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The Moto Giro d'Italia

End Game

Arrezo to Bologna

The Shell girls are still going for itIf its Sunday it must be Arezzo. Feeling increasingly knackered we blundered around the streets of Arezzo to the Square for the start of the final day.  A really good local meal the night before and another 1pm crash out was starting to tell its toll. We would be heading out of town to the Futa and Raticosa passes, the Ducati factories unofficial test run.

The touring group was leaving early to ensure that they could enjoy a leisurely drive over the hills to Bologna, but the Motogiro would not be off until 10 am.  There were two riders jousting for the lead, and to win the Monster that Ducati had put up as first prize.

Alfio Sorgato and Emilio Tono were both on 175's, Alfio on a 1956 Morini and Emilio on a blisteringly quick X Rosso Gilera. I know it was quick because I had happily sat behind him through one memorable section the day before at 110kmph; he didn't back off for the corners, or the towns. It just showed that a quicker bike is still very handy in a time trial as you can make more mistakes and still have the time and ability to recover the situation. 

A bit of speed into the corners always helps .....The road wound its way up to Dicomono, clearly built by the same road crew as the road the day before, never one corner where two would fit, it was good quality and very twisty. On arrival in Dicomono we found a competition with a new edge, Alfio had been leader for the previous two days but arrived in Dicomono having lost time due to a car crash closing the road enroute.  He was not happy. As we set off again for the final section into Bologna there was only two minutes in it.

The last section was going over the hills south of Bologna on the SS65, at several points there were traffic signs pointing right to Mugello and left to Imola, we were really in the cradle of Italian motorsport.

The views from the road, if anything, got better with the camber changes on the good sections of the road being almost like a fairground ride in their inventiveness. Many of the Giro bikes were starting to look pushed, and their competition was getting serious. We saw American rider Richard Weedn several times with an increasingly erratic 175cc two stroke Bianchi Cervino, either it was oiling up or suffering from fuel starvation.  Spark plugs were being removed and cleaned with increasing regularity. Richard had suffered a lot of reliability problems over the week but was the leading non-Italian rider. We decided to make sure he got to the finish, so the Monster became an escort bike, rushing ahead to look for route arrows and then back to allow the Bianchi to keep going at full throttle.

As we neared Bologna there was further evidence of the competitive spirit with a 1954 175cc Morini parked up against a wall, after low siding its rider just 40km from the finish, luckily the rider was unhurt.  Through the outskirts of Bologna we kept up as much speed as we could with most of the red lights into the finish manned by police waving us through to the final check at the Piazza VIII Agosto.

Over the Futa .....The next hour was full of group photos and television and radio interviews, it seemed like most of the classic bike clubs in the region had turned up to lend their support. As they say in the films however, just when you think it's all overů we had the final ride back to the car park at the factory.

It turned out this was a mass run through the centre of Bologna; every body came along, competitors, touring group, press, the visiting clubs and every scooter rider in range.  As we set off the police sirens went on and stayed on. Two riders were always ahead stopping the traffic at intersections and then hacking down the outside to get back in front, just like the rest of the tour the noise, the emotion and the sheer joy of just being there was overpowering.

The evening was spent at a magnificent open-air banquet in the courtyard of the medieval Panzano Castle, in the village of Castelfranco Emilia near Modena. It is a setting to die for with time to examine the massive collection of old cars and bikes in the stables, then aperitifs in one grand candlelit courtyard and the main meal in a second. Food was supplied by a selection of the best restaurants in Bologna. As we ate, the prizegiving was held, the Benelli B team won the team prize and their leader Alfito Sorgato proved he had the necessary ability to keep his nerve under pressure to win the overall prize of a Ducati Monster.

Just to make sure they finished off anyone who had any hearing left after a week of being blasted by open piped singles there was the final firework display, as spectacular as you would expect, and finished off by three of the loudest bangs I have ever heard.

The End, of the race .....The final word in one of the best weeks riding I have ever enjoyed must go to 44 year old Vicki Smith from Fort Lauderdale in Florida.  Riding a rented 1957 Motobi 125 she became the first woman ever to compete in the Motogiro D'Italia. As she sat on her bike at the finish she reflected 'When I started this ride I was told we must always obey the Italian driving laws; as far as I can tell there is only one , you are not allowed to be behind anyone'.


A great week.

Neil Spalding

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