After years of riding dirt bikes, my first road bike was a '77 Ducati Desmo 500 - the one with the motor that always reminded me of a Kawasaki KH500. The Duke was a nightmare of unreliability with a nasty tendency to seize up if the fluid levels weren't checked religiously. The electrical system was a joke and liable to burn connectors out in any sort of bad weather. Still, it was a parallel twin Ducati and it was cheap at the time. Met a gorgeous student at uni whom I really wanted to impress so I invited her for a day trip to Byron Bay. The Ducati had the rise at the back of the seat that kept her close, the summer's day was brilliant, the traffic on the single lane arterial was light and the Ducati sounded like a Duke. It was going to be a great day. Lunch at the Beach Hotel, a swim in the sea and a lazy ride home through the Tomewin ranges. Disaster struck on a valley stretch and the Ducati simply died and coasted to the side of the road - sugar cane fields all round, no shade and 38*C. "What's wrong?" she asked. "Nothing serious," I quiffed. Two and a half hours later I had checked the tank and lines, drained and tapped the carburettors, traced the electrics, cleaned the plugs, shook out the air filters and was sitting on the verge in a dank sweat and a foul mood not improved by the fact that every truck that went by tooted at my companion. "Tolly?" the object of my lust spoke up while gazing at the bars. "Not now Andrea," I barked. "But, Tolly?" she offered with more conviction. "Look Andrea, I'm trying to think. If I can't get this fu*#ing Italian pile of sh*t running, we'll have to hitch a ride out of here." (Which would have been no problem for her!). She dropped into a sullen silence while I considered my options. Pissing her off was not really one of them so I relented... "Sorry gorgeous, what is it?" She pointed at the handlebars. "Why is this "OFF" thingy pushed in?" I staggered to the bike, inspected the kill switch which I must have nudged while adjusting my glove, corrected its position, fired the 500 up, collected the disassembled pieces, headed to the Cabarita Hotel and took a room for the night. Ah! The romance of motorcycling!! Andrea outlasted the Ducati. Nothing was ever said about Ducati kill switches.