Just like there are three legs on the Manx symbol, there are three types of races on this island in the middle of the Irish sea. There is the Classic TT which runs in August, the Superbike Southern 100 which runs in July and the most famous one, the TT race which runs end of May, beginning of June. The last one is the one we attended and, incidentally, it has had the worst weather they have seen in this period for decades! Practice after practice, race after race, all have been cancelled. We have met bikers coming from out of UK and going back home after a whole week of not seeing even one lap run, it was that bad. If the weather on the coast was decent, the mountain was covered in fog. Manannan really did pull over his misty cloak to shield his beloved island. Only this time he did not thwart the invaders, but the lovers of motorsport.
Stats (including the Peak District part):
Bike – Yamaha XJR 1300 aka The Beast
Period – 27th May to 05th June 2019
Duration – 10 days
Distance covered – 1633.48 km or 1015 miles
Issues with the bike – A petrol leak in Buxton – fixed in 10 minutes
Number of roadkill – surprisingly low
Favourite part of the trip – I actually cannot decide, I loved all of the roads on the IOM
The Ferry ride
We got up around 4.30 in the morning to meet up with our group, fill up on petrol and get our butts to Heysham ferry terminal for check in. The roads were full of bikes, it looked like an invasion of leather clad two wheelers. As we got to the terminal, the waiting to board started – we had to be there 2 hours earlier to then wait the 2 hours in the wind and, in the end, the rain. Once we got on board, I was soaked, cold, hungry and realised my trousers had a massive tear on the back of my left thigh, just under my butt cheek. Being on the bike means packing lightly but luckily I had brought an extra pair of jeans which bore the burden of covering me until we got back home. The crossing was uneventful, after devouring a sandwich and a coffee we both managed to catch some zs before docking in Douglas.
things to know before visiting:
- IOM has it’s own currency, Manx pounds. They will accept British pounds, but Manx money will not be accepted on mainland. Also, their £20 note has the Fonz on it.
- You will be in roaming on the island so make sure your mobile operator is ok with it. Our friend had massive issues with Virgin and could not use his phone for the whole week.
- You can buy a TT pin badge for £10 that will get you into all Manx Heritage sites for free during the racing events in that year.
- There are free public toilets in all town centres and they are all clean so you do not need to watch your beer/fluid intake.
- The whole island is perfect for spotting different sea animals like basking sharks, minke whales or just plain old seals, see photo below for the best spots and periods to see them.
- IOM government is big on recycling and reducing single use plastic after the Blue Planet made them see reason. You will find biodegradable containers and cups in the shops and many recycling points.
- There a few are endemic animal species like a special type of cat with no tail and with longer back legs and a special type of sheep with 4 horns! I have not seen them on the island 😦
Isle of Man
The weather was no better when we got to the island, but it was dry, for at least 10 minutes. We got to our camping site on the other side of the island (Peel) in about 15-20 mins but it was enough to soak us again. As we were setting up camp, our home for the next 7 days I noticed that the electric tape, aka my boot fix, slipped off and water was freely getting through. The next fix was duct tape which you will always find on a biker camping site. This lasted until my husband tried to fix the boots with rubber cement 2 days before leaving. Needless to say, it did not go well, my feet got soaked again and the boots ended up in the bin along with the torn jeans. Now that all of the wardrobe malfunction is completely out of the way, let’s get back to our first day and the run on the TT course!! It was an absolute must as soon as we got there.
We left Peel and followed the route north through Kirk Michael, Sulby Bridge, the Hairpin and then over the mountain which was covered in low lying fog. It was an absolute pleasure being on the road with nothing but motorbikes around you. But it also showed us why the practice and races had to be cancelled in case of the fog; the visibility was horrible and even without going 200mph as they do during the race there were some close calls from faster riders around – getting too close to a bike in front as they did not see them due to the fog or “stumbling” upon a rogue bend. After surviving the misty mountain hop, we spent the rest of the afternoon in Douglas visiting the race pits and afterwards, pubs.
We spent a whole week on the island. Due to the weather many practice sessions and races were postponed and pushed back giving us more time to go riding all over the island. Check out part 2 to see all the amazing things you can do when the races are cancelled.