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Little Ms Sunshine

Ducati 916

(Travels with Guido series #261 by Guy ‘Guido’ Allen, December 2020)

Recovering from a Winter of discontent

One of the risks of living in a thriving metropolis that a mate of mine happily called Mudbourne is that every now and then you get hit with a serious Winter. For anyone who rides bikes or flies light aircraft (two excellent ways to fritter away your hard-earned), this is like finding you’re locked in on the wrong side of the gates to hell.

Though I’ve done my share of riding in filthy conditions, I also have this contraption (well, several…) called a car, which (unlike my riding jackets) mostly keeps the rain out.

So when it’s dumping cattlegrids outside, and my only mission for the day is to make it to the salt mine, I’ll often wimp out and take Brunhilde – a catastrophically expensive to maintain BMW 635 – or the mighty Kingswood. Which is all fine and dandy. You can crank up the heater, switch on the sound and think of England, because that’s what it looks like outside.

The novelty of spending what can seem like decades lurching along with the other clowns in peak-hour quickly loses its proverbial shine. By day two, it’s looking downright tarnished as you start to regret the introduction of gun laws. At least shooting out the tyres of the stupid ones (is there enough ammo on the planet?) would relieve the boredom.

Making things worse is, back at home, muggins has a major space problem. The shed is packed tight, so if I want to work on something over the weekend, at least a few machines have to be ejected into the weather. And, when it’s dumping out there, why would you?

The yard is underwater, even though we live halfway up a hill. For those of you who thought water flows downhill, you’re wrong, and I have proof. It sits around until it sees somewhere better to go, like into the house, or your jacket.

Because the yard is now a lake, I can’t get to the other bikes in the lean-to behind the shed – well, not without a boat licence.

So the only solution is to fire up the heater and sit on the couch with the cat, a good book and a bottle of claret. There’s only so much inebriated reading I can cope with (ask the cat) and this inevitably leads to evil plans. Like buying your way out of boredom or moving somewhere warmer.

Just as I was reaching for the speaking trumpet to order up a moving van (much to spouse Ms M senior’s horror), the weather broke.

It took a few days, but we finally saw the ground dry out sufficiently that you could actually step into the yard without requiring a back-up crew with a winch. Which means every battery charger in the place has been getting busy, bringing assorted transports of delight back to life.

Today, we even saw this big yellow orb in the sky, which I’m reliably informed is the Sun. This was enough to see daughter Ms A junior come out of hibernation and put in an order to have Nina the Ducati 916 fuelled and ready for take-off. As a commercial pilot, she regularly mistakes me for ground staff.

So here I am, working at the salt mine again (at least I got to ride one of the Daytonas this time) and receive the accompanying SMS picture from Her Ladyship.

Jealous of her clearly enjoying the sunshine, I shot back the somewhat sarcastic remark, “Is that where you ran out of fuel?” Her SMS response, “I think so, the fire seems to have gone out.”

And yes, I did take a closer look at the photo as a result...probably deserved that...

See more Travels with Guido here



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