EuroLambretta, Italy – June 2017
On Saturday 20th May, 2017, I jumped on a plane in Sydney, bound for England. My sole purpose for making this trip was to attend the EuroLambretta rally in Adria, Italy to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Lambretta.
A long 24 (ish) hours later I arrived at Heathrow and then boarded a coach to Poole, Dorset. Another 5 hours later, after taking an extra long detour/route and what seemed an eternity, I eventually arrived in Poole to meet up with my parents where I’d be staying the next few days.
Before I’d left Sydney I’d organised for my scooter (a Serveta LI 150 Special) which was in storage in Poole to be transported to my mate’s place in Dorchester. I’d also ordered a Cyclone 5 speed gearbox to be delivered to my parent’s place so it was waiting for me. Over the next couple of days I caught up with family and organised some more parts for my scooter. Then I headed to Dorchester with my gearbox & other parts, as well as the tyres and inner tubes I’d brought in my suitcase from Australia. Martin very kindly leant me some space & his workshop for a couple of days so I could service her and install the 5 speed. Martin & Debbie also let me sleep there and looked after me with food and copious cups of tea which were greatly welcomed.
Sunday 28th May
One week after my arrival, just enough time to get over jetlag, rebuild my scooter and MOT her, I loaded her up with gear, then set off up the road to meet with some of the Modrapheniacs.
First stop Oakdale, then Rownhams, and then we rode on to Portsmouth, where we’d be catching the ferry to Caen, France. Our group consisted of 7 scooters being ridden, with a back up van following us, and a back up scooter inside – just in case.
The ferry crossing was fantastic. The food was really good. The cabins were great, functional for the 4 of us sharing, even though tiny. Being a night crossing, and knowing we had a lot of miles to cover over the next few days, I was glad to get my head down.
Monday 29th May
We arrived in France early. Thankfully disembarkation was really well organised and before we knew it we were leaving Caen and heading east across France. We diverted on the way to pick up our 8th rider who’d been there on a week’s holiday and had broken down. Threw his scooter in the van, then off we went again.
Had a couple of minor niggling issues across France (not me) but fortunately nothing bad enough to stop us – just a minor fuel leak. We also had to contend with a fuel driver strike so all the petrol stations were shut. This caused us massive problems as we had to gamble on last minute route changes through country towns in search of fuel. There were lots of angry French people too as they also wanted fuel! It was a bit scary and stressful but we managed to make it to Appoigny, France for the night.
On arrival, I fixed up the scooter, which we’d picked up that had broken down – put a new stator plate in, so he could ride it the next day. (He rode it all the way to Italy and back again). Martin fixed the scooter with the fuel leak issue. Then we locked them all up for the night.
Approx. 400km ridden
Tuesday 30th May
A fairly uneventful day, only having to deal with a bit of rain in the morning and then getting delayed for an hour due to a fire in a tunnel (where some took an opportunity to do some sun bathing).
No break downs fortunately and we had come out of the fuel strike zone now so were back on track with the planned route. There were some amazing views heading towards the Mont Blanc tunnel. All the roads up through the mountains were elevated on stilts, with no safety fences. If someone had come off, there was a couple of thousand feet before you hit the ground. The villages looked like little models in the distance. We finished up at Sallanches, about 20 miles before the Mont Blanc tunnel. I was looking forward to getting into Italy the next day and having a decent cup of coffee.
Approx. 450kms ridden
Wednesday 31st May
Riding through the Mont Blanc tunnel was terrifying. About 15 km (10 miles) of highway tunnel linking France to Italy, with no air thanks to the altitude! My scooter wouldn’t go above 45 kph at full throttle and I had a French articulated lorry up my arse. Even at the start of the tunnel, getting in was a nightmare. The woman on the tollgate wouldn’t let us go through as a group. We were trying to pay the tolls by group to avoid us all having to stop but she wasn’t having any of it. So we all stopped one at a time to pay our tolls, having to take our helmets and gloves off and get our paperwork out in the process. This was becoming common practice throughout our whole trip. To make matters worse, the obnoxious French lady in charge of the toll booth was fanning her face looking objectionably at the 2 stoke smoke, then complained about the smell, while stubbing out yet another Gitane in her overflowing ashtray.
As we came out of the tunnel we regrouped, had a short break, then set off again, heading down hill. We found some amazing petrol in Italy, in two country petrol stations – 110 octane! Being on the smallest scooter I didn’t hesitate to fill my scooter up with this fuel to try to improve her performance.
By the afternoon we had made it to Milan, fortunately with no events or issues. We headed straight to check out the Casa Lambretta museum. There we spent a couple of hours browsing the numerous scooters and history of Lambretta and took plenty of photos.
