Sunday, July 17, 2011

thoughts and closing

Don't go away. I'm updating the blog over the next week or so. Adding more pics, re-writting some of the text to correct spelling mistakes and add more content as I've remembered things I've missed out. So far I'm up to Day 9.

I loved the event. It was fantastic. I'd highly recommend it to anyone. The Italian people are so friendly, helpful,and courteus... until they get behind the wheel of a car, and then they go crazy.

I'm sure that the NSW branch of the Australian Institute of Civil Engineers have been over here teaching them how to build roads, as they are long and straight and fairly much bloody awful!

The sights were amazing. The views, the hill top towns, The food! You've never ridden a twisty until you cross the centre of Italy off the beaten track.

Would I do it again? Bet your arse I would!

Day 12, Reggio Emelia to Milan

View Larger Map
We had to be up and out by 9am as new guests were coming in. No problem at all. We left and were on the way to Milan. Only 169km left to do. A very uneventful run, but it was funny recognising some of the places we passed, or stopped at as time points in the actual Milan-Taranto. At about 120km I saw an interesting looking church, so assumed we were looking at an old town and pulled off the road for lunch. Once again, the Lambrettas got a great deal of attention as we say in the bar, which was attached to the church itself. Then it was on our way again,a nd we finally got back to the B&B in Millepini in the early afternoon.

I waited for a few hours, and then took the scoot down to Vittorio's where it will be checked over ready for EuroLambretta 2012.

That evening, we had dinner with Tino Sacchi again, and his wife, Nadia. Adolfo, the support van driver, also happened to show up. again, the food did not disapoint. We finished with an extremely good lemoncello, which really knocked me for six and made driving the car back to the B&B an interesting exercise.

Day 11, Rimini to Reggio Emelia

We only had 320km to get back to Milan, and we decided to have 2 easy days rather than do it all in a single day. We set ourselves a short target of Modena, or a long target of Reggio Emilia. In the end we actually stopped somewhere in between at another agriturismo called Il Brugnolo, near Scandiano. This was the only place that actually had any space for us.

The ride was good. We missed most of the major towns with the GPS directing us around them. However, we were off the beaten track and got to see some great countryside.

We arrived at the Agriturismo, with quite a few hours to spare. The owner can speak some English, but prefers to speak Italian. Akiko and I went to the local pool for an hour or so. I had an argument with an arsehole Italian who took teh parking place I was about to go into. Interesting what you can achieve with gestures.

That night we went to the local town, and went to Piazza Fiume, where we had been recommended a certain restorante... which was closed. Nothin else seemed to be open, so we walked back out of the Piazza, and found someone who directed us to a door in the wall... which opened to some stairs, which when climbed took us to a fantastic little place called Ristorante Al Portone. We were on the terrace next to what had been a moat, and what looke dlike an old city wall tower. The food, once more, was amazingly good and the wine was fabulous. A Great find!

Day 10, Near Ancona to Near Rimini, via San Marino

This day we rode to Rimini Lambretta Centre, via San Marino.

I couldn't sleep well in the hotel. To say the bed was interesting would be an understatement. You lay on the mattress, and you sank in to it. Very uncomfortable. I woke up at 4am, and played on the iPad for a few hours. Finally, as 6am I got up and changed my front tyre as it had worn unevenly from the problem with the forks.

We left at about 9:30am, but didn't even get out of the carpark as my new front tyre had decided to deflate. So, I had to put the old one back on again. We were now off to San Marino... another one ticked off my list of world's smallest countries. I've been, now, to the Vatican City, Monaco, San Marino and Lichtenstein.

As we went along the road, we realised that:

1) There was a much nicer hotel just up the road
2) If we had kept going, we had done the hard part and that the last 25km was MUCH easier.

Still, the ride to San Marino was fantastic, especially climbing up to the castle. It was, though, a very hot day at around 39C. The height gave us a brief respite from the heat, and we were rewarded with some stunning views.

When we got to the main town centre, we stopped and had something to drink. We hapenned to pick a corner where loads of young students were constantly filing past and going into a liquor store. I can only surmise that teh drinking age is lower in San Marino. The tour guides were certainly friendly with the store owners. The Lambrettas caused a bit of a stir, and were admired by many... but we weren't at the top yet. So, Ron and I got on the scoots and rode up as far as we could go to the entrance of the old castle.

When we had finished in San Marino, it was back down towards Rimini. I wanted a new inner tube, and get the front wheel changed. So, we decided to stay at an agriturismo in near the RLC that had been recommended by Dean, and that Ron and Suzanne had stayed at before, Antiche Macine. This place was stunning, and I couldn't wait to get back there after Rimini.

