Friday, 30 August 2019
The racing in the Isle of Man devides opinion like no other discipline in our chosen and I hasten to say this ‘lifestyle’ that we follow, the detractors say that we lose too many competitors in horrendous accidents, life’s are snuffed out in milli-seconds by an error in judgement, clipping a kerb or running into a bend too fast, machine failure, or a hundred and one other reasons that at the speeds, racing on normal roads with all the associated road furniture all too often prove fatal to the riders.
No one is forced to race at the Isle of Man, be it the Tourist Trophy, the Classic or the Manx GP, there are no World Championship points at stake as there was back in the day, the racers, their nearest and dearest and associates all know the risks involved when they head off across St. Ninians crossroads and onto the fearful drop of Bray Hill on the Glencrutchery Road.
The men and women who choose to do these races are chasing something that we mere mortals can only dream of, to compete here is the ultimate test of bravery, skill, endurance and determination and I have nothing but the utmost respect for each and every rider, from the well established winners with their names etched onto that famous ‘silver lady’ to the bloke who comes last, but, who has still managed to finish a race at the Island.
I must admit to having mixed feelings about Agostini’s appearance at this years festival, here is the man who was vehemently against the TT and ultimately got it dropped from the World Championship standings and yet continues to enjoy a handsome payday from cruising around on an old MV Agusta in the parade lap and selling loads of merchandise on the back of it. And yet, here is an absolute legend, ex world champion and probably Mike the Bikes greatest rival, who am I to deny that Giacomo Agostini should not enjoy a leisurely trundle and enjoy the experience in his twilight years and yet I feel that after all this we should really be supporting the right of choice of the modern day competitors to take on the Mountain Course.
As soon as the second motorcycle was built men and women have wanted to race each other, this year we lost Chris Swallow and as tragic as this is I cannot imagine for one second that his father, the legendary Bill Swallow would be calling for the races to be banned, in the Classic Lightweight and Manx GP we saw the emergence of James Hind, a baby faced 19 year old who despite getting a 30 second penalty for speeding in the pit lane still managed to get a third place in the 250 junior classic, two lightweight wins and two lap records, [one from a standing start!]
Yes, the stakes are high and sometimes tragic but in this world of mission statements, health and safety and rigid control there’s something ultimately life affirming about the right to choose wether to race and place ones destiny in the lap of whichever god you follow. Stay tuned race fans, Loads of photos and wordy bollocks to follow about my own experience over on the Island........
Sunday, 18 August 2019
without injuring himself or anyone else.
altogether, he is riding a 1290 Superduke R, as we chat he is quaffing lager, this time pints of draft lager, his bike is sans rear view mirrors, ‘don’t need ‘em mate, not bothered what’s happening behind me, only what’s happening in front’ his tyres are ragged beyond belief, I enquire if he’s done a trackday recently? ‘Nah mate, used to do them but too many rules, got bollocked last time I did one for forcing someone onto the grass’ he traded the 1290 for a Panigale. ‘I like this better, I can wear my jeans and a hoodie’ indeed, that’s the sum total of his protection, no gloves, trainers but an Arai rx7,with black visor.
‘I felt a bit of a twat in my leathers, looked like a chimp, they were Dainese D-Air’s, cost me two grand, couldn’t walk straight in them, race crouch cut you know?’
‘The 1290 is more ‘stealth’ for on the road, you blend in more’ oh yes, especially with the Austin Racing end can, I’ve heard some loud bikes in my time but whoah! Fruitier than a fruit bat with a hard-on! I was just saying, your motorcycle is a tad loud, ‘sorry, what did you say?’ ‘I was just saying, your two-wheeled, fire-breathing death machine is rather at the higher end of the pain threshold in relation to its decibel output’ ‘sorry, what did you say?’ You get the picture. LOUD.
‘Suspect Two’ skins out, ‘I’m off for a pint, see ‘ya later’ and with that he treats the onlookers to that glorious cacophony that accompanies his first, second and third gear mingers as he disappears up the road.
