Euro 2011 - Dan's Diary

Thursday 30th June - Day off in Bolzano canx, relocate to Sondrio

The next day was flyable and the decision was made to move to Sondrio which is about 200km by road to the west of Bolzano. Luckily the night before we stopped a beer short of a headache.

A flight plan was filed to Sondrio, and as we were departing from the airport to a new destination, a charge was made for departure, baggage handling etc (however I seem to remember that I was the baggage handler and none of it made its way to my pocket!). A quick argument at the security gate about having luggage in the back of the car enabled us to bypass airfield rules again and we prepared the glider and trailer.

I had two choices of route – a longer motorway trip or a shorter climb over an alpine pass. After the experience of a couple of days previous, the quicker route was chosen.

13 was launched from the far end of the airfield and over the hard stand apron at the terminal building – I was pretty glad that the engine didn’t fail as I would probably would have had to run for the border (sorry Rob and Ed!). Once launched, a quick chat with the crowd of the local GC who had turned up from nowhere to see the launch and I was on my way too, so far without a hitch.

A quick blast on the motorway found me at the foot of the mountain pass. A rather steep incline followed by hairpin after hairpin, a number of which were completely blind was quite a challenge with an eleven and a half meter trailer. Not only were the roads rather twisty but they were getting narrower and narrower, with the dead drop at the side steeper and steeper. The most nerve wrecking part came at a set of road works where half the road was coned off. It felt like one bad move and I would be in the Italian Job again, this time though as the bus teetering over the edge of the mountain pass.

I noticed that on the road side were numerous bunches of flowers and memorials. From what I could work out they were there from suicidal motorcyclists who came head on with glider trailers along the pass. Still, at least they know how far a glider trailer swings out now. Trying to avoid them whilst trying to stay on the road at the same time was quite a challenge. 

Having completed my silver height in trailer towing it was now time to descend on the other side of the mountain on towards Sondrio. Hoping that this was going to be a little easier was wishful thinking as I came head on with more bikes, some now which were of the pedal variety – I seem to have stumbled across a mini tour de France type race and they had an even less appreciation of trailer towing.

Having a look on the now updated satnav I could see a rather large red square on the screen approaching. Unfortunately this meant a series of blind steep downhill  sharp hairpins, one of which I met an articulated lorry coming up the other way, both of us not seeing each other until we came around the top of the bend. I managed to tightly squeeze past on the outside, got to the bottom of the mountain and made my way to the airfield, which was in the bottom of a rather large valley.

Upon my arrival at the airfield I was greeted by the Police Helicopter crew who introduced me to the airfield manager. A quick chat to him, an inspection of the runway and with the trailer parked I spoke to the aircraft who were playing around in the valley. Around half an hour later I was called into action when the Binder landed. A quick tow off the runway and to our designated parking area and we were all ready for a beer.

Amazingly the airfield locals were able to tell us directions to the local B&B that Robin and Ed had used a number of years before, so off we trotted to meet Osvaldo Traversi. Even more amazingly Osvaldo remembered Robin and Ed! Thankfully he had some lovely beer with no tequila. The food too was outstanding. It was all local produce and the chef certainly knew how to cook! The first meal was Bresaola, air cured beef, which is a traditional dish to the area – and very tasty!