AUGUST 13

AUGUST 13

Postby gamma498 » Thu Aug 15, 2013 1:28 pm

WELL, WHO’D HAVE THOUGHT IT EH? I HOPE YOU’RE ALL ENJOYING THIS LOVELY BIKING WEATHER!............JUST LET ME TAKE COVER…….…BUT SOMEDAYS IT’S ACTUALLY TOO HOT TO BE ON THE BIKE INNIT? JEEZ, I’M NEVER HAPPY AM I? LOL! I’VE COMPLAINED ABOUT THE RAIN GOD KNOWS HOW MANY TIMES IN THIS DRIVEL I PREPARE FOR YOU AND HERE I AM COMPLAINING THAT IT’S BEEN TOO HOT! NO, I’M ONLY KIDDIN’ (SORT OF), LONG MAY IT CONTINUE, IT’S BEEN A WONDERFUL SUMMER SO FAR, EVEN TT WEEK WAS LOVELY AFTER IT ALL LOOKING DOOMED ON PRACTICE WEEK, WITH NOT MANY LAPS GETTING COMPLETED. IT TURNED INTO A FANTASTIC WEEK OF RACING IN THE END AND MARTIN MURRAY HAS SENT ME A BLOG DONE BY AN AMERICAN GUY THAT HE MET ON THE ISLAND DURING HIS FIRST VISIT THERE. SUFFICE TO SAY THE MAN WAS BLOWN AWAY BY THE EXPERIENCE. I’VE PRINTED IT LATER IN THE NEWSLETTER, HAVE A READ AND SEE WHAT YOU THINK. ANYWAY, I HOPE YOU’RE ALL ENJOYING THE LOVELY WEATHER AND GETTING OUT AND ABOUT, BE CAREFUL OUT THERE!

ALAN PRAT, R.I.P.
UNFORTUNATELY LAST MONTH I RECEIVED THE AWFUL NEWS THAT CLUB MEMBER ALAN PRATT HAD PASSED AWAY AFTER BATTLING CANCER. ALAN WAS A LOVELY FELLA THAT WAS A LONG TERM CLUB MEMBER AND WE WERE ASKED IF WE COULD GET A FEW OF US ON BIKES TO LEAD THE HEARSE AT HIS FUNERAL. I THINK AROUND TEN OF US MADE IT AND IT WAS MUCH APPRECIATED BY ALAN’S FAMILY, HERE IS AN EMAIL THAT PHIL KENNY RECEIVED FROM ALAN’S BROTHER, DAVID. (MANY PEOPLE KNEW ALAN AS ROBERT):

Phil,

Just a quick thanks to you and the motorcycle club members for turning up on Monday. I’m sure Rob would have been delighted with the escort you guys gave him, and people at the crem said it looked very impressive watching you all come up the hill.

I can’t vouch for other members of the family, but I was very touched by you all taking the time out to get yourselves there, and I’m sure they felt the same.

I will let you know when we will be going to Devils Bridge to scatter Rob’s ashes, but it won’t be until some time in August (probably mid-month), and most likely a week night, to avoid the tourists during the day. This is so Rob’s daughters, who live in Blackburn and somewhere near Birmingham have the chance to attend.

Thanks again.