RLC were fantastic. One guy came down to the Agriturismo to escort me up to RLC, and I met Marco to start. He soon got the guys working on my scoot and then Dean arrived. Amazingly, we discovered we were from the same part of the UK and that he knew people I knew when I was a teenager. My god he can talk quickly. Full on. Great guy. He rode my scoot and was appalled at the handling (remember this is better than it was), and tried it without shocks... which was better again, so standard single action shocks were put on. We were looking at the shocks that had been there, and one of them just fell apart... so no surprise it was bad. Again, an improvement in handling, but still not perfect. The forks are definitely not true.

Finally it was time to go and enjoy that wonderful swimming pool and the last of the evening sun. Bliss!

Dinner was, once more, just amazing. Fantastic food. Of all the places I've stayed on this trp, this is one of my favourites. I wish I could've stayed another few days.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Day 9, Foggia to Ancona, nearly

To leave Foggia, we first had to get the car out of the underground carpark with the very steep entrance. Just turning it around down there was an art in itself, but then getting it up the ramp was problematical as the car only just fit. I had scenes of the Top Gear episode where they stop traffic in Paris trying to get 3 super cars out of a similar car park.

Ron had suffered a bit on the ride the previous day, so we decided to pick a near location, which was Porto D'Ascoli, and a stretch goal of Ancona, which was founded by the greeks in 327BC. Porto D'Ascoli, was a modern city founded in the 13th century, so nowhere near as interesting.

The drive along the coast was quite breathtaking, and the tunnels a welcome break from the beating sun. We stopped near San Vito Chietino for Lunch, at a beautiful beach side area. You could see lots of Africans walking the beach with these huge bags containing all kinds of things, such as swim suits, t-shirts, sun tan lotion, etc... trying to sell their wares. I also noticed the support van for the Swiss Laverda Club, who had been at the MiTa, were there and that they had been to Cornwall (Kernow sticker on the back door)

We soon got to Porto D'Ascoli, and decided to push on to Ancona, and so we reserved a hotel there. We then entered a 75km traffic jam! Eventually, after 3 hrs, we gave up as we just could not face the last 25km, and pulled into a roadside hotel that used to be, but was still advertising as, 3 stars.

The hotel, you could see, had had quite a bit of money spent on it in the past, but it was now past its prime. Still, beggars can't be choosers and we settled in. I will say, though, that the food from the "restaurant" was again, extremely good. Can't fault it at all.

The bed's were interesting, in that Akiko and I sank into our beds, whereas Ron and Suzanne's were, apparently like rock. I didn't sleep too much, as it was so uncomfortable.

Day 8 - Torchiarolo to Foggia

We started the day at the Lambretta Store in Puglia, where Ron did some maintenance on his scoot, which consisted of adjusting his front brake, checking the oil, and replacing a screw that had come loose. We had a good look around Enzo's store, and particularly at his restorations, for which he is getting a good reputation as the quality is excellent, but he can only manage to do 4 a year.

I got to discover the monetary damage from the repairs, which was very reasonable as I had a huge favour done for me, and also what the problem was:

Basically, the rods were not correct. They have a ball on the end, and the ball was too big, thus they did not sit in the cup on the links properly, and the springs were too weak. To add to that, one of the rods was bent! Oh, and the bolts in the fork buffers were cross threaded. To say I was a tad unhappy would be an understatement.

Ron was finished with his servicing, and Enzo wanted some pics with us. So, once more we posed. Obviously we were more than happy to do so, as Enzo had been such a gracious host.

I had one more treat in store for me though... I got to ride Tino Sacchi's Targa Twin that had been in the Milan-Taranto. Enzo took us down the road towards the beach, and I opened the throttle and, very quickly, everyone else became a dot in the background... and I wasn't even full throttle. I had it up to 140kph, and it was still accelerating! And smooth? I was on a rock hard ancilotti seat, and could hardly feel any vibration. What a beautiful machine.

Finally, we were off once more, on our way to Foggia (Fodge-ee-ah). nOt much to say about the ride, except it was about 300km of motorway riding and so we mainly saw barriers, with an occassional stunning view. We were supposed to stop in Molfetta, but due to me not understanding how to program my GPS correctly, we rode straight past it. We then carried on to Barletta where we stopped for lunch, parking neatly beside the road. Which was pointless, as the Southern Italians don't believe in doing the same.