Also I bumped into an old friend, Steve Salvin, who was with his son, Luke. They were also on their way to Adria, having ridden all the way from England on their Vega’s (huge respect!). I caught up with Sal and he gave us some tips for a nice hotel and restaurants nearby, as we were staying in Milan for the night.
Approx 270km ridden.
Thursday 1st June
The next morning, before leaving Milan, we headed over to look for the old Lambretta factory. We found the roundabout in Lambrate first, with the Series 2 monument to signify we were in the right place. We took turns battling the seriously thorny bushes around the monument to climb on and have our picture taken, much to the fury of the Italian drivers going around the busy roundabout.
Then we located the factory nearby, where I managed to find some fence that I could modify so we could ride our scooters around inside and get some more photos.
Then we left Milan and headed on to arrive at our final destination – Adria, on the east coast of Italy, not far from Venice. A couple of us (not me) were nursing damaged exhausts (thankfully there would be some welders at the rally). We found the site for the rally, registered and found somewhere to park our van, scooters and tents. It was hot, dry and dusty – it was time for showers, food, and beer. This was a challenge though, as there were around 2000 tickets sold and only 2 blocks of 4 toilets and showers on the site. We spent the evening having a laugh and watching the Italians arrive with their scooters on trailers.
Approx. 270km ridden
Friday & Saturday 2nd – 3rd June
For me, having come such a long way I was very disappointed with what was on offer at the rally. The dealers were very difficult to find and a lot of people didn’t know where they were. The organisers refused to put any signs up in other languages apart from Italian, even when asked. Facilities (toilets and showers) were terrible, they were clean but nowhere near enough for the amount of people attending.
The place was absolutely packed by Saturday. There was one ride out, no other events that we could tell. No program. We ended up skipping the ride out and stayed behind, taking advantage of the easier access to beer.
On the positive side, due to the dealers being difficult to find, when I found them it wasn’t too crowded so I was able to spend a long time chatting & learning about the latest developments with parts about to be released by Rimini Lambretta Centre, which looked amazing.
It was also good meeting up with international friends from USA and other far off lands.
The highlight was supposed to be the new Lambretta being released during the presentation dinner. The only people who seemed to be interested were the people who were outside having a smoke nearby. The presentation dinner itself was the farcical icing on the cake. We waited hours for our meals, then didn’t get what we ordered. There was wine but no bottle openers. By midnight we still hadn’t got our desert so we left. We had to get up the next morning to pack up and leave. We saw our deserts for sale at breakfast the next morning.
Sunday 4th June
After breakfast, we packed up our tents and gear and left Adria to start our long journey back to England. We did 400 miles that day, landing at St Jean de Maurienne in France for the night. It wasn’t an easy ride, leaving from a 36 degree dust bowl, travelling up snowy alps. It was incredibly hard going over the alps where low oxygen slowed us down, my top speed went from 60+ mph down to under 40 mph.
This journey was also not without incident – there was one terrifying moment as our lead rider (Jack) had a blow out. He fortunately managed to hold it upright so only needed to change a wheel & his underwear.
I slept well that night.
Over the next couple of days, we hammered it across Europe, in a ‘splash & dash’ covering as many miles as we could each day. We fought a terrible storm as we got closer to the coast, fighting torrential rain and gale force winds. By Wednesday morning, 7th June, we made it to the ferry just in time for our return crossing. The ferry itself was absolutely packed with people going back to England after celebrating the D-Day landings, so we were treated with the sight of loads of historic military vehicles being driven onboard. Again the ferry crossing was great. This time it was a good chance to relax, have a good meal after all our riding and listen to the dreadful entertainment on the way back to Portsmouth.
We landed in Portsmouth early evening /dusk, and all rode back to Poole, leaving the van trailing a long distance behind us as it needed to take a detour on the way home. Unfortunately when I arrived home I realised I’d left my house keys in the van!
I spent the last couple of days in England recovering and catching up with old friends, before packing for my flight back home to Sydney on Saturday morning.
Even though the rally itself was disappointing, I was still glad I went. It didn’t detract from the fun I had with the great bunch of people I rode across Europe and back with. Plus I got a preview of some of the latest parts about to be released by Rimini Lambretta Centre.
The reason for this write-up, several months later, is due to having just received this trophy in the mail for ‘furthest travelled’. I really appreciate the Lambretta Club of Australia committee sending this to me. I don’t do these rides for trophies, but it is nice every now and then to be acknowledged for the effort. And this one was such a huge physical and financial effort!