Monday, July 14, 2008
Sunday morning, 8:15 am, no Italian lightweights are in sight, even though the start time is printed as 8:30am... have I missed something or is this truly an Italian-sponsored event? Yes, as the riders begin to trickle onto Monterey's Cannery Row by 8:45, I realize that we're on Giro time, which might not correspond to the program... Cannery Row is Steinbeck country, he having made the place famous in a literary vein with the eponymously named book, and of course there's a nice bronze in a floral garden of his head, which looks a bit more like John Waters with that pencil mustache.
Burt Richmond, whom I've known for donkey's ears via the Brough club, is one of the organizers of the event; I think he was tapped by the Italian Giro organization as he has much experience guiding his Lotus Tours company on European motorcycle holidays.
There have been several iterations of a MotoGiro theme in the US (including one in CA and one on the East Coast), but this event is conducted by group which holds the Giro in Italy, and is heavily sponsored by both the Italian Tourism Bureau, and Ducati. To repay the support, Ducatis were the most heavily represented marque on the lineup, as expected, although quite a few MV, Motobi, Morini, Bianchi, and Bultacos entered as well.
Lots of familiar faces arrived riding mostly immaculate Italian lightweights. The Giro has several classes to choose from, and anything old seems to be welcome in the various classes. Principal interest of course extends to 175cc machines built prior to 1957, which was the last year of the original Giro d'Italia, a multi-day road race/trial intended to test production machinery and improve the breed.
Matt from Munroe Motors arrived on a lovely '58 Morini TreSette Sprint, which differed in slight detail from the pair of '57 Sprints at the auction the previous day - the auction bikes have integral taillights in that curvy seat humps; Matt's bike has a proper taillamp/license plate holder.
Mike Harper Smith, who entered about 8 MV Agustas at the auction, arrived riding a lovely little MV. Mike has always had the broadest collection of Italian Lightweights in the US, as his job selling aircraft parts took him around the world (Italy, South America, Central America), and while there, he would chase down old Italian motorcycles.
John Goldman, another stalwart Italian Gem collector, turned up riding a pushrod Mondial 175cc, one of two at the Giro. Two of his ex-works Mondial racers were on display at the previous day's Concorso; one had been entered for the auction as well (I don't think it sold, so if you need a dohc 175cc Mondial, let me know).
Dave Edwards from Cycle World 'prefers powerful British machines' over tiddlers, so brought a fairly untested Triumph Bonneville special, also loaning a BSA A10 to a friend for the Giro week. While out of character with the rest of the entries, they looked like good bikes for a rally.
I've corresponded for years with Dave Roper (legendary vintage racer) via the Velocette club (he once wrote me that his MkVIII KTT was his 'favorite machine on the track'). This was our first time meeting in the flesh; he's riding a Moto Guzzi 250cc Airone, with an exposed external flywheel. He says the little bike is a lot of fun to throw around corners, being very light, with stable handling.
This guy had my favorite attitude and getup; he's wearing a bandolier of spark plugs to complement his Bultaco dirt bike! And smoking a ciggie, barely legal in CA anymore. A modern day outlaw.
Lots of comraderie seemed to have been generated the prior day at the MotoConcorso Italia (I'll post about that later), and the riders seemed to be excited at the prospect of a week's ride with all details arranged; included in the $2400 entry fee are all the night's rooms in first-class hotels, all breakfasts and dinners, and a full backup service - not only a chase truck, but mechanics with tools an fabrication facility as well. So, if you broke a part, there is a good chance you'll have it fixed or made in short order! Sweet.
That's Barry Porter (#114) sharing a joke with Dave Roper (#115); Barry is riding a Bultaco Metralla 250cc two stroke single - not of the era of course, but the class categories at the MotoGiro means just about any old bike can participate. I think the Metralla, the finest motorcycle to emerge from Oriol Bulto's factory, will run rings around the 175cc Italian jobs! It would take a Works dohc 175cc from the 1950's, to equal the 100mph performance of this legendary two-stroke.
Vicki Smith, of Ducati North America, has ridden all 8 of the Italian MotoGiros, was the first woman to ride the Giro, and is of course attending this event. She has over 70 motorcycles, but for logistical reasons borrowed a 175 ohc Sport Ducati for this event, as she needed to be at Laguna Seca for the MotoGP (well, it IS her job), and will have to cut her rally short. Look forward to seeing more about Vicki in this spot.
Riders were sent off in pairs at 1 minute intervals, making for a long period of great noise and smoke on Cannery Row, as the riders passed through the inflatable marquee for the beginning of their timed sections for the day. Interestingly, as this is a regularity trial, each bike carries a card for notation at each checkpoint, and each rider is expected to average a certain speed based on which category they have entered. But, if the rider shows up early to a checkpoint, it's perfectly fine to sit and chat and wait for the proper time to 'punch in'. Thus, excessive speed isn't punished! That's Harley Welch of the Motomelee on a Heinkel scooter - I guess he was too busy working on everyone else's Giro bike to finish his Motobi. Harley laid out the route for this event.
Yes, I wished I was going with them, but the Velocette Summer Rally is next week, so there was just no way to do both.