Alpenbutt 2017

GSears

Premier Member
#1
A short write up of some of my experiences on the Alpenbutt.

An early Christmas present at the AGM in 2015. A multi-day, international rally in the Alps in 2017. Best of all it would be in the summer holidays so, for once, I would be able to participate. Who did I have to thank? Robert and the German IBA. Entry was to be limited to 50 contestants. When rally registration opened I was 16th to sign up. Due to the extensive interest entry numbers were increased. Eventually 75 enrolled and 62 riders (from 16 countries) started.

I practised my planning skills and completed several multi-day rides in 2016. As the rally approached I continued to complete long rides using the BBT to practise my planning skills and check my timings. On one of these rides in April I came off and broke my collar bone and 3 ribs. Would I be recovered in time? Would I be ride fit? My injuries had healed by the start of June and I could start to ride again. I then completed the remainder of the BBT and some longer rides in an attempt to regain a degree of ride fitness.

Check in for the rally opened in Miesbach, Germany on Friday 28th July and closed Saturday 29th. I arrived on Friday; as you can’t bank sleep but I didn’t want to start with a deficit.

Having completed BBRs I was not classed as a novice (anyone who had not completed a multi-day rally). It was however my first multi-day international and I chose to attend both the novice and general rally briefings.

As per the historic format of the BBR, Leg One’s rally book was handed out to everyone at the rider meeting on Saturday night, where we were told we had to be at the Grand Hotel, Trento, Italy on Monday evening. The bonus locations were emailed out during the briefing. On arrival back at my room I set about planning my route for the next 2 days. There were 13 different combination bonuses for Leg One with values from 2000 to 14000 points (one of these had to be completed in Leg One to achieve finisher status). Another bonus (Meet the Rally Team) spanned both legs and was worth 20000 points. There were also bonuses for Fuel Log/GPS track (3000), SMS message (2000) and a Rally Master bonus, spell Alpenbutt using the first letters of Alpine pass names (500 a letter + 2000 for the complete word).

One requirement of the rally was stressed repeatedly. A rest break of at least 5 hours must be taken each night, starting between 22:00 and 01:00. It had to be documented with machine printed receipts, at start and end, showing Date, Time and Address. Failure to do this would result in DNF status. If it was taken in a hotel (with receipt) you would get an additional 2000 points.

I finished my planning at about 22:30 and loaded the bonus points and my route onto my satnavs. I booked an overnight stay in Maniago, Italy and retired to bed.

Start time could be between 0600 and 0700 (total ride time being restricted to 36 hours). My second day was longer with more riding so I opted for a later start, 06:56, giving me till 18:56 on Monday to finish. I had 8 bonuses to visit on the first day, including 3 for the Waterfall Bonus, and the first Meet the Rally Team location.

The first location according to the rally book involved a 200 metre walk to take photos of 3 sculptures, worth 790 points. A flat walk later, 790 easy points.

Off to the next location The Krimml Waterfalls, part of my combo for the day. I paid my toll for the Gerlos Pass and took my photo of the notice board. First challenge, the board was not the same. Matching up the view around the board I was reasonably sure I had the shot for 650 points. I later spoke to Robert and found out this was one of the first locations he had photographed, 2 years earlier.

The third location I visited was the Gainfeld-waterfall, with a sculpture. Two photos had to be taken. This was again shown as a 200 metre walk. I rode into the meadow and parked my solo alongside Danny (an IBR veteran from Texas). He said “It’s across the field, I’m getting old so I’m just having a rest.” I ambled up the meadow and towards the waterfall. I saw a wooden sculpture but not the chromed sculpture I had to photograph. Onwards… There’s the waterfall, still no sculpture. Steps up the side of the waterfall. Up,up,up, still no sculpture. Have I missed it? Is it below or above? I don’t want to go back down only to have to climb back up. Nearing the top, still no sign. Back to the bottom then and a photo of the waterfall. As I walk back towards my solo I see the sculpture. It had been obscured by a stand of trees as I entered, but was clearly visible now. Another 800 points in the bag. But very tired thigh muscles that were to ache for the following three days.

