Dual Fri 09 November 2018

1, 2, 3 ZUKMANIA!

One, two, three: one event, two days, three itineraries; in one word ZukMania!
It’s a motorcycle rally organized by the friends of the Mc Pepe Bevagna motorclub in memory of Maurizio Zucchetti (Zuk), an off-road friend passed away in 2013 while racing in San Severino Marche, which is scheduled for a week-end middle of September.
The event offers three itineraries for three routes - Enduro Classic, Big Enduro and Street Riding – each devised for a type of motorcycle and for a different rider. Every participant receives a GPS track but basically rides in a group, in a spirit of friendship, with one or more guides per each itinerary.
The Big Enduro itinerary can be totally defined as a true Adventouring route: nice, long and sometimes demanding and with a lot of off-road!
A bit of experience is needed to deal with it on a two-cylinder because the territory and the rocks of the Umbria-Marche area are amongst the most difficult: the white limestone is hard, sometimes firmly planted other times loose but always so damn smooth and slippery.
Evidently Corrado (one of the participants and long-term enduro rider) wasn’t aware of all these difficulties and he unflinchingly finished the two-day Big Enduro itinerary on a BMW GS 800 and with his wife behind him on the bike! I say this to prove that the itinerary wasn’t impossible, far from it! With some experience it could be finished without problems, but it did require some skills especially if riding very heavy and tough motorcycles.

The Big Enduro itinerary is 240 km long and about 70% off-road. Departure is scheduled from Bevagna with arrival near San Severino Marche, in the place where Maurizio left his loved ones and where a plaque will be placed in his memory.
The route climbs the mountains above Foligno, without big obstacles; the roads are rather smooth, but every time the route difficulty increases Cesare (the president of the Moto Club) incites everybody with: “We can do it! Zuk must be honored! Come on!”. Every time I hear these words my heart skips a beat … I always get a positive thrill when a person is commemorated with his greatest passion. This is how the convoy of bikes climbs over the passes and the grassy clefts of the central Apennines, sometimes sharing and crossing the way with the group following the pure enduro itinerary which, in turn, sometimes coincides with the Adventouring route.

All together we reach the place of the accident, where we also meet the riders of the Street Riding itinerary; there is a cross placed by friends during previous editions. From the start this morning, Zuk’s friends made it clear that today’s is a fun rally not a procession, so the mood is never sad not even here. However, the eyes of some moisten, even if just for a moment, but after the final applause we hit the road again: the party for Maurizio must go on. The agriturismo “Locanda Salimbeni” welcomes us for lunch; the owner is an ex-racer who was rather good in the ’70. A small private museum displaying his bikes is set up in one of the rooms; he’s really a bike lover who makes us want for nothing at the table, serving plates loaded with tasteful food that make you consider laying on the grass for the whole afternoon instead of riding the last 100 km to Bevagna on your bike.

On the way back, before hitting the blacktop, the landscape is a succession of spectacular views; sometimes I wish the night and starts caught us, I dream of camping in a tent, maybe in the future …

Opening the drawers of my memory I clearly bring up a double page image on a magazine,depicting a motorcycle with Road Book in the middle of a yellow flowered field with mountains in the background and the following caption “the uneven territory of Umbria lends itself well to motorally, it’s a pity riders don’t have time to enjoy the landscape”. Fifteen years after ripping out that picture to adorn my bedroom wall, I fully understand it.
Sunday’s tour is shorter to make it possible even for out-of-region riders to get home; it’s only 140 km but I wouldn’t change a centimeter of it! The Big Enduro itinerary prepared by Mc Pepe Bevagna retraces the motorally itineraries of the ‘90/’00, a ring between Bevagna and Valle del Nera that I loved so much I’d gladly wear the plies of my tires going around it!
Not an ordinary track, it required good off-road skills but was balanced by long smooth stretches with wonderful views.
It climbs high and then plunges in the woods, we go up to the tops on straight, vertical paths and wildly sidle down, clinging to the mountains and then up again, on gravel paths scattered with switchbacks where making the bike curve throttling hard is a must! It’s September but countless floral scents flow under the helmet, in other words the track satisfies the throttle, the eye and also the nose!
Today the Big Enduro hardly sees blacktop, probably less than 10%. The Street Riding itinerary takes the participants to Norcia and Castelluccio, areas hit by earthquake but still jaw-dropping for those who never visited the Val Nerina and the Apennines’ plateaus.
We all gather at the restaurant where we are pampered again, as usually happens around here, with toasted bread, cold cuts, pasta with truffles, grilled meat, dessert and wine!

This is the 2nd event/rally organized by Mc Pepe Bevagna I participate in, after the Queen Trophy (read here). ZukMania is the confirmation that around here events are well organized, with real off-road and incredible landscapes; there may be no photographers nor inflatables at the starting point, but for a ridiculous price you can live important emotions.
So, if you love true Adventouring but you don’t bother with fashion and magazines, come here: Umbria is waiting to be discovered.

Riding gear
For the Zuk, we tried Alpinestars’ Yaguara riding gear on a rather hard off-road trail. The Yaguara is a 3-season tourism jacket that absolutely doesn’t mind off-road, is CE certified and compatible with the Tech Air.

Text & Photo: Dario Lupini

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