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Old 14th November 2021, 22:08   #1
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Default The end of an era | Tribute to Valentino Rossi

Sometime in 2009, when Rossi was on way to his 9th Title, I was on my way to ruin my dad.

It is almost encoded in the DNA of middle-class folks to strive for getting a home of their own. True to his calling, my dad had built a decent house in a moderately decent locality of about-to-burst-to-the-scenes Gurgaon. This in itself would have been an achievement worth applauding on the Whatsapp group where middle-class folks meet, to save fuel cost, except Good Morning Whatsapp wasnít a pandemic yet. But my dad, son of an uneducated mother and a father who was a labourer in BRO, managed to time it so well that he was home-loan free long before his retirement was worth an extra round of tea and biscuits in the aforementioned group.

So, after almost 10 years in the house that he managed to finish before his retirement, I lured him to build another one. This was completely off the script. This was confusing the cusp of greatness with that of a disaster. Easy to do with cusps. Anywho, blinded by his love for me, and a slightly better designed abode, he got on with it. I will spare you the fights, the depressing market visits, the futile efforts at cost-cutting, and straight-away get at the financial ruin that followed.

He spent all his savings, PPF, EPF and other such cosy post-retirement acronyms.

If that wasnít enough, there was a new home-loan, albeit with a promise that I will pay most of it. That promise being close in value to that of a call centre executive than that of a central bank.

He rues his decision, sometimes loudly. And, now that I am mentally old enough, so do I.

But, what has this got to do with the retirement of one of the greats of motorcycle racing?

46.

If the tattoo of Vale wasnít enough, I made my dad build the new house in Sector 46.

How cute. How smitten. How stupid.

Everything done in love mostly is.

But, then it was 2009. I was about to reach my peak. And while I would like to say I just didnít know it yet, I think I knew.

Rossi had won his 9th. I had been to Leh. I was on my way to quite-possibly-the-best agency in India. I was dating the girl. I believed I was about to bequeath the scene with the radiance of explosive brilliance.

Ha!

But, then why wouldnít you believe in all this, when the next year you headbutt into a cloudburst in Leh and survive.

And survive to meet the man himself.

Oh, yes.

If 2009 was epic, 2010 was like the shot of over-confidence that only the dim-witted in the comments section have.

After getting to know that Rossi was in town for Auto Expo, we found his hotel and timed our stay in the lobby to perfection. There was the lanky Italian God, in his FIAT Yamaha skin, stepping out of the lift.

Here were two luxury-spec kids of two poverty-spec parents in front of nirvana.

He waved. He smiled. Said hello. Signed my shirt. Signed my cap. Signed a cheque to make us **** off.

No, not really, but I wouldnít be surprised if that thought crossed his mind.

Many a fit and deserving sportspersons after taking themselves or their teams to the zenith have stood in the pose, you know a jump in the air, fist punching the gravity away, and so did I. Outside the lobby of Le Meridien.

Then stood there completely motionless, and then choked on my tears a little. .

Why all this kerfuffle you may ask?
Whatís with Rossi, that I havenít felt for other heroes?

For anyone of my age, there was a default Indian god, given to you and the entire nation at birth. The one true religion of the sub-continent. Sachin Tendulkar.

I met the legend but didnít feel the same.

Donít get me wrong. The man has an aura that would take a charlatan, a farm house, a beard and spiritual diarrhea to build. But it wasnít the same. Not even close.

And thatís because, to me at least, Sachin was almost everything, but he wasnít cool.


Rossi though, was the epitome.

Born on the less glamorous beachside of Italy, he was sort of born to ace the coolness test.

A lot of champions are cool because they are champions, and that is all right I guess. But, Rossi was cool, even before he was a MotoGP champion.
Donít trust me, how about strapping a friend dressed as a chicken to make it look like your imaginary sponsor?

How about pimping three-wheelers and racing them in your hometown?

How about checking all his famous helmet designs and celebrations on google?

I urge you to do so. For, nothing will prove the point than the jokes he has done as art on his helmets over the course of his career.

This is beyond the coolness he displayed on the track.

Look, I will admit Stoner was bigger on sheer talent than him, but he was a crappy script writer. Because, one of the charming things about Rossi was that he wasnít a qualifying hero. He was a Sunday man. So he just flabbergasted you on race day, as he charged through the grid, picking people left right and centre and winning.

Not many champions after Rossi have been good at that. They start at the front, and finish at the front. Nothing wrong with that, but it doesnít hook you like an easy going guy just arriving on Sunday and sticking it, turn after turn, and winning.

