Good evening folks,
This may be the last chance I have to write before we head off to the Isle of Man. I currently have 2 more shifts to do before leaving Larne at 2359 on Friday. We will meet up with Walter and Tim on the boat and then head to Peel in the early hours to put up the tent. I doubt there will be much sleep before we need to get up to find good spots to watch Saturdays racing.
We will watch as spectators on Saturday and possibly enjoy a few beers before heading into Douglas to meet up with our extremely generous hosts Dave and Katrina. We will be packing sodas and sausages that we will make as a treat for Sunday breakfast. Not sure what we will do the rest of Mad Sunday but the marshals supper in Douglas is on the agenda for the evening.
On Monday we hope to sign on as marshals at Gorse Lea. Tuesday is the TTTweetmeet in the evening and I hope to get a pillion ride around the circuit on Walts Speed Triple. Hopefully some of the madness that has occured so far this week will have calmed down. I will post all the gory details as soon as I can.
Have a great TT guys 🙂
Day 1 report
We arrived in Larne on Friday evening to meet Walt and Tim in the Costcutter on tour bus. We loaded our several tons of gear into the back before enjoying a coffee and hot chocolate in the terminal. There was a real buzz of excitement and loads of fans getting on the midnight sailing to Douglas. I was a little worried that Callum would get squashed on his way through port security. He had broken his right collarbone only 6 days previously. Some of the generous fans allowed him to get through the melee without any further injury :).
Once on board we sat towards the front of the fast ferry and enjoyed the first cold beer of the week. We were so excited and had waited for months for this day to arrive. There was lots of noise on the boat and we were obviously not the only ones to be excited.
We arrived in Douglas pretty much on time and were off and on our way to Peel in no time. I reckon it was almost 4am when we reached the campsite, just as the sun began to rise. It was a beautiful morning. We parked next to Rodney and Carolines bike bus. They had kindly allowed us to use their awning to get a short nap in after arrival. William and I attempted to doze in the van, but i must say using a gas bottle and a Speed triple as a mattress was not a good idea. Reckon I got 20 mins max.
We made a pretty good team effort of putting up Walts tent and getting the bike out of the van. Before too long it was time that Callum, William and I to make our way to the circuit. As today was really a bonus for us we decided to watch as spectators rather than marshal. We boarded a bus full of race fans in Peel and headed for Ramsey. The bus route took us through Kirk Michael, Sulby, Ginger Hall and into Ramsey. This was the first time any of us had seen this part of the circuit. First job was to find breakfast in a cafe opposite Ramsey Post Office and not too far from the circuit.
We had what can only be described as a monster fry, without the soda and potato bread but it was tasty all the same. After the feed, the roads had closed and the action was about to start. We decided to plonk ourselves on the exit from Parliament Square with a view to the next right and climb out of the town.
Race 1 was the first Superbike race and what a spot we were in to watch the machines accelerating hard away from the corner. many of the bikes went up on the back wheel and there were a couple of scary moments. Most scary was Ballyclare newcomer Jamie Hamilton KMR who got it all wrong on the exit of the corner but did really well to sort it out. For one moment I felt he was about to get off.
Unfortunately we only saw Simon Andrews pass us once as he had a fairly nasty off on the mountain. I am pleased to hear that he has since been released from Nobles. Get well soon Simon.
After a thrilling race it was definately time for a cold pint. We made our way round to the Central for a couple then noticed Walt and Tim opposite us in The Swan. We watched the sidecars from here. I was mesmerised by the speed these outfits attack the corner and the crazy moves the passenger makes to keep the thing on the ground.
Once roads opened we caught a bus back to Peel and met up with Walt and Tim at the campsite before getting a lift into Douglas to our hotel at David and Katrinas 🙂
It had been a very long couple of days but well worth it. Roll on Mad Sunday
Day 2 Mad Sunday
This wasnt really to be mad for us, but enjoyable all the same. After a fairly leisurely start to the morning we had brunch of sausages, soda, potato bread, pancakes and bacon all brought over from Jacksons Butchers in Ballynure. There was enough to feed a small army and some left over for Dave`s Dad, Willy. We chatted about some of the sidecar issues from the day before and then headed to the grandstand and beer tent.
