Private Passions: Easy Rider

Marchese Lamberto Frescobaldi is a 30th generation member of the Frescobaldi winemaking dynasty. His family first settled in the Santo Spirito quarter of Florence in the 12th century and have been making wine in Tuscany for the last 700 years. Lamberto, 55, is president of the Marchese Frescobaldi group, which produces around 11 million bottles of wine a year from six estates. He lives in Tuscany with his wife Eleonora and Carlo, the youngest of their three children.

Marchese Lamberto Frescobaldi in action on his Ducati Multistrada

How did you first get into bike racing? 

I learnt to ride a bicycle when I was five and soon became hooked – moving to a motorbike when I got older seemed very natural. When I was 10 I saw someone racing on a Mi-Val 125 in the vineyards and it was love at first sight

How old were you when you first rode a motorbike?

I was very young, around seven or eight. My uncle Carlo bought a small motorbike that had eight-inch wheels, which I fell in love with.

When I was 14, despite my father’s fears, I was given a Gori 50cc as a present. My uncle Ferdinando bought me boots, and a friend got me a Belstaff jacket, so I was ready to start my new adventure in the vineyards; the perfect place to indulge in my passion for motorbikes.

At 17 my mother, Bona Frescobaldi, bought me a bike I’d long lusted after: a new 125 2t, which was big and hard to drive. I fell off a lot but didn’t care – it’s part of the fun when you take risks. A few years later I decided to buy a Yamaha RD 350 2T and then a Suzuki GSX 750.

I had the Suzuki for a long time, as I started to fall in love with cars and have many other passions, including wine, as I was now working for my family estate, and my family – I married my wife Eleonora and we had three children together. She likes to tease me as every time I see a motorbike in Florence I turn my head. Passion is passion.

How did your passion for bikes develop?

In 2003, aged 40, I started riding again thanks to my friend James Suckling, who was asked to interview the president of Ducati for Cigar Aficionado magazine and brought me along with him as he knew how much I loved bikes.

We went to the Ducati factory in Bolognia and at the end of the interview I told the president I was keen to buy the same bike he rode – a Multistrada. He told me that he was about to switch to a new one, so sold me his old bike, which I was chuffed about.

What kind of competitions do you race in? 

I’ve always loved dirt bikes so Enduro competitions fit me perfectly. When you focus on the race you forget about everything else. I like to take risks and push myself to the edge.

I enjoy the competitive element of racing. I also like to ride with friends and enjoy sharing the experience, but after a while I feel the lure of the competition in my veins.

How does motorbike racing compare to making wine?

It’s difficult to compare them as the two are so different. Both require a lot of It’s passion and the desire to always look ahead and take risks.

How fast can your bike go? 

Too fast! My Ducati can go 250 kilometres per hour, but going fast means if something bad happens you might not get a second chance. When you go fast you shouldn’t look down…

Lamberto taking five with a glass of Chianti at Castello Nipozzano

Have you ever fallen off your bike, and if so, did you break any bones?

Of course! If you haven’t fallen off your bike it means you haven’t tried hard enough to succeed. I’ve broken fingers, both ankles, ribs and my shoulder. The most painful thing was when I ripped all the skin off my back and had to sleep face down for a month.

How many bikes do you own at the moment? 

Two, for two different uses as one is two-stroke. I would say I’m monogamous with bikes.

Where do you race? Mainly in Tuscany. Racing is a different way to be in touch with my beloved Tuscan landscapes, which are so diverse and rich. When you ride you inhale the country air around you and feel closer nature. I love riding through the forest and breathing in the aroma of the trees.

Where is your favourite place to ride? 

Off road any place is good. I can’t wait to go back to the desert. One of my most exciting adventures so far has been biking across the Sahara with a group of motorbike lovers, which was breathtaking.

I’d been before many years before with my mother and three sisters in a van when we crossed the desert in Tunisia down to Togo.

I always dreamt of going back on a dirt bike and in the summer of 2006 I found a group of bikers online who were driving down to Libya and joined them.

Riding through the desert was an amazing experience. The sand looks whiter during the day but turns a deep red at night – I loved watching the changing colours of the dunes as I rode.

It’s such a unique place and camping in the desert in a small tent was unforgettable. It’s great to be somewhere where your phone doesn’t work so you’re really able to recharge. The desert at night is the most intense experience I’ve ever felt. The stars seem so close it feels like you can touch them. They’re so bright that when you walk across the desert at night you can see your own shadow.

Are you an adrenaline junkie?

I wouldn’t say so, but I love the feeling of freedom and challenge that a motorbike gives you, and it’s the best way to forget about your problems and just concentrate on the road ahead.

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