Bonus 4 was Meet the Rally Team at the Edelweisspitze at the Grossglockner Road between 12 noon and 13:00 hours. I arrived at 12:20, 20 minutes behind schedule. It was wet, misty and miserable, but worth 2300 points.

Six minutes down the road and Bonus 5, A quick 670 points for a photo of a Murmeltier sculpture.

Bonus 6 involved a 176 mile ride to Slovenia to photograph Slap Rinka, the last part of the waterfall bonus. This was shown as involving a 500 metre walk. OK, gravel, boulders, steep climbs, all fine in walking boots, etc. But motorcycle gear? It was nearing 38 degrees and people in shorts and T-shirts were melting. I was later informed that one of our number stripped down to shreddies and boots to complete the last 200 metres, a mental image I don’t like to dwell on. Still 2970 points for this bonus and a further 8000 for the combo, I got the photo. I also started to question the walking distances given in the Rally Book. Did the German Rally B’d have a sense of humour or just an evil side?

Back towards Italy for the 7th Bonus of the day. 780 points for a picture of my solo in front of a furnace at Zelezniki, Slovenia.

The last bonus of the day was at Kobarid. A memorial to Italian troops located within Slovenia. Worth 2050 points. A 500 metre ride up a steep narrow hairpin riddled access road. Then 60 miles to my overnight stop at Maniago.

In Maniago I stopped at a fuel station anticipating a receipt giving time, date and location. The machine wouldn’t take any of my cards. I found it did take cash, but then didn’t give a receipt. This proved common to all of the Italian fuel pumps I tried. Something I became acutely aware of. I went to my hotel and checked in. I then drew euros from an ATM which gave date, time but only a machine number, no other location information. I tried another bank. Same result. It was now approaching 23:00 hours. I was tired and unable to obtain a receipt with the details I needed. I went back to the hotel and ordered a coke, feeling dejected and defeated. I was provided with a receipt with all the details I needed. I could finish for the day. The receptionist said “You will have to leave by 07:30 as they close the streets for the market then. You can have your breakfast in the Café from 06:30” Result, I could get a receipt after 06:30.

Checking the 11 bonus points for the next day I noticed three little words I had previously overlooked on one of the locations for the big combo bonus, ‘closed on Mondays’. A 12000 point combo out of the window. A quick planning session and I was ready for the next day. Fortunately I already had a combo in the bag. For those that didn’t the only achievable combo for the next day appeared to be the Earth Pyramids; worth a measly 2000 points. It did however involve 2 strenuous walks totalling 1.5 kilometres. The evil side of the Rally B’d coming to the fore, again?

Up and breakfast. “That’s OK it’s included in the room price.” “Can I pay for a coke?” “It’s included.” “I need a receipt.” “No it’s included.” After about 5 minutes I managed to pay for a coke and get the receipt I needed to end my break. The receipts and hotel bill would earn me 3000 points.

Off to Barcis Bridge, 11 miles, and the first 1010 points of the day. The next bonus was a further 14 miles, a war memorial and 560 points. Oops! someone has left their flag. Instructions were clear. Do not touch it, leave it alone. Just looked and made sure it wasn’t likely to blow away. It was 08:00 and time for the SMS bonus. Message sent but no signal. Can’t wait. Time to move to the next bonus at San Boldo, a series of hairpin bends in tunnels, controlled by traffic lights. A photo of the top and bottom tunnel lights on red would secure 1450 points. Was that a rally rider heading the other way, perhaps looking for a flag? On arrival I checked my phone and saw my SMS had gone at 08:17, another 2000 points in the bag. The tunnels were so good I rode them 3 times.

Monte Cesan and a partisan monument was next on the list. 26 miles up tight hairpin riddled roads. There had been no indication of a walk in the instructions but a rough 100 metre track presented itself, with climb to the monument and 1200 points. When I got back down to my solo the other rider who had been there, eating an apple, when I arrived had departed for his next bonus.

36 miles of twisting Italian roads led to another 2 miles of hairpins to Monte Grappa; and the opportunity to take a photo of the chapel with the rally team for another 2900 points. Again, no mention of the ‘short’ stroll to the top of the hill. Fortunately GarminDave was on duty to look after the solos and our gear (Thanks Dave). So stripped down to t-shirt and jeans we ascended to take our photos and points.

