Experiencing the Motogiro

It's a bike race, but not as we know it. Old bikes, Italian gents and Englishmen go mad in the Mediterranean sun. Sicily says 'hello' to the Motogiro

The small town square is packed full of vintage motorcycles. Old men watch as schoolchildren dance to a backdrop of pumping techno and third rate Euro rock anthems, while everyone feasts from a table stacked with olive oil-soaked bread, pizza slices, chunks of cheese and an inappropriate amount of wine for half-past breakfast on a Wednesday morning. Welcome to Sicily. Welcome to the Motogiro D'Italia.

The Motogiro is a very special, very unique event. Revived in 2001 after a 44-year break, it's a competitive time trial for small capacity vintage and classic machinery. The idea is to hold an average speed across country, arriving at time checks not too early, not too late. Each event is held in a region of Italy and this year, for the first time, the Motogiro went to Sicily.

The Motogiro is absolutely, definitely not a race. That's not allowed on public roads open to everyday traffic, not even in Italy. Except it is a race. It doesn't take long to work out that if you get within spitting distance of your next check as quickly as possible you've more time to fix stuff and eat free snacks.

It's the end of May and it's hot, but not uncomfortably so. Some of the island is as far south as bits of near-Saharan Africa are north, but the climate isn't so harsh. The same can't be said for Sicily's roads. The Motogiro tracks a course through north and western Sicily following tortuous single track lane after tortuous single track lane, all coated with a dusting of frictionless powdered Teflon. The moment you think the road can't get any worse, it just did.

Ducati has lent me a Multistrada to follow the 'Giro, and it's perfect for the kind of riding we're doing. Except most of the people doing the kind of riding we're doing aren't riding anything remotely like it. Sure, there are Ducatis aplenty, but they pre-date the Multistrada by a generation or two. There are MVs too, Motobis, Gileras, Morinis and Benellis, even a stunning old Mondial.

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