Tra le alture del Parco Nazionale dei Monti Sibillini vi è un luogo magico. Un luogo capace di regalare, tra i mesi di maggio e luglio, uno spettacolo unico nel suo genere: la fioritura dell’altopiano di Castelluccio di Norcia.
In life, sometimes, we take bad habits; vices that consolidates with the passage of time, to which we are particularly attached and do not want to leave. One of them is the road trip that I usually do in June, on the saddle of my sidecar “El Andador”, with my two women: the ever-present wife, with whom we celebrate an important anniversary, and Princess Luna, my white little boxer, both lovers of the Harley rumble. This time we depart for Slovenija, a one-week short trip to discover this country, which is rich of history and warlike past.
New York, in a different way! Transforming New York into an uncommon travel destination: this is the goal!
You know the story? we have it in part traced. The central character is a 40 year old man, Fausto, who decides to test the quality of its “steel” and retrace the footsteps of Don Quixote, planning an extraordinary trip of over 3000 km chasing suggestions, myths and legends.
This travel experience was born from a “random assemblage” of six people united by a single passion: travelling by motorbike. So those six sinister characters (Fausto, Lucia, Marco, Serena, Marco and Vincenzo) goes to Los Angeles to enjoy a delicious French Dipped Sandwich from Philippe the Original, waiting to reach the Baja California (i.e. the Mexican California).
The Baja California Peninsula is a long strip of arid land that is colorated along the coast and around the river beds that are formed during the rainy season, bounded by the waters of the Sea of Cortez on the east side and by the Pacific Ocean on the west coast.
The Los Cabos region
Our adventure starts from the southern end of the Baja California, from the Los Cabos region – aka the “End of the Earth” being the last territory of the peninsula – which presents a curious duality:
- on the one hand the quiet San Jose del Cabo, that maintains the look and feeling of an authentic Mexican pueblo, with its central square, its narrow cobbled streets, its colonial buildings;
- on the other hand Cabo San Lucas, on the opposite side of the “Corridor”, famous for deep sea fishing and for many bars that “pumping” blaring music.
It is with Stefano, an excellent local guide, that we visit one of the most popular places: El Arco, also called “Land’s end“, a big arch of rock that forms a sort of window on the ocean, along with cliffs and rocks molded from the fury of the winds and the sea force, which are home to a colony of friendly sea lions.
The next day we start our journey to El Triunfo, the old mining town, where stands the curious chimney of Gustav Eiffell, the artist who built the Parisian tower.
Baja California – Start motorbike tour
Finally the long awaited moment comes: the departure of the actual tour, the one full of such kind of emotions that only the two wheels can offer. A HD Electra Glide, a HD Street Glide, a HD Heritage Softail and an Indian Chieftain will be the our travel companions for the next days. Two cute characters of EagleRider Motorcycle Tours provide support to us, Jeff and Sean, who seem escaped from the pen of a cartoonist but that show a professional guide and a faithful driver of the mean of support.
We drive along the Mexican Federal Highway 1 from south to north, run into the town of Todos Santos, La Paz, Baja Magdalena, Loreto, Sant’Ignacio, Guerrero Negro, Catavina, San Quintin and (about 1.300 mi).
The scenery is simply magnificent: bright colors and intense, amazing and intoxicating scents, pure white beaches, wilderness and arid where cardon – cactus by the powerful arms that rise up to 18 meters – and cirios – a kind of inverted carrot – are the undisputed protagonists of the Cataviña’s desert, a spectacle of nature. It seems to be entered into a western movie screenplay: desert, cactus, the sky always clear of a dazzling blue.
But the Baja California also has its own history, represented especially by the remains of the ancient missions of the Franciscan and Jesuit monks – who reached the Baja California in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth century with the aim to evangelize native peoples – including those of San José del Cabo, El Triunfo, Todos Santo, Sant’Ignacio and Loreto.
We are so full of enthusiasm also thanks to a special meeting, unique and unrepeatable: the sighting of gray whales. Aboard a small boat we incredulously admire the terrific spectacle offered by the splashing water games of big cetaceans along with their offspring. It’s in these very warm and welcoming waters that gray whales migrate from the Arctic every year from January to March, to breed and care for their puppies.
Just outside Ensenada the territory offers a completely different landscape, following the route of the wine that is produced here and that is exported around the world.
