First stage, during the night of 1 July 2: Milan - Vicenza, 337km
On Saturday we arrived at the Bergamo airport. From there,
we had booked a minibus for the remaining 40 km's to our hotel in Melzo. Most participants had shipped in their motorbikes
a week earlier from Weesp near Amsterdam. They were transported by truck to Melzo. When we arrived in the hotel, our bikes
were already parked in the garage. In the evening we had dinner together at a neighboring restaurant. It gave us the
opportunity – to get to know each other. Then on Sunday afternoon we rode on our bikes to Lago Idroscalo in Milano where
Milan-Taranto traditionally starts. Just before the Lake Idroscalo we filled our fueltanks to start at midnight with a full
tank. At this time I lost the others, but with experience from 2007, I knew where I had to go. Compared to 2007, the starting
point was now on the East side of the lake. This did have it's advantages, as there was a large lawn. Here we could hang out,
rest and mentally prepare for long ride at night. My Italian friend Gianni came and brought two friends with him. Mauro brought
his beautifully restored Moto Morini 3½ Touring (1974). He had just finished that bike the previous day.
Dinner with Eric, Niels, Aart, Dries, Edwin, Chris, Marcel, Wim and Hans
After seeing them , I completed my registration with the ladies of "Moto Club Veteran San Martino',
Claudia and Natalina Sabatini. I got all my stuff, such as a map showing my starting times (00.43h) during the first night
stage. Furthermore, I received a full colour printed road book, the numbers to wear over my jacket and also a T-shirt.
Rhs some members of the organisation
According to the roadbook, the staff consists of app. 50 persons
and futhermore many, many local volunteers
After this, I quickly went to the technical control. Here they check if your bike
meets the general technical requirements. Particular attention is paid to the brakes, lights and horn.
To the technical control
Technical approval by the maestro!
Payment at the organisation
Beautifully restored 3½ by Mauro!
Hanging around before the start: Hans, Wim and Dries
That Sunday was the final of the European football championship was
played between Italy and Spain. Nearby was a large terrace with radio sound, but without a TV screen. According
to the reactions of the public, the Italians only got a few opportunities. Unfortunately for them the Spanish
team won by 4-0 and Spain became the European champion.
Meanwhile, I walked across the large lawn, curious to see the bikes of participants. There were fantastic machines, such
as a 1944 Indian Chief, a Rudge from 1939 and many Italian thoroughbreds. The 500cc class was clearly dominated by Moto
Guzzi Falcone's. These bikes are just perfect for Milano-Taranto. Germans have a very appropriate nickname for such bikes:
"Dampfhammer", or "steamhammer" in English ;-) Hans, one of the Dutch participants, rode a similar machine, but with 250cc:
a Moto Guzzi 'Airone'. I believe all Guzzi's made it to Taranto. Truly indestructible!
Also nice to see the rich history of Moto Guzzi. During the first dinner in Vicenza there was a row of ancient Guzzi's.
The oldest bike from 1921! A respectable age. No less than 91 years old. Experts were not quite sure whether it was an
original motorcycle, or replica machine.
Unlike in 2007, there were a few participants from outside Europe, such as Australia and Canada, most participants were
Italians, as many as 85 riders. Germany was well represented with 37 riders, 15 from The Netherlands, 6 from Switzerland.
With other riders coming from Austria, Monaco and France. Next to that, there is a separate class for the so called 'Assaggiatori'.
They follow the route, but do not worry about departure times etc.
It became time for me to put on my motorcycle gear. After my first night ride in 2007, this would be my second. Not really
a hobby of mine and given my experience of 2007, I was not too relaxed about it. Such a long ride during the night is not
without risk. At the time I twice had a terrible dip in the early morning hours. Fortunately, it went right and I finished
Some impressions: 84 and 155 owned by Hans and Edwin
Guzzi Super Alce (1948) ridden by a sportive Italian amazone!
