GP07 Misano GP, Race 13 "Magical Misano" Part 1
What an area - right on the water, quaint little towns running connected along the coastside, a historic racetrack - everything looked fantastic! But . . . . .
looks can be deceiving.
This was one of those really strange race weeks, where I was very happy to have gone there, very happy to have welcomed back Alex Hofmann to full MotoGP competition, but ultimately pretty bummed by the race because one of my bikes didn't finish when Alex Barros suffered an electrical issue during the race. So, it was a mixed bag - magic and misery.
I flew into Bologna's airport, waited a little bit for everyone else to arrive, and then we jumped into our team transporters (read: rental vans), and took off for Rimini, San Marino. We stopped along the way for some road grub, then navigated our way towards the circuit to pick up the guys who drove the semi-trucks there. The gas station/diner we stopped at had a little mini-mart, and it had a nice little display set up. I'm pretty sure this is here all year round, and wasn't just for the GP weekend. One thing I need to mention, it is 2007, and I now own a 7 megapixel Casio digital camera. How is it possible to take such a horrible photo?!? ARGH!
We pulled into Misano circuit, everyone kind of sleepy from the intense heat, but we put down the Nintendos and PSP's and took a walk to check out the facilities. The track itself is gorgeous - and the paddock garages we would be using were new, not here when the GP's last visited (or even a few years ago). I said hi to a couple of the other team-folk, and chatted a little bit with the guys from Tech 3. They really put in some long hours and some longer days, because this season they finally have their own hospitality unit, and all the mechanics and technicians show up early to build it. They also stay later, because after the race is done and their trucks are packed, they break down the hospitality the next day. I really gotta hand it to those guys - they work HARD. Hopefully next season they'll pull a big sponsor and be able to hire a separate crew to work the Hosp. Anyway, my guys finished parking the rigs and it was time to head out to the hotel to check-in and drop off our gear.
I spent a few minutes checking out the Hot-Rodded BMW's that check the track before each race. This is a sharp looking machine, but until I actually put some miles on one, I can't comment on whether or not I'd really like it. Function over form - Every Time!! Then again, I'm not Italian. I happen to like tractors - that pull like freight trains!
Can you believe the whole fleet goes around the world with us? I once got dusted by a rogue Z8 headed up the 101, and I've had some measure of respect for the higher end beemers since. Course, I was geared to top out at 105. Braaapp!
Ok, back to Misano, haha. We piled in the cars and made it to our hotel, the Alexander, on the edge of the city along the coast. The beach area is made up of several (many) connected little towns, and the main one is Riccione. We were two towns over in Gabicce Mare, but within walking distance of some of the cool things, like the night area in Cattolica. I wasn't sure what to expect, as we hadn't been here before, but our hotel was amazingly cool, with excellent staff, cold drinks, and unfortunately, only one computer down in the lobby and no in-room internet service of any kind. Doh! If you come to Misano next year, this would be a nice hotel to get if you want a little privacy. Not to mention it's 100 yards from one of the top discotecques in the region, the Baia Imperiale.
We checked in with a minimum of fuss, and checking the clocks it was just shy of 5PM - plenty of daylight left to enjoy on a Tuesday afternoon in Italy! Most of the team wears the Axio Hardpacks that Bob Haro made for us, it's a nice way to show how much we appreciate the gear and it's a fabulous way to advertise the sponsors and show that we're a team. Big Thumbs up to Bob!
The hotel was a couple stories tall, with a clean and new interior. Stylish!
Yup, still stylish. We are definitely in Italy now.
I arrived shortly before my roomate, so I settled in and checked the place out. Two beds? CHECK. Fancy furniture? Check (and this was actually cool - not the normal bare necessities place we are usually at). And a balcony? WOO-HOOO!!! I could just tell that this was going to be one of those places that was a real treat.
I had been lucky enough to the get corner, or end unit on my floor. At first, I was a little annoyed, because that meant I had the longest walk to my room every night (and I'm not sure why, but I ALWAYS seem to get the farthest room from the elevators, lobby, civilization). However, the end unit had some spectacular views, including this one of the little pool downstairs. I'm not exactly sure, but I could have sworn I heard someone jumping in from one of the upper floors of the hotel! Yee-Haw! That is one of those crazy things that just makes me smile. Eat your heart out, Pastrana!
Turning to my right, I was greeted with one of the most beautiful vistas I've come across in a while, the Adriatic! This was so reminiscient of my home, I couldn't help but start smiling, and start shimmying down so I could jump in the water!
