Following a couple of years of almost zero two-wheeled action, Alun Davies is swooning over the new T7
I’ve not clocked up many miles on the Ténéré but every single one of them has been possibly the most enjoyable and memorable of my life. And that’s a hell of a big endorsement, so let me flesh it out with a back story…
The past couple of years have had their moments alright. First up was a spectacular highside on the A68 in Northumberland back in 2018. A lift in the local air ambulance to Newcastle Hospital followed, where broken bones and permanent nerve damage to the lower back and upper leg were the big news.
It was near on a year before I felt comfortable enough to get back in the saddle and hit the starter button. I can truly say it felt fantastic to be back on a motorcycle and I was looking forward to getting out and about during the summer of 2019.
And then a strange, weird thing happened. I had parked up the car and was walking a short distance into Stratford upon Avon town centre when I had a huge cramp in my calf muscle. After a few minutes the cramp subsided but there was a numbness coupled with an extreme tingling in my lower limb, plus my foot felt uncomfortably cold. As I hobbled the short distance back to the car the cramp returned, and the uncomfortable sensations persisted throughout a disrupted night.
Within 24 hours I was on an operating table in Coventry Hospital with a scrubbed up vascular surgeon ready for some bypass action. But there was something bothering him, and in layman terms, he was umming and arrghing about swinging the scalpel.
I was diagnosed with acute peripheral arterial disease and had experienced the equivalent of a ‘heart attack’ in my leg. There was a 13cm blockage in the main artery behind my knee, no pulse in my lower leg, I could not walk more than 50m without experiencing debilitating cramp, and my left foot was as cold as ice. The consensus was without bypass surgery I would lose my lower limb, soon, most probably to gangrene.
However, what had caused the surgeon to hesitate was a slight reddening in my foot which suggested that gravity and minute veins were feeding a trickle of blood into my foot.
“Will you give up smoking, take these tablets, lose weight, implement this diet, and exercise every day,” he asked. “There are no guarantees, you could still lose your leg but I do not want to perform this operation. It could get very messy with the state of your veins.” My reply was a seriously committed “yes.”
Almost a year to the day, I was reflecting on my newfound position as a poster boy for the acute peripheral arterial disease community as I drove down to Yamaha to pick up the T7. I was walking five miles a day, cycling for 12, and also fitting in a daily weight training session. I had lost weight, given up smoking after 44 years of serious nicotine addiction, and took my tablets on a daily basis. Good boy Alun.
I still had no pulse in my leg, and never again will, plus there is a permanent numbness, tingling and nerve damage in my foot. But I was fit, and best yet, cleared to get back on a motorcycle. The sight of that new T7 parked up on the forecourt brought back a level of excitement like I’d experienced 44 years ago when I picked up my first bike from a CZ dealer in Cardiff.
I’ve since taken the Ténéré on fast-paced A roads, narrow country lanes, urban exploring in lockdown Birmingham, a short motorway trip, and down a gentle green lane. And I have to say, all be it under a rose-coloured visor, I’ve the feeling this may be the best all-round middleweight motorcycle to date. I’ll keep you posted in future issues of ABR.