Blog: August 6. Struggling

I’ve been riding the Benelli TRK502X in Italy. I arrived home yesterday arvo (Saturday) and, after 72 hours travel for 48 hours on the ground in northern Italy, I’m a tad disoriented and jetlagged.

As much as I dislike travelling overseas for work, especially fast trips where I spend more time in airports and aircraft than I do at the destination, this was one of the most pleasant and enjoyable I’ve done. The bike was good, the people fabulous, and the region of Italy we rode was fantastic.

Temperatures hovered around 35 degrees, and my room overlooking the Adriatic was very nice.

As usual with work, I didn’t pay much attention to where I was going. I knew I was heading to Bologna, but I figured the Benelli folks would take care of the rest. That was how it worked out, except from the airport we headed a couple of hours north to Pesaro. Those a whole lot smarter than me will realise Pesaro, aside from being the home of Benelli, is about a tennis-ball throw from Tavullia, home of Valentino Rossi and the VR46 Ranch. I must’ve looked like one of Pottsy’s startled-cat pics when we pulled up to look at the famous flat track from the road.

From there we headed to the VR46 store where I spent the GDP of Tasmania on a couple of souveniers.

As mindblowing as that was, it was only a small part of the whole mindblowing exercise. After riding the bikes through some truly beautiful country with deep history – including the occasional 14th century castle…and eating our own bodyweight in long, long dining sessions (the Italians love their food. They dine late, but lunches and dinners go on and on and on) we were invited to the impossibly palatial villa of Benelli champion rider and now bike collector, Luciano Battista.

Battista’s father was Benelli rider as well and the bike collection was beyond impressive, including a couple of 500cc GP bikes. I don’t know if you can imagine what it feels like to be invited to get up and close to, and to sit on(!) Eddie Lawson’s 500ccGP world championship-winning bike, but on top of the jet-lag disorientation I still think I’d been abducted by aliens and it hadn’t really happened.

That’ll give you an idea of the quality of the collection. Seeing our obvious love of the bikes, Luciano had his engineer fire up the Mike Hailwood Benelli. I can still fell the hair rising on the back of my neck at seeing that bike run. And I can still feel the blood running from my ears at the volume of the thing. I have some video here, and as soon as I can remember my name and what day it is, I’ll try and post it.

It was glorious.

These weren’t replicas. They were the actual bikes. The curator of the Benelli museum – who we’d met earlier in the day – rolled in on his six-cylinder 750 and verified everything. Not that there was any need. There were amazing historical pics all over the place.The collection was predominantly Benelli, but there were GP bikes and historical gems like the Lawson bike from Honda, Harley, Yamaha and others, all in a very beautifully appointed underground ‘garage’.

It was an incredible experience.

The TRK502X – the ‘X’ means spoked wheels and a dualsporter – was a nice bike.

I do have pics of me riding it, but right now I can’t remember how to open them.

I need to be able to think a little straighter to give sensible specifics, but the engine and drive train are really excellent. I wasn’t able to work the suspension enough to give much of an opinion on that aspect of things, but the comfort level was very high. It should be a really good option for LAMS riders in Australia. I won’t know how it’ll handle off-road conditions in Australia until we get one here and give it a run.

That’s enough gibber from me, I guess. I have to pack and get to the airport. Next up is the Red Centre Rally in Alice Springs.


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