Callum, William and I headed to the IOMTTMA hut and signed on as marshals and collected our packs. Sadly no programmes nor badges. The weather was very pleasant and the atmosphere electric. We joined in with the throngs and enjoyed several pints sitting outside the beer tent listening to the band playing Dave and Katrina`s playlist. I managed to get my orange overalls by a few riders, including Bruce Anstey, Karl Harris, Barry Wood and The Birchalls.
That evening the lads headed down to the Villa Marina on Douglas seafront front for the annual TT Marshals Supper. We were happy to accept the offer of a complimentary pint and some hot food. We also listened to speeches by Terry Holmes, Philip McCallen, Dean Harrison, Paul Shoesmith, Jenny Tinmouth and the clerk of the course from Phillip Island. I do remember him saying that in Australia they give away more than 1 pint of beer to their marshals :).
It was an interesting evening and we headed back to the house around 11 to prepare for an early start for Monday racing.
Day 3 – Out to Gorse Lea
An early start today, getting the orange gear on for the first time and getting some grub sorted for a long day marshalling. Katrina gave us a lift down to Lord Street in Douglas in time for the 0810 Peel bus which would deliver us somewhere near to our chosen marshalling spot at Gorse Lea. It was Cargo who had put this idea in my head and he isnt a bad judge. I was disappointed that the bus driver had nver heard of Gorse Lea and asked me if it was near Ramsey. I told him that it was near to Ramsey if I were in Belfast :). I had a good idea where Gorse Lea was but just wasnt sure of where to get off the bus so I began texting Cargo who gave me very precise clues where to get off. We were the first marshals to reach the hut and we made ourselves comfortable with around an hour before the roads were to close. I was amazed at the amount of traffic on the road, with fans all trying to get to their chosen spot before the roads closed at 10. Some of the bike riding at this time was downright mad. Too fast into blind corners with traffic flowing in both directions.
Unfortunately after a short time we noticed the roads go very quiet and this was before the roads had closed. By this time the Gorse Lea regulars, DSM Reg, John, Phil, Patrick, Paddy and Henry arrived. We then heard the sirens followed my messages of a delay to racing due to an accident at Greeba Castle just a short distance from us. When we saw the private ambulance travel against race direction we realised that the accident has been fatal. I believe this was the 5th fatality of the week involving non racing bikers. It was terribly sad and we bowed our heads a short time later when the black ambulance passed us heading towards Ballacraine followed by recovery vehicles with a damaged car and bike onboard. I have since heard that the poor rider was visiting the island from France. It was hard to imagine how this news was broken to his family – this was to have been a dream holiday. RIP Sir….
Reggie took me along the line of fans enjoying the good weather and we managed to help them hand over some much needed funds for The Joey Dunlop Foundation by selling wristbands and the like. The fans were very genorous.
We noticed that someone had left a tribute to Derek Brien at the hut. Derek tragically lost his life here almost a year to the day. That had been a terrible day of course for his family and friends but also a very challenging day for the Gorse Lea Marshals. We stood and remebered Derek.
Racing was delayed whilst the police continued with their investigation and evidence gathering at the scene at Greeba but eventually racing did get underway. I was thrilled how riders attacked this fast right hander, missing the kerb on the inside apex by millimetres and equally as close to the the boards on the exit.
During the break between races some of us enjoyed the sun whilst I chatted to some of the fans, mostly from Northern Ireland, Ireland and Yorkshire.
The locals at Harolds Cottage were doing a brisk trade selling tea, coffee, sarnies and cake and I was really impressed how they werent ripping folk off. The prices were very reasonable.
As soon as roads opened and we cleared away all the gear we quickly caught a bus back into Douglas where we bumped into Walt and Tim before heading up to the house for Katrinas 5 star chilli con carne. My backside has just recovered 🙂
Day 4 including #tttweetmeet
Tuesday morning was pretty grim weather, with fog lying on the mountain. We heard that the mountain road was closed for some surface repairs but decided that if I was to get a lap in, or at least part of a lap, then we should make an effort. Met up with Walt and his pal John at the start finish and Tim stayed with Cal and William. With the intercom working well we headed out on Walts Speed Triple down Brae Hill. Once we got to Ballacraine, the section through Glen Helen as far as Kirk Michael was new to me. Wow, it was dark and damp and hairy stuff. Pleased to see the Manx Radio commentary point out here.
