Brew up and settle down to this tale of a tour to the Tyrol on single-speed bikes (with pedal assistance), minimal brakes but bags of British pluck. No-one had coined the term ‘adventure bike’ of course; every ride was an adventure and this was one of the best.
THE PERUSAL OF ‘THE HIGH ROADS OF THE ALPS’, by CL Freeston, FRGS, and also my keenness to go to Austria and see the Stelvio Pass, gave me the idea that my next holiday must be on my motor bicycle. Something over two thousand miles must be covered, and the vexed question of whether I should buy a two-speeder troubled me for some time, but in the end I bought a 3½hp touring model Matchless, single speed. My next worry was, could I get someone to join me? and after two disappointments, I was successful in inducing W Grange, who had ridden through the 1911 Junior TT to go, and with his 3½hp Bradbury cut down to 499cc he decided practically to alter nothing but go with it as it was, with long exhaust pipe and all. Perhaps I had better give here some particulars of the machines. Grange kept his capacity at 499cc, retained his studded Dunlops, carried a spare outer cover and sundry tubes, a Lyso 1in belt and spares, and had semi-TT handle-bars, two sets of footrests, B&B carburetter. His method of carrying luggage was as novel as it was satisfactory, consisting of a wicker pillion passenger seat on the carrier, with three leather and canvas bags with plenty of spares and clothing, and a tremendous strap to keep them in position. My machine was the ordinary standard 3½hp 1911 Matchless with pedalling gear, B&B carburetter, ⅞in Lyso belt and two spares, 2¼in Palmer cord studded tyres and no spares, and one extra inner tube; whilst I had a box made for the carrier to hold the belts, tube, spares, a quart of Price’s ‘A’, camera, and odds and ends. At the side I had strapped a small suit case, resting on a small platform and covered with waterproof cloth, holding a spare pair of trousers, socks, shaving tackle, brushes, and underclothing, etc. Neither of us carried lamps, as we did not think it necessary. We were already members of the CTC, and obtained customs permits for France, Italy, and Switzerland free, but for Austria there were special tickets, for which duty amounting to £3 10s each had to be paid, to be returned on producing our papers duly cancelled. The CTC Continental Hand-book, from which could be ascertained the size of any town, also the hotels, charges, etc, was also taken, together with a map of France and part of the adjoining countries, the scale being sixteen miles to the inch, also Brunn’s map of the Tyrol. Monday, July l0th, about seven o’clock, Grange called and told me he had packed everything whilst the machine was on the stand, and on pushing it off preparatory to starting he had such a weight on that the whole affair pulled him over and fell with a crash on the ground, breaking his stand. This was quite a warning to him, and the question was, how were we to start? I live in the middle of a long hill, and we thought it too much to attempt to start in the middle, so we went to the bottom. The weather was warm and fine, and we made straight for Wetherby, about nine miles distant. The weight on the Bradbury was awful, and Grange said the steering was queer, especially at corners, whilst I could hardly say I was at home. Every pot hole seemed as if it would smash the carrier to bits. The Great North Road possessed but little interest to us, Newark being our stopping-place for food. Grange also took the opportunity here to send a telegram to Messrs Bradbury for a new stand, and also a new cam wheel. It seems that the day before he had been screwing the nut on the spindle, and he had given it such a wrench that he had pulled the nut end off, and had only just hammered
the end over. The wonder is that the wheel, which, by the by, drives the magneto, had stuck on at all. This done, we set off, and arrived without incident at Edmonton, just on the outskirts of London, having covered what was eventually to prove our biggest day’s distance, viz, 212 miles. Next morning, Tuesday, I visited the works of Messrs Prestwich, and they very kindly ground in my valves and cleaned the cylinder and piston. I may say that I had done nothing in the wav of preparing my engine, as we went off almost immediately after our return home from seeing the TT races. In the afternoon we crossed the Thames by ferry, and had a good run via Maidstone, over tarred roads nearly the whole of the way to Folkestone, the day’s distance being eighty-one miles. Wednesday was another sunny day, and after wheeling our bicycles to the landing stage we went to book our passage to Boulogne, the fare being 7s 5d each and l0s each machine, single journey. This I consider out of all reason for such a short journey, about 1¾ hours, and it is no wonder that so many people try to swim the Channel! However, I decided not to come back the same way, even if I had to return via Russia. Boulogne was reached about 2.45, and we went straight to the Customs House to present our CTC tickets, here the officer made out a permit for 6d each, the whole proceeding only occupying a few minutes, and we were then free to roam wherever we wished. Getting petrol was our next difficulty. There were some cases of it on the dock side, but the owner could not be found, so, enlisting the services of one of the usual crowd, we sent him to the town for two cans. Whilst waiting, we made enquiries at the offices of the Bennett Line, and got particulars of sailings from Boulogne to Hull and Goole. Eventually the petrol turned up with the usual tale of how hard it had been to procure, and, our tanks being empty, we were able to take a tin each. Perhaps I had better mention that, as a rule, petrol is sold abroad in 5 litre tins. This cost five francs for the two, and works out at about 2s a gallon. At last we set off, and in Boulogne itself turned to the right and struck an atrocious road, a bad example of bumpy sets or pavé, which unpleasantly reminded us again of our weight behind. At last we struck a better road, and as we had received a good shaking up, called a halt. Knowing that petrol was going to be rather an expensive item, we brought out our cases of spare B&B jets, but I found that I had my smallest jet already in, so I hammered it still smaller. Continuing, we passed through Samer and reached Montreuil, where we turned to the left and again struck an awful road—it was more of a nightmare; we could see for miles straight ahead, no hedges, no corners, but tall trees, similar to poplars, bordered each side of the road, which was itself composed of large rounded sets with several missing ; sometimes there was a track on the side about a foot wide, but it was unpleasantly near the trees and often intersected by a deep gulley. We scarcely ever did more than twelve miles an hour, and eventually arrived, after passing Hesdin and St Pol, at Arras, where we decided to spend the night at the Hotel de l’Univers, which we found excellent. During the day Grange had broken part of the spring on his front forks, but by tightening the screws up he had made them semi-rigid. I thought something must happen, as he was careering through some villages at fifteen miles an hour, when I was nearly shaken to bits at about half the speed. The afternoon’s