Part of the reason for stopping at Barletta was to see the magnificent castle, which was initially built by the Normans in the 2nd half of the 12th Century and restored in 1996. When we went to see the Castle, it is open 6 days a week... unfortunately, it was the day it was closed. Barletta is famous also for the Colossus of Barletta, which we missed, and also because it was the first place of Italian resistance to the Germans in 1944.

When we arrived in Foggia, Ron asked someone about a hotel, and we were directed to the Mercure, Hotel Cicolella, which was an amazing art deco hotel. Very nice. The room even had its own sitting room, and a bath! Ah, the glories of a bath when you've had a hard ride. The only downside of the place was that the carpark was extra and a whole block away... which was enough distance for Ron to get lost.

We met Ron and Suzanne for dinner around 8:30pm, and were about to go out when we discussed the option of the set menu in the hotel restaurant for E35 a person, including wine and water. We decided to go for it. It was superb and, once again, it was huge.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Day 7 - Getting the forks fixed

We rode to Torchiarolo in Puglia (Pooh-lia), where the previous night the owner of the Casa Lambretta Consesionaire had offered to help with the forks. It was about 90km of very scarey riding. It was OK when going fast, as the gyroscopic effect of the wheel made it go upright, but as soon as I hit a bump, or had to slow for a corner, it got quite hairy.

Still, we made it into town. It looked like a place out of a spaghetti western. All the shutters were closed. I half expected to see a kid run across the street, or hear a dog barking, and then have Clint Eastwood appear, but instead right outside a bar was an LI series 2, so we pulled up... the owner was a member of the local Lambretta club, and offered to call Enzo for us... who was uncontactable as he was too busy having fun on the twin. Meanwhile, we needed somewhere to stay, so this woman, Amelia, turns up racing through town in her Fiat Panda, to make sure we stay with her, and that we are OK. So helpful, it almost hurts.

Enzo showed up, we had some beers and then he took us to his workshop. Which is extremely well stocked and has some beautiful machines that belong to him. Once more, it was "go away and leave it with me, I'll fix it". So we went off to the B&B, which was also recommended by Enzo, and was walking distance away.

Akiko and I wanted to go to the beach, and Amelia gave us directions with her broken English and a map. She kept asking if we wanted her to accompany us to make sure we were on the correct road (Torchiarolo is a maze), but we said no. We were working our way through town, and she suddenly appeared. She had decided to look for us and do it anyway!

The beach was fantastic. Water was beautiful and warm, and the section we were on was not crowded at all. I christened my first ever Bikini, and we sunbathed for a while (How nice to not have a sun that cooks you in 30 mins flat), and just enjoyed the ability to relax.

Then it was back to the B&B and time to get ready for dinner. Enzo had called, he had finished the scoot and was going to show up with it later. He then going escorted us to a bar, then he went home to get changed. We sat there at the bar, and watched as the locals started to come out of their homes, and as the town started to come alive.

After about 45 minutes, Enzo showed up again with a friend and then took us back to the beach for a fantastic meal and to meet his wife. It's amazing, but the town had not only come alive, it was packed! It really is a nocturnal existence in this place. Again, the company was fantastic, as was the food. Enzo's wife was an absolute delight.

We had tjis very strange table mat which was an advert. It showed a woman cupping her breasts and looking very happy. She had rings on her fingers. I was trying to work out what it was selling. In the end, I asked..... jewellery.

Finally, to bed, and then up again the next day to collect my scoot. Find out what the problem was, and for Ron to give his scoot a service.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Day 6 - Finish. Bari to Taranto.

As today was the last day, I decided to wear my Innocenti overalls, as they used to do. It was also a lot cooler than wearing the leathers. However, I must admit I felt very vulnerable. It was a short day and started at 11am, but we had to ride to the start again, so we left the hotel at 10am. Today, just a short ride from Bari to Taranto.

As I came up to the start line, I felt the same sense of buzz as I did when we started back in Milan. Even though I didn't do 200km, I had a grin from ear to ear. I was going to complete the Milan to Taranto on my scoot. I felt sorry for Howard as he wasn't able to complete the ride, but he was looking better than yesterday.

We started, and were on our way. Each section was very short. We kept riding past these circular stone houses called Trullo, collective known of Trulli. Apparently very sought after as they are cool in the summer, and warm in the winter.

One town we pulled into, we rode through a Roman arch into the town square, which was paved with extremely slippering limestone pavers. There was a wedding on, and the bride, in a vintage style dress, was getting her photo taken with all the bikes and scoots. She seemed to be lappin it up.

The last stop of the day, we rode down a street and the whole town was out in the heat welcoming us in. When I got to the end, I looked back, and it was a fantastic sight, with an amazing church at the end.

