Well the TT does stand Tourist Trophy and the our last few days on the island were very much focused on the Tourist element! As I said in parts one and two, the shift in the racing programme had left us and may others, high and dry. We couldn’t shift out ferry crossing, accommodation or even holiday requests from work in some instances.
What? No Racing?
The upshot of all this was three full days on the island with no racing. However this particular cloud does have a silver lining. Even better it’s a really good one! The Isle of Man is about so much more than just motorcycle racing. Obviously that is woven into the very DNA of the place, but there is so much to see and do there too.
So it was in this spirit we spent the next few days wondering about and acting like proper tourists. It was amusing to note as we rode about and parked up at various places that we kept seeing the same groups coming and going. We were far from the only ones caught out this way clearly!
Over the next three days the Doubtfire and Brown breakfast operation honed it’s technique to a point that we reminded me of that immortal Morecombe and Wise sketch from the 1970’s. You might need to be over 50 to remember that one! Suitably fuelled up each day we then had a fantastic three days enjoying the island for what it offers other than racing
In Jurby we checked out the superb Isle of man Motor Museum, which has an amazingly varied range of exhibits, from Spacecraft to steam trucks and all points in-between. The bikes on display are genuinely breathtaking and we spent much of a day in there. It really is that good
As is so often the case in Manx GP week, the bikes in the bike park are sometimes pretty impressive too!
Just a taster of the immensely impressive bike display in the Isle of Man Motor Museum
The delightful town of Peel, where we had stayed for the TT 2015, was another designation. Chilling with an ice cream on the seafront, the castle providing a spectacular backdrop. We walked around the headland there too and we were stunned to see Dolphins frolicking with the people kayaking in the inlet below us. A beautiful, even memorising sight.
Dolphin delights in Peel
No visit to Peel is complete without checking out the Creek Inn ether , so we duly did. It was great to sit out in the late summer sunshine enjoying a drink and some gentle banter.
Sweeping over the Hills
The ride back over to Laxey was highly enjoyable too. The pace was gentle and relaxing – just taking in our surroundings seemed more appropriate than pointlessly roaring around. We pulled over a few times just to pause and take things in properly. It really is a lovely island.
Sometimes, you just have to stop
Murray’s is mint…
Murrays Motorcycle Museum in contrast to the expansive and slickly presented set up in Jurby is a packed, haphazard, eclectic but utterly superb collection, especially for the £5 entry fee. A friend of mine sold her restored Honda 400/4 to the collection and it was good to see it tucked away in there snuggly. This was another place where the bike park was nearly as good as the attraction.
The Eccentric, rather excellent Murray’s Motorcycle Museum
The bikes are crammed in and the range is genuinely mind boggling. Andy seemed to be enjoying himself
Fairy Bridge was passed over a few times, and of course we all waved to the Fairies as crossed over on the road to Castletown. Yet another charming location and we enjoyed a drink outside in the main square. Sitting in the shadow of the magnificent castle that dominates the centre of town was fabulous, if a tad blustery. We took the opportunity to have a walk around the outside of the castle and the harbour too. Proper tourist mode was engaged by now.
Down at the Bottom
No trip to the island can be considered complete without a visit to the Calf of Man and the amazing SOUND Cafe there. A magnificent glass fronted structure that allows you to have an expansive view out to sea. We were still were being lucky with the weather up to now, so we mainly chilled outside, just absorbing the vista before us.
We had taken a few wrong turns over the last couple of days and the group had split up accidentally a couple times. Somehow we always pulled it together and it was great to hang out with old friends I don’t see anything like enough of. To be away from the pressures of everyday life and just revelling in the joys of biking with kindred spirits. It really is a great thing. After the crazy couple of years we have all endured it somehow means that little bit more now too.
We all took the chance to do a little bit individual exploring from there: Steve went back to Laxey for a bit of wild swimming in the sea, Andy just went for a ride, I popped into Noble hospital to see if my mate was ok*. But we all wound up back at our superbly comfortable digs in good time
The evenings had been brilliant too, the six of us chatting away over a few beers, arguing about the merits of this or that, listening to some brilliant music on the cottages sound system. Simple stuff really, but none the worse for it
So it was a sense slight sadness we got to the morning of the last full day. But the lovely views at Port St. Mary on yet another beautiful day soon changed that. The place could do with a decent cafe though!
On a fantastic sunny day it was fabulous to ride over to Port Erin and park up for a bit and do yet more relaxed wondering about. The charming little railway station there, the beautiful bay down below that, on the occasion of our visit, had an impressive Top Sail Schooner (so our group Yacht captain informed me) bobbing about in the bay. Almost dreamy, surreal stuff
Picking up the Pace
The biking action was brilliant too. I cut loose on my RS a little more today as I, Andy (R1200GS) and Julian (R1250GS) in particular sliced across the iconic roads the island boasts. We wound up sweeping across part of the mountain section, down to the Creg again before hooking left back over minor roads to Laxey. Mick (Tiger), Steve (Bonnie) and Don (R1200GS) worked their way back to base via Douglas I think. We all wound up back in Laxey smiling, which is the key point.
So that’s why she is smiling
The last night was signed off in style with a visit to a really decent Italian Pizza restaurant called The Mona Lisa. It was a surprise to find such a place in the small village of Laxey and within walking distance of our digs too. Highly recommended if you ever visit the island. No ‘ping’ curries from the Co-oP for the last evening! The meal neatly bookended with before and after visits to The Shore hotel and pub, which had become our defacto ‘local’ for the week
The next morning we packed up and sorted the digs, had a bacon roll at the excellent beachside cafe on the beachfront in Laxey and made for Douglas and the ferry home -boo! However Julian, Andy and I could not resist one last full lap of the TT course before clocking off ‘Fantasy Island’ and headed back to reality. It was a brilliant way to sign off
One last Bacon Butty in Laxey
The Perfect Week
We had enjoyed a simply fantastic week. Blessed with good racing, good riding, great weather and above all superb company. The ferry ride was as smooth and I even enjoyed the blast home, especially the section that Andy and I rode together. We have been riding together for forty years and it’s always a pleasure covering ground with him.
Not looking happy on the way home
I rounded off a pretty much perfect week by calling in on my daughter to see my new little granddaughter. Times truly don’t much better then these!
Words: Tony Donnelly
Pictures: Tony Donnelly. Julian Oliver, Steve Iles and Michael O’Brien
*Paul had been discharged was in the tender care of his girlfriend. He was back at work a few weeks later