Dave
David Pratt

THANKS TO ALL THOSE THAT MADE IT, IT WAS REALLY APPRECIATED,
R.I.P. ALAN

MALLORY FESTIVAL OF 1000 BIKES
I FINALLY GOT MY 500 BACK ON THE ROAD LAST MONTH, NOW ALL TAXED AND TESTED WITH IT’S SHINY NEW PISTONS IN IT AND JUST IN TIME FOR THE SPONDON OWNER’S CLUB ‘SWEARYBOB TRIBUTE’ STAND DOWN AT THE FESTIVAL OF 1000 BIKES. I GAVE HER A GOOD CLEAN AND LOADED HER UP ALONG MY PART BUILT SPONDON FZR1000 AND OFF ME AND A MATE WENT TO MALLORY ON WHAT MUST HAVE BEEN ONE OF THE HOTTEST WEEKENDS THIS YEAR. WE HAD BOOKED OUR STAND TO BE ADJACENT TO THE ‘STREET SPECIALS MCC’ STAND, AS MANY MEMBERS WERE IN BOTH CLUBS AND IT GAVE US MORE SPACE TO GET THE BIKES IN.
WE’D BEEN PLANNING THIS SINCE LAST YEAR AFTER WE LEARNED OF OLD SWEARY PASSING AWAY AND I WAS A BIT WORRIED THAT THE USUAL WOULD HAPPEN AND THAT AFTER THE INITIAL OUTPOURING OF ENTHUSIASM, WE WOULD END UP WITH ABOUT 3 BIKES BETWEEN US. AS IT WAS, THIS SORT OF HAPPENED BUT THANKFULLY QUITE A FEW SPONDON OWNERS THAT WE’D MET VIA THE FACEBOOK PAGE STEPPED UP TO THE PLATE AND CAME ALONG. WE ENDED UP WITH 21 BIKES BETWEEN THE STANDS AND JUST ABOUT MORE SPONDONS THAN HAVE EVER BEEN SEEN TOGETHER IN ONE PLACE BEFORE. THERE WERE SPONDON TRIUMPHS, SPONDON FIREBLADES, SPONDON GSXR’S, A SPONDON FZR, A SPONDON CBX, NUMEROUS SPONDON TURBO’S….OH YEAH AND MY GAMMA.
BOB’S WIDOW, LESLEY, CAME ALL THE WAY FROM CYPRUS TO STAY AND BOB’S DAUGHTER, BECKY AND HER HUSBAND PETE ALSO CAME ALONG. STUART TILLER, THE OTHER HALF OF SPONDON, PAID US A VISIT ON THE SUNDAY AS HE WAS THERE WITH BRIAN CRIGHTON’S NEW VERSION OF THE NORTON ROTARY, WHICH JAMIE WHITHAM WOULD BE BLASTING AROUND ON. ALL IN ALL, WE HAD A FANTASTIC WEEKEND FULL OF BIKES, SUNSHINE, MORE BIKES, BEER, FIREWORKS, MORE BEER AND LOTS OF LAUGHS. WATCHING ALL THE OLD RACING MACHINES FLYING ROUND THE TRACK WAS BRILLIANT, THE STARS BEING THE MANY DIFFERENT VERSIONS OF THE NORTON ROTARY’S THAT WERE LAPPING EXTREMELY QUICKLY, WHAT A FANTASTIC NOISE THEY MAKE.
WHITHAM AND FOGGY HAD A GOOD TUSSLE ON ONE OF DAVE JEFFERIES’ R1 AND A 996 DUCATI RESPECTIVELY, TIL FOGGY BROKE THE DUKE AND HAD TO PUSH IT IN. MICK GRANT WAS SHOWING SOME REAL SPEED ON AN OLD HERON SUZUKI RG500 AND CHRISTIAN SARRON WAS FAIRLY SHIFTING ON HIS OLD GAULOISES YAM YZR500, THEN WHITHAM DID A FEW LAPS ON THE NEW CRIGHTON ROTARY, WHICH LOOKED A BLOODY MISSILE. FOGGY CAME OUT AGAIN BUT ON A PANIGALE AND WAS PULLING SOME STONKING WHEELIES………TIL HE BROKE THAT AS WELL!
ALL IN ALL, IT WAS A GREAT WEEKEND AND THE SPONDON OWNERS CLUB ARE GOING TO TRY AND MAKE IT AN ANNUAL EVENT WHICH WILL BE GOOD, AS LONG AS MALLORY IS STILL IN EXISTANCE.