They took our cards for the day, and we had to wait for everyone to come in before we could eat. This is because everyone left together to ride the last 20km's to Taranto. So, a few of us took the opportunity to go for a beer (Had I mentioned how cheap Beer and Wine is in Southern Italy? Beer is the price of Coke, about €2, and wine is about €5 for a reasonable bottle).

Finally, nearly everyone was there and we were allowed to eat. Then suddenly, with no announcement, it was everyone on their bikes, and we were off for the last 20km. There they stopped us. We were to cross the finish line in number order. However, my scoot had decided to throw one more wobbly.... literally.... at me. During the event, I had noticed the handling was not that good, and now it was diabolical when I went around a corner. I looked at the front wheel and it was leaning over. It was just about rideable, and I was determined I was going to finish. I also took this break to introduce Donato to a great British food tradition, the icecream soda!

I had one more, good surprise, for me. The last 500m was a straight line sprint to the finish. Ron and I were on the line, and the flag went and we belted down the sea front in Taranto, going through the chequered flag. Then time to pose for some pictures, and be interviewed by the event for video. Then off to the final night... fortunately in our hotel.

Unfortunately Ron and I didn't place, but we got trophies for competing,as well as distance travelled with Hide-san, from Japan, and the Kiwi, who actually got furthest travelled.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Day 5 - Bugger, Caserta to Bari

Day 5 was Caserta to Bari. It started well. We actually started from right outside the hotel, and had more scarey riding throuh the traffic of Caserta, but once we got into the countryside, things started to calm down. I wasn't happy riding without a spare spark plug, but Adolfo in the support van couldn't find the new ones.

The next checkpoint was Montesarchio, another hill top town. This time one that surrounded what looked like a fantastically well preserved Normal Castle. I got a fairly good Spark Plug from Donato. This was a welcome stop, as it was damn hot again. Drank plenty of water, and stayed in the shade.
We left the check point. Everything was going well, but then the scooter cut out... right infront of a couple of guys standing by the road watching. I Changed the plug and whilst I did that, one of the guys produced 3 more plugs for me. She started up again, but within about 3 km, she stopped once more. I then put in one of the very clean used plugs provided to me by the spectator and that enabled me to get going again. I went long enough that I actually began to think I was going to make it, but fate had a different idea. 2 more plugs later and my scoot wasn't going anywhere. It was either the CDI or the pickup on the stator plate. I had about 60kms to go to the next checkpoint.

Malcolm and Colin, in the LDV picked me up. Just outside just outside Montemilleto we spotted a scooter shop with a whole bunch of, what I thought were Vespas outside, . As the CDI is actually a Vespa unit, we pulled in. They were about to shutdown for Siesta, but I persuaded them to stay open. We unloaded the scoot to try and get another CDI. As it turned out, they were LML's, not Vespas, but the unit is nearly the same. However, they only had some used ones, but no new ones. I decided to risk it.

We actually got the scoot sparking again, and was just re-assembling it when the news came in the Howard Chambers had written off his machine and nearly himself, so they had to leave me....knowing that the main support van was behind us. Later, I had the news that Howard was OK, badly bruised, with a cut above his eye, but still mobile. Apparently a car pulled out in front of him and just crossed the road so he ended up hitting it. My woes, unfortunately were not over. I got the scoot up the road, but it cut out again. It was almost definitely the pickup.

I was collected Adolfo in the team support van, which I found out later, took quite a few phone calls. We were now on the way to the last time point of the day, at Cerignola, via the Autostrada when it came in that Donato had also broken down. We collected him as well and then continued to Cerignola, where it was blisteringly hot and the only relief was the bar which had air conditioning on full blast. Not wanting to completely give up, when I spotted Howard, I checked to see if he was OK. He offered me his spare CDI and we checked to see if it worked. The answer, unfortunately, was no. So it was definitely the pickup.
We drove to the finish about 100km away. To be honest, it was so hot and the roads were awful, and lots of suburban driving through Bari and its outskirts... I'm almost glad I wasn't riding it.

