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    loob lor geezer
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    TT races: a high-octane view of the Isle of Man

    For two weeks every summer the TT motorbike races transform the Isle of Man, an otherwise peaceful haven of horse-drawn carriages and mackerel fisherman. Sam Shead reports.


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    The notorious racecourse cuts across the island Photo: ALAMY



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    For the rest of the year, the Isle of Man is somewhat calmer Photo: ALAMY



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    The racers reach speeds of 200mph Photo: ALAMY

    By Sam Shead
    12:05PM BST 03 Jun 2011

    A sea of metal and leather lines Douglas’s Victorian-style promenade as thousands of motorbikes sit patiently, waiting for their adrenaline-junkie owners. This is the scene on the Isle of Man waterfront during the yearly, treacherous TT races, being held right now until June 10.

    The ear-throbbing spectacle, which attracted 30,787 tourists in 2010, involves riders hurtling around the deadly 37-mile Mountain Circuit – a route that has claimed the lives of 231 competitors since its foundation 100 years ago.

    It is a far cry from the usual peace of this proud, self-governed island. Steeped in Viking history, the Isle of Man’s usual attractions are very different from this fortnight’s wafting scent of petrol and sweaty leathers. The TT’s “King of the Mountain” accolade is the title every rider strives for, but the story of the “King of Mann” tells the tale of the uneasy ride the island’s power-hungry rulers endured over the centuries.

    The Vikings nominally founded the island’s parliament, Tynwald, in AD 979 and as a result it is potentially the longest continuous-standing parliament in the world. Obscure, historic legislation, such as the fact that a local may shoot a Scotsman wearing a kilt if spotted on the island’s shores, is now hidden away in the island’s parliamentary archives – hidden, but by no means erased.

    The TT lasts for two weeks, with a week of practices and qualifiers, followed by four full days of races, where riders race against the clock – the record lap speed was set by John McGuiness in 2007 and stands at 130.354mph, which equates to a lap time of 17 minutes 21.99 seconds.

    Although the riders get little chance to take in the views, the route passes through some of the Isle of Man’s most spectacular scenery. From the capital, they race west across the island, taking a sharp right at Ballacraine corner, before continuing their pursuit north. Next stop is (rather dreary) Ramsey, the island’s second largest town, before the racers take the Mountain Road south and back to the capital.
    Panoramic views of the entire island are visible from Snaefell, the island’s highest peak. Throughout summer, the Manx Electric Railway takes visitors to the summit of Snaefell from Douglas, Ramsey and Laxey, where they can soak up the views of the Six Kingdoms (Scotland, England, Wales, Ireland, the Isle of Man – and heaven) over a picnic. The riders, on the other hand, roar by in a haze of reds and yellows at speeds of over 200mph. A dash down the long straight between privately-owned Kate’s Cottage, a well known landmark, and one of the most famous drinking holes and vantage points on the course, the Creg-Ny-Baa pub, sees the riders arrive back on the island’s east coast, where the finish line awaits.
    For 50 weeks of the year, however, the island moves at a much calmer pace. Horse-drawn trams traverse Douglas’ two-mile promenade, while the four-horned Manx Loghtan sheep, unique to the island, roam across glaciated valleys, and mackerel-filled fishing boats pull into the small fishing towns of Peel and Port St Mary.
    Although much of the coastline is avoided by the TT course for safety reasons, it is a spectacular sight, with high, jagged cliffs home to thousands of Manx Shearwaters. Below are long, white sandy beaches, such as Port Erin, littered with translucent, purple-tinged jellyfish. The Raad ny Foillan, the island’s 95-mile coastal path, offers some of the island’s best views.
    The sea itself attracts scuba divers from mid-may to August, when graceful (and harmless) basking sharks and frolicking seals occupy the plankton-rich waters.
    For those who don’t fancy an icy plunge in the Irish Sea, the southern part of the island, neglected by the TT racecourse, is home to the island’s former capital, Castletown, while the southern tip, known as the Sound, offers spectacular views of the Calf of Man. This uninhabited rocky outcrop is separated by the dangerous waters of the Calf Sound and is home to the world’s highest density of lighthouses.
    The proximity to, and dependence on, the sea is visible throughout the Isle of Man, with historical fishing towns and villages scattered around its shores. The famous Manx Kippers, something of an acquired taste (thanks to their overpowering odor) have been an island staple since the 1870s. The two remaining curers (Moore’s and Devereau’s) can both be found in the fishing town of Peel. Stop by Peel Harbour at lunchtime and you can pick up a fresh kipper bap from Moore’s at a bargain price.
    However, fishing has taken a back seat over the years as the finance sector has firmly established itself in Douglas, and reeled in far more lucrative profits and plane-loads of pinstriped businessmen from the City every morning. This is, after all, something of an offshore tax haven, and has attracted both super-wealthy residents and an increasing number of celebrities, including Jeremy Clarkson, Rick Wakeman and the late Sir Norman Wisdom.
    To compliment the Isle of Man’s more obscure sights and traditions, such as cats with no tails and the world’s largest water wheel (in the mining town of Laxey), the island is delving into the unchartered skies of space exploration. With 17 space companies registered there so far, a total of nearly £400 million has been generated over the last three years – the island was recently named as the fifth most likely nation to next send man to the moon; a big claim for a little rock.
    The island’s motto, Quocunque Jeceris Stabit, comes from the three “Legs of Man” depicted on the island’s national flag, and translates as “whichever way you throw it, it will stand.” A strong testament, perhaps, to the resilience of the islanders, who continue to welcome back the deafening TT crowd every year.

    TT races: a high-octane view of the Isle of Man - Telegraph

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  3. #3
    Thailand Expat Bobcock's Avatar
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    Aguy at work here in Bangkok had a good friend killed this year at the TT.

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    more here in the Superbikes thread (World Superbikes)

    the two deaths last week were 232 and 233 since racing began
    Two sidecar motorcyclists have been killed in a practice session at the Isle of Man TT races. Bill Currie, 67, and Kevin Morgan, 59, crashed at Ballacrye in the north of the island on Tuesday

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    Thailand Expat Bobcock's Avatar
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    Yep, that was them....

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    ^^^^
    Great videos up there Mid. You really got to be slightly mad to go racing on that incredible road race course. I just love watching it, really would like to go there to see the race just once.

  7. #7
    Mid
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    ^

    worth following the links for parts 2 & 3 with Joey Dunlop ,

    Balls of Steel

  8. #8
    loob lor geezer
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    Thanks for input Mid.

    I'd love to go around the course myself , limiting myself to a Honda wave in order to be well within my limits.

    Just looking at that Joey Dunlop its easy to see why the course claims so many lives. Not very forgiving. I seem to remember Barry Sheene was not willing to race there:

    ' I vowed I would do everything I could to stop the Isle of Man counting towards the world championship. And it was stopped, so they love me in the Isle of Man.'
    Barry Sheene

    'I thought: This is not racing, it's a suicide mission.'
    Barry Sheene


    Last edited by Bangyai; 06-06-2011 at 03:59 PM.

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