Friday, August 23, 2013

A Day on the Isle of Man / Classic TT

Dear Family & Friends,

Our first full day on the Isle of Man and it has not disappointed! What a great experience. It is almost sensory over load.... The city we are staying at is called Douglas.. It is the capital of the IOM. Originally developed in the 1800s as a health spot to get away by the beach for the wealthy it is all still very classical Victoria style. It is a tax free haven today so it is still inhabited by the very wealthy. Walking around the town is like stepping back in time. And at night they extensively light it up so it is just beautiful.
We join up with a friend of mine from England, Rob Beere and met another gentlemen on the way over named Ian. So the four of us have explored the town, the motorcycle activities, ridden the TT course and have had very extensive experience with the local pubs.... I am not a big drinker so I am really struggling to keep up. I think a 12 English boy could drink me under the table...
Now for my friends that are not motorcyclist let me explain the TT. It is one of the oldest, fastest, and most dangerous motorcycle events in the world.
Here is a video to show you what they do here:

Basically it is flat out road racing through the streets of the cities, towns, villages and mountain passes. Often hitting speeds close to 200mph! The course is bumpy, often wet, off camber and there is absolutely no room for mistakes... The track is lined with trees, stone walls, old buildings and curbs.
When we rode the mountain section, which is the fastest part, you are riding on narrow twisty mountain roads where the weather can suddenly change. At one point it was grey but dry and we came around a bend in the road and it was suddenly raining! Imagine doing that at 120mph+! The skill level required is beyond my imagination.. The down side is this event has had a painfully large number of fatalities.. Men do it for the sheer love of speed and the challenge. There is no big money in it like the dangerous sport of golf..
I also learned that the Irish tend to dominate this event.... The reason is England does not allow road racing (on public roads) where Ireland has only one race track so most of their racing is done on public roads. It is a different skill set that they have perfected. No major international motorcycle racers race here any more.. It is simply to dangerous and there is no money in it so a professional racers contracts usually forbids them to racer here. 
There are three big events a year here, the big TT in spring, the Classic TT this week, and next week the Manx GP. The Classic TT is devoted to older motorcycles from 1990s back to 1910 when the event started. The 1990s models still achieve startling speeds... 
The atmosphere here is like a motorcycle carnival with all sorts of displays, shows, demonstrations and events going on.. A selection of modern and classic motorcycles EVERYWHERE to die for.. Duane and I have both found at least a dozen motorcycles we HAVE to add to our collections...
Like I said this is race  run on public streets with no major changes. Yesterday qualifying ran from 5-9pm so most of the day the track had normal daily traffic on it, then when it was time to race they just closed the streets and away the motorcycles went.
We saw a show in the pits called the "Blue Helmets". A rag tag group of motorcyclists doing crazy stunts on beat up old 50cc motorcycles. Kind of a  Blue Man Group on motorcycles. It was very tight space watching them due to the crowds... One of the stunts was a motorcycle towing a piano on wheels and the man playing the piano was completely nude and hairy. He came so close to me I had the thrill of his naked hairy ass press me into the crowd... it is not all fun and games here......
Well it is time to go have some more fun....
A very colorful local character...

Looking our from our hotel in Douglas, IoM

This is the start finish. During the race they will hit well over 150mph here. Right now it is a public road but at 3pm the just suddenly close the road and start racing!

Every kind of motorcycle you can imagine..

I love this one, using duct tape to stop an oil leak!

Is this really a race track?

The hotel we are staying is was built in the Victoria ear of the late 1800s. The elevator has a max capacity of 2 people and it struggles with that.

A new friend we met last night and spent the day will site seeing. Thanks Ian!

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