Returning to the United States
It’s time to enter into the United States and enjoying the show offered by the landscaped path along the coast, where the windsurfers show their jumps and stunts on the waves. We reach San Diego, a natural and cultural oasis, the prototype of the Southern California town that evokes the timeless image of the famous Beach Boys song, “California Girls“: sun, sand and palm trees! The climate is ideal, sunny and temperate all year round.
The last stop is Los Angeles, departure city of our adventure, where we leave our motorbikes. Still a challenge with food awaits us: the famous burritos Manuel’s Original El Tepeyac Cafe, an explosive Mexican dishes. And also this time the man won! It’s time to return, while our eyes still keep the images offered by the whales, by the cardon, by the cirios, by the desert wind, by the vast beaches that overlook the ocean, by the Mexicans with their peaceful way of life.
Not the usual motorbike ride, to which we are accustomed, and not even the journey that we expected to do… aware that to make this adventure really special it’s been the group! Once again we come back rich of new and beautiful feelings that make us live and make us grow. Adios Baja California!
Marco of America in Moto: thank you so much for arranging an amazing trip for me.
Awards and Prizes
- was published on the LowRide Lifestyle Magazine (read the article).
- got the “Best Travel Diary Awards of Travel365“.
Sidecar, what passion! The craze for motorcycle trips, the love I have for my dog (Princess Luna) and the madness I share with my sweetheart (Lucia) led me to modify my motorcycle, a bold and cheerful Harley Davidson Street Glide, in a sidecar in order to enjoy the emotions I feel when I travel by motorcycle in the company of what I love the most, including the four-legged friend.
Yes, you read correctly, I created a monster with three wheels. That sounds childlike, senseless and not consonant with the maturity of a (now) over forty years old. But I strongly wanted! The project has proved to be a bit complex but finally I managed to make a wonderful and legally running vehicle.
In the beginning, I did not consider any difficulties I might have in driving it but, at the delivery of the modified motorcycle, all my fears, hidden in the deep recesses of my mind, have suddenly materialized. I said: “a lot of motorcyclists have driven a sidecar before you, and I see no reason why you should not be able”.
Sidecar, what passion – Realizing a dream
Here comes the long-awaited moment of the delivery. In an open area free of traffic, determined as ever, I saddle up my iron horse, and now I’m in front of a new sensations; a question echoes in my mind, but how can I turn it? With a two-wheels iron I am used to steer bending the motorcycle without employing a minimum of effort; with the new vehicle I must rely on the handlebars. I can do it. I put in motion and go but did not imagine to put force, so much force, to curve.
Then that strange feeling of putting your feet on the ground… Andrea, the friend who helped me to create the “beast”, comes up to me yelling, “you must feel comfortable, the sidecar stands alone, there is no need to stabilize it with your feet.” I pluck up courage, metabolize those words and restart. The excitement comes over me and the fun is getting bigger.
On the streets of Bolzano
I am ready to test myself on the asphalt. So with Christian, the other friend owner of another magnificent sidecar, we go through the streets of the center of Bolzano under incredulous eyes. With our sidecars we offer a unique spectacle; on the other hand seeing two sidecar speeding between cars is a very pleasant and unusual performance.
The journey home
This is the so long waited moment: the return to Rome. I start descending the italic boot, accompanied by the faithful wife driving the car and with our Princess, unaware of what future reserves (travelling by motorcycle). The weather is not favorable; the rain becomes more and more dense, making asphalt more slippery. In some ways it seems to drive a boat; I understand, however, that driving a sidecar in these weather conditions is safer compared to a two-wheeler.
I come nicely wrapped by my thoughts and I pay attention to my driving technique. There is no problem if I drive slowly but if I drive faster steering becomes really challenging. Even braking must not be abrupt, otherwise the vehicle tends excessively to the left and the countersteering must be stronger. The sidecar is a motorbike for strolling and admiring the spectacle that surrounds us. I conclude my journey with the best expectations, happy to have completed a long-awaited project. Have a nice road to all.
Some photo shoots
New England Fall Foliage tour. If I were to give a title to our last trip, I would have no doubts about the choice: “Live free or die“; this is the slogan of New Hampshire, one of the six New England States, region located in the northeastern part of the U.S.A.