When we got to the hotel, all I wanted to do was unload the scoot. Howard had a spare pickup, and there was a gas powered soldering iron available, but nothing in Italy is easy... especially in southern Italy. We were in a different hotel from the main one, and some people didnt want to go to the main event, Akiko was at the wrong hotel, and I wanted my scoot. Poor Donato was doing all the translating for about 4 simultaneous conversations. How he kept his sanity, I don't know. Eventually, I lost Donato and I asked where he was.... the van was being unloaded. I got my scoot. Took out the tools, lay on the ground and started to dismantle my machine when Donato walked up with Paulo and said "You want the variatronic?", I replied that I did. "OK, Paulo will do it for you". "OK, I'll just dismantle this". "No Paulo will do it for you. You get a shower". "Really?" "Yes, really. He's done 50. Go get a shower"

After the shower, about 8:15pm, I walked down to the carpark. There were 3 scoots being worked on. Donato's was having open heart surgery, and the crank, bearings, seals, barrel and piston were being replaced. Mine was in the process of being reassembled already. I was told to leave them alone and go to dinner.

When I came back at about 11:30pm, the boys were sat outside the hotel with a pile of pizza boxes and beers. Everything was finished. My scooter started wonderfully, better than when it was good before. Donato's was done too, as well as the 3rd one.

Because I started that day, and because I handed in my time card at the end, all I lost was points. I am allowed to start again the next day and, assuming I finish, I will have completed the Milan to Taranto. Unfortunately, in my mind, there is still that missing 200km.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Day 4 - Ferentino to Caserta

"Easy day" today. Only 187km. Ferentino to Caserta. Started with the 20km back to the finish the day before, so it's really 207km. A climb to 570m, down to 200m, and backup to 450m and down to Casino. First, the Ferentino Moto Club saw us off again. We were all packed in this little square back up in the mountain village. The sun was already blazing, so everyone was trying to stand in the shade.

A fantastic view up at Monte Casino, and I was the first family member to be there since my Uncle in WWII. The driving got noticeably worse. There was just no concept of lane control, and this now seems to be the general theme, as well as ignoring he concept of priority from the left on roundabouts. It certainly gets the adrenalin going, as it feels like everyone is out to kill you with their car.

Just outside Casino I broke down. No spark. I changed the plug and still no spark. Our breakdown van arrived and he cleaned the old plug, changed the gap and the machine started again! My replacement plug was useless! I then stepped on it, and tried to make up the lost time, but stuck behind some Germans who took up the whole road and wouldn't get out of the way. T make it worse, they even stopped for a photo, as they entered the control. Consequently, I was 1 minute late leaving the checkpoint. The first penalty point I've gained (It's bad to gain points).

Still, it was the last stop for the day, so as soon as I crossed the line, I turned around and went back for a drink and food. I got a laugh, though. There was an enormous Italy shaped cake, with a line across it, roughly equivalent to the Monte Casino line in WWII and it said "No Germans beyond this point".

Had some great food, and then back on the scoot to Caserta and the hotel.

The Local driving just got worse and worse, as did the roads. Damn glad to get to the hotel. Dinner was in our hotel tonight, and I got us a prime seat right in front of the projector, showing pics from the event.

Dreading rush hour tomorrow morning.

Day 3, Torgiano to Ferentino

The day is posted as Torgiano to Ferentino, getting up to 1000m above sea level, starting from 210m. However, the start was really at San Andrea d'Agliano, a good 10km away, when I hardly had any fuel. Fortunately, I made it!

Amazingly, Howard had sorted his fuel starvation problem, and Mike was riding... all be it with an extremely sore shoulder.

The day started in Mist. Actually very nice, cool inside the leathers. However, it burnt off, but by then we were seriously up in the mountains. The first few stops of the day were in quick succession, with one, Parco Acquarossa, greeting us with two planes just sticking out of the ground.

We travelled through a quite a number of places including Bastardo (Bastard). We climbed to 670m, and the had a gentle trip down to about 400m.

We then rode passed a dam, and then along the edge of a reservoir created by the dam, to be finally confronted by this mountain top village, Castel Di Tora, overlooking the reservoir. Absolutely stunning... and that's where we stopped for lunch, and a nice rest. By this time it was blazingly hot. The leathers were doing OK though, as long as I kept moving.

Then it was back in the saddle again climbing to 1000m above sea level and then finally finishing in another mountain town called Ferentino. Arriving at this town was quite incredible. You rod eup through a modern town, on a big hill, then you went through a medieval gate, and suddenly you were riding through streets that were just wide enough to get a cart through. We then came into a square, where we were met by the Ferentino culture preservation society, and the Ferentino motor club, and a good proportion of the old town. There we got beers, hung around... and hung around... and hung around, to then find we were to be escorted by a local person to our hotels. We elected to use the GPS.