35 miles to the next location, the British Cemetary at Granezza for 920 points. Again a plethora of hairpins with temperatures up in the high 30s. My platypus drinks bladder in the tank bag was proving invaluable. Refilling with chilled water when possible at bonus locations and refuels. I found I was drinking between 4 and 6 litres each day. As I left, the next rider arrived to pay their respects and get their photo.

A quick stop to photograph a notice board for 450 points on route to the opportunity to ride yet more stunning hairpins at Piovan. 1280 points for a picture of your solo on ‘tornante 17’ and a further 500 for a picture of ‘tornante 1’, so 1780 in the bag as well as the riding opportunity. More hairpins at Kaiserjagerstrasse and a further 1410 points.

Now it was time to ride in to the Grand Hotel Trento, to hand in the completed score sheet. Just before I pulled in I stopped outside the park to bag the 200 points available for the photo of a statue. Unfortunately the 200 point bonus cost another rider 300 points and a 100 euro fine when he rode into the park in front of the local police.

All totalled up and submitted. A claim for 38890 points for leg 1 went on the front of my envelope.

Chance for a shower and catch up with other riders. Some of the continental riders hit the bar for a few beers with their meal. Fizzy water with the evening meal was the order of the day for the Brits. Wifi access checked and an early night. Breakfast was scheduled at 05:00 to be followed by briefing and rally books at 05:30.



05:30 briefing at breakfast. The requirement for start and finish receipts was reiterated, several times. To be a finisher on this leg you needed to score at least 10000 points from the combo bonuses. Simples.

The provisional top ten was read out. I was in 6th position after the first leg. I was acutely aware that riders in their first multi-day rally fade after leg 1. You only had to look at the two EuroTours that had been held. I was also concerned that my ride fitness was not as good as it could have been.

06:00 off to plan leg 2. As with the first leg the bonus points had been emailed out during the briefing. Even though I had logged in the night before, I couldn’t now log in to the hotel Wifi. I tried several times. Plan B. I trotted back to the breakfast room to collect a USB drive with the points on it. Several minutes later a USB drive was located and the points downloaded. I then made my way back up to my room at the far end of the fifth floor… Points transferred and USB drive returned, down to the ground floor then back to the 5th.

There were 21 different bonus combinations this time with values from 6000 to 40000 points.

I noticed that the 2 big bonuses and 3 others seemed to overlap quite well. Route plotted 3450 km, 33 bonus locations, 4 days or 60 hours riding time. A possible points total in excess of 140000 for leg 2. I could get a finish in the top half, maybe top ten. That would be good for my first proper multi-day international event.

Routes and waypoints downloaded. I did not book a hotel as I was unsure of the progress I could make. Out of the door and off by 08:30, not too shabby with 4 days riding planned.

My first stop was 64km north to a memorial for a visit by Emperor Franz Joseph 1st. An easy 700 points to start but a 1/3 of a 12000 bonus. Then 35km to take a photo of a water fountain by the entrance to a castle. Another easy ride but then a taxing walk up to the entrance, in the heat which had reached 35 degrees, already. The temperature had started to rise and would remain high for the remainder of the rally.

A short ride of 510km took me to my next bonus, a Fresco in a church at Elva. I became a little apprehensive when I turned onto the ‘road’ up to the village, to cover the last 20km. I rode between two concrete barriers; one of which had been pulled to the side of the road, the other extended to what could just about pass as a centre line. I continued up the road, which quickly deteriorated to potholes and gravel. As I traversed the remaining 20km up to the village, with a 100 metre sheer drop to my left and vertical cliff to my right, I frequently passed boulders and other debris that had recently dropped onto the road. Arriving at the church I took the required photo and bought a refill for my platypus. Whilst paying I enquired about routes down from the village. “Oh, no that’s the only route. They have closed the normal road for repairs, so they’ve opened the old road that’s usually closed. You have to be careful because it’s very dangerous with falling rocks.” Still, it was worth 1730 points.

