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The Moto Giro d'Italia

Chioggia - Rimini 211 km

Chioggia Briefing; smile please!The disappointment of Tuesday was definitely behind me as we were driven back to the bikes from the hotel at 8.30 in the morning. We would be on a 900SS for the rest of the week and on these roads it was easy to see how it could be fun.

Tuesday evening was spent getting to know some of the others on the tour, Vicki Smith from the USA was really enjoying her rented 1955 Motobi 125, Dutch Brothers Maarten and Jan Willem Jongejan were enjoying their tour on a Fireblade and an ST2 and best of all Phil Hitchcock, 20 years a Vintage Ducati spares dealer from Australia was enjoying his first ever trip to Europe.

The start was from the Chioggia city centre square that had hosted the previous days finish, waiting for the start and watching what was going on I started to realise that there was something very impressive about the attitude of most of the riders.  The majority of the old bikes are ridden by pretty serious ex racers, but just because most are 60 plus it does not mean that age has mellowed their competitive spirit in the slightest, neither has it stopped their enjoyment of life.  Just like any motorcycle competition the riders were chatting up groupies many years younger then they were, its just that in this competition many of the groupies were drawing pensions!

Maoggi still chatting up the wimmin ....Rather than set off with the main 'touring group' we elected to watch the start and then catch up.

Setting off from the city centre mid field meant that I was right in the middle of 60 classic racers going through the city streets at 10 in the morning. The noise and the reaction from the public said all that needs to be said about Italy, they love to race and they love noise. Put the two together and you cannot fail.

The classic part of the Motogiro is run exactly as you would run a Cycle race, sections of road are set out as a stage and the participants are timed between each section, in the modern version it is not about speed but timed accuracy. The normal strategy is to go as fast as your 125 will take you and then wait just before the finish line until your time comes up, then you rush across. The road is therefore full of Classic bikes holding as good an average speed as possible and the officials getting ahead of them in time for the next stop.

Police Escort; both wheels on the ground!As we rolled through the traffic we were caught by two of the official cars and their Police escort, flashing lights on the roofs and certainly impatient to get to the stage finish. As the race is run on almost the same rules as a professional cycle race these guys needed to be in two places at once.

We tagged along, or at least we tried to, they were not hanging around, as the route swept down the SS35 to Ravenna it was obvious that keeping up with the course cars was going to provide some sport.  The fun really started as we turned off the main road and descended on the town of Porto Tolle. We sat in the course cars slipstream, along canal side roads with super visibility but with the promise of a very wet finish if something went wrong, great fun.

Alan Cathcart on a smaller supermonoFrom Porto Tolle we headed for the coastal resort of Rimini (and the historic home of the now defunct Bimota), but we used several long 'off the main road' routes that provided similar opportunities to enjoy the roads and the scenery, at least fifteen miles were past paddy fields and a fishing village with all the moorings set on wooden platforms raised out of the sea. Road works on the way to Rimini led to a last minute route change to avoid a massive traffic jam. We just got on with riding some of the best roads I have sampled for years keeping an eye out for the Motogiro direction stickers.

The tours entrance to Rimini was almost as effective in stopping the traffic as the departure from Chioggia , it just took longer. Two closed level crossings as we cruised into Rimini meant that most of the Motogiro arrived together. Horns, engines, old bikes, new bikes, it was mildly chaotic but really entertaining.  We first stopped at a welcome centre marking the end of the race for the day then the herd of standard and classic bikes charging down the seafront to our overnight hotels set the scene for the week.

Once parked up the beers started to flow.


Neil Spalding   

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