Some say it’s the ultimate adrenalin rush, to others it’s “38 Miles of Terror.” Either way the Isle of Man TT is every bike enthusiasts bucket list dream come true. So what draws people to the race that’s claimed the lives of over 270 motorcyclists since its humble beginnings in 1907?
I will never forget the first time I heard the bikes approaching. Watching from my spot on the lawn of The Mitre pub, the growl of the engine grows then wham! The vibration goes straight up your spine and the bike flashes through the tiny village. Wow, I cannot believe the balls of these guys, just full on the power down these tiny country roads..
What’s it about?
The course is run on public roads which are closed 30 mins prior to the riders hitting the track. The races are run in time trial format, from a “clutch start.” Competitors start one at a time at 10-second intervals with the number 1 qualifier leaving first, the number 2 second and so forth.
The current classes are: Superbike, Sidecar, Supersport, Superstock, Lightweight, TT Zero (electric motorcycles) and the classic Senior TT.
Is it dangerous?
The faster bikes hit speeds of over 210 kph, which is about 30 kph higher than the average on a racetrack. This is on rough roads bordered by trees, stone fences and in some cases even peoples houses. Spectators can watch curb side anywhere from the front steps of the pub (the Sulby Glen is on the fastest section of the course) to a stone fence or hedgerow (although the more dangerous spots are off limits). In 2007 a rider and two spectators were killed on the mountain section. The future of the event is always in doubt because of safety fears.
What to do between the practice sessions?
The island itself is pretty amazing and full of history. Things to see and do include:
- Peel Castle – Built in the 11th century by the Vikings. Peel itself is an interesting day trip. This tiny fishing port is the fourth largest settlement on the Island but still no more than a village. It has a number of good pubs, shops and restaurants (the crab “baps” or rolls are not to be missed at Moore’s Kipper smokehouse). Also a supermarket and hardware store.
- Douglas – The capital and largest town on the island. The start-finish line is here as are the pits (although quite a distance from the centre). Lots of bars along the Promenade and plenty of shops to pick up TT shirts and memorabilia. This is also the birthplace of the Gibb brothers who went on to form the Bee Gees.
- Ramsay – At the North-east section of the track. Ramsay is the gritty working class area of the island. A port town there are some great, old style pubs along the waterfront, a small Manx museum and the Northern terminus of the Manx Heritage railway.
- Bike Museums – There are a number of good museums around the island. The best ones are the Isle of Man Motor Museum with over 400 classic vehicles including 200+ bikes (entry £12.50). Murray’s Motorcycle Museum, has a huge collection of bikes from the 1800’s on (£5 entry but comes with a cup of tea and a biscuit). The Leece Museum in Peel.
Spondeo runs yearly trips to the Isle of Man TT. For further information follow the link: Spondeo Travel Experience.
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