As I made my way towards France I stopped at the Resistance Memorial in Cuneo and logged another easy 670 points.

That was to be my last bonus in Italy for a while. I had to pass through the Tenda Tunnel to get to my next bonus. Signs alerted me to the fact it was closing at 22:00 for the night. I arrived at 20:10 and realised I had just missed the contra flow for the tunnel. I had to wait 22 minutes for the next one. As I arrived at Col de Brouis, a daylight bonus, I was acutely aware I was losing the light. I quickly walked the 200 metres up hill, through bushes to the monument (dodging the cow pats and cursing the Rally B’d) and took my photo. However, due to the failing light I was not happy that it would satisfy the Rally B’d at scoring. As this bonus was part of the 30000 point Combo I realised I would have to return the following day and re-shoot the photo. 3 minutes late for the contra-flow at the Tenda Tunnel (and a 30 minute delay) was now going to cost me several hours riding time tomorrow.

I rode in to Menton (near Monaco) and looked for accommodation. The town centre was closed for a concert. I managed to get a fuel receipt and found a hotel with vacancies just before midnight. “I only have a three person room. It costs 190 euros.” After some haggling I managed to get the room and breakfast for 98 euros. I re-planned my route for the next day, booking an F1 in Gap. If all went to plan I could check in at about 18:00 then nip out to pick up some bonus locations before bed.

Up and off at 07:00. Another 3000 points for my rest break. Pick up the monument to Sissi, in Cap Martin, just outside Menton for 1420 points. This was to prove a difficult bonus for other riders later in the day. All those concert goers and tourists. I then returned to the monument of the previous night, dodged the cow pats again, and took a much clearer photo for 810 points. I then headed off to the Col de Turini. Yet again more tight hairpins on single track roads. So tight a 16km one way system had been instituted. Congratulating myself on a good ride I dismounted to take my photo; a Sherman tank someone had driven up those same roads. A tank at the top of a single track pass. Why? Well, I had 1210 points in the bag.

Next stop was in Peille to walk another 200 metres up and down through steep narrow back streets to photograph a war memorial. 1430 points locked in and another refill for the platypus. As I was getting ready to leave, another rider arrived. We exchanged pleasantries in the 38 degree heat before he shuffled off, sans motorcycle jacket, towards the monument.

My next bonus was in Marseille 230km away. Still, cool progress to be made on the peage I entered Marseille to be confronted by stifling air (now 42 degrees) and lunchtime traffic. Made worse by road works and the resultant diversions. Into Notre Damme de la Garde. A photo of the Madonna whilst looking out for the pickpockets. Maybe the armed police and high military presence had frightened them off. I had allowed 1½ hours for Marseille and left on time with my 4680 points.

Another war memorial in the town centre at Serres for 440 points and I was well on the way to my War and Peace Combo.

A small change to my route and I popped in to the F1at Gap to check in. Code obtained for my door. “The code for the external Door?” “It is broken. We lock up at 22:00.” My plan to pop out and collect 4 bonus locations before bed was dead. I would not be back before 22:00. I settled on going to Mont Colombis for an Earth Pyramid bonus worth 390 points (it was part of a two bonus combo for an additional 8000 points).

Back to Gap for that obligatory McDonalds and petrol receipt from the Intermarche to start my now 12 hour long rest break. As a result of losing time at the Tenda Tunnel and restriction on bonus collection as the F1 was closing its doors at 22:00 I needed to rework my plan. Still I had time to plan and get a good night’s sleep. My priority now was to achieve a finish, ensure I had my start and finish receipts for my rests. I had already cancelled one bonus worth over 50000 points, so a good result was remote. I might be able to finish in the upper half, if I was lucky. Having revised my route I booked my next hotel in Stresa on Lago Maggiore.

Out to the Intermarche at just after 06:00 with another 3500 points in the bag for my rest.

I was still on for the castle combo so the next stop was at Pierre Chatel to photograph the false palace for 760 points. An easy photo from the road.

More twisty roads led to the Monument des Glieres, at Entremont. Another resistance monument, this time worth 1080 points. No long walks though, just good riding roads.