And for many years since I started watching racing, Rossi did it Sunday after Sunday. Your personal life could be collapsing, your professional life could be the airplanes that came before Wright Brothersí, your purpose in life more of a general direction than a location, your finances more of a farce than facts, and yet somehow Rossi could rescue the weekend, the week, the month and dare I say even years.

For the years he was winning he made sure I believed I could too. And in those years at Ducati, he made me believe that if he could grind it out, so could I.

Oh those years at Ducati. The hope. The euphoria at just the thought of winning made me add more to my EMIs to go to Italy and watch him become the next pope.

Alas. It was the worst of his years. It was gut wrenching. It was heart breaking. It was a reality check.

God was human.

But he didnít wince. Or at least not that much. He didnít bitch. Or at least not that much.


And he taught me what my dad has been trying to do for so long.

No, not financial prudence.

To not give up in the face of adversity.


Watching him struggle made our faces droop like stroke victims. But he soldiered on. Even taking with humility Casey Stonerís acrid retort when Rossi took him out in a crash.


Yet, the man gave us hope. Because when a day doesnít go your way, you wait for the next, when a year doesnít go your way, you plan for the next.

So, we did.

His return to Yamaha would be celebrated. We will go to Barcelona, the stage of his brilliant act against Lorenzo.

He wouldnít win that race, but it was clear he could win a championship soon.

So I waited.

More than I have waited for my luck to turn around.

But it didnít. The closest he came to win was in 2015 and I was there in Sepang, where the tiff with Marquez would seal the fate of his 10th.


In these last few years he taught me to love the sport more than the hero. A little lesson to all those professing their love for the books rather than the teachings.

The sport, for me at least wouldnít be the same without him, but still it tickles my heart to watch a Bagnia chase and trump Marquez. Or Quartararo decimate the straight line advantage of Ducatis in the corner. As it should be.

If in his glory days Rossi taught me the importance of Gods, in his fading days, he shone light on the value of the path.

No kid who ever dribbled a basketball in the early 90s did that because a certain Michael Jordan was a millionaire. They took it because they wanted to play like him. They wanted to get in the air and thwack that ball in the face of Newton. That was the charm.

Love for a sport as is love for anything, or anyone, is the love for the journey rather than the destination.

In a way Rossi taught me about love.


It helped that biking has always been my love.


My introduction in advertising was a yellow AGV helmet.

That to Ogilvy Delhiís office I was the guy with some kalakari wala helmet (Dreamtime AGV, bought from Mugello and hand carried like a trophy)

That the only thing I asked from my wife at marriage, or for marriage to the chagrin of a few, was the AGV Simoncelli Tribute helmet. (I got a stare)


That chasing my best friend around Lutyenís Delhi on a bike with 7 bhp less was part giggles part therapeutic. Because, in my head as I tried to out-brake him, I was Rossi on a 24 bhp bike, he being Stoner on his 32 bhp missile.

I fell in love with the hills because turns with camber made me feel like a racer. Straight line speed was for plebs, seducing the curves of the mountains was royalty.



Theog to Rampur became my therapy session..

Everything from professional setbacks to breakups were treated there.

For a few days life was put at stake to feel alive everyday.

Every bit of money was spent on new bikes.
Every bit of extra money was for going abroad to watch races.
Savings wasnít for the future, it was for putting dino juice in the bike as I went chasing friends to places where taking a flight would make more sense.

From Thimphu to Rann of Kutch, from Kanyakumari to Leh, ass was sacrificed at the altar of biking.

How stupid you say.

And thatís the whole reason for feeling empty today.

For there will be no superheroes. And without superheroes to believe in there wonít be anymore of goofiness and stupidity to keep that kid alive.

Rossiís charm to me wasnít his 9 world championships, Rossiís charm was what he all did while getting those 9.

Those helmets. Those celebrations. The madness.

They all reeked of a man telling you that you donít have to let go of your inner child as you chase the pinnacle.

To me he was the biggest champion of the theory (my own) that you donít have to be a grown up to beat grown ups at their own game.

That being the king of the world doesnít mean that the kid from Tavulia will let go of either Tavulia or the kid.

You can wear Nike Air at a stiff upper lip party. That you can joke about your own age (the Viagra helmet), your own follies (the donkey helmet), or your rivals being better than you (the shark helmet).

It pinches more because with him retiring today, it feels like the end of my own foolishness.

That somehow for all those years he has kept alive the kid in me, despite people and life doing its best to make a man out of me.

It feels like an end of adolescence and the thrusting upon of the crown of thorns that is adulthood.

