Lake Shore Drive - 8 Maggio 2022 - Special Stages

Lake Shore Drive - May 8, 2022

Chris Leustean

Lake Shore Drive, now in its third year, is back after 2 years of suspending our activities with one of the highest turnouts ever recorded at our events.

In fact, 75 cars, with over 120 people, have registered for this event which sees a largely updated itinerary compared to the 2018 and 2019 editions.
A great result, therefore, which however saw its success undermined by the weather forecasts which initially made us fear the worst, but then in the end, as we will see, it didn't go so badly, even if a little water on the route we found.


As mentioned, the forecasts are not the best, on the contrary, but at least for the departure there is no rain forecast, even if the roads that lead us to the meeting point are largely wet from the rain that fell during the night.

For this edition, the meeting point is in Verbania, on the Piedmontese shore of Lake Maggiore, at the parking lot of the Teatro Il Maggiore, a particular architecture that overlooks the lake.

Also on this occasion the meeting is at 9.30; the registration of the participants takes place at the Arena Beach Bar where the gadgets are delivered, for which we always thank Taurus Special Tuners (I remember the 5% discount reserved for all Special Stages Members on purchases both online and directly at the venue) , and above all the paper roadbook is delivered, as per tradition, with all the indications on the route we will have to follow.
The location chosen as a meeting point really deserves both for the scenographic impact of the theater structure and for the spectacular view of Lake Maggiore. Also not to be underestimated is the quality of the breakfast offered by Bar Arena Beach included in the event, so we will certainly return in the next editions of the Lake Shore Drive.

A little late on the schedule, around 11.00 the caravan leaves for the first part of the Tour of this day.
A caravan as always truly varied and on this day also characterized by cars of the highest level, including Porsche GT3s, Audi RS6s with over 1000hp, various Lotuses in all guises, but also Toyota Supras, Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglios and 4Cs and all the others cars to which we have always been accustomed.

The itinerary in this first part foresees a peaceful transfer along the lakefront along the SS33 towards the south, up to Stresa. Here, between the traffic and the constant presence of inhabited centres, one travels at a very calm pace, perhaps too much due to foreign tourists who do not exceed 40 km/h for no apparent reason…

Having reached the town of Stresa, we finally leave it by taking a much less busy road which begins to climb through the woods towards the mountain to reach Gignese. From here we start picking up the pace along the road that takes us to Sovazza and then up to Armeno, practically without traffic except for a few vintage cars that we pass, probably participants in another event.

This stretch does not have a very wide road, but certainly in good condition, with a continuous ups and downs that runs through a small valley that connects Lake Maggiore, starting from Stresa, to Lake Orta up to Armeno and then Orta San Giulio.

From Orta we walk along the almost traffic-free lakefront up to Gozzano to then take the Cremosina, SP76.
La Cremosina is a very beautiful road, in excellent condition and partly with a rather wide track which allows you to drive more easily. Very well known by motorcyclists but also a practical communication route between Valsesia and the Borgomanero area, it is often busy and sometimes even subject to checks by the police, so you need to be careful, but given the weather conditions today, there is little traffic , the motorbikes are not there, so we travel it a little more lightly.

We then reach Borgosesia where we stop to regroup the group and allow, as always, the photographers along the way to reach the next position.
Unfortunately, during the stop, water also reaches us. In fact, while we were still, a first downpour of rain forced us to take shelter in the cars, fortunately for a few minutes, but we found it again, even intense rain, when we set off again for the second stage.

From Borgosesia we head north to take the SP299 which runs right along the Valsesia. We pass Varallo, which in this edition will not be a stop for lunch. In fact we cross the valley up to Balmuccia. Here we turn for Val Sermenza On the SP10, a side valley whose road is totally traffic-free.
It's still raining, but less and less intensely.

We pass the town of Boccioleto and then in Rimasco we continue towards the Val d'Egua on the SP11 up to Carcoforo.
The road is generally well paved, in some places even with a fairly wide carriageway, which however obviously narrows in the presence of small and ancient inhabited centers and on some bridges. The almost total absence of traffic allows participants to enjoy themselves in safety, even if perhaps at a slightly reduced speed due to the damp road surface, especially in the first half when driving along dense undergrowth.