It’s still relatively early so I make my way down to the Norton factory in Donington, it’s very busy here and bikes line the picturesque courtyard of the old house which serves as the offices for the Norton concern, I grab a brew and settle down to watch the comings and goings as the bikes continue to roll in. Tea quaffed and a slow lap of the courtyard to check out the machines and I skin out as the sun starts to set, the roads are quiet now, the commuters long gone and I give the KTM it’s head on the way home, I detour onto one of my favourite roads rather than going straight home, the air is cool now, definetly a touch of autumn in the air and I shiver as I’m only wearing a t-shirt under my bike jacket, any thoughts of being cold disappears as I wind the throttle on, there’s nothing like riding a bike, fast on a quiet road and as the darkness falls I kill a million insects as they are drawn to the light.
Saturday comes and an afternoon out on the Moto Guzzi, I head out into the high peak via the Staffordshire moorlands, out over the Roaches, the rocky ridge over Leek and drop down into Buxton, I turn off into the beautiful Goyt Valley, it’s so quiet up here, the roads are awash with the previous days heavy rain and the road is more like a stream bed in places where the,water is coursing down from the peat banks leaving a trail of mud and grit in its wake. I stop a few times to take in the view, the heather on the moorland is just starting to get its purple hue and I watch a pair of Buzzards gliding on the thermals, a Curlews haunting cry ringing out across the desolate moor as it calls to its mate.
As I ride along on the Guzzi, it’s steady burble my soundtrack and my butt cheeks slowly succumb to the vibration induced numbness I realise that this is why I ride, my consciousness is raised as I tune into the sights, smells, sounds and senses of moving through the air without encumbrance and as I wend my way home I’m already planning my next escape........
Sunday, 11 August 2019
I’d forgotten how much machining work had been put into that rear hub! WTF! I think we made a good fist of turning a piece of shit, neglected, unloved, [see what I did there?] unfashionable 650 tourer/commuter into a rather smart race machine........;.;
Thursday, 8 August 2019
The JAP engined, single cylinder ‘Montgomery’ I have no idea about but I loved it, girder forks, ridgid frame and that tank cut away to fit around the cylinder head was mint, the tiny, jewel like Kreidler/Van Veen 50cc racer was just beautiful, so tiny but packed with engineering brilliance, I wanted to pick it up and take it home in my game-keepers bag, throw the telly out and just place it on the table, lush.
The standard of the bikes was exemplary, these are no show-ponies here, just race machinery and even the people ‘parading’ were seriously rinsing these old knackers, the way it should be. My favourite bike? Well, you do become a tad blasé when there are so many fantastic bikes on show, [can’t believe I didn’t take a photo of any of the big buck ‘lansdowne’ manx nortons] May be a surprise but for me, it’s the Takuma Aoki ‘Cup Noodle’ 250 ‘stroker that gets my vote for bike of the meeting, bike porn of the highest quality, I’ve got this on my shed wall from a centrespread poster from an old ‘fastbikes’ magazine, if my fading memory serves me well, the stickers are all painted on as they are unobtanium, the photo doesn’t do it justice.......
Saturday, 3 August 2019
I rock up at 1100 hrs and I’m surprised that it doesn’t seem too busy with punters, the pits though are a hive of activity, the whole place is packed to the rafters with race machine exotica. this is a noise limit free meeting and the glorious sounds of unfettered race bikes warming up is pure music to the ears, two-strokes, the sound of racing, a high pitched scream, the revs rising instantaneously and the haze of blue smoke, I breathe it in, memories of a simpler time, free of save the planet, greta thunberg, political correctness and emission conscious bollocks, yes, I’m a caveman, I make no excuses for that.
the ‘diesel’s’ are well accounted for, the bass tones of the four-strokes shakes the ground, I must admit a wry smile glanced across my boat race when a small child burst into tears when a particularly loud MV was being given the berries! Fond memories of the Carib club in derby, warm red stripe, dub reggae and bowel loosening frequencies.