Grant and Susan in the Isle of Man
Ramsey Gooseneck, TT Races, Isle of Man
We're on the Isle of Man, where we've been watching the TT (Tourist Trophy) races. The races are good, the race circuit is very fast and very scary. Years ago I wanted to race here, but lack of funds shot down the idea, and am I glad now! It's a very dangerous circuit, and spectacular to watch. The race course is a 37 mile circuit which wanders through the towns and countryside and up into the mountains. It's the only remaining road race on public streets, and has been running continuously, with breaks for the war years only, since about 1903.
Billown Circuit, TT Races, Isle of Man
Imagine narrow, winding English country roads, tiny old towns dating back hundreds of years, then imagine an AVERAGE speed of 130+ mph. All under a pall of rain and fog and cloud - the races were all delayed as much as a day for improved weather - one race had fog so thick the riders couldn't see 20 ft on one of the fastest sections of the course, up in the mountain. Only for the brave or very foolhardy. Absolute memorization of the circuit, all 37 miles and hundreds of corners, is a prerequisite to going fast.
Ballaugh Bridge, TT Races, Isle of Man
For this two week period, 12,000 motorcycles are in town and some 30,000 people (not all on bikes). There is NO speed limit outside the towns - you can imagine what the roads are like with 12,000 sport bike riders thinking they're racers! And half of them from the continent trying to remember which side of the road they're supposed to be driving on! On the Sunday before the actual race starts they close off the circuit to cars and allow anyone on a motorcycle to ride it - it's called Mad Sunday, and invariably there is at least one fatality.
Loch Promenade, Douglas, during TT Races, IOM
There's lots of other stuff happening as well, all sorts of events and bike owners club meetings etc. The streets are lined up six abreast with bikes, and at night when the pubs are going full blast there are heaps of people doing wheelies and burn-outs, generally the types who give motorcyclists a bad name everywhere. I'm sure the locals must lock their daughters up if they can, but obviously the revenue brought into the island from this annual event compensates for a little noise and nuisance.
Many of the spectators are 80+ year old locals, who sit out on their front lawns in lawn chairs and watch the racers go by. We watched a practice race one evening at Governor's Bridge, from the old folks rest home, where the residents were all out in force watching the races.
We ran into a guy I know from Vancouver who I haven't seen since about 1984. Chris and his wife Arlie were cruising England on a canal boat for the last two years, and are now touring around on their bikes. They will be in Europe for a while then back to Canada sometime by the end of the summer.
The weather has been pretty rotten, but it seems to be improving now. When we were in Germany it was cold and rainy, now it's beautiful and 29 degrees C there. Not fair! We seem to be bringing the bad weather with us. At least it's finally improving a bit.
We are packing up for an early start tomorrow, we are supposed to be at the ferry terminal to catch the ferry to England by 6:30 a.m. (for an 8:30 a.m. sailing!) For a pair of night owls, this is painful to contemplate, but the ferry terminal is only 5 minutes away, then once we're loaded, we have 4 hours on the ferry to snooze.
We reckon it's about 3 hours riding tomorrow to Newcastle, then by tomorrow evening we'll be on another ferry to Bergen, Norway, this one is 30 hours. It will give us time to catch up on our trip diary, do a proper letter for the family, and other odds and ends.
Douglas Ferry Dock, Isle of Man