Borgo Panigale

The last time we were in Bologna we took the train to Modena, the home of Ferrari.  This time passions have realigned and we took the number 13 bus from Via Delle Lame to Borgo Panigale to worship at the shrine of Ducati.  The trip to Modena was about unreachable dreams – a museum, the distant view of a test track and too many souvenir shops.  There was no chance of passing beyond the heavenly portals – the factory gates.

Ducati is about reality and the attainable.  If I didn’t have a strong sense of self-preservation I could probably acquire their top of the range machine which would be more than capable of blowing away the road-going hardware emerging from Modena.  Even my modest 696 will out-gun most ‘performance’ cars.  Pete Lyons, a journalistic hero from my teens, explains it all very succinctly – “certainly there is risk, and that’s part of why riding a bike on the road gives me a sense of adventure that it takes a race track to make me feel in cars … Feel smug about your really fast street car?  If you haven’t clamped your knees around a hyperbike and yanked it open, you have NO IDEA what real acceleration is.” However, the real art of riding is not in a straight line but the ability to corner at speed – when it comes to bends, cars have the advantage if not the balletic style; in this respect at least, four legs good, two legs bad.

The factory tour was the highlight of our trip – nothing staged, this was the real McCoy. Mechanical works of art slowly take glorious shape on production lines where the emphasis of the creation process is the human rather than the robotic.  The finished product surpasses anything we saw the next day in MAMbo – Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna. Umberto Eco may have thought Giorgio Morandi’s art made the dust sing but Ducati’s art makes the heart soar. “Four wheels move the body, two wheels move the soul.”

As I have mentioned elsewhere, I had only two complaints about the factory tour – a) no photographs allowed and b) no free samples 😉  Consequently, all the images are from the museum:

Mike's Bike ... Mike's Bike ... The GP bikes ... The Superbikes ... Ducati Museo ...Mike's Bike ...

Finally, there is a stylistic connection between this bike, the Ducati 750 Imola Desmo, and my 696 Monster:

Ducati 750 Imola Desmo ...Not best suited ...

The gear ring …

… remaining true to my juvenile tendencies, when I first saw this, I knew I had to have one. As far as I can tell, they are only available to order from Kinekt Design in the US.  My good lady duly obliged and there it was, under the Christmas tree, the first present I opened – I am delighted and have been fiddling with it ever since 😛  I hope Santa brought you good toys too 🎅

Weekly Photo Challenge: Symbol

My first bicycle was a BSA and my second a Triumph Palm Beach – foggy damp Manchester was about as far removed from sandy beaches as can be imagined but then the Triumph Smog doesn’t quite have the same ring.

According to various websites, the Palm Beach was actually produced by Raleigh using the name Triumph under licence from the motorcycle company.  There is therefore a long and distant connection between my pedal-powered days and my Triumph Scrambler. Both symbolise freedom, the wind in your hair/helmet and life on the open road.  Toad would understand completely 🙂

... Triumph

My WordPress activity has diminished lately because when I am not hitting golf balls (not very successfully) I am out on wheels of various configurations. By way of explanation here are some more images of the Scrambler from life on the open road:

... but the star of Jurassic World

... on the road from Carrshield - in the background, the Allen Mills chimneys.

... near Birtley

Now spot the Triumph Scrambler (and the golf clubs!) in this trailer – star of stage, screen and Northumberland.

Travel theme: Chapeau!

My immediate reaction to this challenge was ‘I don’t do hats‘ even though the maternal grandmother and great grandmother were obsessed with the things (take a look at this wedding photo – great grandmother Emily is sat next to the bridesmaid on the right – what a concoction!).

Then it occurred to me that when I travel on two wheels I always wear a hat/lid/helmet (delete to your preference), so here are two of the three atop the Monster:

... Raw lid atop Monster

... helmet atop Ducati Monster

Photo Challenge: Blur

This is a lethal combination: 135bhp in a car weighing just 740kg in the hands of my middle son, Matt. He spent too much of his upbringing in the company of a madman behind the wheel (:-)) to be trusted with such exotica. More relevant and nearer the truth, my bank balance would not stand the premiums if he were added to the insurance.

Consequently, in this image, both man and machine were stationary and the blur added retrospectively – a much cheaper, virtual solution:

Matt and Elise...

(click on the image to enlarge)

Ephemeral …

… adjective
  1. lasting a very short time; short-lived; transitory: the ephemeral joys of childhood
  2. lasting but one day: an ephemeral flower

… along with youth, fashions, heroes and life.

David Purley raced in Formula 2 and Grand Prix events between 1972 and 1977.  He is best remembered for his desperate attempts to save Roger Williamson from a burning car at the Dutch Grand Prix in 1973. For this he was awarded the George Medal; the video footage is too harrowing, too sad to watch. In 1977 his brakes failed in practice for the British GP – his car went head-on into sleepers and came to a stop within a car’s length from 110 mph. He eventually recovered and took up acrobatic flying, the sport that finally claimed his life in July,1985.  One crowded hour of glorious life is worth an age without a name – Sir Walter Scott

In this picture, taken at  Brands Hatch in 1972, he sits contemplating the racing line. My reflection is fleetingly captured on the side of his car and a series of terrible events are practicing their lines in the wings.

David Purley ...