Do you think, after 292km we were finished riding? Absolutely not! We had a 20 minute ride up another mountain to the hotels. Not particular nice one, but it did have a bath, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Then dinner, which didn't go on too long like the night before. We got to find out placings, and Ron and I were in equal 3rd place with a few others. Then bed, and easy day the next day... we even potentially got a lie in.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Day 2 - oops, Zola Predosa to Torgiano

Day 2 is Zola Predosa to Torgiano. It started well. I was really lookng forwards to it. 322km of twisties. This is real twisties, getting up to 900m above sea level. Having to use gears, as well as brakes, and getting the line correct. Something we don't have much of in Australia. Fanastic time.

At one point, going up a mountain, we passed Howard Chambers and Mike Webster stopped beside the road. I looked back to see if they needed help. Fidele stopped right in front of me, to help them. I happened to look forwards just in time, as I was about to hit him. Some very quick thinking meant that I swerved, but my legshields caught his rear panel handel and lifted the metal on the side, which then scraped across his panel and then his foot board. My leg also hit his rear rack,causing quite a nasty bruise. All I can say is that Fidele is amazing. I seriously damaged his beautiful scooter, and all he said was "don't worry, you didn't do it on purpose".

Later that day, I was to notice that Mike's scooter had a broken headlamp, that was a bit mangled. Turns out so was the mudguard, and Mike. Seems Mike was overtaking a car on a corner when another car came in the opposite direction... so he slide the scooter. At this point, he was a bit sore, but carried on riding.

We saw many amazing sights. Mountains with villages plonked on the top of them. We even rode through some, and stopped in a few. One of my favourites was this one. You were riding up a mountain, cam around a corner and there was the stop and this tiny village. Whilst it wasn't particularly picturesque, as a village, I loved "Bar Pit Stop", the guy was a real motoring enthusiast.

We got to the last time stop of the day, Brufa. Whilst we were under the tent feeding ourselves, as usual, the heavens opened. This was good as we were, as I said, under the tent. Unfortunately, it didn't stop raining until about 15 minutes after we left. Machines were dropping like flies as old Italian electronics and water do not seem to mix well.

The day finished with us hanging around at the town centre of Torgiano. Very confusing. We had to place our machines near a hotel sign, and I found out that it meant the hotel owner was going to escort us. Suddenly we were off, and following a Fiat Bambini... back where we had come. I had hardly any petrol left at all, so was getting a little concerned about if I'd make it. Finally we pulled into the fantastic Borgo Brufa Spa Hotel.

At 8pm, we were collected by coach and taken to a mountain top castle near by. We got there in time to see a wonderful sunset, and were met by cocktails, we were then escorted into the castle where, once again, the food was wonderful. However, they only stopped feeding us at midnight and we got back to the hotel at 1am... with an 8am start, some distance away, which meant rising at 6am to get breakfast, fuel up and ride to the start. Not enough sleep!

Much discussion went on that night as to what to do about Akiko and Suzanne as they were riding in the LDV, which was the support van for Mike and Howard. There looked like a good chance that Mike would not start the next day, and if Howard broke down there would not be enough room for everyone. Howard had been having Fuel starvation problems during the day, so this eventuality was looking likely, however Howard was back at the hotel trying to fix his machine. Fortunately, during the previous day I had met the Japanese rider, and had introduced Akiko. They were now on our table, and so it was decided that Akiko and Suzanne would now ride in their backup car,this was a great sacrifice for them, as it could travel more than 90kph, and had air conditioning.... both being something the LDV could not do.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Day 1 Idroscalo,Milan to Zola Predosa

The start is at Idroscalo in Milan. Built by Mussolini for Flying boats to land, now just a recreational artificial lake. Ron and I rode there, from Vittorio's, with Mike Webster and Howard Chambers, and met the rest of the team there.

Everything appeared to be very disorganised. The officials seem to expect you to know everything by osmosis, and that is a problem. It's not disorganisation... it's lack of communication. You are very reliant on people who have done this event before, but even they don't seem to know exactly what is going on. E.g., we arrived, we go to scrutineering. Can't get that done because we had no pass, which you get from Registration. We can't ride the sccots to registration, so we park them up along the water front and walk to registration pay the €1090 we owed, which is all inclusive... which it isn't, because we then have to pay another €10 to join the club to cover us on insurance.

Then we can get scrutineered... Do you have a headlight, rear light and a horn? Yes? OK!

Next drop off the bags. Ron and I both have two, as we are both in couples. We can't have two because we are only allowed one as we only have our ID badge. We had been told that the team had the packages for Akiko and Suzanne, to then find out that they didn't, someone else did. So, we got the ID badges, and were then told that it was competitors only that got bags moved for free, so we then had to pay another €25 to have the bags transported. It may seem like a whinge, but the litany goes on.

