Due Ruote (two wheels)


Due Ruote (two wheels)

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

During the times that I’ve been in Bologna this year and last I have been struck by the popularity and practicality of two wheeled vehicles. Bicycles are everywhere and coexist comfortably with traffic. I rode a bicycle to school every day when it didn’t rain for about 6 weeks and loved it. It seemed that almost everyone that I knew had a motor scooter. There are two kinds there. There is the motorino (Vespa or equivalent) with which you’re all probably familiar. Then there was the scooter (yes, that was the word that was used in Italian). This was bigger in all respects; a bigger engine, wheels and storage area on-board. I met a couple of people that had motorcycles but they were not nearly as common.
So when I returned to the states I was really interested in a non-automotive means of transportation. I considered a bicycle but since my city is much less compact then most Italian cities I ruled that out. I considered a motorino and even visited a Vespa dealer here in Oakland to kick the tires, so to speak. There’s a lot to be said for a motorino. No gear shift and generally simple operation. Just hop on and go, just like the Italians. The downside for me is that some places I’d like to go fairly regularly involve some freeway travel. Little wheels, limited power and freeways don’t mix in my mind.
    The next step up is obviously a motorcycle. I’ve owned several motorcycles in the past and enjoyed them. I’ve made several long distance trips including one from Oakland to Santa Fe, New Mexico and back – about 2000 miles. I decided that was the most attractive option. While I still have a valid motorcycle license, it has been at least 17 years since I’ve had a motorcycle. So I took a weekend motorcycle safety course locally to see how I felt about being on a bike after all of this time. The course provided the confidence that I needed and I knew what I wanted to buy. It had to be Italian and my last bike was a Ducati so it was clear – Ducati it had to be. I wanted to buy used and found almost the ideal bike. I say almost because ideally it would be red (it is Italian after all) like my previous one but when buying used you don’t have much say in the matter unless you’re willing to wait a very long time. I found a 2006 Ducati monster (1000cc) with only 16,500 miles on it by the original owner. With 95 rated HP and only 430 or so pounds it really flies when you want it to.
       It was meticulously maintained with all service records. So now I’m reacquainting myself with this form of transportation. Interestingly enough I feel safer on the freeway going 90 miles an hour than going across town. A motorcycle at speed is remarkably stable and all of the traffic is going in one direction. In town you have all of those pesky drivers crossing at intersections and seemingly oblivious at times.
I found a riding partner and we’ve done some 2-4 hour trips along less traveled roads and it’s been a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to more of them, including the one planned for tomorrow.
  • Share/Bookmark

Leave a Reply