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LINKS:
1. Milano-Taranto
2. Aermacchi Club
3. 2007 edition
4. Finish

Fourth stage, Thursday 5 July: Pomezia - Caserta, under Napels (343km).
That afternoon we past road signs pointing towards "Cassino" or the Monte Cassino. The location of Monte (mountain) Cassino is roughly between Rome and Naples. At the top (519 meters above sea lever), a Benedictine abbey (monastery) is located. It was built on a Roman fortification and was destroyed several times in the past. Every time it was rebuilt. The final destruction dates from the Second World War. During mid-February 1944, the battle of Monte Cassino between the well-entrenched Germans and advancing Allies was at a peak. The Allied High Command suspected (wrongly) that the Germans had also entrenched the monastery and levelling the monastery by bombing was inevitable. In this building of peace and prayer hundreds of local Italians had found a shelter. Within three hours, this would be their final resting place. However, many treasures of art from the monastery were previously brought into safety. Fighting still went on in the ruins of the abbey. Eventually Polish soldiers conquered the location. Post-war reconstruction took more than a decade and was fully financed by the Italian government. After so many centuries the Abbey of Monte Cassino remains the origin of Western monasticism. Unfortunately we lacked the time to visit the monastery. A checkpoint nearby would have been great! We would have kept the peace, but 'peace and quiet' would have been disturbed by our group of 150+ motorcycles ;-)

As I wrote previously, during the daily stages, you can score bonus points to improve your position in the classification. At certain check pointís two lines are drawn on the street. Distance between the lines can be anything between 5 and 15 meters. Next to the first line you can see a digital clock ticking away the seconds. The trick is to pass the second line exactly as stated on your card. You should do this as precise as possible. The time is measured up to 0,0001 (ten thousands) of a second. Number 1 will receive the maximum amount of bonus points, number 2 a point less and so on. Unfortunately, I did not manage to score any of these bonus point. I will have to practise this in future. A few more penalty points were 'cashed' thanks to the timing of the organisation. At the start in Milano, they had explained that the large central clock was synchronized by a radio signal from Frankfurt/Germany. Also they mentioned, the strength of the signal in southern Italy was less and this could have consequences. What they did not mention was that a local checkpoint used a small digital (kitchen) clock which was not very well synchronised with the large main clock. I had a watch on my bike, which I had synchronised with the main clock. When I left the checkpoint (on their time), I took off 2 minutes early,

Nice meeting with Salvatore in Piedimonte Matese

Left-to-right: (135) Guzzi Special 500cc/1936, (78) Mondial 200cc/1952, Guzzi GTC 500cc/1937, Indian Chief 1200cc/1944 and a selfbuilt 175cc Morini racer

BEAT the clock

due to their poorly synchronized time, resulting in another 2 penalty points :-( That way, my total went up to 7, but fortunately would not increase any further. Should I have push started the bike in Milano, I could have reduced the number of penalty to only 2, which would have resulted in a 4th instead of 6th overall position in the 350cc class. That afternoon with about 40km's to go, I had a very nice meeting. On more than one occasion I was approached by Italians who commented positively on my Moto Morini "Tremezzo" (three-and-a-half). They liked the fact that I have the first model from 1973, the so-called 'prima seria' (first series). The Italians are always very pleasant and are nice company. Now I met Salvatore. some years ago, he sent me an email with a question on the very rare colour of his Morini 350. Fortunately, I was able to point him in the right direction. Now he had seen my name in the roadbook seen and looked forward to meet the "number 117". A very pleasant meeting indeed, but unfortunately we did not have too much time, as I had to leave to avoid more penalty points. I strictly left on the correct times because of the previously mentioned reason.

Fifth stage, Friday 6 July: Caserta - Matera (356km).

In the morning, for the first 90 minutes we rode through small towns with lots of traffic and congestion. I was quite surprized how the following cars always managed to keep up with the two-wheelers. A real mystery to me. Once outside the busy urban area, the roads again lead us over many passes of the Apennines. Maximum height approximately 1150 meters above sea level. Occasionally we rode through smaller towns. In one such place, all surface of the asphalt was cut open with slits in the riding direction. This went on for miles and miles. My trick to safely pass this was to limit my speed and let the bike find it's own route. This worked out very well. Again it was a very hot day without any specific problems. Because of the heat, we had to drink plenty of water, stop for fuel and enjoy the many tornantes (hairpins), both up and down hill. In Matera we stayed in a beautiful hotel.

For all participants....

.... a town medal!

In Matera we received a medal of the city. Photo on the right: view at the beautiful old city of Matera

Sixth and final stage, Saturday 7 July: Matera - Taranto (142km).
At the final stage we took of as usual. Distance of this last trip was 142 km's only. At the beginning, the roads were flat, so we rode our bikes almost full throttle. As always, it was important to pay enough attention to the road and surroundings to not miss any turns. Fortunately the organization must have thought the same, because at a specific exit they had placed a person with a brightly coloured jacket and a big flag. He pointed us in the right direction. A day earlier, there was no one at a Y-junction. Up to this split, the road went on straight forward. I went quite fast and focused on the road. Passing the exit and looking from the corner of my eye. Within 200 meters I realised I had missed it and had to turn back.

