|05-15-2015, 03:27 PM||#1|
Joined: Jun 2014
The Isle of Man - TT Week
The Isle of Man is located in the Irish Sea
It is a self-governing British Crown dependency. There are several races held on public roads during the year on various courses, the most famous being the TT, held at the start of June.
If you've not heard of the TT races yet, go and watch this - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRWp9rhfS_0 - and then come back!
The TT course
This is the TT course marked out on a map of the island, which should make some of the locations mentioned below make sense.
The TT is held entirely on what are normally public roads - through town and villages and over a mountain, with little to no "run off" areas to speak of. The top riders can complete a lap at *average* speeds of more than 130mph (209km/h).
Bike loaded up and ready for an early start to catch the ferry in Liverpool
If you're after photos of the racing itself, there are others who have done it much better than I would (my pictures are all taken on my phone and racing bikes are fast! In fact, looking back over these photos, the only ones I seemed to capture were sidecars!). This should hopefully give more an idea of the experience of enjoying being on the island for two weeks, which was a great trip in it's own right, even aside from the racing.
Stopping for breakfast at a motorway services
I brought along a waterproof over-suit belonging to a friend. We all wore them because the weather forecast was "heavy rain". We didn't see a drop.
Checking in for the ferry in Liverpool
There were a few other bikes waiting for the ferry
One of two ferries running to the Isle of Man by the Steam Packet company, the oldest continuously operating passenger shipping company in the world.
My VFR tied down on the ferry
We went upstairs to watch all the later arrivals boarding
Ferry tickets sell out every year a long time in advance. We had to book nearly a year ahead of our sailing and still did not get the sailing times that we wanted.
Arriving at the other end, there wasn't much breathing room between vehicles!
Going for an explore on foot
After arriving, we went straight to our "homestay" accommodation in Douglas, close to Governors Bridge and right on the TT course.
Homestay is a scheme operated by the Isle of Man government allowing local residents to open up their homes for B&B accommodation during TT week. We were made to feel incredibly welcome!
Every important landmark/corner on the course is marked with these signs
The famous grandstand
The scoreboard is still manually operated by local scout groups during racing.
Sidecar practice session about to start
With roads closed for the evening, a sidecar practice session was due to begin. Grandstand seating is free during the first few days of practice week.
Rain rain go away
Unfortunately the session was ended before it could begin due to rain around the island. One lap of the course is 37.73 miles (60.72 km), and weather conditions can change drastically for the worse from one part of the course to the next.
To give an idea of scale...
Here is an image (not mine) showing the scale of the course compared to other racetracks.
The next day, with roads open as normal, we attempted to do a lap of the course on our own bikes. Several sections have unrestricted speed limits and the mountain section is made one-way AND unrestricted speed for the entire two weeks of the event. The police have a heavy presence looking out for dangerous riding, though.
This is great fun, but means you do have to share the road with people who think they are competing in the races, and forget that they are still riding on a public road! There were many accidents, and due to the potential speeds involved, the police often opt to close the entire road for safety until the accident has been investigated and cleared away.
In this case, we had to stop our lap in Ramsey as the mountain section was closed due to an accident. As the event went on and the roads got busier and busier, it ended up seeming like it was closed more than it was open :(
Road back open
After a cup of tea and wander around Ramsey, the mountain section of the course was re-opened (until the next accident) and we could complete our lap.
Back at the grandstand
The pit lane is opened up for pubic bike parking when racing is not in progress.
The paddock is completely open to the public to wander around at all times, to see the bikes and the top racers working on them.
Out for another ride, stopped to admire the view over Douglas Bay
A visit to Groudle Glen Railway
A pleasant steam train ride along the coast
To "Sea Lion Rocks"
Formerly a zoo, and now a tea room!
A walk along the cliffs
The zoo which was here used to house Sea Lions and Polar Bears.
Sea Lion Rocks
First opened in 1896 to serve the now long-gone zoo, closed at the outbreak of WW2. The railway was re-opened in 1992.
