Italian Manager Fausto Gresini – of the Gresini Racing MotoGP team – is currently being monitored closely in the hospital as his health deteriorates after his positive COVID-19 test.
Gresini fell victim to COVID-19 when he had his test come back positive right before christmas. Shortly after, he was moved from the Santa Maria della Scaletta hospital in Imola Italy to a ward located at the Maggiore Carlo Alberto Pizzardi hospital in Bologna for closer evaluation as that ward has a specific COVID-19 specialist wing.
Gresini Racing’s official press team put out a statement regarding the issue:
“Following the COVID-19 positivity discovered shortly before the Christmas break, Fausto Gresini – after an initial isolation period at home – was hospitalized on 27 December at the Santa Maria della Scaletta hospital in Imola.
“The Gresini Racing team principal was transported today to the Maggiore Carlo Alberto Pizzardi hospital in Bologna, in a more specialized ward for COVID-19 care.
“Fausto’s conditions are constantly monitored. Further updates will follow.”
We pray that Gresini’s condition improves in the short-term. The 2021 MotoGP season will be the last season that the Gresini Racing Team will be working closely with the Aprilia works team on development; moving forwards the team will function independently meaning that there will be big changes around the paddock, and Gresini’s seasoned guidance will be needed to navigate the changes.
You really couldn’t tell that it was the first day of fall in Palm Bay, Florida. The forecast called for lots of sun and 90 degrees. With a beautiful sunrise to my right, I headed north on I-95 toward Daytona Beach on the Harley-Davidson Road King, planning to meet my old friend Bob in Robbinsville, North Carolina the next day. He was riding down from Ohio on his TriGlide. After that it would be Smokey Mountain touring for a few days.
Leaving I-95 I exited on West Granada Boulevard and headed east to Florida State Road A1A. I was looking forward to a beautiful cruise along the ocean and was not disappointed. Between Ormond Beach and Flagler Beach I stopped at an interesting historical site — a coastal watchtower from WWII used by spotters to monitor German U-boat activity and watch for enemy aircraft. More than 15,000 of these towers were erected along the U.S. coastline after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
I continued to cruise north on coastal FSR A1A until I rolled into St. Augustine over the Bridge of Lions. The historic lighthouse in the USA’s oldest town came into view and made for a great place to take five. Still a working lighthouse with a museum on the grounds, many structures like it in St. Augustine are reputed to be haunted, but the only spirit I was interested in was a cold beer at the end of my riding day. So, I crossed back over the Tolomato River as soon as I could to pick up coastal FSR A1A and rode on to Jacksonville.
Heading west on Beach Blvd., I left the ocean behind and grabbed the I-295 Loop to avoid downtown Jacksonville. Exiting on U.S. Route 23 I aimed for Callahan, Florida, a much needed break and a fuel stop, looking forward to passing through small towns and riding through the countryside.
Crossing the Florida/Georgia border, soon I was in Folkston, and more than one sign reminded me that this is the gateway to the Okefenokee Swamp. After a bite I continued north on Route 23 through Waycross, cruising country roads past classic old farms, red dirt side roads, cotton fields, old barns and even Vidalia, home of those famous sweet onions! Holding to Georgia Route 15 brought me to Sandersville, Georgia, and a Quality Inn on the main drag.
Early on Sunday morning I kept rolling on 15 through Georgia. Sparta is a classic old southern town founded in 1795 that is full of historic buildings and sits in the heart of old plantation country. I stopped at Monument Square, where the courthouse dates back to 1882, then pushing on and ever northward I rolled through the Oconee National Forest and skirted around Athens on the U.S. Route 441 Loop.
Finishing off Georgia on Route 23, soon I had the North Carolina Mountains on the horizon. It was an easy decision to drift up to Cherokee before riding west to Robbinsville to meet my friend Bob. Early Sunday evening I pulled into the Phillips Motel, our home base for the next three nights, a clean and comfortable spot with covered parking for our machines.
Up before the sun, we took a warm-up ride south of town before leaving on our much-anticipated ride to Maggie Valley and the Wheels Through Time Museum. I was scouting photo ops and enjoying the cool mountain air when a big bird flying way too low came out of the trees. Just before I ducked, I saw the owl’s two large eyes, a beak and lots of feathers, and heard him bump my windshield. Luckily for both us it wasn’t a solid hit, and we both went on our way….