WELSH GP ANYONE?
THE CIRCUIT OF WALES HAS RECEIVED OUTLINE PLANNING PERMISSION FROM BLAENAU GWENT COUNTY BOROUGH COUNCIL FOLLOWING A COUNCIL MEETING TODAY. THE PROJECT TEAM WILL NOW COMMENCE WORK ON THE DETAILED PLANNING APPLICATION.
THE NEW CIRCUIT WHICH HAS ASPIRATIONS TO HOST MOTOGP, WSB AND BSB ON ITS 3.5 MILE TRACK AT THE 830 ACRE SITE AT BLAENAU GWENT. IT PROMISES TO NOT ONLY BRING WORLD CLASS RACING TO WALES BUT ALSO REJUVENATE THE AREA IN TERMS OF JOB CREATION, TOURISM, RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT.
IT IS ESTIMATED THAT THE PROJECT WILL BRING £50M WORTH OF REVENUE INTO THE BLAENAU GWENT, ATTRACT 750,000 VISITORS A YEAR, AND PROVIDE MORE THAN 3,000 JOBS IN CONSTRUCTION AND POST DEVELOPMENT.
CEO OF THE CIRCUIT OF WALES MICHAEL CARRICK, SAID: "WE ARE EXCITED, IT'S NOT OFTEN THAT YOU GET A UNANIMOUS DECISION. NOW THERE IS A LOT OF WORK TO HAPPEN NOW. THIS DECISION HAS GIVEN US THE CONFIDENCE TO MOVE FORWARD TO A DETAILED DESIGN STAGE.
"WE WILL FULLY DETAIL THE DESIGN OVER THE NEXT SIX MONTHS WITH A VIEW TO START CONSTRUCTION IN THE BACK END OF THIS YEAR THROUGH TO NEXT YEAR, AND OPEN IT BY THE BACK END OF 2015 READY FOR THE 2016 MOTORSPORT SEASON."

WHAT WE ALL KNEW……..
MOTORCYCLING HAS TOPPED A NATIONWIDE POLL ON HAPPINESS.
THE SURVEY OF 1514 PEOPLE FROM ACROSS THE UK, CONDUCTED BY LEADING SURVEY ORGANISATION ICM ON BEHALF OF GARDERNERS' WORLD, SET OUT TO FIND OUT WHAT HOBBIES MAKE PEOPLE HAPPY.
WHEN ASKED THE QUESTION: "HOW SATISFIED ARE YOU WITH YOUR LIFE NOWADAYS?", MOTORCYCLING RECEIVED THE MOST AMOUNT OF 'STRONG POSITIVE' RESPONSES, AHEAD OF FISHING WITH THE SECOND LARGEST NUMBER OF RESPONSES AND RUNNING, SWIMMING, DRIVING AND CAMPING WHICH HAD THE THIRD LARGEST NUMBER OF RESPONSES.
WHEN ASKED THE QUESTION: "TO WHAT EXTENT DO YOU FEEL THE THINGS YOU DO IN YOUR LIFE ARE WORTHWHILE?" MOTORCYCLING AGAIN RECEIVED THE MOST AMOUNT OF 'STRONG POSITIVE' RESPONSES, RANKING HIGHER THAN CAMPING AND FISHING. OF ALL THE HOBBIES LISTED, CYCLING RECEIVED THE LOWEST AMOUNT OF 'STRONG POSITIVE' RESULTS IN THIS QUESTION.
MOTORCYCLING ALSO RANKED HIGHLY IN THE SURVEY'S 'WELLBEING INDEX' WHICH SHOWED MOTORCYCLING AS HAVING THE LARGEST NUMBER OF RESPONSES IN THE 'STRONG POSITIVE' CATEGORY.
THE SURVEY ALSO SHOWED THAT 69% OF PEOPLE SAID THAT THEIR OUTDOOR HOBBY MAKES THEM HAPPY, COMPARED TO 31% INDOOR.
THOSE WITHOUT ANY HOBBIES CONSISTENTLY RANKED LOWER IN THE SURVEY RESULTS THAN ANY OTHER HOBBY LISTED. SO IF YOU DON'T HAVE A HOBBY, THE ANSWER IS SIMPLE: GET ON TWO WHEELS!

