So when I started to ride a motorbike (but it could have been a scooter or a moped, the principles are the same) I started to live a fantasy as from a very early age I had been dreaming of this day. I was 14 when I bought my first bike which was an old, tatty and broken Honda 50 for a princely 15 pounds. I had to get the chassis welded back together by the local smithie (it was snapped in half where the rear suspension connected to the rusty metal frame) and then I also had to strip, recondition and rebuild the engine and gearbox to fit new piston rings. This bike was not street legal and nor was I so it became my field bike, I soon learned all about trying to stay on in a wet field and how to walk home with a broken collar bone without crying (much).
Then I progressed to a BSA Bantam and then at 18 I finally bought my first road bike, a Suzuki GT185. Wow was I one proud fellow! The GT185 was a twin cylinder two stroke and mine was in a really sorry state, the previous owner had disconnected the oil pump and mixed oil into the petrol tank, I never understood why, so my first task was to bleed the oil pump and two feed pipes which fortunately then worked fine. Of course I never confessed this to my Dad. The GT185 was a rocketship compared to my previous bikes and its 21 horsepower were a dream. The two stroke engine was something else, the bike was light and flickable and stunningly fast for me. Lovely. How I survived I will never know but I guess that cowardice helped me plus the fact that the bike represented my life savings.
I then bought a new Yamaha RD400 two stroke rocketship, sold that for an almost new Honda CB750K6 and then an almost new Honda CBR1000. Bikes had become my passion and I loved to see motorcycle racing so with mates we always visited the Transatlantics over the Easter weekend and then the GP whenever possible in the days of Kenny Roberts, Barry Sheene and Mick Grant, and we even rode over to France for the French GP (Le Mans) and the Bol D’Or 24 hour race in the south of France became an annual jaunt.
When I moved to Italy in 1990 I travelled down with my trusty CBR1000 and this trip really started my love for long rides. I crossed France from North to south and then headed down through Italy to Roma, I had a paper map which I lost on the way but I knew that all roads lead to Roma so I was not worried. I stopped overnight in Aosta and then cruised down to Roma, this was June so rest assured that by the time I arrived I was melting inside my UK spec one piece leathers!
LUCKILY after I decided to swap my trusty old CBR1000 for a lovely Yamaha R6, I made a good decision: I decided that I needed to get some rider training if I wanted to survive. My bikes until now had all been fairly fast but the R6 was really something else. This was basically a race bike with lights, it was very light but with an amazingly powerful engine so really took off. I therefore booked a full day training session at Vallelunga and this was a day that changed my life, for sure.