Isle of Man

Richard, John and Richard

May 2007

Only three C&F members (Cap’n Beakey, Big ‘Grisly’ John and Richard Courval) braved the combined threats of bank holiday weather, a rough crossing of the Irish Sea and thousands of crotch rocket riders to experience the Isle of Man in this, the centenary year of the famous TT races. And boy have we got news for you, the Island rocks!

Getting to the Island is a bit of a chore, we left Warr’s at 3.30 on Thursday, four and a half hours of motorway to our Liverpool hotel and then on Friday morning the fast ferry (2.5hrs) to the IoM. The ferry check-in was a mass of bikes - and not all crotch rockets by any means, also amazingly international. Bikers from all over the world were heading to the IoM for the centenary TT pilgrimage, 19,000 bikes were booked on the ferry over the TT period!

Arriving in Douglas we made straight to our hotel, checked in and dropped bags and headed back into town for the obligatory T-shirt purchases before the thousands arrived. Heading out of town we intersected the famous Mountain Circuit at Quarter Bridge and Cap’n Beakey was immediately stricken with circuit fever - we just had to do a lap there and then!


A lap of this 37.7 mile circuit takes you though quiet country villages, through pleasant countryside and pastures with trees shading the road and up the mountain to over 1400feet before plunging back to the centre of Douglas. The track markers call out the famous names: Bradden Bridge, Ballacraine Corner, Sarah’s Cottage, Sulby Bridge, Creg-ny Baa, Governors Corner and the terrifying Bray Hill. It’s a lovely trip with great views and if you ride your Harley in a fairly ‘progressive’ style it takes about 50 minutes. Then you think about it - in 2002 David Jefferies lapped in 17mins 47 seconds - an AVERAGE of 127.29mph! Of course he didn’t loose his visor going up the mountain and go back to pick it up, only Big Grisly John can claim that! This year, weather permitting, someone may break 130mph.

Saturday dawned bright and saw our trio off to Peel in search of Celtic gold to placate a certain wife and thence over fantastic mountain roads to Port Erin where we literally bumped into an old mate of Richard’s who runs a ‘curio shop’; in which he had no less than three Vincent motorcycles in concours condition. An immaculate 1927 flat tank Sunbeam was being fettled in the street outside and across the road an ice cream parlour with another Vincent as window dressing!

We rode on to the Pre TT classic races on the short Billown circuit and watched (and listened to) 1960s Manx Nortons and BSA rocket threes going through their paces, lapping at 90mph, riders older than us - there’s hope yet folks. We also got sun-burnt whilst the SE of England was cold and drowning - that felt good!! In the evening we were off to Bradden Bridge to watch the first practice for the TT proper. Bikes and side car rigs screaming past within five feet of where we sat on a stone wall, this is so different from track events, you are right there with it, you see it, hear it, feel it and smell it - watching these bikes at close quarters simply cannot fail to get the biker’s adrenalin flowing.

Sunday was a quiet day, we ‘did the island’ from south to north, east to west, including the tourist sights of great Laxey wheel. In the afternoon it rained, we went back to Billown to watch more classic racing, this time in very difficult wet conditions on narrow 1960’s tyres! One bike slithered past us on its side followed by its’ rider but it was a low speed spill so fortunately the rider was fine and only superficial damage to the bike.

Monday early morning we were down to the ferry and regretfully heading back to Liverpool, as another hoard of bikers headed in the opposite direction. We had a pleasant ride south past Chester until we hit the rain at lunch time and a very wet cold ride home.

The IoM was a great experience, bikes everywhere, from pre 193’s to 2007 race machines, friendly people, bikers from literally all over the world - we met guys from US, New Zealand, Finland and all over Europe. Great roads and scenery - and people tell me that round white sign with the diagonal bar still means no speed limit - that’s certainly the way most riders interpret it!

Next year a five day trip for the TT races and the Peel music festival - book early!

Cap’n Beaky - C&F Road Captain