Approaching Carcoforo, just in the last kilometres, the vegetation opens up quite a lot with a fantastic view of the side valleys and the town located at the bottom of the valley.
Luckily the rain has practically stopped at the finish, only a few drops continue to fall as all the cars of the arriving participants park themselves on the side of the road.

In Carcoforo, which is located at the foot of the Monte Rosa massif at 1,304 meters above sea level, we stop for a lunch break. Unfortunately the main idea was to set up the buffet outside the Alpenrose Refuge, but obviously the weather conditions have the managers of the structure to organize the alternative indoors.

Focaccia, polenta, pizzas, rice salads and omelettes were the menu for this break, for which we were a bit disappointed, not so much by the quality of the food, which was high anyway, but by the management with somewhat sacrifice yourself. Since luckily it didn't rain during lunch, perhaps even just providing tables outside under summer umbrellas could have been useful and appreciated by the participants.

Right at the end of the lunch break, when the participants are returning to their cars, it starts to rain again. In the end, it's a good thing since the forecast called for rain for the entire period of our stop, at least we were able to be calm during the lunch break, but now the rain will accompany us for a good stretch of road.

The column of cars returns towards the valley up to Balmuccia. The tortuous stretch prevents overtaking and unfortunately some participants left at the head of the group, let's say not very euphoric.

Special Stages absolutely does not want to impose any type of riding style, but as we always say, if a participant wants to go at a more relaxed pace, or in any case, no matter how fast he thinks he is going, he finds himself behind someone who has more speed, we recommend always to facilitate overtaking. Losing 20 seconds to step aside on a full day of driving is certainly the right thing to ensure that no one complains about a slow caravan…

However, let's go back on the outward journey to Varallo. From here we leave the main road to go along the Colma di Civiasco, on the SP78.
This road is well known by the people of the area, it is a typical rally road, very tortuous with an incredible succession of curves and with a not too wide seat that connects Varallo, in Valsesia, to Lake Orta.
The west side, from where we climb, has a fast first section, with wide hairpin bends that climb with a road surface that is nothing short of perfect up to the town of Civiasco. Afterwards, the roadway narrows and the curves become an infinite succession with a single stretch up to the top of the hill towards the other side.

On this side the asphalt is less beautiful. It has no particular holes or cracks, but is often characterized by dips and sometimes a little dirty asphalt. Here too the succession of curves is continuous up to the town of Arola and then up to the stop sign that puts us on the SP46 which we travel along heading north up to Omegna.

Even in this stretch of transfer the rain continues to fall but we begin to hope well as we see the brighter summit of Mottarone.
From Omegna we continue along the SP229 along the coast of Lake Orta until we return again to Orta San Giulio to then cover the stretch done in the morning in the opposite direction up to Armeno.

Here begins the last guided section of the day, the ascent to Mottarone!

It has stopped raining, the bottom we find is almost dry, except for the sections in the shade of the plants where it is humid but not excessive. Traffic is non-existent in fact when we get to the top there will be practically only us.
Mottarone is a much appreciated destination both by mountain tourists and by motorcyclists and enthusiasts like us. The road surface is in very good condition for practically the entire stretch of the climb, with some points resurfaced for a few years. The roadway is a bit narrow in the first section and then widens as you approach the summit, where the route also becomes faster.

And incredibly when we get to the top, we also find the sun!
We park all the cars in the parking lot in front of Bar Alp where we are practically the only customers and finally we relax with the final aperitif and music. Aperitif much appreciated for the quantity offered, including freshly baked pizzas and appetizers.

So this third edition of Lake Shore Drive comes to an end, an event for which we at Special Stages aim a lot and which we will always re-propose in the month of May. For next year we have in mind many other novelties to propose which we will reveal to you shortly to make this event more and more interesting and appreciable.

We of the Staff thank all the participants who were present on this day and invite you to all our future events, including the Upland Ride scheduled for Sunday 19 June in the areas of the Asiago plateau with departure and arrival from Schio (VI).
Thanks again, see you next event!

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