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!


Day 0 – Home to Bologna via Stansted

Today started very early, although to be more correct it was the lack of sleep for me which was the worst bit!
Having not packed until the night before, I didn’t get to bed until gone midnight, only to be woken at 2am by some very loud thunder. I managed to get back to sleep but was up again at just after 3am with our 7 month old son for some more of his bottle and a cuddle before getting back to bed.
The alarm went off at 4.45am so I was up rather bleary eyed to get dressed. Downstairs I found Rob from the UKMOC already waiting even though I hadn’t heard him arrive, so we stowed his bike (a Monster no less!) in my garage and waited for our lift to Stansted to arrive.
My friend Andy had volunteered to drive us to Stansted as it is only a 20 minute drive to the airport, and he arrived bang on time at 5.15am so we piled into his car and did the short trip. Both myself and Rob felt that we had forgotten something but couldn’t think what it would be so chalked it up to nervous anticipation!
We arrived at the airport in no time and after a quick shuffle of clothing from suitcase to hand luggage to meet the paltry 15kg limit, we were through check-in and heading for security. I was carrying my helmet as hand luggage and it went through security without any problems.
Once through security we had to wait for our gate to be announced so we grabbed a coffee and pastry and sat down. At 6.30 the flight was called to the gate but the gate was a good trek away and the gate closed at 6.45! We hurried to the gate and showed our boarding passes then on to the plane.
Nobody batted an eyelid about both mine and Rob’s helmet bags being taken onboard as hand luggage even though they were oversized, but seeing some of the bags people were taking onboard we were fairly conservative!
The flight was uneventful except for bumping in to Bob from the LA Ducati Club on the flight, and as it turned out we were staying in the same hotel!
Once through passport control at Bologna, we recharged with a real Italian coffee before getting the 54 bus from right outside the airport to right outside the Botel, which is across the street from the Ducati factory, all for just €1.50 – it beats walking any day!
While checking in at the hotel we met Vibeche from one of the Ducati clubs in Norway, so our party was now four. As our rooms were not yet ready we strolled to a bar up the road for lunch and a drink. On the way back we walked past the factory to visit the Ducati shop.
Heading past the factory, we spotted a figure leaning out of the window on the phone, then having a crafty cigarette. We realised it was none other than Gabriele Del Torchio himself! We waved and he waved back, then did a comedy “you spotted me having a crafty cigarette so I’ll hide it behind my back and wave” routine. Legend!
We had a mooch round the Ducati shop then headed back to the hotel where our rooms were ready. We agreed to go onto Central Borgo for dinner and headed off to our rooms to unpack and freshen up.
At 5pm we met back in the lobby and got a taxi into the main square in Bologna. We had a wander around before finally choosing a café on the square.
The weather had been hot all day, so sitting in the last of the evening sun in the square with a beer and fresh pizza made the early start all seem worthwhile.
We got the bus back, again very cheap at just €1.50 and it was tempting to join some of the other presidents at the restaurant next to the hotel, but I promised myself an early night but I’ve just sat down in my room to type this and noticed that the Sweden vs England match is on…

WDW2012 – The Chairman’s Adventure

So in the interest of kicking things off on this nifty new piece of blogging software that I’ve just installed, I thought it would be good if I added some words about the upcoming WDW2012 and what it means for me, your Chairman.

My WDW will actually start a lot earlier, Saturday 16th June in fact, as I will be taking part in my first ever World Presidents Meeting, or WPM for short! This is the annual meeting of Club Presidents from around the world who are invited by Ducati to go and get brainwashed educated on what’s going on at Ducati.

But wait! I thought you said you were the Chairman? I hear you cry! Well, yes, I am strictly speaking the Chairman but as the MT doesn’t actually have a President other than our Honorary President of Carl Fogarty (you might of heard of him!) then I’m the next best thing so I get to go instead.

So what will we be doing this year? There is a whole week of stuff going on, and you can see the itinerary at the WPM website. Yes, I’m doing the full week and yes, it comes out of my pocket as it’s a jolly rather than a Club necessity. It is bloody good value though!

I will be heading out on a cheapy flight from Stansted airport, about 20 minutes up the road from me, next Friday and staying overnight up the road from the Factory in Bologna as we meet at the Factory at 9am on Saturday and the flight wouldn’t get there early enough. Luckily I’m no stranger to Bologna, the airport or the Factory, having organised the Club’s Factory Trips for the last 6 or 7 years now – I’ve lost count!

So I will be blogging pretty irregularly over the next couple of weeks so you can keep tabs on where I am and what I’m up to!