Riding the Isle of Man TT Course

30th May 2013 by  in Daily Digest, Riding TIps

Some thoughts on riding the Isle of Man TT course:

Yesterday I rode the course three times,  06:15, 10:30, & 13:00(ish), and some aspects of staying this side of an incident occurred to me.

  • Never “switch off”, “pootle” or “bimble” along – ALWAYS ride with every sense attuned to exactly what you are doing, what every other road user is doing.
  • Assume that everyone else will do the most dangerous thing possible, at the most critical moment, almost as if they are intent on smearing the both of you across the tarmac.
  • Ride “in your mirrors” at all times. No matter how good you think you are on a bike, there will be loads of others who see you as a mobile chicane. Their closing speed can be considerable, and racers consider a pass that fails to swap paint as a “clean” manoeuvre!
  • Seagulls are quite big, and when, particularly during early laps, they are intent on finishing their breakfast of road kill they leave their food very reluctantly. This results in them taking off just in front of you & it is a matter of pure luck if a miss is achieved – ask John McGuiness or Connor Cummins
  • Always obey the posted speed limits – the obverse of the unlimited sections is that the set limits are strictly enforced. Ride as if the road is closed & you are on a track, and you stand to lose your licence, (here & back home in the UK), your bike, (bikes are confiscated if you are well over the limit), or even your liberty.
  • Be aware of other road users.  The road is used by bin lorries, delivery vans, commuters, school run drivers, road sweepers, (often coming toward you on the exit of your favourite left hand corner), and other riders.
  • Respect the locals. Some of those riders are not German, or French, or Italian, or Greek, or American, or even British – they are Manx. And, Manx drivers & riders are used to using these roads, know where the next corner is going, and, sometimes, proceed as if the 35,000 additional motorcycles on the island are all parked up. Do not be surprised to see a local car, “blinged up”, or rotting heap, hurtling toward you on your side of the road.
  • Ever since my first visit to the Isle of Man TT I have been very wary of riding “against” the circuit. If I was at Ballaugh & wanting to get to Douglas quickly, I’d either take the coast road, or ride across through Druidale & West Baldwin. I’d learned early on not to be surprised at the sight of a third or fourth rider in a group using all the road in front of me as they went for a “quick” lap.
  • Do not time yourself, or “chase” a time for the circuit or section of the circuit. You need all your attention on what you & others are doing, and attempting to shave a minute off your best time will usually result in your riding becoming ragged, snatchy and disjointed – resulting in both a slower “lap”, and you placing both yourself & others at risk.
  • The greatest threat to you; apart from other riders, is yourself. Ride as if you are a precious being, important, and the centre of somebody’s universe – because you will be exactly that. Don’t dump a load of hurt & pain on those who care for you, just because you wanted to keep up with your mate/s, “show” that numpty on the ‘Blade what was what, or shave time off your lap record
  • Conditions will vary – The conditions you encounter on each lap will be very different, time of day, weather, other traffic, parked up lorries & vans, police, will all change on every lap.
  • Don’t show off for the lens – If you see a photographer, (The Gooseneck, Guthries, The Creg, Windy etc.), don’t make a complete prat of yourself by adding 10% more speed – one of the reasons that they are there is to record “offs”, and that is something you do not want to be part of, let alone have photographed.
  • Whilst the mountain section remains one-way for almost three weeks, there will still be the threat of some plank taking a short-cut/”having a laugh”/forgetting, and riding towards you around a blind corner.
  • Expect the mountain section to be closed several times each day, particularly if the weather is hot & sunny. Closures are used to recover broken down vehicles, (bikes, cars, coaches etc.), and record and deal with serious & fatal incidents.
  • Following such closures allow 10 to 15 minutes to pass before setting off up Stella Maris – there’s little to be gained by riding across Snaefell as part of a gaggle of riders all getting in each other’s way.
  • And finally, (if you can after all the above), relax, relax, RELAX!

Have a great time – hopefully see some of you over here.

All the best,

Jim

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