Timelessness and Tornantes: our Italy tour
My wife and I spent most of September in Italy: one week in Rome (no bike), then took the high speed train to Milan where we picked up our bike (2012 Ducati Multistrada1200S), rode to Malcesine on Lake Garda, spent three days in the area, rode to Venice, parked the bike outside the city and spent three days on foot (bad habit this was!), rode down to Pastine in Tuscany, spent three days there, rode further south to Spoleto in Umbria, spent three days there and rode back to Rome where we dropped off the bike again. Some random thoughts of the trip:
§ Coming from two “young” countries, the in your face presence of ancient history and buildings from that period was simply stunning. To see a relatively modern building cheek by jowl with something hundreds of years old is just totally different from anything we have ever experienced before.
§ The multitude of churches EVERYWHERE was another eye opener. Every little (and I mean little!) town seemed to have at least one or two magnificent OLD church buildings. The opulence and grandeur of many took our breath away. As a sorta Calvinistic person I could not help wondering about the wealth this absorbed and a (not so) little voice kept on asking “Why?”
§ The high speed train between Rome and Milan took my engineering breath away. Over 500km in under 3 hours and all without the least bit of fuss and drama. Weird feeling to sit in almost total peace and quiet and see the screen showing that we are doing 250km/h!
§ Road and rail infrastructure generally is great: the high speed rail is something else! For the full 500+km you are on a rail that has limited vertical and horizontal deviations (Duh! You are doing 250km/h!). A hill in the way? No problem: we will just run a straight tunnel through it! This means that it feels like about 25% of the time on the trip is spent in tunnels.
However: Man, are the back roads every narrow and do they ever twist and turn! Now I am all for corners but I really enjoy 80– 120km/h corners. These first gear 25km/h “tornantes” (apparently Italian for “hairpin”) certainly gets old after a while, especially two up on a largish bike with probably25+kg of stuff in panniers and a top box.
Even more so when your wife is riding hands free on the back trying to get some pictures and video “on the move”.
One section stands out: the ride between Malcesine and Venice: the attached picture shows one of TWENTY TWO tornantes going down ONE pass! The screenshot of the picture in Google+ shows the GPS location of the picture:
End result: I have been riding for 45 years now. However: I do believe if you add up all the degrees of angle that I have gone through corners, I just probably DOUBLED my life total on this trip!
§ The bike was interesting. TONS of power, good suspension. But just not my style of bike: I still prefer my Gixxer. One problem that I had was that we were for the most part following our friend and fellow traveler who originally hails from Italy. And it shows in his riding! Italian riders pass cars whenever and wherever they feel like it! My sense of self-preservation that has been so finely honed over 45 years forbade me from following him in some passing maneuvers on some of the slow, twisty roads. So we fell quite a bit behind and had to catch up. Now if you are on a tallish,150hp bike, two up plus panniers and top box and you want to pass a car very quickly on a short piece of straight road out of a low speed first gear corner the results are predictable: there is no way you are going to be able to keep the front wheel on the ground! Interesting times….
In spite of the heavy load, the Multistrada’s handling was surprisingly good. So good in fact that the first time I scraped my shoe on the ground it was a mighty surprise:the bike is high after all! The first time my left foot that scraped was below the gear lever ready to shift up: from then on I was more circumspect with where I kept my foot.
So the next bunch of times we scraped the footpegs. On both sides.
And here is a short bit of video that my wife took. Even though for the most part you can only hear wind noise I did keep the sound as there are a few places where you can hear the typecal Duc grumble.
Last edited by SuperSlab; 10-05-2013 at 01:06 PM.
I see you stayed on the wider roads!!
Originally Posted by SuperSlab
Very nice! Thanks for the report. That trip is definitely on my bucket list. How much was the rental if you don't my me asking?
As an owner of both an MTS and a gixxer, I actually prefer the Multi for this type of road, provided of course it is equipped with the appropriate spring rate. Stock springs are way too soft.