June 23, 2015 at 10:38 pm #15662
IOM 2015 TT Part 1. The Longest Day….
The IoM TT races are iconic and simply the most heralded road races in the world; a must attend for anybody who claims to be a biker. So why was I feeling more apprehension than excitement as I rode north with Andy and Steve (Thumper and Ellisemo) to catch our ferry? Was it the 4am check in time for the ferry, the tales of bikes getting roughly handled on the boat? Several people had even told me not to take my bike…telling me the roads will be crammed and full of crazy European wanabe racers coming at you on the wrong side of the road at 100mph. However I wasn’t going to let the naysayers spoil my precious week off work and family duties; as the bike sliced through Shropshire the view as I emerged over Wenlock Edge was enough to lift my spirits. Is there anywhere more quintessentially English than this?
In the end we had a decent ride up to Liverpool, stopping off at some old family friends on route. They were charming hosts as always and although their biking days are behind them now they regaled us with tales of their journeys to the IoM and how they regretted how they and Andy’s parents had never got to make the TT pilgrimage together, despite talking about it many times. They almost seemed to view us going as perhaps partially fulfilling that in spirit. It gave our trip a poignancy that I had not envisaged at the outset.
One of several little halts on our way north…
We got to Liverpool in plenty of time and managed to kill a couple of hours doing passable impressions of vagrants as one point we even tried to kip on a bench near the bikes queuing for the boat. There were hardly any facilities, I was surprised considering how many people would be pouring over to the island. A French lad asleep alongside his bike, looking toasty in a thermal sleeping bag..he had the right idea.
We loaded up after a bit of hissy fit from one of the crew, I went to park behind Andy, but they were segregating ‘adventure’ and sports bikes…something to do with weight distribution apparently! Just in the nick of time the rest of the group rolled up and now the ‘Not So Magnificent Seven’ team was complete. I think we more akin to another famous group of seven: I am Grumpy, which leaves a fair bit of debate about who is Doc, Sleepy and Dopey!
We had a comfortable, swift crossing on the impressive catamaran ferry sitting on an aircraft style seats. The crossing was quick, nearly twice as fast as a conventional ferry. One or two of the lads had paid a bit extra to be in the ‘executive lounge’, but it offered little over the standard seats…£17 is a lot for a ‘free’ cuppa and somebody to fetch your brekky!
We were soon spat out onto the island and almost immediately onto the circuit itself as we sped along the A1 towards Peel. We passed through some iconic locations, place names we have heard so often…Union Mills, Crosby…only now it wasn’t on ITV sport or SKY, it was here and we were riding in the very wheel tracks of legends…we had only been on the island 10 minutes! What I really noticed was the protection on the stone walls and lamp posts etc for the racers seemed skimpy at best: When I thought about the speeds the likes of Martin and McGuinness would be hitting through these places in only a few hours…scary stuff.
We quickly found our digs near the middle of Peel and parked up. Geoff and Ollie had done us proud, two comfortable cottages next door to each other and ideally situated for a quick walk to the sea front to the charming if somewhat packed Harbour Lights cafe for delicious and particularly healthy (albeit expensive) salad….
Doing our best ‘Reservoir Dogs’ impression…don’t get between a biker and his much need light salad…
Don is a bit of a health food fan…
As was to become the pattern for much of the following week we had fallen lucky with the racing. Bad weather on the day before meant that the peach first RST Superbike race had been postponed until today…just in time for us to watch it! I wondered why the people getting off the ferry as we got on had looked so pissed off! Now I knew. We quickly hatched a plan and decided to watch from one of the most famous parts of the course….The Bungalow right towards the very top of the mountain section. We left the bikes at Laxey and took the beautiful 120 year old Manx Electric Railway to the track. Even this was a memorable trip as the old, rattling wooden coaches packed with race fans worked its way steadily up the mountain passing through some truly glorious countryside.
First run in 1895 and still going strong
If the devil could cast his net…
We had picked well, the views all over this section were excellent as the superbikes swept past us and away up Hailwood Rise to Windy corner, engine whaling as they went, every gearshift clearly audible. In a backdrop such as this it was genuinely spine tingling. Only a few hours in a my week was already proving to be a memorable one. By this point it was over 30 hours since Andy, Steve and I had slept…but hey ho! I smiled when overheard one race fan say to his partner how great the view was here, only to be curtly told to get a move on so they didn’t miss the tram back to Laxey!
The man himself…McGuinness
Makes you want to just get on your bike and go for it
But this is the real icon of the island…Joey Dunlop
Kiwi Anstey won the race itself and there was late drama when Michael Dunlop was taken out by a back marker right at the end of the race…that must e so frustrating…200 miles on the edge and all for nothing in the end! Even more frustrated was my hero, Guy Martin…his race had only lasted 2 miles when his BMW gave out…
We made our way back down the mountain having enjoyed our first race to the full. We checked the magnificent Laxey wheel a little more closely, it is the largest one in the world still in operation. Most impressive. We headed back to base in Peel, skirting past a packed Douglas.
Back in Peel we walked down to the harbour side with the castle forming a spectacular backdrop. It really is a lovely town, with enough people and bikes there to lend the place a proper friendly buzz without the perhaps excessive mania that would be encountered in Douglas or Ramsey for example. The Creek Inn was our port of call for a few pints of Doombar and a bit of post race banter. We got chatting to a few locals, but for some reason a lass in an infeasibly tight and skimpy shorts stays in my memory, can’t think why….
Some much needed light refreshment
I didn’t get a picture of the girl in the tight shorts, this Ducati will have to do…
We wondered back to the digs via the (excellent) chippy and for purely scientific reasons we checked out the quality of the beer in another pub….you have to be sure you getting the best available you know!
I eventually found my way back to the house and rolled into a bed for the first time in the best part of two days….oh yes I was having a terrible time! TT2015, was off to a storming start!
More thrilling action in part 2!June 23, 2015 at 10:54 pm #68668
Sorry for the lack of action shots, but some of the lads have some much better pics than I managed, I will let them post a few!June 24, 2015 at 11:37 am #68669katanaParticipant
Radar, great write up as normal. I’m jealous already, looking forward to the next part.June 24, 2015 at 10:47 pm #68670elessimoParticipant
Great write up, Radar – it felt like I was there!
Dawn breaking – still no sleep!
Except for a quick zizz at the ferry terminal….
Good packing on the ferry…
My first Veggie Salad – complete with avacado & haloumi….
With a pensive looking Thumper on the Snaefell Railway
Thumper & I got separated from the pack
But found these excellent mountain lanes….June 25, 2015 at 10:12 pm #68671
Thanks for the extra pictures , I forgot that you and Andy made your own way back to Peel. Didn’t you have some fun on part of the mountain course?June 25, 2015 at 10:27 pm #68672
Radar, great write up as normal. I’m jealous already, looking forward to the next part.
Cheers Kat, it was a packed week, this might run to three parts!June 26, 2015 at 9:49 pm #68673elessimoParticipant
Thanks for the extra pictures , I forgot that you and Andy made your own way back to Peel. Didn’t you have some fun on part of the mountain course?
Yeah, Thumper and I ended up almost at the start of the Mountain on the race course , which as you know was one-way for the duration – had to wait for a gap: tricky when some of them were going at 250mph (at least!)…. Well, seemed like it to me……June 29, 2015 at 7:19 pm #68674imperialdataKeymaster
Looks brilliant, excellent write up bud.
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