Stelvio pass

While in milan we thought we should take advantage of the alps at our door step and attempt an Alps pass so we chose the Stelvio pass.

I saw this on top gear one time and thought it looked like fun so on Tuesday 13th July we but Renatos scooter and my bike in the back of the van and drove the 200 odd km to Bormio which is where the pass starts.

My bike wasn’t running very well, just missing a bit at the bottom end of the rev range but it was still rideable so off we went.

Hairpin after hairpin up and up till the 34 degree drifted down as we started passing ice by the road side melting in the sun.

Finally we arrived at stelvio 2800m (about 9000 ft) above sea level.

It was really cold up there with no trees, had a hot dog (€5!) then back down, slowly the rain cleared and it got warmer till into Bormio and it hot one more.

The drive home seemed to take longer than the drive there passing through many tunnels through the maintains as we went, some were 3km long!

Exhausted again we arrived back in Milan at about 8:30pm.


Day 6, Matera to Taranto

A treat today, start was at 12:40 pm for me and only 150km for the day.

We called in at 2 or 3 places along the way till our final timed stop.  At the final stop all the bikes lined up for a group ride into Taranto which was about an hour away.

Once we all arrived at the main sea side road that was bloked off for the race end each of the bikes was lined up and alowed to go as fast or slow as they wished to finally cross the line.

The race was over and we were all fairly knakered so after checking in at the hotel down the road we had a rest before dinner and presentations.

I was lucky enough to get 3rd in my class (350cc sport class) so get a bigger trophy than the rest.

And that’s it, then end to an epic race.  Its really a marathon.  300 – 400km per day on challenging road is hard work made even more exhausting by the high temperature and humidity.  I have heard that the race is legalised madness – it is, its mad.  Imagine 250 motorbikes and support all decending on a small town for 2 hours then disapearing in a cloud of smoke, noise and no regard to traffic rules and you get a sense of what its like… Madness.


Day 5, Paestum to Matera

Well today was the final full day of riding of the race and what a long day it was.

As always a quick going over of the bike prior to going and then made a start at about 8:45.

Not long after the start it was into the mountains/large hills for a fair few twisties and a maountain pass to boot then a stop at about 10:30.

From there it was into some very remote parts of italy and about 5 hours of up and down, left and right.   It went on and on and on.

There was a stop in a place called Anzi which is at the top of a hill which very cool and then off again.

On the way out of Anzi the bloke in front of me didn’t see the arrow and went the wrong way, easy to get lost.

Into another town at about 4 ish for a time check then off again in the heat (it has been over 34 the whole time).  While at the town I heard and saw an emergency helicopter and I thought that was not a good sign.  Sure enough, on my way out I see the couple in the Messesschmidt 3 wheeler have gone around a hairpin to tight, hit an on coming car and flipped over.  They do not wear helmets so it was a bit of a mess as you can imagine in a convertible.

Shaken, I slowly made my way to the last timed stop of the day and then on to Matera, over 300km again today and in the heat it is hard work. 

The reception in Materas main square was very good and then it was on to the hotel just down the road.  A quick shower and a beer then in the bus to the hilton for dinner.

Dinner wasn’t served till 9:30, there were a lot of grumpy tired riders but it eventually turned up.

Finally to bed at about 11:30 – knackered as always.


Day 4, Latina to Paestum

Sorry for the delay in getting these posts up, 350km on a bike in the moutains makes for a hard day..

Todays leg was really really nice but long. It first went to Terracina on the coast and continued along that way for another 30 km for our first stop.

The route now cut inland and started on the twisty mountains for another 200km, up and down, left and right.

The final checkpoint ended up getting cancelled because most of the group got lost (but I didn’t) and then at 4:30pm started the last 70km to Paestum. The final route took us over a mountain of over 1000m, the air is so cool up there in under the trees.

You never know what the quaility of the hotel will be but the one in Paestum must be 4 or 5 stars, it was unbelievable!

A couple of people came off today but no major injuries.

Day 3. Principina to Latina

Have to say that the days run was a bit average.

The start was very nice, through the mountains but then as it skirted Rome became boring and suburban. I think I saw signs for romes airport for 3 hours. The run finally ended on the ocean west of rome where we all get told to get off the lawn.

From the osean it was another 70 km of coast to latina. It was the worst road I have riden on and continuous cars parked along the road for most of the way.

Hotel was very average.


Day 2. Pisa to Principina





Well a reasonabl start hour today at 9:15am but by7 then it was stinking hot and humid so I guess I’ll find something to winge about regardless.

The route took us to the Vespa (Piaggio) museum in Pontedera which was very cool. After that it proceeded in landinto the country side where the whole of Italy seems to be sunflower, hay or vineyards.

