When and why did you develop an interest in riding a motorcycle?

Migrating from a push bike to a motorcycle seemed like a logical progression from an early age – faster, able to travel further what was there not to like? These thoughts were reinforced by my paternal grandparents living adjacent to Monty’s Motorcycles in Edenbridge, Kent. There were always a mouth watering selection of ‘proper’ British bikes in the showroom window and invariably whenever I walked past the open workshop door there was at least one Triumph/Norton/BSA being kick-started or revved-up.

How old were you when you first rode a bike?

16 years old.

What was the bike and what were the circumstances?

Before I was let loose on the road with ‘L’ plates I had a practise on my Dad’s C90 in my parents garden.  All went well for the first few runs.  I then went a little faster and decided to slow down using the front brake.  Unfortunately, in reaching for the brake, I also opened the throttle wider.  With the house wall rapidly approaching I opted to go left and lay the bike down.  Amazingly the bike and I survived intact,  which is more than can be said of my Dad’s hitherto immaculate lawn which had an unexpected rotavating…

Of the bikes you’ve owned to date, which was the favourite, if there was one?

I have been really fortunate to own and ride a number of great bikes but if I was forced to pick a favourite it would have to be my much loved 1972 750 Norton Commando!

If you were given the opportunity to own any bike on the market which would it be?

I would have always said a Vincent Rapide, but with the cost of Vincent twins increasing exponentially a Norton 961 is becoming a more realistic alternative.  (A Britten V1000 would also be great for track days).

What is your favourite motorcycle related gadget?

My snap-on tyre pressure gauge.  If I was restricted to just one pre-ride check it would always be tyre pressures!

Where is your preferred place to ride in the UK?

Any quiet country road with a National limit and plenty of bends. I am trying to make the most of the Essex based ones before they all become urbanised…

And overseas?

Isle of Man (does that count?)

If you were offered the opportunity to go on an extended bike tour who, family members aside, would you choose as a riding companion?

Not an easy decision but Guy Martin would be near the top of my list, not least for the way in which his infectious enthusiasm can generate interest in a subject that you didn’t previously know you cared about. No doubt he would lose me pretty quickly on the road but hopefully I could keep up when it came to drinking tea.

How would you describe to a non-rider the attraction of riding a bike as opposed to driving a car?

Many car drivers probably would not understand the sense of freedom, fun and involvement that a bike provides and, when you see the standard of driving displayed by some road users, it is probably just as well that they do not ride bikes!

When do you intend to give up riding?

I don’t.

Describe your scariest moment on your bike?

Not long after buying my new 1978 Triumph Bonneville I was riding back  from Southend on the A127 when the bike ground to a halt with an electrical fault (another burnt out bullet connector!). I was just contemplating my next move when another bonnie rider pulled into the lay-by to offer assistance. He volunteered to go home and get a towrope. True to his word about 30 minutes later the rider returned and tied one end of the rope to his rack. We wrapped the other end round my forks and under my left hand – the idea being that if I had a problem I would just let go. As we pulled away this seemed like a great solution but within 100 yards I changed my mind as we reached the 70 limit. Suddenly the rope seemed incredibly short. Amazingly I made it home in one piece without incident, despite the complications I had in providing directions (with no working indicators and the need to keep hold of the rope).

I resolved that bike-to-bike towing should be a one-off experience, but then experienced my second scariest moment when being recovered back from the 1979 TT by a Range Rover with the Bonnie (seized engine following a oil pump failure) on a trailer behind.  We were traveling at about 55 mph on a quiet section of dual carriageway at around 03:00 when I noticed we were heading straight for the steeply raised embankment at the side of the road.  I looked across and saw the driver had dropped off!  With no time to shout a warning I grabbed the wheel and kept us on the road.  The look of shock on the driver’s face until he realised what I was doing is one I will never forget.

The bike needed a comprehensive rebuild, including re-bored barrels, oversize pistons, new con-rods, main bearings, etc., etc., and was something I really enjoyed doing.  I was delighted when the bike started first kick!