1. What was your first motorcycling experience?
Sixteen, pillion on a K75 BMW ridden by Ian, my then-best-girl’s dad, into the Macclesfield hills. It felt impossibly, terrifyingly fast. After ten seconds I was swallowing screams and wanting to get off. After ten minutes I was whooping hollers and wanting us to go on, on, on. He encouraged my giddy teen obsession with something other than his daughter’s naked body by lending us a Honda Camino that we rode by the railway line, chasing trains, and then an oddball, Cagiva-built Harley SS125 two-stroke that we couldn’t get further than the drive without it seizing. We left anyway.
2. What is your current bike?
BMW Ex-Off-Road-Skills G650X that rides better than that reads. Lack of pillion provision and abundant appeal to Hulme joyriders means it gathers the dust it should be kicking up, marooned in Speed Couriers’ Old Trafford warehouse. Daily ride’s an XJ600N, nicknamed ‘Shit Bike’ after passing scals tagged its flank with that sharpie slur. Fast as anything across town, comfy enough for cross-country jaunting and Spanish sauntering, & discreet enough for tower-block parking. An older R100/XJR/Bandit looms.
3. What bike would you most like to ride/own?
Best bike I’ve ever ridden is the astonishingly-capable Dakar Rally Rep HP2. Best bike I’ve never ridden is any HRD Vincent. Following the Italian Moto Giro on a 900ss, I fell in love with a late model Black-Something or other that was being ridden not hidden, two-up across Umbria by adventurous Brits. Unfortunately, Vincents have become investments for them, not motorcycles for us. Instead, a realistic dream garage would be split across the world – an Enfield in Cochin, a Tenere in Seville, an XR600 in Buenos Aires, and an airhead Boxer in Manchester would be perfect.
4. What was your hairiest moment on a bike?
I don’t enjoy crashes nor crash stories. I’ve broken a leg, punctured a lung, cracked ribs.
5. What was your most memorable ride?
Mountains and coastlines are glorious, but motorcycling potentially creates memorable moments with every ride, and consequently crushes the need for nostalgia or ‘what ifs?’
6. What would be the ideal soundtrack to the above?
Wind howl and airbox growl. Thump of a big single and the tickle of a happy couple. I don’t listen to music and ride, but Coltrane & Mogwai soundtrack the post-ride films that flicker round my in-bed head, and I’m bouncing along to Chin Loy’s Aquarius Dub while writing this.
7. What do you think is the best thing about motorcycling?
It’s the closest I’ve come to lucid dream flying while awake.
8. What do you think is the worst thing about motorcycling?
Every one of us has lost friends during this great escape.
9. Name an improvement you’d like to see for the next generation?
Peace, bread & roses for all.
10. How would you like to be remembered?
I’d rather be doing the remembering. I intend to outlive every other fucker.