Now fast-forward to the day itself. [By this device I conveniently gloss over my hurling of toys from the group pram on the ride up — sorry, but 120 miles in four hours through 30/40mph limits on a 748 is going to do in anyone’s head (and in my case, their back). The journey improved though – the second, solo, 120 miles was over clear and wonderful roads and took an hour-and-a-half. Antisocial git that I am.]

Me, I had a great time — I managed (just) to stay out of trouble in the intermediate group and discovered that, while the fast boys and girls on the R1s and Gixxers were coming past me on the straight like my engine had fallen out, most of them were then holding me up in the corners. Just before lunch I’d started getting frustrated by this, and then using way too many gear changes and late braking frenzies to try to set up a slingshot coming out of the bends – all I was doing was locking up the back end, generally unsettling both bike and rider and, funnily enough, going slower. Deep breath and calm it, off the brakes, leave the bloody gear lever alone and, lo! – I’m catching ’em. Now there’s just the matter of that 40bhp or so deficit.

I do think I’d probably either have been slower or eating grass if I’d been on a much more powerful bike – I can’t think of a better track day bike for a novice like me than a 748 — exactly enough power to be fun while still forgiving of cack-handed use of the throttle, and completely unflappable handling.

Three of us rode back at what I hope was a good and consistent pace (ahem) – riding down the A1 in a staggered arrowhead formation with the three headlights of a Mille, the two of the Duke and that of a slightly kcufed (k-c-u-f-e- d: kcufed – see?) ZX-6 must have made motorists think they’d fallen into the remake of Close Encounters. Most got out of the way quickly enough, so we didn’t need to actually complete the filmic allusion by riding over the top of them. Tired? Of course. Sore? for sure – now I *really* realise why motorcycle racers are such fit buggers. Happy? Oh yes. But times they are a-changin…