American TT Blog

May 27th
Today we survived the course under extremely adverse conditions, so much so, nobody else dared venture upon it. At least those with any sense. Because we had picked 6 months ago the only day to rent bikes with a 90% chance of rain, in itself quite an accomplishment, we had to put sense aside and ride. We picked up our bikes, two R 80 airheads in Jurby, the hardest place on the island to reach from Douglas. We ventured out into the rain and wind, headed for Ramsey and started up the mountain part of the course, now one way due to the TT fortnight. Once on the mountain course you are committed. There is no turning back. The wind was fierce and threatening to blow us off course, the rain driving and fogging our visors which with the ambient fog made visibility nearly non existent. We persevered. Not a motorcycle passed us the entire way. Having defeated adversity we stopped at Creg-ny-Baa (google it) for coffee and warmth. Not a soul was there but the proprietor. Another sign we thought of our single minded determination in the face of common sense. Once down off the mountain course the wind subsided but not the rain. Soaked to the bone we made our way to Douglas and the start/finish then down the treacherous Bray Hill and the death defying right hander at quarterbridge. From there it was smooth sailing and on to Kirk Michael and the Mitre hotel and pub for a bite to eat. Having drained most of the water from our riding gear, not meant for such arduous conditions, we proceeded over the famous Ballaugh Bridge where many of the bikes become airborne. Ours did not due to our strict adherence to posted speed limits. Our journey ended at Sulby Crossroads and pub where we had a bit of a victory celebration with a pint of Okells bitter. A fitting end to a glorious day.

May 28th
Yesterday the rain cleared enough on the mountain part of the course to allow the second practice session to go forward as scheduled 6:20PM. We position ourselves at the bottom of Bray Hill. It does not disappoint. Looking up to the crest the riders come over the top tight to the left curb setting up for the curve at the bottom taken close to the right. We are standing behind a three foot portable metal fence on the edge of the road for all the protection that it could offer. We look for an escape should the need arise.The concern here is for the riders. They pass us maybe 15 ft distant at 160 mph. The speed combined with the shrieking sound that only a four cylinder engine at 14000 rpm can produce literally takes my breath away. It seems impossible that the curve to the right at the bottom could be negotiated instead of hitting the rock wall to the left. There is no room for error. The penalty is unacceptable.

The schedule calls for three laps. After the second we see a red flag held by one of the course Marshall's opposite our position. The practice is stopped early. The sidecars won't be coming. Then comes the word. The course has claimed it's first victim, Yoshinari Matsushita. It's under investigation they tell us. More to come.

June1st/ 2nd
Yesterday was the first day of races, both the superbike and race 1 for the sidecars however the superbike race was postponed until today due to lack of practice time. Instead, there will be more superbike practice followed by the sidecars.

We take a taxi to Kirk Michael village, about one third way around the course. After surveying a variety of viewing locations we choose one located in small grassy area next to the road separated by a low rock wall. It is a safe location because the bikes as they pass will be traveling straight and we take comfort in the numbers of other spectators. We can't help but notice however that opposite our location the bikes drift into the far lane where they will pass the spectators, residents of the fronting house, not three to four feet from their entry. They step out their front doors with a spot of tea and don't appear to be concerned.

We need to secure our spot early to take advantage of this prime location. From this vantage point we can see the bikes enter the village at the far end as they come around the fast downhill right hand bend next to the Miter pub, dip down a bit more, then come up over a small rise, slight jog to the left and pass us at 180 mph then disappear around a building to the right. It all takes a matter of 3-4 seconds. The cab ride from Douglas to Kirk Michael takes about 30 minutes at normal speeds. The bikes cover the same ground in just over 6 minutes.

Once located at a viewing area, you are there until the racing is completed as the roads are closed for the duration. We met a nice couple from South Africa, Johannesburg. Paul is a sport bike fanatic, Karin not so much, but not unlike so many others we have met, they make the trip every year to the races. Paul says that riding is good in and around Johannesburg, but because it is a city of 7 million, he and his friends must leave at 6 AM in order to avoid traffic. We feel pretty spoiled to live where we do.