This is the sensation an adventure in motorbike, in particular, the one we experienced in the ten days spent admiring the color explosion of the leaves of the deciduous trees, the spectacular autumnal phenomenon of the foliage.
New England Fall Foliage tour – Our itinerary
After a short stay in Boston, to explore the historical roots the birth of the United States of America, withdrawn the red Harley Davidson Electra Glide in perfect harmony with the colors of autumn. We have traveled the northern coast of Massachusetts, crossed the New Hampshire up to fishing’s village of Bar Harbor, Maine.
It is a route that leads to the mysteries of the Salem’s witches, to visit the narrow cobbled streets of Portland, to the discovery of the fantastic lighthouse in Cape Elizabeth and to climbing of Acadia National Park .
In addition to the spectacle of nature, this time of the year offers the possibility to enjoy the Halloween’s celebrations. It’s a sight see the houses and the gardens decorated with giant pumpkins, skeletons and witches. We were attracted to a garden with balloons in the form of motorcycles and zombie biker and by a young boy with the vampire teeth walking with a cat with bat wings.
Leaving the coast, it’s time to explore the White Mountains that have the white in the name but in autumn they wear bright shades, from red to yellow, who shining under a crown of rocky peaks. Not to be missed is the Kancamagus Highway, a mountain road that winds between exciting scenes between Lincoln and Conway.
Last stop in Lake Winnipesaukee (from Indian language: smile of great spirit) the largest lake in New Hampshire and we are back in Boston. Another around town before returning to the routine of every day to enjoy the American style, while admiring the boys who dancer the breakdance in the street.
We return home with a new luggage. It is not necessary seaman on board, because it is only full of sensations that the New England has made us live and that no one will never take away from us.
Marco of America in Moto: thank you so much for arranging an amazing trip for me.
Florida and Daytona Bike Week. For me “birthday” is synonymous with “travel”. The awareness of time passing and the latent thoughts about taking stock of my life no longer allow me to dream of white beaches and crystal clear waters. I am looking for new emotions for proving myself to be still young!
So it was born the idea to visit Florida in motorbike together with my better half. The first trip in the States on a Harley-Davidson, for living as bikers. “Welcome bikers!” This is the expression that accompanies us on our journey and that bonds us to the many bikers of different ages and nationalities that we meet along our path.
Florida and Daytona Bike Week – Miami and The Beachs
With a very little luggage, our tour starts from Miami, specifically from Miami Beach.
The first surprise is represented by the climate; we hoped to find warm temperatures suitable for motorcycle trips, that would allow us to fully enjoy the emotions conveyed by the “B twin”, but we found cold rain and wind which forced us to “rob” the HD dealerships looking for winter clothing.
Miami Beach consists of a long narrow strip of land that stretches from the Bay of Biscayne and the Atlantic Ocean. Extensive beaches with fine sand, palm trees and wide sidewalks undisputed reign of skaters and skateboarders.
The main attraction is South Beach, where you find the largest concentration of the Art Deco stylish buildings and the famous Ocean Drive, that teems with life both day and night; here they were filmed many scenes of the television series Miami Vice, popular in the 80s.
With a bus we crossed the MacArthur Causeway bridge towards Downtown for reaching the mainland, to discover the two fascinating and rich of history neighborhoods: Little Haiti and Little Havana, testimonies of the Caribbean and Latin American communities.
It seems to be in Cuba: friendly people, music, impromptu performances along the way, everything is moving to rhythm of music.
Bayside Marketplace is the kingdom of shopping, full of crowded pubs where you can eat and drink cocktails or fruit smoothies.
Key West direction
The big day arrives, the long awaited day when our adventure starts; it’s time to know the “iron” that will make us discovering Florida: a Harley Davidson Electra Glide, glossy black … a show!
We move to Key West, delightful town at the end of the Florida Keys, the islands of Florida that are lost in the Caribbean sea, the southernmost point of the United States. To reach the city there is a unique and beautiful panoramic road, the Overseas Highway; 261 km long, linking the islands with over 40 bridges.
The first stop is traumatic, the weather conditions are prohibitive: wind and driving rain. The wind is so strong as to move the motorbike from side to side of the road, forcing me to balance with the body the constant changes of direction to keep the bike upright. The rain makes the asphalt so slippery that I decide to stop using the brakes in order to avoid involuntary blocks of the tires, that would let us to know the road surface! The wind effect is very strong; I’m driving a windsurfing!
