Among the Mediterranean islands Corsica stands out. Most Europeans do not have it on the top of their list of holiday islands, even though they maybe should. Corsica is pretty much a one of kind beauty, hard if not impossible to find anywhere else. There are more then 50 summits of 2000m and over, and you have the choice between riding over mountain passes or across canyons. The road meanders past barren chalk and granite rocks, immediately followed by lush oak and pine forests. Wild waterfalls, lakes and rivers appear after stages on winding roads, only to vanish again behind rich green vegetation; and then, no matter which road you take, the view opens up and the sea, crystal clear and blue, stretches to the horizon.
The SIP Tour by now has become a tradition, a highlight in the annual calendar of the SIP Scootershop Team. Everybody going looks forward to it. Each year a new route is planned, new destinations are discovered and the most scenic roads for riding a scooter are explored. 2020 though we decided to revisit a destination. That’s not only because of Corsica’s exceptional beauty, together with its geography which is ideal for scooter touring, and because it is ideally located to meet our French friends. It’s also because there is a choice of roads for every ride and because Corsica is large enough to always find something new.
Quick road side repair in Swiss Alps
Start and meeting point for the tour is the Siperia, the small italian bar in the SIP Scootershop Headquarters. An Espresso and a Croissant are the perfect beginning for the first day of riding south, towards Italy and the Lago di Como. With 21 riders the group is particularly large this year. Via Switzerland and the 2100m high Splügen Pass with its awesome view, down again on a winding road with countless turns, towards the Mediterranean Sea. The first destination is Lecco, cooling down in the Lago di Como. Now with a beer instead of the espresso and a pizza instead of the croissant.
The second day is pretty much a working day as far as the riding is concerned. No mountains, not passes, only past Milano, on the motorway toward the ferry-port of Genova. If it wasn’t for a small genuine Piaggio part in the clutch cover which spontaneously decides to give up. So out with the wrenches, at 35° Celsius in the shade of the hot Italian noon sun. Near a godforsaken roundabout, next to a little frequented food truck. The distribution of duties comes natural: Everybody who doesn’t wrench takes care of the physical well-being. Panini all round! The bloke in the food truck asks: “How many cold drinks do you want?” “All of them”. All that with Abba’s Chiquitita as soundtrack from the stereo. With this team even a stopover on the motorway, to sort a defect, turns into a party. We continue our ride to the ferry-port, and in our rear mirrors we can see a happy food truck owner locking the door of his now empty truck.
After a short night on the ferry a fresh gust of see wind on the deck of the ferry, the sun and the sight of the coast of Corsica help with waking up. In the port of Bastia we meet our friends from the Scooter-Club du Sud-Est. With a gang of now 30 scooters we’re off to the mountains. We climb, leave the tree line and cross a 1500m high pass. Four hours of changing landscapes and corners. There are more cows and pigs along the road than tourists. On the other side of the island we get back to the sea. Tonton, an old friend, awaits us with a table laid in the shadow of an old oak. Wine, regional specialities and home-grown fruit. Then we’re off to the beach for digestion. The water is crystal clear, and we have the beach almost to ourselves. A few meters on some rocks form a natural diving platform with its own paddling pool. Nobody wants to leave this place.
During the night and the early morning a special challenge awaits us. Some open-heart surgery on a Vespa. The drive-side oil-seal in Luka’s VNB is gone. We never have a backup van or spare vehicle, so every scooter needs to be kept on the road. So out with the engine, and the dinner table is converted to a work bench. We have all the spare parts with us, distributed over all riders. Tools for (almost) all repairs are in the toolboxes too. After 4 hours the engine is back in and running again.
On the next day we need to say good-by to Tonton and Tintin and their warm hearted hospitality. We ride a short stage of 3 hours through the Corse Hinterland. Forests, hills, mountains and corner upon corners. Our destination is a hotel complex with mini bungalows, right at the beach in a small bay. In the early afternoon we’re on an open terrace, with a beer or a spritz, with a view of the clear sea, as clear as it appears to be everywhere here. Left and right of us mountains. We enjoy the day, swim, eat well and sit at the table till the small hours. Someone again plays Chiquitita. When we finally call it a day it feels as if we knew every singly liquor ever distilled on this island.
The most phantastic roads through the stunning mountains of Corsica island
Tomorrow we’re headed back home again already, unfortunately. A last mountain stage through the impressive scenery of Corsica, to the ferry-port, and back home then. It was as short and intense as it was short on Corsica.
Touring on scooter is fascinating because it is more than the sum total of the things you see and the roads you ride. It’s a team experience, as beautiful as it is exhausting, travelling on old scooters with their old engines is pure, no safety net and no backup. The tour had a few challenges for us in stock. Experiences way beyond the beauty of the land. Some maybe not so nice, but also the luck to be able to undertake this tour with our French friends. The way home was different in length for many of us. Next year we will meet again, all of us. With Abba and the melancholically optimistic Chiquitita.
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Jesco is a technician and product developer at SIP Scootershop. Many people know him from videos on the SIP TV Tutorial Channel, where Jesco explains complicated stuff in a simple way.