After breakfast at Southern Gals Restaurant, we were off to Maggie Valley, riding North Carolina Highway 143 and hooking up with U.S. Route 19. The beautiful mountain roads led us to Dale Walksler’s Wheels Through Time Museum. If you dig vintage bikes and automobiles this place is a must see. The friendly staff has a wealth of information that they are more than happy to share. The museum staff steered us to Pop’s Place for lunch. My Road King was gaining miles, I was gaining weight!
Our Tuesday plan was to ride the Cherohala Skyway Loop. Rain suits and wet roads were the theme that morning, with a fine mist lingering. As we climbed the twisty mountain road Mother Nature tossed in some thick fog, and wet leaves on the road made me even more cautious. The Smokies were really living up to their name and I wondered if there would ever be any visibility at the scenic overlooks we kept passing!
After a few miles the fog lifted and we began to see breaks in the clouds, and those overlooks started to live up to their reputation. Sunshine, scenic vistas and dry roads were more than welcome. We ditched the rain gear at an overlook and cruised across the Tennessee line to Tellico Plains. After a home-cooked lunch at the Telicafe, I was thinking about what lay ahead — the infamous Tail of the Dragon, 318 curves in 11 miles that would close out our ride. I was thinking, “I’ve already scraped a floorboard or two on these mountain roads, how much more twisty can this Dragon be?” The answer is “a whole bunch more!” It’s exciting, challenging and even dangerous, with 11 miles of hairpin, switchback, and floorboard-scraping turns. Once it was behind me, I stopped at Deals Gap, the motorcycle oasis at the south end of the Dragon, and waited for Bob and his TriGlide. We topped off our day just a couple miles south of Deals Gap at the Historic Tapoco Lodge, dining at an outdoor riverfront table while reliving the day’s ride.
The next morning, I headed for home just ahead of the rain, bidding my friend good-bye and safe travels the night before. I was treated to one last ride through the Smokies before heading south outside of Ashville, already thinking of my next trip up here and all of the Carolina roads waiting to be explored.
Favorite Ride: Space Coast to the Smokies Photo Gallery:
Ceccato (Italian bike builder number 586 you’ve probably never heard of), was founded by Pietro Ceccato in the mid 1930s and manufactured industrial equipment. After WW II they started producing clip-on engines for bicycles and small capacity motorcycles.
In 1953 they bought the design for a DOHC 75 cc engine from a certain Fabio Taglioni (who went on to fame elsewhere!), who had originally offered it to Mondial.
While five of these DOHC race bikes were built, the modified SOHC Corsa version was the mainstay of the company’s racing efforts due to its lighter weight being more suitable for the long distance road events such as the Giro d’Italia.
Over 500 racers were constructed before motorcycle production ceased in 1961 (last bikes sold in ’63). Argentina was a major market with the bikes bearing the “Zanella Ceccato” name.
The SOHC 75cc Corsa made 7 hp at 10,500 rpm and had a top speed of 110 km/h.
Ceccato is still in business today as the world’s largest producers of car and train washing equipment.
Morecambe’s John McGuinness has had his motorcycling achievements recognised having been made a Member of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2021 New Year’s Honours List.
McGuinness joins a select group of motorcyclists to be recognised in such a manner and follows in the footsteps of, amongst others, John Surtees, Gary Hocking, Jim Redman, Mike Hailwood, Phil Read, Barry Sheene, Joey Dunlop, Carl Fogarty and, the most recent recipient of the MBE, Jonathan Rea.
The now 48-year old has enjoyed an illustrious career in the sport, which spans more than 30 years, with success coming on both the short circuits and on the roads, the latter, in particular, seeing him establish himself as one of the greatest ever at the Isle of Man TT Races.
Having made his debut on the 37.73-mile Mountain Course in 1996, McGuinness has gone on to record a stunning 23 wins, the second highest ever in the 113-year history of the event and only three behind the record tally of 26 held by Northern Ireland’s Dunlop.
One of the most popular riders of his generation, his tally of 47 podiums is the highest ever recorded with his wins coming across all solo classes between 1999 and 2015. He also held the outright lap record for a decade.
