So in late September we found ourselves packing motorcycle gear and walking around the house practicing sophisticated Italian phrases like vorrei quello ("I want that"). Upon arrival, Meredith is a little dismayed to discover she is the only woman on the trip, and we are the only two-up motorcycle. The other two riders are commercial pilots (read: need for speed), and have ridden bikes all over the world together. They're friendly enough, but we notice they seem to be sizing us up, as if they had just been put in the company of a wheezing Ural sidecar outfit piloted by the town baker and his wife. It looks like in this group, we're destined to be the ball and chain.