The superbike practice is followed by the first race for the sidecars. These are not ordinary sidecars that one might expect to see on a public street but purpose built. While the racing motorcycles look very similar to ones that can be purchased for street use, sidecar rigs for racing are entirely different from their street counterparts. They are low to the ground, perhaps not more than 20 inches high with a one piece fairing to reduce wind resistance covering all of the mechanical components. The engines are all limited to four cylinder 600cc displacement.They ride on 3 small diameter flat slicks unlike the profile of a motorcycle tire. The driver lays in a prone position on his knees and chest on top of the motor with legs and feet extended to the rear. The drivers right foot operates the gear change mechanism and steering is accomplished via two short handlebars mounted atop the front suspension at a 50 degree downward slope. The degree of driver discomfort is only exceeded by his passenger otherwise referred to as the "monkey". Job qualifications for the monkey include, short, light, young and without prospects for other employment. The monkey's purpose is to shift his or her weight (yes there are more than a few female monkeys) from side to side to weight the side car appropriate to the corner, right or left. On straight sections the monkey crouches in a fetal position (some prefer the straight out the back leg position)on the minuscule platform of the side car trying to stay out of the windstream all the while hot air from the radiator exhuasts directly in their face. Moving from side to side hanging out to create maximum weighted leverage requires great agility and a strong grip on one or more of the several handholds. Longevity in this business requires avoidance of coming into contact with solid objects as the monkey hangs out in the corners.

The postponed superbike race gets underway Sunday June 2, after delays due to various incidents involving the "mad Sunday" nutters riding the course in excess of their abilities. It has been a long standing tradition that on the Sunday before race week that those with bikes ride around the course, some dressed in ridiculous outfits, others trying to pretend to be a TT racer. That usually results in disaster as several of the mad Sunday riders over the years have been killed.

We take a cab early Sunday morning to Glen Helen which is a pub and restaurant. It is also located on one of the more well known curves on the course. A hillside above the curve gives a good view of a series of s-curves leading into the large left sweeping uphill curve below us and on up the hill before disappearing into a curve to the right. Our vantage point is superb but for the damp earth or hard rocks available for seating. Take your pick. We stake out a prime spot and wait. The race is not until 2PM. In the meantime we watch the continuous parade of mostly sport bikes as they pass below participating in mad Sunday. I have never seen so many bikes. Literally hundreds, some cautiously negotiating the road, others believing they are a TT racer and trying to prove it. Usually with opposite results. Then comes word that the race is delayed due to a crash on the mountain part of the course. One of the nutters has gone off so the mess must be cleaned up and investigated.

Finally, the race commences. The superbikes are the most powerful and fastest of the different classes. Within minutes the first of the riders arrive having been flagged off in 10 second intervals at the start. As we have witnessed before, the speed is not something you are really prepared for. The rear wheels leave black streaks of rubber on the asphalt as they round the curve struggling for grip to stay on their intended course. The noise of the racing engines echoes in the glen. They will complete a total of 6 laps stopping twice at two lap intervals to replenish fuel and change the consumed rear tire. The total elapsed time for 6 laps among the fastest riders is just over one and one half hours. Total concentration. John McGuinness, a 19 time winner of the TT sets a new lap record of 131.67 mph average speed, and yet comes in third to Michael Dunlop, the winner. Michael is the 24 year nephew of Joey Dunlop, the undisputed greatest TT rider with 26 wins and son of Robert Dunlop, a 5 times TT winner, both victims to the sport.

Our cab driver on the return to Douglas suggests other good viewing spots for the following races- Cronk-y-Voddy, Barregarrow, Ballaugh Bridge. Where do these names come from. Vikings.He has watched since being a child. Choices to make. Too many to make and so little time.

June 3rd/ 4th/ 5th
Monday's race schedule calls for race 1 for the supersport bikes and the super stock race.The supersports are limited to 600cc motors with some notable exceptions including the triumph 675 and the MV Agusta 675, both 3 cylinder, while the superstocks are 1000cc but not tuned as highly as the superbikes. Remarkably the 600's are only about 4mph slower than the average lap speed of the superbikes we saw on Sunday.

