I blame my partner. Then again, I usually do. This time however, I claim, it’s with good cause. Over Christmas, I’d been clearing my study out and the detritus was accumulating as a large pile of incipient compost in the hall. I hadn’t really paid too much attention to its contents, being immersed somewhere about the Lower Cretaceous of my desk. It’s was Jane’s passing comment as she climbed over the heap that did it — “If you’d taken the money you’d spent on motorcycle mags over the last couple of years, you could have bought the bike of your choice and kept it in the garage, rather than just creating heaps of crap in the house!”. Sub-text: “What sort of sad bastard are you?”

Good point. I’d sold my last Ducati for the usual reasons — car and mortgage, always, of course, with the intention of getting another bike just as soon as I could. That was 14 years ago… Besides, it was a rhetorical question — she knows exactly the sort of sad bastard I am.

I’d done the full cold turkey job — going straight from 15,000 miles a year on my bikes and being an instructor with the local training scheme in Cambridge, to being the part-time occupant of a metal cage. And I’d done it voluntarily. The insanity wasn’t perhaps quite total — I at least hung on to my bicycles.

I’ve kept vaguely in touch with the bike world over the years, occasionally blagging a ride on test days, but it’s been about eight years since I’ve even sat on one. So what got me actively interested again? Simple — it was my first belated sighting of a Ducati 916, a machine that, when launched in 1994, instantly made every other bike ever built look crude, characterless and underdesigned. I’d gone out and bought the first bike mag I found with a road test of one and just sort of gone on from there. I’ve now accumulated a couple of year’s worth of yellowing bike mags, but no machine to show for it.

The question then is, am I going to do something about it? At this point, the answer happens to be a definite, if nervous, yes. The last summer of the millennium is approaching, so what better excuse to stop dreaming and do something? The what and how of things remain to be sorted. I’m still buying the mags though.