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Old 07-06-2013, 04:45 PM   #1
flying_hun
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Little Trip to the UK and IOM, Taking Along a Friend

My wife and I had decided in 2012 that 2013 was not going to be an Alps year for us. Instead, we planned to come back to her native UK, visit friends and family, and get my Versys out for a ride. Knowing that we were going to be here in early July, and that although I'd love to go to the IOM-TT the scheduling wasn't even vaguely in the cards, but the Southern 100 just might be. Lo, though we tried hard to manage our schedule to allow for visiting the IOM for the racing that starts tomorrow, our constraints just didn't allow it. Okay, overnight visit the first week in July was the best I could manage, at least I'd get to visit the legendary island I'd been hearing about for more than 40 years.

This past May, I participated in the GaryJ memorial ride. One of the many cool things Jill and her many helpers did to make that day special was give people the option of taking a small vial of Gary's ashes out to spread them over the SC hills along his favorite roads. While at the celebration down an the beach I asked Jill if she and Gary were IOM-TT fans. She said they were, but never made it there. I asked if it would be okay if I took a vial of Gary's ashes to the IOM with me, and Jill agreed.

Flash up to last weekend, and the vial - carefully duct taped closed to make sure Gary arrived intact - was in my luggage as I flew from SFO to LHR. Once I got to my Versys, the vial made it to my tankbag, and we made arrangements to take the ferry from Heysham to Douglas. The day before we departed, it was cold and raining, and even the day we left to ride to Heysham, the weather looked a bit dodgy. As we crossed the Irish Sea and approached Douglas, things began to look up.



And as we entered Douglas harbor, I was just about beside myself with excitement.



Disembarking from the ferry, we decided to head to the hotel to check in and drop our luggage, then go out into the beautiful evening to take our first lap of the legendary mountain course. However, in all the excitement, I missed the turn to the hotel, and instead continued up the prom to a gas (petrol) station to fill up and turn around.

The parking lot of the gas station was swimming in bikes, and a rider pulled up behind me, got off his bike and said, "I see by your number plate that you probably don't know what's going on. Tonight is the Joey Dunlop memorial ride (it was the 13th anniversary +1 day of his death in Estonia), and it starts from the starting line of the TT in 30 minutes. Do you know where the grandstands are?"

Oh, hell yes! I know from watching hours and hours and hours of TT vids that it's on Glencutchery road, and that's only a few blocks from the gas station. Fuck checking into the hotel, we're going riding!

Down to the pits we go, and find ourselves a slot to back the Versys into, and set about checking out the scene.

First, the Redwood TT represents at the Isle of Man!! Hell yes!



We were parked right next to Graham's cherry little NS400R. Graham is a South African who came to the TT as a spectator, and in 2007 said, "That's it. I'm moving." He adopted us to make sure we had a good time.



Looking around at all the bikes, right across from me I see a great, Chris Palmer, TT winner and and great road racer. I shook hand with him. Maybe something will wear off.



Think many people would turn out for a ride like this on a Wednesday evening when no racing is taking place on the island?





Looking the other direction.



Loads of bikes.



Enjoying the scene.



The IOM flag was much in evidence.



Graham then asked if he could take our picture.



You can see me clutching my new Joey Dunlop memorial fundraising t-shirt in my hot little hand. The ride was a fundraiser for one of Joey's charities, a house on the island that is set up to enable disabled folks to come for the races and have a place to stay that meets their needs, and is right on the course at Braddan Bridge.

The announcement came that the ride would start in five minutes. No pre-ride speech, or anything of the sort. No police escort. Just fire 'em up and ride 'em out.

In a few moments, hundreds of bikes and riders fired up their bikes and started out of the pits down Glencutchery Road to Bray Hill (WAY steeper than it looks on TV). The next thing I know, we are swept up in a brisk riding group working through evening island traffic, heading out on my first ever lap of the course - two-up, plus a vial of ashes.

As we swept along, and some folks went streaming past us, some even on race bikes, and some folks were overtaken, I was stunned to realize there were spectators along the course who were waving, and cheering. Nothing like the actual TT, but in the towns and villages, there they were, kids, moms and dads, grannies and grandpas, all cheering us on.

As you go along the course, famous corners have signs; Quarter and Braddan bridges, Union Mills, Ballacraine, and even the new McGuinness corner! The air fence is still in place. I couldn't believe it! We're out on a mass lap of the mountain course, and the locals are cheering for us - or maybe for the memory of 'yer maun', Joey Dunlop.

Sadly, no pics of this, and I didn't think to set up my video to capture it. Still, it's etched into our memories for years to come. Yeah, and Gary got a pretty good lap too.

Sadly, the whole thing ended, and we had to get back and check into our hotel, and get some dinner before everything closed, so we didn't get to hang about afterwards to meet up with the Irish Ago (see the new issue of Bike) or Steve Parrish, who was also there. Still for our first two hours on the island, things had gone pretty well.