Out for another lap of the course, we stopped at Hillberry Corner
We returned later that week to watch the racing from here (see after pictures of the castle!). Check out the number plates on those bikes just pulling away!
Looking back up the road from Hillberry
During the racing, you get an incredible view of the bikes coming down the hill and in to the corner (see after pictures of the castle!)
A ride down to Castletown, in the South of the island
Before the TT properly starts, the "Pre TT Classic" race takes place on another road based circuit in the south of the island. We watched from Castletown Corner. I did my best to show just how close the riders get, but they were too quick for my phone's camera. Also pictured: A cup of tea.
Part of the course is a bridge that goes over this
How many racetracks have the odd puff of smoke from a steam train drift across them?
Back on the TT course
Waiting for racing to start at The Gooseneck, another great place to watch from. It goes eerily quiet when the roads close and you're waiting for racing to start.
Other than the paid grandstands, which you're under no obligation to use, it's completely free to sit or stand anywhere at the side of the road around the course. (except for a few areas which are restricted for safety reasons)
Racing aside, there is so much to do on the island. While out riding, we ended up in Peel Harbour and spotted the castle.
Parked up in the harbour
Bet this bike has a few stories to tell!
Views from the castle
A little hold up on the way home
Back at Hillberry Corner
Although you can watch from most places around the course for free and don't have to sit in any official grandstands, we chose to try it out and the view was excellent. £5 to watch from here for the evening.
Waiting for roads to re-open at Hillberry
Out for a different kind of ride, this time on the Manx Electric Railway
The electric tram can take you up to the mountain section of the TT course
The tram tracks actually cross the road here. During racing, the tram stops just short of the track and there is a footbridge to get to the other side.
When we arrived, there was no racing taking place, but the road had been closed due to another wannabe racer having a crash and an ambulance having to attend.
The tram then continues to the summit of the mountain...
... where we couldn't see much due to the low cloud
Tram crossing the TT course
The mountain section has an unrestricted speed limit
But cones are placed in certain sections to slow riders and drivers down where necessary - such as at the tram crossing!
Each one of these cones needs to be collected before racing starts and put out again afterwards before the road can re-open to the public
At the top of the mountain
Memorial to Joey Dunlop
Joey Dunlop won a record 26 times at the TT. His brother also had 14 podiums, and his nephews William and Michael race now. During the week we were there, Michael won 4 of the races. Quite an extraordinary family!
I'd highly recommend the film "Road" if you're interested in learning more about the Dunlop family http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3546370/
An image from the Isle of Man government's webcams of me taking this screenshot on my phone!
And another webcam image of myself.
Back at the bottom of the mountain
At Laxey station
Isle of Man Steam Railway
We had purchased tickets that allowed us unlimited travel for the day on the Electric Railway, Mountain Tram, Steam Railway and the Horse Tram, so of course had to try them all!
Horse drawn tram along the seafront
The horse tram is unique in the northern hemisphere - the only other similar service being in Victor Harbour, South Australia. It has been operating since 1876.
Former site of Summerland
Summerland was opened on 25 May 1971, designed to accommodate up to 10,000 tourists and comprised a dance area, five floors of holiday games, restaurants and public bars.
On the night of 2 August 1973 a fire, caused by boys who were smoking in a small, disused kiosk adjacent to the centre's miniature golf course, spread through Summerland. Fifty people were killed and eighty seriously injured.
There was no attempt to evacuate the 3,000 people present until the visible evidence of the flames prompted a panic-stricken mass rush for the exits, where many people were crushed and trampled. Because of the locked fire doors, many people headed to the main entrance, which caused a crush.
The fire services were not called for almost thirty minutes, and even then the call did not originate from the centre. Instead the emergency call came via the captain of a ship located 2 miles (3.2 km) out at sea who radioed HM Coastguard and said "It looks as if the whole of the Isle of Man is on fire".
Bikes parked up in Douglas
This seemed to be what the side of every road on the island looked like!
