limited to 90 km/h because we’re towing the trailer… We clearly could go faster, as the F-Pace and its fantastic motor with 300 bhp and 700 Nm torque is pulling the trailer with incredible ease. But we prefer to stay precautious within the legal limits, or at least at reasonable speeds to avoid getting caught between trailers and buses.

Relaxed driving in the Jaguar.

During the journey, we call a couple of parking places in Pamplona looking for a place to drop the trailer and the SUV for the night. The parking at the Rincón de la Aduana, a very nice parking in Pamplona old city center, answers saying we can make it there with the 4,75 m trailer. We know the parking from previous occasions and have some doubts if we can really get in there without trouble. We’ll see when we’ll arrive…With a couple of stops and a relaxed lunch, we make it to Pamplona in 6 hours. And when we arrive to the parking, the person in charge is waiting for us to help with the entrance. And he even got us the two parking spots in front of the entry / exit ramp reserved! We park the trailer much easier than expected. Such a nice guy at the parking!

We make it walking to Camila’s place, just 5 minutes’ walk from the parking. She lives in a beautiful apartment in the Plaza Del Castillo: the main old city center square of Pamplona. Amazing spot!

Views from Camila’s place (Plaza del Castillo – Pamplona)

We are received by Camila, her roommate Gianina, and the “ferocious beast” Benito: Camila’s lovely one-year old teckel, who explodes of joy when he sees us entering the apartment.

The Speedy Marmots with Camila, Gianina and Benito.

Then, I talk with my good old friend Nacho, and it happens that he is having some holydays in the Landes in France, in Seignosse, with the family. So, we decide to make our second stop there tomorrow, and have dinner together. The trip starts with this nice surprise!

This day, late and dark at night, Mario leaves his home at Erfurt – Germany, and starts his solo journey to join the gang in Montignac-de-Lauzun too.

Mario about to start the engine.

This is a 1350 km trip for our German friend! But nothing that Mario will be afraid of! A nice 3-Wheeler attitude to learn from!

And take-off! 1350 km non-stop for our German friend to Montignac-de-Lauzun!

We have a nice dinner in a Thai restaurant in Pamplona with the girls and go to bed to have a nice rest.

Day 2 – August the 29th: Pamplona to Seignosse

160 km – 2h30min @ 90 km/h

We spend a nice morning in Pamplona and decide to leave before lunch time.

As the nice guy at the parking got us the two spots in front of the exit ramp, we take the SUV with the trailer out of the parking with ease. We really appreciate his courtesy!

And then we hit the motorway towards France. It’s going to be a short trip today, as we have only 160 km to make to Seignosse. Driving so slow is a little boring; but we’re getting used to this new driving mood.

With just one stop to refill the tank of the F-Pace (we didn’t have refueled since we left Madrid), we finally arrive to the Landes area in France. The small roads we have to take to the place we’re staying for the night are beautiful, with flat but dense forest.

Classic Landes’ road by the Atlantic coast.

Good news: Mario has safely arrived to Au Bosq, the headquarters of the Black Adder Team in Montignac-de-Lauzun.

Mario arrived to Au Bosq! Excellent news!

We finally get to the place we’ll stay for the night and park the trailer there. I manage to do it quite fast, considering that I have to enter the trailer in a narrow alley between the house and the fence, occupying the two lanes of the road in front of the house entrance while maneuvering in reverse. In the image below you can see the narrow alley (occupied in this picture by the small Renault Clio). Not an easy task! I’m proud of myself as it looks like I’m quite skilled with the trailer! The rear-view camera helps a lot. That’s another nice job done!

What a narrow space to enter the trailer in reverse!

Once we drop the trailer at the house, we drive to the beach where we meet our friends for dinner.

Beach at Seignosse.
Beach at Seignosse.

The spot is a typical and beautiful long Atlantic beach of the Landes. Lots of surfers and kite surfers packing their things as it was already late.

With our friends Celia & Nacho and their children!

We have a really good dinner just by the beach. But unfortunately, the table aside, occupied by four French young people (three girls and a guy, and can’t forget their two dogs), get very drunk with three bottles of white wine and start talking and laughing so loud that their dogs start howling on many occasions. They’re so loud that the people in the other tables around can’t talk to each other. It’s not until we join them shouting like crazy in crescendo asking them if they can yell louder, because otherwise the people on the Southern Portuguese coast can’t clearly hear their conversation, that they realize they are annoying the whole restaurant. The good point is that when we start shouting loud making fun of them, many tables join us! Funny moment. Fortunately, they are polite enough to understand they really passed the limits, stop drinking and leave with their howling dogs.

After this sonic experience we finish our dinner in peace and drive back to bed. The ringing in the ears takes a couple of hours to fade…

Day 3 – August the 30th: Seignosse to Au Bosq

200 km – 3h30min @ 90 km/h

We leave Seignosse early in the morning, planning to stop as soon as we can for a coffee and breakfast. Today the weather seems to get better. Still some dark clouds menacing with light rain, but little by little the skies get blue. We’re enjoying the driving through small villages on the D284.

Nice French country roads.

Looking for the place to have a coffee and breakfast, and to avoid complicated parking procedures, we head to a Mc Donald’s in Dax. We park the SUV with the trailer close by and wait until 10 for the Mc Donald’s to open. But it doesn’t… why don’t they open? We get closer to the door with a huge “Opens at 10 AM”, just to see a small note below saying that “In August we open at 10h30”.

Feeling stupid for not getting closer to the door and reading the small note, we walk into the village looking for a classic café or boulangerie to grab something. But we can’t see anything as we walk the main street, so we ask a couple of locals for indications. They tell us that just there, in front, there is a bar where we can have a coffee and breakfast.

We cross the street and enter the place. It’s not really looking nice from the outside, and the inside is a like an horror movie scene: the place looks like where the weirdest guys of the village reassemble, after a night of terror hunting victims that, as per the smell of their armpits, they have just butchered and buried in the back yard. Crossed glances behind thick blurry glasses, crooked teeth, oversized stained bib jeans… We take each other’s hand and walk backwards to the door, while the whole crowd stares at us in silence with psycho look…Shit, that was scary! Images of the French movie Delicatessen crossed my mind…

The guys at the bar/café really looked like these ones!