distance was seventy-one miles. Next morning we had the customary rolls and coffee, and after receiving the bill I produced my CTC badge and asked, much to our host’s surprise, for the ten per cent discount to which the handbook showed us we were entitled at this hotel. It was knocked off without demur. Another glorious day, and we set off in high spirits after we had filled up with petrol, and Grange had bought a glass to replace one he had broken in his goggles. Whilst we were waiting a funeral passed. First came several choir boys with a cross and chanting a psalm, and then some little boys and girls with bouquets, after which came the coffin and the elder relations and friends. We turned into a side street and tried to get in front of the procession, when Grange came a cropper in trying to avoid a cart coming out of a narrow side street. After a few words on both sides we eventually got into the main street again and reached the country. A perfectly straight road was next followed through Cambrai, where, by the by, our luggage was examined for dutiable articles just as we entered the town. Here we turned to the right, and later on to the left, and reached St Quintin. The villages we had been passing through were far from beautiful to look upon, most of the cottages being dirty and colour washed, whilst the farm yards opened straight on to the vile cobble street. The weather was awfully hot, and what made it more exasperating was the fact that the roads were so bad that a speed of twenty miles an hour could not be maintained to give us a chance to keep cool. I had not gone far when I found the top of my oil pump had screwed out, which necessitated a stop. The least exertion caused me to perspire, so hot was it—in fact, how the engines stood it I don’t know. On we went. As a rule, the road was perfectly straight, but more than thirty miles of it per cyclometer was wretched pavé . Oh, how we hated the sight of it! Laon was eventually reached, then, thirty miles further on, Rheims, and as we had now done 110 miles in sweltering heat over atrocious roads, we decided to stay the night here at the Hotel du Commerce et Metropole, and found it good. Our usual method in regard to hotels was to have breakfast about eight o’clock, and then ride slowly all day, with sundry stops for a smoke or to eat fruit, never deciding till late in the afternoon where to stay the night. This we found best, as we never knew what the roads had in store for us. We usually arrived at the hotel in time for a good wash before sitting down to seven o’clock dinner, and we were always lucky in getting a good meal. Rheims was partly explored in the evening, and seemed full of people; in fact, some of the streets were blocked, doubtless owing to some kind of celebrations that were being held. Our machines were greased on the plated parts, and the dust was thick all over, but no matter how dirty or dusty we appeared, the hotel proprietors were always pleased to see us—a pleasing contrast to the treatment sometimes experienced when entering a decent hotel at home. Next morning, Friday, July 14th, we donned our coveralls again, and, leaving Rheims, made for Châlons-sur-Marne, luckily over better roads, although somewhat loose, owing to the hot weather. At Châlons we stopped and bought a pound and a half of peaches for 9d, which we ate in a shady spot and finished up with a cool smoke. Soon after this I pulled two nails out of my back cover, but a careful search failed to reveal any puncture in the tube, so it was replaced. We were now approaching Troyes, and decided to put up there, but I was destined to have one or two stoppages first, for three times I blew up the rear tyre, and once, when going through a village, I heard such an awful grating sound from behind that I had to pull up in very quick time, to discover that my carrier and luggage had slid back and were trailing in the road. The carrier had slotted fastenings, so that the whole lot could he swung backwards to facilitate tyre repairs; these ends were temporarily hammered up, and we reached the Hotel St Laurent in good time. Here I took out the back
tube, and found a small puncture on the rim side of the tube; at the same time Grange produced a hefty hammer from his kit, and we hammered up the slotted ends on my carrier, and they never gave any further trouble. Although we only covered eighty miles that day it had taken us about six hours owing to frequent halts. Again the weather was glorious as we set off for Bar (not the mahogany variety!), and the country now appeared to be improving from a scenic standpoint, but it still left something to be desired. As we were leaving Troyes, we were pleased to see a Bedelia. The day was not quite so hot, but the dust was much more troublesome. Through Chatillon we followed a stream for a long way, and on looking at the map I was surprised to see we were on the banks of the Seine, and only a very short distance from its source; in fact, so narrow was it here, we could almost jump across. Dijon was our next stopping-place for the night. As we approached it the scenery greatly improved, and when it appeared as if we were in for a nice stiff climb, we stopped on a long descent for Grange to put his gear ratio down and cut his belt; but I decided not to touch mine, as it was giving a gear of 4⅓ to 1. We had not gone far when I had to open my throttle a bit more, and then more, the road developing into a nice twisty and sporting hill, but careful ‘nursing’ at corners enabled me to get up comfortably. Once at the top I waited for Grange, and as he did not appear, I returned and met him coming up; he told me later that lowering the gear and cutting the belt had proved his undoing, for he broke a fastener. We had now done ninety-seven miles to Dijon, and put up at the CTC Hotel Moderne et du Jura; and it was modern, for there, actually on the mat, was the word “Welcome”. It proved the best hotel we had found so far, and the bedroom was a marvel, with its hot and cold water and shaving mirror, also, amongst other things, a dummy clock worked by electricity from the hall. Sunday was the next day, but we decided to get along, and left busy Dijon for Dôle, the weather being still comparatively cool. Just before Dôle was reached we came upon the nicest village we had yet seen, which looked ideal as we slowly approached down a long twisty hill. However, once there we were too busy to admire much, for the main street was bumpy and steep, and we were in for a nice steady pull up out on to the hills again. Poligny was our next stopping place, this time to enquire our way and for Grange to tighten a nut on the carburetter. We were now faced by what appeared to be a wall of hills, and, ascertaining that the road went over them, we set off, delighted to be able to let our motors ‘out’; nor were we disappointed, for we soon struck something that was worth tackling. I was taking a rather nasty hairpin when I came face to face with a bullock cart and two dull-eyed bullocks. These being successfully passed, I helped my machine with a few sharp digs of the pedals, and after tackling one or two more hairpins the road finished with an almost straight long pull up, which gave no trouble. A further ten miles brought us to Champagnole, and whilst I was buying petrol Grange essayed his French at a cafe and asked for lemonade. A few minutes later he came and asked me why they brought him gin in a bottle and three tall glasses! I tried my luck to see what would happen, and got lemonade, but it was pink. Leaving Champagnole, we soon came to a fork in the road. As I could not make it out on my map and the corner post gave towns or villages I could not find, we took the right-hand road, and after twenty miles reached Lons-le-Saunier-les-Bains, to give the place its full name—which, by the by, it does not deserve—in the middle of the afternoon, and there being no other place of any importance for a good distance on our route, we decided to stay the night here, the day’s distance being ninety miles. We found the CTC Hotel Genève excellent. Grange was rather bothered to-day with a slipping belt, but this did not cause any trouble worth mentioning. Next morning, Monday, July 17th, was as sunny as usual. On wheeling the bicycle out, I found the saddle was loose, and on further inspection I saw the saddle-pillar was broken. I was, luckily, able to have another fitted, at a cost of two shillings, at a cycle shop almost opposite the hotel. Perhaps I had better say here that this saddle-pillar was not supplied with the machine, but was taken with saddle, etc, complete from my last year’s mount of different make, as I prefer a saddle that has been ridden some time to a new one. A very enjoyable run of thirty miles brought us to our proper road, which we joined at Laurent, the scenery now being very impressive, as in the distance we could see mountains like a dark bank of clouds. Grange was quite impressed when told we must cross over them, but no doubt we should find a twisty road and sneak through almost without knowing it. We now began to tackle the Col de la Savine in the Juras, and the going was excellent, the splendid road leading through a pine forest