Well this week I should have been making final preparations for my annual trip to the Isle of Man for the TT races.
The TT races are an annual pilgrimage for thousands of bike fans around the world. For two weeks of the year they flock to the island to watch some of the bravest and most talented motorcycle riders pit themselves and their machines in a grueling 4 or 6 lap race around a circuit that is 37.73 miles long.
The circuit passes through towns and villages between lampposts and drystone walls before heading up over the iconic mountain section.
Residents of the island open up there gardens to allow fans to watch the racing, although there is no shortage of viewing points around the course ranging from purpose built benches in a church yard at Braden bridge, sat up amongst the trees on the banking at glen Helen to sat out in the open up on the mountain.
The race is actually a time trial with riders setting off 10 seconds apart. The fastest riders lap the circuit in around 16 minutes which is an average speed of over 130 mph !!! Which considering the proximity of the walls and lampposts is incredible.
The atmosphere on the island is one I have never experienced anywhere else. Fans of all nationalities mixing with each other to enjoy the spectacle. One of the other nice things is the ability on none race days to take a walk around the paddock and see the bikes being prepared for the next race and it’s also a chance to meet some of the racers as they can quite often be found wandering around mixing with the fans and enjoying the atmosphere. There are no egos and most racers will stop for a chat, a picture and an autograph if you ask politely.
Then when you’ve had a trip round the paddock then it’s time to go for a lap of the circuit at a somewhat more sedate speed, well through the built up areas anyway where a 30mph speed limit is strictly enforced. But once out on to the open road then there is no speed limit. The police will happily sit and watch as you pass them at whatever speed you like as long as it is safe to do so.
For me though the best part is being sat at the side of the closed road with other fans listening to the commentary on the radio from the comments points based around the circuit as the riders past at incredible speeds so close you can almost pat them on the back and wish them well.
For the entire fortnight of practice week and race week the whole island comes alive. With the island’s residents helping create a real community spirit which is even more apparent if the weather turns foul by opening their house to bikers to use facilities to dry wet kit and seek shelter. Especially the thousands camping around the island
Ah well never mind this year it’s not to be, however I have already booked for next year. 👍