Thousands of Ducati riders from all over the world have converged upon Misano for World Ducati Week.
The seaside Italian towns near the Misano racing circuit have been invaded by an enthusiastic army of Ducati motorcycle enthusiasts. Riders from all over the planet have been steadily funneling into the area, taking over the streets with the fantastic sound of Desmovalve-equipped L-Twin engines for the sixth edition of World Ducati Week.
The fun began yesterday when I rode a 2011 Ducati Monster 796 from Ducati's HQ in Bologna. At first glance I dismissed the new Monster as being a 'girls bike' but after logging a fair amount of kilometers it actually is a fun bike and especially well suited for the mixed urban/country confines of this area.
Last night we hit downtown Rimini which can be best described as the Italian version of Daytona Beach, but way, way, WAY cooler. As opposed to Daytona, the bike community here is far more enthusiastic in regards to the kind of machines they pilot (99.98% Ducatis). Its also cool to see how friendly and outgoing Italians are not to mention how lax the law enforcement is with them turning a blind eye to typical street bike hi-jinks which is outlawed in America. It's funny too, for as many laws I saw broken last night I didn't see so much as one tip over or accident and the roads out here are without doubt WAY more sketchy than at home in Southern Cal.
I ended up meeting up with my pal, Kevin Allen, an fellow American who works for Pirelli tires. He relocated to its headquarters in Milan and made the trek down on his 998, which still wears a Georgia license plate! It was actually funny how we met up. I was just cruising down the main drag and all of a sudden I somehow hear my name over the sound of the engine. I look over and there he is gobbling up a scoop of gelato. I pulled over we start chatting and all of a sudden this pudgy biker gang from Sicily rides by, probably about 12 of them, all with their motors pinned to the rev-limiter. WAA-WAA-WAA-WAA.
During summer in Italy the streets are packed even at 2:00 a.m.
There were a pack of pretty girls getting ready to attack the club and the pack immediately pulled over and started hollering at them-- it was a hilarious site and something you definitely don't see everyday at home. A few moments later we met up with another group of Italian riders (some of them girls) and hit the streets in a pack of about 25 riders. So there we were cruising the block and all of sudden it comes stop with a bunch of hammered drunk dudes in the middle of the street. Of course I was obligated to make those guys night by doing a huge burnout which they loved and all of a sudden I was now part of the playful mob heckling other bikers from the side of the road--it was hilarious. We ended up riding until around 3:00 a.m. It was fun and brought me back about 10 years when I use to ride/live like that seven days a week.
Saturday marked the biggest day of WDW celebrations inside Misano and it is literally insane how many people showed up. No joke, there had to be in excess of 15,000 riders and almost all of them were riding Ducatis. I've never seen as many Ducatis in one area in my entire life. Literally, I think I saw every single Ducati motorcycle ever made-- from ones built back in the day with a manual kick start lever to about 100 or so Desmosedicis. My head is still ringing with the sound of thousands of clutch plates ratting around from the dry clutch-equipped bikes. All day long riders kept on flooding through the gates and while it was pretty congested inside it was cool being able to kick it with a bunch of other die-hard Ducati enthusiasts.
Meeting new friends at World Ducati Week.
It's surprising how many activities there are and how much there is actually to see inside the track. Everywhere you look there are different set-ups which allow fans to get to experience the Ducati brand in different ways. They have had one cool area devoted to the Monster brand of motorcycles in which people customized their bikes with different paint jobs and color schemes. They even had two artists on staff that were painting helmets and other body panels for your bike if so desired. But the highlight by far is just roaming around and partying with the thousands of other riders. Given the track's close proximity to the beach and network of twisty back roads there is a constant stream of people coming in and out of the track.
And hitting the beach for a reprieve from the heat was definitely needed. At the track the air temperature had to be almost 100 degrees with 80-plus degrees of humidity. To compensate they had one small section of the paddock set for a "sexy bike wash". As you guessed there Italian super babes would wash down you and your bike--yes you read correctly. They would actually strip you down and sponge you down--PG-13-style of course. Meanwhile a DJ would be pumping out a weird mish-mash of disco-tech type music that sounded like something you'd hear down in Mexico. Italians sure know how to party I guess.
As you can see this year's WDW was packed.
One of the many highlights without a doubt was when the World Superbike and MotoGP team had a question and answer session with fans that managed to get inside the small air-conditioned meeting room. Inside retired World Supers Champ Troy Bayliss told everyone that he would not be returning to competition either this year or next. The Australian mentioned that he had so much fun during his recent test at Mugello that he contemplated returning but after some more thought he understands that it would be a difficult task to get back to that level and in the end is something that he and his family don't want to do. It was also quite obvious that Noriyuki Haga isn't too happy with the way his season has gone thus far with the guy pouting most of the day and looking like someone had just run over his dog...
Okay, that's it for now, there's plenty more to talk about but for now I gotta run err, ride!