which gave every now and again lovely panoramas of distant mountains and valleys. A descent to Morez, and we were climbing again, this time the Col de la Faucille, a nice sporting climb some five miles long, amidst magnificent scenery. Very sorry were we to reach the top. At Les Rousses we stopped at the French customs, although I did not think it necessary. A look at our tickets, and we were sent on our way again, to be met by another motor cyclist who had no doubt just left Switzerland. We thought we had reached the top of the Col, but were mistaken, for we afterwards passed it, with its hotel and a number of cars that had run up from Geneva. We were now descending, and very soon came to a view that brought us off our machines in quick time, for we appeared to be on a road cut out of the cliff side, and away to the left could be seen the glittering lake of Geneva, with Geneva itself bathed in sunshine, whilst the road leading down to it appeared twisting all ways. This lovely view kept us full of admiration for nearly half an hour before we started the descent properly. Round the corners very careful driving was necessary, especially after I had seen a light racing car come tearing up, with its driver in a racing helmet and ear rolls all complete. Every now and again a house was passed flying the French flag, denoting we were still in France, although we had left the French customs house a few miles back. Through Gex and then to Grand Saconnex, we came to the Swiss Customs House, and had a chat concerning motor cycles with a customs officer who spoke excellent English. Our CTC tickets were shown here, and we again had no trouble, not even undoing a strap. The roads on the borders of the two countries were in a bad state and very loose. Arriving at Geneva in the early afternoon, we put our bicycles on the stands, and after tea we saw more motor cycles in the next half-hour than we had seen for a week. The place was alive with them. All appeared to be lightweights, very low geared, the Moto-Rêve and Motosacoche predominating, although the latter is not to outward appearances anything like those seen at home. Our machines and luggage had meanwhile drawn quite a crowd outside, which made our departure rather embarrassing. A halt at the bottom of the street, and we were at the lakeside, with its very animated scene of white pleasure steamers, motor boats dashing about, and white sailed yachts, etc. We were reluctant to leave Geneva, and decided to revisit it on our way home. Lausanne was distant about thirty-five miles along the lakeside, and a remark of mine to Grange that we should have just nice time to amble along and then get a good wash before dinner called forth the advice that we must hurry. “But why?” said I; “it is only half-past four.” ” Rot; it is half-past five,” said Grange, and pointed to a clock; then I realised the variation between Swiss
and French times, and had meekly to put’ my watch on an hour. The run along the lakeside was charming, but Grange had broken another glass in his goggles, and was troubled with the midges getting into his eyes. At Morges we stopped for a smoke, and watched an angler in a pretty little harbour. Grange had overcome his belt slip just before entering Switzerland by hammering his belt rim up a bit and touching his pulley up with a file, so it did not trouble him again, which was as well, for we expected Lausanne to be on a level with the lake, and were surprised when the road took a sharp turn to the left, and we were confronted by a nasty little hill. The abruptness of the turn and the fact that half the road was up pulled us both off our machines, but only for a moment, and we very soon reached the Hotel Victoria, where we found everything that could be desired. Next morning, Tuesday, July 18th, we decided to have our first day’s rest, and spent it in the hotel garage. We took our cylinder heads off, scraped pistons and cylinders of deposit, and touched up the valves the least bit. I at once became unpleasantly aware that my gudgeon pin and bearings were not wearing as they should do, and I decided to give a pumpful of oil every ten miles instead of fifteen. Grange thought this a good opportunity to put in his new cam wheel, but it would not fit! This was a nuisance, as the old one had given not the least trouble, and the question was, was there sufficient metal left to hammer over again? When replaced and hammered, the old wheel looked like holding, so was left as it was, the new one being put back amongst the spares. The afternoon was pleasantly spent by a walk down to the quay at Ouchy and thence by lake steamer to Evian-les-Bains, Villeneuve, Chateau of Chillon (which, with all due respect to its admirers, we thought a barn-like affair), Territet, Montreux, Vevey, and back to Ouchy. This trip took all the afternoon, and was well worth it, notwithstanding the inflictions of a man on the boat with a harp. We had not had a drop of rain so far, and next morning, Wednesday, July 19th, we put on our overalls in continued sunshine, and set off along the lakeside to Vevey, but I had not gone far on this very pretty but dusty road before misfiring set in, to be cured by cleaning the plug and contact-breaker. All along the road there were plots of land or small fields rising from the lakeside in terraces, given up to the cultivation of the grape, and the men were seen very busy with portable tanks and sprayers syringing the vines, whilst there were also what I call ‘rain guns’—that is, nothing more or less than a huge funnel-like gun pointing skywards, the idea being to fire it off when a rain cloud is overhead, when, with a bit of luck, one can get rain to order. At Vevey we turned to the left and began a long climb of several miles up a twisting road, and overhauled and passed a car, much to its driver’s surprise. Along through Bulle we shortly took a road to the right, and Fribourg was soon passed, over a beautiful bridge with the river swirling beneath, Once over the bridge the road to the left was taken, leading to Berne, the Swiss capital, and about eighteen miles away. On entering Berne I had to wait for Grange, whose petrol supply had almost given out. It was not nearly so easy to obtain petrol as in France, and with only sufficient to last for twenty miles one should begin to think about filling up. I was rather surprised in Berne to find that the simplest questions in French were scarcely understood, nearly everyone speaking German. The roads, or at least the roads we took through the capital, were a disgrace, and many a back street in a manufacturing town at home would put them to shame. We were now almost through Berne, and not a sign of petrol had we found, so we asked a man where we could obtain some “essence”. A blank stare. Then I tried “Petrol”, “Moto-Naphtha”, “Stelline”, and a few more names, until at last a light dawned on him, and he exclaimed:
“Ah! Benzina.” We had found another name for that useful spirit. We had to go over a mile to procure it, and I gave Grange some out of my tank before we arrived at a small house with the sign, ” Auto-Benzin, where we both filled up. How hot it was! And our poor engines were hot, too, for the petrol we had bought was awful stuff, and our bicycles ran rather sluggishly on it. Straight on, through magnificent scenery, over the river Emme, into Langnau. A halt for a cooling drink, a photograph in a pretty village that looked just as if it had been made out of a child’s toy box, and we were again off, passing at times lumbering waggons with teams of horses, the drivers often holding a cherry tree branch, which they had torn off some of the many fruit trees lining the roads, and idly plucking the black fruit. The horses were relieved a good deal from the troublesome flies by perforated buckets full of smouldering leaves or some damp sacking which were attached to the pole shaft. We soon reached another small river, which we followed for some time, when the Bradbury suddenly stopped, without a sign of misfiring. We guessed the trouble immediately, and Grange very quickly had the magneto chain cover off, then his timing gear exposed, and found that his ‘hammered’ wheel had come adrift. A few drops of rain now came down, and as we were only a few yards from