Still with shaking chills we walk back to the car. But as we pass in front of the tourism office (a tourism office here? Really?) we give the town a last chance and get in asking for a place to have breakfast. Long story short: we leave town as fast as possible, without breakfast, coffee or even a bottle of water.

We drive the D284 to Mont-de-Marsan, where we finally stop by the road in a boulangerie and manage to grab something.

The landscapes are getting better.

After this short stop, we continue driving on D933, then the D8, the D120, beautiful country roads that make us forget about the creepy dark bar episode.

Beautiful small roads.

We reach Tonneins, a beautiful small village with medieval walls by the Garonne river, where we stop for a short lunch.

Tonneins.
Tonneins’s walls over the Garonne river.

After the sandwich, we continue driving on the beautiful D120 and arrive to Tombeboeuf. We’re very close to our destination!

We cross beautiful villages.

The hills and the country in this French area are beautiful!

The sun starts to win the battle against the grey clouds!
The road taking us to Au Bosq.

We finally arrive to Au Bosq! It’s Chas’s place, and the headquarters of the Black Adder Team.

Finally at Au Bosq!

It’s a magnificent French old country house, where Chas and his wife Chris welcome us warmly.

The rest of the team, but Steve, are already there. We finally meet in person! Their 3-Wheelers are nicely parked, waiting to roar tomorrow morning!

Nice garage!

We drop the trailer and download our 3-Wheeler. We check everything is in good conditions after the two days trip from Madrid. Then we head to the guest house we’ll stay for the night for a quick shower before coming back for dinner.

Now all the pilots, co-pilots and a very nice couple of friends of Chas and Chris are there. The ambience is fantastic, and we enjoy the cold meats that Ana Maria and I bring from Spain: some jamón ibérico, salchichón, lomo, cecina, manchego cheese.

Enjoying the Spanish appetizers with some champagne.

The dinner is delicious, with final fights for the crackling. And the Spanish and French wines excellent!

Rob and Ana Maria.

We enjoyed a fantastic evening, with the best possible hosts and friends.

Day 4 – August the 31st: Au Bosq to Saint-Gély

465 km – 8h

We wake up early to make sure we’re on time at Au Bosq. The take-off time is scheduled at 09h30.

The sunrise today announces a great driving day!

Rob will be the leader we’ll all follow. He will be driving Chas’s dark blue 3-Wheeler.

He has carefully prepared the route, avoiding motorways and expressways with traffic, and selecting the most spectacular roads and passes through valleys and mountains between Au Bosq and our first overnight stop: Saint-Gély. These are our waypoints and roads:

Au Bosq → Monflanquin (D124) → Tournon-D’Agenais (D124 & D102) → Sauzet (D656) → Lalbenque (D653, D820 & D19) → Bach (D19) → Martiel (D19 & D911) → Baraqueville (D911) → Pont-de-Salars (N88, D888 & D911) → Le Bois du Four (D911) → Le Massegros (D911, D29, D809, D907, D9 & D32) → La Malène (D995 & D907BIS) → Sainte-Enimie (D43, D16 & D986) → Florac-Trois-Rivières (D907BIS & N106) → Saint-Laurent-de-Trèves (D907 & D983) → Saint-Roman de Tousque (D983 & D9) → Saint-Christol-les-Alès (D9, D260, D907, D284, D907 & D910A) →  Valleragues (D6110, D60 & D6) → Saint-Gély (D6 & D23).

Helmets on! We push the start button. The five massive S&S V-Twins of the Morgans start roaring. The sound of five 3-Wheelers in this beautiful sunny morning is pure symphony. And off we go!

Ready for take-off.

Our first surprise is how fast we’re driving. We never drove with other 3-Wheelers, and as newbies with the Morgan our rhythm is usually more conservative. But we feel nice and this fast rhythm is much funnier. And it gets better and better as we learn more about the machine at these speeds. It’s true that we’re the only couple in the squadron in a 3-Wheeler – Charles and Ari are driving the Ariel Nomad – which means we’re heavier. And on the top of that, all other four 3-Wheelers have engine modifications to stage 1 or even 2 and G56 exhausts. So, they’re all obviously much lighter and faster than we are in our standard machine with our luggage on the luggage rack. We’ll have to sharpen our skills not to break the formation!

We make a first fast stop in Cancon to fill the gas tanks.

Waiting for the other to refuel at cancon.

With the tanks full of fuel, we drive with Rob leading the squadron. The rhythm goes in crescendo and we really enjoy the driving. It’s so happy to share the road with other 3-Wheelers!

We keep going kilometer after kilometer… and more… and more… And the inevitable happens: we start feeling this pressure as the kidneys continue filtrating and filling our bladders. And more kilometers… and more… Oh my God… Isn’t Rob stopping? With a tense situation in our cockpit, we see we’re close to the aerodrome of Cahors-Lalbenque as we see some parachutists coming down the sky. We pass the aerodrome and just after Rob pulls aside and stops. Thanks God! I think I never went out the 3-Wheeler that fast! I see the others are in the same situation, as they all jump out of the Morgans and run behind the trees. Charles and Ari need to get out of the Ariel Nomad, which is an exercise worthy of a contortionist from the Cirque Du Soleil. Their faces crawling out of the orange cage show they needed this stop desperately too.

In the picture, after everyone relief from their internal hydraulic pressure, we look relaxed and smiling. But we assure you that few minutes earlier, many of us had our face the colour of Mario’s jacket… pale green. We seriously discuss to nickname Rob as “The man with the bionic bladder”. And we agree with a signal meaning “I need to stop, or I’ll start leaking”.

After the hydraulic pressure relief…

We jump back into our fighters and drive passing some nice villages.

And then we arrive to Villefranche-de-Rouergue. After we cross the L’Aveyron river and take uphill the D911, we’re driving in front of Chas and his stunning Squint Studio 3-Wheeler. After the first curve uphill, I don’t see him anymore in my rearview mirror. I slow down and wait to see if he’s coming, but he’s is not. He was right behind me, so I guess something went wrong. We continue driving uphill very slow expecting to see him soon in the rearview mirrors, but it doesn’t happen. Charles and Ari were in front of us, and they noticed too we’re not behind them anymore. So, they stop, and Ana Maria and I connect with them soon. We tell them Chas may have a problem, as he was right behind us and we lost him just after a curve. While we’re talking, we can see the others driving back downhill looking for us. We all drive downhill looking for Chas.

