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1. Milano-Taranto
2. Aermacchi Club
3. 2007 edition

Second stage, Tuesday 3 July: Vicenza - Firenze (374km)

The ride itself went fine, no problems, except for the heat! Even the Italians complained about the heat which kept the country in it's grip. In the afternoon the temperature climbed effortlessly to almost 40 degrees Celcius. During the stops we did not feel too comfortable in our leather gear. At every stop, I took off my helmet as soon as possible. Next, I unzipped my leather jacket. When we continued our trip I kept the jacket open for the first few 100 meters. Then the full, but warm wind on your torso made you cool down a bit. Maybe not the most healthy solution (transpiration and draft), but in this case it kept me going. At the stops, I knocked back at least 1 litre of water and all of that came out again through the pores of my skin ;-) After the start of the daytrip, we mainly followed flat, long, straight roads taking us along canals and bridges. The first break was after 80km in Lendinara. This was followed by a checkpoint and a time control. In Predappio a special surprise was waiting for us. The lunch stop was provided from a shop which was packed with memorabilia of Mussolini. (1883-1945). Perhaps less strange when you realise the Italian dictator was born here and finally (1957) buried in Predappio. A few years earlier, I had spotted a similar shop on Lake Garda, but not with such a comprehensive collection as this one on the Via Roma. In Germany, by law, all references to nazi symbols are prohibited. In this 'souvenir' shop however, everything was for sale from T-shirts to busts of the 'Duce' (nickname of Mussolini). There was also stuff on the German dictator who ruled the country during it's 'black period' 1933-1945. Unbelievable. Fortunately, in the Netherlands we limit ourselves to windmills, clogs and other odd bits and pieces. OK, we do have strange 'coffee shops'!

The first 200 km of the trip we rode on flat roads in a flat landscape. After Predappio there was a first hill of 800 meters, followed by two passes of respectively 1200 and 1100 meters. One thing is certain about Milano - Taranto: you never can switch to the 'auto pilot' mode, because before you know you either miss a road exit. Fortunately, all went well. No pinking of the engine and the bike went uphill just perfectly. This way we crossed many passes over the Apennines mountains. The tops were all up to a maximum of app. 1,200 meters. Sometimes we crossed three or four passes in one day. Many of them with hairpins, in Italian called 'tornantes'. Mostly these were numbered. Sometimes there more than 20 tornantes uphill. If you sit on your bike all day, you can 'hear/feel' the engine very well and know how it runs. It seemed to me as if the engine had adapted to the Italian petrol of 95 (?) octane. Slightly less power and the engine sound was little different. Even so, the bike (... and it's rider, haha), went like a rocket. After a very pleasant day, we ended up in an excellent hotel in Firenze (Florence).

Santa Sofia (app. 100km's to Florence)

The next morning the bikes were still there

After breakfast, first thing was to collect your card with the starting times

80 km's after the, a break in Lendinara

Nice Ducati RT
450cc from '74

Lunch at the Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi in Argenta

Fixing the Vespa. The owner would achieve a 6th place in Taranto

Third stage, Wednesday, July 4: Florence - Pomezia, under Rome (373km)

Again a super-super hot day with temperatures of nearly 40 degrees Celcius. With this weather, I had hoped for another smooth trip. Unfortunately, that was not on to be: I collected my first penalty points!

As usual, after the start we speeded up, overtook as many slower riders as possible. After lunch in Radicofani, I was riding along for a while with two Italians and a rider from Switzerland. Without noticing, all four of us must have missed a turn, because all of a sudden the road seemed deserted and there was no traffic to be seen. OK, that happened on other occasions as well, but not like this. A good moment to stop to try to find out were we were and see if we were still on the main route. Luckily enough we met a farmer on a tractor. He explained to us how we could continue without riding back. After a number of kilometres, we had to turn right and then and later take another turn. Then we should be on the main route again. Fortunately, this worked out. As we stopped for a T-junction, a participant was coming from the right. We followed him and were back on the right track. After this it seemed I had another small problem....

This Italian (107) on a Matchless G3L from 1941 became the winner of the 350cc class. His big smile shows how we felt!!

In Radicofani:
a statue of the local Robin Hood: Ghino di Tacco (13th century).

Not the same path up, but similar

Checkpoint Radicofani

Lhs: Thomas rode Milano-Taranto at 'a tutto gas' (full throttle). Here, he is making adjustments in order to keep up the speed

Meanwhile I was riding alone and entered a small town. I had to find my way into the centre for the check point. There was no indication of where to go, ... left, ... right, straight on? Fortunately a local van stopped next to me and without asking, the driver pointed me into the right direction. I had to ride up a narrow, slippery (marble?) path which went steeply uphill. On this path in this medieval town, there was no pavement.

Far right, start from Anguillara Sabazia for the last 50kms to the finish. It was only 30kms to the center of Rome. Unfortunately we did not have time to visit the Italian capital.

The front doors of houses and shops on the left and right opend directly onto this path. Even cars came down hill. So I was careful not to knock down a granny, I followed the route and found the check point at the 'Piazza Vittorio Emanuele' in Montefiascone (Lazio). As I write this down, I realize that the name 'Montefiascone' has got the word 'fiasco' or 'failure' in it. (Makes you realise: what's in a name?!). I clearly ended too late at this checkpoint. Participants with much higher starting numbers were already leaving, so to restrict the damage to a minimum, I got my card stamped and took off immediately. While getting the card stamped, I used my multitasking abilities to get hold of a bottle water. By the fuss of missing the turn, I took off five minutes late, which meant 5 penalty points. Push starting the bike at the start in Milano, I could have compensated this penalty, but unfortunately, I had to 'cash' these negative points. We were not too far from Rome by now and rode along a large lake. The temptation to seek coolness was great, but the desire to reach the finish on time was much stronger. Southwest of Rome we passed a bridge across a river estuary. The banks of the river were loaded with fantastic luxury yachts owned by rich Romans. The last 30 to 40km's of the day, we followed a road right next to sand dunes and beach. Reminded me of home, as it looked very similar to the Dutch coast. Then there was this fantastic cool sea breeze. We reached hotel Selene in Pomezia, another excellent choice.

14 riders appeared at the start of the 350cc. All of them made it to Taranto. Winner of the class was an Italian on a Matchless from 1941! up page 4

follow the arrows

Espressobar on the way. 80 cents only for a cup of perfect Italian espresso!

Four of us on the way on a terrace.
This is way down South. The female rider lhs waves at us :-)

That evening I had a look at the classification. After 4 stages I am in 6th position.