Because I donít think I will be foolish enough to spend quite a bit of money on number plates ending with 46 anymore. Or to carry the weight of any more tattoos on my arms. Or chase the tar-ribbon in the hills as hard as I used to. Or choose banks because they have XLVI as their branch name. Or try to tempt fate by teasing a cloudburst. Or take a loan to see a race. Or to buy another Rossi replica in the hope that it will bring my luck-bearer some luck.

I donít think I will ever believe in superheroes now, let alone have a new one.

The end of his era is quite possibly the beginning of my coming of age.

What Schumacherís, Sachinís or even my Fatherís retirement couldnít do, Rossiís has done.


Many years ago I destroyed one manís retirement for a dream. I donít think I will ever repeat that feat.

Or maybe not.

For as I watch Wayne Gardnerís son become the Moto2 world champion, hereís hoping Rossiís daughter will one day be a MotoGP world champion.

Happy retirement, the grandmaster of fun and the keeper of faith.

And thanks for keeping me young all these years.

P.S: Donít think it is a coincidence that you have retired on Children's Day.


The man.

- Rossi and Phil Read are the only riders to win world titles in the 125, 250 and 500cc classes. (Note: Marc Marquez has won titles in 125cc, Moto2ô and MotoGPô)
- Valentino Rossi is the only rider to have won World Championships in four classes: 125, 250, 500 and MotoGPô.
- Rossi and Giacomo Agostini are the only two riders to have won premier class titles on both two-stoke and four-stroke machinery.
- His win at the 2004 season-opening GP in South Africa made him the first rider to take back-to-back premier class victories on different makes of bike.
- In 2004 he became only the second rider to win back-to-back premier class titles on different makes of machinery. Eddie Lawson was the first, winning on a Yamaha in 1988 and a Honda in 1989.
- He holds the record for successive premier class podiums, scoring 23 successive top-three results from the Portuguese GP in 2002 to the South Africa GP in 2004.
- Rossi had the honour of scoring the 500th victory for Honda when he won the Japanese 500cc GP in April 2001.
- Rossi has won GP races on seven different motorcycles: 125cc Aprilia, 250cc Aprilia, 500cc Honda, 990cc Honda, 990cc Yamaha, 800cc Yamaha and 1000cc Yamaha.
- His eleven wins in 2005 is the highest number of premier class victories in a single season by a Yamaha rider
- He is the only rider to win five or more successive premier class races on a Yamaha.
- He is the only rider in history to have won five or more successive races on two different makes of bike (Yamaha and Honda).
- He is Yamahaís most successful rider of all time with 56 race victories on their bikes.
- His 89 race victories in the premier class are more than any other rider in the history of Grand Prix racing (second on this list is Giacomo Agostini with 68 premier-class wins).
- He has won 115 GP races across the three classes. Only Giacomo Agostini with 122 wins has stood on the top step of the podium more in Grand Prix racing.
- Valentino Rossiís third place finish at Jerez in 2020 was the 199th time he has stood on the podium in the premier-class, more than any other rider (second on this list is Jorge Lorenzo with 114 premier-class podiums).
- He has been on the podium 235 times across all classes, which is more than any other rider in the history of Grand Prix racing (second on this list is Giacomo Agostini with 159 Grand Prix podiums).
- The Valencia GP will be Rossiís 432nd Grand Prix start. This means that he has taken part in 44.4% of all Grand Prix events that have taken place since the world championship series began in 1949. (The rider with second most GP starts is Andrea Dovizioso with 332 by the end of 2021).
- Rossiís final total of premier class GP starts will be 372 including the race in Valencia; this is more than any other rider (second in the list is Alex Barros with 245 premier class GP starts).
- Rossi has the longest winning career in the premier class of GP racing, with his latest win at the Dutch TT in 2017 coming 16 years 351 days after his first 500cc GP win at Donington in 2000 (the rider with second longest winning career in the premier class is Alex Barros Ė 11 years 204 days).
- He also has the longest winning GP career across all classes; 20 years 311 days between his first GP victory in the 125cc class at Brno in 1997 and his last GP win at Assen in 2017 (second in this regard is Loris Capirossi with a GP winning career of 17 years 49 days).
- During his career Rossi has competed at 38 different Grand Prix circuits.
- Of these 38 circuits, he has taken at least one GP win at 29 of the circuits. No other rider in the history of motorcycle Grand Prix racing has won at as many different circuits as Rossi.
- The circuits at which Rossi has had most GP wins are Catalunya and Assen where he has won ten times at each of these two circuits.
- In the premier class Rossi has competed at 29 different circuits.
- He has won in the premier class at 23 of these 29 circuits.
- The circuit where Rossi has had most premier class wins is Assen, with eight.
- The circuit at which Rossi has made most Grand Prix appearances is Jerez, where he has made 27 GP starts across the three classes, including 23 in the premier class.
- During his Grand Prix career Rossi has shared the podium with 55 different riders. The rider he has stood on the podium with most often is Jorge Lorenzo Ė 53 times.
- In the premier class Rossi has shared the podium with 38 different riders.
- The last time that Rossi shared a podium with a rider older than himself was at the 2008 Czech Grand Prix, that rider being Loris Capirossi.
- With Valencia being Valentino Rossiís last event it will very likely be the last time that a rider born in the 1970s will start a Grand Prix race.
- There are three riders Rossi has shared a premier class podium with without standing on a higher step: Alex Rins, Fabio Quartararo and Stefan Bradl.

