Euro 2011 - Dan's Diary

Tuesday 5th July - We're off again, Sondrio to Sisteron

Tuesday was soon upon us and the weather was beginning to change, which meant that it was a change in destination for us too. The weather suggested moving to France and so Sisteron was chosen as our next stop.

An early set off was required and the glider was in the air by 1035. The instability in the air was still a little marginal so instead of setting off straight away I held fire in case they decided to land back and I was half way to Milan. Eventually the glider was established and I too was on my way. As I pulled out of the gate I wondered to myself – ‘what adventure am I in for today then?’.  The first thing I did was ignore the sat nav and headed off in completely the wrong direction – this was on purpose as the TomTom really wasn’t use to cars towing rather large trailers.

As I got into the town of Sondrio and along the main road, everything was plain sailing apart from the nutty Italian, in her Fiat Punto, who decided it would be a good idea to pull out in front of me, cross the road and continue on its way in the opposite direction I had come from. However, I think she got a little intimated by the much larger Shogun and slammed on her brakes leaving herself right in my path. As much as I wanted to slam the brakes myself I didn’t really think it was a good idea, so pushed them as much as I dared, pulled out onto the opposite side of the road and showed my disgust as I drove past!

Fortuitously, this journey was a lot easier than the last. The motorways seemed to play the game this time and the mountain passes were limited. Only one pass this time which took me through the Italian/French border. Again, some stunning scenery and some rather sharp bends. One had quite a steep gradient and I was afraid that I would ground the trailer as I went around. I slowly crept round the bend, I’m sure annoying the rather long queue that I now had behind me, and the trailer missed the road with what seemed millimetres.

I continued into a small town at the bottom of the pass. ‘Sharp left ahead’ said the TomTom. I was getting quite good at these now so didn’t think it would be a problem – however there had been a crash and the road was blocked and I was half way round the 45 degree turning. The only way that I could get out was by reversing back onto the main road – so with a deep breath and the police stopping the traffic I reversed the trailer back onto the main road and was back on my way.

I zoomed out on the satnav and noticed this was another ‘TomTom tour’ and it would be easier just to keep going straight – it was 5km more but there were no accidents to contend with. Unfortunately the TomTom was trying to keep getting me to turn left, so I just ignored it, used my instinct and, luckily, got onto the right path.

I was quite glad that the roads were pretty straight from now on and to top it off a trip across a rather stunning lake at Embrun. I then travelled on towards Gap with a diversion taking me to Sisteron.

On the way I was taking note of some rather brilliant rivers, taking note as potential revisits for one of my other pastimes – kayaking. The fast flowing rivers with vast amounts of kayaks paddling down (most of which were the right way up) was kept in the back of mind for a potential revisit on another flying day. Anyway back to business and I arrived at my destination as the gliding club were beginning to pack up for the night.

The first person who I bumped into was one of the instructors, René. René was a friendly chap, and as soon as I mentioned that I was with an EB28 which was going to fly in, offered to help straight away in return for a flight (I hope he was joking!). As soon as I said that the comp number was 13 he immediately remembered Robin, Ed and Pete Hunt from 2 years prior and said that the glider had been away for too long!

Robin and Ed landed on the hard runway and I was there ready to pick them up. We towed to the end of the runway where we parked up for the night, some quick introductions and then we made our way into the town of Sisteron to find a place for the night. We found a hotel on the river bank, opposite the famous Sisteron rock and settled down for pizza and, funnily enough, a beer.