It all begin in the 2001, during the 80th Anniversary Rally in Mandello del Lario, Italy. Sunday morning I was walking around the camp at the Lido taking pictures of Guzzi bikes and bikers... when I saw hanging between two Guzzis, the flag of Moto Guzzi Klub Slovenija. I hadn't heard about this club, so I asked some guys there, "Are you from Slovenija? Can I have some info about your club?" One of them was the president, Matevez. He told me that the club was organized in 1999, they had one meeting in the spring, and a tour around Slovenija in October. We exchanged our email addresses with the promise to keep in touch.
In 2002 I planned to attend their spring time rally, but at the last moment problems came up and this was not possible. But this year nothing can stop me... I want to ride there.
Some weeks before I asked my boss for Friday off. I wanted a relaxing ride, so I had three days. Others from our club (Aquile della Martesana Moto Guzzi Club) also attended.
Giuseppe and I left on Friday. Livio and Luca came on Saturday. On Friday, at 5:30 A.M. I was ready to go. I met Giuseppe ten miles from home. When I arrived, he was already there. We decided to take the back roads, because the traffic was less. We were off, the day was good, not hot, the sun was low and the colors were pale. We rode through a country area, and through areas of farm fields. Near Garda Lake, we saw little hills, vineyards, and all kinds of different shades of green colors. What great views!
At 7:35 A.M. we stopped for another breakfast, for cappuccino and croissant - always appreciated. At 8:15 we were on the road again. After we dealt with Verona, Vicenza, then Padova (where there were a lot of heavy traffic) we were back to enjoying a very nice ride on the Riviera del Brenta, with the river on right side, and on the other bank there was some beautiful Palladian Villas near Venezia.
We decided to ride on the autoroute, because the national roads are too busy. In fact this way we could go full throttle. About 12:15 P.M. we were in Palmanova del Friuli, just 5 miles from there our friend Thomas lives. He's a German Guzzi rider. Some years ago he followed his Italian girlfriend here. A few days before I told him that we were going to ride to Slovenija, and if he wanted to come with us, we could ride together. Unfortunately he had to work, but invited us to stop by for something to eat. With his good indications it was enough for us and easy to find the small town where he lives.
After greetings, we were ready for the food - a big plate with salami, prosciutto, bresaola, bread, and good local red wine. I said to him "Too much food Thomas, we can't eat all this!" But as we talked we cleaned it up like wolves! However, we only took a couple of glasses of wine.
The day became hot, and after being there for a couple of hours, the wine worked heavy on the head. Then after a good espresso coffee we said our good byes to Thomas, and wen were on the road again..... with the promise to meet us again in Germany at the Guzzi Rally in Collemberg.
About 16 miles later we arrived at Trieste. We crossed the border at the Fernetti custom and we finally entered Slovenija.
This land is not new to me. In 1986 I spent a few days around here, during the trip to Hungary, with my V35 (350cc) Guzzi. I still remembered some places.
Matevez sent by email directions to find the meeting, and this made it very easy to find (Ljubljana, Cernika, Rakek Unec, Grahovo, Bloscka Polica, and Nova Vas..... those last miles were great!) Those towns and villages are in a plane with mountains all around, in the country area. Children greeted us and it was hard for me to ride. We had to use concentration, and watched out all around.... Bellissimo!
Matavez said just before the gas station (on the left) we'd see the road sign "VELIKE BLOKE". There our target was. We turned and I stopped to take a picture of this solitary road, with the village only a couple miles away.
Very quickly two guys pulled up - one on an EV, the other one was riding a Centauro. They saw our Italian license plates. One asked "Luigi?" I answered "Matavez?" After this we followed them and in two minutes we were at the rally.
It was a nice place, some people were working to make ready the rally which officially started on Saturday. During our contact the weeks before, Matavez said that if we wanted to come on Friday it was okay. A beer was the official WELCOME for us. We were told that the beer was self brewed (home brewed), and there are many different kinds. Very good, this will be interesting to taste all on the list!
At this rally it was very pretty with mountains all around. There was a large vacation house where people slept. Lots of room too, with six bunk beds, all very clean, all very cheap. We got the first choice and readied our room for us and our friends that came the next day.
After we changed our clothes, we had a shower, and we were ready to enjoy the rally. All was good. Two gazebos had been put together where stuff from cars were unloaded. It was suggested we walk down to the village for something to eat because food wasn't going to be at the rally until the following day. We could do this.
But Giuseppe and I have some funny troubles with language in the small restaurant when we tried to order the food. Anyway we ate good, and very cheap. We still remember this and laugh about this part of our trip.
