Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Italy Motorcycle Diary: 4. Final Prep

Me and my R1200RS in Amalfi

                I felt no trace of the previous night's indulgence while at CIMT with Francesco, checking out the fine motorcycle that I would bond with over the next five days.
It was a brand-new BWM R1200RS, red, black, and silver – a gorgeous bike with a “boxer” engine that bulges out the sides like bicep muscles. Indeed, the bike gives the ordinary person superpowers. It’s almost like having the power, speed, and flying ability of Superman, with none of the invulnerability.
                The bike is a little bit heavier, and with 50 percent more horsepower, than my BMW F800GT. It was the largest bike I’d ever ridden. My motorcycling experience totaled six years in 2017. I’d put in 15,000 miles in that time, mostly in the urban areas of metro Phoenix. Italians drove on the right side of the road, and the street signs and infrastructure are similar to that of the U.S.A. Still, this would be my longest motorcycle trip in any country.
Also new for me was the idea of driving with and using top and side luggage cases. The rental was equipped with a 52-liter top case and two 33-liter side cases. I had no idea whether all my stuff would really fit inside them. I have a 55-liter backpack at home, so I used that as a guide, practicing to see what I could stuff in it.
I nailed it. Everything fit in the cases perfectly – when arranged like a 3D puzzle.
                Francesco handed me a plus-sized padlock and explained how it attached to the front wheel to secure the bike when parked. He took a long, coiled, yellow wire from the lock and showed me how that looped around one end of the handlebars.
                “What’s that for?” I asked.
                “To make sure you remember the lock is there.”
                He had to explain two other items:  The moto was keyless and would start only when the special fob was within about three feet from the dashboard. That meant it might start if the fob was sitting on the ground, forgotten. If I drove off without it and later discovered it was gone, Francesco said, “don’t turn the bike off. Call us and we’ll get you another one.” The fee was $200 to replace it, and I knew such a disaster would likely be a time-suck that could kill a whole day. I decided to be extra careful with it. (Yet sure enough, a few days later, at a gas station off SR2 in Tuscany, I started the bike and put it in first gear when an attendant motioned to me. He pointed at the ground – where the fob was sitting after falling out of a pocket.)
                As for the Garmin GPS, it cost $700, Francesco said, showing me how to lock it into the handlebar mount. It can be wrenched off in a second with a screwdriver even when locked, he went on, “so be sure to always take it in with you.”
                All the prep stuff finally done, I changed into my biking outfit – helmet, boots, jacket, gloves, and jeans – and got on the BMW. With a confident “vroom-vroom!” of the twist throttle, I zipped up the ramp into the daylight and started my adventure.


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