So we’ve made it over the pass in the French Alps, the cars did very well considering our mixed lot of British steel and rust. We’re tired, we’ve been on the road for 24 hours straight but for a 2 hour stop in a grocery store parking lot at 3 AM where we addressed some issues in the Mule’s ignition. Joe Earnest was able to get a nice nap, but he naps so loudly that yours truly did not! We’re off and running from our brief rest at 5 AM. Much of this day is a blur due to pure fatigue until we reached Nice. Nice is nice, but the traffic is horrendous! The temps were warm and our cars were warmer yet. Somehow our group of four cars became separated as we tried to find our way to the next check point a spot on the Mediterranean Sea shore where we hoped to find some cool water and a bit of refreshment.

I was in the “lost group” where we had two cars, Rebecca and Casper , the oldest and the newest cars of the lot. Our cars overheated three times as we negotiated our way through Nice. Asking directions to the car park where we were to meet, we got some bad guidance and ended up rather, at a small garage where several classic cars were housed. I recall seeing an MG, a Jaguar, Porsche and Austin Healey if memory serves. Obviously our guide thought we were looking for a place that housed classic cars.

As we exited the tight quarters of that garage, we soon overheated again – in the middle of the street, we disembarked dawning our bright orange and yellow vests and placing our triangular warning signs, on either end of our cars (we had gotten quite good at the routine of properly breaking down in Europe), we hopped out of the cars and popped the bonnets. Out of nowhere came an army of police on motorcycles – we counted 18 in all. The police pulled up right behind our traffic jamb and hopped off their bikes. It was about this time that Joe realized that his passport was in one of the other cars, so he slipped the keys to me and took a walk around the block.

 

Check out all the PoPo motorcycles .. and they arrived out of nowhere all at one time!

I’m thinking that we’ve blocked a road in front of a government building and that we were about to be arrested for something more serious than having old cars blocking traffic. I went about my business, not looking up, fully expecting a gruff rebuke in a language that I didn’t speak. But the police converged and gathered in the middle of the intersection behind us. They had some sort of meeting right there in the road completely ignoring us! Wow, was I relieved. As we added water to our steeds and began to drive away, we got a quick wave from a few of them and that was that! We soon found our long lost comrades and also the cool waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

Team Torpedo’s Mike Rowe (Micro) expresses it best – after a body and soul renewing swim!!

Some of the local wildlife could be seen absorbing warmth from the rocks.

Talk about a refreshing swim – my gosh, we gained a new lease on life. We enjoyed cooling off, waking up our tired bodies and getting a glimpse of the local wildlife. As I said Nice is nice, but we had miles to cover before we could rest as we were hell bent for Italy and a soft bed. Once again, our cars became separated as we tried to exit Nice. The traffic jambs and traffic lights conspired against us putting enough distance between us that we were unable to maintain radio contact, so again, we were two and two headed for the rendezvous point in Italy. This is not ideal because when the cars are split up, so are the expertise and the spare parts.

Break downs were a common thing on this trip. We’ve estimated that we spent an average of 3 hours per day stopped on the roadside for some repair or overheating issue, but we kept on.

Casper receiving some TLC. The Mark 1 Triumph 2000 was a very nice car, but still suffered a coil melt down and several overheating episodes.

Emergency triangle in front and behind with all pedestrian /mechanics clad in bright orange or yellow vests. We got really good at this drill!

Sorry Joe, Nobody looks cool wearing one of those vests… especially an orange one.

The days were warm, but the nights were a bit cold. One of our many late night gas stops.
We spent nearly $2000 per car for Petrol on this trip….. we don’t know high fuel prices in the US….

Arriving at our Hotel in Italy at about 9 PM, we found most of the restaurants closed, so what did we eat? Pizza and Calzone’s of course. 36 hours with no sleep, all we needed were pizza, wine, and soft bed – though a cold tile floor would have done by then. Our accommodations were nice and we awoke to lush manicured grounds, well rested and ready to meet the rest of the 10 CR crowd at the check point by 9 AM.


Our Italian hosts were a husband and wife team who ran the inn.

We were in for a great day, headed for our second overnight stay in Germany, what great scenery for a single day drive!

Lago Maggiore, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen… if you’re going to break down, this is a pretty good spot to do it.

We happened upon some of our brothers-in-arms along the shoreline, with their Herald strewn all over the car park. It just happens that they brought along an extra diff… and they needed it. They shared that they brought along an extra tranny as well. It dawned on us just how ill-prepared we were for this journey. As they had plenty of help, tools and expertise and we were sure to break down along the way, we bid them good luck and continued on our way. Did I say this was a gorgeous place?

Rimmed with old villages and well patina’d architecture, Lago Maggiore spans some 42 miles on the southern edge of the Alps, We drove this gorgeous scenery all the way until we began to climb the alps for passage into Switzerland…

Having found some nice shade near the injured Herald, Victor and I discuss something of great mechanical import I think… yeah, I’m sure it was…

Still skirting the shores of Magiorre, weather looks threatening as we approach the Swiss Alps and the pass into Switzerland.

