I’m pretty sure it was Ewan Mcgregor and Charley Boorman that did it. I had injured my back when logging a few dead trees on the land we have at the back of our house. I'd slipped a disc and experienced pain I hadn’t felt before. Two weeks in bed and two months recovering. During this period my sister-in-law sent over the DVD set of ‘Long Way Round’. That was it. The future had been cast. I knew what I wanted.
I'd started riding small motorcycles when I was 17. I had a Kawasaki 120 that I used to get to work, and as a couple of friends had similar bikes we used to ride miles on the weekend, just to feel the bikes beneath us and relish the feeling of freedom they gave but my love was always cars and the ‘Kwacka’ was one day given up - I’ve no memory of who I sold it to or for how much but for the next 25 years I’d be in heated comfort, protected from the English rain, firmly on four wheels forgetting what it was like to really travel.
Then, at 42 years old (there are theories about this age group) living in Italy, one disc ruptured as one set of discs arrived in the post. I was mostly worried I wouldn’t recover well, that was my fear. I had been told I would experience it again before all of me packs up one day. So, then was set the idea of getting back on a bike again. My brother, Steve, has always kept his love for bikes and I always thought he was a bit mad. He came to visit for the first time during that period - 7 years after I had moved to Italy (most people can’t get rid of their relatives). I walked around like an old man, sick of life and in terrible pain, but as this was his first visit and taking into account the time he had taken to get round to jumping on a ten Euro flight, I tried my best. I could barely stand for more than a few seconds, could just about drive and wanted to go to bed. But we used the time wisely - we visited every motorcycle shop I knew of. Alba, Asti, Turin we did them all. We were like kids in sweet shops tasting the flavours of Ducati Monsters and 1049s. Inhaling the sticky sweet odours of Aprilia RSVs, BMW GS1200s and Moto Guzzi Grisos.
I was too sick to buy anything or really think about what would best suit me. To my wife, a Ducati, by definition, meant paralysed or dead. There was no convincing her as I couldn’t even understand where this crazy idea had come from. But being sensible was, well, sensible.. I bought a Moto Guzzi Breva 750. I have to say it is a beautifully made bike. When I look at Japanese bikes I see there's no comparison.
The problem with the Breva: it cost too much and I’ve now quickly out grown it. I can still taste the Italian sports bikes from that trip with my brother. And I keep looking at the bike mags I get sent from the UK. But for now, I love riding the Guzzi. I believe we have the very best roads for motorcycling. The area where we live on the border of the Roero, Langhe and Monferrato is stunning. If you're a biker and want to ride great roads you can’t do much better than to come here.
The Langhe & Monferrato are fantastic. It rarely rains, people are friendly and there are great places to plan your trip around. And if you see a 45 year old with a bad back on Moto Guzzi Breva, be sure to wave.