Uzhgorod biker drove 4 thousand kilometers to see the mountains of France and Italy, that the soldiers of Napoleon and Hannibal once advanced through.
A biker from Uzhgorod Oleg “Polyarnik” has already traveled across Switzerland and Austria this season, saw the largest glaciers in Europe, Aletschgletscher, Großglockner and rode the steep turns of the Dolomites Alps. This time he wanted to see the mountain range of the Alps from the other, the west side. The Uzhgorod biker was accompanied by a biker from Odesa Volodymyr “Zoloty”. The route ran through 4 European countries: Hungary, Austria, Italy, Switzerland (Uzhgorod, Budapest, Vienna, Graz, Venice, San Remo, Nice, Brianson, de la Bonetti Pass 2800 m, Grand Alpine Road, Galiber Pass, Col de l’Iseran Pass, Small Saint-Bernard, Aosta, Great Saint-Bernard, Martini, Zurich, Bern, Innsbruck, Vienna, Budapest, Uzhgorod). In total, in 3 days, bikers drove across 6 passes over 2 thousand meters above sea level.
– What are the differences between the passes?
– Every pass and road is different. For example, Col de La Bonetti (2802 meters above sea level) is the highest mountain car pass of Europe. It differs from all the others with its gray color and gloomy scenery. On the road to the pass there is not a lot of traffic. There are hundreds of turns within 5 kilometers on the road to the top of the mountain. You need to be very careful and watch out for a camper or a motorcyclist coming from around the corner.
In the Western Alps there are two passes named after St. Bernard – Small Saint-Bernard and Great Saint-Bernard. The first one is located on the border of France and Italy, the second one – on the border of Italy and Switzerland. On both passes, St. Bernard arranged shelters for travelers. In our days, the hospices are situated at those places. Once, monks were living in these shelters. They were keeping dogs at these monasteries and breeded the Saint-Bernard breed. At first, they were used as guard dogs, but in the XVIII century, people noticed their good sense of smell and the ability to find a person under the snow. The most famous Saint-Bernard rescuer named Barry lived at the beginning of the 19th century in the shelter on the Great Saint-Bernard Pass and saved 41 people. At the highest point of the pass, all the souvenirs, leaflets, photographs, sculptures feature the images of these dogs.
. Riding on these passes is a pleasure. Emerald meadows, blue mountains and white peaks, as if they have just been sprinkled with sugar. The ride was from south to north and the sun was always behind us, illuminating beautiful landscapes on the way up to the pass. I wanted to stop at every steep bend to take a photo of every turn, gorge, river bend or top of the mountain. Which, in fact, I was doing all the time.
Colle dell’Agnello (2744 m) is the third highest pass in the Alps with a paved road following the passes Col de l’Iseran (2770 m) and Stelvio (2754 m). The road to this pass is rarely used by bikers and is more interesting, probably, to historians. 2 thousand years ago, the Carthage commander Hannibal chose this pass for cross the Alps with elephants on the way to Rome. The event is commemorated by the memorable plaque, huge statue of an elephant and a sword warrior set near the road in the village of Bramans. And although it happened 2,000 years ago, you can not but to admire the heroism and determination of the great commander, who led the elephants and thousands of troops across the pass.
– Is it difficult to ride on a motorcycle in the mountains?
– At an altitude after 2 thousand meters, there is oxygen starvation which affects not only humans, but also vehicles. It’s hard to breathe. And the engine works not like in normal conditions. On a high-altitude road you need to be alert all the time and not be distracted from the road for a single second. The situation can change instantly! It is a hard test for everyone.
– Why did you choose a bike for your trip?
– I can not imagine my life without a motorcycle. In total, I have driven more than 300 thousand kilometers on a motorcycle. Traveling by a motorcycle gives you the opportunity to get to the places where you can not always get to by a car. It gives you a sense of flight. Only on a motorcycle, you can feel the scent of the country you are traveling in. And also I wanted to set a personal record – to cross all the passes above 2,000 meters in Europe. This year alone, I’ve been to more than 20 passes. The goal has been achieved, and I am very happy with it.
– What are the plans for the near future?
– I plan to travel to Norway, to the northernmost cape of Europe – North Cape.