We find him on the side of the road with a flat front tire.

Chas had a flat tire!

Fortunately, nothing serious happened to him. He tried to take the turn and the front right tire lost the pressure and he went straight. But he hit no one nor anything. His driving skills helped him to take the 3-Wheeler safely to the side of the road without major issues.

Looking for signs of the puncture.

The problem is that it’s 12h30, and this is French lunchtime. And a Monday, which is the favorite day for the French to have their business closed. So, our chances to find an open garage this time of the day are dramatically low.

Mario walks down a small street near-by and, just talking German and gesticulating, manages to explain to a young French couple that we need a car jack. But when he proudly comes back, car jack in hand, the rest of us have already lifted the front of Chas’s 3-Wheeler using the traditional neanderthal caveman style, put two concrete blocks below the suspension arm, and removed the wheel.

Rob takes the flat wheel in his 3-Wheeler and drives down to town looking for a garage. Meanwhile, the French young couple who borrowed the car jack to Mario joins us. Truly kind people, they help us looking for a garage with their smartphone and calling people they know in town to check if we can find one open this time of the day.

Waiting for Rob to come back with the repaired tire.

We keep calling garages and it’s almost 13h15. Then, when we all think this is an impossible mission and that we’ll have to wait until 14h00 for the closest garage to open, Rob comes back with the wheel fixed! How did he managed to fix it this time of the day? He explains to us that he found a garage down the hill, but that they were closed because of lunch time. However, there was a lady at the reception, and he managed to convince her to let him in and repair the tire by himself using the garage tools. What a super nice move! We ask him for some details, just being curious. He tells us that repairing the wheel with the new inner tube was a matter of just 20 minutes. Eeehh…. Wait… the garage is just downhill… the wheel repair was 20 minutes… but he came back almost one hour after he left. Us, the neanderthal cavemen, started laughing and making fun about the “long timing negotiations” with the French lady at the garage reception.

Some minutes more to reinstall the wheel, and we’re good to go! We drive through some very nice villages and the landscape is beautiful. Rob has done a fantastic job selecting the roads!

Back on track.
Steve at the back of the squadron.
Aguessac – railway viaduct.

We reach Aguessac, by the river Tarn, and then follow the canyon for few kilometers and stop to refuel at Rivière-sur-Tarn.

Refueling at Rivière-sur-Tarn.

We have the choice to follow the river Tarn’s canyon, a beautiful road, or climb to the plateau to get to Massegros, which is another amazing road with breathtaking views and challenging curves. We take the second option.

On our way to the Massegros.

After getting to Massegros, we continue the D995 heading back downhill to the last section of the Gorges du Tarn through a series of 180º curves. What an amazing road!

Gorges du Tarn.

The only problem we find on these roads is that they’re too narrow to allow the Morgan squadron to pass some big white vans and some cars.

Gorges du Tarn.

The sound of our exhausts is generally loud enough to scare them and they politely pull aside to let us pass. But the road characteristics don’t help too much, and the squadron get split between other vehicles because of the complicated-to-pass traffic.

We arrive to La Malène and stop to rest, exchange our impressions, and eat something. La Malène is a beautiful village deep inside the Gorges du Tarn, with a really nice looking and preserved “manoir”: le Manoir de Montesquiou.

Manoir de Montesquiou – La Malène.

It takes just few seconds after parking the 3-Wheelers to have many people around fascinated with the Morgans, taking pictures, and asking lots of questions. The 3-Wheelers are truly striking machines.

Parked at La Malène.

After this relaxing moment and the energies recovered, we’re ready for the climb to the plateau and the National Park of the Cevénnes. We cross the bridge over the Tarn river to take the D43.

Crossing the river Tarn – La Malène.

This D43 is a very narrow road, with 180º curves so bended that many require to maneuver the cars a couple of times to pass them! In the very first curve, we’re about to collide with a cyclist, who was riding downhill very fast. With the turning radius of the 3-Wheeler, known to be like the Queen Mary’s, the cyclist finds himself braking hard to avoid hitting the S&S cylinders. We politely excuse ourselves, reverse a little – which was anyway necessary to pass such a narrow 180º curve – and leave the scene accelerating uphill. Fortunately, the roar of the exhaust pipes covers the insults of the cyclist…

The D43 just by La Malène.

After ten 180º curves combined with others of 90º and an incredible steep uphill, we make it to the top of the plateau and enter the Cevénnes. The climbing was fantastic, but the landscape waiting for us at the top is breathtaking!

Getting to the plateau of the Cévennes National Park.

We drive fast on very narrow roads, with no traffic at all, entering small forest zones and crossing green prairies under a sunny afternoon. Best possible roads for a sports car as the 3-Wheeler!

Amazing landscape in the plateau.

We drive the N106 leaving the beautiful National Parc of the Cevénnes behind us. This was probably the most beautiful part of the day. It’s a more open road, so now the driving is more relaxed, not so demanding with the gearbox.

On our way to Alès.

We make it to Alès where we find realistic traffic again. While driving through the city, we don’t even need to look forward to know that the traffic light is green or the roundabout is free… We know it thanks to Mario’s rear wheel squeaking, slightly drifting the back of his Morgan while he is giggling every time he is free to move. He might be the fastest 3-Wheeler clutch on Earth! We are all really enjoying the day and our machines.

After crossing Alès, we’re entering the Northern part of the French Provence / Southern part of the Rhône-Alpes region. The roads are beautiful, and the late afternoon light gives a relaxed and magical ochre and golden tones to the landscape.

Driving around Alès.

This is where the Côtes-Du-Rhône wine area begins. The country is covered with vineyards with their grapes fully grown and ready for the harvest by the end of September.

Côtes-du-Rhônes! Vineyards on both sides of the road.

We pass some small villages with elegant stone wall houses. France shows us the veracity of its reputation regarding architecture and the care of its villages.

Passing through beautiful villages.

Driving through these villages and on these roads is a real pleasure to the eyes.

The light over the vineyards.

At the beginning of the evening, and after almost eight hours driving, we finally approach to Goudargues and Saint-Gély, our final destination today.

The end of the afternoon over the vineyards.

