Milan (continued)

Thanks to Arun, we got to hang in the Ducati hospitality for espresso, couches, and delicious choclate desserts.

Thanks to Arun, we got to hang in the Ducati hospitality for espresso, couches, and delicious chocolate desserts.

I had a successful meeting with my friend Gabri. We hashed a potential business venture with his friend Dario who owns a mini-bike business in Torino. The rest of the time we just checked out the show.

the house-of-brown, beavis, and a kiwi

the house-of-brown, beavis, and a kiwi

Of course, Michael Czysz was there. Michael and JM were tight so it is always good to see him.

Dinner by the Duomo

Dinner by the Duomo

The house-of-brown charmed the fellow countryman during dinner. It was actually pretty sweet how happy the guy was just to be spoken kindly to in his own language.

The house-of-brown charmed the fellow countryman during dinner. It was actually pretty sweet how happy the guy was just to be spoken kindly to in his own language.

My hotel wasn’t too far from the Metro, which went right to the exhibition center. When I wasn’t at the show or with anyone else, I walked around Milan. The weather had been rainy, so all the scooters had these little rain skirts for the riders. I mean every single scooter had one of these things on. You don’t see these in Spain. People just get wet. cimg1701

After the first two days of the show, everyone I knew would be leaving. Either home, to other countries, or to Bologna for meetings at the Ducati factory. But evidently, there was some three week break for the factory, so there were only meetings happening there that I had no reason to attend.

I had been thinking of John-Mark a lot on this little trip. He had been to the EICMA show before with Aprilia and talked about Milan and the Duomo fondly. While walking around Thursday, contemplating heading to Bologna, I came across this Breil necklace in a window:

trigio-tribe-tj0626p1For those of you who don’t know, our race team logo was/is this:

lbr21

The star within the star was sort of symbolic of the both of us since the two of us made up the team. Every year for my birthday JM bought me jewelry featuring a star or stars. I have been looking for an appropriate piece of jewelry to buy for me as a favor to JM. Now that he is gone, the heart within a star felt appropriately symbolic, and finding it in Italy on my way to the Duomo was perfect.

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I found out a few days later the design collection is called "me and you together".

The symbolic little story doesn’t end here. Without getting to far into it, the Duomo had really impressed JM. Niether of us were in any way religious, in fact JM had recently felt a huge freedom in embracing atheism. So it was ironic that in that big church I felt so emotional for JM the second I walked in there. I lit a candle in his remembrance (in front of an icon of Jesus-it was either that or Maria and the baby Jesus), told him I missed him and thanks for the humor of the whole thing happening in a Catholic church.

By this point, the head cold that began two days before was wearing me down and I decided to go back to Barcelona. Unfortunately, when you show up at the airport with cash in hand, the Italians dont want to take your money for a ticket. They told me my flight must be purchased over the phone or online. The company the tickets were processed through on the phone told me that US credit cards frequently get rejected for no reason. This is, of course, what happend to me. I tried for two hours to buy a ticket on the phone, online and in person and could not get one purchased. The flight left at 10pm, and I watched people board my flight and go home.

I had a dinner of chocolate and wine, and cosied up for the night for the 6:45am flight (which somehow I could buy). Seriously, the bars in the airport closed at midnight. There were a LOT of people stuck in the airport all night.  You’d think this would be indicative that it is a problem to not sell airline tickets to potential passengers.

 

dinner

dinner

 

nighty night

nighty night

Lesson learned. The trip was still worth it.

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Milan Motorcycle Mayhem

I took a jaunt to Milan for the EICMA motorcycle show. I attended as an international business entity (thanks to my Little,Big Racing LLC) so that I could avoid the crush. The first two days of the show are for press, international business reps and industry meetings. My friend Gabriele would be there only those two days so I had to go early.  Gabri is a mechanic for the Caffe Latte Aprila 250 GP team (though now he isn’t sure if he has a job since all the 250 teams went to one rider.)

My friend Arun from MotoCorsa was there so I looked him up. He was hanging with other Ducati types and looking for his new ride.

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Testing out the new ride for two-up potential

A motorcycle show is generally a motorcycle show, though this is the biggest in the world so there were a few small models and brands that we would never see at a show in the US.

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Carbon frame and swingarm

WANT

WANT

It comes in black too...

It comes in black too…

...with carbon swingarm...

…with carbon swingarm…

...and frame.

…and frame.

Valencia GP

I took the train out to Cheste, on Thursday from downtown Valencia. It was maybe 30 minutes and there is a stop directly at the racetrack. Problem is…the racetrack grounds are HUUGE. I exited the train and saw only miles and miles of rental cars and basically no one on the roads! After walking in the general direction of the track, a girl on a scooter took me right to the front of the entrance.

It took a while but I figured out where to pick up my pass for the weekend. I hitched a ride with some Italians to the administration building and eventually made my way in…

The first pass, later upgraded for an even better pass. Notes for the italians - that's a drawing of a tire, part of italy and all our names

Once there I met up with my friend Francesco who runs the KTM 250 team and he gave me a Redbull hospitality sticker for my pass. I spent a lot of time there and it also got me into the Redbull rookies cup area.

Redbull station was spacious and served free booze

Since there are no bikes on the track on Thursday, it was a day spent meeting with people and collecting phone numbers of people who could potentially help me with a job. Buying that phone was the best decision ever because I filled it with numbers!

Thursday evening I met Olaf, the European Arai rep in my hotel. He ended up driving me to and from the track for the next couple of days. He snuck me into the press conference for Sete Gibernau’s return to GP racing with the Onda 2000 team Friday night. I also attended the 10 year track anniversary party, which was really nothing more than opportunities for the press to take photos of the riders and some important people together, along with some kind of stupid statues that were supposed to be the riders but looked nothing like them.

Olaf and some other Dutch journalist at the press release

Olaf and some other Dutch journalist at the press release

there are important people in this photo

there are important people in this photo

Marc showed up late Friday night from France, and Melissa and Josh Hayes drove all the way out from Portugal Friday night/ Saturday morning and stayed in my hotel. Marc, Olaf and I met up with them at the track on Saturday.

Marc and I were able to watch Saturday morning practice from the Tech 3 Yamaha garages, and qualifying from KTM red bull 250 garage. Later that evening we visited in the Tech 3 garages and saw some interesting things on the bikes.

Filling pneumatic valves Saturday night


Lead weights for balance

Saturday qualifying from inside the circuit:

Saturday after qualifying, the technical director Mike Webb escorted me into the Fiat garages so I could say hello to Jorge Lorenzo’s team that I worked for at Laguna Seca and Indianapolis. I needed an escort as the crowd outside the Fiat garages waiting for a glimpse of Rossi was so huge it was literally inaccessible at all times. The team was surprised and happy to see me, and amazed that I was speaking Spanish (albeit fairly basic and broken). I didn’t stay too long but it was a highlight of the weekend just being able to chat with those guys again.

The rest of the weekend I circulated and met with people, as this was my main reason for being there. I also ran into plenty of people I knew and caught up with them.

Scott from Honda, Britt and Josh Hayes

The races I got to watch from inside the track which was a treat for sure, though the premeir class race was fairly uneventful. Mike Webb gave me two tickets to the staff end of the year party, where I met Charley Boorman and (from Long Way Around/Long WAy Down movies with Ewan MacGregor), all of the Dorna guys I met at Laguna Seca, etc, etc. I stayed at until 5am, and when I left it was still in full swing…