an open building, we went inside. We made a small key and replaced the wheel, and were off again under twenty-five minutes. The rain was only two or three drops, but straight ahead it was pitch black and a thunderstorm raging. We decided to stay the night in a country hotel near by, as it was now somewhere near six o’clock, and we were about fifteen miles from Lucerne, our distance for the day. being 105 miles. Next morning we reluctantly left, and were soon approaching Lucerne. Grange was somewhere behind keeping out of the dust, and I was thinking of nothing in particular, when suddenly I saw a long cigar-shaped dirigible disappearing behind a small mountain. Grange came up, but although we waited, it did not appear again. What a picture the approach to Lucerne was that morning, with the dazzling sun on the lake. Following the lake a little, we climbed up a bit, then stopped for a smoke and to admire the magnificent panorama that lay before us. One large branch of Lake Lucerne lay almost at our feet, everything being quiet except for the steady ‘chug:chug!’ of a motor barge in the distance. Passing through Küssnacht, we left Lake Lucerne behind, but immediately came suddenly upon another about a third as big—Lake Zug, which is something like ten miles along each side. This was, like all the others, perfect. A drop down to Arth, then a turn to the left, and we struck a little terror of a hill about six miles long, which, like all others, required some skill in negotiating the numerous corners. We were on the edge of a small mountain; on our right the road fell abruptly away, while below was a small lake of a dazzling blue. A drop down to Sattel, with Lake Aegeri on our left, and we were climbing in earnest again. However, the descent came at last, and with it another lovely panorama of Lake Zurich, away down below. We stopped here for some time admiring the view, perched on a bank in the shade of some pine trees. Once on the lake side, the road to the right was taken, the one on the left leading to a bridge over the lake to Rapperswil. At Lachen we decided to take in petrol, and, whilst I saw to the machines, Grange had his overalls sewn up by the proprietor’s daughter, who saw the tear first and very thoughtfully came out with a needle and thread. Leaving Lake Zurich, we turned to the right, and were on a long, straight road bordered with tall trees. With no town of any importance on our main route, we decided, in the late afternoon, to go a little out of our way to Glarus, and now entered a valley with towering peaks on either side. Glarus was soon reached, the day’s run being seventy-five miles only, but the odd half hours we spent in admiring the scenery, a bumpy road, and the difficulty of finding the way, made the run seem long. We stayed at the Hotel Eidgenossen, which we found rather dear, but good. Next morning—Friday, 21st July—we set off to retrace our steps a bit, and Grange, having lowered his gears, set off with a roar, whilst I was hot on his heels when my engine started misfiring, until I put in a new plug, and, although there seemed nothing wrong with the old one, the trouble was cured straight away. The descent was very twisty, but the view superb, and down below in the distance, on our left, like a shining emerald, was the romantic Lake Wallen. Sargans was quickly reached, and a little further on Bucks, where, crossing the Rhine, we went through a bam-like bridge, and nearly ran over a customs officer, for we had just left Switzerland, and were now in Austria. We walked into the Customs House, where another officer took our CTC tickets, which were separate ones for Austria, and began to fill in particulars on a form. When he came to the words on our tickets, “Motor Zweirad”, he suddenly stopped, went outside, where the other officer had, meanwhile, affixed seals to our machines, and began shaking his head. At last we understood that our tickets were of no use, for, he said, the CTC was for cyclists, and not motorists. In vain did I try to explain that we had paid £7 for the two of us to the secretary, to be returned when we got our papers discharged, but it was of no use. Then an idea seemed to strike him, for, sitting on the steps, he folded his arms and said “Tuff! tuff! Sh! sh!” As Bucks was only a few yards off, and we had just passed the station, it seemed quite likely to associate his behaviour with playing at trains. At last we understood that if we went to the Frontier Customs Officer at the station he might let us through. At the station we were lucky in finding a very decent fellow who could speak fairly good English, and we tried to get through without paying duty, but after half an hour it was of no avail, so we returned to the first Customs House and paid about £9 in duty, which, we were told, would be returned at any Frontier Customs House we cared to leave by. Seals were re-affixed, and pieces of very stiff cardboard were given to us for the Matchless and Bradbury, about six times the size of our number plates, bearing the numbers ZWI 540 and ZWI 541. This incident having taken a very long time, we decided to spend the night at the next place of any importance. The road was very bumpy and loose, and soon finding Grange was not following, I waited, then returned, and found him with his back wheel out, putting in a new inner tube, having had a puncture and run out of solution. This done, we again set off and soon came to Feldkirch, with a short bridge over a deep cleft, and a river swirling below. Up and down the main street of this quaint Austrian town we rode looking for an hotel, until someone in buttons raised his hat, and, looking up, we found the Hotel de la Poste et d’Angleterre, where we decided to stay. Only fifty-five miles to-day, but it seemed a long run and full of interest. Next morning we had breakfast with an American who was driving a Packard car, and had been to see the Stelvio. I think what impressed him most, and ourselves for that matter, was that he had been half-way up the pass, and in returning had to reverse on twenty-two corners out of twenty-four to get round, so it could have hardly been a joyful ride. Requiring petrol, we stopped at the first shop—it was a small garage—and both filled up. The owner was quite interested in our machines, and a statement that the machines were capable of a speed of 60mph, if properly tuned up and the conditions were all right, brought an incredulous smile to his face. Taking us to a corner of his workshop, he showed us parts of an engine he was making. We had great difficulty from laughing outright, for he had a connecting rod with tremendous ball bearings, whilst the little end holding the gudgeon pin was welded on! We followed the river out of the town, then turned to the right over a bridge, and were soon in country that must have lately been swept by flood, for there were tree trunks and driftwood all over the fields. We were now making for the Arlberg Pass, and the mountains on either hand were impressive. The road began to rise gradually, and on a short steep patch I pegged out, much to my astonishment and Grange’s amusement, who lowered his gear and smiled knowingly the while I reluctantly cut my belt and lowered my gear from 4⅓ to 1 to about 4¾ to 1; this was the first time I had touched my belt or lowered my gear since leaving home, and although the pass did not appear so stiff, on taking a backward look it seemed a hill indeed. At Stuben I could see a nice mix-up of twisty zigzags up the mountain side, and again decided to
