The BIKE I've always loved her, from an early age. My house, in the Centre of Bergamo, was right above the shop of the brothers and I spent whole days between their fantastic Dall'Ara enduro, the Gilera, the Morini. In the morning I saw them leave for training, with the helmet Bowl, and I dreamed of going with them. Still I was little, I elementary school, and I was happy when I could do some minor work, How to wash a cog in nafta, clean a pinion: It was enough just to feel a mechanical officer. I been getting often from my dad because, instead of studying, I was there in the workshop among pilots and motors. But the passion for engines I was also instilled by him, that was a mechanic.
One day I found in the attic a chest with a motor, was that his lambretta. I insisted on one year, at least, We wanted to hear, It was tough (from Dad Beppe has caught only the passion for engines… n.d.r.), but then finally caved gave me permission to reassemble.
We disassembled the engine piece by piece, We overhauled and refurbished. The frame had been dropped into a pit of an outdoor workshop, abandoned, It was all Rusty, buried under a layer of Earth. It took me three months to clean it up and put it back together. Then, with that I started travelling: I shot all over Italy, I have not dared to go too far. I was sixteen.
I had a series of scooters “fake” taken from scrap yards and settled at best, including a Demm 50 in 4 times, acceleration was firm but one when launched was an arrow.
My first real bike was a Ducati Scrambler 450, which by the way was the first enduro big bikes in history. With that I started to make my dreams come true: I went to France, in Yugoslavia, in Greece.
Then I had a Honda CX 500, the liquid-cooled V-twin. Was awesome, whisper-quiet, beautiful. During the summer holidays I did travel over 20.000 kilometers and I pushed further and further away: Turkey, Iceland… and then Africa.
When it was possible I always traveled by Jeep, Why are the streets where there are less people. I hate the traffic and I love discovering unknown places. I went to head north with Honda following the ruts: It took me two months.
My maps are the locals, I vecchietti, to which I ask what are the old streets to the places that interest me. Once, following a path I crossed the border and went to finish in Eastern Germany. They arrested me and I spent two days in jail: they thought I was a spy.
I'm a lone wolf, I like traveling alone. Is the only chance exists to know people, that when visiting distant countries is the coolest thing. They see you alone, think you can be in trouble and give you what they have. Already when traveling as a couple this rule doesn't work anymore. Once, in Sweden, I stopped in a field and rest. After a while they got two children with a basket with two eggs and bread. It was fortunate, because I was really hungry. After a while, I do understand that their parents had invited me home to eat with their.
Once I was in Ireland, lost somewhere, in the countryside. It was raining so hard that I felt like I do water skiing, I was all wet and to shelter I entered a cascina. Immediately they started barking dogs and after a moment they arrived two men with the planted gun.
They thought I was a thief. I leaned against the wall with your hands in the air, dogs snarling, and I in English I tried to explain that I had no bad intentions. They spoke a strange slang, they were very suspicious, they were two old men, by 80-90 years. It took awhile, but then I believed. Then they clean the barn and was made to settle on dry straw bales.
I had the black Belstaff, of cotton coated with grease, but I was too much time under water and I was soaked to the bone. When they realized they made me enter the House, always wary, without saying a Word. They lived alone. They lit the fire and then, After a while that I promptly, they brought me some butter, bread.
As time goes on, always silent didn't see you., they got confidence in me and in the end they let me sleep with them. The morning after, at six, they pulled me out of bed and took me to church. When we got back I thanked, I gathered my things and I said goodbye. Where do you think you're going? You don't leave, bad weather. He said the older man in a tone that brooked no replicas.
So I stayed with them for three whole days. I used to help them in the work of the countryside, to govern the beasts, to round up the herd of sheep with dogs and stitch in the enclosure, in field work. They didn't speak never, at most you say three words per day, always communicate with looks and gestures. One evening we were going to be five hours in front of the fireplace, They said yes and no four words. All silent. Did the tea, drink it, ran out and made another. When I went away, After three days, they had shiny eyes, and I left wearing a large lump.
