Day 6 – Verona to Misano via Venice

Thursday 17th July

Today was the last day of our World Presidents Meeting tour and the main part of the day would be a trip to Venice. We were not far from Venice so it took us just over an hour along the motorway to arrive at a car-park just outside the city where we would catch the boat to the centre. We had all packed a “day bag” with suitable clothes as it was now too hot to walk around in riding gear, so once we had all changed and stowed the riding gear in the support van we headed to the boat.

A short boat ride later and we were in the middle of Venice and free to roam about. We took a few pictures as a group and then went our separate ways to explore Venice and walk around the city before heading back to the meeting point for a boat tour and lunch.

WPM in Venice

The boat tour took us around the main lagoon of Venice, giving us the history of the area as well as Venice. It’s interesting to see how many of the homes use boats just like cars, even having their own “driveway” mooring in their gardens!

Before long we were saying goodbye to Venice and were back at the bikes getting ready for the last ride down to Misano and our hotel for the next few days while we attend WDW2014. We were supposed to be going via Bologna and possibly a factory tour, but unfortunately time was against us and the coast road we were taking to Misano was notoriously bad for traffic, so our guides opted to push on instead.

The road to Misano was pretty dull but we had to laugh as we were approaching traffic as there was a large grey Audi that kept moving right over to the left, to the centre of the road, and it was causing some of the bikes to hang back to make sure the road was clear.

Spotting my chance, I cracked open the Diavel and it powered past the line of cars without problem and glance into the Audi as I went past to see a nice young lady in the seat … but no steering wheel! I tucked back into traffic in front of the Audi and checked my mirrors and noticed that the Audi was actually on a UK ’63 plate! That explained why he kept moving over as the driver was on the wrong side and couldn’t see the oncoming traffic! A brief chat on the bike-to-bike intercom with our last-man, who happened to be on a UK plate as well, and we gave the Audi a cheery wave and gunned it past the next line of lorries.

To our surprise, looking back the Audi had followed us and was doing pretty well at keep pace with us through the traffic! After a few more overtakes we realised he was sticking with us so from that point on our last man was helping the Audi to follow us on overtakes.

Eventually we had to turn off for a petrol stop and we waved the Audi past as he sped on with a lovely deep rumble that meant it must have been a top-of-the-line S8 or similar.

The last few miles to our hotel, just outside Misano at Gabicce Monte, were uneventful and we all arrived rather hot from the ride back. Fortunately the hotel had a pool so we opted for a quick dip before the Clubs welcome dinner for the evening.

Hotel pool!

The evening event was a huge dinner organised by the local Romagna clubs to celebrate another WDW, and included a fantastic bbq-style buffet with drinks and a massive DOC cake! It was another great chance to chat with other clubs, speak to clubs you already knew and share time with old friends. It really did make you feel welcome and that you are part of the larger DOC family.

DOC Cake!

Tomorrow we begin three days of WDW2014, which will include some Club/Presidential duties, but hopefully will be a great time at the track and the evening events. Finally we return back to the Factory at Bologna on Monday after WDW and head back home.

Distance today: 350 km

Last minute preparations

There’s less than a week to go before I head off to Vienna to join the World Presidents Meeting (WPM) and ultimately end up at WDW2014, and I’ve been making a list of all the things I need to do before I go. The last thing was to book a taxi to the airport for saturday morning, which I’ve just ticked off my list… but at £82 it’s more expensive to get to the airport than it is to fly to Vienna!

Although I will be given a loan bike, that didn’t stop me doing some bike prep over the weekend, as my friend Andy is also coming along to WDW but will be riding down. He’s picked up a lovely last-model ST4S with full luggage and a few more upgrades that will be ideal for the trip over to Italy. As he only picked the bike up on saturday, we spent sunday night in the garage prepping it for the long trip. This included wiring in a power cable for the sat-nav and fabricating a quick and cheap sat-nav mounting bracket from parts laying around. With this done we were looking at ways of improving wind-blast from the standard screen, but Andy has bought a touring screen to see if this helps before resorting to cutting up Ikea chopping boards or plastic buckets to fabricate something!

So over the next couple of nights I will be packing my suitcase, being careful of the luicrously low weight limits on budget airlines, and then repacking, repacking, panicing and repacking 🙂

WDW2014 – The Countdown Begins!

Now that it is July, WDW2014 is fast approaching so I thought that I would blog about the run up from the chairman’s point of view.

As some of you already know, each year Ducati put on a “World President’s Meeting” (WPM) which is a chance for all of the presidents of the official clubs around the world (over 250 clubs) to get together and share their experiences of participating in and running a Ducati club, and to help generate new ideas, all with the help of Ducati themselves.

The WPM usually lasts for 5 days and culminates in a big meeting with Ducati staff and presentations about how Ducati has done over the past year and also what is coming in the future. Those 5 days are spent riding on a tour with bikes provided by Ducati, taking in the scenery and culture and generally living the Ducati dream!

The first (and only!) WPM that I attended was in 2012 as this coincided with WDW2012 and it was too good an opportunity to miss as it would allow me to network with the other club presidents and get more of an insight into what other clubs did as well as to guage how good we, the DSC, are as a club, and then attend WDW at the end which I had wanted to do for many years but had never been able to. Suffice to say that I made some great friends on our little tour through Italy and the experience of WDW2012 was one that I promised myself I would definitely repeat as soon as I was able to.

Unfortunately the cost of WPM is prohibitive to allow me to attend every year (2013 was €900 excluding flights!) but I didn’t want to miss out on WDW2014 so I booked my place on WPM for this year even though it meant counting the pennies more than usual as it all comes out of my own pocket.

For this WPM we are starting in Vienna on Sat 12th July and will be travelling through Austria before heading over the alps and down into Italy to finally arrive at WDW the day before it starts, so for me this WDW adventure begins the weekend before.

The good thing about doing WPM is that I can fly over and presidents are allocated a bike to use for WPM, which also allows us use of them during WDW. On returning to the factory in Bologna on the Monday after WDW we then say our goodbyes and fly home from there. This saves me the extra days slog of riding halfway across Europe, but I also miss out on what could be a great adventure.

So keep watching the blogs as I will be updating it whenever possible to share the experience of both WPM and WDW!