I threw on some trunks, grabbed a towel and a (GASP!) fannypack, and hurriedly crossed the street to find a narrow, winding path that led down to the beach area. Yeah, yeah, I have a fannypack. I bought it for 5 bucks at Target, and it holds all my bathroom supplies. I usually clip it to whatever towel holder/bar is next to the sink in the hotels we go to because it saves counterspace when there's two people to a room. Some of the bathrooms we've gotten are pretty small, but I gotta say, the one in the Alexander was H-U-G-E. Seriously, I think it was bigger than my room back in Barcelona.
Can you believe this is a part of my MotoGP adventure?!?
I scouted the beach to find the safest spot for my gear, but I needn't have worried. The beach was full of stumpy, obese, and elderly folks. This is the home of the "round-shoulder". I don't think they could have run away from me, but after Catalunya 06, I don't take any chances. Honestly, this was one of the rare times I've actually gone to a beach without a reason why. Growing up, I would hit the water to A) SURF, B) FISH, or C) eat a plate lunch while watching people do A or B. I was never the type to go and read a book, or just hang out. Except at night. Then the rules are a little different because the Moon comes out, hahaha.
A little while later, some other Team guys showed up, and after they splashed around in the water a little, they started doing what comes natural for the Spanish in the summertime (especially when they're at the beach!). I stayed in the water for a bit, pruning up, and was very surprised by the consistency of the sand. It was ultra fine, and was mixed with a light algae, making it kind of slick and slimey. This could also be because the shore was blocked off by a large rock jetty, preventing the in and out flow of the freshest water. Not sure. One thing I noticed was how salty the water was. It was very easy to stay buoyant, and when I later dried off, a thick layer of crystals developed in the sunshine.
Dragging my toes through the sandy floor, I would constantly pull up these small hermit crabs. There were tons of them, buried about two inches below the surface.
Eventually, I walked over to a beachside cafe with one of the boys and I had a beer. It was pretty chill, just sitting around with the sun setting, and we had fun watching a bunch of people playing badminton (whatever the beach variant is). That night I decided to go walking through the small town of Gabicce, which is filled with small streets lined with little stores and pizza parlors. One interesting stall was an outdoor art gallery.
Another reason I really enjoyed this place was because of all the waterways coursing through the towns. A small river provided a physical boundary between Gabicce and Cattolica, and it was lined with boats of one kind or another. This restaurant looked great, smelled great, but was out of my budget for the night (err, week, haha). Cattolica was like a suped up version of Gabicce, with bigger streets, brighter lights, better stores and restaurants, you name it. I stuck to Gabicce more, though, because it was quieter.
There was a loading dock that would pick up the boats for repair or cleaning, and a couple big ships were sitting on stilts nearby. The smell of the sea was potent, and the seaside restaurants were mostly seafood places. How could they not be?!?
While walking around and people watching (seemed like mostly tourists like me in the streets - but all Italian), I ran across this great little whip, rolling on phatty 13's!
This might possibly be one of the best, if not THE best, combination of two of my motorized favorites - the Mini (and all other micro-cars), and station wagons! I've had the biggest, a '79 Chevy Caprice Classic, a Turbo Volvo (Nordic Edition - wipers on the headlights!!), and small cars, too, and about the only thing cooler would be a sidecar attached to my Honda Monkey so that I could tour around with my chihuahua, Spike. This is close, though. OMG - CARGO DOORS!!
There's a couple other reasons why this area is so cool - namely food related. It is said that the best food in all of Italy comes from this region, and I'm inclined to believe them! Sergio and I went out one night and he introduced me to Piadine (PEE-AH-DEE-NEH, a flat bread made in the area), which was old school. I can definitely imagine ancient Romans eating this stuff, and it was cheap, too! Big shout out to Jay, for throwing a bunch of videos onto my spare hard drive, namely the HBO show, Rome. After watching a couple episodes, I can really see the resemblance with the locals here. It's like time hasn't changed - or rather, the people in the show are from modern days, haha.
I know you are all jealous as heck, so to make everyone feel better, I had TWO instead of just one. I had one for you!
Places stayed open pretty late here, the stores I mean, but when I figured it was a good idea to get some rest for the work week I headed back. Several of the Team brought their bicycles and rode to the circuit in the morning. This is the roadbike duo, mechanics #1 and #2 for "El Hoff", Martin and Michaele. They are awesome guys to work with. Sooo, that's the background of the area we were staying in and racing at, and Part 2 will feature a little bit more track-oriented material . . .
Oh boy, I am so excited that Estoril and Motegi are right around the corner! We're getting down to the nitty-gritty, and this is when it all counts. I know the Championship is pretty much on lock-down, but we're on the cusp of finishing in the Top Ten in points with both my riders, and I want to be in there!