If it’s Tuesday, it must be Press Day at the Frankfurt Motor Show. I’m not press and I’m not in the motor trade, so what the hell was I doing there? Simple — it just happened to be a convenient location for a meeting I’d arranged. Of course, I wasn’g going to turn down the opportunity to wander around new bikes and cars and relieve the exhibitors of some of their copious supplies of champagne and gourmet canapés.
Simple in principle, that is — however, being Press Day, the organisers had some pretty strict ideas about who were and weren’t to be allowed in. People with trivial needs like business meetings simply didn’t count. Only one thing to be done then — blag Press accreditation. How? As a roving researcher of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy of course. Armed with suitably completed form and my completely unrelated business card, I waited in the sweaty queue of hungry, thirsty hopefuls. Some made it, some didn’t. When my turn came, I handed over the form and card with a studiously casual air, staring off distractedly into the middle distance as it this were a tediously routine process. Bloke behind counter looks at my card. He looks at my form. He looks at my card again. Not a good sign. He opens hi s mouth. The guy checking in next to me also looks over, sees my busines card and goes ballistic: “Aha! You are the Digital Village!”. “Er, yes — part thereof?”. “You are all wonderful — Starship Titanic, h2g2, The Hitchhiker’s Guide — all truly great!”. At this point, check-in bloke shrugs and prints off my press card. Tamás, nice to meet you and thanks for the help!
Having got the serious stuff out of the way, time for a wander. Although primarily a car show, there were some interesting sightings of the new Hondas: the X-11, The VTR1000-SP1 (RC51 in NA, I think) and the 2000 Fireblade. There was also a new Foggy Replica to be seen, although perhaps not quite what you might expect?
I don’t like commuting. Particularly, I don’t like commuting by motor vehicle — the sheer waste, inefficiency and damage caused make it economically, morally and environmentally unsustainable. OK, so I didn’t buy either of my motor vehicles with other than a nod towards fuel economy and green cred, but the thought’s there?
The state of British public transport does mean that there are times (hopefully few) when it does make much more sense. For instance, when I needed to get from darkest Surrey to Covent Garden on a blazing hot Saturday morning, especially when the bike’s been mothballed for a fortnight while I’ve been away. The temptation was just too much — bicycle plus train or car would have each taken about an hour-and-a-half. The question wasn’t whether the Duke would be quicker but just how much quicker would it be?
The answer was illuminating — 42 minutes door-to-door, home to office, a distance of 49 miles. Now I can’ think of a machine better designed NOT to be used as a city commuter than the 748 — full head-down, bum-up riding position, with a set of pipes designed to roast its rider’s backside and legs at anything below 50mph. That and no steering lock to speak of. Bloody good fun though — London traffic just melted away (as did my legs) and it was definitely a cyclist’s wish fulfilment dream — the ability to get through tiny gaps with the help of the Duke’s narrow bars (so long as you get the line right well in advance) and being able to accelerate away from anything else on the road. A touch nervous about the comfort in slow London traffic, but I just went into insane London cyclist mode as soon as I hit the city. Didn’t even notice the pain.
So it is possible to commute on a Ducati. You can also do dressage with an elephant — it just may not be the best beastie for the job.
Total cost for anyone who’s counting — about £7 for just over two (Imperial) gallons of unleaded (ouch), plus any GATSOs I may not have spotted in time.
Unfortunately, the off-peak train fare is £7.25 return, so I’m going to have to work on the excuses a littler harder.