Part 1: Greece - Italy
Among various acknowledgements I have received in my rich travelling career is the invitation to be the only non Italian member to the aptly named PmB Italian motorcycle club founded by my friend Antonello. Why aptly named? Cause it stands for "Pochi ma Buoni" and yes, I can now confirm that the guys in it are "Few but Good" indeed. Blame it's cool 'n picky founder for that. My decision was made at lighting speed to participate in the group's 10th anniversary tour. What more could I ask for? The whole route prearranged by the guys crossing the crème de la crème of Italy, Austria and Slovenia, 20 bikers on the road with the vast majority of them being so cool and I just had to load my bike, turn the key and leave Hellas behind for some weeks.
I drive from Athens to Patra and then take the ferry to Ancona. The Adriatic sea was flat and calm and I had a great sunset view from the deck, only to find out later that the shot I took was as out of focus as it gets:
At the end of June my arrival at Ancona meets the end of good weather. It is raining dogs and cats so I wait in the ferry's garage to put my waterproof gear on and pray for the madness to end sometime soon:
Seems like it will go on forever so I decide to start. After a few km the storm was over so I pull over to a filling station to get rid of my rain gear ASAP. You don't want to wear non breathable stuff anywhere around Ancona on a humid summer day for more than a second or maximum 2. Trust me.
Weather is nice for the rest of the route up to Pesaro where my next host and PmB comrade Steve stays. We meet up as soon as he finishes work and we go straight for a ride with a couple of other local bikers so they'd show me around. We do the route up to Cattolica on the SP44. This is an absolute must, 100% scenic route full of bends and great view to the sea. Just take care if you are around cause the combination of slow cambers and ultra fast Italian bikers can be challenging. Don't forget we talk about the birthplace of the one and only Valentino Rossi. One of the guys in our group is not just fast - he just flies. At some point I am curious to have a look at the tires of his YAMAHA and the front one is so worn on the sides as if he has treated it with sand paper. These guys are nuts and hard to impress them by riding skills but still they said they were glad I could follow them with my bike still loaded. What surprises them actually is that I ask for a Grappa (Italian spirit) on every stop we make. Since we visit several cafe/bars through the riding day I have the chance to try quite a few. Absolutely sober, still not recommended.
At the closing of this wonderful ride/snack/drink/ride event we make a final stop at the beach of Pesaro to enjoy the sunset and some local "piadinas" by the sea:
Steve and his friends were definitely the coolest guys I could have around. They take me later to a great Pizza house (surprise surprise in Italy eh?) were I had a fantastic one with eggplant and we end the day at a local club for a few drinks. We meet one of Steve's colleagues there accidentally and after introducing myself she goes "Oh Greece! I know Mousaka, Gyros...". Minutes later her ass was swinging around my crotch while I watch the hired dancer of the club accidentally hitting the DJ's deck with her long leg. The night flirts with absurdity and we have to make it a short one as we must wake around 5ish next morning. More than 500km to do!
By the time my phone's alarm starts to ring Steve tries to wake me in the softest voice possible. In only a few minutes are ready and ride to meet with the rest of the Pesaro PmB guys. They chat a bit about the route over a map, it's all Italian to me anyway so I don't pay much attention and...off we go.
We hit the autostrada heading North, I am riding somewhere in the middle of the group, we're about 100km away from Pesaro when...shit happened: As I overtake an 18 wheeler on my right, one of his rear tires explodes! Literally. Pieces of it start flying towards me, instinctively I duck behind my windshield when one piece hits it hard fortunately (and surprisingly) without breaking it while a large piece of the tire rolls on my right heading to Michele who was riding behind me - fortunately he avoided it and missed it by millimetres. During our first stop "Incredibilo!" was on the lips of the guys who witnessed the incident. Every single one of them was surprised that me and my bike escaped this thing totally scratch free.
Without other issues we make it up to Marrostica where we meet the rest of the PmB guys:
To the surprise of the locals this quiet medieval square just got overpopulated by bikers. We drive up to Monte Grappa where we make our first stop. Fantastic view point:
Our bikes seem to enjoy the view too:
This place is one more chance to remember how much blood has been shed in the past around Europe during various conflicts and wars (WW1 in this case):
However, Italian food is always there to bring back the fun just in case:
Next stop: Colle Santa Lucia. 2250m high. So cold (9C beginning of July) and so beautiful up there but who cares since the route is so wonderful:
We finally make it at Dobbiaco, one breath away from the Austrian border. What a lovely place and what a great hotel we stayed at. We were all so happy to fill our eyes with all these beauties but also too exhausted to leave our stomachs unsatisfied. An epic dinner was the right way to end the day:
We drop dead on our beds looking forward to tomorrow's ride.
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