Ducati Australia And New Zealand recently kicked off its first-ever brand-supported adventure ride.
Having established the Multistrada range and Scrambler stable, Ducati has taken another bold step and offered owners an adventure ride tailored to suit the Italian marque’s off-roaders.
A Good Start
Tour-management company Maschine was chosen to run the ride, and the accommodation, cuisine, and route were spectacular. All of those things were ideally suited to both bikes and riders. From the brand’s point of view, Ducati sent along with its awesome truck, manned by super-tech Chito Centino. Chito proved to be a happy and incredibly helpful tech who never seemed to work up a sweat or end up grotty. It didn’t matter if he was changing tyres, helping with basic maintenance or carving up the landscape on a Desert Sled, he always seemed to end up clean, well-presented, and smiling. Also in attendance from Ducati was Marketing Manager Simon Leplaw. Simon punted around a ‘Multi’ with authority and was often in the right place at the right time to help push a bike or grab a pic.
The final factor behind a hugely successful first adventure ride was the attitude of the riders themselves. There can’t have been too many groups around as happy and willing as this lot.
Kicking off from the Hunter Valley, a course of bitumen and sensible forestry dirt had everyone roosting north to the NSW mid-north coast. At just over 400km the first day’s ride included a bit of everything and was well measured to let everyone settle in.
Although Ducati offered the choice between road and dual sport routes, none of the 15 starters asked for the bitumen, so after an early start to bank some photos, then a luxurious breakfast, the whole show blasted off through Dungog, Gloucestor, Comboyne, and into Port Macquarie with very few hold-ups. Even with some high spirits on show shredding through the leafy, premium forest trails, it was still just on dusk when the tired, but clearly very excited, riders dragged their sweaty, grinning selves into the plush Sails resort to tidy up and prepare for the night’s briefing.
That set the tone for the entire ride.
The next morning dawned clear and warm, and with everyone still buzzing from the first day, the show headed northwest to clear a loop, which had been promised to include a few challenges, some amazing scenery, a couple of beachside villages and, for those so inclined, an optional sand section at the end of the day.
“Who likes riding sand?” called out the lead rider at the briefing. The sullen silence that followed was probably the only sullen silence from any rider during the whole three days.
As it turned out, after 250km or so of absolutely superb dual sporting, including an incredible stretch of forestry twin-track and some hard pack farm roads, which let the Ducatis show their performance pedigrees, most of the riders fronted up for what turned out to be a very challenging 20km or so to finish the day. The sand was deep and soft, and once that was conquered there were still several kilometres of seriously rough, hard-edged potholes to negotiate.
The late-afternoon light was dappled and the potholes hard to see, so the bikes copped a savage pounding.
This section highlighted the difference between the Desert Sled and Multistrada riders. In the sand, the Sledders with their smaller, lighter bikes danced on through and snickered quietly behind their hands as the big Multis slogged through the same terrain. A few of the big bikes needed the help of fellow riders to keep them moving.
But when the potholes and ruts started, the Multi riders made the relevant selections from their electronics’ menu and powered on through. The Sledders, fiercely proud of their old-school, ‘real motorcycles, hacked, bashed and smashed their way along a singularly unforgiving section, then pulled up to tighten up flapping mirrors and make dental appointments.
Competition between the factions was good-natured, and one of the most uplifting facets of the whole Ducati Adventure Tour was the brotherhood and mutual support between riders, including staffers. Help was guaranteed, no matter where or what bike.
The day concluded with a sunset ferry ride across to the resort and a big seafood feast.
Among The Gum Trees
The final day meant leaving Port Macquarie and heading back to the Hunter Valley. The plan was to take in more forest dirt roads, see some great sights and stop at the motorcycle museum at Nabiac for a bit of a look-see.
By the third day everyone had settled in, and coarse, good-humoured challenges were being thrown out right, left and center stand. The pace – let’s be honest – was up.
Inevitably someone came unstuck on a gritty forest turn. That triggered some hairy moments for the riders behind and before anyone had time to blink there were a couple of big Multis on their sides and riders looking a little bemused and befuddled.
Luck was in everyone’s favour. Not only was no-one injured, but the bikes, well-protected with crash bars and Oggie knobs, had no real damage The worst seemed to be a cracked beak on Chris Mifsuds Multi. Somehow Chris had managed to get the big bike up a steepish bank, into the forest edge, and run it nose-first into a stonking great gum tree.
No koalas were alarmed, folks. It was a very environmentally friendly incident. With everything back in balance and enthusiasm under control, the riders headed into Nabiac for lunch and to see how much their stories of amazing saves and incredible speed could be exaggerated. But between the time lost in the forest and a flat tyre, there was no motorcycle-museum visit on this trip.
That’ll be something to look forward to on Ducati Adventure Tour 2: Rise Of The Sled Heads.
About the only challenge, the group hadn’t faced and conquered was rain, but, almost as if it’d been actored into the ride, it belted down on the last afternoon. Those with open-face helmets had that stinging sensation of being shot in the face by a dozen spud guns at once as they tried to squint through the curtain of thundering water to see where the hell the twisting mountain road was heading. Those with dual-sport helmets weren’t much better off. They weren’t being pelted in the face with rain, but they couldn’t see much either.
A regroup at a servo in a village called Booral, turned out to be a masterstroke.
The weather passed, and a bedraggled and saturated group saw patches of clear sky in the direction everyone hoped the ride was headed.
The final section did in fact head into the sunshine and warmer temperatures and everyone cheered up immensely… just cheered around the Ducati truck that afternoon. They’d ridden rocks, water, sand, clay, forest, ridges, valleys, and awesome twisting bitumen. They’d stuck together and conquered some tough and amazing terrain, consumed heroic amounts of Atlantic salmon and wagyu sirloin, and they were justifiably proud of themselves.
Let’s hope there are more adventure rides to come from Ducati because this one was a belter.