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  • Foto van schrijverShana Hepping

An era coming to an end: the demise of the Guzzi

With a bottle of sangria we stood in the dark, talking to a garbage container in the middle of Zaragoza. We were speaking our last words to the Guzzi. Or, that what remained of the Guzzi, because the largest part of him would find its last resting place among Spanish scraps in Sort. The Guzzi was an Italian motorcycle, one with character. We had a love-hate relationship.

The first kilometers of this journey, long ago in augustus, were already problematic. With the German border in sight, gasoline started flowing out of the carburettors. Having emotionally overcome the delay in our departure, I learned to disassemble, clean and tune carbs. But it didn't stay with only this problem. New problems emerged: leakages, breaking parts and disfunctional brakes. Was this the Italian character? Luckily, there was nothing I couldn't fix.


Not everything was broken or bad. Despite its respectable age, it always ran smoothly. Starting the bike was like poking a lion: it came to live with a mighty roar. We cruised 7 countries, rode 5000 kilometers, in only 6 months together. We visited his birth city, Mandello del Lario. There, locals called out words of praise. 'Complimenti per cavalcar un Moto Guzzi', said an old lady while squeezing my arm. Congratulations on riding a Guzzi. Even outside of Italy, it was a motorcycle that turned heads.

It went wrong in the Pyrenees, in the worst possible location. We were riding on Camí sense Nom, some 1100 meter above sea level. On this road without name, I thought I was gliding through the landscape. We had just changed the oil and I was excited for the riding days ahead: following the Pyrenees from east to west, or Route 260. Coming out of a turn, I saw the whole road was covered in gravel that I couldn't evade. In a fatal attempt to save myself, I squeezed the front brake. The motor started gliding. Moments after I was right on the street with my sunglasses diagonally in my helmet.


I might have mumbled a curse word and got up. The bike had turned 180 degrees and laid a meter before me. It didn't look good. Felix ran to it, I limped, we pulled it upright and assessed the damage. The tank had a huge dent, the steering wheel turned awkwardly far, the glass of the headlight had shattered and the right direction indicator was broken off. This was bad.

We waited five and a half hour for help, half of which I was calling with road assisance. Relief came in the shape of a huge truck that brought the guzzi and me back to that morning's starting point: Sort.

The Guzzi was a real motorcycle with a temper. And I pushed it to its limits. From high speed in the Netherlands, when the dashboard started trembling frightfully, to hairpin curves in Switzerland and even off-road riding in the Pyrenees: he never failed me. But in the end, the Guzzi was not the right bike for my adventures. Finding a new motorcycle isn't the problem, the bureaucracy of insurances makes it hard. Buying a vehicle in another EU country, is not an easy task. However, with or without motor, we'll bike!


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