The highest point was only 400m today but the road up was full of hair pins, very tight but good fun.

It then went back over to the westcoast of Italy to a place called Marina de Cecina for lunch.

It finished at the hotel here in Grosetto which is about 100km North of Rome on the westcoast.

Pics to follow

Day 1. Milan – Pisa





Started the first day (well actually night) at 12:44am.

The first days leg started at milan’s Idroscalo (their rowing lake next to Linate airport). Plenty of lightning throughout the night but didn’t get rained on.

The legs are broken into stages – each one of different length, the basic idea is that you need to start at a predeffined time at each of the stages which means you need to finish each leg on time.

It was a bit of a worry riding at night but once you get with a group of rider it was ok.

The route is marked by stickers placed on signs or lamp poles so as long as you keep an eye out for then as you go you are fine.

After perhaps 5 hours of riding we started on the very twisty Lagurian mountain range (did the Cisa pass at 1000m!) and found our way to Lucca. From Lucca we then went to Pisa.

The mountain part was fantastic, beutifull views of valleys and mountains.

Pics as always of som eof the places on the way.

At the start



We have all arrived at the start and waiting for inspection.

A couple of picks to prove it….

==Update August 2010==
It was sooooo blooody hot that afternoon. The problem with Milan is it gets hot and humid.

Plenty of bikes turned up that afternoon (I think there was about 220 bikes that started) – they arrived in all sorts of ways, ridden (like we did), on the back of utes, trailers, vans etc.

At about 6pm the nbike inspection scommenced which is to say a bunch of poeple started forming up behind wheer the inspectin takes place. It was one of the better lines of people I have seen in Europe with some sense of order and not to muitch pushing in.

The inspection consisted of…. start it, lights work, quick look over by the staff and that was it, no horn check (to many bikes would have failed I think), no real concern for oil leaks or stearing head slop, I guess it was up to you to take responsibility for your own well being – I have to say that this is a fine mentality to have and one which I approve heartily of. The inspector initials the head of the bike frame, gives you your pack (consists of race number bib, stickers, T-shirt, magazine) and you are free to go.

I was still shitting my self and just wanted to go get some sleep for the night that is soon to start.

They had a band playing at the start (rock band) which was very loud and made it hard to speak with fellow participants but its tsopped at about 9pm.

I drank a lot of water that night trying to keep my hydration up.

At about 11am after trying to sleep in the van (unsuccessfully) we all got changed into riding gear. I was going to wear a full leather riding suiot and jacket but it was still to hot so I went with the draggin jeans and jacket which were cooler.

At the start time (midnight) it was still very warm

Start day

Well the big day has arrived. It is stinking hot, getting to 36 apparently but unlike Perth the humidity is very high (about 50%) which makes for a draining heat. We are right now in the B&B trying to rest and keep out of the heat.

Ron’s, Graham and my bikes are ready to go, poor old Bill had a few problems with his scooter yesterday. The exhaust modification that was done on Friday resulted in the engine having no power so he had to take it back to be re-worked on yesterday. Bill is still working on the scooter now and it is very hot.

We will be arriving at the start at about 3:30 this arvo for inspection and all the other stuff that needs to be done then sit around till midnight for the start.

Just got an update that Bills scooter is done and its good to go.

So, all is good to go will update again tomorrow after the first leg!

==Update August 2010==
Truth be told I was very nervous, in fact sh!tting my self and was on my bed when writting the post above trying to get some rest knowing that I was not going to be sleeping a wink the coming night (and had not slept well the night before either).

Things going through my head…
Would my bike break down?
Would I fight sleep deprviation successfully?
Would I get lost in the dark?
Why the hell do they start at midnight?
How the hell do you operate the petrol bowsers that take cash after hours?

In Milan.

Well I have made it here. Flight was very dull but as yet I don’t feel jet lagged.

Dad finally got the bike out of customs this morning. A bit of fuel and it started second kick! Have spent the day getting it ready for Sundays start. Fitted mirrors and race numbers and gave it a polish and clean.

We picked up the support van an hour or so ago. O’bie (one of the other guys from oz doing the race with us) having never driven a van or driven in milan he drove tins massive Fiat van through the city. He was very concerned, thank god for tom-tom satellite navigation.

==August 2010 Update==
What I didn’t realise till 4am the day after I wrote this comment is that I left my bloody motorcycle jacket on the bus that took me from Malpensa to Linate, gutted. I really loved my Aerostich Darien jacket and looked forward to it and me travelling thsi great race together, what a pisser. Luckily Dad had bought his jacket which was exactly the same as mine so I borrowed his, he had a spare so he was not going without.