1000 Km of Cols and Dust.
The track gets rougher and rougher as it climbs up over 2,400m. The gravel of the lower altitudes has given way to melon sized rocks which lie scattered over the trail, sharp and threatening. The handle bars of the laden 250kg BMW buck and wrench from side to side pulling its bulk alarmingly across the 2m wide track. I am repeating my mantra given to me by my enduro trainer: ‘Keep your head up, look beyond the obstacles, keep light, and let it move underneath you. Don’t grip hard.’ At no other time, on no other ride, and on no other 2-wheeled machine, has this been more important to me than it is right now. On one side of me there is a solid rock wall hand cut by long dead Italian troops, and on the other side? A huge drop off. A 200m cliff. Beckoning, spiralling, crashing, fireball, imagined oblivion.
I am riding The Ligurian Border Ridge Road a 19th century monument to a more tense period of European history when France and Italy were more likely to have been trading bullets and territory than pleasantries. Today it is increasingly frequented by a growing band of adventure motorcyclists and I am pretending to be one of this growing tribe; although I have to say I fancy myself more as Ewan than Charley. Exactly one year ago to the day on a cold wind-blown Industrial estate in Inverness, I was handed my full motorcycle licence. Call it a mid life crisis - the other symptoms are definitely there - but whatever trigged the journey that I now find myself on, I have no regrets and only adventures that await my twisted throttle progress.