The legend and us.
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Old 14th November 2021, 23:53   #2
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Default re: The end of an era | Tribute to Valentino Rossi

This is by far one of the best tributes to the man we call a legend. We all know what Valentino Rossi has achieved over the years and that doesnít need any endorsement at all. But to feel what you have written in the post needs some serious appreciation forty6 and I am simply astounded by your writing here.

Your feelings towards the legend comes through in each and every word you have written and I was simply hooked once I started reading it. To tell your intertwined life with the legend in such a way and with such deftness is extra ordinary. Glad that you timed your stay in the lobby back in 2010 to perfection, otherwise we would have never got this great post. Ogilvy got a winner with the yellow helmet and the forum got enriched by the words of a brilliant copyrighter
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Old 15th November 2021, 02:05   #3
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Default re: The end of an era | Tribute to Valentino Rossi

The hook in my throat says it all. This is one of the most heartfelt love letters Iíve ever read, one that spans generations of decisions, decades of choices, and moments of adulation all towards the love a boy had for an enigma. Thanks for writing this, any mention of Rossi will now always remind me of this post and the impact he had on the way we looked at life from a fresh, fun-side-up perspective.
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Old 15th November 2021, 09:46   #4
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Default re: The end of an era | Tribute to Valentino Rossi

What a fitting tribute to the guy who deserves it the most! I got teary eyed halfway through your tribute. As you rightly said, he was more of a Sunday guy. I just loved watching him casually cruising through the field and ending up on the top spot. In fact, I wanted him to be halfway down the field so that I could enjoy the overtakes the next day. Only THE Valentino Rossi could do that.
I stopped following MotoGP properly a few years ago since his downfall began. I was so spoiled by him over the years that I just couldn't see him finishing outside the points. I still feel he had a little bit left in him if he was given a better ride but anyway... let the guy retire now! He has entertained us enough.

GRAZIE VALE!
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Old 15th November 2021, 10:14   #5
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Default re: The end of an era | Tribute to Valentino Rossi

I am a big fan of Valentino Rossi in Moto GP 1. He won 9 times Grand prix motorcycle racing world campion. His number 46 is famous in Moto GP community. A legend in Moto GP. Loved his last racing in front of a big crowd cheering him.

Fin de era
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Old 15th November 2021, 14:19   #6
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Default Re: The end of an era | Tribute to Valentino Rossi

Quote:
Originally Posted by forty6 View Post
Happy retirement, the grandmaster of fun and the keeper of faith.

And thanks for keeping me young all these years.

P.S: Donít think it is a coincidence that you have retired on Children's Day.

Thanks for such a beautifully written tribute straight from your heart.
What you have penned is the exact way I feel why VR46 is remarkably different from other champions.
In the Rossi era there have been other Motogp champions but Rossi bested all these champions not only during races but by acting as a champion off the field too.
I will start with Biaggi who was wildly popular but he couldn't conceal his true meanness when he couldn't face Rossi on track and off-track.
Next I remember Sete Gibernau who was very doggone in his challenge but eventually had to succumb to Rossi and how Rossi's 'curse/promise' of Sete never winning another race came true.
Nicky Hayden won the championship by perseverance and some luck. He was a great guy.
Next came Lorenzo. A great talent but he is petty and certainly not a winner of hearts.
Stoner was again one of the best talent but he didn't have the mental toughness to persevere the pressures of high stake championships. Rossi showed him the true meaning of a Champion at the Laguna Seca race when clearly Rossi had lesser talent than Stoner at that particular race but Rossi had the grit needed of a champion and eventually Stoner tanked.
Last is Marquez. I think he is certainly the fastest ever most talented Motogp rider since 2000. I fail to understand why he needs to play dirty? And is Honda that desperate to win championships to support Marquez's dirty deeds!

