Wednesday, 22 June 2011

There's lovely

Every cloud etc: a Benzina subscriber's selling this fabulous 750SS after a gentle 20 year of riding and restoring. All the goodies, most of which are original to the bike: despite being raced (as nearly all were) it's still got the original crankcases and most of the polished rockers. If you're good taste is matched by good fortune it's £75,000; email for more info. Alternatively any benevolent lottery winners out there please bear in mind it's my birthday in a few weeks...

Friday, 17 June 2011

TT Quickie

2011 TT review coming soon - catch the preview here

Neatly trimed box

Nicely topiaried bush, neatly trimmed box - ah, the old ones are...the old ones. We planted up this Italianate veg patch over ten years ago, and it's finally mature enough to take a petrol driven hedge-cutter for its annual haircut. Traditionally box hedges are cut on Derby day, presumably to give estate gardeners an excuse not to go and peer over ridiculous hats at a midget strapped to a bolting horse. Dr Girlie Nice-Smile reckons the job's best done in the rain (less damage to drizzle lubricated leaves) which just adds to the sense of penance, as we spend almost a full day leaning over and hand clipping. Then there's the rest of the hedges and toipary...

You can of course see the result of our (well, Dr GNS's) efforts at Teas and Cakes - next one's 2pm on Saturday 2 July

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

You're not alone

If you've ever suffered with an old Italian bike refusing to start, you're not alone - here's Ago, with his MV Agusta 500 at the 2011 TT, discovering how we mere mortals feel...

Made by Ducati: eats money

Spotted on a self-service train ticket machine in Pisa: looks like Ducati are branching out. Someone had scrawled "EATS MONEY" by the coin slot: whether the ticket machine was broken or the graffiti artist owns an old bevel twin...

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Hotel in Lucca - we stayed on the second floor

With apologies to Suzanne Vega we really did stay on the second floor of a hotel in Lucca, a wake for the cancelled Motogiro and mopping up the airline tickets. Lucca's a fabulous hidden Tuscan gem, unless you're a Puccini fan in which case you'll know it's where the composer of Turandot and Madam Butterfly was born.

I've been visiting Italy since 1988, and in that time (like France) the thing that strikes me most is how Italians have become less passionate about supporting their fellow countrymen (or maybe just more open minded...): but certainly Italian bikes are now in the minority on the road. Even the police are running Triumphs (below), and along with BMW their market penetration is impressive - I'd guestimate they've easily got the Japanese on the run. Every Italian I asked about this gave the same answer - their home built bikes don't offer value for money, and few are inclined to pay what they see as over-the-odds prices just to support home-spun offerings. And it's no use spinning the "it's more expensive to build in Italy" yarn, because Hondas are built in Italy, while (I'm told) much of Guzzi's components come from the far east. Or it might just be the product - two weeks in Italy and I didn't see one Diavel, but you can't move for the new Fiat 500.

The classic scene's the same, although I'd say it's less vibrant in the UK (unless you're into tiddlers): most classics I saw were Hondas (500/4s especially) and more of those those pesky BMWs. No old Brit-bikes at all (though zillions of Harleys - wow, the Italians love Harley) which makes Triumph's current success even more impressive. When you think what John Bloor has achieved in a nation governed by fools who think we can all be media lovies or bankers it makes me proud to be English. Somebody give the man a Knighthood, and then put him in charge of...well, everything really.

Monday, 13 June 2011

The truth sometimes hurts...

This spoof blog for Classic Bike appeared over the weekend: wonder how long before the mighty Bauer get it taken down? Mind you, if they were a bit more online savvy it might not have happened...

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Things they don't have in Italy - thank God

Just back from a fortnight of zooming around Italy by plane, train and bikes. I love the madness of the place, but it's the bits they miss out that makes it really special: for example...

Health and Safety - just not available. You want to ride your bike in a tee shirt, shorts and Crocs? Hey, we're all grown ups

Queues? No chance - you want to get on the train? Get on the train. Let the old lady past, and her village and family will shove through too, leaving you on the platform wondering what the hell happened

Speed cameras - you missed the Caribineri posing with their braid in the sunshine? It might say "speeding" on the ticket, but really you're busted for missing their peacock moment

Fat people - not unless they're tourists. Ditto out of season veg: asking for garlic and artichokes in the north during May will mark you out as a friend of those idle Sicilians...

Drizzle - nope. Clear blue skies or thunderstorms are the main options. The endless grey we get in the UK never happens.

More on the Guzzi factory, riding the Circuito del Lario, and the Giro's demise when I can. And I need to lose some weight before I dare go back to Italy: the food (as ever) was epic

Monday, 6 June 2011

Hey Mum, I'm on telly...

Wet morning in Tremezzo, so turn on TV to get a forecast: bugger me if there's not the 2007 Motogiro crew on an episode of Rai 5's "Dreams Road" - can't find it anywhere on the web, but if you're in Italy it's being repeated fairly regularly. Apart from the presenters bizarrely shouting "Dreams Road" into camera every so often it's not bad, although I could've done without being reminded I look older every year...

Anyway back to Italy for a few days for more intel. News of my visit to Mandello del Lario over the weekend