We finally made it! The 3-Wheelers are parked in the garden at the entrance of the main house. We’re all very happy with the amazing route we’ve done today.

Cooling down the engines at Saint-Gély.

Rob showed to be an amazing pilot and route planner, as well as an excellent squadron leader during the driving, as none of us got lost or split from the squadron at any turn, roundabout or road cross. All in the group are fantastic travel companions!

Mario’s fighter.

As the country house where the group is staying tonight has no room for all of us, Ana Maria and I will stay in a hotel close-by. Being the specialist in travel destinations, she chose the place. I have to say I was really surprised of the fantastic place she selected: The Château De Montcaud. What a nice place!

Château de Montcaud.

The rest of the squadron joins us at the Château De Montcaud for a fantastic dinner.

A good wine to celebrate! Best way to end this first beautiful Morgan driving day!

And of course, local French wine for dinner.

Day 5 –September the 1st: Saint-Gély to Courchevel

400 km – 7h

The route today has been prepared again by our flying leader Rob. He uses his knowledge and a superb vintage 2001 Michelin large paper road maps set. The route today will be as follows:

Goudargues → Saint-Laurent-de-Carnols (D980 & D166) → Pont-Saint-Esprit (D23) → Bollène (D994, N86 & D994) → Nyons (D994 & D94) → Rémuzat (D94 & D61) → La Charce (D61) → Bellegarde-en-Diois (D61) → Montlaur-en-Diois (D61 & D93) → Die (D93) → La Chapelle-en-Vercors (D93 & D518) → Villard-de-Lans (D518, D103A, D103 & D531) → Engins (D531) → Voreppe (D531, A48, D3 & D3A) → Saint-Laurent-du-Pont (D520A & D520) → Chambéry (D520 & D1006) → Albertville (A43, D1006, D1090 & N90) → Moûtiers (N90) → Courchevel (D915 & D91A).

The plan is to meet all in Goudargues after breakfast, for take-off before 10h00. So, after our breakfast at the hotel, I take the rocket to the château entrance to clean it and load the luggage.

Nice breakfast at the Château de Montcaud.

The team at the Château de Montcaud is fantastic and they provide me with a clean cotton cloth and cleaning product to make the Morgan shine again.

Washed and shining again!

We drive to Goudargues crossing vineyards and forests under a beautiful sunny sky.

On our way to Goudargues.

We park just by the little river that crosses the town, in the shade of the huge centennial trees. We can see the Ariel Atom – its glowing orange chassis is difficult to miss – parked a few meters away. It’s truly a beautiful morning.

We’re so happy to see our Morgan shining beautiful after washing it! Then, Murphy’s law… The moment we’re putting the tonneau cover, with some people around admiring the car, the reflex of the sun on the clean hand-polished body of our Morgan attires the attention of a s@# m$%&€ magpie, who decides to land on a branch exactly over our car and send us her well digested breakfast as a shit bomb. The projectile is of fragmentary type, as it scatters at contact with the Morgan. The shrapnel hits me as well as few parts of the leather interior. That bastard bird is lucky I don’t have a BB gun at hand!

Shrapnel from the b@#$%& magpie’s bomb…

Five minutes to clean with a Kleenex the creamy magpie’s gift! They say birdshots give you luck, so we look at the bright side of this episode and we join our friends at the Café Du Midi.

Goudargues.

Now we know Rob and his bionic bladder, so we force a last visit to the toilet before leaving. Then we jump back into our cockpits and drive to the closest gas station to top the tanks.

Starting another amazing driving day!

The beautiful roads chosen by Rob take us through nice cozy villages. Special mention to Suze-la-Rousse, with its castle which is a Wine University since 1978, and Nyons with his Roman bridge.

Suze-la-Rousse.
Arriving to Nyons.

After passing Nyons we enter another beautiful road, through the Gorges de Saint-May, to Rémuzat and further.

Gorges de Saint-May.
La Motte-Chalancon.

The D61 to Bellegarde-en-Diois gets more and more interesting. The 180º curves climbing the Col de Rousset, after Chamaloc, are getting better.

We stop for a short break after the tunnel that takes us to the top of the Col du Rousset. We park all the cars in an empty parking space at the exit of the tunnel.

The 3-Wheelers squadron.

With the pictures taken there, we think this is the best time to present the machines forming our squadron!

Chas’s fighter.

Chas is driving this stunning 3-Wheeler: a Krazy Horse prepared machine, black colour, with stage 2 engine modifications, G56 exhausts, Olhins shock absorbers and the striking interior by Squint Studio. A truly original and high-performance machine.

Rob’s fighter.

Rob is behind the wheel of this super elegant Monterey Blue Metallic 3-Wheeler, with Bobbin upholstery. The engine is also modified and has G56 exhausts too. A rocket in the hands of such an experienced and skilled driver!

Mario’s fighter.

Mario’s 3-Wheeler is a fantastic Heritage Edition, painted in Rolls Royce Woodland Green with those copper, white and black stripes and painting details. The tan quilted leather completes this elegant look, but don’t let the look fool you! The G56 exhausts and modified engine make this retro-looking Morgan a super-fast machine!

Steve’s fighter.

Steve’s is the most vintage-looking 3-Wheeler of the squadron, with Rover Almond Green paint, and cream bonnet cowl and wheels. Classic black leather interior with nice headrests. The engine’s JAP aesthetic modifications and the exhausts wrap give it a really nice steampunk touch. Just put a Gatsby hat and you’ll look like the perfect Peaky Blinder!

Speedy Marmot’s fighter.

The Speedy Marmot’s 3-Wheeler is painted in Morgan Sports Green, with a white racing stripe along its body. The interior is made of dark brown quilted leather. The luggage on the rack behind the seats was tailor-made with the same leather and pattern, perfectly matching the trapezoidal shape of luggage rack. The MOG and afterburn decals with the badge bar give it a little retro WWII fighter look. Still no modifications on the engine nor exhausts, apart the S&S stealth air intake with its muscle cover.

Charle’s and Ari’s fighter.

The rogue vehicle of this squadron is the Ariel Nomad driven by Charles and Ari. Unfortunately, Charles’s 3-Wheeler is under repair and couldn’t make it for this trip, so it was surrogated by this orange-glowing Ariel Nomad. With its 235 bhp engine, sounding like a jet turbine at high revs, this is an incredibly fast and agile car!