“I’m thoroughly humbled to receive an MBE and when I started racing all those years ago, never in a million years did I think I’d go on to achieve the success that I have let alone be recognised and honoured by the Queen!” said McGuinness.
“When you look at the previous motorcyclists to have received an MBE, it’s a very select group of riders who are both multiple world champions and legends of the sport so to be recognised in the same way as them now is something I’m extremely proud of.
“It doesn’t happen very often in our sport so it’s an incredibly special moment for me and my family and even though I received the letter informing me of the award some time ago, I’m still finding it hard to believe so it’ll probably be a while before it properly sinks in.”
As well as the TT, McGuinness has had an equally successful career elsewhere with multiple wins at both the North West 200 and Ulster Grand Prix with victory also taken at the Macau Grand Prix. On the short circuits, he was 250cc British Champion in 1999.
A factory rider for both Yamaha and Honda, the latter seeing the majority of his success, McGuinness can also count a British Superbike Championship podium for Kawasaki amongst his glittering success whilst, off the track, he’s been a regular supporter of various charities over the years, attending countless events up and down the country to help raise funds for those less fortunate.
“Obviously, the Isle of Man TT and my 23 wins there are what people most associate me with but I’ve also been fortunate to achieve success elsewhere and I’m proud of all my achievements whether it’s the TT, my other road racing wins, being British Champion or taking a British Superbike Championship podium.
“I’ve had a lot of support over the years from a lot of people, particularly my family who have been with me all the way, and also my sponsors and fans and I’m extremely grateful for all of that support. I’ve always tried to give something back to the sport as well so for both myself and motorcycling to be recognised in the New Year’s Honours List is a truly special day.”
Tourism Industry Council Tasmania CEO Luke Martin has been calling on the Federal Government to temporarily extend the Bass Strait Passenger Vehicle Equalisation Scheme that covers the gap between the true cost of taking a vehicle on the ferry and the ticket price.
That would make fares attractively cheap or even free.
Hobart-based MRA spokesman Damien Codognotto says mainland and overseas motorcyclists have made “significant contributions to Tasmania’s economy”.
“Over a million Australians are licensed to ride. Encouraging riders to holiday on the Island by carrying motorcycles and scooters free on the ferries makes financial sense,” he says.
Damien says it would be foolish to exclude motorcycle riders from any fare promotional offers.
“On-board riders spend as much as tourists in cars, vans and recreational vehicles,” he says. “Bikes weigh less and use less space and weigh less than cars, vans and RVs. You can fit four bikes in the space of a car.
“Touring bikes are often two up so a car space can yield up to eight spending tourists. A car can yield up to five tourists but mostly doesn’t.
“By not charging $238 return for bikes you encourage more riders to visit Tasmania. That means more dollars spent on food, drink, cinemas and souvenirs.
“The $238 saved will be spent on the holiday so per square metre, motorcycles are worth more than cars on the ferries.”
He also claims motorcycle riders are good tourists, travelling light and spending well on accommodation, bike hire, retail sales and services.
“Tourists on motorbikes spend more per kilometre than tourists in cars and RVs because they travel light,” he says.
“A bonus is their machines cause less wear and tear on our roads, kill less wildlife and pollute less, even less as electric motors replace petrol engines.”
Motorcycle tourists have often been claimed to be among the most desirable for local businesses, spending more than other motorists.
In 2015, they produced a video featuring multi-Australian Superbike Champion Malcolm Campbell and interstate motorcycle club member Lester Knowles riding around the state and pointing out the features and dangers.
Each year the video is updated.
Road safety billboards and posters are also displayed on popular riding routes.
Kawasaki had three recalls. The Ninja H2 SX was recalled for gear wear issues; the Ninja ZX-10R and RR models were recalled for a fire safety risk; and the Ninja ZX636 horn stopped working because of a wiring fault.
Triumph’s various six recalls affected a host of models including the Tiger 1200, Street Triple RS, Speed Triple S, Speed Triple RS, Street Scrambler, Street Twin, Tiger 900, Trophy and Trophy SE, all Thruxtons and the Speed Twin. Issues involved brakes, wiring faults, side stands and gear shift selectors.