Ballaugh (pronounced balaff) bridge at the entrance to the village of Ballaugh is a very popular spectator area. The bridge is humpbacked causing the bikes to become airborne after slowing for the rather sharp left just before the bridge. The rider must get the bike upright before the jump which is immediately followed upon landing by a sharp right past the Raven pub on the inside of the corner. Viewing is permitted from the Raven and on the outside of the curve opposite the pub. We choose an elevated spot next to the Raven parking lot along the edge of the street. The bikes pass directly below us. We could (in theory only) literally reach down and touch their helmets as they ride by. This curve is followed by a short straight and a sweeping curve to the left. Our vantage point allows a good view of the different lines taken through the lefthand curve. The really fast riders lean over the sidewalk as their tires pass the curb with only inches to spare. It's pretty exciting stuff.

Again Michael Dunlop wins both the superstock and the supersport races. That makes three wins in two days bringing his total TT wins to 6. Could this signal a changing of the guard from John McGuinness?

Tuesday there is no practice so is a good day to look around Douglas. Later in the evening with the tide out, a motocross course is built by track hoes on the beach followed by several motocross races. As the races continue the tide advances on the course forcing a continual realignment. A front loader scurries around heaping up piles of sand to block the onslaught. This is followed by spectacular aerial acrobatics by the Red Arrows RAF Display Team, the equivalent of our Blue Angels. All great entertainment.

Today Wednesday is race 2 for the supersport bikes, race 2 for the sidecars and the one lap race for the TT Zero (electric) bikes. We choose a fast (a relative term here) section of the course called Sulby Crossroads and location of the Sulby Glen Hotel. It is a long straight section where the superbikes reach speeds approaching 200 mph before braking for a right over Sulby Bridge and past the Ginger Hall Hotel. For viewing speed up close and personal this is the place, though not the only place. A radar camera is set up on the straight to measure the speeds. The fastest of the electric bikes the Motoczysz ridden by Michael Rutter achieves 142 mph. The sidecars about 145 mph and the supersport machines 174 mph.

At the intersection is a church with a grass yard and low rock wall fronting the street. The ladies of the church have prepared sandwiches, salads and various baked good which they sell to spectators. Chairs can be rented for one quid. All very hospitable and makes for a comfortable spectating experience, which is soon shattered by the howling of the bikes. We love it.

The TT Zero bikes are off first. There are 12 bikes, far fewer than in the other classes but a number that is growing. The race is one lap as current battery technology will not permit more at racing speeds. There is a substantial difference in speeds among these experimental bikes and at least two bikes do not finish. The race winner Michael Rutter finishes with an average speed for the one lap of 109.675 mph in just over 20 minutes followed by John McGuinness trailing by just over one second. These bikes unlike those propelled by internal combustion engines make only the sound of rushing air, tires against pavement and the whirring noise of the electric motor. Quite a different experience for the spectator.

Up next is the 4 lap race for the supersports race 2 followed by race 2 for the sidecars. The sensory overload is repeated with bikes passing at racing speed only feet away. For a spectator I don't know how it could get better than this. I have a portable radio to listen to the race commentary which adds to the experience since, obviously, no spectator can see more than just a fraction of the course and there are no giant monitors to watch the action at other sections. At one point the four race leaders pass us almost all side by side. After dueling with Bruce Anstey who holds the lead by mere seconds for the first 3 laps Michael Dunlop goes into the lead on the last lap near the Bungalow to win the race. He sets a new course record in the superstock class for fastest lap of 128.667 mph and a lap time of 17 minutes 42 seconds. That's number four. He seems unstoppable. Friday is the the senior. Can he match Ian Hutchison's 5 wins?

June 7th
Today Friday is the big one, the senior. It is preceded by the lightweight 2 cylinder 650 machines. We learn that Michael Dunlop has withdrawn from the lightweight class (something to do with a shoulder injury) thus putting his bid to make history, a total of 6 wins in one TT event to an end. The best he can do now is match Ian Hutchison's record of 5 achieved 2 years ago.
John McGuinness at 41 years of age, who so far has come up empty handed, if you don't count podium finishes, is no doubt determined to do something about it. The race gets off as scheduled at 1PM on a beautiful day with nary a cloud in the sky.
For this race we have chosen to spectate at Creg-ny-baa. We arrive early by cab, and choose a spot along the downhill straight on a grassy embankment perhaps 5 feet above the roadway surface. We sit dangling our feet over the edge. From our spot the riders will begin braking hard on the extreme left edge of the roadway beneath our feet for the downhill right hand turn in front of the pub. Grandstands are established on both the approach and the exit . For those who are members of the "club" they have privileged viewing from the pub's balcony. The stage is set.