Here’s the complete squadron with the pilots in front of their machines.

Full squadron picture.

After the short break, we continue driving towards Grenoble. The road goes gently downhill in a beautiful open valley, giving us spectacular green landscapes.

Then the road gets into a deep forest and we can see we’re getting into a deep canyon. The curves follow one after the other under the shade of the trees. It’s the Chute de la Goule Blanche, at which end the D103 meets the D531 by La Bourne river. From there to Villard-de-Lans the road is stunning, running into a deep canyon carved by the La Bourne river!

Chute de la Goule Blanche.
The squadron about to “shot down” a little van… – Chute de la Goule Blanche.
Rob, Mario and Chas – Chute de la Goule Blanche.
Incredible road – Chute de la Goule Blanche.
Getting into the deeps of the mountain – Chute de la Goule Blanche.
And about to “shot down” another van… – Chute de la Goule Blanche.
La Chute de la Goule Blanche.

This beautiful road ends by the outskirts of Grenoble. We avoid the big town keeping North of it, but still suffer a little bit of heavy traffic while passing through Voreppe and Saint-Laurent-du-Pont. Now becoming a tradition, Mario and his squeaking rear wheel warn us we’re moving again.

Voreppe.

After passing Saint-Laurent-du-Pont, Rob makes a short stop to double check the route. In the era of technology and navigation systems, it’s nice to see him looking at his 2001 extra-large paper Michelin Guide. Old school never dies and proves to be way more reliable most of the times!

Rob is consulting his 2001 Michelin large road maps.

Charles and Ari decide to get faster to Courchevel, our destination today, using the motorway, so they split from the squadron. The rest of the pilots are tired too after many hours driving in such demanding roads. But we’re all happy as kids with our nice toys!

Steve relaxing in his cockpit.

After Rob confirms the way, we follow him towards Chambéry and then direction Albertville. Before Albertville, on the D1006, Rob’s 3-Wheeler suddenly loses power and we all have to pull aside of the road on the hard shoulder.

We had to stop here as Rob suffered a power loss.

Showing again his great mechanical skills, he opens the front of the engine to check if the drive belt is the cause of his sudden stop. But this one seems to be ok. We were driving just behind him before the failure, and both Ana Maria and I could smell gasoline probably from his Morgan. So, we double check all the fuel circuit and connections. No fuel leakage is detected, and the 3-Wheeler starts again. With the cause of the sudden loss of power remaining a mystery, we hit the road again.

We reincorporate to the road so fast, because of the heavy but fast traffic, that the squadron splits in three. Rob alone at the front, then Chas, Steve and Mario in a second group, and Ana Maria and I at the back. And we all get lost from each other. Ana Maria and I thought to be the only ones disconnected and lost. We stop in a roundabout in Albertville to introduce the destination in our iPhone and continue afterwards. Some minutes later, at Moûtiers, we reconnect with Rob. We know nothing about the other three pilots. But we stay waiting on the hard shoulder for a few minutes and they finally appear in our rearview mirrors. The squadron is together again, and we climb to Courchevel with the sunset.

Ana Maria and I stop by our hotel to drop the luggage and get a quick shower, before joining the group for dinner.

As Rob lives in Courchevel, so he is at his place, he takes this occasion to drive his beautiful red Triumph TR4 to dinner. Ari jumps in as copilot, trying to remember what’s getting in and out of a normal car with a door!

Rob and Ari in the TR4.

The Triumph is a beautiful piece of British engineering. Admiring it was the icing on the cake for another perfect day.

Classic and classy cars…

Day 6 – September the 2nd: Courchevel to Chamonix, and back to Courchevel

280 km – 5h40min

Since we decided to join the Black Adder Team for this trip, we got a little hope that the Swiss authorities would change their policy regarding the entrance into Switzerland because of the Covid19. As explained at the very beginning of this long post, because we’re coming from Spain, and just six days have passed since we left our home in Madrid (Switzerland is asking for a minimum of fourteen days out of any country listed as high-risk), we can’t enter Switzerland without getting confined in the hotel for ten days. A fresh PCR Covid19 test is useless for the Swiss, so there is no way we enter the country without breaking their rules.

Ana Maria and I discussed this for a long time, and with the rest of the team. Some voices say we can get in without problem, as we’re driving from France and they won’t know the exact date we left Spain. In fact, they may not even ask. But our Morgan has obvious Spanish plates, and despite I have a Swiss passport, Ana Maria is travelling with her Spanish one, so we would be suspicious to the eyes of the Swiss since we get into their territory and check-in at the hotel in Grindelwald. The menace of a 10.000 CHF penalty fee each, if they find out we’ve being in Spain just six days ago, is too much! With infinite sadness, we take the hard decision to stay in France, breaking from the squadron during the days they stay in Switzerland.

However, we will still drive today with them from Courchevel to Chamonix enjoying the group most of the day. The route prepared for today to Chamonix by Rob (and by us back to Courchevel) is as follows:

Courchevel → Moûtiers (D91A & D915) → Bourg-Saint-Maurice (N90) → Lac de Roseland (D902 & D925) → Hauteluce (D925, no-name road passing through “Les Villes Dessous / Dessus” & D70) → Les Saisies (D70 & D218B) → Nôtre-Dâme-de-Bellecombe (D218B) → Mégève (D218B, D218C & D1212) → Chamonix (D1212, D909 & N205) # BREAKING FROM THE SQUADRON # → Mégève (N205, D909 & D1212) → Ugine (D1212 & D109) → Albertville (D1212) → Moûtiers (N90) → Courchevel (D915 & D91A).

Waking up in Courchevel.

We wake up again with a beautiful sunny day. It seems that we’re lucky with the weather in the Alps!

The first section of our route today, from Courchevel until Bourg-Saint-Maurice is on high speed roads. We forgot our GoPro suction cup at home in Madrid, so we’re taking all pictures and videos with a short selfie-stick and the iPhone. And at high speeds, we can’t take out the iPhone too high because the wind may bend or even tear the iPhone off the selfie-stick. For this reason, we did not take any picture nor video until we stopped at Bourg-Saint-Maurice to refuel.

After we all refueled, we take the first amazing road of the day. We know we’re saying a lot that the roads we take are beautiful or amazing… but they are! We must thank again Rob for being such a great route planner. His choices have been fantastic all days!

