John’s recent trip to Italy where he took part in the Milano to Taranto Rally between 2-8 July 2017

Milano-Taranto Classic Italian motorcycle road rally. Covering 1700 Kilometres over six days on a 1955 Gilera Saturno 500 Sport.

The first stage was a midnight start from Milano and the course zig zagged South to Pisa. This stage took 11.5 hours with 5 food/drink stops on the way and covered a distance of 388 Kilometres.

After a good dose of beer, food and a lot of sleep we headed towards Principina Terra. The second stage took 6.5 hours with 4 food/drink stops and covered a distance of 235 Kilometres.

Day three threw up a couple of reliability issues. Puncture on the rear tyre and the front wheel came loose (should have had Chicane prepare the bike!). Made it to Fiuggi in 8.5 hours but only made two food/drink stops and covered 340 Kilometres.

Heading for San Giovanni Rotondo. A fairly incident free day until I heard a slight chirp from the head gasket. Tightened head gasket, chirp gone. Small oil leak turned in to a massive oil leak. Managed to ride to San Servero but ran out of oil. Had to recover bike to San Giovanni Rotondo. Stage took 9.0 hours and made all 4 food/drink stops and covered 325 Kilometres on Bike. Decision time, discussing options to repair bike. We estimated 4 hours work to rectify oil leak. Do we work through the night or focus on it the next day with a decent night’s sleep behind us. Sleep deprivation is a dangerous thing when you’re on a 1955 Italian bike, on Italian roads looking out for Italian drivers!!

Day five we prepare a space in the underground car park of our hotel and hatch a plan. 6 hours later (bit like estimating a job on an Aston Martin!!) we fire her up, all good. We wrote day five off but I had a bike I can now ride to the finish.

Day six, Bari to Taranto. Made it to Taranto in 6 hours and it was a short blast of only 125 Kilometres and made all three stops.

A trophy was presented to all of the participants of the rally at the last meal on the final day at the Nicolaus Hotel in Bari

My brother Clive, Jan-Willem, myself and another competitor enjoying a well deserved beer

Would I do it again. It’s a no brainer. Every time.

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