Ride out - Imola September 1999
Its hard to really explain what its like riding through France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany and
Strasbourg. But in short if you can imagine a never ending race track with near perfect tarmac -
that's what its like.
The journey to Imola down through France and the Italian/Swiss Alps was pure, - just
pure exhilaration. I lost count of the number times the front forks bottomed out, braking on the twisty mountain roads. - I'll say now, this was to be my downfall later on.
Having reached Italy early, we headed down to the Rivera and camped overnight at a beach Campsite. The following morning we left for Imola arriving
around 16:00. The road and surrounding Mountainous Landscape on the way , could only be described as
breathtaking. We saw waterfalls, ravines, melting glaciers and
aqua blue rivers - some times you just had to stop and look on in amazement. At times due to the high altitude, the bikes had to be kept above 6000rpm to avoid
loosing power and stalling.
In Imola we were ambushed by a local Biker, who directed us to his clubs Bikes only Campsite. The following morning we hit the Race track for qualifying.
We woke to the stinging noise of two 2-stroke engines cracking through the cool morning air. Morning practice had started. Knackered from the previous days ride and
late night drinking, we lazily went about preparing a "Camping" style breakfast. About 2 hours later (Lunch time) we rode up to the track, full of excitement, 2 up on the CB500. - Not a good idea if the guy
you are with decides to ride on the left-hand side of the road, head on to on-coming
Anyway having survived the 5 minute journey, we arrived. The days was very warm and
sunny. We visited various sections of the track using the perimeter service road. Fortunately, the Italians allow you to park under the Grandstands, thus saving shoe leather.
By far the best vantage point was from a Grandstand overlooking a chicane just before the start/finish straight. From here you could see the rear end of a
bike weaving under heavy braking and the front lift on acceleration as it blasted out onto the start/finish straight. The
GP250's were especially entertaining during qualifying. Every 250 rider that went through that chicane was on the edge. Strangely the
GP 500's were a lot more settled ( and lot less entertaining) in that section. All in all, qualifying was a great days entertainment - and we knew where sit on Race day.
We returned to the Campsite early evening, eagerly awaiting the entertainment promised by the hosts the day before. Apparently we were up for a
"Sexy show and neat Rock Band". It turned out to be a big disappointment. It was more like sexy shoe and crock band. Anyway after few beers the body was willing but the mind weak, so we turned in for the night around 2 am.
Race day arrived and pretty much followed the same format as qualifying. As for the riders however, the action on the track seemed a lot more subdued as they obviously set-out to pace themselves. The highlight of the day was at the end when
we invaded the track along with all the other mad Italians to watch the Podium presentations. After that we walked into the
ENZO Ferrari autodrome. Here we watched Team Suzuki amongst others packing away GP Bikes from a balcony above the garages. Turning around, we saw
Alex Baros about 6ft away from us holding his trophy and smiling as he walked out of the press room down-stairs to his motorhome - accompanied by his tasty bird. What a pity -
the camera wasn't loaded. (naughty - ed)
We could got an excellent close up shot of her....
All in all, a great day and great trip. Following the race, we packed up camp the same afternoon and headed for the
great Italian lakes. Not many people have heard about the beauty of the region situated on the foot of the Swiss/Italian Alps. From a motorcycle touring point of view, the region has everything you could ever want, in the way of roads, accommodation, scenery and entertainment. I would thoroughly recommend it.
- some club members are "thinking" of doing the Imola run again. If interested