Heading to Lac de Roseland.

We start climbing on the D902 looking for the Lac de Roseland. The first section of this narrow road passes through a dense alpine forest. Fortunately, today is Wednesday so there is not too much traffic. So, we can enjoy a nice fast climb to the top of the Cormet de Roseland.

Breathtaking views.

We can enjoy stunning views of the back of the MontBlanc and the Pointe de la Louie Blanche amongst other high mountains.

The squadron enjoying the views.
Beautiful mountain road to the Pic du Cormet de Roseland.

After passing the peak of the Cormet de Roseland, we are delighted with the great landscape and the downhill road section down to the lake.

Lake de Roseland.

We stop in a small restaurant /café on a hill over the lake to enjoy the views and a nice coffee. Time to relax, breathe the fresh and pure mountain air, and take some good pictures.

Mario, Steve and Javier.
Ana Maria and Javier – The Speedy Marmots.
Charles and Mario.
Rob and Chas.
Ari.
Chas fighter – Lac de Roseland.
Lac de Roseland.
Panoramic view of Lac de Roseland.

We jump back into the cockpits and drive the road along the lake shore.

Engines roaring again – Lac de Roseland.
Mario taking off – Lac de Roseland.

In fact, it’s not a lake but a reservoir, and, when we get close to the dam, the road dives into a dense forest valley, with really funny curves and changes of colours as we go in and out of the shade of the trees and the mountain.

Instead of continuing down the valley, we take a side road with no name to pass through Les Cernix, Les Villes Dessous and Les Villes Dessus staying on the side of the mountain. Again, we enjoy beautiful views and make short stops to take pictures.

Les Villes Dessus.
View from Les Villes Dessus.
Climbing up the hill.

We continue the route passing by some flowered villages and ski stations.

Driving out of Les Saisies, we have a rare encounter: we cross a French Morgan 3-Wheeler driving towards us. A funny moment with happy salutes and cheers! And off we go to Mégève.

Les Saisies.
Mégève.
Mégève.

We finally arrive to Chamonix. The sad moment to separate from the squadron has come! We pull apart in a small parking to say goodbye. Unfortunately, we won’t see Mario, Charles and Ari again during this trip. After the Jungfrau-Treffen meeting Mario will drive directly back to Germany, and Charles and Ari will come back direct to the UK and the USA respectively. It’s a bitter-sour sensation, but we’re sure we’ll drive together again. Under the watchful eye of the Mont-Blanc the squadron splits.

Chamonix.

Ana Maria and I stay in Chamonix for lunch. And we take the opportunity to find a store where to buy a GoPro suction cup, so we can use our GoPro for the rest of the trip. After lunch and with a new suction cup in hand, we decide to take the cable car to the Aigüille du Midi. The day is sunny, and we’re told by the crew members at the station that it’s totally clear at the top.

Two cable cars and one elevator after, we find ourselves at 3842 m altitude with a freezing -5ºC temperature. We’re lucky we have taken our Barbour coats today! We enjoy the stunning views of the Mont-Blanc and the glaciers. What an amazing place! Absolutely worthy a visit!

The Mont Blanc from the Aigüille du Midi.
Views from the Aigüille du Midi.
Impressive glass floor at the Aigüille du Midi.

After this great visit to the Aigüille du Midi we decide to drive straight back to Courchevel and enjoy a little bit the village and the hotel. The driving back is still two hours, and we arrive to the hotel just at sunset.

The Speedy Marmots back in Courchevel.

We have time to walk around and see the beauty of this village in summertime.

Courchevel.
Courchevel.

This was another fantastic day.

Day 7 – September the 3rd: Courchevel to Serre Chevalier.

200 km – 4h30min

This is our first day of the trip driving our 3-Wheeler without the Black Adder Team. The night before we’ve been thinking about what to do the next days, and how to reconnect with them when they’ll be coming back from Switzerland. As we have stayed two nights in Courchevel, we think that touring around and staying in there for four more days until they come back to Courchevel will be too much. We decided during dinner last night to start moving towards Saint-Gély, the second milestone in the squadron schedule, in a calm and relaxed way. And enjoy the French Alps roads and cols as well as the lower Rhône-Alpes / high Provence regions. So, the route for today is as follows:

Courchevel → Saint-Martin-de-Belleville (D91A, D915, D96 & D117) → Moûtiers (D117) → Saint-François-Longchamp (N90 & N213) → La Chambre (N213) → Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne (D1006) → Valloire (D902) → Serre Chevalier (D902 & D1091).

The first section going to Saint-Martin-de-Belleville is in fact a little bit of improvisation, as we pretend to go straight to the Col de la Madeleine. But instead of driving until Moûtiers direct, we decide to take this D96 road that says ends up in Val Thorens. How can be a small mountain road taking you to a high-altitude ski station boring? Of course not! Let’s go! We’re immediately rewarded with a fantastic tiny road running on the skirts of the mountain in the middle of the alpine forest.

Now we have our GoPro properly mounted with its suction cup. Prepare for 4K quality videos!

After this first appetizer, we head to Moûtiers and drive down the valley few kilometers on the N90 to take the famous D213 to Saint-François-Longchamp, through the beautiful Col de la Madeleine.

When arriving at the top of the Col de la Madeleine, a wise photographer is taking pictures of the motorcyclists getting there, to offer them later in his web page at a reasonable price. He starts taking pictures of the Speedy Marmots as soon as he spots the 3-Wheeler. Some of them are quite good!

The Speedy Marmots – Arriving to the Col de la Madeleine.
The Speedy Marmots – Arriving to the Col de la Madeleine.

We stop at the top of the col to enjoy the views and have a coffee.

The Speedy Marmots – Stop at the Col de la Madeleine.
The Speedy Marmots – Stop at the Col de la Madeleine.

We forget to stop the GoPro recording, and it’s funny to see how fast the bikers and other people gather around the Morgan to check it closer and take pictures!

We talk with a biker coming from Norway. It happens he is from Cuba, married to a Norwegian lady. And he is doing a solo trip with his BMW GS1200 from Norway to Morocco. But he tells us he might come back to Norway after reaching Southern Spain, as the Covid19 situation does not allow tourists to enter Morocco these days. And then, but as a second reason, because his wife is calling him all days asking him where he is and if he’s coming back home or not… We had some laughs and exchanged some stories with him. A nice chap (well… maybe his wife differs from our opinion… LOL!).