We went to the Innocenti factory. Not much left now. I couldn't get a pic in front of the main gates, as it was inhabited by Gypsies. We rode around the entire site. The area where Lambrettas were made is now a housing complex. We rode around to the back, and went past the famous water tower and pulled up behind one of the main factory building shells. Only one still has a roof on it. We took some photos, and as we were about to leave Dinato broke down. Meanwhile, a security guard shows up in a car and just watches us continually trying to get the scooter going... which finally turned out to be a plastic bag he had under the seat being sucked in the the intake manifold.

The start was amazing. The build up, not much, but then people started to go. Whilst I'm waiting I discover that the traditional method is bump start... which I practice. This is in the last 15 minutes. People start going. Eventually we are next in line. Howard Chambers and Mike Webster are announced as being Australian and get a huge cheer. Then it's Ron and I, and the announcer corrects what he said before, but the cheer is not as big... but we run, we bump, we start... we go around the corner......... and stop to meet the rest of the Lambretta team. You see.... it's night time. It's best if we all travel together, which we mostly do. One of the amazing things is that locals are out a 3am or 4am, on the side of the road, cheering us on.

We are on our way to Zola Predosa, 347km the way a very drunk crow flys.

Eventually, after the first stop, at Crema, we start to split into smaller groups. There's Howard and Mike on their D's. There is the "fast boys" who run very fast, but have to fill up every 70km, and there's the plodders, such as myself and Ron, who keep going at 70kph, but only fill up every 160km, or so. As it turned out, plodding seems to be quicker than being fast.

There were some amazing sights over the trip. Towns which I wish I had seen in the daylight which had obviously changed little in centuries. However, my favourite was crossing a bridge as daylight was just showing on the horizon, with it reflecting on the water and being behind an ancient arched bridge, which was also reflected. Unfortunately, the light was too poor to take a photo, but it is instilled in my memory. Also driving doing a fantastic boulevard in Parma. Just incredible.

We had a number of stops during the night and morning. Fiorenzuola d'Arda serving Champagne... Ah, Champagne at 3am whilst in a race! Exactly what you need.

It was hard going though. Not because of distance, but because we travel a bit, and then stop and wait for a while before we can go again. This adds so many hours to the trip... it is really that that exhausts you.

Finally, the last section starting at Spilamberto was a twisty bit in the mountains. Pure bliss as it loosened you up after riding in a straight line for so long. So much fun! The scenary was amazing, with fantastic sights, and amazing roads. glad to say that I overtook quite a few motorcycles... who really didn't want to be overtaken by a scooter.

Finally, into our host town for tonight, Zola Predosa, which is just outside Bologna. I was so happy to see the chequered flag. We stopped, we talked, we ate, we drank. Then we got back to the hotel, and THEN I felt tired. I hit the bed about 1pm, after being awake for about 30 hrs, and I crashed. I didn't wake up again until just before 6pm. We then had to get ready for dinner. We got collected by bus and taken to the other hotel, where Dinner was held in a large tent. There maybe 280 competitors, but including organisers, support vans, ambulance, etc, there are about 500 people to cater for.

Dinner finished at about 11pm, and back to the hotel. It may be bed time for me, but I returned to find the fast boys in the middle of rebuilding a very nice Golden Special with a Mugello, variatronic and Ancilotti. Not because there was anything wrong with it, just the owner wanted to go faster. We had to be up again at 6am, for breakfast, 8:24am start and then 322km of twisties! These guys finished, apparently, at 1:30am.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

just an update

No real post today, just a quick update.

Woke up at 6:30am and read my book, and promptly fell asleep at 7am, to wake up again at 9am. Something I'm very pleased about as I'm worried about lack of sleep.

Did last minute odds and ends, such as packing up scoot, pairing electronic devices, etc.

Cases get collected at noon.
3pm is scrutineering
Then to the Innocenti factory for photos
Back to Bricks, the local eating establishment for 7:30pm dinner
Then off to the race start to wait for midnight, and then we start in pairs, or threes, so I'll be going about 00:30am.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

kick start shaft has brewers droop

Today I had to change the kick start shaft. Thank god Casa Lambretta is down the road, and that Vittorio let me use the workshop on a day when he's usually closed.

