Saturday, 31 July 2010

Burn up

Here she goes - after the digging, building and trapped fingers the pizza oven gets its inaugural burn up.

Lovely wifey told me an hour was plenty to get up to cooking temperature - not so, unless you like raw pizza. Then she claims that's with kiln died wood. Hmmm. The oven weighs 300kg (so not really portable) and it's simple thermodynamics (er, simple thermodynamics?); you've got to pile a lot of heat into that sort of mass. After 2-3 hours and a lot of wood we had this. And some damn fine pizzas.

So anyone for a Peroni and pizza get together? Camping available...

Friday, 30 July 2010

Putting the dustbin out

The ever resourceful Jack Silverman (just check out his museum ) has now got the "dustbin" fairing onto his incredible 125 Ducati GP racer. This masterclass in handbeaten alloy was covered in Benzina #2 and is the work of Californian craftsman Evan Wilcox. More on Ducati 125s soon - they've an incredible history, and were the start of Ducati's international success. Did you know Sammy Miller rode one for Ducati's first assault on the TT? And that they made a Desmo version, and even a 6 speed Desmo twin that Hailwood raced. More in issue #3, out October

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Desert racers

Think Arizona, think wind carved rock, endless desert - and classic Italian motorcycles. The organisers of the Giro d'Arizona talk of riding the high desert region of Sedona and climbing the renowned Mogollon Rim to find the mountain lakes of Central Arizona. Just pack a copy of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and go. Except from Europe it's a long, long way.

Still wish I could go

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Picante pleasures

Shortest blog ever - just the link to the Sammy Miller Museum Italian day pics.The Guzzi Bicilindrica was my favourite, but the 750SS roundcase was pretty special too. Oh, and the Itom was cute - let me know what you think

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Big Society

Trendy talk is about creating a "Big Society", but it's already here. Calne is a slightly run down Wiltshire town that annually welcomes bikers of all hues - knee sliders to patch clubs, Gold Wings to Tiger Cubs, Speedway bikes to race reps; they're all here. The old folk's sheltered accommodation open up their garden for bike displays and sell tea and cakes, one pub had a bike display in their courtyard, and plenty of shops had old bike pics and memorabilia in their windows.

Then there were the volunteer IAM instructors who ride for Freewheelers, the emergency bloodrunners for the NHS. There were disabled charities, Christian bikers, and a Druid who scrutineered Hailwood's Ducati at the 1978 TT. Incredible - and thanks to all who said hello and spent some cash. More pics here

Right, better load up for the Sammy Miller Museum Italian day tomorrow...

Friday, 23 July 2010

Pizza and Peroni

Last year, due to an unwillingness to risk getting the wrong size/year/geeky detail, my lovely wife didn't get me a (main) 50th Birthday present - this year she made amends and then some with a pizza oven. And believe it or not this photo IS the intallation instructions, with current discussion focusing on how high it should be. I don't want a concrete tower block sitting outside the window all winter, so want to build it as low as possible, wifey worries about my back so doesn't want it too low. And eldest daughter's already invited friends round for a pizza party. So I'd better get cracking, and maybe this year's final Teas and Cakes will be pizza and Peroni...

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Lemons no more...

Guzzi's Le Mans was a great bike in its day, but until Dr John Wittner came along it never quite fulfilled its promise. On race tracks, especially in endurance races, it lived in the shadow of the older V7 Sport while Ducati and Laverda built on earlier success, and the Japanese continued their rise to dominance.

So what's going on today? Guzzi Le Mans are seen as robust, successful racers across the world. This years 4 Hours of Spa was won by a Le Mans, as was last years - different teams with different bike too - while Ducati propped up the mid-field. It seems you can now run these monster twins at 1100cc and (relatively) sky-high revs, making them unbeatable ard relatively affordable. Modern metallurgy is clearly a wonderful thing

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Holiday reading

Holidays mean books, and eventually you read books you'd normally find an excuse to avoid. Sharon at Davida insisted I had to read The Mike Duff Story - Make Haste, Slowly and even leant me her own signed copy to make sure I did.

And am I glad she did - an unbelievable insight into what being a Grand Prix race star meant in the 1960s. The camping, the driving your Thames van across Europe on three cylinders, and the crowds - up to 450,000 on race day in Eastern Europe. Ah, and what The Cold War really meant to ordinary people.

I guess Mike Duff's always thrown me, because he later became Michelle and the book's written with a feminine voice and a little self doubt that's a refreshing change from the usually chest thumping in top tier sportsmen's biographies. But this means an even greater insight into a racers psyche, and there's just the final "what happened next" chapter to explain Michelle's life after racing. I thought I wouldn't want to read it, but by the end of the book I just had to. After all, Duff still stands as Canada's most successful GP racer, and the first North American to win a GP. Buy it and read it.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Coming up next...

Busiest weekend of our year coming up - Saturday is our local bike show, the excellent free street meet that is the Calne Classic Bike Show organised by the Rotary Club - strange but true. 10am 'till 4pm, lots to see and do including the chance to buy issue 2 of Benzina.

Then Sunday brings the incredible Sammy Miller Museum Italian day - 1300 people turned up last year, watched rare old Italian bikes paraded, won prizes, and had the best day out of the year. Come and see us at the heart of the action, flick through the magazines, and admire our tee shirts - we'll be donating some of the prizes too

Friday, 2 July 2010

What would you do?

Millions in the bank, missing the first races ever in your pro career, hurting like buggery. The phone rings; "“If during your convalescence you feel you would like to do some training on four wheels, then remember that the door to Maranello is always open to you” says Montezemolo (boss at Ferrari) - what would you do? (Thanks to Superbike/Image Bank for the pic)

Big boy's toys

MCN have leaked these dodgy pics of another new Ducati - half Multistrada, half Monster (Munster-strada?). Hmmm - maybe that's a pizza with too many toppings, but now it's over to the buying public

Productionised posting

This is normally where we eat - for the past week it's been a production line of mailing bags, address labels, sealing stickers - and boxes of Benzina #2. All finally delivered to our local post office, who'll get them out over the next couple of day. Sorry for the slight delay, but even with the kids press ganged into service it takes forever to get ready for the postie. As the boy grumbled; "This is like a sweat shop. We'd be better off making knock-off Gucci - at least we'd make some money"