After about five hours we are finally sailed to Key West; we are destroyed and completely soaked but still “safe and sound” (it has to be said and not take it for granted!).
Parked the “fide horse”, the clouds thin out and the wind dies down, leaving the scene to the long awaited show: the Key West’s sunset. Here every day at sunset, everything and everyone stops to admire it.
To repay the sufferings of the trip, the Key West nightlife helps us. Here the Cuban influence is strong, as we are closer to Cuba than to Miami. The streets are a succession of very particular local shops; people are cheerful, they dance in the street and parade beautiful Harley Davidson; and, finally, the weather is hot. We reward us with a delicious Key Lime Pie, the typical dessert of Key West. It seems to experience the atmosphere of the Ernest Hemingway’s novels, who lived right here.
Everglades: Florida’s tropical forest
As scheduled, the next day we head to the Everglades National Park, a marshy area infested with crocodiles and alligators, trying to recover the scheduled stops that we could not do due to bad weather.
It does not even seem to walk on same road: the landscape has completely changed, the beaches viewed the day before are unrecognizable. It’s amazing how scenarios can change in such a short period.
The day before the sea was stormy so to flood the road and the water was colored of a disturbing leaden. Now we cross the paradise, pampered by a warm sun and cheered by the sight of a calm and clear sea. A dream, our dream: crossing breathtaking landscapes with the warm wind in your face and the unmistakable sound of a Harley Davidson. At Everglades we pause for a short trek in search of alligators and crocodiles, anhinga (a rare American bird, black, with long articulated neck and a razor-sharp beak), herons (typical plants of this area) and beautiful colors landscape.
It’s amazing to see how many alligators populate this area. Road signs warn you of the danger as they are everywhere, so to fill up the ditches along the road. There is also the risk to run into panthers, but fortunately we have not encountered any of them! Florida City, Fort Myers and Sarasota, our adventure continues. We drive along the east coast, alternating rain and sun but with the freedom that only the two wheels can offer.
Orlando, the city of fun
We arrive in Orlando at about noon of the eighth day, and now we dive into the Magic Kingdom, one of the four Disney World Parks, the first one to be built. An afternoon spent amongst carousels and a lot of shows and fireworks for a stunning finish. It seems to be children again.
Daytona Bike Week
Loaded of childlike ingenuity, we depart for Daytona to experience the famous motorbike event Daytona Bike Week, going from Donald Duck to folklore bikers world.
We are not yet arrived in the city that already it feels everywhere the roar of two wheels … we’re really in the U.S.A., other than European standards that although enable us to respect the environment and to travel protected, they deprive us of the taste of riding.
There are no helmets, or only a viking helmet at most! And the mufflers rumbling like old movies. Although it is not so hot, the girls show off a sexy clothing and men wear leather vest adorned with coats of arms and commemorative pins. There are people with snakes and others with monkeys, just as we can do with dogs. Everywhere is music, dancing, drinking, buying accessories to change its motorbike… is just amazing.
We dive into this wonderful world too, buying clothing and accessories, parading with the bike through the streets of the city center allowed only to bikers, making friends with odd men of all ages and nations, and the cops that make us try their Harley.
Two days watching young girls drive strange motorcycle, old ladies with big motorcycles, men wearing vests tell their story of bikers, very special sidecar, wheel to wheel challenges, country shows and sexy striptease… then sometime you take your bike and move to other areas with more parties.
Everywhere is rumble, color and friendship, because motorbikers are a big family. There is no theft, there is no violence; so a banner at the entrance of the city: “You are welcome bikers”. I’d never say that a rally could convey peace of mind, spirit of friendship, inner peace, happiness…
I cannot describe in few word as we felt in those two days. Eventually, we leave the bikes in Orlando and we reach Miami on board a small plane to come back to Italy. Flying over the Florida, we relive the joy of this holiday, we retrace the road traveled in freedom.
Our dream has truly realized, our first adventure in the U.S. of America with a Harley Davidson, the first of a long series.
P.S. Happy birthday: the vest with the coat of arms of the gathering will help you remember this birthday. You are welcome biker! See you on the road!