(click on the image to enlarge)

Heaven’s door …

One of the joys of Golf in the Wild is the unexpected connections I make. A recent exchange with a fellow golfing/motor racing/railway enthusiast (yes, we exist) whose father also worked for ICI, put me in mind of Trafford Park and my Dad, not that he is ever that far from my thoughts. This picture dates from his early career at ICI, just inside the entrance to the works on Westinghouse Road – he is standing far left among his fellow members of the Works Council; sadly none of the names mean anything to me but the location does.
Trafford-Park-wordpress
The door to the immediate left of my Dad opened onto a tiled corridor and up the stairs was the cashiers’ office where I collected my first pay packet – I had a string of holiday jobs on site which included internal postman (the best), toilet floor cleaner (the worst), working in the canteen kitchens and serving in the tuck shop. I had grand plans to use the money to buy a go-kart but was actively discouraged from such ‘dangerous’ ideas. Instead, I saved up for a Mini 850 and promptly went ‘racing in the street’ – the world would have been a safer place had I been confined to a track.

Outside the gates the open moorland that was Trafford Park is still visible. A section of the local goods railway ran parallel to the road and terminated near the entrance to ICI – to the end of the 1950s, Westinghouse Road went no further than these gates.  This is an aerial view of the original British Alizarine Co Ltd works taken in 1929, courtesy of Britain from Above (the bottom left of the inserted image marks the location of the gates). The Google Earth view of this area today is utterly changed and ICI gone.

Alizarine-site-wordpress

To the rear of the site is the Bridgewater Canal, the first commercial waterway in Britain. On the open moorland opposite the main entrance, men with horse-drawn carts would cut damp dark peat.  Dried and soaked in paraffin, it was sold to the housewives of Lancashire and north Cheshire to light their coal fires which fed the long winter smogs. One such horse-drawn cutter was Piccolo Pete (I had always imagined him a ‘Peat’), a regular visitor to our street and my mother an avid consumer of his wares and philosophy – ‘a very intelligent man’.  He attributed the severe changes in weather patterns to a spate of nuclear tests – I forget if it was getting hotter, colder or wetter. The fear of climate change is nothing new.

Piccolo Pete, the rag ‘n’ bone men, the Corona lorry, the Kleeneze rep, gypsies with pegs, French men with onion strings, the electric milk float and the occasional tramp – once the world came down our street, now they go knocking on heaven’s door.

The devil …

… is in the detail.  This is blatant self-promotion but I trust I will be forgiven. I have been working on another promotional poster for Golf in the Wild, trying to convey its real ‘charm’ i.e. it is about much more than golf.  The detail in the image connects with some of the topics – the Great War medals belong to my maternal grandfather whose exploits appear regularly throughout; the AA (Automobile Association) badge is the one that adorned all of the family cars that I grew up in and with, starting with this one; the ignition key with Lotus badge is from here and connects with the motor racing of the 1960s and 70s, a teenage obsession that is referenced throughout; the background images are from the Armistice Day edition of the London Illustrated News, the day my great Uncle Billy was buried; the card in the top left hand corner is from Uncle Charlie’s collection, one of the many from his lady friends; the rose is just a rose.
Golf in the Wild ...
The ‘On sale here’ text box is ‘cunningly’ positioned to be replaced with an alternative text label e.g. book signing at The Gale Centre, Gairloch – 13th April 2015 🙂

Triumph of Minimalism

A motorbike is all about the bare essentials; it is minimalist engineering at its finest. I have been looking for an excuse to post some pictures of the Scrambler and then a link to the video at the bottom of the post appeared in my inbox – it explains everything. The first picture was taken at the top of Dryburn Moor above Allendale and the second near Sycamore Gap along Hadrian’s Wall a few weeks later … two icons in close proximity. The eagle-eyed will spot the change of exhaust between the first and second image – the single pipe of the new version looks much neater and, more importantly, sounds wonderful.  If I were to remove the baffle it would wake the dead – I am tempted 👿

(not quite what the challenge had in mind but what the heck 🙂 )

Scrambler in the hills Two Icons

Jim Clark – first and last

Jim Clark has been mentioned in a couple of my recent posts – for those that remember him fondly, this is a brief reminder of his remarkable, diverse talent.  For my non-UK based/non-motor racing aware followers, something by way of explanation:

Clark was my first and last real hero and to this day his reputation and memory remain intact and untarnished.  For a generation of enthusiasts he represents a time, a place and the type of self-effacing reserved genius who is no longer allowed to exist in the age of the ever-present microphone seeking a sound bite, however inane, however inarticulate.

I saw him race just a few times and he did not disappoint.  In a Lotus Cortina he danced like a clown on the high wire making the rest look ordinary.  The fuzzy picture from the 1966 Gold Cup at Oulton Park is straight from Boy’s Own.  Clark in a Lotus Cortina had been in pursuit of a hugely more powerful Galaxie for most of the race, losing touch on the straight, climbing into its boot through the corners.  With just a couple of laps remaining, the American hardware ran out of brakes coming into Old Hall, slammed into the sleepers and flopped into the middle of the circuit. I caught the moment on my dad’s 35mm Werra – Clark can just be seen squeezing by the wreckage before taking the chequered flag in front of an adoring crowd.  Fifteen years old and your hero performs according to the script, all my planets were in alignment.

His untimely death at Hockenheim, a second-rate race at a miserable place, on April 7th 1968 rocked a racing world almost immune to such frequent tragic events.  As an introspective teenager with a consuming passion for motor sport, I was devastated.  Angry at the injustice, disbelieving and deeply saddened – it was like ‘your team’ was no more; imagine if Man United had simply withdrawn from the game after Munich.

Watching cars race by was never quite the same again.

Ouch!

Brian Muir, the pilot of the low-flying Ford Galaxie escaped unharmed – shaken but not stirred:

Muir escapes unharmed - shaken but not stirred

‘Semper Augustus’ was an expression generally associated with a modest man who was one of the great Roman Emporers. Clark was equally modest and it is the word ‘incomparable’ that always springs to mind when speaking, thinking or writing of him. That is just what he was and has remained – Barrie Gill.