Saturday, June 20, 2009

Mountain Motorcycling

For the second year in a row I am going back to Italy without my wife, for a short vacation. Last year my buddy Giovanni lined me up with this monster to ride, a K1200R a 170 horsepower shaft driven motorcycle that cruised comfortably at 120 mph (200 km/h) on the freeway. He tells me this year the BMW dealer in Terni may have the 1300, the new version with 173 hp. I felt last year's ride with three times the horsepower of my Bonneville was more than adequate. I had it up to 125 mph (200km/h) on the freeway so I worry what madness might overtake me if I am going to be riding the K1300R this year:

I photographed the K1200R on Monte Peglia between Todi and Orvieto on a solo ride. Because my wife can't come this year I am going for just ten days, flying from Miami today and arriving in Rome tomorrow morning. By tomorrow afternoon I should be sitting down to a family dinner with my sister celebrating the birthday of her three-year-old grandson. Such is the mind boggling speed of modern jet travel. Here today, gone before tomorrow. In my youth I was happy to share my dog with my Benelli Tornado 650 twin, a modest 50 horsepower superbike of the day, built to challenge the Triumph 650 sportsbike:Over the past three years I have come to enjoy returning to my roots, a place where I wasn't at all happy growing up and whence I never returned in 25 years of emigration. Our family home, all 50 rooms of it, has stood brooding for eight hundred years in the village where I grew up, more history than I really wanted to deal with then, or now. My 700 square foot stilt home on Ramrod Key is old because it was built in 1987:Morruzze has seen very little excitement over the centuries, just seasons of growing and harvesting. Our home was taken over by the German army in World War Two as the allies advanced up the Italian peninsula. My grandfather went into hiding and helped allied airmen and resistance fighters to escape the round-ups, so they posted a plaque on the wall of his house in gratitude to celebrate his bravery. Since then the village has been as quiet a spot as you could wish. It always seemed to me to be a good place to run away from.I spent my summers in my hat playing in the dirt with my buddy Diego and riding mopeds with Giovanni, which is what I still do when get together, here avoiding a downpour on the road to Spoleto. Giovanni is a good deal grayer and the mopeds have become a good deal bigger since then:I'm ready for a vacation, be it ever so short, and I'm ready to ride some twisty roads with whatever BMW Giovanni has managed to line up for me. My family history? I'll try not to let it interfere with my riding pleasure.

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And when I get home I should have the Bonneville ready to go. Pure Triumph in Fort Lauderdale tell me the bike has been checked and seems to track okay with it's new handlebars. They are waiting for a new brake lever as i wanted to replace the one I scratched and gouged in the fall. I'll keep it for spare against the next fall which could well break a lever no doubt. I'm impressed- the bike has been with them less than two weeks. My new Parabellum windshield also just arrived in a discreet brown box. I'll be cooking with gas when I get back!
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The blog should continue uninterrupted thanks to the miracle of modern technology and daily essays lined up ready to go. Spelling and grammar may be a bit shaky as I shan't have much opportunity to make corrections for the essays I have been feverishly writing prior to my departure. If I get near a computer I shall do my best to post some pictures, but if I do they surely will not be of Key West, always in my mind but, until July 1st a long way away.