It's a twos-up knees-up as the team goes pillion crazy
On the face of it this wasn't a good idea. Riding 250 miles up the M1 and M6 - a pair of motorways so tedious even hardened round-the-world riders have been known to veer into the Armco to alleviate boredom - in the middle of a Baltic February, with pillions. For the bike-hardened it would be tough, but for passengers with little or no experience of bikes the trip had the makings of a harrowing event.
Still, at least I had a carrot to tempt my colleagues and their loved ones out into the frozen north because at the end of our arduous journey lay Blackpool. Omitting the small fact that out-of-season Blackpool packs all the charm of a punch in the face, I would woo everyone with the promise of jolly walks along the Golden Mile, the bracing sea air and all the chips they could eat. They'd be putty in my hands.
Having now talked myself into this being 'a good idea', I set about assembling the team. The girlfriend got the call up first since I figured, being Italian, she'd have no idea where Blackpool was, so wouldn't realise how awful the trip could be. I was right. Buoyed by this success I called Whitham, who said yes immediately, roping wife Andrea in and ending the call shouting he couldn't wait. One more pairing needed.
Sadly, the rest of the office fell into two camps: those with very pregnant spouses or those in the middle of acrimonious divorces. Then Jon Urry called and before he knew what had happened I'd talked him into it along with his special friend Liz. Things were turning out right nicely.
Representing the spectrum of machinery people may want to take pillions on, we had a BMW R1200RT for dedicated tourers, a ZX-6R for the sportsheads who've told the missus it'll be great two-up so she'll let them buy it (and are hoping to God she'll never actually want to get on the back), and a Triumph Sprint ST as perhaps the best sports-touring compromise on the market.
There were a couple of points to sort out, though. Bundling a poor girl onto your bike in an ancient lid to get her to the station of a morning is morally dubious, but taking her to the other end of the country in the same is morally bankrupt. For serious pillion action their gear needs to be as good as yours. That's all there is to it.
Clobbering the other half up may be pricey but comes with its benefits. First they'll not lose half their skin should they keel off the back, so you'll not have to worry about sleeping with the Elephant Woman for the rest of your life; second, you can be all caring and masterful helping them get to grips with the zips, toggles and fasteners. Thirdly, they'll be warm and comfortable so far less likely to strop as the icy cold cuts into them, thus guaranteeing a warm front in the bedroom on arrival rather than you being frozen out on the sofa with no chance of a thaw before Christmas.
A call to Hein Gericke had the missus dolled up in the bird's version of my winter gear in no time, which not only meant we could do a cheesy line in 'his and hers' jackets, but also meant that, being cut for girls, it didn't make her look like a bloke. Always a plus. Having a bike, Liz already had her own gear, while Whit's sponsors were sending a boxload of gear for Andrea, which you'll find out more about later.
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