We decided to stop for a brew at Ballaugh Bridge and called into the Raven. They were running a self service tea and coffee table with an honesty box to pay for it. This is why I love the IOM TT. They trust us. We heard that the mountain section had reopened after repairs so decided to go for it. I had only been as far as Ramsey in this direction and up to the Brandywell from Douglas as a marshal last year.
The climb up from Ramsey was class as I saw the Hairpin, Waterworks and Gooseneck for the first time. After that the weather became bloody awful with heavy rain and very thick fog. Not sure I noticed the Verandah! we stopped at The Bungalow for a breather and to say hello to Joey. We could hardly see him from the road.
The journey off the mountain was a blur until we banged into the Creg. We could see very little and got completely confused as to what corner we were at. Did we pass Kates Cottage? No idea.
John kindly waited for us at the bottom of the mountain and we made our way back to the grandstand to meet up with the boys and enjoy a warm coffee, burger and dinky doughnuts. What a class diet 🙂
The evening we had waited for had finally arrived. Dave and walt were seen heading to the hairdressers and Katrina spent all day doing her nails 🙂
The venue, The Cat with No Tail, in Douglas was jammed, so much so that there were several tables taken in the conservatory where we were gathering. However we soon manage to bully them out of the way and got the room to ourselves. I tried my best to get chatting to the thirty something folk that had honoured their promise and turned up. It was amazing to meet up with guys that we had been chatting to for over a year- and there wasnt a bad one amongst them.
I was massively glad that Stephen Thompson #37 and his pit crew joined us along with sidecar team #18, Karl Bennett and Lee Cain. Clooks quickly put together a question and answer session where the guys were very honest and frank with their answers. I was really grateful.
The buffet style food arrived shortly afterwards and I think was enjoyed by all. We had decided that we should pay a minimum of £5 each for the food and then partake in a small auction with all proceeds going to The Rob Vine Fund. Clooks had very kindly donated an official TT shirt and a signed copy of the book Travelling Marshals. I was overwhelmed by the response and by the end of the evening we had raised £345. Clooks`s Dad popped in another fiver the next day and a grand total of £350 was handed over to the Doc at The Hoggery. An official photo was taken at the handover which I will publish as soon as I get it, as well as a copy of the receipt.
I am sorry that some of the photos are poor but special thanks to Jacqui for the good ones. Next time we need a proper photographer. And how did John, Neil, Stephen, Gilly and Lily manage to escape the camera? If any of you have photos you would like to share, please let me know.
Special thanks to Clooks for tons of hard work and genorousity, especially organising a band :).
Looking forward to next year already.
Woke up feeling slightly worse for wear and the rain still coming down. I could hardly see the mountain so knew that a delay to roads closing would be inevitable. Sure enough before too long we heard from Willy that road closing was delayed until midday which meant we could have a bit of a leisurely breakfast. We checked with the buses and realised that the TT 6 special bus from the start finish was the ideal one for us as it left Douglas at 1030. It was also cheaper than the normal service bus. We told Walt and Stevan the plans and delay and met them at Gorse Lea just before 12.
The Clerk of the Course had been wise as the weather began to improve and roads began to dry out well. The crowds of spectators were good but just not as many as the Saturday or Monday.
We enjoyed copious amounts of coffee and buns and the racing was class, especially seeing 18, Karl and Lee out on the sidecar. The Supertwins managed to get 1 lap of practice in.
Once racing was completed we said goodbye to Stevan and headed off on a quick lap in the Costcutter tour bus. It was a reasnably pleasant evening and we wanted to make the most of it. By the time we got up the mountain it was almost dark. However we were unsure what the weather would do the rest of the week so this may have been the only chance for one winged Callum and William to get up the mountain. Walter was a star for driving us round. He must have been cream crackered.
This had been the most tiring day so far, probably due to the TTtweetmeet going on for so long the night before. Bed zzzzz
Southern course and Calf of Man. Report to follow
Rain and homeward bound. Report to follow.