Ducati Race to the Clouds: From the Show Room to Pikes Peak
Its not often that you find a rider capable enough to race Pikes Peak who is also willing to put in the miles to physically get there. Its arguably less common to find a motorcycle equipped to handle the technicality of one of the most difficult ascents in the US while still maintaining touring and off-road capabilities. To be the man that sets forth on this type of adventure with one motorcycle is a bold statement about both man and bike.
Jamie Robinson’s adventure began in his driveway in Los Angeles, California. His plan was to ride the 2015 Ducati Multistrada S from this driveway all the way to the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb event. But Jamie wouldn’t be watching Pikes Peak from the sidelines, he was going to compete. More specifically, Jamie, founder and director of MotoGeo.com, would participate in the heavyweight class on the very same motorcycle parked in his driveway.
With his saddle bags full, the MotoGeo film/photo crew in tow, and the Multistrada in Urban mode, Jamie kicked off his adventure with a quick stop at the iconic Hollywood sign, where he posed for the camera with a big thumbs up. Jamie was looking forward to making his way into the mountains. First stop: Las Vegas. While on the Multistrada, Jamie was able to toggle between touring mode and sport mode on the move with the change of his mood, letting him focus on the challenges of the road, not those of the bike.
Passing through Southern California, the mountains flatten out, turning into the Mojave Basin range. With cruise control set, the Multistrada traveled across open road toward Sin City with grace and ease. Arriving in Vegas, Jamie aimed for the strip where he took the advantage of the eerily empty streets to backlight photos of the bike with native neon. Checking into a hotel room just to go to sleep is not the stereotypical Vegas trip, but this adventure called for sharp minds and clear eyes.
A subdued exit from Vegas on the Multistrada wasn’t easy, but Zion National Park, Utah was next on the cue and the epic backcountry was calling louder than the lights. Two days were spent exploring Zion’s offerings of dirt roads and more technical trails and camping in yurts with Jamie’s MotoGeo crew. The Multistrada took the off-road challenges in stride - surprising riders with whom the name Ducati calls to mind it’s superbike heritage. The Ducati was happy, light and ever-adapting off piste with the enduro rider mode selected which delivered smoother throttle inputs and adjusted the electronic suspension, keeping the bike supple and controllable.
Continuing offroad in enduro mode towards Utah’s Moab City for his final night in Utah, Jamie had begun to feel and show that he was one with his Multistrada; embodying the spirit of this adventure. Jamie took the last evening of camp to mentally prepare for what was to come, bedding down on top of his jacket just a few paces from the same Ducati that would carry him up Pikes Peak in the coming days.
The next morning Jamie quickly crossed over the Colorado state line. With a quick lunch in Aspen he pushed on through a spectacular sunset to finally reach Colorado Springs. With the road trip over and race leathers on hand, things had gotten pretty serious for Jamie over-night. In Colorado Springs, Jamie handed over his keys to the Ducati Race Support and Service Managers, who outfitted the Multistrada with some convincing race livery, a Termignoni performance exhaust, and racing slicks.
Pikes Peak Highway is a public road, so practice is held from 5:30 am to 9:00 am over three sections of the course, on four separate days. The risks that racers like Jamie take have very real consequences, even during these practice sessions. Pikes Peak is a real place. And indeed, the third day of practice was a very real and very heavy day. 39 year old Carl Sorenson passed away after having a crash. Carl was a father, a husband, a brother, and a racer. Motorcyclists are bound by a common bond; what we are most passionate about can at times be inherently dangerous and illogical. We recognize and accept the possible repercussions of our passion all in the pursuit of not just living but feeling alive.
Once he had logged four days of practice and qualifying times, Jamie could finally assure his team that the Ducati’s race settings were close and he was coming to grips with the track. He was even second quickest in practice on day two.
Running the Multistrada wide open in sport mode, with all 160 horse powers pushing him up the 156 turn, 12.42 mile (19.99km) public road turned hill climb. Jamie Robinson summited Pikes Peak, America’s Mountain, in 10:30.453; climbing 4720ft (1440m) aboard his nearly showroom stock 2015 Ducati Multistrada S. Not only did Jamie Robinson place 4th in the Heavyweight motorcycle division, he was the fastest Ducati to the top of the mountain that day and he walked away as Pikes Peak’s 2015 Rookie of the Year (bike). No other competitor used one motorcycle for to-and-from transport for the race, and few would even consider taking their race bike for a two week adventure shake-down run.
After ascending the 14,110 foot Pikes Peak racers must wait at the summit until the day’s racing is complete, which left Jamie Robinson plenty of time think about his race to the clouds, the perfect capstone to his adventure. “Goodbye Pikes Peak, see you again soon….” -Jamie Robinson