Col de la Madeleine.

It’s time to continue to our next waypoint: La Chambre. Driving down this side of the Col de la Madeleine is also beautiful, crossing some other ski stations, to finally reach the bottom of the river Arc’s valley.

There we cross La Chambre and continue on the road aside the motorway until Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne, starting point of the road taking us uphill to the Col du Télégraphe.

The Col du Télégraphe is a relatively short col acting as an appetizer for the mythical Col du Galibier. Climbing these two cols, recreating a classic route of the cycling Tour de France, is a fabulous experience. Fast roads at the beginning and getting more and more twisted until the top of the Col du Galibier.

We stop at the top to see the breathtaking panoramic views. There is a TV crew there filming some advertising. Our arrival with the loud exhausts of the 3-Wheeler interrupts the scene. Sorry!

Col du Galibier.

It’s quite cold up here, so we’re fast with the pictures and jump back in the Morgan to drive down the road.

Panoramic view from the Col du Galibier.

The view from the top is quite impressive. The road has sharp 180º curves over a steep hillside with no fences nor protections at all. A brake failure or anything that makes you go straight in one of these curves means rolling down uncontrolled for a couple of hundred meters.

With my co-pilot a little scared, grabbing her armrest with the two hands, we make it to the valley. Despite the tension, it’s a fantastic experience we really enjoy and that will remain in our memories forever.

Forty minutes later we arrive to our destination today: Serre Chevalier. What an excellent driving today!

After a nice dinner, we plan the route for tomorrow. We’ll do a “light” day on easy roads to get close to Saint-Gély. We plan to stay in this area for a couple of days until the Black Adder Team returns from Switzerland. This region is famous for its wines – it’s the Côtes du Rhône area – and for being close-by the Haute Provence, meaning nice old medieval villages, monumental cities, castles, lavender fields, olive oil, etc.

Day 8 – September the 4th: Serre Chevalier to the Drôme Provençale

220 km – 4h

We have a fabulous breakfast at the hotel in Serre Chevalier before the ceremonial luggage-loading in and on the 3-Wheeler. The tailor-made luggage set for the luggage rack is surprising. Not only it fits perfect over the luggage rack, and gets incredibly secured with the four leather straps, but the amount of clothes and stuff you can put in is way more than we expected. The two bags over the luggage rack, combined with a small leather bag and an also small backpack in the traditional 3-Wheeler boot, allows us to carry clothing for the two of us for these 14 days trip, plus the two laptops and many other stuff such a blanket for the Morgan in case it gets too cold, an umbrella, the two big Barbour coats, etc. We are extremely happy with this luggage set!

Now time for take-off! This will be our route today:

Serre-Chevalier → Briançon (D1091) → Mont-Dauphin (N94) → Savines-le-Lac (N94) → Chorges (N94) → Gap (N94) → Serres (D994 & D1075) → Saint-May (D994) → Nyons (D994) → Maison d’hôtes La Fontaine Au Loup (D94)

The first section to Briançon runs on an easy and open mountain road. And then, we take the N94 leaving the Alps. As mentioned before, we don’t plan today to do tricky roads, but move faster towards the Drôme Provençale area, where we have booked our stay for tonight. The N94 has a bridge passing over the lake of Serre-Ponçon, and then goes along the lake shore. It’s a nice landscape, and we decide to stop for lunch in this area.

After Gap, we take the D994, a nice road across the Natural Park of the Baronnies Provençales. When arriving to Serres, we need to refuel and start looking for the next petrol station. We finally spot one on the left side of the road, so we reduce our speed and indicate we’ll turn left. While doing it, I check as usual my rearview mirrors to make sure that the cars following us, if any, are aware of our maneuver, and… what??!! I see a Morgan chromed grille just behind us. Really? When we’re turning to enter the petrol station, we can clearly see a Plus Four, four-seater, in purple color. What a coincidence! We waive at each other and smile cheering the encounter. As we are entering the petrol station you can hear in the video the roaring of the Plus Four accelerating. It’s a pity that the GoPro did not catch images of the other Morgan!

After this happy encounter, we continue the D994 and in Verclause take the D94. This D94 takes us to the crossroads to Rémuzat, so from there we’re driving through the Gorges de Saint-May again. We did this road with the squadron on our second Morgan driving day. Now with the GoPro we have the occasion to take better video of this beautiful road!

We finally reach Nyons. We’re getting closer to our destination. We continue on the N94 and little after crossing Saint-Maurice-sur-Eygues we take to the right a short dirt road uphill and arrive to La Fontaine Au Loup.

What a nice place! It’s a classic Provence-style house, very cozy and comfortable with the minimalist style of the area, relaxing colours for the decoration, and an excellent swimming pool. The owners and managers, Valérie and Allain receive us very warmly. We have some welcome fresh drinks with them on the terrace as they give us plenty of tips about the area. We love so much the place and our hosts that we decide to stay two nights at the Fontaine Au Loup!

Arrived at La Fontaine Au Loup.

Following Valérie’s and Allain’s recommendation, we have booked a table for dinner at a nice restaurant in Séguret. We leave by sunset to cross the river L’Aigue, that separates the Drôme and the Vaucluse, so the Rhône-Alpes and the Provence regions.

Sunset in the Provence.

We drive the beautiful small roads to Séguret. We’re surprised by the beauty of this medieval village. We park the Morgan by one of the ancient doors, by the city walls. The place with the sunset light reflecting on the ancient stone walls looks magical.

Parked in Séguret.
Séguret.

Dinner à Côté Terrasse is delicious. Classic regional French cuisine with modern touches and excellent local wine. After the desserts, we do a short walk in the village, before driving back to bed. The village is worth a visit!

Séguret.
Séguret.

Day 9 – September the 5th: driving the area

72 km – 1h20min

Today is a very relaxed day. We’ll just drive short distances enjoying the local country roads and visit some villages and castles around. The plan for today goes like this:

La Fontaine Au Loup → Nyons (D94) → Grignan (D538, D941 & D541) → Suze-la-Rousse (D541, D71, D117 & D59) → La Fontaine Au Loup (D94)

We wake up late and enjoy our breakfast under the shade of the trees. The Morgan is quietly waiting for us under the olive trees. This is really a peaceful place…

La Fontaine Au Loup.

