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Some things go well together. Spaghetti and meatballs. Spoked wheels and trailbikes. Early mornings and coffee. Some things do not go well together. Like Ducati concours events and rain. I was pondering this as I listened to the storm outside give no signs of abating anytime soon, and drifted off to sleep, set on the idea of there not being a big turnout at the 2012 New South Wales Ducati Club Concours event the next day. My fears will ill-founded though; the sun beckoning me out to spend a morning amongst the singles, desmos, the bevels and the belt drives.
Daylight savings always throws me out. I can never adjust to waking up earlier, but the thought of good Italian coffee spurns me on. Along the way I come across a Honda CB750/4 and a Kawasaki Z900, I ask the owners if they are heading to the Ducati day, but they tell me they are headed elsewhere. Which gives me an idea. But that’s a story for another time. Continuing on, cursing my own stubbornness when it comes to buying a GPS and using a 1997 UBD, I make it to Silverwater Park.
Started 35 years ago, today the Ducati Owners Club of New South Wales is 400 members strong. This Australian Ducati concours event is run annually, with all profits made going to the Royal Rehabilitation Hospital at Ryde. This is sort of fitting, as I have no doubt that the hospital has had to care for a few motorcyclists during it’s time. This year has been a bit more of a challenge in planning than usual, with a change in venue and the unfortunate passing of the stalwart planner of the concours event, Steve Chew. For all the changes though, just looking around it looks like everything is running nicely. The day has only just begun, but even just these earlybird bikes scattered across the oval would be enough to write an article on. I fall into conversation with Michael Berry, a Ducati specialist from the Desmo Clinic in Ryde. His military green 1979 GTS900 catches my eye, and he is more than happy to share the specs of this unique machine.
This olive green thoroughbred is motivated by a blueprinted, crank-balanced powerplant, with 2mm overdrive desmo heads. 88mm Hi-comp pistons are fed by Keihin 39mm flatslide carbs. Four pots up front make sure this bike stops as well as it goes forward. I am struck by how open and friendly these Ducatisti are with their machines. If I owned bikes as beautiful as this, I would be scared to bring them to a show where people could get this close.
I move on, dodging Ducati club members waving hammers, who I assume are still setting up for the day. Bikes start to arrive in larger numbers now, the unmistakeable sound of ducati horsepower fills the air as riders filter through the already parked bikes. I get lost in the little touches that these bikes have been blessed with, little details that show attention has been given to these machines, both aesthetically and in an engineering capacity. For instance, look at the horns on any 1960s/70s Ducati. They are just plain pretty. I move from bike to bike, taking numerous pictures of each, never getting bored, always noticing different aspects to admire. The timeline of these these bikes ranges from the 1940s right through to today, with Fraser’s Motorcycles setting up a stand with a few of their new bikes on demo to paw at and sit on. Fraser’s and the NSW Ducati club have a rather good relationship, with Fraser’s sponsoring the club for different events over course of the year.
The ‘other Italian makes’ section is filling fast as well. A Moto Guzzi half-truck contraption takes center stage in the display, a 350 single mounted in its tray. New and old MV Agustas park side by side, showing how far this company, as well as bike design, has come over the past 60 years. I see my dream Italian mount, an orange Laverda Jota 1000, with headlight fairing and 2-into-1 exhaust. Today just keeps getting better and better.
The morning flies by. I take up position by the front gate to get personal time with the interesting bikes before they go in and are swamped by showgoers. An orange 450 Desmo single rolls in; I am in awe of its beauty. The owner even jumps off the bike for no reason than for me to get a good pic. Gosh these Ducati guys are too helpful. I check out the carpark, it is filled with bikes that should be in the show, being judged and most probably winning ribbons.
I have to duck out for a bit, and when I return it’s presentation time. The club president, Craig, hands a 5000 dollar cheque to the head doctor at the Rehabilitation Hospital, then it’s on to the awards. The coveted prize this year is the inaugural Steve Chew ‘People’s Choice’ award, which goes to an incredibly neat Ducati 748R. Even though I am generally a fan of older Ducatis, this one is amazingly clean, looking like it has never turned a wheel since leaving the factory.
All in all, it’s been a good day. Ninety-seven bikes have turned up and entered in the show, it has been sunny, and the soundtrack is desmodromic. Ducatis are bikes built by passionate people for passionate riders to ride, or passionate people to admire. I think it was said best when Ian Fulsom said: “People don’t get Ducatis; then they see them.” Ducatis are completely beautiful, they are art.
I would like to thank everyone in the New South Wales Ducati Club who took time out of their busy day to talk to me and answer my questions.