As scheduled at 1 PM the first rider James Hillier is flagged off followed at 10 second intervals by Cameron Donald, John McGuinness, Guy Martin, Bruce Anstey and Michael Dunlop in that order. Part way around Michael Dunlop has a very slight edge on McGuinness, but this is a long race. Then comes the announcement. The race has been red flagged. We listen to the radio for news. One of the newcomers to the TT having started back in the field has come off at the top of Bray Hill, his bike continues down the hill and disintegrates as pieces fly into the crowd standing behind the ever so protective portable metal fences. 10 are injured, one serious. The rider must have visited Fairy Bridge before the race because the luck of the fairies is with him and he sustains only minor injuries. Meanwhile the 30 odd riders who started are escorted back to the pits to wait the restart. Nerves are on edge. We wait for more news. And we wait, baking under the sun. Our great spot on the edge where we have been since 8:15 in the morning is now less appealing. We pray for some relief from the sun but it doesn't come. Then the announcer discloses that race control has scheduled a meeting with hospital officials to determine if there are enough medical supplies on hand to allow for a restart. Groans. Can a repeat cancellation of the Senior be in the offing again? We continue to wait. It is now well past 3 PM when we learn that the race will be restarted at 4:30 PM after completing the mandatory 45 minute start protocol. Riders are interviewed by the press as they wait trying to minimize the anxiety of what is happening. Even the top riders admit to the fear before the start. And we shouldn't be surprised. The start with the decent to the bottom of Bray is frightful. Need to get your head down and get through the first lap to calm the nerves.
Instead Guy Martin's thoughts, to the extent that he can be understood, seem to be on problems with the jigglepin, we're not sure which one, there might be several. In a parallel life he is a lorry mechanic with snap on tools so he must be an authority.

The clock advances at surely a slower pace as we wait. Then over the radio we hear that James Hillier is off again. This time no incidents. The race is on. After the first lap Michel Dunlop leads McGinnuess by just over a second. Guy Martin is in third. A strong start for Guy after problems (that nasty jigglepin) earlier in the week. Bruce Anstey, back up to full strength having recovered from his illness during practice week is on a charge.

From our vantage point we see the riders come round the fast left by Kate's Cottage near the top of the hill in the distance drifting to the far right shoulder and downhill crossing to the left side past our location, hard on the brakes setting up for the right hander in front of the pub made all the more difficult by its slightly off camber pitch through the curve. From behind the lean angles seem impossible. Surely they will go off into the barriers below the grandstands on the exit. But they don't. The top five or six riders appear to be ever so slightly faster through the corner than others down the starting order. Fractions of a second that over the course of a lap might add up to perhaps one or two seconds against an adversary. McGuinness, as we have observed before, is so smooth, no line corrections needed. He must know every corner better than most. Without that knowledge it would be impossible to enter the many blind corners at a competitive speed. Trust and confidence in memory is crucial to both a competitive result and survival. Total concentration is required for the approximate one and half hours and 225 miles it will take to complete the six lap journey to the finish line. No chance for error.

Lap two. McGuinness takes the lead by a fraction of a second, then increases it by maybe a second more at the end of lap 2. Way too early to predict a result. Dunlop is known for his last lap charges. All the while James Hillier continues to draft McGuinness while lying in fifth position. At the end of lap 2 the riders pit for fuel, change of visor and rear tire. It's all accomplished in about 45 seconds. John picks up an additional 1.3 seconds over Michael as a result of a quicker pit stop. Some fumbling with a socket wrench while tightening of Dunlop's rear.

