A grand day out

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid - Lago di CapotostoYesterday we went for a picnic. I loaded up the sandwiches, Spanish omelette, water and squirrelled the nibbles and ground blankets away in military fashion, so that by 10am the Capo was fit to burst and ready to roll. We’d decided on a nice lakeside lunch at Lago di Campotosto with a side order detour to the top of the Campo Imperatore and a look at the observatory and cableway as well. The return would include a little light shopping excursion for Jan at Castelli and hopefully home in time to watch the sunset. All very nice.

As always the Capo performed flawlessly despite the humid 36c as we left. The miles rolled on and the GPS rhythmically counted up the altitude as we headed up the Gran Sasso. Here it was a far more civilised 24c with a nice breeze, smashing! On the way, Jan had plenty of opportunity to practice the royal wave as a steady precession of like-minded bikers passed the other way, no doubt heading for lunch at Santo Stefano or a fountain side coffee in Castel del Monte.Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid - Gran Sasso observatory

We topped out at 2,150m as we parked up at the end of the line – the car park at the Observatory. Built in 1951 it now runs the CINEOS program (Campo Imperatore Near Earth Object Survey), started in 2001. Standing next to the observatory is one of the oldest ski hotels in Italy. Built in 1921, it was used to imprison Mussolini  and in 1943 saw him rescued by German commandos without firing a single shot.

We then headed the last 30  miles or so to Lago di Campotosto, a man made lake built in the 1930’s. It sits at about 1,300m above sea level and is used for hydro electric power generation. The road that runs around it is about 23 miles long, but you can cut that significantly if you use Ponte delle Stecche – The Bridge of Sticks. The road to the North is fine, but to the South, water frequently drains across the road carrying silt and sand with it. I could see clear evidence of bikers pushing their luck in bends and ending up with intimate knowledge of the unforgiving nature of crash barriers, trees and very big rocks!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid - panoramic of Lago di Campotosto

We finally found a nice little spot that suited us just dandy. Amid the periodic calling of frogs or toads down at the waterside and a cool breeze, we nibbled and munched our way through a king’s dinner. After a couple of hours rest we set off back down the way we’d come until we intercepted the SS80. Here we turned towards Teramo and hopefully a fuel station! We eventually stopped off at Montorio a Vomano for a refuel – bike and us as the temperature was back up to the mid 30’s again. Next, we swung South East back into the mountains and Castelli, home of ceramics.

While Jan scoured through the acres of shop shelving, looking for that just-right little something for the house, I caught up with events back at the training school in the UK, then sat and sipped water as the sun dropped behind the mountain and the forest took on a whole new darker and foreboding mood. Time to move on. Finally, with a big smile and a small package beautifully finished with a gold ribbon tucked safely in the top-box, Jan hopped on board and we set off home.

At about 7.30pm we rolled into the barn, cut the motor and sat for a moment exhausted as we contemplated emptying the bike, getting changed, washing all the stuff and putting it away ……. but that’s after the sea of expectant little faces, feathery and furry get fed!

All together we covered about 170 miles between 350m and 2,130m above sea level and with wholesome home produce, a frugal Caponord, Jan’s present and a couple of pit-stop coffee’s, we did the lot for less than €60! Bargain.

Ultimate Parts (UK) discount offer

I’ve just been given this heads-up from Aussie Capo rider and all-round good egg Steve (Precis) about discount offers from those awfully nice folks at Ultimate Parts in Nottingham (UK), take it away Steve ……

Martin at Ultimateparts (http://www.ultimateparts.net/Aprilia-ETV-1000-Capo-Nord-2003-parts.php) can supply sprag clutch parts with massive saving to forum members, e.g. sprag clutch bearing down from £334.00 to £169, alternator windings £169.00; they must email him [[email protected]] and mention my name (Steve) to qualify for the discounts.

Cheers for the info, hope someone finds it useful.

Fire sale at the lost and found

After a bit of time mulling over the computer problem, I decided to buy an external housing for the poorly Sony SATA hard drive and see if it was still readable from Jan’s XP machine or the Capo’s Asus notebook. Would it be possible to recover the data? Both machines recognised it, but that’s as far as it went … they couldn’t read a thing from it. One last thing to try, then I would have to admit defeat and start over from scratch. Not a happy thought.

I loaded a demo copy of a program called ‘Recover my files’ …… a bit of a naff name I know, but it worked! It read the disk and recovered 95%+ of the data over 24 hours. I happily paid to unlock the demo version and within 48 hours had everything backed up to a new external hard drive. Things were looking up!

I reformatted and checked the hard drive for errors, then loaded a copy of the new Microsoft Windows 8 Release Preview – figuring that if the disk is suspect, it can’t do any more harm to play with a new version of Windows for  a while. Somewhere along the line I’ll have to buy a new copy of Windows anyway, so why not see if the new version is any good …. it can’t be worse than Vista can it?

Well here I sit writing this post on a happy stable Sony Vaio with Windows 8 purring along smoothly. The system is faster and more stable, most of the programs I use have loaded with no issues and those that did were an easy fix. So fingers crossed that this little drama is over for now. Slowly I’m picking my way through the stored data and adding it back to the laptop, but it’s a slow old process ……

…… now to start doing regular backups!

Snap-crackle-pop ….. no, not the Capo!

Well I have to say it’s been quite a stressful few weeks ….. a Capo coil failed just before I left for the UK, but as it fed a side-sparkplug the bike ran OK and so it had to languish at the airport while I wandered off to rainier latitudes in search of parts and a little work. The stay in the UK was pretty uneventful, quite nice actually, except for a Sunday morning psychopath using a 40 ton articulated lorry as weapon. Very unnerving.

Time flew by as it always does and I’m soon back at Pescara airport uncovering the Capo in the dark, will it start? Of course it does bless it, and we enjoy a nice moonlit ride home. Jeez the Capo feels BIG after riding a Honda Hornet 600 for a couple of weeks!

The next morning a new coil was fitted (more here) and shortly after, while basking in the warm glow of a job well done, my computer decides to crash! Total meltdown … it’s thrown its metaphorical electronic toys out of the pram, 360Gb of digital mush. Bugger!!!

So now I’m relegated to a teeny-weeny 9″ screen on the notebook and a overwhelming desire get more than one podgy finger at a time over the miniature keyboard. As a part of the Capo’s tool kit it’s the business, as a day-to-day work tool it sucks big time …… sorry Asus.

Now my heart is well and truly sinking as I take stock of all the stuff that’s possibly lost.