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A Tribute to a Great Man and a Testimony for a Great Bike
Long Live the Multistrada
It Took Carlin to the Top 3 Times
6.7" of Travel Can't Go Wrong - (Looks like 4.7" DID)

Carlin Dunne - “That Would Be Me”

A call from Santa Barbara rang on my phone:

“Hello Vince, this is Carlin Dunne calling you about your web inquiry on the Multistrada 950?”

“Yes thanks, I’m new from Texas and looking for a bike to ride all over California, and I’ve decided on the Multi 950, but I’m not sure if I should consider the 1260 because I rode a lot as a kid on light dirt bikes and I just can’t get my head wrapped around these 150hp+ big 1200cc horses”

After a short pause, Carlin says
“Well, there’s an old saying that “there’s no replacement for displacement”, and I would encourage you to look at the Multi 1260S, as you can program it down to a 950 or up to full Ducati performance. And I happen to have a 2018 Demo on the floor with no miles on it that I’ll give you a great deal on, $18K”

“Cool, that sounds as good as it gets, if you can get me financed, I’ll take it. What was your name again?”

“Carlin”……”Carlin Dunne”

The next day, I’m sitting in Carlin’s tiny office at Ducati Santa Barbara, with his dog under his desk, and we are going through the sale paperwork of my first Ducati. I look around and the walls are covered with racing pictures and framed articles and such, and I remember something.

“Hey Carlin, I was in Sacramento a few days ago pumping the Ducati dealer there about Multistradas, and he mentioned that there was a guy who worked at the Ducati dealer in Santa Barbara who won the Pikes Peak race last year”

Without even breaking his concentration on my paperwork, he says “that would be me”

My heart raced and I felt a lump in my throat, and I thought “OH MY EFFING GOD, I am buying my first Ducati from THE guy who just won the legendary Pikes Peak Hill Climb”. And it’s the same model of bike he won the race on. I sat stunned for a moment, freaking out inside and trying to stay cool. Then I gathered my composure, and said “I also heard you were feeling sick and almost didn’t do it”.

He said “Yep, sounds like you heard the long story version” and just kept right on with the paperwork.


I sat there dumbfounded for a little longer, looked harder at the pictures on the wall and trophies enough to see that he also won the Baja 500, then decided screw it I’m going for it and mustered up the courage to say “Well, then since you gave me such a great deal, why don’t you add a full racing exhaust on that bad boy?”.

My request got his full attention. He got this racing mode look on his face, looked at me with a penetrating look for a second and says “Sounds good, that will boost your power up to 10hp and get rid of up to 20lbs of weight, but will be another $2400, and I’ll have to get it through back channels into Cali so it will take a while”

“Fine” I said, thinking I don’t care if it’s $5,000, I’m buying a bike WITH a racing pipe from this guy, are you kidding me?

While Carlin fiddles with the ancient dot matrix printer to finalize paperwork, I walk out into the shop to gaze at my new bike and recover from the fact that I just met a real champion. Like a real true American Cowboy kind of champion, because Pikes Peak ain’t your ordinary race course (it’s not even a race course). OK, I’ll be honest, I was freaking out and having the time of my life.

Then a spry older gentlemen comes up to me and asks “Did you buy the Multistrada?”

“Yes” I said

He says “That’s the best decision you’ll ever make. I’ve owned three Multistradas, put 40,000 miles on one, rode it all over South America”

“Wow” I’m thinking holy crap this guy is hard core, I just want to ride around sunny southern California..

Come to find out he’s Trevor Dunne, Carlin’s dad. Oh, I think, I get it. Carlin is 2nd generation in a motorcycle family, with what looks to be the ultimate father to school his boy to be fastest to the top of the highest mountain in the US. How cool is this? And Trevor runs the mechanic shop? OMG what did I just find? Now I’m really tripping.

Then I start to really look around the store. I came on a mission to buy a motorcycle, but I stumbled upon this classic, vintage Ducati shop with legendary racing history and pedigree, and the legends are alive and in the shop (Trevor is a former pro racer and a legend in my mind now too). Ultra cool people, clearly a top notch service shop if the old man is running it, and geez, the guy selling me the bike won Pikes Peak? I was pinching myself.

It was December 12, 2018. Little did I know that Carlin had only 200 more days to live.

