I got up early in the morning and had a nice run up the valley to part of an Alpine walking trail network.
Today was to be a long, 300 kilometer day trip around the area, but several of our group bowed out pleading fatigue from the rainy transfer trips the two days before and wanting to gather their strength for another one the next day. Two of us were enthusiastic to do some riding, however, but to compromise by cutting the day’s journey short. After some discussion, a third joined us. Coincidentally, or perhaps not, we were three out of the five Italian bikes on the tour: one 2004 Aprilia Caponord ETV 1000, one 2016 Ducati Monster 1200, and my 2015 Aprilia Caponord 1200 Rally.
We left a little after the others for some spirited riding. You might think that this meant some exertion of physical strength or quick reflexes, but in fact it was mainly a matter of concentration and focus. Motorcycling is above all a mental game. For example, when I traded in my Kawasaki Versys 650 for the Capo 1200, one of the biggest differences I noticed was how sluggish the new bike was to turn. At first it felt like I really had to work to get the bike leaned over to any extent at all around curves. I attributed this to the heavier weight of the bike and figured I’d just need to muscle it around more. Fortunately though, I soon discovered the difference was not one of strength at all, but of timing. Before long the bike was tilting in and out of curves practically by itself, all because I learned just how far in advance I needed to shift to get the bike to move.
Likewise when approaching a curve, everything is about choosing the speed and the line, which are matters of judgment, not reflexes. And of course the range of speeds even available to choose from depends upon what you’ve been doing before that, so you need to plan ahead. Riding in the Alps — or any mountain roads, for that matter — is all about focusing on the moment. Just allowing your thoughts to wander for a second — if it’s the wrong second — can mean an accident. I caught myself a couple of times in the first few days lapsing momentarily, and then having to scramble to recover. The last couple of days I’d gotten better.
I had the concentration thing down. Now I was working on relaxing. The most efficient movement comes from the smoothest action, and smoothness is difficult to achieve when tense. I could manage it at lower speeds and easier roads, but only occasionally when the going got tougher. We would see. There was still over a week left on the trip.