Isle of Man: Racy idyll

Anyone who wants a good pinch of road racing on the one hand, but does not want to give in to the absolute state of emergency of the TT on the other, is in the right place on the Isle of Man during the Classic TT.

The evening is already descending over Douglas as our ferry disappears in the rearview mirror. Despite the dusk, the promenade along the shore of the otherwise rather contemplative little town is not calm. Everything that has two wheels and an engine seems to be on its way. 

Isle of Man. What a sounding and promising name. You don't have to be a racing geek to be carried away by the energy, atmosphere, courage and skills of the riders competing here. This is especially true for the legendary Tourist Trophy, but also for the Classic TT event. It's a bit more relaxed here, a lot of old iron, not quite as many visitors on the Manx and therefore better chances to get ferry tickets and affordable accommodation during the event. 

The next morning we move into our post at the track just behind "Governors Bridge". What a spectacle! Leaning against the wall we watch the fast boys and girls coming out of the short right turn only a few meters away, loading and disappearing behind the red phone booth towards the Grand Stand. The fastest among them pass by here again after barely 19 minutes and 60 kilometers.

We don't fully realize what an immense achievement this is until the next day, when we ride parts of the track ourselves; the traffic is only stopped during the qualifying sessions and races. Only a few bales of straw remind us that speed records are being broken here. Apart from that, the track is a normal road, with a sometimes-lousy surface, many markings, signs, corners and edges and above all a damn lot of stonewalls - there's really no room for mistakes. 

With our noses in the wind and our eyes wandering over the green hills, we ride to Peel, a sleepy nest washed by the crystal clear water of the Irish Sea. The sun bathes the scenery in a late summer light, providing pleasant temperatures and dry asphalt - time to get the tyres rolling. We keep north along the coast and meet the TT track again in Kirk Micheal at "Douglas Corner". As there are no races or practice sessions at the moment, we steer the bikes past well-known places like the "Ballaugh Bridge".

Whenever possible, we turn onto small side roads towards the coast. Here every detour is worthwhile. In Jurby there is a small racetrack and the "Isle of Man Motor Museum", which is well worth seeing. Here you can admire treasures on two and four wheels.

At the Point of Ayre Lighthouse we have not only arrived at the northernmost end of the Manx but also experience a completely different side of the small island. It is completely quiet, no engine noise, only some isolated people that we quickly lose sight of on the wide pebble beach. Bends crackle, bees buzz, the sea rushes gently and a light pinch rustles barely perceptible through the high dune grass - what an idyll.

In Ramsey, the TT-atmosphere quickly gets us back under control. As we found out the evening before in the pub, the notorious mountain track between Ramsey and Douglas is laid out as a temporary one-way road like on "Mad Sunday". When we still roll through the "Hairpin", still shuddering after cars, I already notice how my stomach tingles, from "Waterworks" on there is no stopping. I shift down two gears and give my old Honda the spurs. With my chin on the tank and the clutch slipping, I chase with the CX, flooded with euphoria and adrenalin, towards "Snaerfell Gate". With the throttle wide open, I pass "Black Hut", on to "The Verandah", where Connor Cummins was catapulted over the edge incredibly violently in the 2010 Senior Race.

"Bungalow", "Hailwood Rise", "Windy Corner" and finally "Kates Cottage" from where it's down to "Creg-ny-Baa" on the long straight. What a rush! "Brandish Corner" - I never felt so fast before - could be due to the jet helmet, or the rustic material. After all, my CX is heading steeply towards the 40. At the small "Hillberry" grandstand I stop, take a deep breath, rejoice, am fully in the here and now.

We are heading south. Castle Town, Port St. Mary and then through Cregneash to the end of the South Road, which ends at the sea opposite the island of Calf of Man and the rock Kitterland. 

In the soft light of the early evening we steer our machines via Glen Rushen and Dalby, past Glenmaye to Peel and from there back to Douglas. The smell of salt water alternates with the earthy peaty scent of the hills on this beautiful stage. A nice ending, because tomorrow morning the ferry leaves back to Heysham.







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