22 Oct 2010

Dolomites and Ducatis

For anyone who has ridden a fairly fast motorcycle on mountain roads, this article will probably mean something. For others, maybe it will, maybe it won't. For those who are wondering just what this has to do with wine, the answer is: not a lot! But I did see some spectacular vineyards while riding through Switzerland on the way from Toulouse to the Dolomites, and I also tasted some very good wines at Alois Lageder's place in Alto Adige...

The thrill and constant sense of amazement that derives from riding mountain roads on a good bike that accelerates hard, turns well, holds the road over bumps and ruts and, most important of all, brakes as hard as you need, is something unique. The feelings are always mixed. One moment you are caught up in the vortex of speed and the dynamics of the next bend, trying to guess just which way the road will camber out of the turn, or twisting your neck to see ahead and guess whether a caravan, or another bike, is coming down the hill and likely to block your chosen wide line into the following hairpin, the next you are feeling dwarfed into insignificance by the majesty of the mountains above and around you. Occasionally you scare yourself a bit, which may or may not make you slow down for a while. From time to time you scrute the sky to see if dreaded rain is lurking over the next pass, where you will stop, ritually,

to breathe in deep (you have usually raced up in a state close to apne), to talk with friends, rub you face, absorb the scenery, have some more coffee, or a mixture of several such activities. Oh yes, and coffee in Italy is always worth stopping for....

Travelling in mass is not my thing, so most of the time I like to ride in small groups of two or three, or else alone, but the opportunity of riding the Dolomite section of the Alps in north-east Italy was provided by the European Ducati Multistrada club and all thanks to those who set it up. Organising things like that for large groups is a thankless task.

They all look alike? They were, as all are members of a pan-European club of owners of Ducati Multistrada machines, which are about the perfect tool for these roads (mine is the black one surrounded by reds in the front line). The total ride added up to 3500 kilometres in 6 days, using motorways only to get to Switzerland from Toulouse, and then for the final leg back into Paris. Let's have another mountain shot to hold us through the winter...

go for black!

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