2007 Motogiro d'Italia

Classic motorcycle racing, Italian style

| January/February 2008

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    Riders enter the town of Ragusa, Sicily during the 2007 Motogiro d'Italia.
    Photos by Christian Clarke and Tommaso Pini
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    Our Hero, a.k.a Erick Clarke, winds his way through Ragusa, Sicily.
    Photos by Christian Clarke and Tommaso Pini
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    Most riders use several stopwatches to monitor their pace throughout the rally.
    Photos by Christian Clarke and Tommaso Pini
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    Ducatis and oranges are everywhere, sometimes together!
    Photos by Christian Clarke and Tommaso Pini
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    U.S. participants Steve Arnett (left) and William Latoza put their Ducatis through their paces during the second day of the five-day Motogiro.
    Photos by Christian Clarke and Tommaso Pini
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    Rider Gianni Mostosi came in from Monaco for the race, piloting his 65cc, 1952 Moto Guzzi Motolegerra, the smallest bike at the 2007 Giro.
    Photos by Christian Clarke and Tommaso Pini
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    Riders gather in one of the many town plazas along the way to rest and chat.
    Photos by Christian Clarke and Tommaso Pini
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    Phillip Higham, England, rolls alone down a Sicilian backroad on his Ducati 175 Sport.
    Photos by Christian Clarke and Tommaso Pini
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    Italians Emerson Gattafoni (left) and Valeria Cagnoni celebrate finishing the Motogiro d'Italia.
    Photos by Christian Clarke and Tommaso Pini

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Motogiro d'Italia 
First race: 1914
Number of competitors: 52
Race distance: 2,376km (1,476mi)
Latest race: 2007
Number of competitors: 187
Race distance: 1,200km (744mi)

Our Hero’s noble effort begins with the whispered dreams of far off places and mystery machines. A contest of speed and endurance, the Motogiro seems almost enshrouded from the devotees of big British twins or vintage American iron. Details of the Giro are obscure at first. It was a race in Italy. At some point it stopped, and then it was revived. It involves small bikes. Small Italian bikes. Sexy, small Italian bikes. And breathtaking scenery, riding cobblestoned roads through ancient villages and wildflower-covered countryside. The roads don’t appear to bludgeon the landscape with the air of eminent domain, but rather embellish the natural curves of hills and streams and flat valley floors.

Once discovered, Our Hero learns the Motogiro doesn’t wait for late comers. What to do? Through a connection in Italy, a cache of Giro-worthy motorcycles is sourced; chief among them is a 1957 Ducati 175 Sport. With the euro beginning to demoralize the dollar, the purchase of the Ducati is not exactly inexpensive, but assurances are given that the best possible deal was struck. The transportation of the Ducati is taken care of, and the next step is to find airfare and actually register for the Motogiro. All of which takes place on the deadline day of registration. With a few precious weeks to go, there is no turning back.

Backdrop to the Giro
The Giro’s roots stretch back to 1914, with the inaugural run of Il Giro Motociclistico d’Italia. The first race covered 1,476 miles and fielded 52 racers; 17 finished. The race continued on and off until 1931, but European politics and events surrounding World War II put an end to the race until post-war industry could get back on its feet.



In 1953 the race was reborn. Called simply the Motogiro, protagonisti raced 1,864 miles for nine days through the countryside. Organizers, motorcycle companies and racers knew that winning the Giro could create heroes out of mere motorcycle riders. For a country as poor and un-motorized as post-war Italy, the locals might as well have been watching spacemen flying rocket ships through their villages: The Giro captured the dreams and hopes of a nation.

Top class in the Giro was 175cc. This was a large step up from the 125cc road bikes that found use as workhorses in Italy. The Giro was a flat-out race from the start of each day’s leg to the finish, with checkpoints strategically located to ensure racers followed the predetermined routes. Gasoline pit stops, breakdowns, sabotage and civilian traffic were all part of the race. To win a leg of the race was an achievement: To keep momentum going for nine days with machine and rider pushed to the extreme was something much more.



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