We visited the Manx Museum
Despite the unimpressed look on my brother's face here, we had a genuinely interesting few hours learning about the history of the island.
Needless to say, there were bikes
And dressing up
Riding through Ramsey
Just as the schools were coming out. Needless to say there was much waving and revving of engines!
The Laxey Wheel
The Laxey Wheel (also known as Lady Isabella) is a large waterwheel built in the village of Laxey. it has a 72-foot-6-inch (22.1 m) diameter, is 6 feet (1.83 m) wide and revolves at approximately three revolutions per minute.
It was built in 1854 to pump water from the mineshafts and named "Lady Isabella" after the wife of Lieutenant Governor Charles Hope who was the island's governor at that time.
The wheel is water-powered since the Isle of Man does not have a supply of coal but does have an abundance of water.
Water from the surrounding area, including the local river, is collected in a cistern which is above the level of the top of the wheel. A closed pipe connects the cistern to the top of the wheel; thus the water flows up the tower without problem as an inverted syphon. The water falls from the pipe into the buckets (formed from wooden slats on the circumference) and makes the wheel rotate in what is described as the 'reverse' direction. The crank has a throw of 4 feet (1.22 m) and connects to a counterweight and to a very long rod. This rod runs along the rod viaduct to the pumping shaft where the 8 feet (2.44 m) stroke is converted by T-rockers into a pumping action.
The mine employed over 600 miners at its peak producing lead, copper, silver and zinc until it closed in 1929. Now mostly flooded, there is a short section you can explore.
It's hard to show in pictures just how many bikes there were parked everywhere you looked!
Taking in the atmosphere at the Creg Ny Baa pub
As with all the other cones etc on the course, all of this has to be cleared away before racing and put back before it can be re-opened as a public road.
They *really* like their trains and trams on the Isle of Man
Everything everywhere revolves around bikes during the two weeks of the TT
This was outside a cafe, and far from an unusual sight!
Mountain Road Closed
There are signs around the island to show the status of the mountain road, as it is a main route between the two biggest towns (when it's not a racetrack!). This time at least it was closed for racing and not because of somebody crashing! It also provided a convenient place to park my bike.
The marshals were happy for us to sit here, as long as we didn't lean out too far!
Not my video, but this shows the speeds around this part of the course, and how close the bikes get to you! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ozT_BGvKBAY
Walking around the paddock again
These are William Dunlop and Guy Martin's bikes
And after meeting the riders...
... back out on the course to see them race!
Honestly, a pleasant day out on it's own. The bike racing is just the cherry on top!
And the perfect place for a nap between races
After the race, a trip down to the beach
And what trip to the beach is complete without some local ice cream
Spotted on the back of a van
A visit to Port St Mary for the vintage fair
A visit to The Sound, looking over the Calf of Man
And I'm starting to think that everywhere on this island looks like a scene from a postcard
And then on to nearby Port Erin for a trip to the railway museum
To learn about the trains we'd travelled on a few days beforehand
My inner child pretending to be a train driver
A visit to Onchan Raceway to watch the White Helmets, the Royal Signals motorbike display team
They were also joined by the Purple Helmets who... have to be seen to be believed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gbHkSU0VqY (not my video)
Back in the pit lane
The guys in front of us are filming that evening's TV coverage!
Sidecar in the paddock
This sidecar (www.inkyann.com) was sponsored by Safe Response, who among other activities, supply equipment to Blood Bike charities. I volunteer for this one (Freewheelers), who had won a competition to have their logo put on the sidecar for this racing season.
My bike parked next to the podium in pit lane
And under the grandstand
Waiting for roads to close and racing to start. Fantastic vantage point.
Marshals around the course need to make sure the track is clear before racing can start. There are over 500 of them around the course, all volunteers.
Back to Onchan Raceway
We'd seen a "Van Demolition Derby" event advertised. How could we refuse?
