by Rose Atalante Veenenbos
VERY SHOCKING and terrifying…!!! That’s what I promised in my last report, so sit back and enjoy my horror experience. It all started at 9 AM again as we took off to explore Lago Maggiore after we did some tinkering to make sure all engines were ready for conditions that were going to be quite challenging. Especially for us Dutch people who live in a totally flat country. My dad was joining me this day, but what he didn’t know was that his nerves were going to be tested to the extreme after he had taken his seat next/behind me. The first kilometers were a party, because Amillion was really feeling like an athlete. The RB magneto did the trick and we were enjoying the sun, the sound, the roads and the surroundings.
Our first stop was a cave, again… In Vaals, with the International Cercle Pegase Club rally we had been trapped in at least 3 caves, so Amilcarists seem to be real cavemen and to love caves, although I am a bit claustrophobic. It was a cultural thing with a museum attached to it, showing how the mountain people used to live a long time ago. I learned that they made all kinds of household (pots and pans, buckets, etc.) and other things from Speckstein, a soft kind of stone mined locally. Since they were generally poor their clothing was patched endlessly, of which there were some good examples in the museum. Because of the poverty most men left to work elsewhere, as far afield as Australia and the USA, leaving the women to lead the tribe. Surprising that poor workers traveled around the globe already in those days. After this visit we continued in the idyllic atmosphere of the Vallemaggia and the Valle Bavona. The second stop was in a place that looked like we had ended up in a fairy-tale like world with beautiful mountains, a waterfall, a bubbling river with large rocks, a bridge leading us to a cute Italian mountain cottage for a fine Apéro. It wasn’t until here that we discovered that there were also some Dutch speaking participants from Belgium, who participated with their Riley special. All being chill and happy we took off again and now the real adventure started!
I was following our German friends in their brutal Amilcar C6 racer and we had no clue that Amillion’s braking power had slowly become worse, to put it mildly. At certain points the organizing crew had taken up position to indicate if and when there was an important turn to be made. With a good speed, as I was trying to keep up with the C6, we had to take an exit to the left and Tino was giving us directions standing in the middle of the road. I was approaching too fast for a quick slowdown, so I made the turn a bit uncontrolled and then… Surprise! I immediately had to stop for a traffic light just before a sharp bend and guess what?… I wasn’t able to stop behind the first car in the queue. I immediately reacted by passing him on the left and luckily Amillion then managed to stop behind the next car in the queue, which was the C6 again. Phew, that was a close call and luckily no oncoming traffic. In such situations you need to handle very very quickly in a split second. Later Tino came to tell us that he thought I was going to run over him, and he was not pleased with my ‘performance’.
I love adventures, so I got adventures and the surroundings… Just WOW! In one day we had seen so much, but the best was still to come, Lago Maggiore. But first a fine lunch under the grape tree, enjoying great moments with precious friends. What is great about this passion is that you get to meet so many amazing personalities. The cars and their technique are fascinating, but the owners are the ones who make the stories of the cars and those stories are formidable. Not many people are familiar with the zodiac signs, so an interesting conversation followed about me being a typical Scorpio who loves to seek the extremes. After we all had been charged up again it was time for some palm trees and boats in a lake where once a Bugatti Brescia had languished for years, the famous Brescia that was rescued from the lake.
Before we arrived in this paradise there was another challenge and I had been very very lucky to survive again. It seems I have unstoppable luck. I had to break for a hairpin while driving behind an MG and it was ‘a bit’ steep there. Again I was not able to stop, so I was about to hit the MG. In a split second I decided to make sure not to hit the MG and go against traffic overtaking the MG inside the hairpin. I was safe, but it was a huge risk I had taken! Luckily there was no oncoming traffic. The driver of the MG later came to my dad and was not amused, but I did save his MG and my Amilcar. The rally was now more than a challenge and we were still so excited as we were cruising around the Lago Maggiore. We stopped to enjoy a breath-taking view while seeing most of our friends passing by, of which also the incredible Maxwell of 1908 which was by far the oldest car there, and it went a lot faster than I had expected. The panorama view we got was spectaculair and made me really feel like ying & yang or just super chill.
I knew there were some more very steep downhills to come in the lake area, and I was extremely cautious now, continuously descending in low gear. The city streets are so cool, unless you go downhill and come to a stop sign at the bottom where there is a busy corniche full of cars. It is then when you must absolutely stop, but what if you can’t, at least not in time? It was hilarious when my dad had to jump out of the car as we were rolling down towards the stop sign and seeing the traffic below on the corniche. My dad managed to put a block under the wheel and with some clumsy movements we managed to stop the CGS and keep it in one piece. I can speak for some more hours about our adventures, but try yourself and go to this beautiful areas, but first check your brakes carefully before going there!
When back at the hotel is was like a pit stop in a F1 race, as I immediately drove into the pitstop lane where the wizards Tino and Luca started to investigate the brake problem… It seemed that the rear brakes did not do much at all and the front brakes had also deteriorated. After they fixed it with some of their brakabracadabra, Amillion did brake again much better during a short test drive. And I learned something important. You always need to cover your car while mechanics work on your car because it is of course embarrassing for Amillion when other cars see his problems, so my dad was so kind to cover up Amillion.
Battery charging again (no dynamo on the car), Amillion resting in the sun, time to chill and get new energy in the form of drinks and food. But first I had to learn something about clowning, as there were clowning magicians with hair that was very well styled. One used to be a broker and the other a mechanic. Fortunately a friend had a business meeting with the company one of the magicians had worked for, so the reaction must be good when this ex-collegue saw his new look! Only one trick of magic I understood, so this will not be my future profession I guess. In between supper there was some more clowning as they gave away a show which was very funny. You really need to be crazy to have a job like this!
During supper I also got an etiquette class, and I can assure you that it is not boring to learn etiquette at all, especially not when you have the right teacher. So the evening was again a super end of the day and lightning in the distance in the mountains looks really cool in this area!
A pity that there were so few young people on this rally, but I like to thank and compliment Chantal and Guy Clavel and Valentino Belotti for this smashing weekend and all the efforts they have made to make us enjoy this wonderful Escapade Cyclecars et Grand Sport in the Tessin et ses Vallées. It was one big feast, but I have some more adventures in store for you, so this is to be continued!