Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Rising Star is for sale.

Yes, you read that right. And I'm selling the bike, not the blog.
I know that this may come as a shock, and you may not understand why I've decided to sell it. You may disagree and think this is a mistake. Well, perhaps. But I've thought this through and I consider this to be the end of a very interesting experience that has taught me a lot: I've dreamt this bike into existence, I figured out its dimensions, what it would weigh, how it would handle, how it would look down to the smallest detail. With the help of some friends I built it, and finally rode it (a lot). Now I feel satisfied about it but another bug has bitten me so the reason I want to sell it is so that I can move onto another project, something that I'll hopefully manage to show you in the not too distant future.
Now, I want the Rising Star to go to someone who will appreciate it for what it is, and look after it.
Together with the bike, I will give a small box of spares and something very special: a twin-carb head from an A50 Cyclone.
Get in touch for details, this is one neat bike: buy it, and go have some adventures.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Triumph 750 for sale

Uncle Fester has a rip-roarin' 750 OIF Triumph for sale. This is a left-hand shift bike with disc brakes front AND rear, it rides really well and is going to a lucky new owner (you?) for a very reasonable price. Get in touch for more info!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Majella tour.

Ever since we discovered the region of Abruzzo years ago, we have been under its spell and have gone back time and again, to revel in its beauty and the vastness of such an unspoilt land, all fairly close to home.
One place I had wanted to see for myself was the Majella national park, yet another huge territory of stunning landscapes and wild natural beauty but for some reason our plans were thwarted more than once. This year, we have finally managed to make it over there and get a first taste of this majestic park.

As I said, having been to Abruzzo several times over the last few years, we have become familiar with how the place looks (to put it plainly), and what the aesthetics of those mountains are.
On some level, I guess I must have expected to encounter the same "look and feel", and I think that was a good thing, because when we finally entered the park I was rendered simply and utterly speechless by a unique landscape, far more beautiful than I could have imagined, or than I can describe for that matter, and very different from what we had seen in our previous trips.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was finding Witold astride his latest machine, an ultra-futuristic early 90s BMW K100RS, outside my garage the evening before we were set to leave; he was in Germany and although I knew he was making his way back, I also knew that he would not have been back in time for the trip, so imagine my joy when I learned that he had made excellent time and would have joined us on this adventure.
Marco on his part has finally taken delivery of the latest incarnation of his BMW, now an unstoppable 980cc "Sports-Scrambler", that got the uncle Fester treatment to sort out a considerable number of niggling little things that were never quite right. The electrics on this particular bike seem to be stubbornly recalcitrant, and it is probably the last hurdle to clear in the near future, but all in all everything worked out ok, despite Marco loosing his ignition key at high speed on the autostrada! This happened because the switch was obviously faulty and no longer able to secure the key in the 'On' position.
Thankfully the switch didn't cut off the engine, or it could have spelled disaster. However, it meant that the guy had to disconnect the battery every time we stopped for more than a few minutes, a real pain in the ass.
A new switch is being procured, so hopefully that will be sorted for good.
Here are some more photos from along the way, I'm really at a loss for words and I think it'll be a while before I really digest all that we have seen and experienced along the way.
We asked a group of pilgrims to take our photo, these folks were trekking across the park on foot, with all their gear on their backs and in quiet veneration of the land and the divine. I guarantee they experienced far more than we did on the bikes... Also, notice Marco's new and far classier handlebar compared to the one he had before:

Do not be alarmed by what may seem like a thousand yard stare, I am simply planning (yes, already!) the next tour of this beautiful park:

If all goes well, next year we'll do this again, and we'll organize things in the light of what we learned and figured out this time around.
For instance, I think the way to do this right is three days, two nights. Hear me out, day 1 is for getting to the campsite from Rome, we'll make a nice trip of it, stop for lunch somewhere, take our time and enjoy some downtime at the campsite in the evening.

We then leave early on day 2 from the campsite, and do the loop with plenty of time to stop for photos, a drink here and there, lunch and generally soaking it all in. For example, one detour we didn't have time for this time is near the top of this peak:

By the time the sun sets we'll be back at the campsite, instead of stuck up a mountain in a deep dark forest like this time. Yeah, I used the word "adventure" on purpose earlier. Finally, day 3 is the return leg, where you can gun it all the way if you need to be back early, or you can take it easy and enjoy some more time on the road, to really appreciate what you've seen. Anyone interested? It'll probably be around the end of May, or beginning of June...

Time to ride off into the proverbial sunset, but check back soon because we're getting ready for the CMT4 and it should be a good one...

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Pathfinder

Aeschylus said that a single path leads to the house of Hades; far be it from me to lead my companions to hell unless it is for a purpose (for example the excellent street food and great deals on swimming pool furniture, bizarrely).

So that is why I have scouted a new route to reach our forest shrine this year, rather than go the exact same way we took last year for example.

The road is not without its perils, and although I'm glad I saw this trial through, it is far too gnarly an itinerary to be enjoyable or conducive to a calm state of mind, so I'm afraid in that sense the trip was a bust.

