Friday, December 25, 2015
SHOPPING FOR A GUZZI IN AUSTIN, TX
Impressions of Central Texas – part 3
In an effort to be cool – which, indeed, takes quite an effort in my case – I walked into the Austin, Texas Moto Guzzi dealer wearing my bright red Moto Guzzi tractor-style baseball cap. I figured I’d fit right in.
This was our first, and presumably only, visit to the Texas capitol city. We had ninety minutes to kill before our scheduled tourist bus tour of the town and environs. “There’s a motorcycle shop just up the freeway that sells Guzzis,” I said to Candace, my wife, having done the on-line research that generally precedes my visit to a new area. Usually that research comes a cropper given the Italian motorcycle maker’s thin network of sales outlets. “They’ve got the 2014 California Touring for like forty-five hundred dollars off retail. Brand new!” I exclaimed. Her shrug was unapparent, given the good sport she always is, so together we entered AF1 Racing Motorsports. There, I would nose around and sit on some inventory, while she would…
After allowing a few minutes of browsing and quite possibly spying my red hat, the sales technician asked, “What Guzzi do you ride?” I use the word technician because the guy was really good. “I have a Breva 1100 and a BMW.” “Oh, I like the Breva,” he said, adding a few more words about this discontinued model to ensure I knew he knew what he was talking about. He turned to my wife: “And do you like to ride with him?” “Not so much, anymore,” she said. “Oh, so what hobbies do you have that cost a lot of money?”
I’ve been a fan of the Guzzi marque since I sat on that ’07 Breva about four years ago. The Sacramento area BMW salesman insisted that I take a well kept used one for a spin. Oh my! The rumble from the exhaust. The rightward lean when cracking the throttle. The fluid nature of the Italian design elements. The fit. The company’s storied history. The bikes’ Saab-like quirkiness. The mojo. Two hours later, the black B-1100 sat ticking and cooling in my garage, much to the chagrin of the missus.
Three California Touring models sat lined up in the middle of AF1’s huge showroom. I straddled a black one, imagining the wind whistling just over my head, deflected by the large Plexiglas “cop-type” windshield. I pictured myself as Clint Eastwood chasing bad guys on rooftops in that second Dirty Harry movie. I’d coveted the California 1400 since I first encountered one at the dealer in Seattle. And at this price?
I craned my neck to see if the sales guy might be circling in to ask if I had any questions about a bike he didn’t know I’d pretty thoroughly researched. He was back at the apparel counter chatting it up with Candi. “Quilting? Cool. He (indicating me) has two motorcycles. How many sewing machines do you have?” She responded. He said, “There are a lot of quilts in my family, you know, handed down through generations. Do you have any like that?” She answered describing a depression era sample that may have come from a great aunt. ‘That must be quite a piece of history.”
I moved to the white model, sat on it, leaned it off its side stand and twisted the throttle. I remembered the brief conversation I’d had a while back with Miguel Galluzzi, the designer of the new California model. He’s my height and, perhaps, just a little bit heavier. “I wanted to design a bike for guys our size,” he had said, moving his hand from his shoulder to my own. I settled into the seat and pictured myself gliding around serpentine curves on California’s north coast or spinning across great stretches of Nevada and Utah and Wyoming. That, and the whole Clint Eastwood thing. I looked over my shoulder again.
“Fredericksburg? Oh that’s a great little town. And there are a couple of really nice quilt shops there.” He offered directions.
Nothing looks or feels like a Guzzi, in my mind, and the new California model advances the Guzzi lineup into a sport-touring/cruiser realm that turns heads and elicits questions wherever it is parked. Or, at least, that’s been the case with the Breva. Dismounting, I flipped a lever on one of the panniers affixed to the Cali. Opening the top, I peered in, impressed by the volume but curious if it exceeded what I might have on my GSA.
“Do you sew, you know, clothing?” Pause. “A friend of mine designs clothes – has a shop in Fredericksburg. Just out of town. You should stop by.”
Standing in front of the big cruiser, I admired the odd headlight and wondered about the coverage of the standard running lights. I ran my index finger the length of the bike’s shiny front fender.
“Well, yes, shoes are really the foundation upon which fashion must work…”
I got back on the black one, and paused to look at my watch. Our city tour was scheduled to depart in thirty-five minutes and it was a twenty-minute haul back into town.
I approached the apparel counter. “If you have time,” the technician said to me, “I can let you ride one of those.”
“Oh,” I replied, we’re from out of the area.
“That’s what your wife said. California. North of Santa Rosa? There’s a great barbecue house up in Cloverdale on the road out to the coast…”
We chitchatted our way to the door where the sales tech said, “You know, we ship units anywhere in the United States.”
Then the following statement came from my wife, which explains why I opt for the term technician in reference to the chap on the sales floor. She said: “You should put a thousand down and have ‘em ship one to you.” I was gobsmacked. That sales guy had to be good.
Three days later, we entered a quilt store in Fredericksburg, Texas. In room upon room, brightly colored bolts of fabric were squeezed against one another. Candi admitted that she didn’t need another project – several were still awaiting completion back in the sewing room – but she’d shop for one anyway.
As she wandered through the displays, I approached the counter where two women stood talking about inventory. “Excuse me,” I said. “The other day, my wife and I were in Austin at an Italian motorcycle shop. While I was browsing Moto Guzzi motorcycles, the sales guy spent about thirty minutes talking with her about quilts and sewing and stuff.”
“Oh, why, that's very nice,” they chorused, adding a polite little giggle. Clearly they'd dealt with the husbands of customers before.
“So I was wondering if either of you would like to chat a bit about Italian motorcycles.”
Fortunately, when we travel, I pack a book or two to read. I finished nearly three chapters while waiting on the bench outside.
AF1 Racing has a huge selection of Aprilia, MG, Vespas, Zeros and other brands. Their website: http://af1racingaustin.com/
An interesting interview with designer Miguel Galluzzi: https://rideapart.com/articles/minutes-miguel-galluzzi
One Quilt Place in Fredericksburg, TX. This place rivals the shop in Sisters, Oregon for inventory and cool stuff, in my opinion: http://www.onequiltplace.com/
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