I started by 8:30am, and by 9:30am I had the engine disassembled. As you can see, the old kick start shaft was very bent. Vittorio then walked into the workshop with 3 shafts, of which he gave me an original Innocenti shaft. Around 10am, Vittorio went to get his son, I nearly had the engine re-assembled. I then broke an engine stud... and I had no-idea where the tools were. I had something else to do, so drilled the hole for the easy out, and then added a mount for my GPS. Vittorio returned to tell me that he had no easy out, and that one stud doesn't matter... well not that stud. By then it was 12:30, and Vittorio went off for lunch, and I continued ressembling the engine for the 2nd time... only to find that the kick start piston was catching the first gear, so I had to disassemble again, adjust the kick start ramp and re-assemble for the 3rd time! Perfect. No leaks. Working kick start! I finished about 3pm.

I returned to the B&B, and then went to fit the mirror.... to find the thread was too big for the hole. Ron phoned Donato, as I didn't want to bother Vittorio again, and Donato showed up at about 4:30pm with a drill and we solved that. Donato was about to leave, and then snapped a throttle cable. It took four of us to fix it. Donato to panic, his friend from Verona to supply tools, me to thread the cable and Ron to supply the cable. Almost sounds like a light bulb joke!

This evening we had the team dinner... which started at 9pm. I got to meet Howard Chambers and Mike Webster for the first time, along with their support crew of Malcolm and Colin, in possibly the only LDV in Italy!

Lake Como or Bust

I'd heard Lake Como was a beautiful spot, and I really needed to see that. The people around where we are staying are lovely people, very helpful. However, the area is very industrialised, and the traffic is quite heavy. So, what a great place for a shakedown trip. It's only 70km away, so Suzanne and Akiko could come, but far enough that any bugs in the machine should be found.

We got about 10Km, and my engine started racing rather badly, so we pulled over and checked the carb. There was a lot of very fine red powder in the carb, so we thought maybe fuel starvation. I cleaned the carb and it seemed OK, so off we went again. Unfortunately, I'm used to bolts that actually have some strength and in tightening up the clamp, the bolt snapped. Score 1 for superb Indian Engineering on the Jetex Carb (For the uninitiated, original Italian 22mm carbs are very hard to find, so we tend to use Indian copies). It was now 12:30, which meant that all the stores were closed for Siesta, and so we stopped in Melzo to have some water and a Pannini, and wait for 2:30pm, when the local scooter store would open again.

We caused quite a stir pulling up outside the cafe. People were genuinely delighted to see a pair of Lambrettas and when they found out we were from Australia, they nearly fell over themseves. This is fairly common. People talk to us at traffic lights, or even just shout out as they pass us in the car, or honk their horns and show a thumbs up.

I took the opportunity to have a look at the carb again, because it was still sticking, and found that the problem was the pivot point for the lever on top of the carb. Basically, if the nut and bolt were done up, the lever couldn't pivot properly, and so the carb stuck open, and so would race. Score 2 for Indian Carb quality! I loosened the nut and bolt, and it fixed the problem. However, this meant we now needed a small 7mm nut as well, or we'd loose the nut from vibration.
We arrived at the Scooter shop to find it was a Vespa dealer. I swallowed my pride, as Vespa nuts and bolts are better than what I had experienced so far. Initially the owner was not so keen to help us, thinking we needed his workshop to repair the scooter, and he pointed us to Vittorio. However, when he found out we just needed a bolt and a nut, he was more than delighted to help. He had been a Vespa dealer since the 50's, and had a very nice SS90 displayed inside his shop.
Even insisting on doing up the bolts himself, as he was concerned that I'd scratch my nail polish. Ron was kind enough to tell him it was ok, and not to worry. Such a knight in shinning armour!

The cost? Lots and lots and lots of photographs of him with the Lambrettas, of him with us and the Lambrettas from the front, of him with the Lambrettas from the back. Finally, we were on our way again to the home of stinky cheese!
We arrived In Gorgonzola with no further mishaps. We stopped for Ron to check out his GPS to the next town, and again someone stopped to talk to use because of the Lambrettas. When Ron told them where we were going, he told us he knew a fantastic way to get there and insisted we follow him. Apparently it was exactly the same way the GPS was going to take us and I still don't know what was so fantastic about it.

We got to Monza and Suzanne was feeling a bit exhausted from the heat, so we pulled up on the pavement on a boulevard which had some stunning buildings, and had some water. We were now 23km from the start, and it was 4 hrs later. Akiko had had enough too. So the answer was Bust! We never made it to Lake Como.

On my return, I called in to Vittorio's to get some more parts, and when I went to kick start the scoot, I found that the kickstart shaft had broken. As I type this, It's Saturday morning, the race starts tomorrow at midnight, and I'm just off to Vittorio's to put in a new kick start shaft.

As a trip to Lake Como.... a complete disaster. As a shakedown trip.... success! The glass is half full!