30% took me over to Cheltenham this morning and by the time I got there I was somewhat tense. Not "wired" but it is fair to say tense.
We wandered in to the ward and there she was, sat by the bed in all her glory. She looked great, yellow paintwork gleaming. No fancy graphics or decals. Just yellow paint and subtle text advising that she is a Ducati, has 4 valves per cylinder and 996 cubic centimeters displacement.
Tim Hyett is the chap who had taken her from something looking like it had been a perch for chickens for the last 4 years to something that looked like it had just rolled out of the showroom.
We chatted and joked for a while, flexed the plastic and then 30% left and there was no more to say. Time to get on with it.
When you do something that you haven't done for a long time people say "its just like riding a bike". You never forget. As a threw a leg over the tail piece I hoped they were right. Press alarm fob to take it from Service Mode to alarm off, press choke button which gives a preset amount of throttle turn on the ignition and hear the fuel pump whirr, nudge the side stand so it springs up and press the starter button.
The sound is indescribable. I thought I could write a reasonable couple of paragraphs but I can't give you any idea of what a V-twin sound like through Termignoni race pipes. It rattles and thuds. It roars and growls. The best I can manage it to say "imagine that God race tuned his tractor" but that comes nowhere near.
After a couple of minutes the temperature gauge needle has lifted off the stop and there is no excuse not to move off. Clutch in, select first, a reasonable amount of throttle and slowly release the clutch......
..... and it all comes back to me. Not in a flood but slowly seeping back. The first few junctions are nervous episodes as the mirrors aren't quite right and I'm still adjusting to a bike that it very tall. remember Borrowers call me short arse.
She also has new tyres that haven't been scrubbed in yet so I know that I need to corner carefully for the first hundred miles or so.
By the time I get to the M5 I having a riot of a time the sound, the vibrations, the response. The motorway is not her natural habitat but neither is chugging through Cheltenham at lunchtime and in view of my lack of recent riding experience a straightforward route seemed the best. I had forgotten just how responsive she is and am cruising between 70 and 80 in 3rd or 4th gear. A gap appears and a slight twist of the throttle and she takes off like a scalded cat.
The final dozen miles are down a smooth twisty A road and by then it is definitely all coming back to me. By the time I get home I want to stop so I can revel but want to carry on too.
Reality kicks in and I turn in to the drive. She is not yet taxed and consequently I am only permitted to ride her directly back from a pre-arranged MOT. So it is straight to the DVLA website to flex the plastic further.
So now she sits sheeted in the garage. Connected to a Optimate to keep her battery at peak charge level.
Apologies if this is a bit Top Gear but don't worry. Tomorrow I'll give you my theory on why Tyson and Marauder don't really chase rabbits.