Uneasy Rider: La Agrodolce Vita

Ciao, Citybike-isti!

Yes, this is how I talk now. Let me explain.

Last month, I mentioned having a bit of a bikesistential crisis, that I was struggling, philosophically and functionally, with the GS that I’d thought I’d been building into the most magnifico tall-rounder. I say “struggling” because that’s the word everyone uses for the slightest discomfort or most miniscule challenge these days—another symptom of the exaggerationism that seems to define contemporary discourse. Anyone reading this, other than perhaps stable geniuses and virulent anti-Telelever activists, will likely agree that any Boxer GS, from water-cooled to airhead, is an excellent motorcycle in almost any measure, that I should quit my bitching and just ride.

Fair point, mio amico. But my motociclo malinconia, combined with a recently renewed interest in Moto Guzzi’s turn of the century V11 Sports, thanks a post-interview afternoon of riding with world-renowned anti-Austroploitation activist and Arnocorps vocalist, Graf Holzfeuer, on his V11, led to the purchase of a bellissimo ‘01 V11 Sport Rosso Mandello from the Longhorn state, formerly owned by longtime Bici da Città Rivist subscriber and amico of our venerable columnist Maynard Hershon, Corey Levenson.

The Rosso Mandello arrived from Texas in mid-December, and went to Lawrence at LG Moto for a once-over: fluids, tires, and general amore (for the bike, not me). Lawrence knows Guzzis, by the way, in case you’ve got one that needs some affection.

Upon the V11’s return, I decided that since I now own two Italian V-Twin motorcycles, as an apparent burgeoning Italophile, I ought to take more seriously my new responsibilities as an ambassador for passion, soul, Italian design, authenticity and a multitude of things I don’t understand yet, as a long-standing denier of my Ducatisti status, and new Guzzista.

As I understand it, “bike nights” seem to be a big part of this culture. Sorry, cultura. These events seem to involve riding one’s motociclo to a nearby, emphatically Italian ristorante for fellowship with fellow-isti. It seems important that the establishment be nearby—as with many aspects of la vita, it seems to be emphatically not about riding, but rather seeing and being seen.

Bike nights seem to be a Wednesday night thing, but I couldn’t remember where they happen. Not wanting to appear stunod, I was afraid to ask. I searched my memories, and came up with, “Hot… something.”

After a quick check of Google Maps, which is apparently also just Google Maps in Italian, I thought I’d found my destination: the Hot Topic in Pleasanton. Doesn’t sound very Italian, I’ll admit, but Pleasanton sure seems like a town that’d have a lot of Ducatisti, and it does have the “hot” part, so I gave it a shot.

I arrived at Stoneridge Shopping Center on the first Wednesday of the new year and spent twenty minutes rolling slowly through the parking lot, blipping the throttle, ensuring everyone there got a Bucca di Beppo-sized helping of the bark from the Guzzi’s Magni pipes. Glorioso!

Eventually, I parked on the sidewalk near one of the entrances, for highest visibility. I took off my jacket so my bright red D.O.C. shirt was visible, and walked inside with the brand-new but authentically distressed brown leather jacket draped over my shoulder, tri-colore helmet in hand.

At the Hot Topic, I was surprised to see not a single motociclista, but instead, two goth kids, moping like they’d just heard Marilyn Manson died. This gave me pause, but I soldiered on undeterred, and announced myself with a boisterous attempt at full-on Euro-cool: “Ciao, amici! Have you seen the new Panigale V4? That Desmosedici Stradale is something, ?”

To my profondo disappunto, Siouxsie and Peter Steele just stared, balefully.


This story originally appeared in our February 2018 issue, which you can read in all its original high-res glory here.