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Ciao, Wildays! Three Days of Italian Moto Celebration

Highlights from the 2018 Wildays bike show in Varano, Parma.
This time last week I was sitting on the stony banks of the Ceno, on the edge of a small commune in Parma. An epic sunset was bouncing off the water and I had a cold beer in my hand, but it was doing little to soothe my sunburn.

Wildays was winding down, and I was sad to be leaving. It’s a three-day moto celebration with a vintage folk festival vibe, organized by the crazy cats from Anvil Motociclette.

Highlights from the 2018 Wildays bike show in Varano, Parma.

Ground zero was a top class race circuit: the Autodromo Riccardo Paletti just outside Varano de’ Melegari, accessible via a bridge over the Ceno. The Wildays crew packed the paddock area full of custom bike builders, gear and apparel vendors and food trucks.

Bike EXIF had a stand smack bang in the middle of the paddocks, where we had motorcycles from Hookie Co., Rough Crafts, Freeride Motos, North East Custom and deBolex Engineering on full display.

Highlights from the 2018 Wildays bike show in Varano, Parma.
DeBolex revealed two Ducati Scramblers (one 1100 and one 803) that were real crowd pleasers. The 803 was particularly jaw-dropping, featuring a custom tank and a full, hand-formed fairing. (We’ll have a feature on it soon.)

Hookie Co.’s ‘Wolf’ CB750 also drew stares on our stand, and over on their own stand they had Nico’s H-D flat tracker (which he rolled three times), and a rough-and-ready Honda Dominator, decked out for touring.

Highlights from the 2018 Wildays bike show in Varano, Parma.
Italian shop Alea had a slick Bonneville café racer moving about, and I spotted a sweet single-cylinder Yamaha tracker. I wish I could tell you more about it, but the owner didn’t speak a word of English.

A handful of manufacturers were present too; Yamaha Italy were running test rides all weekend, and Fantic had their Caballero flat trackers and scramblers out. And since the track was open every day, the sound of four- and two-strokes flying by quickly became part of the ambience.

Highlights from the 2018 Wildays bike show in Varano, Parma.
Just across from the main arena, in an open field, the Wildays team had carved out a flat track circuit and an enduro course. Next to the field was the river, and more refreshment stations. A makeshift stone roadway would take you across, and on to the campsite and live music area.

I spent the weekend getting around on foot, on motorcycle, on the back of another motorcycle, on a monkey bike, in the Anvil van, and hanging out the back of an SUV. Mopeds and monkeys were by far the most popular form of transport, and there was even an original Honda Cub EZ 90 zipping around the event.

Highlights from the 2018 Wildays bike show in Varano, Parma.
The crowd was spread out, so it was impossible to gauge just how busy Wildays was. Official attendance reportedly hit 7,000, with 500 riders racing and 70 kids passing through the junior moto school (which was awesome to see).

The campsite was stacked with 200 tents and 13 ‘glamping’ tents—but many folks also stayed in nearby hotels and guesthouses, or simply slept wherever they could.

Highlights from the 2018 Wildays bike show in Varano, Parma.
Calum Pryce-Tidd of deBolex (above) made the trip down from the UK with his significant other, and they shacked up in their van, next to the racetrack. I had the pleasure of dining with them one night; a stir-fry prepared on a portable gas stove, on the grass, next to the track, with motorcycles blasting by as the sun got low.

It’s moments like those that defined Wildays for me. And also unexpectedly running into Maarten from Berlin’s Berham Customs, and sharing quality American bourbon from a secret stash in his saddlebag. And seeing how far I could ride into the Italian countryside on Fantic’s mighty little Caballero Flat Track 125, or chasing Jacinta of Moto Doll fame through the twisties, on Yamaha’s splendid XSR700.

Highlights from the 2018 Wildays bike show in Varano, Parma.
I learnt how to order beer in Italian (properly) from the bar staff. I developed an unhealthy gelato habit. I made friends with travelers from Copenhagen, France, the UK, Australia, Mexico and Germany.

I shared meals with the core Wildays team, who by the end of the weekend had become family. And then I missed the drag racing—because taking your time (and losing track of it) is the Wildays way.

Highlights from the 2018 Wildays bike show in Varano, Parma.
Wildays isn’t about a subculture, or being one of the cool kids on social media. It’s authentic, unpretentious and filled with men, women and children from all backgrounds—united by a simple love for motorcycles and good times.

I’m already itching to go back.

Wildays | Facebook | Instagram

With thanks to: Organizers Alessandro ‘Phonz’ Fontanesi and Marco Filios, and their partners in crime, Gian Maria Montacchini and Anastasia Fontanesi; deBolex Engineering, NorthEast Custom, Freeride Motos, Hookie Co., Rough Crafts and Yamaha Motor Europe for bringing their bikes down; Fantic and Yamaha Italy for hooking me up with transport; and papá Phonz for adopting me.

Highlights from the 2018 Wildays bike show in Varano, Parma.

Highlights from the 2018 Wildays bike show in Varano, Parma.

Highlights from the 2018 Wildays bike show in Varano, Parma.

Highlights from the 2018 Wildays bike show in Varano, Parma.

Highlights from the 2018 Wildays bike show in Varano, Parma.

Highlights from the 2018 Wildays bike show in Varano, Parma.

Highlights from the 2018 Wildays bike show in Varano, Parma.

Highlights from the 2018 Wildays bike show in Varano, Parma.

Highlights from the 2018 Wildays bike show in Varano, Parma.

Highlights from the 2018 Wildays bike show in Varano, Parma.

Highlights from the 2018 Wildays bike show in Varano, Parma.

Highlights from the 2018 Wildays bike show in Varano, Parma.

Highlights from the 2018 Wildays bike show in Varano, Parma.

Highlights from the 2018 Wildays bike show in Varano, Parma.

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