BUT, the good thing is that I had a great outing on the Rising Star, not without its problems (cracked oil tank mount and a stripped thread on the coil mounting bracket to name but a couple), but as I had experienced in the past, the roadholding this bike is capable of is incredible. This frame is like a scalpel, and it carves through trajectories with remarkable precision and very positive grip from the excellent Dunlop K70 tires. Good stuff.

I now have to come up with yet another route that will include the best parts of what I saw this time, while avoiding needless grief along miles of rough offroad trails.

This task may require some divination...

I would like for those who will join me by the next moon to hear the Eternal Cosmic Cymbal reverberate along the way as we ride across the mountains and through the woods, and to realize how places such as these are quiet, yet very much alive at the same time.

I raise a solitary glass of mountain moonshine and I offer it to the day just gone, and to the day when we return here as a group; you see, when you are able to shed your linear understanding of time, you also begin to understand how small gestures like this become psychic tethering points that you can use from any other time "past" and "future".

In this case, the "good vibes" I cultivated throughout the day will be the foundation of our trip next month, and should hopefully contribute to everyone's enjoyment of the day.

It is still very hot around these latitudes, and it looked like it wasn't going to rain so I left the tent and my rain gear in the garage. Now, those of you who winced just by reading that last sentence are very probably motorcyclists who at some point or another were caught out in the rain and soaked to the bone; correct?

Still I was lucky and had clear skies all the way, and the night sky was filled with stars, the milky way an incredibly dense and bright strip that had me almost hypnotized.

Really, surprisingly cozy in there!

Right, see you in a month...

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

CMT4

The yearly Campotosto Mystic Trip is nearly here; we will return to the mountain ashram to visit even more dimensions and hang out with sprites and other forest elementals.

Photos and tales from the road when we return.


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Old Irons 2017 - a report.

This was only my second attendance at the yearly Old Irons rally, and I think I'm starting to get what this is really about.

Ever since I gave up MC colors years ago, I also stopped going to rallies, because I got disillusioned with the former, and frankly bored with the latter, feeling that rallies no longer had anything to offer;
and I feel I have evolved along a transcendental path of mystical apprenticeship with every trip I've organized and been on with a close group of friends, chief among which is the Campotosto Mystic Trip.

But, somehow the Old Irons (so really the guys who make it happen) have managed to create a considerably large-scale event, with no "promotion" whatsoever other than word of mouth, that manages to be both a rowdy biker rally (complete with senseless brawl and helo ambulance), and an introspective powwow where people can put aside their differences and look ahead, beyond the mountains, to glean what will come in the future of our shared obsession with motorcycles.

I met up with Gianluca and his brother Pier and we trudged through 100km of boring stuff before rendezvousing with Marco and Roberto just off the autostrada where we took a nice route through the hills to reach the rally.

Ragno welcomed us with a huge smile, hugs all 'round and ice cold beer: it was exactly what we needed right then.

After saying hello to the others, we sat down for a kingly repast, then moved on to setting up our tents.

(meat is murder, you guys!)
It is remarkable how much more "at home" the chopper feels when it's immersed in nature like this:
I think that as soon as you go past 250cc, motorcycles hate cities, but this is especially true of choppers.
I'll walk you through some of the bikes that were there.
Here's a neat ironhead Sportster to begin with:
and another:
Shovelheads aplenty:
An interesting Evo with a noticeably big bore kit, gnarly sissy bar and thought-provoking paintjob:
 Here's a cool early evolution Sportster in flat track attire:

Peppe's M20, a bona fide daily driver, and Eddie's Atlas:
This Nuovo Falcone was really cool and roved about the mountains like it owned them:
Giordano's motorcycle was the perfect antidote to Shovelhead fatigue, a beautifully thought out one-off that looked like an elegant stock model, plenty of unique details showcasing his craftsmanship, bravo:
There was a tidy evolution Sportster chopper, very nice:

I saw a few guys carry these fuel cans, certainly very neat and they look the part, but I wonder what good is a liter and a half, really. I think I'll rig up a bracket for a 3 or even 5 liter can next time; there is nothing for miles around, and getting stranded up there is a real possibility (and real bummer):

At one point this dude showed up on what looked like another BSA chopper, imagine my shock! Aghast! But, it turned out to be something even cooler, and best-in-show as far as I'm concerned; a hardtailed Gilera 300:

For some reason I found this little detail to be quite a moving, nostalgic touch; it's an old public telephone token:
He'd had the exhaust system custom made, and used the same type of "cocktail shaker" muffler I have on the Rising Star, with the addition of a baffle wrapped in rock wool:
I have been looking at ready-made baffles and other solutions for my bike, which is far too loud, and after talking to the Gilera guy (and Eddie) I think I might have found someone that could do this for me. There are a couple of other things I need to do on the Rising Star, so let's see...
Things to expect/look forward to next year (we've talked about it with Marco and this is what we reckon): someone being dragged away from their tent in the middle of the night (and presumably eaten) by a bear; dragons battling over the hills and in the meadows as people flee in every direction on their choppers across the grasslands; extraterrestrials showing up in their sleek UFOs and joining the party, motives unclear.
Should be good!