Father’s Day was good to me this year. By pure coincidence it was the day when I took delivery of my second ever Ducati. I looked at it smitten and thought back “how long has it been?” Another coincidence reminded me that it had been 25 years since the Mona Lisa of motorcycles was unveiled. Like everyone else I was blown away by one of the most iconic pieces of design ever created. The 916 made me a huge fan of the brand, on the street or on the MotoGP and WSBK tracks. Imagine the look on my face when I saw it in a catalogue wearing a striking gun metal livery with gold accents. The Neiman Marcus 748L had a smaller engine but it had the exact same lines. It put a spell on me. A year or so later it was mine: the 16th bike out of 100. When I parted with it two years later, I was absolutely devastated. I told myself I would have another Ducati some day. I didn’t know I would have to wait 18 years to ride a Ducati again. But in that time, I have learned a lot from bikes and the truly important things in life.

Father’s Day was good to me this year. By pure coincidence it was the day when I took delivery of my second ever Ducati. I looked at it smitten and thought back “how long has it been?” Another coincidence reminded me that it had been 25 years since the Mona Lisa of motorcycles was unveiled. Like everyone else I was blown away by one of the most iconic pieces of design ever created. The 916 made me a huge fan of the brand, on the street or on the MotoGP and WSBK tracks. Imagine the look on my face when I saw it in a catalogue wearing a striking gun metal livery with gold accents. The Neiman Marcus 748L had a smaller engine but it had the exact same lines. It put a spell on me. A year or so later it was mine: the 16th bike out of 100. When I parted with it two years later, I was absolutely devastated. I told myself I would have another Ducati some day. I didn’t know I would have to wait 18 years to ride a Ducati again. But in that time, I have learned a lot from bikes and the truly important things in life.

 What’s more important is riding

If you only smoke Cuban cigars you will miss out on life. I think that’s a Bob Lutz quote. Anyway, I did not wait all this time to ride again. Hondas were cheap, reliable, easy to maintain and not bad looking at all. The first one was a Superhawk (or Firestorm) V-Twin. If you close your eyes you would believe the soundtrack came from Bologna. In the UK I got something more practical and less expensive to please the local insurers, a CB1300. Bottomline? I love riding. When you are on the bike (and if you want to stay alive) you have to focus 100% on the task at hand. There are no text messages, no calls, no emails, no voice of the boss in your head, no screaming kids, just you and the road. In the time I get to my work commute I’m either fully awake or I made the mental break between work and home. It is my favourite form of escapism.

 What’s more important is progress

Motorcycles have come a long way. The 748L was a race bike with lights. It was a raw, low slung, purpose-built machine. On the right road in the right apex it was absolutely sublime. There were no electronic nannies (no ABS, no traction control). You thought the bike was falling apart because the dry clutch rattled like crazy. Even for a guy in his 20s the 748L was not exactly comfortable. The clutch was heavy and stubborn. Low speed manoeuvres (95% of the time) were not easy to execute. The racing position also put a tremendous amount of weight on the wrists and crushed the pinkie nerves. On my latest Ducati, you sit on top of it, upright and relaxed. At 6’2” (1m88) I can’t even plant both feet flat on the ground. You can choose how many nannies you want. It is an upright bike, supremely comfortable bike but deceivingly quick. So why the hell did I deal with all of this pain back then anyway??? Must have been love…

 What’s more important is perspective

The universe really owes you nothing. After a long slug to get two college degrees my first Ducati was owed to me. I blew a lot of money on a new bike and so what? When I lost my job, I didn’t handle losing my bike very well. Looking back, it is clear I did not handle anything well at all.Today I understand that life is a series of trade-offs. When I got my first company car, I sold the CB1300 so we could go on a family vacation instead. To ride this (gently used) Ducati, I ditched the company car and bought a small electric commuter. And to be honest it really has not bothered me too much. The biggest thing I have gained in the time between those two wonderful machines is perspective. For all I know an unforeseen event or a totally predictable catastrophe will happen and that Ducati might have to go. And it will be okay. When we moved to the UK, I rented a big house. Our current house is smaller (make that a whole lot smaller). Yet we are happier as a family in that house than in the first one. It is nice to have nice things. Blasting through the British countryside on a Ducati is an absolute delight. Yet it really is not the end all be all. You know what my favourite thing is? It is to get off the bike, open the front door of my house and get hugs from my family. There’s no Ducati equivalent to that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>