Gathering of the Faithful at
Story and Photos
by Jim Gianatsis
Misano, Italy, May 17-24th 2004 - It was a trip fo a lifetime. I was off to Italy on a 10 day paid dream vacation for any sportbike enthusiast, hidden behind the guise of "work". It was my first ever trip to Italy, and flying from LAX into Milan on British Airways after a brief stopover at London's nightmare Heathrow airport, we had a spectactular crossing over the beautiful Alps before touching down in Milan. We started our weekend off at the nearby Monza World Superbike round on May 16th at the legendary and beautiful 101 year old circuit, then drove our rent-a-racer some 150 miles down the Autostrada to the Adriatic seaside town of Rimini for the Ducati produced World Ducati Week 2004 which proved to be one of the world's biggest manufacturer produced enthusiast events ever (only topped by Harley-Davidson with their anniversary gatherings in Milwaukee), and certainly THE BIGGEST for sportbike enhusiasts!
It isn't a requirement to be a Ducati owner or enthusiat to attended Ducati week which is now a semmi annual tradition held every two years. It's open to any motorcycle enthusiast owning another brands of bike, and just being in attendance made you welcome member of the close brother and sisterhood of Ducati sportbikers. But the fact Ii am a hard core Ducati enthusiast and owner made my attending WDW2004 with all the associated activities like my trip to Monza WSB and the Ducat factory a real sportbike enthusiast's pilgramege to the world's Vatican of sportbike worship.
Ducati is the only sportbike motorcycle manufacturer in the world which thinks of itself, its customers and fans as one family. It tries to bring everyone togther on a regular basis to share in "...the passion that is Ducati." And at no other company can customers meet and talk directly to the president, the designers and engineers, and the World Championship rider that race the bikes. Ducati also agressively targets and markets to women riders, and over a thousand women on Ducati bikes participated in all aspects of the week from racetrack activities to attending seminars on engineering and racing. In this day of high liability lawsuits, Ducati is the only manufacturer willing to trust sportbikeowners to ride their bikes at racing speed on a race track.
I spent WDW2004 week based with a few other international motorcycle journalists at the seaside town of Rimini next to the Misano Grand Prix track where we were housed by Ducati in The Grand Hotel, the vacation home of royality and celebrities, and i was kindly loaned a Multistrada (my favorite do everything streetbike!) for riding around on during my stay. We did everything and more that WDW2004 offered enthusiasts beginning on Monday the 17th with Ducati DRE Advanced Racing School on e 999 Superbikes at the Misano GP track with instructor and former World Champion Marco Luchinelli, to tackling the twisting Appennine mountains roads, spending a day at the Ducati factiry, partying until the week hours of the morning with thousands of other Ducati enthusiasts, and being there for the announcement of Ducati's new 4-cylinder Desmodecici 240hp Superbike! Join me as the complete story unfolds....
GETS STARTED! Monday Day One
The first to arrive on Monday were participants for the Ducati Riding Experience course, scheduled exclusively for the initial days of WDW. As always ducati had the best instructors around will show their students how to safely ride their Ducatis to their potential. The classes seem somewhat expensiveat first ranging from $600 to $800 for the day but they essentially provide you a new bike, a mechanic, and instuctor, 6 hours of track time on a world class grand prix track, lunch, a gift package, and a charitichure drawing from famed ducati cartoonestGiorgeio Serda "Matitaccia" (the cravy pen). It was more than
And this year,
WDW is witnessing a greater influx of foreign riders and fans than ever
before – thanks in large part to the irresistible pull of a whole
week of Desmo Energy on the beautiful Italian Riviera. Many have already
been touring the Italian countryside with expert touring company Curve
& Tornanti. And what better way to experience the joy of motorcycling
than on the open road, under a cloudless Italian sky?
OPENS TO FANS, Tuesday Day Two
One of the most appreciated offerings from this year’s edition of the event is undoubtedly the Relaxation area. In the transparent fishbowl of the relaxation tent, weary riders are getting ready for another turn on the track with massages and cool dips in the pool. Ducati fans are also revved up by another new offering for 2004, the Ducati Service tent. For just 10 Euro plus the cost of parts, WDW participants are getting their bikes overhauled by our top-notch factory mechanics. And of course, no beautiful Italian summer day at WDW would be complete without beautiful Italian girls on hand to wash bikes.
FASHION SHOWS, Wednesday Day Three
Also not to be missed will be Ducati’s WDW Starting -Line Barbeque on Saturday night, where participants will dig into delicious grilled meat, served by Ducati’s top executives, who will graciously act as waiters for the night. Ten tons of fish and thousands of liters of wine will be served on a red carpet layed down the front starting line stright at Misano in a huge Italian feast to remember.