reduce my gear to 5¼ to 1. We adjourned to the hotel at the summit and had a nice cool lemonade each. For the descent we raised our gears, and soon met a car slogging slowly along uphill with steam coming from the filler cap four feet high; then another one was passed with a horrible smell of burning brakes. A nice stretch of perfectly straight road through fine trees, with the peak of a mountain at the end, now came into view. Hereabouts the Arlberg Railway leaves the bowels of the earth, and was our companion at intervals for several miles. A small stream may be noticed near the summit of the pass, and it is more than interesting to watch it gradually swelling until a few miles down it is a swirling torrent, and in parts appears to be nothing but foam. The scenery is magnificent. The road does not descend as quickly as the river, and in one place in particular, where the river is joined by another, it is spanned by a magnificent single-span bridge; the sight from a great height up as one looks over a wall bordering the road is one not easily forgotten. A turn to the left at Landeck, then a straight run to Imst, where we decided to fill up with petrol, six kronen, or about five shillings, being charged for a gallon and a half. Soon after leaving Imst I passed Grange running with his belt slipping, and noticing later he was not following I returned, and found him putting a new butt-ender in, as the one he had been using was splitting all the way round, presumably where it had been folded in his box. We met a perspiring individual pushing a very old crock with the front tyre flat. The poor chap was nearly wet through with pushing on this hot day, so we took out his tube. Oh! dear! what a tube! If it had one it had quite twenty-five patches all ready for coming off. A split was repaired with one of my biggest patches, and at last we got him off after many expressions of thanks. The road now got frightfully dusty, and we were nearly choked by an overtaking car, which, however, we soon repassed in trouble as we rode into Innsbruck. We put up at the Arlbergerhof; this hotel was good, but the arrangements for meals most unsatisfactory, the system being that you had to have them in an adjoining restaurant and pay for them separately, provided the staff were not too busy to wait upon you. Innsbruck seemed very prettily situated, and was full of climbers, or, perhaps I had better say, those apparelled as such in wide knickers made of fancy leather or velvet, a fancy waistcoat over a white shirt, whilst the furry green hats with feathers, or what appeared like a gigantic shaving brush, stuck up saucily behind the crown, ‘capped the lot’. Our run to-day had been 106 miles, and the petrol bought had cost over 10s. Next day, Sunday, the 23rd, we again set off on another glorious but hot day, and before we were out of Innsbruck I struck a villainous gutter. Hastily putting up my hand, I was too late to stop Grange, and he caught the long exhaust pipe of his Bradbury and broke it beyond repair, so he wrenched it off and threw it into a field. The Brenner Pass starts straight away, and as one sweeps round bend after bend gives fine views of Innsbruck nestling on the plain below. We both lowered our gears, and tackled a steady climb of twenty-three miles over a road very loose in parts. After ten miles I pulled up with a puncture caused by a sharp flint, and then after another ten miles of steady pulling I saw a nice long steep bit to finish with. Opening the throttle to the full, I shot along, but the hard work was taking it out of my plucky bicycle, and on pulling the pump up I found I had no oil in my tank. First came back air, then a notch or two of ignition, and, although I pedalled for a few yards, I pegged out within a hundred yards of the top. Propping my bicycle up, I sat in the shade and waited for Grange. Shortly he came along, and I could hear his engine settle into a steady hum as he caught sight of the steep bit. Gradually it slowed down, until he stopped some two hundred yards below. He had practically no petrol left, but had noticed a sign in a village lower down, so, refusing some out of my tank, he free-wheeled down, whilst I completed the remaining small distance. At the hotel at the top I had something cool in a glass, replenished the petrol tank, and filled up with oil for the very first time. This I consider very good, as I had been giving a pumpful every fifteen miles with clockwork regularity to Lausanne, and after that one every ten miles; this, I think, shows the advantage of the drip-feed pump over the ordinary ‘full up one minute and start the next’ variety. Continuing our way past the summit, which is denoted by the prettily-situated village of Brenner, we kept company with a river for a long distance, and now and again passed a monastery or castle perched high above our heads on a peak or rock, as well as a few monks in their brown cassocks and cowls, with a tasselled silken rope round their waists. We also noticed an open-air church or chapel by the roadside, only the pulpit and altar being under cover. We never seemed as if we should finish the descent, and even yet I cannot say where it ceased. Swiftly we bowled along, crossing and re-crossing the river, and now and again passing through pretty villages, past the fortress of Franzensfeste, through Brixen, with its right, left, right turns, on to Klausen, with its awfully narrow street which makes you instinctively tuck your elbows in, into the open air again, and a view of a Benedictine nunnery perched high on a hill top. We called a halt to enjoy a cool smoke, and I explained to the nervous ‘Billy’ that a tremendous ‘boom’ was not thunder, but only what I have referred to before as a ‘rain-gun’. Resuming, we entered a narrow gorge, with the river for company. But what is this coming? Surely it is not? But, yes—and we pass the first bicycle and sidecar, a twin NSU; and also, to complete the wonder, what appears to be the exact counterpart of a ‘Davis Double’. Then into Bozen, which Mr GL Freeston so aptly describes as the oven of the Tyrol. We found the Hotel de I’Europe excellent, and very welcome after a hot ride of eighty-two miles. The evening was spent in dining out of doors, and then drinking lemonades and ices for the rest of a very sultry evening, to the strains of an outside orchestra playing ‘Poppies’ and ‘Yip-i-addy-i-ay’. Petrol we again found was very difficult to obtain, and very dear, and Grange said that when he returned to fill up on the Brenner he was asked 10s. for a tank full, and, in the end, he paid 6s. Next day, Monday, the 24th, as luck would have it, it rained nearly all day, so we set to and cleaned our pistons and cylinder heads and changed exhaust valves to save grinding in. I changed my tyres over, whilst Grange put his new Dunlop on his back wheel, as it was not being improved with rubbing against his pillion seat. He also brought out his spare cam, and decided to make a proper job of it; so off he set, and, coming to a chemist’s shop, after much difficulty persuaded the chemist to let him have some prussiate of potash. I think the man behind the counter thought he was going to commit suicide. Then Grange found a nice little workshop, and put a blow lamp on to the cam, softened it, eased it a trifle, case-hardened it, and it then fitted perfectly and gave not the slightest trouble; not content with this, he also altered the timing of his valves for the next day’s climb, whilst 1 had another look at my gudgeon pin, and found that the rapid wear was being arrested somewhat. May I here give a word of thanks to Messrs Price, who very kindly paid carriage and duty on three quarts of their ‘A’ oil, which were waiting for us at the Post Office, and so enabled us to have our favourite brand at the ordinary retail price, as if we were in England, instead of Austria. Next morning was beautifully clear and fine, so we set off in high spirits for the eagerly looked forward to Stelvio Pass, but we had not gone far before Grange had to stop to retime not only his ignition, but his valves as well, before he was satisfied. On mounting a steep hill in a village, my Matchless pulled half a fastener to little bits, but we were soon on again, over dusty and bumpy roads, through Meran, the ancient capital of the Tyrol, and then Neu Sponding, after a run of about fifty miles. Being now at the foot of the Stelvio, we stopped to consult the map, etc; also I lowered my gear to the very lowest possible (5¼ to 1), whilst Grange put his at 6 to 1. A few remarks on the Stelvio Pass will perhaps give the reader a better idea of what was in front of us. It is the highest Alpine highway, and there is not even one in the Himalayas to rival it. The Austrian side is more difficult, as the gradient is steeper and there are more hairpin corners, whilst the altitude at the bottom is 2,940 feet above sea level, and I think I am right in saying that no British high road goes as high as this, not to mention starts there, whilst the top is just over 9,000 feet above sea level. There are therefore over 6,000 feet to climb in a distance of fifteen and a half miles, this giving an average gradient for the fifteen and a half miles of 1 in 13. This you may think is not steep, but with forty-six hairpin corners to negotiate it is rather difficult, and I may add that motor cyclists who have seen very little worse than the Sutton Bank corner, and the so-called ‘hairpin’ from the foreshore to the town at Saltburn, simply do not know what a hairpin corner is. The road is not cleared of snow till the middle of June, and before then it is, of course, impassable for traffic. But, to return to how we fared, I found the gradient easy at first, and had done about three and a half miles when I spotted the Bradbury propped up, but I saw no Billy, so I kept going, passing over the Trafoi-Bach three or four times by bridges that span this turbulent river. The gradient seemed to be getting steeper, so I opened the throttle a little more. I remember very little of the road till Trafoi was reached, which is about halfway up, and is a magnificently situated village with a palatial hotel. I was ambling along, gazing about me, when ‘Great Scott!’ too late, I found a hairpin to the right, and, as I was going about ten miles an hour, and almost every one of the forty-six hairpins cannot he ridden up at over six miles an hour, I soon came to a standstill; but, with a heave, I ran a few yards and was again climbing. Oh! those hairpins! The narrow shaves I had as I sneaked round one after another, till once more I came to one that again proved my undoing, so I put the bicycle on the stand and waited for the Bradbury. I could see very little of the road, as it was much hidden by pine trees, but I soon heard Billy coming, first slowly, then a roar, then ‘Bang! Bang!” several times repeated, as he gingerly took corner after corner; then he came to the one approaching the spot where I was resting. I could hear him shut off as he caught sight of it, then he appeared round the hairpin and opened out, but he was going too slowly, so finally stopped and placed his machine alongside mine, while we exchanged experiences about the corners. Again we set off. This time I was first, and round hairpins galore I wriggled till I was nearly dizzy. I espied a spring splashing merrily into a small wooden tub, and, although the bicycle was pulling well, I could not miss the chance, and dismounted to have a refreshing drink of the icy cold water. Grange soon came up, and did likewise, but, in addition, emptied the whole tub of water on to his engine—a proceeding I thought very silly, but, as luck would have it, the cylinder was not cracked. With a now cold engine, the Bradbury set off again, whilst I soon followed, to be pulled up a mile or two on at a large hotel at Franzenshohe, where, almost in the shade of the loftiest peak of the Tyrol, the magnificent Ortler (12,800 feet), and in sight of the Madatsch glacier, we went in for something wet and cold. This hotel makes a good resting place for the enormous numbers of, walkers, etc, not forgetting a quantity of diligences with anything from two to six horses. Grange again set off, and I followed. More hairpins and many breathless moments, in one of which I again ran into a gutter, and could not get under way again. There were only about four more corners to the top, so, with a cheery hail from my companion, I set off and soon reached the summit. We arranged to spend the night at the summit, and got rooms at the Hotel Ferdinandshöhe, the day’s run being sixty-eight miles. The road up was in very good condition, and whilst at the bottom we were sweltering in the heat, we found there were huge banks of snow within a few feet of the hotel door, and this was the end of July The frontiers of Austria and Italy join at the summit, and the proximity of forts in the neighbourhood forbids any photography, but I got permission from the customs officers to take a photograph of the hotel and the said officers outside enjoying a meal. I cannot describe the pass better than by saying that the corners almost beggar description, and the road is like a jumping cracker gone mad. The view, as is to be expected, is magnificent with the snow-clad Alps all round, and as evening wore on the sunset was a sight never to be forgotten, whilst in the distance intermittent flashes of lightning lit up the glistening peaks. We each had five stops during the ascent, but we took things easily, and did not fag ourselves once. We were quite satisfied, taking all things into account. Next morning, Wednesday, the 25th, after an early breakfast, I went into the custom officer’s room, and was paid back without any. trouble the£9 duty we had paid on our machines on July 21st. The £9 consisted of about fifteen notes that looked more like dirty red blotting paper than anything else. We now began the descent, and soon came to St Maria, where we presented our CTC tickets at the Italian Customs House, and were given a permit, while seals were affixed to our machines without any trouble. I may here say that we had had our seals and huge number plates for Austria taken off at the summit as we left Austria. The descent down the Italian side was great fun, for we now took the hairpins easily, and on one was a huge drift of snow, which Grange jumped on in exhilaration. We passed several score of carbineri with mules laden with what appeared to be Maxims, and went through a few tunnels, with the water dripping down our necks. At last we reached the bottom with our engines practically cold. By a fairly straight but very dusty and hot road we had a fast run through Bormio, St Antonio, Grosio, Tirano, Trescendo, and Sondrio, till I was pulled up with a nail in the back tyre. Shortly afterwards, through Morbegno, we caught sight of beautiful Lake Como glistening in the sun. At Colico we were at the lake side and we had a glorious run of about twenty-five miles along Como, through Dervio, Bellano, to Lecco, where, on consulting our handbooks, we decided to put up at the Hotel di Croce Malto, at which we found the charges moderate. The day’s run was 106 miles. Lecco proved very disappointing, and we decided to spend the next day at Como. A frightfully dusty road, very bumpy through Erba, and then a few long climbs brought us to
Como, where we put up at the excellent Hotel Volta. A pleasant day was spent at Como in having a welcome dip in the lake, etc. In the evening we were crossing the Place Volta when we heard a motor bicycle knocking horribly, and, strolling across, we recognised a well-known British make, which shall be nameless. The owner, an Italian, was quite pleased at the interest we took in him and his machine, but my offer to bet him 100 lire to one centisimi that he could not do the 120 kilometres à l’heure, which he said he could do, brought only a smile. Next morning we set off, again on atrocious and dusty roads, through Varese, Gavirate, to Laveno, where we decided to cross Lake Maggiore by boat to Pallanza, whence we continued our way. Near Gravellona are huge granite quarries, and the road was so awful we marvelled that we had broken nothing. Following the river Toce through Omavasso, the mountains on each side gradually got nearer as if to hem us in, till we came to Domodossola, where we spent the night at the Hotel Terminus e Spagne, after a dusty and hot run of fifty-eight miles. It was here that poor Chavez was killed after flying over the Alps, and there were grim mementos—picture postcards of the accident, etc—that brought home to us the stupendous feat of that plucky aviator. The following morning, Saturday, 29th, we left Domodossola and made our way by a frightfully dusty and bumpy road towards the Simplon Pass. We had done about ten miles of undulating road with some very steep pitches, on lowered gears, when we came to Iselle, where the new Simplon railway tunnel ends with its yawning mouth close to the road. We could see a huge bank of snow now and again just off the road, and at Iselle we were stopped by the Italian Customs, where our seals were removed and our permit given up, as we were now leaving Italy. About six miles further on we again had to stop, this time at Gondo, where the production