From Cyril's memoirs dated 2 March 2008
The Dakar Rally is an awe-inspiring event for many reasons, not least because the desert does strange things to a man. I know - from
On a scorching day in August 1999, as the sun beat down, I knelt by the side of the XT600, staring at a flat rear tyre. Sweat dripped from the tip of my nose and landed in the dust, evaporating almost instantly. I felt defeated and lonely and for the first time since I was a boy I clasped my hands together and prayed, concluding my silent plea by leaning back and shouting up at the vast azure sky. ‘Why, oh God? Why me? Why now? Why?!’
‘Oh Cyril, get a grip.’ It was Francesca. ‘Drink your tea and then get Stefano over with his mobile tyre thingy if you can’t do it yourself. You have to get it done by tomorrow else you’ll miss the ferry. What a drama queen.’ Three days later, thanks to Stefano, I'd made the trip from my home in the Testa di Cazzo hills and was actually in
The trip had been planned for months, a ride through Tunisia, Algeria and Mali to Timbuktu, via Tuat (merely because the name made us laugh). The other half of ‘us’ was Stewart Kidd, a brawny off-road specialist developing Yamaha’s two-wheel-drive 2-Trac system fitted to a test mule. I’d pulled strings to get myself on this trip as it was my final year before retirement and the chance was too good to miss. Let’s not talk about hindsight, it makes fools of us all.
I knew Stewart, though not well, from his regular dealings with the R&D department and he’d always seemed like a nice bloke, if a little intense. Nothing wrong with that, I thought, a serious approach in unforgiving terrain was fine by me, gritty sandwiches and a few beach races being my only sand experience up until that point.
Five days in, deep into the desert, we reached a rocky plain on the edge of a mountain range and set up camp as the sky darkened and brilliant stars began to emerge. We cooked and ate, drank a few tots of whisky, then lay back to gaze at the firmament. I’ll admit that I’ve had my cod-philosophical moments when staring up at the night sky, usually worse for wear, but Stewart suddenly became very
‘Cyril, do you realise that every time you pleasure yourself, your Lord and God is watching?’
‘I’m sorry?’ I said, startled, but not sure if I’d heard him correctly.
‘The Lord, your God, Cyril. Our God. We all must answer to him at some point.’ His voice had gone all boomy, like a very hammy vicar.
‘Yes, yes, that’s true... I suppose,’ I said, playing for time. ‘Although for now I’d concentrate on answering to Mr Kunasawa, who’s especially interested in the outcome of this test.’
Stewart then stood up and, despite the chilly air, threw aside his jacket and pulled off his T-shirt. In the firelight I could see a sprawling tattoo on his chest and abdomen. It was the face of Christ.
‘Christ!’ I blurted, in surprise rather than recognition, given that the face looked looked more like Elton John's and I only twigged that it was meant to be Jesus because of the crown of thorns. Flippin' marvellous, I thought. I'm stuck in the middle of nowhere with a full-on religious nutter. Great.
‘Our Lord Barry sees all,’ he said, stretching his arms wide.
‘Barry? Is that meant to be Barry Sheene?’ I asked, squinting at the tattoo. ‘I doubt he’d be very flattered if he saw it, Stewart.’
He then fiddled around in a pannier and pulled out a small bottle, proclaiming, ‘Let us anoint our bodies with the sacred liquid. Cyril, cleanse your sins!’ And with that he sprinkled this stuff on me as I cowered by the fire. I wiped a spot of it from my face and took a tentative sniff, wary of what it might be, but there was no doubt about it – Brut 33 aftershave.
