Saturday, March 31, 2007

Moto Rumi at Cars and Coffee

There is an event every Saturday morning about about 12 miles from my home called Cars and Coffee. It's an amazing impromptu show held from only 7 to 8AM and all sorts of exotic vehicles show up. I was up early this morning and so I pulled my 1955 Moto Rumi Bicarburatore out of the garage and rode it over. This is the same Rumi that I rode twice at the Motogiro (1994 and 1995). When I first woke up at 6:30AM, I didn't really want to get out of bed but then I realized this would be good practice for this years giro. And I have some new boots I wanted to test out.
It's just amazing how the smell and feel of the Rumi just transports me back to Italy. There was a time where shifting with the wrong foot with a backwards pattern was confusing, but now I fall right back into it. And the crisp air and roar of the motor just brought a great grin to my face.
Of course the Moto Rumi was well received at the show, it an amazing bike.
I made it home fine, wiped the Rumi off and tucked it nicely back in the garage. And while my right boot fits perfectly, strangely the left one is quite narrow and really hurt my foot to walk. It was fine on the bike, but you do spend quite a bit of time during the giro walking around before and after the day's ride. So I'll have to try and stretch that boot some...

Friday, March 23, 2007


I was surfing up the Italian road signs today. I 'm writing a little guide to try and help newbies at the Motogiro. And the Italian road signs are much different than most Americans are used to.

The Slow Travel Italy web site has a very complete listing of the various road signs here.
Here are couple signs I found particularly helpful to remember.

Generally a circular sign with RED is a restriction of some type. It means DON'T do something.
When I started riding in Italy I was confused by two of these "don't" signs. In particular, note the difference between the no entry (one way) and no stopping signs!

No entry, one way street

No stopping at any time

No passing (note the passing car is shown as red in the sign, and thus this means passing is forbidden)

Maximum speed limit (80km/h in this example)

This slash is typically shown over another sign, indicating the previous sign is cancelled. For instance, the no passing sign with a slash over it would indicate passing is now allowed.

A BLUE circular sign with an arrow is telling you to do something. I was confused by some of these blue signs, they often point downward where in the US they would point upward. For instance a blue circular sign with a white arrow pointing downward to the left means "keep left"; it doesn't mean look at the ground here!

Keep left.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

More route information!

The organizers have posted some more information about this years route! I really enjoy this as I get out my map of Sicily and mark the towns and cities. This gives me a feel for the route and also just helps me to get "psyched up".

Apparently we will be stopping at some famous Sicilian race tracks this year. In the past, we stopped at a track and were sent out for a couple laps, so I expect the same this year. It's always fun passing some hot new Ducati with my vintage 175cc Mondial!

The route also clearly goes right up Mount Etna, the largest active volcano in Europe. I've always wanted to see a volcano in person...

Here's what the organizers said about the route:
This year the event will dedicate itself not only to the traditional passionate competition, but also to the discovery of a territory of extraordinary beauty, that is South East Sicily.
Departure will be from the golden beaches of Sciacca and then on to exploring the best the island has to offer. It will be a “theme” journey the ocean, the art and the nature: the most renowned seaside locations, the splendor of the Sicilian Baroque, the powerful nature of the Etna, the racing tracks.

On the 20th May the riders will cover a route that runs through the inside of the island and will reach, amongst other locations,
Cattolica Eraclea,
Chiusa Sclafani,
Sambuca di Sicilia,
then returning to
The first day of the Motogiro will also have a chapter at the Valle dei Templi Circuit.

The second Leg (21st May) previews a passage through
Piazza Armerina,

On the 22nd May, departure will be from
Brucoli towards the
Siracusa Circuit then following on to reach
Ragusa Ibla, la
Necropoli di Pantalica and finally returning to

The forth leg (23rd May) is characterised by a splendid tour of the Etna exploring Catania,
Zafferana Etnea,
arriving once again at Brucoli.

On the 24th May, the fifth and last Leg will travel through
Palma di Montechiaro,
Porto Empedocle,
with a ‘gran finale’ at Sciacca.

