The Alpine military road known as Strada dell’Assietta is a road road that, for many motorcycle riders, is high up on the list of must do’s.
So also for me. But it wasn’t planned. Like so many other things, in life and on tour, it just happened. Actually, I wasn’t sure I’d do it, alone, on a large adventure motorcycle with aluminium rims. But before getting there, to the “Assietta”, lets wind back a bit.
Saint Veran, France
Left Col de Vars (see previous post) and continued on D902 north. It was getting pretty late in the afternoon. Normally I start looking for accommodation options around that time. But It depends. If traveling in high season, and near or at touristy places, popular hotels and lodges tend to get booked fairly quickly.
But there are times I just keep going till evening. Do booking “ninja style”. I’ve seldom had any issues finding a place to stay.
Rode past Guillestre and continued northeast on the D902. The same road I’d used going south to Gorge de Verdon. Afternoon drifted into evening. Had still not decided on a landing spot, if I’d stay in France or go over into Italy. Looking at the map decided Italy would be a bit too far.
So I started looking, first on booking.com. Nothing there that triggered my attention. On hotels.com one good option turned up, in Saint Veran. So I took off from D902 and onto D5 which takes you into the valley. What a place! Later found out Saint Veran is the most elevated commune in all of the Alps.
Although a ski resort place it’s not the typical over-commercialized settlement. Like the ones you find so many of, everywhere in the Alps. Farms and hotels in Saint Veran are scattered over a large area.
The hotel turned out to be decent, the surroundings epic. Met a couple of Belgian motorcycle riders, one their way back to Belgium. We dined and had a few beers, chatting about motorcycles and adventures.
Over into Italy & the pass of the day
Woke up next morning to blue sky and gorgeous weather. Being pretty high up, a bit chilly too. Fresh would be a better word. After breakfast packed and said farewell to the Belgian duo. Tipped them of Moto hotel Col de Bussang, where I had stayed on the way south.
I had at least figments of a plan for the day. Going over into Italy and then figure out where to. A typical non-plan plan.
Video taken from the rear side of Hôtel le Grand Tétras.
Riding out of Saint Veran I took a slightly different, and smaller road than coming in. Underway I had to make another stop. Saint Veran is a stunningly beautiful valley.
After a little while I was back on main road D2051. It takes you up to the border and the mountain pass Col Agnel, or Colle dell’ Agnello in Italian. Which is the third highest pass in the Alps, at 2.744 meters.
It was impossible to ride across without making a stop. As you probably have noticed ( surprise) I am not a vlogger. I use videos for snippets and short clips. Below a, quite literally, walk from Italy to France.
From France to Italy in seconds.
I hung around for a bit. Made sense to single out some potentials goals for the day. To the east of the pass is the mountain Monte Viso. So there was no other (good) alternative than to continue down towards Casteldelfino. A quick look on the map and a decision was made.
Onwards to Sestriere!
Before Assietta; Colle delle Finestre
Down in the lowlands the temperature was on the rise. Made no sense to swirl about on small roads. Most of them didn’t really go anywhere either. So I stayed on SP8 till SP47, then north in direction of Saluzzo on some smaller roads.
I continued a little while, then made a halt. It was noon and the temperature had climbed past 35C. Or so said my dash. Needed a break in the shades. Was a bit west of Torino (Turin), and had no intention of getting closer. So back onto the main road SP23R and north towards Sestriere. High mountains rose on both sides.
Half an hour up along the road I spotted a little blue sign pointing towards a steep, narrow road. “Strada dell’ Assietta” the sign read. Suddenly I was on that road. Straight up along the mountain side.
The climb is steep, the turns are sharp. Soon I was way above the tree line, looking down into the valley. A little further up the road split in two. This is where the eastern entry to Strada dell’ Assietta is. But since being here I decided to ride up to Colle Finestre first.
Not a choice I regretted, minutes later!
Colle delle Finestre is, altitude wise, pretty average. It’s how you get there, from either side, that makes it worth a visit. Below videoclip might given you an impression.
And since it also is close to Strada dell’ Assietta, one should absolutely take the time while being there.
Strada dell’ Assietta
So riding Strada dell’ Assietta was not a part of my “plans”. At least not on this day. But when you’re on the road, things happen. Improvisation happen. A day or two prior I had a conversation with a friend back home. Who recommended against it, considering too risky.
But here I was. Looking down on the beginning of the famous military road. So there was not pulling back now. Strada dell’ Assietta isn’t open to motorized vehicles every day of the week. Fortunately for me it was open on the day I arrived, which was a Sunday.
So down it went, from Colle Finestre, and onto SP172. A police checkpoint was set up at the entry. They take regulations of the road seriously.
The first part from the eastern side is pretty smooth. A typical gravel road. But then it begins to climb. The road surface changes, scattered rocks and mountain side, with loose gravel. Some sections are pretty narrow. Sharp corners with ultra-steep sides, plus traffic makes it sensible to take it easy.
“Kamm Strasse” or ridge road
Gradually I got the hang of it. If you have aluminium rims on your motorcycle you have to pay extra attention. A damage or impact can mean the end of the journey. Riding such a road with a fully loaded, large adventure bike is an exercise. It doesn’t get easier when you have to pass 4×4 SUVs on top of it. On the outside!
But I loved it, truly one of the highlights of the entire adventure. After around 10 kilometers I reached Colle dell’ Assietta. This section is also what is known as “Kamm Strasse” in German. The ridge road, and it runs on the ridge.
Because of the how the road has been built, few terms fits better than “ridge road”. I’ve never ridden anything similar. But I have ridden some roads in home in Norway that gives you an equal experience. Equal, and at the same time, very different.
One gets an adrenaline kick out of such experiences. Know I did. Because of that, combined with being led astray by my GPS, this led me into trouble not long after the ridge experience.
Back soon with more.