Yamaha’s eight recalls affected NMAX, XP530 and XMAX scooters, the MT-03, the new Tenere 700 and the R3. Issues varied, but several were involved in a non-compliance issue on the rear reflectors not being bright enough.
Over the years, I have penned many Rider articles about entertainment opportunities that can enhance great rides. I’ve written about riding to a Pearl Jam concert in Montana. I have traced my way on the tarmac and in print from watching “Hamlet” in Oregon to “Much Ado” in Utah. I love mixing concerts and theater with motorcycle travel.
While riding is clearly a great social-distancing activity, you may think that the post-ride entertainment aspect has been nullified by Covid. To some extent, that is certainly true. However, responsible and creative venues and organizers are finding ways to stage safe theatrical and musical events.
On a recent tour through southern Arizona’s mine and wine region, I found two such events at the end of lengthy days in the saddle. Both were entertaining and, most importantly, I left each feeling public safety was prioritized and well-planned.
After carving through the historic mine country of south central Arizona, I spent a night at the historic Hotel Congress in downtown Tucson. It so happened that there was a Blues and BBQ event being staged at the hotel. The outdoor concert filled my post-ride afternoon and evening with a nice diversion.
Masks and social distancing were mandated, and the happy audience willingly complied. Interestingly, I was not the only motorcyclist attending. A couple of riders rolled up on Indians, pulled off leather jackets, and immediately pulled on masks.
The musicians were great, the BBQ was delectable, and the social consciousness was refreshing. The Hotel Congress has an intimate indoor concert room that will surely be vacant until the virus is held in check, but their outdoor courtyard venue will continue to allow for safe, small gatherings.
I had a chat with the hotel’s general manager, Todd Hanley, about his concerns in re-opening the hotel and staging limited entertainment opportunities. It was clear that he was carefully balancing public safety with some return to normalcy for the business. He had a meeting planned that afternoon with city officials on how to continue that balance.
Phoenix Music Theater
The second day of my adventure, I traced the southern Arizona wine region and border towns. After five hours in the saddle, I ended my day in central Phoenix. I again found something to get me out of the hotel room.
The Phoenix Theatre Company has found ways to stage a limited-attendance season. The production I attended was “Unwrapped: An Original Christmas Revue.” The email confirmation that I received after purchasing my ticket outlined the Covid precautions that would be implemented. There would be no tolerance of non-adherence.
The PTC has moved all productions outdoors to an adjacent church. The setting is a fantastic palm-tree-accented, open-air courtyard. Again, masks were required at all times, even when seated. Pairs of comfortable lawn chairs were widely spaced throughout the courtyard. Programs were viewed via Q-codes on the armrests, and contactless food ordering was accessed the same way.
The production was supremely entertaining, the sound system was top-notch, and the musicians were talented. Again, I left the show feeling totally comfortable with the safety and audience support of the effort.
There is a full season of entertainment scheduled at the venue, and I will certainly be back for the March production of “Ring of Fire,” as I am a big Johnny Cash fan.
Clearly, there are those who will argue that full isolation is the only responsible approach in this pandemic. However, my recent journey has reinforced for me that responsible and carefully-orchestrated events are both entertaining and safe. There are still options for motorcyclists who crave post-ride entertainment.
It ain’t an Aprilia if it isn’t screaming like a MotoGP track bike… Right? Akrapovič – the industries leading exhaust manufacturer – has two full exhaust systems ready for the 2021 Aprilia RS 660 motorcycle.
The Racing Line (S-A6R2) is a carbon fiber exhaust that will rely on your stock ECU mapping (this is a major benefit; you will avoid the expensive tuning cost to have your motorcycle run properly with the new airflow metrics) with a 2.5 horsepower increase at 11,200 rpm and 2.7 lb-ft bump in torque at 4550. This exhaust will also shed a pound off the wet weight of your motorcycle.
S-A6R1 is the “track use” (haha) variant that aims to bring 3 horsepower and 5 lb-ft of torque while also shedding 2.5 pounds from the weight of your ride. This exhaust won’t keep your ride Euro 5 compliant, however.
The official Akra website currently has no info regarding pricing or purchasing these exhaust systems, but I’m sure you can expect to find them through official dealers in the new year.