More to come.
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Last edited by flying_hun; 07-06-2013 at 04:48 PM.. Reason: Moar Pics!
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Old 07-06-2013, 04:59 PM   #2
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Awesome pic of you and Mrs Hun
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Old 07-06-2013, 05:01 PM   #3
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Looks and sounds like it was fun. How was shipping your bike?
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Old 07-06-2013, 05:39 PM   #4
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Excellent!!! Can't wait for the next installment!
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Old 07-07-2013, 01:43 AM   #5
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Awesome pic of you and Mrs Hun
Thanks, Bud!

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Originally Posted by Heloflyboy View Post
Looks and sounds like it was fun. How was shipping your bike?
I shipped it in 2011 using Stefan Knopf. He makes it easy. Somewhat described in this thread.

The story continues.

We got up Thursday morning to damp streets because it had rained overnight, but it looked like it might be clearing. After breakfast and a little souvenir buying, we decided to take a bit of a tour, heading to the south end to Castletown.

Taking Gary down to the beach.



Versys in Castletown along the inner harbor.



Castle (crappy phone pic).



BARF comes to Castletown.



After messing about in Castletown we headed back to Douglas, and then went backwards on the course up to the Creg ny Baa for lunch. I shared a half pint of Bushy's "Ale of Man" with Gary.



While at the Creg we met an old guy named Purcell who claimed to have taken a third place back in 1955. It was his first trip back to the island since then. He told us about museum in Kirkmichael that he said was a must-see, so we put it on our list.

Then it was back to Douglas to do a lap. When working our way down Glencutchery road, a Manx motor officer came up along side and wanted to chat about where we'd come from (California plate) and where we were going. Super nice guy! BTW, he appeared to be riding a Honda NC700X. Quite different from the stuff in use here.

Continuing to Kirkmichael (have I told you what a buzz it is to ride the course, even at the speed limit?), we found Tony East's museum. Sadly, it was only open on Sunday afternoons. We started taking some pics anyway.





Then we knocked on the door, and Tony came out and gave us personal tour of all the rooms with descriptions of all the bikes, how he came to own them, why he likes them, and about restoring them (he does most of it himself). The guy is a force of nature! He's heavily involved in supporting the TT and other events on the island, classic racing, and so on. All the proceeds from visiting the museum go to the injured riders charity that helps riders who've gotten hurt on the island.

Tony is heavily involved in Velocettes.



He's got a hell of a selection of Triumphs too.





A BSA selfie.



Gotta love the way headers looked back in the day.



If Sue got any pics of the host of Greeves and Nortons, she hasn't posted them yet, so you'll need to take my word when I say he had a boat load of Greeves, and a great selection Norton Manx racers.

Eventually, we had to thank Tony for his hospitality (have I told you what a friendly place the IOM is?), and continue on our mission.

A few notes about the course. First, all the really famous corners are marked with their names, so you can associate what you're riding with all the videos you've seen. For instance, most recently named corner.



Secondly, I don't want to hear riders complaining about road surfaces and such here. They were chip sealing part of the course when we were there, and some parts of the track were startlingly rough. The local road that was most similar to the course in feel and variety would be something like Marshall-Petaluma.

More to come.
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Old 07-07-2013, 01:53 AM   #6
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I gave a lot of thought about the best place to leave GaryJ's ashes. Should it be up on the mountain? Maybe in one of the narrow, nadgery bits like Quarry Bends or Barregarrow. In the end, the spot became obvious. We decided that Joey's memorial would be the spot. His memorial is on the hillside above The Bungalow, and gives a great view of that corner, the tram lines, and the climb up Hailwood Rise.



Joey, meet Gary. Gary, meet Joey.



Lots of folks leave messages, pictures, and remembrances of other riders lost at the memorial. It was clear we'd come to the right place.







The last thing to do was to put Gary out among the wildflowers with a good view of the passing racers for years to come.







More later.
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Old 07-07-2013, 04:35 AM   #7
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Good job, Kurt.

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Old 07-07-2013, 07:29 AM   #8
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Thx Mike!
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Old 07-07-2013, 07:40 AM   #9
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Old 07-07-2013, 07:57 AM   #10
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You are the MAN kurt
Thanks for sharing, Sara and I NEED to go to the Isle and share some of the experiences you are having.
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Old 07-07-2013, 08:25 AM   #11
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Looks like a fantastic time was had by all, including GaryJ

BTW, did I tell you me grandad was from the Isle of Man? You'd think I'd be a better rider than I am eh
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Old 07-07-2013, 08:49 AM   #12
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Wow! Just Wow! Thanks for sharing Kurt!
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Old 07-07-2013, 08:51 AM   #13
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Old 07-07-2013, 09:20 AM   #14
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Very nicely done Kurt.

Great choice for a good man to rest.
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Old 07-07-2013, 10:53 AM   #15
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Thanks, all! It's difficult to imagine anything that could have improved that part of the trip.
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