Then, with no further ceremony, but with an air of urgency, Stewart rode off into the night and I had to make my own way home. Ten days later he turned up at Yamaha HQ in Surrey as if nothing had happened, filed his report and no more was said about the incident. However, when Barry died in 2003, they found Stewart in his own back garden, attached to a huge crucifix wearing a set of vintage Sheene Heron Suzuki leathers. He was perfectly okay (physically), having climbed into the leathers after nailing them to the cross – sacrilege in itself, some might say. The whole scene reeked of
From Cyril's memoirs dated 25 January 2008
It’s the Cyril Green Review of 2007. Absolutely worthless, just like most of the recipients. Just in case these memoirs ever see the light of day, I shall have to undertake a certain amount of fudging (as a former GP racer once said to an unfortunate brolly dolly).
Stupidest Factory Test Rider Prang
We’ve all ogled a nice pert bottom while riding through town (though when I moved to Italy the pertness and ogle-potential went off the scale and after several near misses I now ride under a self-imposed gawp ban), but we’re not all testing the new fuel injection on a Triumph Thruxton. Witnesses say that in March a certain GD was still eyes right as he jammed the bike into the back of a Whippy King ice cream van just outside the otherwise sleepy Sheepy Magna in Leicestershire. Local plod initially shocked and confused by significant raspberry sauce spillage.
Most Drunken Executive
The Germans do quite a few things very well indeed. Among them sausages, marching, stringingwordstogethertomakeanewword, boxer engines and beer drinking. Thankfully, BM’s upper management has changed since the Gunter Blasen penile-jousting incident [see 'I want to show you my big cock', December '08], so in May I was lucky enough to be invited to a closed test session near Hamburg for the BMW HP2 Sport. At the close of a celebratory dinner to mark the end of pre-production testing, I watched through rather ‘refreshed’ eyes as SK tapped his glass to attract the attention of the room, declared his love for everyone there and proclaimed the HP2 Sport as the sexiest bike he’d ever seen. He then stumbled across to the display bike, sitting on a low plinth, took out his old chap and inserted it in the exhaust pipe, attempting to clamber aboard from behind, trousers round his ankles, feet scrabbling on the back tyre like a randy terrier trying to mount a labrador. Within seconds he was asleep, slumped over the bike and ignored by everyone.
Most Ridiculous Law
Here in Italy, we motorcyclists narrowly avoided being electronically tagged in the war against crime. Alarmed at the number of attacks or getaways in which bikes or scooters are involved, Romano Prodi’s government proposed the insertion beneath the skin of the upper arm a data chip identifying the rider and linking he or she to the bike they’re on. The plan was scrapped in June when it turned out that of the 15 people involved in the six-month trial, one’s identity continually registered as a 73-year-old woman who’d died in 2004 and four had their arms cut off by mafia gangs keen on identity theft. All’s now gone quiet after talk of ‘teething troubles’.
Most Futile Record Attempt
In August, Kurac Shupcino from Split made a bid to enter the Croatian Book of Records as the rider to have completed a lap of the Zagreb ringroad in the shortest time while eating a king-sized govno (a spicy pasty and local delicacy). Not only did Kurac die in the process after a chunk of crust blew down his windpipe at 140mph as he crossed the line, but he was robbed of posthumous glory as the new record was deemed invalid due to the pasty being beef and onion rather than the regulation mutton and beetroot.
Biggest Waste of Money
In November, it came to my attention that a certain Japanese factory had finally washed its hands of a failed project having spent more than 340m Yen (£1.5m) trying to perfect a viable on-bike urinal – working title, the Eezy Weezy. Apparently, they were finally scuppered by the crazy safety lobby when unable to demonstrate the safe extraction of the John Thomas while on the move. What ridiculous killjoys.
Worst Home Mechanic
Finally, in December came the story of the DIY servicer who, during an oil change, poured almost four litres of 15w 50 into his Ducati’s filler before realising that it was forming in a pool beneath the bike as he’d forgotten to replace the sump plug. Stepping back in horror he trod on the edge of the tray of waste oil, spilling the lot on the floor, before slipping on the mess, knocking over the bike and breaking his thumb (much to the disappointment of his energetic young wife). Step forward, please, the idiot that is Mr Cyril Green of Montemona, Italy.