Friday, March 16, 2007

To Do List

I've spent some time getting organized the past few days. I always make lists and after last years giro I noted what things I left with my bike in Italy, what I brought home and what I needed to buy. I had plenty of time to work on this during the long flight home so the list is surprisingly long and detailed.
I bring quite a kit with me to Italy. My first race I actually brought a 70 lb bag of loggage with my riding gear as well as a tool box and a box of spares! Last year I had this down to one 50 pound bag with my riding gear plus a carry-on size bag full of spares and tools. Now I leave the carry-on bag in Italy with many of the tools and spares (including things from spare ignition points to a battery charger to a spare tire tube). But I still need to go through the master list and organize the things to take this year and buy the items that need replacement.
Additionally, I need some new major gear. I already bought a new helmet but I still need new boots and gloves.
For the bike I need to update it's registration and get insurance.
And I need to see a doctor to get written medical approval for the race.
The list is growing every day now... but shortly I should start checking things off as I'm sure I have them.
The biggest near term item happens Tuesday. I recently moved, and my new garage is a complete mess! I have been busy working on other house repairs and have never unpacked anything for the garage. So there are just piles of boxes in there. My goal is to have a much nicer and organized new garage and to make that happen I have ordered a whole set of cabinets to be custom installed. The good news is the installers arrive Tuesday, and after that I'll unpack everything and set up the garage next week. With just a bit of luck I should be completely unpacked by next Friday. And then finding the items on my list should be much easier!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Getting Started

My preparations are now starting "in earnest"...
I had registered for the event months ago, but things really don't start to get busy until about 2 months before the event, when I make flight reservations. I don't do that until I'm sure the bike will really be ready in Italy.
So yesterday I found out that my mechanic in Italy has picked up my bike from storage with another friend. This was great news as I had been anticipating this for at least a month now. The mechanic is going to service the bike for me and deliver it to Sicily for this year's event. So now it's time to really get rolling and to try and finish my preparations.
I spent a couple hours writing a list of things that needed repair or adjustment on the bike. And my fiancèe (fidanzata in Italian), Lo, translated much of it into Italian. And then I spent another hour or so tweaking it till it was just what I wanted to say (I think... given my limited knowledge of the language). This involved hours digging through my Italian language manuals and parts books looking for the proper terminology for things like wheel spokes; "raggio" and rubber bushings for the rear shock absorbers; "La boccola ammortizzatrice per snodo". The list includes critical items like fixing the wheel rim that I bent last year on a rough road and fixing the battery charging system. Last year charging the battery was a real fiasco, I'm hoping to have that fixed for this year. And of course there are many smaller items like deteriorated shock mounts, an oil change, valve adjustment and timing adjustment. The usual full race prep. Hopefully the list won't be too daunting for the mechanic. (He's a great guy.. more about him another time.)
I have a thousand things to do and get: flights, hotels, bike registration, insurance, new boots, a medical approval, spare parts to bring, etc. And that's not to mention that I want to upgrade my competitive timing equipment!

What is this "Motogiro"?

From the >


In 2007 the oldest Italian motorcycle road race is re-proposed from the 20th to the 24th May, with an itinerary centred on the most beautiful roads of Eastern Sicily.

From the 20th to the 24th May 2007 the Motogiro d’Italia, point of reference for those passionate about vintage motorcycles, will leave central Italy, host of the last two editions, and head boldly South for five days in Sicilian territory.

The Motogiro 2007 will maintain unvaried the formula that has decreed the event a success, starting and ending at Sciacca (Agrigento) acclaimed thermal location known since ancient times for its gentle climate and the healing properties of its waters rich with minerals. The route will articulate itself in 5 legs of approximately 250 km each, that will push East, until the slopes of the Etna. Currently the itinerary (which is still subject to variations) is the following:

19 May 2007: Preliminary operations at Sciacca.
20 May 2007, leg 1: Sciacca-Chiusa Sclafani–Selinunte-Sciacca
21 May 2007, leg 2: Sciacca-Piazza Armerina-Brucoli
22 May 2007, leg 3: Brucoli-Noto-Ragusa Ibla-Brucoli
23 May 2007, leg 4: Brucoli-Zafferana-Catania-Brucoli
24 May 2007, leg 5: Brucoli-Caltagirone-Agrigento-Sciacca.

My Class... the Vintage Racing Class!>
With an overall limit of 120 participants, this class features motorbikes of up to 175cc manufactured prior to 1957 inspired on the motorcycles that raced in the original Motogiro. Competitors in the Vintage Racing Class ware subject to timed, competitive ability tests en-route.