If Rossi had retired 10 years earlier Motogp viewership would have halved at that time. During the last 10 years even though Rossi didn't win the championship but he has helped Motogp tremendously and if Motogp survives it will be because of Rossi.

I see only one other champion like Rossi and that is Rafael Nadal.
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Old 15th November 2021, 21:56   #7
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Default Re: The end of an era | Tribute to Valentino Rossi

I felt like I read a novella. What articulation man! 46/10!
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Old 15th November 2021, 23:54   #8
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Default Re: The end of an era | Tribute to Valentino Rossi

Beautifully penned, fittingly tribute-y.
Yeah, those ducati years. Was the Italian honeymoon turned into a bobbitt marriage and ending with a McCartney divorce. How we prayed for winning ways. Those were years which took away the chances of a 10th.
Going to miss the mad man-child icon!!! :(
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Old 16th November 2021, 08:23   #9
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Default Re: The end of an era | Tribute to Valentino Rossi

Supreme write up. I normally do not read such long posts but I just kept reading on.
Passion is a beautiful thing. While reading I wished I had as much for something in this world. I envy you.
I didn't follow MotoGP much but Rossi (I always remember 'the doctor' on the seat of his suit) was always a superstar and this is definitely the end of an era.
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Old 16th November 2021, 15:11   #10
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Default Re: The end of an era | Tribute to Valentino Rossi

This tribute deserves a tribute! What an exceptional work of art and love, pouring out emotions across the spectrum. I'm sure everyone is down with the feels after reading this.

The below line had me laughing out loud, literally.


Quote:
Originally Posted by forty6 View Post
Donít get me wrong. The man has an aura that would take a charlatan, a farm house, a beard and spiritual diarrhea to build. But it wasnít the same. Not even close.
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Old 16th November 2021, 16:27   #11
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Default Re: The end of an era | Tribute to Valentino Rossi

Quote:
Originally Posted by neeraj0272 View Post

I see only one other champion like Rossi and that is Rafael Nadal.
I would say Federer, but, I guess, to each his own hero.
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Old 16th November 2021, 16:30   #12
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Default Re: The end of an era | Tribute to Valentino Rossi

Quote:
Originally Posted by mayankk View Post
Beautifully penned, fittingly tribute-y.
Yeah, those ducati years. Was the Italian honeymoon turned into a bobbitt marriage and ending with a McCartney divorce. How we prayed for winning ways. Those were years which took away the chances of a 10th.
Going to miss the mad man-child icon!!! :(
Thanks mate. Yes, those two years were depressing to say the least. But, I think the 10th was lost to Nicky. Good guy, most probably needed and deserved his first. But, that tumble in the last race was an very unrossi like mistake.

Anywho, someone will win 10 or maybe 15, but the odds are against him/her to be like Rossi for me.
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Old 16th November 2021, 16:36   #13
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Default Re: The end of an era | Tribute to Valentino Rossi

Quote:
Originally Posted by DeadCenter View Post
Supreme write up. I normally do not read such long posts but I just kept reading on.
Passion is a beautiful thing. While reading I wished I had as much for something in this world. I envy you.
I didn't follow MotoGP much but Rossi (I always remember 'the doctor' on the seat of his suit) was always a superstar and this is definitely the end of an era.
Thanks for the kind words mate, and for taking the time out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pavanmadhini View Post
This tribute deserves a tribute! What an exceptional work of art and love, pouring out emotions across the spectrum. I'm sure everyone is down with the feels after reading this.

The below line had me laughing out loud, literally.
Glad you liked it mate.
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Old 17th November 2021, 20:39   #14
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Default Re: The end of an era | Tribute to Valentino Rossi

WOW !!! What a writeup, what awesome use of words and connecting Rossi's Journey with your life Journey. Unbelievably Amazing !!

After reading this I am reminded of Midnights Children where Salman Rushdie beautifully connects the fate/life of Children Born on Independence day with various events happening in India after that. Believe me you are as good as him in this writeup.

Although I've followed Rossi but not as much like you but after reading this you brought back all my memories of whatever few races I saw of him on TV.

Thanks a lot mate for this wonderful Tribute, I doubt that if any news paper would have even written such nicely about him. If possible share it with Rossi on some Forum like Facebook, Twittter etc.
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Old 18th November 2021, 00:17   #15
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Default Re: The end of an era | Tribute to Valentino Rossi

Great write-up.

I was lucky to watch the legend race many years back, in 2007. Here are the best couple of pictures I could capture with my P&S camera, which was struggling to keep up with the speed of the bikes.
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The end of an era | Tribute to Valentino Rossi-dsc03170.jpg  

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