Over the next 6 months, I tore up 4,000 miles of California roads on my Ducati, bought all kinds of upgrades for it and had the Ducati SB shop install them, had the time of my life at 56 years old. I stopped by the shop countless times, where Trevor, Carlin, and Preston (the parts manager) would welcome me and give me tips on great rides or performance upgrades. It was, as I now remember Carlin saying, all about the experience, not just the ride. And they were giving me the experience of my life, helping me ride a Ducati in California with the most absolute of confidence.

Honestly I didn’t know Carlin was racing Pikes Peak again this year until a few weeks before the race. I didn’t even know how many times he had won it. Carlin didn’t care about that either. When I was around him, the person I felt Carlin cared about, was me, and everyone else around.

They say that “people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Carlin Cared. And I knew it.

I remember him emphasizing tire pressure with passion, lecturing me on what brake to use while at a stop so I don’t warp the rotor. One time his dad Trevor was showing me another bike that Carlin thought he was trying to sell me and Carlin came quickly over with the look of a concerned father and made sure I wasn’t even contemplating a bike that was not good for me. I remember thinking, damn, Carlin, The King of the Mountain, really cares about me and my motorcycle experience, this is amazing.

So when I found out he was racing Pikes Peak, I sent him a quick email that said “Hey Carlin, Here’s hoping and praying for a blistering run and you coming home safely. Good Luck and GodSpeed?” to which he replied “Thank You!”

He got the blistering run. But he’s not coming home.

I’ve just spent days trying to figure out what happened and make sense of such an iconic tragedy, but you know what, I don’t care about what or how it happened any more.

The fact is, Carlin Dunne left us on top of the world, on top of his game.

He cared greatly and he dared greatly.

Carlin Dunne was, as President Teddy Roosevelt called a true “man in the arena”, and one of my heros.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
 

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Damn, Vince. Your story is far beyond just another story ... it's a life experience. Something that didn't just teach lessons but actually became a part of who you are. A reference point that you will more than likely refer to many times along your walk of life. Something that will allow you to draw from when you're unsure of yourself. A reminder that we're far more than "the sum of our parts". A reminder that we're much deeper than we believe, that when you think you have given it all you have you'll know that there's more of you when you think you've reached the bottom of the barrel.

That experience will inspire you, drive you, push you, and will be a beacon ... a lighthouse ... that will guide you in times of self doubt and confusion.

I'm envious and at the same time I welcome you to "the club". I've got my own stories, but this isn't my time, it's your time.

Precious people we cross paths with are rare, and far between. Folks that have these stories don't take those moments for granted. I'm as certain as I can be that you never will either.

Best wishes, Brian ("Rex").
 

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Awesome story... and I'm happy to hear that he came from a motorcycle family - hopefully they "get it" and while it won't help today and maybe for a long time to come... someday it might.

He was obviously really excited about he Streetfighter and had nothing but good things to say about the bike... but I wish he'd been on the Multi last week.
 

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@CaliMultiMan
I was moved by your essay and so will others. It's to be shared.
Your story should be published.
 
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Thank you for reading it.

I had to write it to move on, and am so glad I can let the Ducati world know who he was.

There needs to be a movie about him AND his father Trevor, who is 69 and let us pray will survive this.

For those who don't know, legend (this is straight from Trevor) has it that Ducati stiffed Carlin on the first Pikes Peak race at the last minute in favor of a Ducati rider, and Carlin and Trevor put a pipe on a Multi, drove over to Pikes Peak and kicked Ducatis ass.

Who does that?
 

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Yeah, Carlin was a cool dude to chat with. I always liked yakking with him and Trevor, even if the reason I was in the shop was less happy. Like when I got three flat tires in one summer. I would have said that you might have wanted to edit out the bit about them doing a workaround to get a non-California legal exhaust ordered and installed as they could get fined for that, but they sold the shop a few months ago so maybe that's less critical now.
 

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Awesome write up....thanks for sharing such a great story!
 

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Great write up and tribute! Thanks for sharing. I also had the pleasure of meeting Trevor and Carlin, who were both incredibly warm and personable. I was passing through and needed tires on my '11 Multi. While waiting Trevor invited my back into the shop to see the Multi they were building...it was the flat black one they first campaigned at PP. Carlin walked me through all the mods and details of tuning etc...he was so genuine in his enthusiasm that it was contagious. What a loss, both for his family, and as is the case with great humans being, for the world at large. At least he went at the top doing what he loved.
 
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