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teschi  deathrideteschi

Or 70 minutes of death therapy

Driving in Italy, or anywhere in Europe for that matter can be challenging for an American to

say the least. The roads are very narrow, the street signs are unfamiliar and traffic can be a

nightmare. Parking is very limited and everyone seems to be in a hurry to get where they are

going. Stop signs and speed limits are only suggestions. Pedestrians and bicycles don't stand

a chance with the motor vehicles. One of the first things you learn driving in Europe is to

never make eye contact, to the European that means you have seen them and you

understand that they are coming through. I was involved in a wreck in Germany from this very

thing. The drivers there don't give an inch.

Cruising on the motorways can be a very stimulating experience. Speeds can reach well over

200 kilometers and at that speed there is very little room for error. This brings me to the

"Death Ride" part of my story.

I went to Italy to test drive a Valkyrie and a Gold Wing that has a new transmission developed

by Mario Moto. It is an overdrive transmission with a new 4th and 5th gear. I must say that

both bikes were simply amazing to ride with this modification, but that's another story.

Now understand that I left San Diego on Friday to go to Milan, Italy, and came back from

Milan on Monday so jetlag was a factor on the rest of this story. Still, without the jetlag I

think it still would have freaked me out.

Mario Moto is a well respected rider and mechanic in Italy. He was a professional racer for

many years, and has many trophies for his accomplishments. When I first met Mario on this

trip, I watched him side saddle a Valkyrie and turn it around in a very narrow alley. Most

people have trouble with the Valk at slow speeds so this was truly impressive. Little did I

know I was soon to be much more impressed by his riding skills.

Now this guy doesn't look like a psycho does he?


Mario is a great guy but doesn't speak a lick of English, that can be a problem because I don't

speak a lick of Italian. If is wasn't for Silvano we would have never been able to cut a deal on

these transmissions. Sil did a great job putting this whole thing together for us. It was a little

bit awkward to drive back to my hotel with Mario in the car because we could not

communicate for the whole time we spent alone together. This is when I decided to break my

own rules and go ahead and ride on the back of Mario's GW to the airport. I was told we could

save a least an hour by taking the bike because of the heavy traffic. That sounded like a

plan, and then I didn't have to feel all weird about driving all the way to the airport and not

saying anything. This may have been the worst decision I have ever made in my entire life.

This is how the death ride started on Monday. I was told that Mario would pick me up at 7am

to take me to the airport. I packed all my junk and the 6 transmission gear sets into one bag.

The bag weighed about 80lbs. I checked out a little early just incase Mario showed up sooner

than 7am. I sat and watched at least 40 to 50 cars run the stop sign where I was waiting for

Mario to pick me up. When I say that stop signs and speed limits are only suggestions, that is

what I mean, I only saw one big truck actually stop at the stop sign the whole time I was



Mario wasn't early, in fact he was just a little bit late so I'm thinking maybe it's a good thing

we took the bike. Mario strapped my bag on the back of his rack and I mounted the bike and

was ready to roll. There were at least three things, maybe four that should have given me a

clue that this was a bad idea.

1.) Mario is an X racer that took much pride showing me all the parts on the bottom side
      of his GW that were scraped off. 

2.) When talking with Sil's son about riding on the back with Mario to the airport, his
      comment was "oh, I guess you won't be getting any sleep on the way there". Now I
      hought he meant because I was going to be on a bike and not in the van. Little did I

3.) Mario has a seatbelt for the passenger, that should have been a good indictor of
      how he drives.

4.) Guy's are NOT good passenger's.

This alone should have made me opt for the van ride but I have never been very good about

making the right choice the first time.

So I jump on the bike and we're off. The first thing that went through my mind as we went

through the back roads was man I hope we don't fall over in the turns. I had my bag on top of

a rack that weighed 80lbs., I weighed 200lbs and Mario was maybe 170lbs. We took the turns

like Fast Freddie in Daytona. As we went into the turns I had to fight every natural instinct to

upright the bike with my body english. I started to really concentrate on being a good

passenger and not complicate the situation by wanting to take control from the back seat.

When you go into a turn you already have in your mind how fast you should be taking that

turn from your experience, it is very hard to reprogram your thought process on the fly when

you feel like your going twice as fast as you should be.

Okay, so the guy is a much faster rider than I am on my Super Charged Valkyrie and I'm just

going to have to suck it up and deal with it. I was amazed at how well the GW did in the

turns. So here I am trying to keep cool and just enjoy the ride. Well, the enjoy the ride thing

was soon to be a fleeing thought. As we ran the twisting roads at well over the posted speed

limit I got a taste of what was to be the next 60 minutes of my life. We started to pass cars

and trucks at a very high rate of speed on a road with very little room to pass, not to mention

that there was a solid white line indicating that it was illegal to pass in these areas. I soon

began to realize that I was going to be on the ride of my life. This would turn out to be the

safest part of the trip.

Those of you that know me, know that I am a pretty much a macho kinda guy and would be

considered an extreme thrill seeker. I have bungee jumped out of cranes, and I help build, and

jumped out of Mega Bungee which was the tallest bungee tower at the time it was built

(210'). I was an ironworker for many years and have walked the edge of many a high-rise

building. I have worked in many dangerous situations that some would call crazy. I have been

in situations where I have been threatened by knifes and guns and have on more than one

occasion been in fights with weapons that have landed me and others in the hospital. I have

had to testify in a murder trial against prospects for a well known outlaw biker club. All that

being said, I must say that those experiences put together did not add up to the fear that I

was about to experience. I am humbled and a little ashamed that I did not take this ride

better than I did, maybe it was the lack of sleep for three days, maybe I'm getting old, or

maybe I just looked the grim reaper in the face and this time I didn't like what I saw.

