• Ryan Gabel

MotoGP in Spain

I would love to say that from the moment I stepped off of the plane in Madrid that everything literally bled MotoGP, but as I’ve had to learn the hard way before, not everyone is as obsessed with the sport as I am.

Take today in my International Media studies class for example, we had the opportunity to have a Skype call to Bologna Italy to discuss media impacts abroad. When afforded the opportunity I jumped at the chance to ask the gentleman if he had been to the Ducati factory… IN BOLOGNA ITALY! The man seemed to not even understand what I was talking about which needless to say, instantly deflated my balloon.

I digress, although Spain hadn’t immediately displayed its love for the sport, that time would soon come.

My best friend Dustin and I had spent a night in Madrid before making the four hour trek by vehicle to the location of the race track in Valencia, Spain. Not only was I completely enthralled with the Spanish landscape as its rolling hills and beautiful country side sped past, I was just as elated to see a Repsol gas station.

Repsol is the premiere sponsor of the Honda Racing Team which is the team I despise the most because their number one rider, Marc Marquez is my least favorite rider. I was still mesmerized by the normalcy of this company as most things I associate with MotoGP also seem to be a fairytale due to how foreign the sport is here in the states.

After settling in at our hotel, Dustin and I headed down to the bar which seemed somewhat desolate this early in the afternoon. Things in Spain famously don’t kick off until later in the evening when most of us Americans are fast asleep. It didn’t take long before a couple of ladies to strolled up to the bar, one sporting a neon yellow VR46 hat gaudy enough to identify herself as a Valentino Rossi fan. Her name was Melissa and she wasn’t afraid to voice her support for Rossi. She was a strong passionate woman who wore her hat because she had no hair. Dustin and I never asked why because honestly, it never really mattered.

Valentino Rossi is to MotoGP, what Tom Brady is to football … if Tom Brady played into his 40’s, won nine Superbowls for two separate organizations and carried the NFL through multiple recessions, so he’s kind of a big deal.

It didn’t take long for us to begin chatting and being that Dustin is a Repsol Honda fan the discussion became heated quickly, but in the best of ways. Sort of like when old friends tell jokes to each other that only they would understand.

Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi are like mortal enemies. Marc rides for Honda and Valentino for Yamaha. Valentino is very much the old horse in the game while Marc is the up and coming phenom.

Before I knew it the bar was a buzz with over forty people and MotoGP conversations were happening everywhere as well as a live broadcast of MotoGP centric television which was playing on multiple sets throughout the bar. We had begun talking to these folks from England who were hilarious! They kept us in stitches the entire time while reminding us that Americans knew fairly nothing about the sport. It was all in good fun and at the end of the night one of the gentlemen actually complimented us on how knowledgable we were of the current season which would draw to a close after that weekends race.

This compliment came after we almost got into a bar fight with a gentleman who thought it was wise to make fun of Melissa for not having any hair. That was when we all came together, happy to explain where this buffoon had strayed from the moral code we were all operating under.

I wouldn’t have wanted to be the bartender holding back two drunk Marines and 3 equally drunk angry Englishmen, but the whole instance was settled without any bloodshed.

Melissa, through drunk tears brushed off the encounter. We all felt terrible, but she couldn’t be happier that a group of total strangers from opposite ends of the world came together to defend her, she cried tears of joy.

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