DON'T ever CALCULATION steps nor the itinerary. Can I do 1500 kilometers in one day and then, If a place I love, I will stop for three days. The Lofoten Islands, in the North Sea, over Norway, There are plenty of, most of them are uninhabited. I was there with my Honda and I decided I wanted to spend some time alone on a desert island. Then I made a deal with an old fisherman and I accompany on an islet of stones and MOSS. When I got off I told him: come pick me up in three days. He looked at me worried, thinking I was a bit mad. He was right. On the island there was nothing and that old man was my only contact with the world. If he had died of a broken heart I'd still be there on that island.
There were no roads, Obviously, but the situation was much worse than expected. Instead of CX it would take a trials bike: I have walked 50 meters, I sunken, and I left it there. To eat I had procured a fishing line: There the fish abounds, just throw it in the water and draw what you want. After three days the old man is back, with fresh bread and food, He was glad to see me still alive.
Coming from a family “poor”, I'm not ashamed to say it, I had big dreams but little money and I had them counted for petrol and one meal per day. I was forced to round down with what was down the street, of eggs in chicken coops, strawberries in a field…
Once, by chance, I took under a pigeon. I tied him to the bike, I did hang for and then I ate it. Obviously I've never slept in a hotel.
On the return journey from North Cape I ran out of money in Switzerland, I arrived from a gas station down, at mad. Makes me a full on credit? I asked the Manager. He squared and responded with a firm no. Can I sleep here, under the canopy of the Distributor? All right, I responded, It was evening and it was closing. I unrolled the mat, I took a sleeping bag and when I was going to lie down, maybe taken by compassion, told me: All right, I give you gas, but only twenty thousand livres. With those, traveling to a trickle of gas, switching off the engine downhill, I came up in Italy, but I was walking two kilometres from home. It was hard push, It was heavy with all luggage, the sleeping bag. The next day I went back to him and I paid it. Was surprised: that money had given them for lost.
The BIKE I never considered to compete, but as the most beautiful in the world to travel: takes you everywhere, feel the air, the noise, the heat, the cold, the rain. For me the bike has a frame, an engine and a dumbbell and little technology.
So we can talk, You can understand and if it breaks the adjust with a screwdriver and pliers. But today I'm all electronics and if you have a problem you ended: to fix it it takes the computer. I don't get custody if I face a trip “bad”.
What gave the professional turning point to my life of adventure was the meeting with a journalist, Roberto Aeron Carreon. The first time I met him we ingarellati from Bergamo to Switzerland, where we went to see a climbing wall. I had my Honda CX and him a Guzzi SP.
My first major undertaking, journalistically speaking, I finished with my friend, Piero Rossi, It was the rediscovery of old salt Street from Dolceacqua, in Liguria, up in Geneva with two Fantic 200 from trial: a total of 22.000 vertical metres. This ancient route was used by merchants of Geneva, They carried by mule salt and oil from Liguria in Geneva. Before I made a historical research and then from village to village asking older people we used to explain what were the routes that their grandparents did with mules. A real adventure almost all off piste and “at sight”. It was October and towards the end, on the Col de Chevannes at the foot of Mont Blanc, surprised us a snowfall that threatened to make us fail the ultimate goal. It was the hardest moment: We had to beat walk the path, dangerous downhill, and slide your bike with ropes for safety; on top of that came the night… an error and would be arriving in the Valley! But in the end we won.
Then I discovered Africa. Before the Morocco, the Tunisia and then the deserts. On a journey, in 1978, as always in Solitaire, I ran into the first Paris-Dakar: at least one hundred and fifty matti, including the still unknown Auriol and Neveu, you challenged in this crazy race to drive motor vehicles of all kinds, car, truck, Cytroen Two Horses, bike, lambrettas… Then there were the categories, you could compete with what you wanted. They went through the Ténéré and at that moment I decided that the next year would have competed with them.