Once we got out of the back roads and on to the motorway Mario really cranked it on.

I like to go fast just as much as the next guy, maybe even a little more, but once again, guys

don't make good passengers. This was not the scary part. At first the traffic was not that

bad so we were zipping along at around 180 to 200 kilometers. Then we came to a section of

the motorway where traffic was at a crawl. Traffic may have been at a crawl, but that didn't

mean we had to slow down very much. Now I'm from California and I logged in many a mile

splitting traffic so I didn't think much of this at first. The GW is a very wide bike and very top

heavy and takes a little longer to stop then most bikes, or so I thought.

At first Mario would ride in between the cars and big trucks at a speed that felt okay to me,

but as the traffic increased, so did Mario's speed. We would squeeze into spots that if there

were any surprises at all we would be toast. As the trip went on, so did the level of fear. At

first I would try and keep my cool but I soon began screaming out loud things like "Oh my God,

were going to die!" or "this is going to hurt, this is going to hurt", I found myself praying that

God would forgive me of all my sins and just let me live another day to tell about this

experience. And yes, I may have screamed like a girl once or twice.

Here's how the rest of the ride went. We would run up on a car or truck at let's say 180

kilometers and get right on their bumper, so close that all I could see is the back of their

windshield, and then Mario would honk his horn a couple of times and if they didn't move out

of the way within two seconds he would pass them on the left, the right, or right down the

middle if there was no room for the car or truck to pull over. When the traffic was heavy but

still moving we were weaving in and out of cars at an average speed of 140 kilometers! If I

held my elbows out from my side, I could touch the trucks on both sides at the same time

doing 140 kilometers! I started thinking of what kinda of injury I was likely to incur at these

speeds. At first I thought I might loose a limb or maybe just suffer some broken bones but

then as the traffic slowed down we moved over to the emergency lane and really picked up

the pace. If anyone would have pulled over or been stalled in that lane we would have hit

them at a rate of speed that was not survivable. It is common practice for motorcycles to

ride in the emergency lane in Italy. The bad thing is when Mario saw another bike ahead of

him he would crank it up even faster to pass them in a lane that's just not big enough for two

bikes! At this point I was looking death right in the eye and I could smell the stink of his

breath. I was sure that I was to be remembered as the Valkyrie guy from the U.S who died on

a GW in Italy. The thought of being fortunate enough to be injured was gone, I knew I was

going to die.

Along the way I would see road signs that said "Airporto" and thought to myself that this is

great, we're almost there, but nooooo, we're not even close. At times we would take an off

ramp that I thought was the off ramp to the airport but it was just another motorway on

ramp. Oh, those were fun too, if the off ramp had a speed limit of let say 40 kilometers, we

would take it at 80 kilometers, but that's not the fun part, the fun part is that traffic was

stopped when we were doing it! That's right, we were passing cars and trucks that were

trying to merge onto the new motorway at twice the speed limit! There were times that I just

closed my eyes because I couldn't bare to see how it was all going to end. Because I could

not talk to him, I would do things like squeeze him with my legs, well that worked about as

well as squeezing a horse with your legs, that just meant go faster to him. Then I tried

patting him on the back to slow down, that just meant go faster to him too. Then I tried to

think of all the reasons why I might survive this ride. First thing that came to mind was that

Mario is still alive and his bike is a 1988 that was real clean looking other than all the parts

scraped off of the bottom side. Then I thought, hey this guy is a racer, this is not a big deal

to a racer, but then I thought even Freddy Spencer has his bad days. I finally realized that

my life was in God's hands and I'm either going to make it, or I'm going to die. This is just part

of the death therapy.

I would like to say thank you to Mario for changing my life. There are several things I walked

away with from this trip.

1.) I walked away from this trip.

2.) I now realize that no matter how crazy you think someone is, there's always Mario to
      put them in their place. 

3.) I can't think of anything in life that could possibly scare me now. If I wasapproached

4.) by a car jacker, and he stuck a 45 in my face and told me to get out of the car or
      he will blow my head off I would literally laugh at him and tell him to try and go scare
      someone else, I lived through a ride with Mario to the airport for 70 minutes straight.

5.) I walked away from this trip.

6.) My wife's driving will never scare me again.

7.) I am now prepared to give my 15 year old driving lessons.

8.) I walked away from this trip.

9.) I now realize that Fear Factor is for wimps and I don't have to waste my time
      watching it on TV.

10.) God is not finished with me yet.

11.) I walked away from this trip.

I do have one real regret and that is that I didn't get this on video. There is no way that you

can experience what I went through by me writing this story. If I knew I only had a week to

live I would go back and do it again with a video camera so you could get an idea how

frightening this was  to me. I in no way mean to be disrespectful to Mario in this story, he's a

great guy and I still call him my friend but if you gave me the choice to have me strapped to a

piece of plywood and have my 15 year old son blindfolded and throw sharp knifes at me or

take another ride to the airport with Mario, I would tell my son to do the best he could.

Update to this article!

I just got an email from Silvano regarding something I said at dinner that I forgot all about.

Seems I made the comment that the Gold Wing was an old mans bike here in the U.S. Man

was that the WRONG thing to say! It's all coming back to me now. Here is the reply I got from


"Take in consideration that we live in the earth of Ferrari & Lamborghini and the speed is in

our blood. I don't ride like Mario , but I'm very close. Mario is very special with his GW and I

think is one of the best rider of the world. Now you can say that GW is not for retired


This is a picture of Mario explaining what he is going to do to me on the way to the airport . You can fill in the blanks.


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