Isle of Man TT races
Once in your life you must experience the Isle of Man TT. Even if you have nothing with motor racing, living for a week on a small island with 50,000 motorcyclists is UNIQUE!
The journey begins with a passage from Europoort (NL) to Hull in England. A delicious buffet, live music and sailing on the sea gives a real holiday feeling. In England, I take the highway heading west to Heysham, where 3 hours later my next ferry to the Isle of Man leaves. This ferry is actually fully loaded. The motorcycles are literally pushed against each other and I can only sit outside on the deck. Luckily the sun is shining and with all motorcyclists with funny stories, the crossing is quickly done.
Once I arrived in Douglas, my next destination is the campground in Peel, which is 15 kilometres away on the other side of the island. Unfortunately, the normal route is closed because of training and I make an unintended sightseeing tour of over an hour. At the campsite I met my buddy Martijn again, who did take another ferry to Douglas. With a clear blue sky we build our tents and get to know our neighbours at the campsite, Mike and his father from Sittard in Holland.
Around 6:00 we hear the first engines screaming of motorcycles on public roads on the Island. The public roads are during race days partially closed in the morning, and than remained closed for the rest of the day. Until closing everybody can use this circuit and drive without any speed limits! After a big English breakfast, including black pudding and beans, we drive our first raceday to The Gooseneck. This is a hairpin where you can almost touch the racers and where you can watch nice overtaking. Later that day we go to the pub Sulby Glen at Sulby Straight. Here we see the sidecar race from extremely close. The only barrier between us and the racers is a thin rope and a local expresses it beautiful with the text: "It is very save this year, we have a new rope ..."
The beauty of The Gooseneck and Sulby Straight is that you drive around the island during the race without any problems. In some places -inside the circuit- you can only drive around, at the end of the raceday. We drive through the beautiful coastal road from Ramsey to Douglas, where we have a nice ice-cream on the busy boulevard.
Today is the craziest day of the year: "Mad Sunday". On this day there are no races and almost everybody is doing one or more fast laps on this nice streets circuit. These are also really neck-breaking actions and unfortunately every year there are a number of crashes. The first part of the circuit this morning is closed, because there are already three serious accidents happened. We drive through small country roads to the first part which is open, and start racing. Especially at the one-way section in the mountainsMountain Course, all the brakes are off and we even pass an ambulance with flashing lights on top speed. Strangely enough, everyone find this perfectly normal, not overtaking would be strange…
We finish in Douglas in the pit lane where we meet Mike and his father from the campsite again. We drink some soda in the famous Bushy's beer tent on the boulevard and at the end of the afternoon we visit a show from the Purple Helmets. This show is full of serious motor stunts, but is especially known for its magnificent humour like a race of trash bins, a comic country parade and much more.
After the show we enjoy a drink and some car stunts on the boulevard. Around midnight we would like to ride back to Peel, but the main road is due to an accident once again closed. We search for a solution and find some small country roads through the hills. It is truly pitch black and regularly it seems like the road is ending in dark ravines. With a group of eight riders we finally arrive around 2:00 o'clock in the morning on the campsite in Peel. Tight of the adrenaline we enjoy the beautiful moments of the exiting night ride. "We survived mad Sunday."
The next morning we choose BallaughBridge to see the first race today. On this bridge motorcycles jumps with two wheels from the ground at high speed and this is the place were the real men are separated from the boys. For the second race we drive to the cafe in creg-ny-Baa, an sharp bend just after a quick straight in the mountains. We park the motorcycles one a grass-land and meet a group of Dutch people who are staying at a family on the island. Again we hear only positive stories about the hospitality on this wonderful island.
In Ramsey there are sprint and drag races held, where everybody can participate. The nice thing is that you see fully adjusted cannons that are as slow as sh.t just before a ramshackle old motorcycle that fly’s like a rocket. In Ramsey there is also an air show from the Red Arrows. This is a team of top pilots of the RAF who are showing what is possible with an airplane. Closer to the ground, there is a demonstration of motor trail riding, including of course a good dose of humour. We visit the lighthouse on the northernmost tip of the island and drive through beautiful one-way country roads back to the campsite.
Wednesday is another raceday and a early screaming engine ensures that everyone is awake. Our first view today is at Bungalo, which is in a fast bend on the Mountain Course. Here is also the highest mountain of the island, Snaefell. On a clear day you can see 6 “kingdoms”: Isle of Man, England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and Neptune (the sea). Although Bungalo is inside the circuit, we see the opportunity to cross the road at Kirk Michael and get outside of the circuit. We visit the old airport at Jurby, which now serves as a racetrack and where you can find a dump store with all nostalgic engine attributes.
Because of the heavy rain, we decide to take the public bus to Douglas. We stroll along the boulevard and buy a few nice shirts as a souvenir to Manx. Also, we hear once again the legend of the Manx cat, who would have no tail, because it have been hit by a motor centuries ago. However we know from school that the tail is missing because of an autosomal dominant inheritance property. (lesson 1 in biology) We conclude the day with a nicebarbecue and see the sun slowly go down in a tight calm sea.
The last day we break down the tents at 7:00 and leaving the Isle of Man. As we arrive in England we still have enough time to drive a beautiful scenery route to the ferry. Around 19:00 the ferry takes us back to theNetherlands. Nine exhausting but wonderful days. Nine days to remember!
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