Back in Italy I started to look for sponsors. Obviously I had no money. It was not easy to explain what it was, When I was talking all believe me crazy: is a race of 19000 kilometers in the desert, in twenty-two days. As? You were wrong, will be 1900. Dakar? Where is Dakar?
I had known the Fantic with the enterprise of the salt road, and then I turned to them too. Of course, this time I have not been taken seriously and laughing told me: All right, Beppe, We give you a RSX 125, What was then a decent enduro, not for competition but rather stout.
I wanted to take the piss, but I said yes immediately, which was fine, and so could not be pull back.
Then I started doing something that I love it: prepare for the race, organize your luggage. Of course I was alone, private to 100%, and I had to carry it all behind, from spare parts, with oil, from the tires to the sleeping bag.
I had no idea that the Dakar was too demanding for the first time and so, in 1982, I subscribed to the first edition of the Rallye des Pharaons. The departure was in Venice and that morning I slipped on the highway wearing a backpack 20 kg, containing a cylinder, a piston, the irons, 7 kg of oil, to eat, and with a rubber Sling bag. I had taken some old Pirelli from trial, choices among the remains of the warehouse, so were harder and lasted longer. At that time the African rallies were unknown and there was nothing specific, as the tires, the tanks…
In the afternoon, arrived in Venice, I went to listen to my first briefing African, IN FRENCH. I'm sorry, then said Fenouil, but due to technical problems we start tomorrow morning from Brindisi. I couldn't believe it. I bought a map, I looked where he was Toast and I set off on the highway to throttle. I traveled all night, I arrived at the port for last, I got on the ship and they closed the hatch.
Nobody knew him at the time, the Pharaohs. When I landed I realized that they were all French, and I was simply l'Italien. I also realized that I was finished in a crazy category: the 125 then it was one of the most technical, everyone had racing enduro or Motocross bike with large aluminium tanks, Special tires and service. I was driving a mere touring bike with dry tires, was carrying on his shoulders a backpack from twenty pounds that gave me the sores and I had the spare tire to collapse. I had done breaking in highway full throttle and I was afraid that the engine will "split at any moment, I held the road book with a rubber band and Barrettes cloths, and every now and then I flew out of leaves and had to chase after them through the desert. But in the end I won, I arrived first in my age group.
Not that I was a very fast rider, but once in the race I found to be completely comfortable in those places, and orient myself in the desert I was natural. Many were going strong but then got lost, They wasted a lot of time and so, from the middle of the race I found myself among the first. In the last stages of a cursed French Yamaha superpreparata that I sucked on the wheel the whole stage to then pass me at the finish line. But in the end I got him.
Another Fortune, In addition to victory, you have met Gigi Soldano, then, amateur photographer. He had been fired from his job of clerk, and even at that rally has brought good luck: today is one of the highest-rated sports photographers in the world, but that was the first time photographing for profession. So, between my victory and the extraordinary images of Gigi, an enduro bike in the desert with camels and pyramids had never seen, We have earned the cover of every newspaper. And so there was the mal d'africa.
Then the houses realized how important the African races and so they started to participate in an official way by hiring the strongest drivers of cross and enduro. Sometimes wrong, because the bolt was just a part of what is required for an African pilot. Especially in the early editions was fundamental orientation, not like today that the GPS has killed the pilot and therefore the importance of navigation. The experience gained in my travels with the knowledge of hazards and difficulty was equally important combined with psychological strength: knowing how to overcome all the difficulties and never give up!
I have often seen pilots named who made appearances with little luck and often tragic. But the era of business and then began the slow decline of the true African spirit.
That is why, and even for philosophical choice, I never became a pilot officer. I had bikes, but the houses were offering them to me only if I adapted to do the water carrier. If the driver had a problem I had to stop to help him, even if it means sacrificing my bike and therefore my race.
