Monday, 3 August 2009

The Motogiro was a thousand mile road race that was banned along with all contemporaries in 1957 when the equivalent race for cars, the Mille Miglia, launched the incandescent mix of an Italian Playboy and his Ferrari into a crowd of spectators killing 11 people. So these days the Motogiro “race” involves chasing down checkpoints and time trials.

But the original must have been unbelievable. The 'bikes were a maximum of 175cc, but could touch 70mph (over 100kph) on roads that were little more than farm tracks. One thousand miles in five days would have been tough enough, but turn it into a race which had to compete with other traffic, farm animals and drunken locals was certain to kill more than time. So why do it, apart from the fact the Italians will race anything with wheels. Simple - prizes money and the prospect of sponsorship. In poverty wracked post-war Italy, as one rider put it, your family either died of starvation or you risked death in the 'giro to feed them. Absolute bloody heroes. More pics at

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