I got a text in this spot from a co-worker, “Where are you?” my response: “We’re broken down in the Swiss Alps and it is absolutely gorgeous!”

The constant up hill climb was tough on our cars – overheating, leaning out the fuel mixture as we reached new heights, all part of the routine. Flipper was spitting fire out of her exhaust shortly before one of these episodes. We were laughing at the site,,, just before she sputtered to a stop for a quick carb adjustment, a little cooling off and we were on our way once again.

Thinking we’d reached the pass, we celebrated with a cool beer and snacks only to find that we had another 30 minutes to climb!
Little did we know that the most impressive part of our story was about to unfold as we continued our climb to the top of the San Bernardino pass. Our most serious overheating episode occurred within a few hundred yards of the top. Flipper’s overflow tube had a crack in it so it would allow water to pass from the radiator into the overflow bottle, but like a straw with a hole in it, the radiator could not suck the fluid back into itself, so we had to constantly add water until we located some spare fuel hose that rectified the problem. That was bad enough, but our Mule was spewing water from the lower middle of the radiator – not dripping mind you – gushing out. One of our crew John (Stanford) VanDorn, calmy crumbled up about half a slice of winder bread into the radiator, we let it cool a bit and added water while running and watched with Wonder as the leak slowly stopped completely! We drove another 7 hours without losing a drop of water from that radiator!
But the worst was yet to come as when we started to leave for the final bit of our climb, the Mule’s transmission would not grab and go. Full throttle yielded about 5 mile per hour with no acceleration as she tried to leave the road side… we were SO close and might not make the summit! What did we do? Push – as fast as we could – when we were at running speed,2nd gear of the automatic transmission kicked in and off she went! We yelled for Victor to keep moving and we’d meet him at the bottom of the mountain. And that is exactly what we did. The Mule was shot for stop and go traffic, but as long as she was moving, we could keep going. Over the top, down the other side, and we’re headed for our next overnight stop in Germany. We reached the Holiday Inn Express at about 1:30 AM, hungry and tired, but we found many of our brethren were also straggling in with their tales of struggle and strife, so we sat up until 3 AM eating microwaved pizza and sipping whatever beer they had on tap…. Off to bed at 3 AM on Sunday morning, needing to be up by 7, no rest for the weary… but memories … we can rest later.

Sunday proved to be a blessing in that we had no more hill climbs, I know that the Mule would not have made another tough drive. We picked up a quick dip into Lichtenstein in route to Belgium. I would have to say the Lichtenstein was the most unhappy place I’ve visited in my life. It was tough to find a smile anywhere, people wanted no part of picture taking, it was odd. Remind me to do some reading up on the situation in Lichtenstein, there has to be more to that story… We did visit a race track in Germany in and we reconnected with Julie and Roy, a couple who were instrumental in helping us prep Casper in the months leading up to the 10 CR. They would remain with us until our Triumphant arrival at the Rolduc Monastery, were a feast and top notch Belgian Ale awaited us. As we arrived, I driving Flipper, got goose bumps as our British brethren cheered loudly from the front portico of the grand old building. We had done it! Crazy as it was, 11 American Triumph enthusiasts, embarked on the 10 CR in four old Triumphs that they had only known for days… and we’d made it! As we shared stories with others, we learned of teams that had tried it four times only to be successful once. Others that had started and not finished this 10th running of the 10 CR, but had continued on in rental cars just for the party at the end. What we also learned was that as we embarked on this adventure, nobody gave us a serious chance of success. As we arrived at the Check point in Italy, people were genuinely shocked to see us – let alone with all four cars still running. At each stop thereafter, we gained respect, we just might love these cars as much as they did. At the finish, it was all-out celebration and we were accepted as idiot Triumph enthusiasts with some skills and guts and as one Brit put it, “that American can do attitude”.

The rest of the story is told by the photographs below. What a trip, what a destination and what a fantastic group of Triumph friends we gained in the experience. I plan to do it again in 2017, but I doubt there is any way it will top this first experience running the 10 Countries Run September 2013!

Some prankster added a fin to flipper in the parking lot of the Rolduc – we drove away with it intact the next morning.

The steeds of Team Torpedo from left to right, The Mule, Flipper, Rebecca and Casper pictured in front of the Rolduc Monastery.

The steeds of Team Torpedo from left to right, The Mule, Flipper, Rebecca and Casper pictured in front of the Rolduc Monastery.

Glenn and Joe enjoying great food, beer and fellowship!

The monastery was at one time a boarding school, our accommodations were the dormitory rooms with 5-6 beds in each. Wandering the old building, one could see elegant architecture and centuries old history. We were on hallowed ground for sure.

And the disemboweled Herald we left along the shores of Maggiore? They made it too of course….