I'm sorry to hear that, because I'd probably managed to attract major sporting results. Running with everything on his shoulders and starting a special just arrived in late stage, No rest for outfitting the motorcycle. I spent three days without sleep, I had become a ghost… But despite this I got wins prestigious by category, as the Marathon in Dakar, the most coveted, and they often come close, and also before, official pilots. Once, with all the official teams of the various Nations, There were over thirty pilots potential winners, and arrive after the first ten for a private was a dream almost unachievable!
The greatest satisfaction I got from them: Bravo Beppe, They told me, I with a bike like yours wouldn't even come to the end.
Not only counts sense of direction. In the period leading up to the races really athletic training treating leveraging my knowledge of physical education instructor: race, swimming, gym, power supply. And, especially, climbing. I consider it a very important discipline for tough tasks as the rally, because it helps you get through the tough times: When it gets to the point where you think you won't make it more, snap out of it, concentrate and retrieve what remained of your strength to go on.
Another thing that wasn't so much, While other pilots neglected, is the power supply in the race. I was the first to carry the bag with water and saline supplements, and to use specific Enervit product line. It is thanks to this preparation that came at the end of the Dakar tired, but fit.
To get good results is not sufficient to cure physical and orientate: It is also essential to know how to adjust the bike. When I left with my heavy backpack all make fun of me for my ass, but I was not sure I walk. Getting by always, never give up even when things go all wrong is one thing I've learned from the people of Africa. So called "civilized" countries if something happens to you make a phone call and you help pick up tow, but in many parts of Africa if you do die. You break the truck on the track? Repair it, whatever it takes, with all the time that it takes.
If you don't leave six dead. Go like a snail? Never mind, arrivals after two days but arrivals. Is an extraordinary culture, the African, that teaches us a lot.
During a Dakar I found still on the edge of a runway Neveu, alongside his Honda. Cyril, What happened? The bike no longer, my race is over, He said morale on the ground. No longer goes? The cases are two: or missing petrol, or does not reach the current, Let me see. Had emptied the tanks back without opening the front ones time and fuel pipes were full of air. I disconnected, I slid out of gas and I reattached. The motorbike has broken down for. He looked at me like I'm a Martian. That year Cyril won.
Another time I found Jean-Claude Olivier in trouble; then drove his Yamaha to prototype 4 cylinders. I stopped to see if I could help him, They call me the good Samaritan. Beppe, the front wheel is square, rays are loose, some broke…. Well, Jean-Claude, that problem c?is?
The rays I pulled some thirty times in this Dakar. When I pulled out the spoke wrench from the bag did not believe: I fixed up the wheel and left.
But the most absurd story happened in the Rally of Morocco. I drove a Cagiva 125 two stroke, and at some point on a track the engine dies. Shooting down the headboard and I see that there is the piston laundry, a problem carburization. As usual, a crowd of people, time passes and I see a man on a bicycle is looking at me. The only thing I could imagine (science fiction about an African track) It was weld the piston and I start and explain it to people in French. At one point a guy cycling he runs and tells me there is a welding in a village in a certain direction. I have the bike disassembled I can't abandon it… banknote rag in half and give him the piston, so much was laundry, even if it were not back I wouldn't have served for nothing. The other half of the tickets I give you when you get back. He takes the piston, part as Cipollini in a sprint and disappears. They pass the hours, It gets dark but there's no sign of him or piston. In the middle of the night comes: welded! Incredible but true.
Though there were two fingers of drool. Then I started to rub it against a stone floor plan, little by little, It was a very long job. At some point, though, a guy stopped me, He picked up a rock from the track and he porto: It was a stone that cut like a lima! The solder was away faster and gradually the piston was taking a decent shape. When was the smoothest I mounted it and I tried to start the bike but was wrong: There was hardly any compression. Then the guys pushed me, strong, Stronger, even stronger, until pùt… pùt… pùt, the Cagiva slowly is starting up and finally so, slowly, I was able to direct me to the finish line. When I arrived at the camp were six in the morning, I tried a new seal and I replaced. No one could believe I was back with that piston welded and polished with a stone. Instead it was true: never give up.