Bruce Anstey moves into third ahead of Guy Martin. Only fractions of a second separating the two. McGuinness continues to add to his lead. All the while James Hillier continues to follow the old man round the course by a mere 2 to three bike lengths and moves ahead of Guy Martin. By the end of lap four it is reported by the announcer that McGuinness has a "commanding" lead of several seconds over Dunlop. How can any comfort be taken in that? What does "commanding" mean in the context of race where anything can go wrong in a flash. McGuinness knows better and continues his charge. Later on the video replay we see McGuinness round the corner at Creg-ny-baa drifting to the outside so close to the edge of the Tarmac that dust is kicked up. A fraction of an inch from disaster. Commanding is as good as it lasts.

As the bikes pass one after another we can't help but notice the slightly different pitch of the motors, mostly in line fours. Then arrives one of the two Nortons using a modified V-four Aprilia motor with a slightly reversed cone megaphone, on the rundown to the curve it's staccato blat-blat-blat sounding entirely different than the others. It completely drowns out the other bikes as it accelerates down the long straight after the corner. What music!

By lap five McGuinness has a 10 second lead over Dunlop. His lead holds steady through to the end where he takes the checkered flag having established a new course record in the Senior of 1 hour 45.20 minutes. Michael Dunlop finishes second followed by Bruce Anstey in third, with James Hillier fourth and Guy Martin fifth, almost 54 seconds behind the winner. At park ferme McGuinness is ecstatic and yet overcome by emotion. He has bested Joey Dunlops number of podium finishes by one and has six Senior wins, only one behind Mike Hailwood for a total of 20 TT wins. A fitting end to a difficult week for a determined competitor.

Final thoughts. We have been on the island for 17 days. The experience has exceeded our expectations. All of the videos and articles one can read cannot begin to prepare you for the intensity of the experience. The racing I have described. After all that is what we came for. But an equally pleasant surprise we found in all of the people we have met from all over the world, all here for a common purpose. Ray and Sue from England, believers in fairies, Martin and Lewy from the Lake District of England, both sport bike fanatics and good blokes, another Martin and his older friend Jeff from England. Jeff, due to infirmities of age can no longer ride on his own so rides pillion behind Martin. Paul and Karin from Johannesburg, Carl and Darrel both with the US military in Germany, Don and Stephen from Australia, George the crazy Irish guy who fell off the back of his friends bike while traveling down the promenade in Douglas. Peter, Alexander and David, all three Russians living and working in Germany, and Graham from New Zealand, who at 78 is not allowed to rent a car but still races bikes regularly in the vintage bike series. And our hosts Anthony (Ant) and Celine who have made us feel so welcome and have gone out of their way to see to our needs. There are numerous others as well. We have not met one person who was anything but cheerful and friendly, willing to go out of their way to help.

Today, Sunday, our last day on the island, we take another hike, always seems to be uphill. I notice that the hills are not nearly so intimidating for a desk jockey as they were when we arrived. That's probably a good thing. We seem always to be coerced by the streets to arrive at quarterbridge. We are are still struggling a bit finding our way around. We walk up quarterbridge road past Ago's leap, then downhill to the bottom of Bray Hill and inspect the area where the "incident" occurred Friday during the Senior. It is littered with debri and a picknick table now reduced to a pile of lumber, the exact spot where we had observed practice only the week before. On up Bray Hill to the Grandstands where we are told there will be a gathering later of antique bikes. The pit area is partially dismantled, the teams and all the mechanics gone. Bushy's beer tent is closed, the tables disappeared. John McGuinness's motor home still parked. We amble on down to governors bridge, and walk through the now closed again part of the road that is opened only for the TT. Black and white film of races from years ago feature this section in part due to the slow speeds of with the bikes as they round the hairpin corner downhill through the small glen. From there accelerate down Glenclutchery road to the start finish. It almost feels like some sort of time warp being there. We find lunch after a pint at the Manx Arms pub, established in 1824, and walk back to grandstands to look at the antique bikes. Tonight will be a meal of Manx kippers prepared by our hosts. Tomorrow early we leave for Liverpool on the Manannan.

It has been a trip that we won't ever forget. I have tried to write these accounts while the memories remain fresh. They are for the most part only the impressions left by the days events accentuated by this first time experience. There can only be one "first time". We have tried to make the most of it and I leave with no regrets.
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