Allow me to introduce myself….nahh I can do that at a later date, there are more important things to write about.
What I should really be talking about is The Tourist Trophy, better known as The Isle of Man TT Races.
If you don’t know about them… you should, because for two weeks at the beginning of June, every year since 1907 a little island sitting in the sea between England and Ireland becomes the Mecca for the worlds motorcyclists.
These are the races that sort out the men from the boys, you won’t find Rossi or Marquez there, it is too dangerous for them. 37 ¾ miles of public road, walls, lamp posts and the drops off “The Mountain” are all there to punish those that get it wrong. It is a hard price to pay, the Island has claimed the lives of 239 racers in 109 years and yet every year gods step up to do battle. They don’t race each other as such, it is a time trial. They set off at 10 second intervals and just see who can ride that wonderful ribbon of tarmac the quickest.
The best way to get your head round it is to imagine a 37 mile run, through your favorite twisties, throw in a few small towns to go through and then try to doing it all at speeds in excess of 200mph and an average lap speed a shade more than 133mph…and that’s just one lap, the senior TT is 6 laps long, or 226.5 miles in just about 1 hour 45 minutes.
The men who race in the TT are a different breed to those we see in Moto GP, both groups are incredibly talented riders, the very best in the world but the TT rider has something more…or maybe something less. You need to be brave to ride in a Moto GP but to race on the Island you need to be willing to risk it all, on every corner , just to have the smallest chance of winning.
In 2010 Guy Martin hit a stone wall at about 170mph, his bike bursting into a fire ball and throwing him down the road like a rag doll. He should have died, but when asked if the near death experience had affected him he replied
"No, of course not, Sounds worse than it was……I was injured but it wasn't bad - I broke eight ribs, punctured my lungs and broke my back in a few places - but the worst thing was I had a week in hospital and then another week off work.”
And when asked what had happened….
“I was pushing too hard. I wanted to win and if anything got me into trouble it was that will to win. But if that is the reason I crashed then I'd be happy to do it again."
Needless to say he went back the next year to do it all again
At the TT you simply can't afford to get it wrong, in a world that is intent on making everything safer and sanitized “The Island” is a throwback where the risks are oh so real. The guys who race it may appear crazy, but they are not, they are the most disciplined and focused riders on the planet because they have to be. They live their lives in micro seconds, they are the embodiment of “live for the moment” and the world is a more interesting place because of them being in it.
Do yourself a favour, try and catch some of the racing on TV, and if you haven’t already take a look at the film, “Closer to the Edge” a documentary that really shows what it is like to be a racer in the TT
I’ll leave you with the words of the late, great Joey Dunlop, the King of the Mountain….
“There is a grey blur and a green blur, I try to stay on the grey one”