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Travelogue: 95th year anniversary trip to Mandello
Travel report by Pamela
"LIKE A VIRGIN"
There is an initiation process before becoming a "clan member" that goes deeper than written membership or buying your first Moto Guzzi (MG). True clan membership, in my opinion, is an unspoken and indescribable experience of going on your first tour. Like a virgin, the initiation process only happens once but lasts a lifetime. Not only was I a MG touring virgin but this trip was made even more special for me as it was also my honeymoon. I bought my first MG, a Nevada 750cc in June 2015 but decided to go as a passenger behind my husband on a Norge 1200 GTL so I could really see, hear and feel the journey.
The 2016 MG tour to Mandello started at 4am in the morning. As I am not a morning person, there were a couple of helmet head bagging scenarios whilst driving on the motorway towards our first meeting point (Lesson no. 1)............but then suddenly the journey took a pleasant turn through the countryside, into small idyllic villages such as Margraten and Eupen. I was riding with my husband and Jo, a very experienced "MG Master" with over 50 years experience of driving in Europe. Initially, we followed the recommend tour route provided by TLM however we encountered soo many roadblocks, Jo decided to turn the navigation system off and go old school with a roadbook.
As a techno baby, I was terrified when the navigation system was turned off but we stopped and the boys taught me how to read a detailed map and what signs to look for (Lesson no. 2). We followed the route down the B258 in Germany through Monschau and Blankenheim and stopped for lunch in Cochem at the Mosel, a true Harry Porter inspired town. We continued our journey through ascending and descending hills of which I needed to become accustomed too. Upon an ascend; we did a wheelie because I concentrated my weight too far back on the bike (Lesson 3). We arrived safely at Rudesheim on the Rhein and took the boat across the river to our first hotel. After parking and unloading, we were greeted with a Weissener beer and friendly smiles from fellow clan members. At this point, I still felt like an outsider but after a couple of beers, it was like getting to know long lost relatives. Now the fun began, sharing experiences, getting to know one another, laughing and drinking till late in the night (Lesson 4).
In the morning, a sight of glory awaited the early adventure seekers. Different generations of Guzzi's, from old classics to new customised models lined up ready to shake the earth upon their departure. The roads through southern Germany zig-zagged through the hills and in some corners, it was evident that our newly purchased suspension needed adjustment. The stand kept on scraping on the tarmac during the tight bends. We stopped for a coffee at Johannes Kreuz in the Pfalzer Wald and enjoyed astonishing views in temperatures of 28°C, whilst exchanging solutions about our suspension problems with other Guzzi lovers (Lesson 5). We briefly drove through France but was not impressed with the very straight roads and could not wait to get back to the twist and turns through the mountains. We arrived at a very nice hotel, hot and sweaty but excited about the day ahead.
The third day took us through five countries, well in my opinion actually 4.5 as Freistaat Liechtenstein felt like a street through a city (Lesson 6). We started off driving through Germany on the motorway and existed at Dornbirn/Feldkirch towards Schaan Liechtenstein. The moment we passed Balzers and entered Switzerland, I was taking away by the profound beauty, clear blue skies, crystal clear lakes at the foundations of mountains. We drove along the bundesstrasse (3) towards the Julierpass and although there were road works along the road, the beauty of the mountains and winding passage throughout, were a pleasing distraction. Having learnt my lessons from the previous days, we were able to climb and taking pin-sharp corners that seemed to go on forever through the alps of Switzerland and Italy. With majestic views I was hypnotised, vigorously taking pictures behind the bike, hoping I wouldn't miss a single memory. We arrived in Italy and began ascending the narrow hills towards our hotel where we couldn't see the surprises around the corner or premeditate the dangers in the dark tunnels through the mountain. We arrived at our hotel Cacciatore in Cremeno to a warm welcome of the locals playing a game of Jeu de boules and lovely wine from the local area.
In the morning, a sense of nostalgia filled the air. After breakfast, we descended down the hill through the twist and turns toward Belano bus-/trainstation, our meeting point before heading together as a clan towards Mandello. We met some amazing people whilst waiting for the moment of truth. Over 200 people???? from all over the world with no limitations were united for one common purpose. A couple from The Netherlands with their two travelling dogs, a man from Australia with a titanium leg, young & old, male & female, black & white....A sight of glory which I captured whilst standing high on a fence. The time came for us to leave and like roaring thunder, hundreds of fine tuned, noisy engines drove through tunnels along the shores off "Lago di Como". I was alerted by a pinch on my thigh of the infamous sign of "Mandello del Lario" and my husband saying "don't miss the sign". Upon arrival, I did not know where to look. The birthplace of Moto Guzzi was filled with bikes, people, tents, music, food, history and culture. Celebrations continued to late in the night with live bands.
We visited Mandelo again as we did not get the opportunity to explore everything. We visited the museum and I understood the foundations of which Moto Guzzi was built. Passion for innovation, strive towards excellence and the curiosity for discovering uncharted milestones makes Motto Guzzi so damn cool! From Cicogna made in 1939 (the bike with skies), the Cilindri (1940) with top speeds of 230 km/h, 3X3 Autoveicole Da Montagna (1960) mountain climber, aeroplanes and boats Moto Guzzi is a pioneer of its time. We took a walk into the village and every street was filled with parked MG and every house had some sort of dedication to MG. It was amazing to witness this gathering and be a part of MG 95th year. Our last evening together in Italy was spent in the local pub laughing and drinking, reminiscing of our time in Italy.
The Journey back
The journey back home was as exciting but the only difference was the smile on my face having experienced something new and wild, definitely a bucket list checker. No longer a virgin but a fully pledged Motto Guzzi Clan member. Not a good bye but see you again in 2021 on my own bike to forge new memories.
Lesson 1 – Get a good nights rest and drink plenty of coffee before you set off early in the morning on the bike
Lesson 2 – Learn to read a map. Navigation systems are not always 100% reliable.
Lesson 3 – As a passenger, if you are heavier than the driver, lean forward whilst climbing a hill
Lesson 4 – Don't drink too much the night before a long journey as a hangover on the bike is not fun
Lesson 5 – It's good to share successes and failures with other Clan members
Lesson 6 – A good sense of direction and geography is an advantage.
Pamela Kwak - 2016