Ex-Grand Prix legend turned super-fast roadtester Niall Mackenzie ponders the worth of the motorway smurf
I wonder if any of you have experienced a strange phenomenon that seems to be sweeping the country? I had actually heard of this via the ramblings of the fascinating Mr.Clarkson (unlike a lot of bikers I don’t mind the chap as anyone who punches Piers Morgan gets my vote).I was riding back from a job at Brands Hatch on the M25 when the traffic came to a complete standstill just north of the Dartford crossing. As is normal I began slowly filtering through the traffic, hoping normal service would soon be resumed. I can’t say I’m proud of it, but apart from not having to queue, one of the up sides of being a biker is that you get to see the cause of the hold up before most of the others. So, after trudging on through at least three miles of traffic, I finally arrived at the scene of the atrocious incident that had caused the M25 to be completely closed during the rush hour. And yes, it was the fabulous Highways Agency that had brought everything to a complete and utter grinding standstill.What reminded me of two off-duty burly nightclub bouncers informed me we would have to wait 20 minutes as labourers filled in a few potholes with tar. Some of the car drivers were going mental, but as it was a pleasant evening and I was in no hurry I decided to take my helmet off and listen to some Duffy on my iPod. And then something amazing happened. Other bikers that had been working their way through the traffic started to pop out through the cars at the front of the jam. Within ten minutes it was like an evening biker’s meet with over a dozen bikes parked up and owners happily chatting away to each other. I met an interesting bloke on a Yamaha XT660X that had just finished his shift at Tilbury docks and an unusually painted Honda Deauville owner (the bike, not the owner) on his way to Scotland. I was having quite a pleasant evening. Meanwhile, the car drivers remained indoors and were becoming increasingly upset at the events. Unlike the motorists, Max and Paddy from the Highways Agency were completely chilled, enjoying another afternoon in their dream job where they do absolutely nothing but drive round in a Land Cruiser with lots of dayglow stickers on it and cost us a fortune. After 23 minutes we were finally given the green light, by which time the traffic was backed up to way before the Dartford crossing. I knew this because my mate Rob had called me to tell me he was stuck in his van. Ha!After putting my helmet on and setting off I genuinely thought I would give the tarmacking chaps a hand by rolling over their newly filled pothole. Unfortunately as I hit it my front wheel sunk and the soft tar spued back out and onto the carriageway. Fantastic, I’m sure they were over the moon with my helpful ‘assistance’.Finally I have to ask, what is it with Ducati Desmosedici owners? Over the past two months, four lucky owners, Gary, Jonathan, Robbie and Charlie have offered me a ride on their amazing machines! I reluctantly (not) took the latter two up on their offer and loved every minute of the experience. It is so good to see owners not glass casing these bikes and enjoying every aspect of ownership, even if that includes lending it to an enthusiastic Scot! So watch out at your next track day if you own a Desmo, it could be your turn!
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