Then on to Geneve and a statue marking the place Sissi was assassinated in1898. Difficult to find, amongst the tents and marques that had been erected for the summer season. Only 380 points but one of the three bonuses in the Imperial Combo worth 12000 points.

The next bonus was worth 840 points at Euseigne and was the second part of the 8000 point Earth Pyramid Combo. Again it could be photographed from the road. Was this another example of the Rally B’d’s sense of humour. The ease with which this combo was achieved, compared to the strenuous walking required to achieve 2000 points for the Leg 1 Earth Pyramid Bonus. I am aware of at least 2 riders who did not take the pyramids in Leg 2 as a result of their experiences in Leg 1.

Off to Stresa, where I had booked accommodation for the night. I arrived and photographed the monument to the Alpine Soldier with his donkey. Again not worth many points at 440, but one of the bonuses needed to complete the War and Peace combo. I checked in at the Hotel and then went out to the local fuel station. The attendant informed me “Italian fuel pumps only take Italian Credit Cards, Agency Cards or Cash.” It was 5pm and I was stopping for the night. “What time do you open tomorrow?” “7 o’clock” was the reply. “I’ll see you then.” I now had a 14 hour rest break ahead of me. I returned to the hotel. Showered and got changed into trousers, T-shirt, and trainers. It felt good to be out of my motorcycle gear. I again re-planned my final day. At this point I dropped the castle combo, it was just too tight. With holiday traffic it could still be close without the castles. I popped out and had a leisurely walk along the side of Lago Maggiore. Couples and groups of young ladies were making their way to restaurants on the lakeside. LBDs were the order of the evening. I returned to my hotel to have a three course meal with a cool beer, sat on the terrace surrounded by the Alps overlooking the lake, the temperature had dropped to 34 degrees. What a rally. Better than Broxden on the BBR at 02:00 with a coffee and mars bar. I had to stay up until 21:00 as I had to send the SMS bonus text. So it was bed by 21:30.

At the garage by 07:00. Receipt at about 07:10 (Italian 07:00). Off for the first bonus of the day. It was a leisurely 44 km drive along the lake shore as the speed limit varied between 50 and 60 kph. Then a 15 km ride up a continuous series of hairpins and tight bends. The road narrowing to 8 feet. As I approached Spoccia and the 1870 point bonus my Zumo 590 informed me I had reached my destination. The road was about 1 in 3. A steep series of steps carved into the rock led up to my left. Even if I put the bike in gear I doubted it would remain where I left it. Other traffic would find it difficult to pass. It looked like the 200 metre walk promised by the Rally B’d would be taxing. I quickly scanned my trusty 550s which indicated I should continue. Up I went. Another ½ km. A level village car park. I parked, unclipped one of my 550s. As I left the car park a resident was struggling with a barrow full of grow bags. I helped push it up the slope to what passed as the main street. He then explained how I could reach the memorial. I followed the route through the village with a 1.5 metre wide main street. Down passed the church to the war memorial. About 200 metres, but not as steep as the route the 590 wanted me to use.

As I started back down the 15km route of hairpins I was congratulating myself on another good ride and bonus collected under challenging conditions. Then I saw the caravan parked behind a stone cottage…

The next bonus location was a relatively short ride away (32 km) in Ascona. A ‘peace stele’ on Mont Verita in the grounds of a hotel. I rode around Mont Verita three times. The only road in had barriers manned with security guards. This was one of the last locations I had to visit to complete War and Peace (30000 points). As I rode along Via Maddona Della Fontana (on the opposite side of Mont Verita to the blocked road) I noticed a small sign, indicating Mont Verita, next to some overgrown dilapidated steps. I parked up, took off jacket and helmet, climbed up the steps and through the undergrowth. At the top I emerged into a closed off small car park. I continued and was confronted by marques, sound systems, technicians and more security. They were setting up for another concert. However, I was looking for a white pillar with black writing. The photo seemed to show it sticking up above the trees. Should be easy to find. I wandered around holding my rally pack like a clipboard. Spying a groundskeeper I asked for directions. He said “Keep going it’s just after the Tea House. 200 metres further on I saw a 2 metre pole, in a dip. Not the 20 metre monolith I was expecting. Photo taken and back to my solo.