of our CTC tickets gave us free entry into Switzerland again. This was not all, however, as we had to get an authorisation to cross the pass, which costs two francs each motor cycle. The Swiss customs officer would not take Italian money, but he was careful to give me three huge Italian five-lire pieces in change. We also had to conform to the obnoxious regulations which say that you cannot cross the pass on a Thursday, the time for the twenty-four miles must not be faster than six miles an hour, and the time you can be let out at the other end is written on the permit and must be given up at the other end; corners must not be taken at over two miles an hour, you are not allowed to start before 9am and not after 5pm, and a lot more silly regulations; whilst for infringing any of them you are liable to a fine not exceeding £24. In plain language, the surface of the Simplon pass is a disgrace—bumpy, loose, unrolled stones, and although the road rises just under 6,000 feet in twenty-four miles, this gives very little idea of the steepness, as there are several bits of level and some actually downhill. Soon after leaving Gondo we entered the famous Gorge of that name, and the rocks tower over ones head on either side to a height of 2,000 feet. Shortly afterwards the Tressinone waterfall dashes down on the right hand and dives under the road, the spray blowing in your face. Almost before it is out of your eyes you enter a long tunnel having a bend in it, and the up grade on a greasy surface makes the fun furious while it lasts. A few miles more of this bumpy road and 1 was pulled up, first with misfiring, due to a particle of metal across the plug points, and then again by a tumble on some unrolled stones. Once at the top we had coffee and rolls and a look at the Hospice, as we had plenty of time to spare. All around the view is magnificent. The gigantic Jungfrau, Nesthorn, and other peaks, with their snow-clad summits, make an ideal picture, whilst the Aletsch Glacier, which, I believe, is the largest ice-field in the Alps, must not be forgotten. A little further on we both took our belts off and free-wheeled for miles. We soon came to an avalanche tunnel or two, one in particular where a mountain torrent dashes over the roof and makes the road surface treacherous, for the water leaks through. The road was washed away in places, and one could plainly see where floods had recently swept all before them. Again were we forcibly reminded of the Swiss anti-motorist feeling, for, too late, I saw some broken glass, business end upwards, carefully placed all across the road. Hastily putting up my hand I was too late to stop Billy, and a little time was spent in removing the glass and examining our tyres, which fortunately seemed none the worse. Brigue was reached at last, and after the examination of our permits, to see we had not done the twenty-four miles under four hours, we were permitted to continue our way, but before doing so we made a point of reporting the glass incident. Filling up with petrol at Brigue, we soon found the road improving, and we set off at a fair pace to make up for those six miles an hour. A practically straight road with the Rhone for company through Visp, Sierre, Sion, Martigny-Ville, then to the right and straight on again through St. Maurice, and we were asking for St Gingolph, our destination for the day, but it only brought an uplifting of the eyebrow. Trying another person we were greeted with a blank stare. This was getting beyond a joke. Each time I pronounced it differently, so I decided to give the ladies a chance, but they actually ran, in desperation. I tried an old man in a doorway, and gave him all the variations of pronunciation I was capable of and waited. A smile came over his face, and he said, “Ah! Sangangolf!” all in one breath. Yes! just like that, “Sangangolf”. At last we arrived at St Gingolph, which is at one end of Lake Geneva. We put up at the Hotel Terminus after a run of 116 miles, and found it the cheapest little hotel we stayed at, whilst the food and, Billy said, the wine were excellent. Next morning I awoke to hear the rattle of open exhausts, and, rushing to the window, I saw about a dozen push cyclists stripped for the fray, with a car following bearing the official banner, whilst half a dozen motor cyclists rattled along in the rear. For hours we watched the race; it seemed to be a push cycle TT, and many a competitor dashed up to a fountain near, jumped off his machine, ducked his head in the water, and was off again. One unfortunate punctured near us as we took our breakfast on the verandah, and I noticed his tyres were of the single tube variety, and that he wrapped insulating tape round and round the hole; his wheel also had a sprocket either .side for altering the gear—another dodge! Into the saddle once more—this time Billy leading—and so through Evian-les-Bains. I soon came to a fork in the road. Which was the way? My map showed no such fork, so, thinking Billy must be hugging
the lake side, I did the same. Two more forks, and still I did not see him. Then my front tyre went down. I found the puncture and put a patch on, had a smoke, and put the tube back. Then I found my pump would not work, and many minutes were spent in faking it up. Round every corner I expected to see the Bradbury propped up whilst its owner regaled himself with peaches and figs, but it was not to be, and I got quite anxious because, although we had arranged to stay at Geneva—it was only a few miles further on—we had not settled on which hotel, as there were several in the CTC book. The reader will perhaps remember I that we had been through Geneva on our way out, so 1 decided to make for the cafe where we had stopped for afternoon tea, and leave my bicycle in a prominent position and see if Billy turned up. I slowly crept through the traffic and over the bridge that spans the lake, and up what appears to be the main street, and so to the cafe, where I was surprised and glad to see Billy. The reason of our losing each other was that Billy had stopped in a very shady spot to locate a ‘squeak’, and, as I passed, he waved to me to stop, but I was bending down to read my cyclometer. Hastily hopping on to his machine, he sped after me, but was almost immediately pounced upon by a customs officer, and made to turn the whole of his effects out, whilst he fretted and fumed to no purpose; after this, by taking a different fork, he had passed me when I was mending my tube. We put up at the Hotel Terminus Baur after a short spin of thirty-seven miles. That afternoon and the next day were spent in Geneva, on the lake, over at Luna Park—a kind of White City, with joy wheel, water splash, etc—whilst the Kursaal kept us captive for the evening with a little play at ‘Petits Chevaux’, till I found the odds were nine to one against winning, while if you won you only got six to one, which was not good enough for me. The day before leaving Geneva we visited the CTC consul, CW Mason, MA, who gave us much valuable information about the roads we were to traverse. Tuesday, August 1st, was gloriously fine, and we set off through St Genis and Bellegarde, on the best road we had met with since leaving England. The scenery was very pretty, and we gradually entered a cleft in the hills, which drew nearer and nearer together till they almost met. When they seemed as though they were going to meet, we came across some fortifications, and we suddenly went over a drawbridge into what appeared to be a courtyard, much to a soldier’s astonishment, and out at the other side. This, I understand, was Fort l’Ecluse, and would have made a perfect little picture, but I dared not risk an exposure. I do not remember if it was before or after this that we came to the French-Swiss frontier, where we again showed our CTC tickets, but we were made to unpack. Quickly we sped along, through Nantua and a bit of bad road, through Thoirette, when we were lost on a road that was apparently too insignificant for my map, but, though narrow, it had a fairly good surface, whilst the country was of the wildest, for we were now in the Jura mountains. We were enjoying ourselves, and did not care as long as our petrol held out and we could get a decent hotel to stay at if night came