Monday, 16 May 2011

You are not a name, you are a number and your number is 23!

You are not a name, you are a number and your number is 23!

Iron Butt Ireland IOM TT1000 in 30 hours.

"You are number 26"

“Right I’m off to bed”

“Oh, come on, one more lap!”

“If you want to do another lap you can do but I’m off to the Inglewood now!”

“Kin hell!”

“You coming or what?”

“Yes” knowing full well he was right, sh*t he’s always bloody right, how annoying is that?

Time to get registered and start the IOM TT1000 @ 1865 hours Thursday

Its 0430 hours Friday morning and we have just ridden 10 laps of the IOM TT track in a one go having started at 1865 hours Thursday. We still have another 17 to do & we’re riding back to the hotel to “go to bed” (separate beds mind). I can’t believe this! All sorts are going through my head, will we till finish within the 30 hours cut off time.

Ron wants breakfast...... as if that’s going to happen, not a chance!

“Right, an hour and a half in bed and back at the bikes for a 0700am off. OK folks?”

“Reight Oh!”

“What about breakfast?”

“Forget breakfast!”

“Do you want a brew?”

“Coffee, milk, one in mine cheer’s Big Lad”

Half a cup and I’m out like a light! Next thing I know I think I’m on a submarine as the Sonar Alarm sounds. Come on, time for the off.

Twenty minutes later I’m outside, kitted up, engine running, Daz is already sat on the step waiting, Ron jumps on his trusty GSA and we’re off “up’t hill” as Daz would say in his cracking Barnsley accent.

We re-join the track at the garage just after the grandstand. Head down the hill through the lights in the dip, on green just for a change! We ride down to the two adjoining roundabouts, straight down the left side of the parked cars and follow the next car round. If anyone’s going to get wacked from the oncoming early morning traffic, it’s not going to be me! Along the straight, sharp left at Brandon Bridge then sharp right, over the mini roundabout another nice straight then up, down and into the 30mph village. Down through the village and we are back into the swing of things, Daz leading, Ron behind and me following.

Daz leading with Ron following (taken Saturday am)

The course is just amazing & I can’t believe we are riding round the IOM TT track, it’s just fantastic and I’m grinning from ear to ear. We start to pick up speed as we head out of the village and up the hill, 40mph turns to 50mph signs then 60. Everything is just spot on. Except for the next set of road works as we entered Crosby, but every time we passed the guys they changed the paddles to GO! “Cheers mate” I shouted as I went past. I got the big thumbs up from the road worker with the STOP/GO paddle. He did this every time we went through, what a star!

The track winds this way and that and I could bang on about the whole circuit but I’ll just fast forward to Sarah’s Cottage. A great left hander that after messing about taking it at 30mph with the traffic I realised, “it’s not a bend at all” in fact it is almost straight. The corner of the cottage looks like it is sticking out into the road and there is what initially felt like a 2 foot drop when in fact it’s just a small drop. You get a clear view of the road on the other side from the far right side of the road so that’s where I found myself. Lining up and just riding straight through. Perfect!

The bright yellow van parked in the right hand drive signals the start of an open stretch passing the farm on the left and over the crest of the hill, dead straight run for about a mile then a tidy right downhill, smooth left then left and left again........... just thinking about the lines all the time.

Before I know it we’re passing standing traffic at the road works, third set in 5 miles, filtering to the front to find the righthand side of the road being dug up and a clear run up the hill in front of us.Lights change and we climb the hill with a perfect right hand bend that if you catch it too near the left, it wants to spit you straight off the road.

I could not believe how few of the other 26 riders we saw. In total I would say we saw about 10 on the route in the whole 28 hours we were riding. We did tend to meet up at the pit stop as there were burgers and hot dogs laid on Thursday evening, plus copious amounts of tea and coffee flowing through out the entire night & day. A big, big thank you to Chris & all his team.

There are so many great sections of the track that I could go on about forever. My favourite had to be climbing out of Ramsey.

Ramsey in the mist.

The three bollards on the sharp left hand turn were like an on switch. Steady as you go up the hairpin left hander then just wind it on straight up into the first right hander, followed by a short straight into another slightly tighter right round the long left hand that took you straight into the last and best as far as I was concerned right switchback but with practice it just set you up for the climb. Tucking in tight to the bushes on the first left then running as close as you could to the painted dry stonewall. Then Mountain Mile just lay there, after a couple of very nice white posts on your right and a couple of painted bridges.

I just loved this section.

My heart was pounding heading over the tops thinking how fast the TT lads would be flying round in just a couple of week’s time. Laptimes around 17 – 20 minutes and we were taking 55 minutes....................“Unbelievable”

The Bungalow in all it's glory.

Through a few more curves and bends past Joey at the side of The Bungalow, over the tram tracks and it was time to pull in and have our mileage checked again.

The Pit Stop had been parked where the logs are in the centre of the  picture.

The Pit Stop from Heaven.

Chris and the team did an absolutely amazing job,





“What lap are we on?”

“Not sure, I’ll let you know next time round!”

“Cheers, mate”

“You OK, do you want a brew?”

“Nope we’re off, catch you later!”

And away we would go, until we got to 1030 hours,

“Right lads, you have 14 laps to do and 14 hours to do it in!”

“No sweat” no really, there was no way I was going to sack this ride off; I was having an absolute ball! Rain, pea soup fog and gale force winds all through the night and we were still churning out the laps. It gave us something to think about though.

Needless to say we carried on, and on, and on.Stopping only to answer the call of nature and top up on fluids and scran.

The day was amazing and at about 1400 we got to see the mountain top for what would be one of only 4 laps of clear vision. As the night came in and with only 3 laps to do we ploughed on. The shocker came when Daz & I were advised we could just ride to the Creg Ny Baa and that would be our 1000 miles complete.............................. Na! We‘re not having any of that so at 2100 hours we headed out for our last lap and slowest of the day.

I filled up at 0200 hours from on of Chris’s 20 litre Jerry cans, without which my ride would have been over there and then.

Coming in to finish at 2230 hours, the pit stop awning had vanished as Chris had packed most of the kit away so we had our clocks read for the last time in the pitch black.

In good old IBA fashion we then stood chatting for another three quarters of an hour, the only light being my head torch which I had put on to fill up from my jerry can for the last time, and the lights from to Motorhome. If it had not been for the team filling quite a few 20 litre cans with fuel the whole challenge would have ground to a halt in the middle of the night because all bar one petrol station closed at 2200 hours with just one in Douglas remaining open until 2330 hours.

Heading back to the Inglewood Hotel, Daz & Ron vanished, so half way through my shower Ron appears with the Doner Kebabs, Top Banana and so ended the IBA Ireland TT1000.

Next day was a “Shopex” to the TT T-shirt shop, followed by a leisurely ride back over the mountain route the opposite way in glorious sunshine to the biker cafe in Ramsey.

Riding back to Douglas over the mountain. I stopped every couple of miles to take pictures as the fog descended. It took me so long Ron & Daz came looking for me which was a bonus as we got some great pictures of Joey Dunlop’s Memorial.

The Three Amigos

Everyone met up at the Grandstand for the IBA Group picture. This ride must be one of the most multi-nationally supported riders with riders from Ireland, USA, Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, France, German, England,Scotland (South Africa), Wales, Finland, sorry if I missed your country of origin.

After the photo shoot, it was down to the pub for lunch and a party with the founder of the IBA Mike Kneebone picking up the drinks tab, thank you Mike.

So all in all I for one would like to thank everyone who made the IOM TT1000 an absolutely unforgettable event.

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