This article was originally printed in the Moto Guzzi National Owners Club monthly newsletter.

Cold Ride in Florida, by Jim DeGregoria

Growing old is an accumulation of knowledge manifested as wisdom. At least that's the way I perceive it. But what do I know? I am only someone in his late fifties, and some million miles down the road via two wheels.

This past mid January, a good friend and MGNOC member, Bill Yoder, my son Anthony, and I decided to go for a ride on our Guzzis. It was a Saturday, with weather forecasted to be in the high 60's with clear skies. What do we know?

So, an early morn start was initiated and we headed north out of Panama City, Florida, with a destination of eventually heading southeast toward the armpit of Florida. As all good plans go this was not to be a good decision.

After approximately 100 miles we encountered fog, decreasing temperatures, and a fine mist. By the time we had cruised through the Apalachacola Forest and reached the coast near St. Mark's, Florida, the temperature was near 38 degrees. This is really cold when linked with humid air and 60 mph speed - the old wind factor!

My 1973 Eldorado loves cold weather and was running like a fine Swiss watch. But my son Anthony on his naked Eldorado was having a difficult time with the cold, and when Bill and I checked on him, it was obvious he was nearing hypothermia, so after some hot chocolate and coffee in St. Mark's, we decided to head south down the coast to Apalachacola and then back north to Panama City. This was good, in that we were shielded by the pine forest on our right and had a great view of the gulf and the bay on our left. This is a very scenic drive on Florida's northwest coast and one of the last that you can really enjoy riding on open unobstructed road, which is lightly traveled. While cruising, I had been watching my two primary instruments (the tach and speedo), and after over 200,000 miles on this Eldorado, I noticed an obvious fact that I had not previously noticed. I have rebuilt several Eldos and have worked on many other motorcycles, but never paid attention to the Eldorado's speedometer.

If you old timers will remember the speedo goes to 160 mph and the tach goes to 8000 rpms. If you follow MGNOC you'll also remember I had a misfortunate event last October and more or less totalled my Eldo. And also you'll remember, I rebuilt it and then rode it to Coon Bottom 2000. See prior MGNOC issues from December, 1999 and January, 2000.

Anyhow, I needed a tachometer and good friend and MGNOC member, Richard Shieldhouse , who lives in Jacksonville, Florida, sent me a like new one. I had this on the Eldo and was checking it out on the ride.

I have to give the Guzzi people some kudos on this. The tach and the speedo are proportionate, in that the tach speed is always half the speedometer mph in 5th gear. i.e. 2000 rpms = 40 mph, 3000 rpm = 60 mph, and 4000 rpm = 80 mph. Plus if you have them mounted correctly the needles are pointing at the same clock position.

I used to just go out, start the bike and go. The ride was the thing! Since my misfortunate experience in October, 2000, I now find my self more attuned to every aspect of motorcycling, from the road to the riding gear I am wearing. When you see the asphalt face to face at 60 mph, and feel the levy jacket deteriorate from your torso, you do not gain a true respect for the ride. After three months of "Bag Balm" and bruises, I wonder: "Do I have enough protection?" I imagine I'll get it out of my system, but as of this time, I am still a little antsy about running down the highway!

Back to our cold day's ride. We finally made it to Mexico Beach on the western side of the peninsula and stopped for supper. This being prime oyster season, we stopped at "Tocan's" on the Gulf beach and had Oysters Rockerfellow and Cajun Gumbo.

What a snack for some hungry cold motorcycle riders! Plus they gave us a seat by the fireplace, and that was really nice. We did not want to leave, but with less then 30 miles to the home port, we managed to get home by dark, accumulating some 250 miles plus for the day. That does not seem to be a great amount, but we stopped numerous times for gas, eating twice, and then uncountable times to warm up. Fair weather Floridians are not used to all this cold, and we are really spoiled at times. But we do get to ride a lot more then some of the northern climate residents, so eat your hearts out about our trivial problems.

Daytona is coming up so if you head this way stop for a cup or whatever and we'll give you some southern hospitality.

Return to previous page