Meanwhile we were getting close to Taranto, our final goal. The sky over the city looked very dark grey and black. A very heavy downpour could start any time. Next there was fierce lightning over the sea. We were not too comfortable at the thought of a huge shower. The weather gods (or was it Neptune ?) were in our favour as it stayed dry. Later, on the outskirts of town, large puddles in the streets showed the sky had opened indeed, but not over our heads :-))

In Villa Castelli, with Taranto only 30 km's to go, our cards were collected by Anna. Anna was German and translated the instructions of "tour director" Franco Sabatini into German and English. Very useful indeed for those not speaking or understanding Italian.
It was a memorable moment, because all week, we were focused on those cards. Collecting them first thing in the morning, getting them stamped at the checkpoints and - most important - handing them in at the end of the day. Anna told us from Villa Castelli we would ride on as a group to Taranto. Taranto is a large (navy) port. The city has large apartment buildings. The noise (and smell) of 150 motorcycles reverberated against the facades of the buildings. The Italians did not mind, the more noise, the better they seem to like it. Just before the boulevard of Taranto, there is a square, called "Lungomare Vittorio Emanuele III". According to the tradition of the Milano-Taranto motorcycle rally, all participants had to stop here and wait for their 'two minutes of fame'. Whether or not it took 2 minutes? Probably less! From the square, you race down the boulevard to the final finish flag, a distance of app. 700 meters (just under half a mile). The assagitori were not supposed to join, but my roommate did not take any notice. He pulled open the throttle of his tuned Moto Guzzi, made a wheelie and overtook the riders which had started before him!! Great and spectacular action! Not long after it was my turn. I took it easy, speeded up considerably, but kept in mind that after the finish there was not too much asphalt left to use the breaks :(

An impression of our invasion in Italy ;-)

Specially stopped to make a picture of the typical trulli houses.
BTW: Trullo=single and trulli=plural :)

At the last stop in Villa Castelli a number of riders received special awards for all kinds of reasons

With Taranto just 30km's to go, we had a small party and a performance in Villa Castelli. A jig and local Italian music match well!! Look for yourself!



Preparing for the last sprint on the Taranto boulevard, 'our 2 minutes of fame'.


Passing the finish for the last time gave an excellent feeling! I was very glad to finish the 2,000 km trip unharmed and without any technical or mechanical problems. It was my second Milan-Taranto, after my first rally back in 2007. Achieving a 6th place on my 39 year old bike was great too. The engine of my bike has got some 73.000km's on the speedo. It did not let me down once. Always firing up with one or two kicks. A perfect motorcycle for such a rally. On the secondary Italian winding roads, it just handles perfectly. My aim before the start was to achieve a good position in the final classification. I was more than happy with a 6th place. Competition during Milan-Taranto was serious. One lesson I learned was that every detail counts if you want to achieve a serious placing in the ranking. If, in the future I will join again, I know I have to push start the bike and cash in on the 5 points! Also I will have to seriously practise the special daily effort to win some bonus points.

This is the right place to thank all Dutch riders for their comradeship during that fantastic week in Italy: Cees/Annet and Jos/Hendrika (sidecar riders) and also Aart, Andries, Chris, Eric, Erwin, Hans, Jelle, Loek, Marcel, Niels, Thomas, Wim and Rik in de service van. Also I would like to thank Jaap and Ellen for their perfect organisation in our country. I would also like to thank all the Italians involved. They have done a superb job organising, managing a 2,000km rally with a 150+ individual riders from many countries. Special thank you, grazie, to the Italian volunteers. This week would not have been possible without them. At difficult junctions, they helped up finding the route, the served very tasteful local food and they made us feel welcome in any possible manner! Finally, I would like to thank all involved officials from local councils, police, etc. Without their support, this week of excellent motorcycling would not have been possible. Again I concluded Italy is a very hospitable country, with very friendly and helpful people. In general, they are very enthusiastic towards the classic car and bike scene. Most likely because they have got such a great car and bike history!


Final classification 350cc

MY FINISH IN TARANTO!!

The real champion: 39 years old, 2nd Milano-Taranto without problems. Italian quality!!


Photo album of the arrival at TARANTO

omhoog pag. 1

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Crowds at the finish



Below a selection of websites with photo's of the 2012 edition.
Also have a look at YouTube!
  1. Moto Club Ponte di Bassano
  2. Lambretta Club Matera
  3. Italiaan Motorcycle Federation, department of Vicenza
  4. German Guzzi Falcone Club
  5. Facebook page
  6. Photo collection
  7. Italian Blog

Cup

'26th edition Milano-Taranto, 350cc class,
1-7 July 2012'