SPORTING DAZE
by Christian D Smith


A few months ago my neighbor leaned nonchalantly across the fence and said, "Get your boots and helmet on and come over here". I decided against asking silly questions and complied, having heard him warming up the Le Mans Mk V a little earlier.

He had hinted at a ride on the Guzzi in earlier conversations and I thought, well, maybe now's the time. My partner had already been for a "squirt" on the back (while I was at work, mind you!) a few weeks prior and so, happy thoughts in mind I sauntered in to see what was up. Imagine my surprise, then, when he also started the Sport 1100 and indicated that I was to pilot it ("to cure me of something", he said!!).

After his careful explanation of the customised side-stand retraction manoeuvre, I managed to kick it to pieces in front of him (how embarrassing!) but finally we were on our way. He took off like a scalded cat up our street and I endeavored to follow, ever mindful of the nearly $20,000 worth of machinery underneath me!

What a rush!! Even though I was thoroughly unfamiliar with the bike (it's definitely not a machine you can just "jump on and ride"), kept missing shifts and stuffing up the corners (rusty, cautious - all of the above) it was still a mind-altering experience! This is a no-compromise, single-purpose sports motorcycle designed with two things in mind - going fast and having fun!

All too soon we were wheeling back into the neighbour's driveway and putting the bikes away. I asked what it was he wanted to "cure" me of. Apparently our previous conversations had let him to believe I was thinking of trading in my XS1100 (if it's ever ready for the road!) for a Sport 1100 to use as my main bike. He wanted to show me how unsuitable it would be in that role.

I agreed wholeheartedly, because I already appreciated that such was the case and had never harboured any illusions in that regard. If I could ever afford to put a Sport 1100 in the garage, it would be purely as a "toy" in the sense that I wouldn't really dream of loading it up to go touring, it's not a cruiser and it would probably be sheer hell to commute on. It only has one purpose - sheer sports.

If motorcycles were days of the week, the Moto Guzzi Sport 1100 would be "Sunday" for me (or whatever passes for Sunday when you're a shift-worker!) It's difficult to master, uncompromising and yet totally alluring. It is the bike you take out when you just want to ride for the sake of it, to rekindle the absolute thrill of essential motorcycling pleasure.

The very fact that I found it such a challenge to ride properly (and even its owner says it will be a long while before he's totally comfortable with it) made it all the more appealing, for whatever perverse reasons of human nature (maybe "Hagar the Biking Viking" could attempt to explain it!)

So, neighbor, have you cured me of my fantasies? Not bloody likely, mate - but thanks a million for the ride!!!

Christian Smith, Townsville - neighbor to a Moto Guzzi fanatic (Le Mans 1000 MKV and Sport 1100) and now also proud owner myself of an '83 850 Le Mans III (see "Strutharama" story).


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