The 1986 It was a very hard year for me. Things happened, in particular, the death of my friend Giampaolo Marinoni, died after arriving in Dakar as a result of a fall, and Thierry Sabine, who shook my principles. All I had done until then, What I thought, the things I believed in seem absurd hit, without sense. Fine risk, fall, getting hurt, It was fine all, but die no, didn't really work. Not quite right.
That year boded very well. The Cagiva I had entrusted the motorcycle officer, the forklift of Auriol, and although I was always the water carrier, I felt strong and motivated. The prologue of Paris in the snow was started with the best wishes and the first stages, Although the bike was hard to steer, It was powerful and reliable. Almost completely reliable.
Auriol was indeed the new wheels with magnesium hubs, Lightweight material but proved too fragile for African roads. At one stage I was forced to give him my front wheel remaining stuck on a track. I watched passing other drivers without being able to do anything, When it finally comes the Cagiva service machine, mechanical-driven French, hired to make assistance to Auriol. Over there were spare parts, including my wheel and predicted that I could help their driver and their, in the case, helped me. I put myself in the middle of the track with the wheel in his hand to stop them but these, as soon as they saw, they sped leaving me walk. I took 15 penalty hours. I would have killed. Offhand I am demoralized, but then, I have done so, It is precisely the difficulty to get strength, to make the challenge more interesting. Ah, yes? Now let's see who bends.
The next day the mechanics of Cagiva came to me, and everyone smiling they told me: Beppe, We have for you two wonderful magnesium wheels, glad? Give us your.
The Dirkou-Agadem was a grueling stage, drawn through the desert of Tenere along a track traced on high dunes. You came on top in speed and then jumped down into the void. In one of the higher jumps, While I was flying, I saw that I was coming in to land against a driver passed out.
Instinctively I jumped to the side to avoid the worst, but falling I pulled the bike pants. When I came to, I approached the other driver to provide assistance: Veronique was Anquetil. She was in a coma, the bike was falling on him by tearing off his helmet, It was full of blood with sand in his mouth. I cleaned and put it in a secure position, convinced that she would die. Then, to prevent pilots who followed the tracks there arrived on me I tried to get up to put Helmets on dune but I couldn't, your right leg I held, in the fall they were splicing the ligaments of the knee.
Then finally came the rescue helicopter and uploaded Veronique. The doctor told me: you have nothing, only the knee, She is going to die. And leave me in the middle of the desert with the leg with broken ligaments. So I ripped the shirt, I tied tightly on my knees and I started. I arrived at the camp after driving 350 kilometers with the leg swells up like a melon. As the hours passed the pain was always more violent, doctors had not yet arrived because in the meantime had also arisen a sandstorm, many riders are missing and the stop was canceled.
Only on the evening of the next day the doctor visited me and told me I had finished, that I had to withdraw. I don't think so, I told him, make me a prick and a stiff bandage… But to convince me to give up it took little: He took my foot and I did see that the leg drooped of 45 degrees in lateral direction at knee height.
At base camp drove me Thierry Sabine, with his HELO. We passed over a track during the race and at one point we saw a fall. Was Boudou, that was on the ground wounded. Thierry landed, He loaded the wounded and said: Beppe, I'm sorry but we're not all. Wait for me here, I take him to the field and I'll pick you up.
I went down, in the middle of the desert shirtless, the jacket I had left in the helicopter, was piping hot, I was thirsty, the sun burned and I was sweating. This is the second time, I thought, my life is in the hands of a single person. Nobody knows I'm here, and if Thierry falls down with the helicopter I certainly would die.
After four hours the Sabines came back to pick me up and took me to the field.
The next day he died crashing with his HELO. He flew on the runway following motor cyclists, during a sandstorm. He was a biker, a large, and knew what it means to ride the bike in the desert during a storm. To follow its pilots risked to lose life. With his death began the slow agony of Dakar.
With him died the spirit that had made her birth.
Only a few episodes of the life of Beppe Gauri, narrated by himself and put in writing by Aldo Dancers.
Riki n.d. r.