RACE TEAM ARRIVES, RIDE TOURS, Thursday Day Four
This evening 100 lucky WDW participants, randomly chosen from amongst all week-pass holders, will have dinner with the Ducati official riders. An amazing opportunity for the raffle winners to spend an entire evening getting inside the head some of the world’s most famous racers. Some dreams only come true at WDW! The Beach area of WDW has proved to be one of the most popular offerings at this year’s event: participants can drink cocktails at one of Ducati’s beach bars, or, if they’re in the mood to sweat, compete in beach soccer or volleyball tournaments.
This year, in
conjunction with Curve & Tornanti, Ducati organized a variety of
tours open to motorcycles of every brand. So come see Italy as it was
always mean to be seen: on two wheels and under an open sky!
I choose the DAY LONG TOUR as my chance to see the small towns and countryside of Italy. Making the ride all the more enjoyable was the fact I had borrowed a Multistrada from Ducati for my week's visit, as I also owned a Multistrada of my own back home in Los Angeles and knew it was the perfect bike for in-town commuting, B road touring and mountain back road bashing. Our 2 Tour leaders were also Multistrada mounted, while everyone else in the group were on Superbikes and ST Sport Tourers. Once we got away from the coast and into the mountain roads the Multistrada were invincible.
The roads alternated between fast flowing sweepers similar to the West Coast's Pacific Coast and Angeles Crest Highways, or the Blue Ridge Mountain Parkway back East, to the tighter famed switchback twisties of Los Angeles' Stunt Road and Latigo Canyon. At times I would break ahead of the group for a clear run on the tighter mountain the roads which were trafficless. Acouple times the Tour Leaders tried to stick with me, but with my motoross experience I was able to brake/ square-off / and accelerate hard to disappear easily and wbe waiting for them at the next road juncture.
We stopped for the typical Italian lunch of pasta and thinly sliced ham which Ducati had waiting for us at the famed Ristorante da Giovanni atop the Muraglione Pass in a beautiful Italian National Park similar to the Blue Ridge Mountains in America. Yhe Giaovznni is Italy's equivalent to America's bike riding destinations The Rock Store / Alice's / Marcus Dairy / Newcomb's Ranch where hundreds of bikers ride to on the weekend.
There were five couples in our group riding double and they need the lunch break, badly. Their wives or girlfreinds on back were road sick and some had to stop a couple of times. While the guys found their arms and shoulders in extreame pain from the heavy breaking into the tight turns which supporting their girlfriends leaning on them from behind. after our late lunch the couples would turn off on a straighter highway to the city of Fori and then back to the track, while the our main group stayed with the tour route to tackle another section of tight downhill roads before we came out on the A14 Autostrada and made a 200kph/120mph dash back to finish the ride at the track.
All the WDW2004 guided road Tours, both my DAY LONG TOUR and the shorter HALF DAY TOURS which included lunch or dinner, were all inclusive as part of your WDW2004 admission pass.cost.This also included up to four 1/2 hour sessions on the Misano GP Track with yhour personal bike, and test rides of all the new ducati production bikes on a smaller track.
THOUSANDS ARRIVE IN THE RED SNAKE,
Friday Day Five
Hundreds of would be mechanics mobbed the enormous Ducati Garage Challenge tent, organized by Ducati.com with Desmodromiclub of Rome, either to admire the splendid Specials or compete in mechanical timed trials. The Desmodromiclub arrived at the gates of WDW in a massive convoy of Ducatis from all over Italy, called "The Big Red Snake."
The afternoon also saw the factory contest, in which Ducati employees and managers tested their own skills in motorcycle assembly, the mind-boggling stunts of world famous stuntman Christian Pfeiffer and a suprising Ducati drag bike. The evening will close out with the musical stylings of the Ducati band followed by Kelly Joyce live in concert, in an homage to the music of the Seventies.
and Ruben get down to the real nitty gritty
So Claudio, why isn't the Ducati MotoGP bike a front runner this year, like last, we asked.? "We designed an all new chassis and engine this season which is much better then last year's bike. But we really didn't have much time to test the new bike's setup before the racing season began, and what threw everything off was the changes to smaller 16.5 inch tires and wheels. Last week we tested all day with Loris and Troy at LeMans and really got the bike dialed in where it should be. Troy matched the track lap record easily and said 'I wish I had this bike setup for the start of the season'. We expect to see much better results beginning at the next race."