Now I had a 335km ride to my penultimate bonus of the rally, take a picture of the Peace Bell at Mosern. On the way to Mosern I rode over the Albula Pass, stunning scenery. My first and last Rally Master bonus, for 500 points. When I arrived at Mosern I had a 200 metre walk, what did the Rally B’d have in store for me this time. The path split, up or down? OK we’ll go up through the closed gate. Good decision. Photo taken and on to the last bonus.

This bonus was the memorial stone at Durnbach War Cemetery, where about 3000 commonwealth soldiers are buried. It was worth 450 points and an easy ride, the walk should have been easy. However, the layout of the gravestones caused me to pause. There was not the usual straight line symmetry of the headstones. Some were grouped closer together than others. I walked over to one grouping and saw that it was a plane’s crew buried together. Having paused, I took my photo and returned to the rally hotel I had left 6 days before.

I completed my paperwork and collated my receipts, only to discover I was missing my end of rest receipt from Gap. Was I to be a DNF because I had lost one of my receipts? I stripped my gear from the bike and methodically checked it. My concern rising by the minute. After 15 minutes I located the errant receipt tucked in my computer. All paperwork completed, placed in my envelope with my photo SD card and submitted to Rudiger. Finished. Time to have a shower and down for dinner. The rally team departed immediately after dinner and worked till after midnight checking the riders paperwork.

Saturday morning saw me called to agree my total points claim with GarminDave. As I sat down he looked a little downcast. I asked him if all was well. He replied “I just had to tell someone they DNF’d.” I said “That can’t have been nice.” He said “No it wasn’t, but you haven’t.” I was relieved. I had finisher status. Everything else was a bonus. He said “We’ve had to remove 1000 points from your total.” I understood from the briefing that if you had your flag with you at scoring you got 1000 points. I had claimed this. It transpired if you didn’t have it, you lost 1000 points. So I had claimed 1000 points too many and they had removed them. Fair. All my other points were agreed. Now I just had to wait for the results ceremony at the banquet that evening.



Out of 62 starters 19 had DNF’d. Mainly due to the strict rest break requirements. This included all levels of entrant experience, from rookie to IBR veteran. The results were called in reverse order. JB on his first multi-day rally had achieved 11th place. An excellent result for a rookie. Megabuck, a EuroTour veteran was 7th, a top ten placing. I was still waiting to be called. 5th place with 120570. I had 126540 points would this be enough to get me on the podium. I had been 4th in a BBR by 60 points in the past. I would rather have been 10th than 4th. Then 4th place was called one hundred and twenty ………. two thousand, five hundred and fifty. I had made the podium.



Called to the podium with John and Bennie, I claimed third place. Both of these giants of motorcycle rallying had amassed over 170000 points. John eventually being declared first with over 180000 points. A mammoth ride.



Did I enjoy it? Immensely.

Would I do it again? If only I could.

Best part? Visiting places I otherwise wouldn’t, on those twisty alpine roads.



A massive thank you to Robert for organising the rally and the rally team for supporting him.
 
Last edited:

FazerPhil

President IBA UK
Staff member
Premier Member
IBR Finisher
#3
Thanks Gordon. I realised that one small mistake in a multi day can be a dnf. That could be hitting a small rock on the road or a lost receipt!!
Well done a brilliant ride and a trophy too.
 

GarminDave

Ex-Arkwright
Premier Member
#4
Great report Gordon, got the feeling of the ecstasy and the pain of a multi day tough Rally.

There were some comments about the start and end receipts for the compulsory rest bonus and the dire conclusion if you failed to comply, a DNF. It was stressed and it was fairly policed because this requirement was to ensure the duty of care of the organisers could be seen clearly by any future investigation into the running of the rally. Tough but fair and well advised to all those wanting to play the game.

Hell it was such a tough rally that I, as part of the Rally Team, was a DNF! I missed the 500 m long and vertical walk to the 12 noon Meet the Rally Team bonus location at the top of the Col de la Bonnette!