The Isle of Man is a quiet place – well, 45 weeks a year, then on three or four occasions you wake up and the air has a different feel – it’s laced with anticipation.
I am one of the lucky few to live on the Isle of man and who also gets the rare opportunity to compete in what is possibly one of the most famous road races in the world – on the roads I walk along, the roads I drive to work on every day.
The Isle of Man TT is now less than 4 weeks away. This time 2 years ago I didn’t anticipate that I’d be competing in it, let alone for the second year running.
It only took me 8 races to reach the top step of the podium in the Manx Grand Prix which is run on the same road circuit, but is limited to a maximum 750 cc’s, and is very popular with privateer up and coming riders, or those who can’t stomach the higher budget requirements of the TT. My win, in the Senior Manx Grand Prix in 2010, included one of the quickest laps on record on a 600cc bike in that competition and I have achieved notoriety in the MGP circle, being one of only six people to complete a lap, which was one of 4 of 37.75 miles, in under 18 minutes 49 seconds – giving an average speed of 120.119mph.
That result was my fast track to the IOM TT.
The TT is a different kettle of fish all together – it used to be a little like the Manx Grand Prix, but in the last ten or so years the TT has evolved into a highly professional competition, you’d almost liken it to a two week long BSB meet, attracting people from all over the world, not only to compete but also to spectate.
I can see the boat coming into Douglas harbour every day and there are already groups of men coming, on their road bikes, to sample the TT circuit before the real excitement begins. The Prom has lines of 5 or 6 bikes lined up, parliament square in Ramsey already has a crowd on a weekend lunch time, lines of bikes nip past you on the mountain mile.. You can feel that the TT is on its way. As the time draws closer it will get busier and busier, the trucks will start to arrive and the Island will truly start to buzz – the change is so profound you can almost see it roll in with the sea mist.
I’ve only got one more Island Championship meeting to compete in before the TT starts, FVS Racing has had pleasing results so far, but I have only just taken delivery of my 1000cc bike, which is still in pieces. I’m working on it daily, and finances (or lack of them) mean I’m race preparing everything myself, unlike last year when we invested in a BSB standard mechanic. That was great, the support was second to none but times are hard. I am a perfectionist though and my mind rests best knowing it’s me that has prepared every part and tightened every bolt, checked every setting.
My bike has lots of work still needed, but as I put the jigsaw together piece by piece it’s becoming clearer every day that I have got an awesome superstock machine in the making. I’m aiming to better my newcomers result from 2011, which was 18th – It is a very long, very demanding set of races though and any finish after 226.5 miles, at 120mph average, through villages, over mountains and on standard roads is a good finish.
I am lucky, we have some very good sponsors on board who are helping us from every angle – we can’t wait to get them all together in the paddock, for them to sample the atmosphere like the thousands of others who are coming to taste the TT. They will get the smells, the spirit, feel the road vibrate as the bikes leave the start line and roar past them – I just wish I could share with them the feeling of sheer euphoria and adrenaline that courses through your veins as you tear down Bray Hill at 170mph for the first time.