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Celebrities and pillions

Published: 01 October 2001

Celebrities:

Suzi Perry: TV presenter:

The first time I did 100mph was on the back of Kenny Roberts on his GSXR750 around Donnington the year he became World Champion. It was totally exhilarating, it wasn’t the speed so much as the braking. He was braking so hard I ended up piggy backing him.

The first time I went 100 on my own was a few years ago on my Ducati Monster a couple of weeks after I’d past my test (on the German Autobahn of course!) I know most people wouldn’t admit it but I did feel scared because it wasn’t long after I’d learnt. I just remember thinking one mistake and I’m off. You realise how much control you’ve got in your hands. When I slowed down I just wanted to do it again. It’s like going on a rollercoaster, you’re not sure if you want to do it but once you have you can’t wait to get back on.

Matthew Pinsent: Olympic gold rower:

It was the Spring of 1997 and I had only recently passed my test. I was on my Suzuki Bandit 600, riding back from London to Henley-on-Thames.

It was on a straight bit of road as you come off the motorway towards Henley. It was dry and light and I though: " Well, this is as good a time as any, I might as well have a go at the 100. "

I must admit it felt pretty scary as the needle crept up the dial, especially as being a big guy I was really feeling the wind, so I had to get right down on the tank. That’s when you really feel the ride.

I saw the speedo go past 100mph and then I just backed right off. I rode the rest of the way back at 45mph. I just thought: " I’ve been there, so I can put that to bed. " It was a while before I did 100 again.

For me it’s not the outright straight-line speed that does it, what really gives me an adrenaline buzz on a bike is the acceleration and cornering.

I’ve got a clean licence and being in the public eye I’d like to keep it that way.

Pillions:

Tm Fennell: MCN Consultant:

My first ton was not a particularly comfortable experience. I was16 and riding a Suzuki AP50,. My well-off, bike-mad mate Russ Tillet turned 17 four months before me and on his birthday he ditched his FS1E and (quite illegally) hopped straight onto a Norton 850 Commando munmy had bought him. Half an hour later he was round at mine offering me a pillion ride. I donned my lid, leather jacket and Doc Martens and straddled the back of the Norton. Keen to show the power difference between a whiney sports moped and a full on tub thumping twin, 800 cubes the richer, Russ whipped back the throttle. I spent the next 10 minutes fighting not to fall off. I hadn't quite perfected my pillion style yet and, due to a homophobic reluctance to grasp Russ round the waist, I opted for the grab rail and neglected to lean forward. I donkey-nodded violently, headed butting the back of his helmet as he wound it through the gears. Russ mistook my screams of those of enjoyment and wound the bike up even more. I'm not quite sure when we hit the magic ton - Russ confirmed this later -as I was upside down at the time trying to retrieve my feet from under his armpits and couldn't get a clear view of the speedo.

Matthew Birt: MCN GP reporter:

It was at Donington Park before the WSB meeting in 1996. Yamaha had offered us a pillion ride on a Yamaha Thunderace with its works BSB riders Jamie Whitham or Niall Mackenzie. I was roped in, even though my only previous experience on a bike was wearing the skin off my knees and elbows on a minimoto when I was eight.

Fortunately, I was with Mackenzie. I remember him saying: " It’s a good job you’re with me because Jamie would have gone out to scare himself, let alone you. " It seemed pretty reassuring at the time.

I felt relaxed driving to Donington, but as soon as I saw the signs for the circuit I turned to jelly. The next thing I knew I wa standing beside the bike in the pit lane in my leathers. Then I was out of them again as I popped to the loo for the 50th time.

When I clambered on the back, I told myself to watch for the braking markers and go with the bike. That worked fine until Neil accelerated out of Coppice down to the Esses. I’d forgotten about the dip under the Dunlop Bridge, and when the front end went light there, I totally lost my bearings and almost the contents of my stomach.

The rest of the ride passed in a state of total confusion. When Niall braked for the Esses I whacked him in the back of the head so hard I thought both of us would need brain scans.

After two laps we coasted into the pits and the sense of relief as I relaxed my grip around his waist was unbelievable.