IoM TT2015 – Part 5. McGuinness can sleep soundly….

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    No visit to the TT is complete without having a crack at the legendary mountain course yourself, the full 37 miles. Only then can you truly say you have ridden in the wheel tracks of the greats: Duke, Hailwood, Agostini, Dunlop, Heslop, Jeffries and McGuinness.

    Let’s Get Out There

    It was in this spirit that six of our merry crew lined up at 7am to do this pilgrimage. Don unfortunately had to head home to complete in a yacht race…as you do! Well it is safe to say that no lap records were under any threat, although I am pretty sure I set the benchmark for a middle aged, overweight bloke on Thundercat with a Givi top box.

    Despite having to deal with roads that were open to general traffic, speed limits in the many towns and villages on route, Geoff stopping to get petrol (!), traffic lights and coned off sections we managed to get around in one piece. Some parts of the circuit were unrestricted and one way: it was fun to be able to open the taps on these portions of the track and remain quite within the bounds of the law. Riding at over 100mph on public roads perfectly legally, while overtaking and sweeping around bends on the ‘other’ side of the road does feel a bit weird. Rather good though!

    Dancing with a German

    I had a brief dice with German registered Kwack but he dropped back and I kept Ollie on his BMW company as we sped past The Bungalow, up Hailwood Rise and into Windy corner. How good did it feel to be riding sections were we had been mere spectators a few days earlier?! Further ahead Andy was enjoying himself too and Geoff saw some big numbers on his GSXR1100 as he made up time from his ‘pit stop’! Our lap times at the end of all this shenanigans?  Well we didn’t exactly time it, but I went around in 46 minutes! Only 29 off the outright record. John McGuinness will not be losing any sleep just yet. Andy even admitted seeing 63mpg come up on his bikes’ trip computer read out on one of the restricted sections of the course!

    You do find yourself wondering what you could do given a free reign, but if the IoM authorities were to do that the result would be carnage. Even now there are quite a few accidents in TT week amongst the thousands of bikers visiting the islands. This staggering circuit makes even the notorious Nurburgring look about as dangerous as a child’s sandpit.

    All Points of the Compass

    So landmark lap and another visit to the little cafe back in Peel completed we agreed to use our last day on the island to explore as much as could. We decided to hit the four extremities of the island taking in as much as we could during the course of the day. First we headed north and most of us checked out the newly opened Isle of Man Motor Museum . Meanwhile Steve opted for a famous junk shop nearby which, ironically, turned out to be junk…

    Brand New Attraction

    The motoring museum had only been open a mere 17 days by the time of our visit. However it boasted a very diverse range of exhibits, particularly 1950’s and 1960’s American iron. But even this wasn’t the usual pony cars and ’57 Chevy’s. The museum  focussed on elaborate ‘flower cars’ used in funeral processions and ultra long wheelbase airport cars. Odd, but interesting. Throw in a few rare Fiats, a selection of Facel Vegas and around 100 or so classic bikes on a mezzanine level and you have a most diverting way of spending a couple of hours. The £9 (2016 £16.50 2023) to get in was well worth it even if  we did have to help erect the outdoor tea room before getting a cuppa! They seem to have more exhibits and displays being prepared too, so the place should only get better. (It does I re-visited in 2016)

    Bikes on display, huge place…well worth a visit

    Beautifully restored Indian

    Euan and Charlie with their beloved flat twins…they were discussing hub nut part numbers, so I left them to it..

    Some of the old wrecks on display were sadly beyond restoration…

    Lights and Horns, but not on a bike!

    The northern extreme of the island at Point of Ayre boasted a fantastic lighthouse and fog horn. Not needed during our visit on yet another sunny day. The Irish Sea was a deep, glistening blue.  It was good just linger here for awhile and take in the sea air. Quite a few bikers had made up here too, but not so many as to create a crowd.

    The bikes enjoying the view at Point of Aye….they deserve a look too!

    The Geriatric Jets…

    Euan and Charlie with their incredibly  rare GS1200s…

    Go East My Boy!

    The easterly extremity of the island is at Maughold Head and we had to pick our way through a packed Ramsey to get there. Once again the island provided a contrast as the lane to the Head became progressively narrower and quieter. Eventually, much to Andy’s delight we were picking our way up a steep track with grass growing up the middle. This lad is at his happiest when is on his adventure bike, in ‘smug’ mode on his suspension settings while I am struggling along in his wake on a peaky sports bike on road tyres. Bless him.

    However once at the top the view from Maughold is well worth the trouble: Another lighthouse and again crystal blue seas, while behind you the sweeping rolling countryside provides a lush backdrop. We joined up there with a group of Dutch bikers, who must find the whole concept of hills a little scary.

    The Hanging Gardens of Babylon?

    One grumpy sod rolled up on an immaculate GT380 Suzuki, walked up to the viewpoint, muttered ‘is that it’ got back on his bike and rode off. You can’t please some people! It brought to mind that scene in Fawlty Towers when Basil screamed at a complaining guest “What does Madam expect to see out of a Torquay Hotel Window? The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, herds of Wildebeest sweeping majestically across the plain?!”

    ‘Is that it?’ to quote a grumpy GT rider, yes indeed it is…

    Yet another crap album cover shot…

    Parked up at Maughold Head

    Castletown was the next stop on our whistle stop tour of this gorgeous island. We had been there a couple of days before, but this time we had a chance to take in this charming town, once the capital of the island and the original home of the Steam Packet ferry company. The place has a classy, old money, feel. The castle sitting majestically overlooking the it own square and idyllic harbour, As we rolled in a jazz band was playing in its’ shadow and a free classic bike show was being held too. Again we having a superb day where things were just falling into place. We listened to the gentle lilting Jazz as we checked out the bikes and wondered down to the harbour. It was a busy, but chilled day.

    Jazz in the shadow of the castle

    Castletown Harbour

    Enjoying the Free classic bike show

    Southern Comfort

    So we had we set out from Peel, the westerly extremity and been to both northern and eastern extremities too, so it would be rude not to check out the south wouldn’t it? After a brief halt in the sleepy Port St.Mary to check out the harbour there we would up parked up overlooking the small island known as The Calf of Man. Still bathed in a gentle warming sunshine it was the perfect way to round off our one day island tour. I took time to reflect on a fantastic week as I sat on bench just lapping up the view. Brilliant.

    Port St.Mary

    My trusty Thundercat, never missed a beat all week…

    Ollie and Geoff on lookout at Calf of man

    Calf of Man


    We wondered back to Peel, managing somehow to get split up and lost about three times and criss-crossing each other’s path! Once in Peel it was time for the ‘Last Supper’ back in the Marine Hotel again. We laughed and joked and talked excitedly about what we had done all week over a few beers.

    The last pint of a stunning week

    I barely knew Geoff, Don and Ollie at the start of the week and Mick I had not seen much in the last twenty years. Now I had made new friends and had a vast bank of new memories to look back fondly on in future years. Times like these are to be savoured and enjoyed.

    The trip home the next day went fine, so I will wrap up by saying a huge thank you to Geoff and Ollie who did the bulk of the organisation. Also a shout out to Andy, Steve, Don and Mick for been part of such a fantastic week.

    Words and Pictures: Tony Donnelly

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