From Cyril's memoirs dated 22 September 2007
I took the Multistrada to Florence the other day, sent on an errand by Francesca. The sun was beating down, the skies were blue and the Duke was running sweetly. What could possibly go wrong? Ha!
I headed across country and by the time I reached the town of Radda in Chianti both the bike and I were warm and into our stride. I've lived in Italy for almost seven years and have come to accept that the majority of Italian riders and drivers have as much a concept of risk as they do of a chip butty. They seem to know no fear. I’m amazed that Italian men can walk without pushing before them a small wheeled trolley, given the apparent size of their balls. But then, fear doesn't come into it, because fear requires you to believe that some day your luck will run out.
I was humming along at a decent pace when I noticed headlights in my mirror. There was a series of bends coming up, in the middle of which, I knew, was a humpback bridge set at 45 degrees to the road. With the first right-hander approaching, I drifted left to the centreline and was about to pitch in at about 80mph when a horn blared and an Aprilia Tuono carved past on a mission. Well, my adrenal gland may be rather withered, but there's still a bit of juice in it yet and I took up the challenge, hoping that the increasingly tight turns and uneven surface would, for a while at least, help me to stay in touch with the thundering Aprilia.
But the other chap was really on it, using all of the road even when you'd have needed to be clairvoyant to know it was safe. By the bridge, I knew my capacity for lunacy was lacking and backed off. A good decision. The Tuono pitched into the left-hander very early, using the other side of the road, just as an Alfa saloon coming the other way appeared from behind the bridge's stone parapet. The rider picked up the bike and manfully tried to wrestle it down again in time to make the bend, but clipped the bridge wall and was pitched into the air, landing quite gracefully flat on his back in the long grass at the side of the road. The Alfa driver wouldn't have seen any of this and carried on. I pulled over and dashed to where the rider lay.
He hadn't moved and when I flipped up his black visor he didn't seem to be breathing. I felt for a pulse and found nothing, so unzipped his leathers ready to give heart massage. Well, that's when things all went a bit wonky.
As I pulled down the zip I suddenly felt as if I was in a Seventies aftershave advert, because not only was there no other clothing beneath the leathers, but an ample pair of breasts lost no time in escaping their confinement. He was clearly a she. Perhaps out of a deep-seated sense of guilt, owed mainly, I suspect, to that incident with Auntie Margaret when I was 12, my first reaction was to zip up the leathers. I was in the process of herding the escapees back into their leathery pen when the woman sat bolt upright and pulled off her helmet to reveal a tumble of raven hair and fierce green eyes. Ah...
Back home, Francesca eased a packet of frozen peas into my underpants in an attempt to halt the swelling and bruising (the old family jewels were rapidly resembling a couple of small mangos and a saveloy). She asked me to repeat exactly what I'd said to the woman. I admit that my Italian isn't what it might be, despite my years here, and with the awkwardness of the situation I became a little tongue tied. When Francesca had stopped giggling she explained that the English equivalent of what I'd blurted out would be, 'I'm very sorry, but I thought you were dead and I was chasing your lively breasts.' That's the last time I play the good Samaritan. I felt a right tit. Left one, too.