13 July 2019
Yellow Ducati doesn't have a name yet but it knows what to call me. We have been in a torrid relationship for the five weeks we have lived together in Wisconsin from my sea faring life in French Polynesia. Craigslist provided me the ridiculous notion of buying the Ducati of my dreams for my short visit. I did. Or rather, I coaxed Lisa into giving it to me for my birthday. Pourquoi pas?
Logic played a small part. My Ducati 900SS (1992) was waiting for me with bad tires, oil leak and valve maintenance needed. The battery was quite dead too. The red 900SS was the subject of Hunter S. Thompson's “Song of the Sausage Creature,” a controversial piece on this insane bike that alternately tried to turn him into a Johnsonville Brat and saved his hide at the last minute. My newly acquired Yellow Ducati 748 makes Sausage Creature seem like a nursery rhyme! The 748 is a Ducati Superbike, a step up in performance from the 900SS.
Oh, it did entice! The Metro Museum of Modern Art in NYC has a red one on permanent display as the finest example of moto art. I agree! Never had one and never rode one. But Craigslist provided one and Gary Heinitz checked it out and applied the right amount of proxy Ducati spit on the tank to make it mine.
Twelve hours after landing in MKE, I mounted the beast. Ten miles later, I was ready to sign the divorce papers! It hurt! Gary said, “You know, this is just a race bike with headlights.” No schmidt! This bike is meant for a testosterone fueled 24 year old. I am not. But with FBF bar risers from Ebay, we gained 1 ½ inches of more tolerable riding position. Yellow Ducati was determined to break me in.
The next day was a race at Road America. Doug Guinn rode his Ducati to the Rive Retreat and said, “You know, it is going to rain. Last chance, we can take your Alfa.” “I just bought this bike and I'm going to ride it!” Rain it did and we were cold and soaked all day as we enjoyed the moto racing at our favorite track. Yet another chance for the Yellow Ducati to initiate me to it's world.
A week later the Wisconsin Ducati Owners had a tour through our beautiful Kettle Moraine area. I showed up as the oldest rider and the only one on a superbike Ducati. Others had sensible Multistradas, Monsters or Sts, but Ross did show up on a Streetfighter, naked superbike but with more upright riding position. I was also the only one with a heavy, leather jacket instead of the tech gear others had. Oh well, nostalgia reigns! After the tour of over 200 miles, my neck pain was a dull ache. But my smile overcame it all. I had fallen in “like” with Yellow Ducati.
John Adrian said we should go riding. I told him we always consider the warning, curve speed limits as half what we can really ride. Yellow Ducati showed both of us this is so. It demands full attention and no beer for lunch. No problem.
Today, I rode the Milwaukee River roads with Doug and Roger. Doug really know the hidden treasure roads through this countryside. Yellow Ducati followed Doug's Ducati ST with aplomb. I was just along for the ride, loving it! After lunch, Doug and I switched bikes. Oh, his ST is so smooth and powerful. When we arrived at the River Retreat, Doug said, “I have always wanted one of these!” I said, “I'm leaving it right here with the key in it. Ride it any time.” He will. We leave the keys in all of our vehicles on the River in case a neighbor needs to borrow it.
I have been away from motorcycles for four years. Yellow Ducati has been an inspiration, friend and most importantly, mentor. We enter a corner with a good lean, I get on the throttle and discover we are about 20 mph slower than Yellow Ducati would like me to go. Wimp! I resemble that remark. But thanks to the Yellow Ducati for pulling me through. I'll miss Yellow Ducati. One can't really own such a spirit but being its caretaker is a privileged.
PS. Now I'm back on Uproar. I had a great time back in Milwaukee visiting family and friends. I am truly blessed how many moto friends I was able to see during my visit. You guys (and a few ladies) were everywhere and it was great seeing you. Thanks for all the good vibes and great times.
My decision to ride a motorcycle on this trip wasn't taken lightly. Previous trips I refused to ride as I really needed to prepare my old 900SS properly and get my head around taking the risks inherent with motorcycles. But Anguille got me through and safely back home on Uproar. Anguille is Yellow Ducati's new name (ahn gwee'), or “angry” spoken by Elmer Fudd. Anguille means eel in French. The Polynesians worship eels and their mystical powers. This agility and mystique fits my new bike well.