Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Post-Christmas winter Guzzi Lodola shakedown ride to Epping

Me and best mate Adam met up on the Sunday after Christmas as it was the only decent day forecast in between the constant storms that have been rolling in off the Atlantic for what seems an eternity. He lives a 40 minute ride from High Beech in Epping Forest, famous bikers' cafe' and spot to meet, and where we used to ride to when we were both still living in London. Decent weather it was indeed, but also bloody freezing, but we both set off on our Moto Guzzi Lodolas, both 235 Gran Turismo models (not 'Lodolo Tourismo' as a recent new book about Moto Guzzi has shockingly decided to rename them..). This was the first ride of any length of mine after I had worked on it after discovering sitting under a lean-to for many years - and it went superbly. Testament to the Guzzi's innate robustness, and slightly less so to my mechanical abilities. We had to take the country bends easily as there was a buildup of snow/ice sort of slush as well as the usual load of farmers' mud spread hear and there, and in fact I was laughing to myself about how gingerly we were taking the corners. But besides having to watch out, both bikes ran superbly and we were soon getting up to our old tricks of trying to out drag each other on the straights - fearsome fun at 45mph tops.

Eventually we got to Epping and a coffee - handy for defrosting the ice covered benches. Only other bikes there were a few full-spec BMW GSs, and several Jap crotch rockets with camo-clad riders. The Lodolas got some attention as people wondered what the hell they were, and wondered how especially mine even ran. Why is it that people expect to see only restored Italian motorcycles around? One German grizzled old biker (escaped from East Germany he told us) loved them though, rust, oil leaks and all.

On the way back, the footrest on my bike decided it had enough after 50 years and snapped. Luckily I caught the errant bits and had it cable-tied back on within minutes. Oh how we laughed. We got back to his safely, both old bikes having run faultlessly.

Best time I've had on a bike for a long, long time. There's something about riding smaller and older stuff that just makes you smile.

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