Return To Italy:
The Three Amigos on Motorcycles
Last year, I went riding in Italy with my two amigos for the fifth time in seven years and wrote about it for Ultimate Motorcycling. That tale was one filled with the duality of how adversity affects friendships in ways you can’t predict.
This trip was void of any drama, and a rider’s dream. The immense difference in how things went last year versus this year begged the question—what makes for a good moto adventure?
If you go on multi-day rides, I’m sure you have a personalized checklist for why you decide to leave home for a two-wheeled journey with friends or solo. In my experience, based on riding on so many tours both here and overseas, that list is incredibly varied from rider to rider.
These expectations can unite or divide a group, elate or disappoint you based on how things go, and leave you either wanting more or desperate for the trip to end. Regardless, more times than not you’ll hear the word “adventure” mixed in to the narrative.
I’ve been spending one week per year on a motorcycle in Italy with the same two friends now for six out of the last eight years—only interrupted by babies being born or weddings. We are friends for life and have had our share of adversity, laughs, drama, perfection, good/bad weather, etc. All of these experiences have blended together to form a bond between us. Ask anyone who rides, when you find people you connect with through motorcycling it connects you in a special way only riders can understand.
The three of us are quite different in terms of our lives back home, where we live—Spain, Hong Kong, and California—our respective personalities, upbringings, and lifestyles. Those differences can divide a group, but in our case it has only united us more and made things that much more entertaining and unique.
If you read my article from last year you’ll remember that we put the A in adventure; it was the most adversity filled trip we’ve had as a group. What we learned about each other through all the misfortune we encountered—most of which was directly the result of some poor decision making and bad luck on my part—was that when faced with the unexpected on the road, the chemistry between us articulated a “no one gets left behind” mantra that empowered us to forge ahead, not place blame, and make the best of things. We ended that trip closer than ever.
This year, we set off for the Dolomites and six days of riding mountain passes in Northern Italy. We were all a bit apprehensive about the trip given what happened last year. Compounding our anticipatory anxiety was the weather forecast—rain the entire week!
As is usually the case when one builds up stress in advance of any event, it’s rarely as ominous. We had almost flawless weather, stellar motorcycles that carried us through the beauty and challenging roads without fail.
There were picturesque vistas and scenery of which words and photos don’t do justice, amazing food, comfortable lodging, too many laughs to count, and the kind of conversations about family, politics, aging, and fulfillment you can only have with friends you think of more like brothers. In short, there was no drama.
Whether or not it was an adventure depends on whom you ask.
On the last day of the trip, we pulled into Venice for our last night together and sat down for a beer. As we reminisced about the trip, reveling in how perfect everything was, one of my mates said he thought this would be one of our least memorable of the six we’d been on together. He also said last year was the most memorable.
To him, the adventure lies in overcoming adversity and carrying on, solving problems on the road, and triumphing over whatever obstacles lay in our path. This is what he remembers most about the trips, and it is also the element he believes has made us as close as we are.
My other mate, who had the misfortune of bearing the brunt of my stupidity last year but is so polite and respectful that he never once blamed me or showed the slightest bit of anger or resentment, sat more in the middle of what adventure meant to him. Not surprisingly, he was more than happy to have six days of riding without any hiccups, thought he did agree that the adversity bonds us and when we have the benefit of time to heal the wounds of whatever happened—we can spend countless hours mocking the one who erred. In this case, it was and had been me for over a year!
As for me, if we had perfect trips for six years in a row I’d be happy. The adventure for me is the roads, the riding, the challenging corners, the brilliant food, and the sights, sounds, and smells of a world I don’t inhabit every day.
You see, I’m the guy who likes my flights to be on time, my cars and bikes to not have flat tires, my rooms to have plenty of heat and air conditioning, and for things to generally go as smoothly as possible. I don’t like to camp, and I don’t like to be too hot or too cold. I don’t like bugs, I don’t like to wrench, and I have a GPS on my motorcycles and turn it on even if I’m going a mile away. I’m a creature of comfort and I take endless ribbing about it from my buddies.
The adventure is spending six days on the road with two friends I love, who I see for a week every year, and whom I know will be my friends for the rest of my life.