When TwitGP asked its followers “have you ever met a MotoGP rider in REAL LIFE?”, we figured we'd get just a handful of responses. After all, we're talking about an exclusive band of riders, operating in a rarefied world, who only leave the rear bedroom of their motorhome in exceptional circumstances. Statistically, according to TwitGP's Department of Statistics, you're more likely to bump into someone who's NOT a MotoGP rider.
But oh, how our followers proved us wrong.
To begin with, there are what we call The AMAZING Stories:
@jay_smith08 Marco Melandri bought me a £13 Vodka Red Bull in a Manchester City Centre club. (Already this is amazing, but it gets better...) Long story short, he was boozing in there with Andy Sugden from Emmerdale Farm. (WOW! Imagine how LONG the story that satisfactorily explains those circumstances has to be! Melandri, you're our new favourite rider. NB for international fans, 'Emmerdale Farm' is a UK soap opera. A bit like Melrose Place.)
@Annemarie2411 saw Simoncelli in a Little Chef on the A14 in 2005 (amazing, again) when he was still in 250s and had smaller hair. Marched straight into the Little Chef VIP area. (Er, WTF?! WHO KNEW that Little Chef had a VIP area?!? NB for international fans, “Little Chef” is a UK roadside restaurant chain. A bit like Melrose Place.)
@lardyboy66 met Stoner at Le Mans practice a few years ago (yawn, not amazing) – he showed me a hole in the fence (riiiight) so me and a mate could sneak in (AMAZING!) Nice guy! (Casey, for saving a TwitGP follower hard-earned cash, now YOU'RE our new favourite rider.)
@pinkyracr Ben Spies' friend Randy filmed me and a friend. 2 girls, 1 bike, we did it for their entertainment at Laguna 2010. (TwitGP has to admit when it first read this its gutter of a mind immediately assumed “2 girls, 1 bike” was some kind of amazing sex thing. Turns out they really were just two girls innocently riding one KTM 690 around the paddock. Naughty TwitGP. Naughty. Although quite why Spies' mate filmed it still seems a bit creepy.)
Then there were meetings with Valentino, which we call The Valentino Meetings:
@SeannyDMode I met Valentino Rossi in downtown Indianapolis last year, two words: awkward handshake.
@chisa46 from Indonesia described VR as "absolutely nice".
@adzman808 restaurant near Jerez 2001, he was running late, I was drunk, I asked for a pic, he laughs and says most people want themselves in the pic too. (The more we hear about VR, the more it seems he's just a funny bloke)
@pinkyracr told us she saw Rossi driving a Hummer through Monterey, and guess what - Uccio was in the passenger seat. And guess what again - the Hummer was yellow. And guess what yet again? No nothing else, that's it.
Finally, @ladyhawke82 told us how she and her friends basically assaulted Valentino in an Italian restaurant in Indianapolis, 2008: Informed that Vale was in men's room. We waited and were rewarded with him exiting the loo. Boyfriend bent down (he's 6'6) looked under his hat, best friend grabbed him and said "Valentino??". He answers "yes" and runs off. (You do surprise us.)
In fact, an enormous amount of you seem to have met riders around, and there's no other way of saying this, THE TOILET.
@Migweld took a piss next to Troy Corser at Cadwell Park. Didn't say anything though, that would have been weird. (Technically not a GP rider, but we'll let you off.)
@Sofi_46 Randy de Puniet didn't know his way round Donington, so I had to show him where the loos were! (On his way to do some emergency chest-shaving, no doubt.)
@theMattAllard I was introduced to Kevin Schwantz at a race, then bumped into him 10 minutes later in the men's toilet, he laughed and said "we might want to keep it quiet we met up again in here". (Excellent! Schwantz rules.)
@Mpress revealed their 12 yr old son met Nicky Hayden in the men's room at the last Dutch TT, and that Nicky was on the phone at the same time. Now that's dexterity.
There were several meetings with diminutive Dani Pedrosa, but two that stand out are:
@Mpress we met Dani Pedrosa with his babysitter Puig at a gas station. DP was taking gas, Puig paying for it. Both looked annoyed. (Annoyed you say? Well that's come as a COMPLETE shoc..oh no, hang on, it hasn't.)
@rovingbubs walked into an elevator at a hotel in Indianapolis and saw Dani Pedrosa in it. Dani had his laptop with him and was heading for the lobby, where the wifi was free. (HA! PEDROSA IS A SKINFLINT!)
Quite a few of you have witnessed James Toseland at close quarters, although the detail given here is second to none:
@R1Ash once saw Tose westbound on M4 out of Brentwood just as elevated section ends. (Oh yeah, we know it.)
While TwitGP's favourite paddock stalker yet again has managed to sneak under the wire to go the extra mile:
@O_Donut I once had dinner with James Toseland in Valencia. His motorhome driver is one of the funniest men I've ever met. (And she's met some funny people in her time, let us tell you.)
Howabout this for an old school heart-warmer:
@bob_antrobus remarkable memory is best way to describe Barry Sheene, having met him at a car show he remembered me as a marshal from Oulton Park!
Although not all our followers have had such positive meetings. @UnselfishRabbit must have lost all faith in human nature after his run of bad luck:
“met Max Biaggi, Norick Abe, Gary McCoy and a few others. All I can say is: short, miserable/moody.”
Some encounters went as expected:
@Brio_1976 I met Steve Parrish in a lift. He is polite and tanned. (TANNED? The bloke looks like a walnut.)
@wgtarrant met Colin Edwards after a race...(ooh, what was he doing? Warming down? Debriefing his crew chief? Honouring sponsor commitments?)...having a Bud. (Ah.)
But there were also some Surprising Circumstances:
@billyrobson met Chris Vermeulen in an INTERNET CAFE, he was “pleasantly surprised” to be recognised. (Cos it's not like he's got any distinguishing features or anything...)
@Deadgonz saw Foggy and family in a RESTAURANT in Lake Windemere, where Foggy looked intense. (Seriously? INTENSE? Foggy, you're in a restaurant asking if the fish fingers come in child's portions, for God's sake give the starey-eye thing a rest.)
@JPHackett saw Colin Edwards in...an Early Learning Centre. (Yes! An EARLY LEARNING CENTRE! COLIN EDWARDS! “Hey, got any toy guns or shit...?” etc)
Other shop sightings include @lairdcwh spying Casey Stoner in WHSmiths, @smuckle1990 spotting Shakey Byrne in Tescos, @Gazastrippa sharing a jam doughnut with James Toseland in a bookshop in Barrow in Furness, and @chaosgerbil noticing Foggy “wandering around a Blackburn shopping centre”. Love the poignant use of “wandering around” there, as if everyone in the world has disowned the rodent-faced charmer. Which they have.
Finally, the most tenuous “I've met a MotoGP rider” story belongs to @Gazastrippa:
“Neil Hodgson: snogged his brother in 1988. I know it doesn't count but I've waited 22 years for that story to be relevant.”
There you have it. TwitGP: making the irrelevant relevant.
(PS We've decided to withold the story about a rider in a lapdancing club purely and simply because it's TOO SORDID.)