on. We eventually reached Bourg, and now locating ourselves on the map, we chose a good straight road and headed north, passing Montrevel, St Trivier, Cuisery, and so into Châlon-sur-Saone, where we put up at the Grand Hotel. This is the second time I have been to Chalon, and I may say, if possible, I should in future avoid it, as it appears to be devoid of interest. The day’s run was of 125 miles. Wednesday, August 2nd, and another glorious day, we set off on a road I knew from experience to be good. Passing through St Leger, and just out side Autun, Billy ran short of petrol, but he scorned my proffered liquid, having got sufficient by lifting the front wheel up to carry him into the town. Tanks full up once more we again set off, and reached Saulieu, then Avallon, and after mending three punctures in Billy’s tyres with patches cut in two to make them spin out, we reached Auxerre without further incident after a day’s run of 118 miles, and put up at what I had previously found to be a good hotel—the Hotel de I Epée. Leaving next morning, we made good time through Joigny to Sens, then the Forest of Fontainebleau, when we were brought to a halt in a large clearing with no less than seven roads joining, and had some difficulty in deciding on the correct one. A swift run to Corbeil followed, and then, having taken a wrong road, we had to cross over the Seine and go up a wicked cobbly street, in which Billy had to tie his stand up, as jolting over the awful pavé bad loosened the fastener. Proceeding through Juvisy we came to Choisy, where the Eiffel Tower could easily be seen as we turned to the left and struck a good tarred road to Versailles. The roads here and to St Germain beggar description, being composed of huge sets, with deep holes where several are missing. A community that tolerate such a road must be only half civilised. Three times before reaching our destination had I to mend punctures, seemingly due to the awful bumps breaking the canvas and then rubbing through the tube. At last we reached our stopping place for the night, the Hotel du Soleil d’Or, after a cool run of some 137 miles to Pontoise. Friday, August 4th, was the next day, and saw us leaving for our last day’s run on French soil. Through Mern to Beauvais, Grandvilliers, the road was composed of loose scraps of flint, as sharp as arrow heads. A car or two were passed with tyre trouble, whilst several times wrappings off new tyres could be seen by the roadside. I was not to escape, however, for three times had I to mend punctures. Passing Poix a swift run to Abbeville, and more petrol at Montreuil, we eventually arrived at Boulogne, and made for the Grand Hotel du Nord, after a day’s run of 136 miles. Next day was spent at Boulogne, and we booked passages by the Bennett Line to Hull, as it was nearer home, and saved a tedious run up the Great North Road. We paid 10s each for ourselves and only 3s 6d each for the machines. What a contrast to the Folkestone-Boulogne crossing! Rain came on as we entered the Humber the following day, and was still with us as we landed at Hull at 4.30pm, after a pleasant passage of 18¾ hours. We were allowed to keep the petrol in our tanks on board, and this sufficed to take us to the nearest garage, where we filled up for 2s 4d. How trifling this sum seemed after what we had been paying. Our tour had taken exactly four weeks, the distance covered being 2,250 miles per cyclometer. Our combined petrol bill was £5 1s 6d, while I used three quarts of oil and Billy used four and one-third quarts. The ⅞in Lyso I put on to start with carried me throughout, which, I think, speaks for itself. Grange used two, changing over now and again, one having been well used before starting. In conclusion, if any reader would like any further information as to roads, etc, I shall be pleased if he would communicate with me through the Editor.
The Tyrol Tour yarn appeared in The Motor Cycle over five weeks. The week after the final instalment a rather sniffy reader’s letter was published, followed by the author’s rejoinder. They indicate that motor cyclists used to be thin-skinned and opinionated. Thank goodness that changed.
Sir—I have read with interest the ‘Tyrol Tour’ of Messrs Fawcett and Grange, all the more so as they followed, to a great extent, the route I had taken, three weeks before them, to Venice. I was hoping to learn that they were the two English motor cyclists who had left the Hotel Croix de Malte et d’Italie at Lecco on the morning of the day I arrived there, viz, July 6th, and I see that Mr. Grange, strangely enough, stopped at this same hotel, but on July 26th. Who were these two other English motor cyclists? Will they declare themselves? Truly, the world is a small place for motor cyclists. I cannot agree with Mr Fawcett that the surface of the Simplon Pass was so bad. There are large stretches of unrolled stones, it is true, but one cannot expect a steam roller on an Alpine pass. Again, I found the pass regulations more fearsome on paper than in the reality. The pass is about twenty-four miles, and, surely, one would not grudge four hours over this, through gorgeous scenery. When one goes to Rome one must do as the Romans do. Therefore, when one goes to Switzerland, drive slowly and considerately, because the Swiss are motorphobes at present. I feel quite at one with Mr Fawcett as to the uncivilised pavé in the neighbourhood of Versailles and St Germain, and indeed in all the towns and villages on the Boulogne side of Paris. To escape bad roads and pavé, go by way of Cherbourg and Normandy, and so diagonally across France to Switzerland. May I ask Mr Fawcett one question? He rode a single-geared machine, I a two-speeder. Quite apart from the merits or demerits of gears, would he not have been happier and (in the appalling heat) more comfortable on bad pavé, mountain hair-pins, and passes generally, if he had had low gear to crawl along on? In answering this question I would like him to put aside whether or not there is more sport in conquering passes on a single gear. Mr Fawcett will agree with me, I am sure, in advising all prospective tourists to avoid the roads in the Plain of Lombardy. I may say that I have planned a tour for this summer which comprises the Rhine Valley and the four highest European passes, but I have not yet found a companion. I should like to thank Mr. Fawcett for a most interesting article, and I hope you will continue to publish tours, as to me, at any rate, they are infinitely more interesting than accounts of records, hill-climbs, reliability trials, and such like.
Sir, —’RMBJ’ takes me somewhat to task for execrating the road from Domo d’Ossola up the Simplon Pass, in my article ‘To the Tyrol and Back’. I only gave my impression of the road, and it may be a guide when I say that in 1901 there was a landslide that swept away chalets, a forest, and covered an area twice the size of Hyde Park with débris, burying the road 30ft, and a detour is now made to go round this area. It was perhaps here that I was thrown on a road resembling a quarry bottom; in fact, ‘RMBJ’ says “there are large stretches of unrolled stones”. Quite so; and this on a climb of over twenty miles. Is it not a fact that ‘RMBJ’ came down the worst side, and, therefore, was not so inconvenienced? As to a steam roller, I may say we only saw two during the whole of our tour, but then a steam roller is not necessary to make a road smooth. The Simplon rises to a mere 6,600ft, and is a disgrace, whereas the Stelvio rises to over 9,000ft and the surface has the Simplon ‘chased up a back street’. ‘RMBJ’ asks me if I would not have liked a two-speed, putting aside the sport in a single gear, and in answer I may say he has asked me a puzzler, as the answer is yes, and yet no, because there were a few times only when I could have done with a lower gear ratio than the boss in the JAP will allow; but, in any case, I should not have relished a twenty-miles grind on a machine geared 4½ and 9 to 1. If I was going exactly the same tour again and had to have a two- speed, I should choose a gear giving 4¼ and 6¼ to 1, or one that will give any reasonable gear, say the Gradua. However, what my machine is to be, single or two-speed on my next tour, is ‘on the knees of the gods’.