Indian Chief (1944)
Rudge Ulster (1939)
parking for 350cc bikes
Guzzi Airone (1956)
As mentioned before, 00.43 hours was my starting time. I could have earned 5 bonus points at the start by push/bump
starting my bike. In the 50s this was way the riders started their bikes. I did not bother and used the kick starter
instead. Afterwards, I realised, I should have made a push start. With the extra 5 points would have put me in 4th place
instead of 6th in the final classification of the 350cc. In the 350cc class, the overall plan of the Dutch was to stay
together during the night. That way we could prevent missing to see the stickers with the arrows pointing us in the right
direction. It wasn't too easy finding our way out of Milano with all the roundabouts and what have you. In fact, we did
manage to miss one exit, but fortunately, we soon found out. The first stop was after roughly 45km's (28 miles). Great
opportunity to knock back a double espresso. The caffeine would help me to stay alert at night. Our course was straight
East, towards Lake Garda. 150 km's from the start, we had a break at a terrace in the middle of the night at Villanuova
sul Clisi. Behind the mountains we saw the very first aurora of the new coming day. From our location, it was only a few
km's to Lake Garda. We would continue our route on the west bank of this beautiful lake. Then heading north towards Riva
del Garda. Before Riva there were a number of tunnels to go through. Most of them were brightly lit. Fortunately it was
very early in the morning without any 'normal traffic', so full throttle in the tunnels did not bother anyone ;) Previously
I had been on holidays in Riva del Garda. It was very nice to ride through the empty streets on a Sunday morning. So far
we had covered the first 200km's, time for another break. Some riders used the embankment of Lake Garda for a rest. After
the break it was important to - leave on time. This way, Milano-Taranto is a 2,000km's long enduro competition. Every
morning, before departure, you receive a time card with your times you have to leave the stops. After arrival in the late
afternoon, you have to hand-in this card. If you forget, or if you have lost your card you'll get 1,000 penalty points!
90 minutes to go!!
Just before the start: Cees and Anette with their BMW sidecar
Nrs 1 and 2 are go ........ 4 and 5 depart
Note under the starting sign:
'Ricordate che la manifestazione si svolge su strade aperte al traffico.
Siate prudenti' or in plain English: 'Don't forget that this event takes place on public roads. Be careful'.
Break at 04:00 in the morning in Villanuova sul Clisi
Father and son!
Lhs Lake Garda. Tunnels along the lake,
most well lit, some dark, we had them all to ourselves that early Sunday morning!!
Stop in Riva del Garda
After Riva del Garda, we continued towards Vicenza, our final goal of the day. Before we reached it, we had to cover
two hills of 850 and also 1,150 meters. I wasn't to confident about it, because 5 years earlier my bike started pinking
uphill. Fortunately, as the ignition timing was set a little later (5 degrees), I had no trouble whatsoever. Another
2 stops and an unexpected checkpoint, we finally reached Vicenza between 11.00 and 11.30 a.m. To avoid to penalty of
1,000 point, I immediately handed in my card.
The espresso had done it's job and the much feared 'dip' in the
early hours did not occur. In the centre of Vicenza we received a great welcome! Blue carpets on the street, Welcoming speeches.
A TV crew interviewed participants for the national news programme on Italian television. Unfortunately I could not really enjoy
the welcome in Vicenza, as I wanted to park my bike, take a shower and go to bed. The bikes were parked and locked right in front
of the hotel. After that I met my roommate. He was a so called 'assaggiatore', as his bike from 1980 was 'too new' to join the real
classics. After this most participants went to bed. In the afternoon we were woken up by the noise of heavy rain. The air was very dark.
Fortunately, this was the only bad weather during the week. At about 7 p.m. I got up and informed about the dinner. Apparently, dinner
was served at a different location. Because of the recent earthquake, we went by bus to dinner. Afterwards, the same busses took us
back to the hotel, but of course later than I had wanted. Like in 2007, I did not touch the excellent Italian wine during the week,
but stuck to sparkling water.
We were a news item on national TV!!
Note: Titel of the news item "La Mille Miglia delle Moto", La Mille Miglia (thousand miles) is the
famous car rally which is held annually in Italy
Fantastic reception in Vicenza,
organised by the local "Motoclub Montebello" and with cooperation of the council, police and other officials
follow the arrows
Dinner in the
multifunctional hall in Vicenza. The green Guzzi, a 500cc should be from 1923. Experts were not sure, if it was
a replica or not