The Red Arrows put on a display over Ramsey
Swing bridge in Ramsey
C90 power at the Ramsey Sprint
The Ramsey Sprint is a drag sprint event over an 1/8th mile strip. Anyone can compete, as long as they are willing to pay the entry fee. Motorcycles from all over the world enter, most already over as part of the TT Festival. Some bikes have special modifications, which keeps things interesting.
Many church/village halls open up serving cakes/snacks and tea during the TT.
You havn't TT-d until you've TT Tea-d
Point of Ayre lighthouse
The oldest lighthouse on the Isle of Man
Getting a better vantage point for some photos
Port Jack Glen, Douglas
A rather pleasant walk back to our accommodation from the chip shop!
Looks like a traffic jam...
... but actually parked cars and bikes along the access road to Brandywell Corner before the race starts!
An essential tool for a trip to the TT
Manx Radio provides live commentary over AM radio, so it's an important thing to have to hear updates on the race, information about road closures etc
Having a nap between races
Fog closing in
Racing was eventually called off for the day as the visibility in this part of the course had reduced so much
The aviation museum at the airport
A wet evening on Douglas seafront
Every shop seemed to have a bike in the window
Jurby Transport Museum
My inner child pretending to be a bus driver
Another church hall doing great cooked breakfasts!
A man trying to get a better view of the racing, who trusts his side stand more than me
What? Doesn't every racetrack have a humpback bridge?
Beach at the Northern tip of the island
I was told it was a bit chilly
Queuing up for the ferry home :(
There are two ferries operating and by the time ours left, the other was already loading up with others departing
There were a lot of other bikes going home
Until next time!
I really can't say enough about how friendly and welcoming everyone we met was. Our hosts were even kind enough to make up packed lunches for us for our ride back home!
This trip was last year, and with the event coming up again at the end of this month, I'll be very jealous of anybody who is going this year. I'm looking forward to a return trip already.
|05-18-2015, 12:43 PM||#4|
Joined: Jan 2010
Location: Manchester (ish), England
Well done that man; very interesting and entertaining.
Thanks for sharing.
|05-18-2015, 05:40 PM||#5|
Just Do It
Joined: Sep 2008
Location: Cumming, GA - Close to the Hills!
Bucket list for sure...
"Avoidance of danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing."
|05-19-2015, 07:07 AM||#7|
Joined: Sep 2010
Location: Central MIchigan
Going Going Going
Great set of photos and comments including locations which are usually left off. Will be there 29 May through 14 June - staying in Peel. Looking so forward to this Bucket list item. Cloud . . .
|05-19-2015, 07:28 AM||#8|
Joined: Apr 2011
Location: Western Sierras
I'm shipping out in just a couple of weeks for my first TT. That was a great ride report, and has me chomping at the bit to go now.
Thanks for tip about the radio. We bring one to Laguna Seca every year, but it hadn't occurred to me that it might be good to have one there as well.
Is it broadcast on AM radio? Does the signal reach everwhere on the course?
2009 Aprilia Dorsoduro 750 (adventurized): http://www.apriliaforum.com/forums/a...893274&thumb=1
|05-19-2015, 07:54 AM||#10|
Joined: Jul 2007
Definitely don't miss the live radio. You get to hear classics like Michael Dunlop "I know the boys think I'm a bit of a cunt..."
|05-19-2015, 09:20 AM||#11|
Joined: Nov 2007
Location: N.E. Wyoming
Ride Safe, Richard 14 F700GS IBA #59670, MOA #114372 ( My Wyoming has an East infection )
|05-19-2015, 10:06 AM||#12|
Joined: Feb 2010
Thanks for you report. It really is something to try to get to see.
Some people may not know of the MGP, it may be more convenient time to get away. It is another race meeting/party, now called the Festival of Motorcycling (MGP or Manx Grand Prix) happening over our August Bank Holiday, early September.
Originally for amateurs and the stepping stone to fame and glory, modern riders are just as serious and try just as hard.
As with the TT, lots of alternative activities and attractions.
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