When we were back at the rally, the guys were relaxing around the campfire, after the hard work of preparing everything. We sat in on the circle, and talked. They offered us a very good local white wine, all was fine, a fresh breeze chilled the night with a clear sky and billions of stars that could be seen as only in the mountains. I thought we were privileged people... we tasted the best of the life. Sometime after midnight I said my ciao and buona notte to the troops.... I felt the trip in my bones, I had better go to bed.
Saturday morning was a nice sunny day. After a night of good sleep, and a big breakfast we were ready for the long day. We decided to spend the morning as tourists and meanwhile we waited for Livio and Luca. We decided to ride to Postojna. This is a famous place for the big caves there.
We were off - Giuseppe needed gasoline so we stopped at a station. While he was gassing up, I looked around and I heard a familiar sound. Guzzis! I saw two bikes. Quickly I recognized Livio and Luca coming. They were here already and it was only 9:30 A.M. They told us they would leave at 5:30 A.M. They took the autoroute - full throttle all the way!
So they went with us on this tourist tour and we rode the back roads through the forest. It reminded me when I was on the back roads around White Face Mountain, in the Adirondacks area last August (2002).
In Postojna we walked around, drank coffee, and just relaxed. We visited the caves with the little train and took our time going back to the rally. We stopped in a shop to buy their good wine of the area to take home. When we arrived back at the rally, all had changed! Lots of Guzzis were parked all around, lots of people, registration was very busy. Good! All was running well. We registered and looked around at the commercial stands, took some pictures, and continued the same routine of every Guzzi rally.
Our curiosity was taken by a Guzzi that was parked in front, near the registration. With this Guzzi was a display of books. Also there was a poster of the world map. On this map was marked various roads ridden with this bike. In fact, Uros, the rider with his wife Metka took a world tour on a Quota 1100ES in 1999. I asked him about this interesting trip around the world which was ridden two times. The first tour was in 1999 in Africa, South America, North America, and Canada. The second tour was in 2002-2003 in Asia, and Australia, for a total distance of about 105,000 Km. I was told the distance was done without serious mechanical problems.
Anyway he wrote a book about this ride. Unfortunately (for us) only in the Slovenian language. If someone is interested, or knows an editor for translating into an English version, please contact him at: email@example.com.
After the talk with Uros the nice smell in the air reminded me that it was lunch time. Livio and I headed for the food line. We saw Matevez with another man. He said, "Luigi, this is our official Moto Guzzi importer. He has two Guzzis to test ride. Are you interested?"
The importer spoke good Italian, "What bike do you want to ride? The Aluminium, or the Scura?"
"The Scura!", we both answered as one voice.
I rode a 1977 850T3 California, Livio rode a 1100 Stone. If we test rode something, we wanted something different.
Welcome to the stand. We signed the document for the demo ride. We waited for the Scura. The rider on the Scura showed up. I sat on it and I instantly understood this bike was like a wild animal!
Livio said to me, "Luigi, be careful, there are no mirrors."
Yes, it was true! I don't like riding without mirrors. Anyway I was ready to go - turned the key, pushed the starter button, 1st gear engaged and went ahead! I can say only that it was a wonderful half hour, very extreme (God bless Brembo brakes!). After the ride the adrenaline was at the top, and more white hairs were on my head.
When I turned over the Scura to Livio, I said to him, "Warning, it's a wild Mustang!"
After this excitement, I really enjoyed the lunch of goulash and cevapcici, with good home brewed beer. The day was still nice and sunny, and new riders were arriving. I was having a good time.
In the afternoon I set up my vendor table to show my Guzzi tiles and club patches that I sell. To help me, gentleman Matevez, made a public announcement about my things I was selling and more people came to see.
During the afternoon of the second day it was game time. The Slowest Rider, "Drive the Barrel", and so on. Livio took part at some of the games with good results.
Then as usual it was a nice walk around the bikes, take pictures, speak with the riders, and meet with friends not so far from my area (Bergamo). Also I met a truck driver who often works in my home town, small world!
In the late afternoon it was awards time. Our group got the Long Distance award, and we delegated Livio to take this award for us.
That last evening was fine, with a light breeze. Then there was an announcement telling us all the drinks were now free. Then another announcement... there was a ham for us to enjoy. The ham was sliced by hand (with a sharp knife!) in very thin pieces... better than with a machine.
The night continued with some music and dancing. We were there too. Also available during this same time was a projection movie on the front wall of the house, pictures of previous meetings and pictures downloaded from the Internet - such as videos showing crashed bikes, bike duels and so forth. Around midnight it was time ( with regret) to go to bed.
Sunday morning, breakfast was in the open air and some of the faces there showed traces of the long night. J
Ready to go... with real regret we had to depart. We enjoyed very nice days there, great hospitality, good people, wonderful area, all for great time. Last, but not least the Slovenjan Guzzi scene was really interesting. We said farewell, and promised we would be there next year.