Stella Alpina Rally
With a steadily growing reputation in worldwide rallying circles, it was inevitable that the Stella 1977 would attract a large number of international motorcyclists and estimates at the time put this close to 2000 riders from all over the world.
The tough climb up the track to the Sommelier (Roll your mouse wheel to zoom in)
As with previous Stella Alpina meetings, everyone had a great time, which was the main reason why we had ridden from our respective hometowns, often far away, to attend one of Italy's most celebrated summer rallies.
... with its ubiquitous dirt, ruts, ravines and rocks.
As with previous years, the 'cream of the crop' of the French 'die-hard' rallyists established their headquarters at Luigi's hotel-pizzeria-bar in Bardonecchia high street.
There, they often met for lunch or dinner, sampling the exquisite local cuisine: antipasti, pizza, lasagne, and of course pasta; accompanied by plenty of fine Italian wines: Barolo, Barbera, Valpolicella, etc. and always ending the meal with the digestif 'Genepi'.
Looking back now on the days of our youth, I guess we were very fortunate to experience these long nights, partying hard at Luigi's amongst good friends, some now sadly no longer with us.
There are a couple of quotes from the famous that perhaps sum it all up:
"Alcohol may be man's worst enemy, but the bible says love your enemy."
- Frank Sinatra
"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming 'Wow! What a Ride!'"
- Hunter S. Thompson
Snow and ice at that altitude hamper the efforts of those who attempt the climb.
The 3 days of the Alpine Safari following the 1977 meeting was lead as always by its founder, Mario Artusio, with participants roaming the surrounding mountains along the goat trails on their road bikes.
The small group of international riders on the 1977 Safari mainly included rallyists from the UK, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium and France.
Daniel Raphael (Rapha) and Jean-Francois Laroche (Jeff), two die-hard rallyists (still active today), having a good time in Bardonecchia's main street.
In my next piece I'd like to continue my recollections of the Stella rallies; entering a new era: the 1980s! Starting with a much longer piece telling the story of the 1980 meeting, with lots of images and anecdotes. A year which sadly left too many with more bad memories than good!
- Jean-Francois Helias