Around 11h30 we decide to start the tour. First stop: Nyons.

This is a beautiful village. We park the Morgan in a bit of a hidden parking area, just by the main city square, just in front of a very small restaurant with a terrace. The locals come to check out the 3-Wheeler. Amongst them are the owners of the little restaurant, who very kindly tell us we shouldn’t worry about the car, as they’ll be watching it all time.

Nyons.

Nyons has a nice old city center, very pleasant to walk. And many tourism attractions, such as a nice Roman bridge, a lavender distillery, and an olive oil mill.

Nyons.
Roman bridge – Nyons.

It’s a beautiful day. The sun shines and it’s hot. We do the walk, make some visits to the mentioned places and buy some local crafts and products. I’m lucky we’re travelling with the 3-Wheeler, and its limited luggage capacity… We come back to the little restaurant where we parked the car and sit down there for a light lunch and some fresh brews.

We jump back into the cockpit and decide to go to Grignan. It’s a famous village with a magnificent castle and good wineries. We cross many vineyards on our way to Grignan. Such a nice landscape to drive in!

Grignan.

We park the 3-Wheeler as close as possible to the pedestrian area, under the shade of a huge oak tree. We walk uphill towards the old city center of Grignan and discover the reasons for its fame. It truly is a beautiful village.

Grignan.
Old city of Grignan.
Walking the streets of Grignan.
Cathedral and castle – Grigan.
Grignan.

We leave Grignan after a nice walk into the old city and ramparts of the castle and cathedral. It’s being a really nice tour.

Grignan from the distance.

Now we’re heading to Suze-la-Rousse. When we passed-by with the squadron many days ago we didn’t stop to visit its castle. And apparently its worthy a visit.

Château de Suze-la-Rousse.
Château de Suze-la-Rousse.
Château de Suze-la-Rousse.

And it is! As soon as we park the Morgan by the entrance, we can see it’s a beautiful building. And in perfect conditions, not only because it’s a monument that can be visited by tourists, but also because since 1978 it holds the Wine University. Not a bad place to study oenology…

We come back to La Fontaine Au Loup on time to get a shower and change for the dinner. Tonight, we have a “table d’hôtes”. Valérie is cooking dinner for all those staying at La Fontaine Au Loup tonight. The dinner is fantastic! Valérie is an excellent cook.

Dinner at La Fontaine Au Loup.

Day 10 – September the 6th: La Fontaine Au Loup to Chateau de Montcaud

60 km – 1h30min

Today we’re driving a relatively short distance, so we looked carefully which roads we want to drive today, as we’re not in a hurry. Being an area full of vineyards we plan the route through tiny small roads. This is our route for today:

La Fontaine Au Loup → Tulette (N94) → Canal du Compte (N94 & Chemin du Bomparet) → Rochegude (Le Grand Bois, Lignane, D59, La Garrigue de Saussac, Garrigue de la Galère, Chemin de la Galère & Route du Moulin) → Derboux (D8 & Chemin du Gourget) Bollène (D12, D994 & D8) → Pont-Saint-Esprit (D994 & N86) → Chartreuse de Valbonne (D23) → Saint-Laurent-de-Carnols (D23) → La Roque-sur-Cèze (D166) → Château de Montcaud (D166 & D143).

We load the luggage at La Fontaine Au Loup and say goodbye to our fantastic hosts Valérie and Allain. We loved the place and will repeat for sure next time we’ll visit the region.

About to leave La Fontaine Au Loup.

As soon as we pass Tulette, we enter the small roads we’re looking for. Nothing but vineyards on both sides, small forests, old country stone houses, and no other vehicles than our 3-Wheeler.

We drive slowly, enjoying the views and the landscape. As it’s mid-September, the grapes are well filled with juice and ready to be picked. The harvest will be at the end of the month.

The grapes are ready for the harvest.

Villages and castles such as Suze-la-Rousse can be seen in the distance from the roads we are traveling.

The vineyards with the Château de Suze-la-Rousse in the background.

We keep driving on small roads until Bollène, as there are few bridges to cross the Canal de Donzère-Mondragon and the river Rhône, and the closest ones are in Bollène and Pont-Saint-Esprit respectively.

Pont-Saint-Esprit is a beautiful place to cross the river Rhône. While driving over the ancient stone bridge we are delighted with the views over the cathedral and the old city.

Pont-Saint-Esprit.

We leave Pont-Saint-Esprit to enter a beautiful road, the D23 and the D166. Crossing the Valbonne’s forest and passing by the Chartreuse de Valbonne, a monastery of monks-hermits of the Order of the Carthusians founded in the 13th century, and later through La Roque-sur-Cèze, which is included in the list of the most beautiful villages of France.

Chartreuse de Valbonne.
La Roque-sur-Cèze.

We finally make it to the Château de Montcaud. We’re back to this gorgeous place! We really love the hotel and the team there is truly fantastic. This is why we repeat staying here!

Back at the Château de Montcaud.

We spend the end of the afternoon walking through its gardens and have dinner in the bistro. Today’s dinner, as well as our dinner six days ago when we first stayed here, are possibly the best of the entire trip. The products and the treatment that the Chef gives them are excellent.

Dinner at the Bistro au Château de Montcaud.

Day 11 – September the 7th: Uzès and Pont-du-Gard

75 km – 1h45min

The plan for today is to visit Uzès and Pont-du-Gard, avoiding as much as possible the main roads. It’s a simple loop that goes like this:

Château de Montcaud → Mégiers (D6 & D166) → Cavillargues (D166) → Pougnadoresse (D166 & La Cornirede) → Vallabrix (D166 & D5) → Uzès (D5) → Pont-du-Gard (D979 & D981) → Valliguières (D19A & D6086) → Pouzilhac (D6086) → Connaux (D6086) → Bagnols-su-Cèze (D6086) → Château de Montcaud (D6 & D143).

The driving to Uzès through the mentioned villages is relaxing and beautiful. And with another sunny day we can’t complain at all about the weather. The region is so nice and green! The vineyards, little forests and medieval villages over the hills make the driving a whole idyllic experience.