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"Fast Bikes", May 1, 2013

Travel & Tracks

No, that's no one of Al's scribbles – it's the road!

POSTCARD FROM: THE FURKA PASS

When you get to a road like the Furka pass it’s one that’s too good not to share. Switzerland obviously has a lot going for it road wise, but I didn’t find too much until I got an hour or so out of Geneva. Get past Brig and you know that a big playground is coming up. You get hit by mountains everywhere, but once you can see a ribbon of road creeping up the sides a big smile comes across your face. The road surfaces are amazing. As such you can have a real blast and go up and down for as long as you want. There are a lot of cyclists and buses going up and down, but if one messes up a corner there are 50 more to get right! I did intend to go on to the Stelvio pass, but had so much fun round here that I ran out of time!

Simon, email

We can really vouch for this Pass, and the Oberalp pass close by. It’s not as tight as the Stelvio and the scene is every bit as spectacular. Just remember that the Swiss police aren’t the friendliest in the world, if you crash you may end up having to pay for the damage to Swiss property, and that you’ll need a Vignette if you’re going to use any of the Swiss motorways to get there. Get to it!

GETTING IT RIGHT: CRANER CURVES

A-Force says: Some clubs are great to be a part of, but joining the Craner Club isn't fun and you’ll usually need to spend the next year fixing your bike. The natural thing to do as you exit Redgate is hug the inside of the track. It’s nice and safe, just as you click fourth and reach triple figures, but the optimum line is staying a few feet away from the first apex followed by clipping the second apex curbing on the right. It takes years to master Craner but seconds to crash there, so just take your time and the line will come naturally. Being a clockwise circuit, the left side of the tyre doesn’t get the workout needed to maintain temperatures, so be wary as you tip into the left and don’t overload the front of the bike – roll off the throttle just as you change direction and avoid ANY front brake or choppy throttle action. Likewise, avoid too much gas on exit and don't run too far to the outside of the track, as you need the correct line into the Old Hairpin while braking lent over. Get it right in the height of summer, and Craner is up there with the world's best.

GREAT LAUNCH ROADS – DN7 CANNES

Manufacturers like to take journos south so that their bikes can be snapped in the sun. The further south you go, the better the weather is likely to be. But you can’t go too far wrong by heading to the South of France. This was the scene of the Monster 1100 launch a few years ago – among many others...

To get from Cannes to Frejus on the Mediterranean coast is easy. You can go on the motorway, follow the coast – or you could take the DN7 that climbs up and down the rocky escarpments between the two glamorous towns. Aside from a load of push bike riders, hardly anyone uses this road, and as such it can be a real playground. The roads are well maintained, the corners fabulous, but be warned – the rocks are as hard here as anywhere else. Head further north and you’ll find a wealth of other superb alternatives, but given the weather, the traffic, the quality of surface and its proximity to the coast, it’s really hard to think of a better road in France that isn't covered in snow in January.

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