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|Isle of Man - TT 2007|
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Well another great trip is over. It had a rocky start from the beginning what with Scottrider having to pull out and TWD carrying an injury from the last enduro the club took part in. In the end TWD decided to take his bike with him but to give the riding a miss until the weekend, three days away.
Day One: Wednesday, Solo Ride
After a few beers the night before I saddled up on the Wednesday morning and headed off on my own to get reacquainted with the island.
This time I was fully kitted up with all the modern technology, I had all the Byways marked as ‘tracks’ in memory map and loaded into the Garmin GPS. I also had the OS map showing each track and had each one numbered, so all I had to do was tell the GPS which track I wanted to go to and just follow the directions, simple. As I couldn’t get a Touratech mounting for the GPS I decided to re-use the Ram mount system but this time mount it on the right hand side of the bars to stop it getting tangled in the brake lines. I also used duck tape wrapped around the bars to dampen the vibes. The final precaution was to use the lanyard supplied by Garmin to loop around the bars just in case this one made a break for freedom like the old one.
Path before the Millennium Way .................First section of MW..........looking back the way I'd come
First lane of the day was a section of the “Millennium Way” which starts just to the West of the West Baldwin Reservoir and climbs from about 180 up to over 450 meters ending at the B10. The going is very rutted to start with, then turns into ruts with rocks and ends in just lots of plain old rocks. This was a bit of a wake up after the lanes of Berkshire and I was breathing hard at the top.
As the roads were already closed I headed West turning right at the Sartfell Plantation. This byway starts off with loads of whoops – great for getting ‘air’ off of – or for getting hit in the arse by the back end if you get it all wrong. I took the left hand fork and made my way down the dirt tracks towards the town of Ballaugh. Turning round once I hit the tar road, I made my way back up the mountain where I bumped into a group of fellow dirt bikers.
After a bit of a chat they asked if I’d like to join them for a while. Backtracking slightly we headed in a general northerly direction passing between the Ballaugh and Tholt e Will Plantations. The going here was very rutted, something that I’ve grown to enjoy and like the challenge of seeing how fast I can zoom along the ruts. Just before dropping down the mountain in the Ballaconberagh Plantation one of the guys got cross rutted and had a small off. The drop down through the woods is a great little track – very rocky but it can be tricky coming back up if your not used to riding in that sort of terrain.
We pulled up at a wonderful small shop in Sulby, smack bang on the fastest part of the TT course, just big enough to stock all the essentials - cold drinks, chocolate and hot pies! I was just getting a Cornish pasty when I got the fright of my life – a bike came through at full chat! Now for those of you that don’t know it, Sulby Straight is where riders reach in excess of 190 mph! When one of those past though a few feet away you get a true feel of what it’s like to be at the TT!
After we’d all had a bit of a feed we headed off once again and I followed the group up to another section of the Millennium Way, this time heading back south. This route takes you up towards the Mountain section of the TT course, to a point actually called ‘Mountain Box’. The going hear was a mix of dirt track and rutted lanes finally ending in a wooden walkway crossing a bog. It was hear that I parted company with the other lads as I was keen to get more riding in and they wanted to chill out for awhile. I retraced the entire off road route taken so far, and followed the GPS once I got onto tar roads again. Heading back towards Douglas I was lucky to inadvertently find the only crossing of the TT course! Squeezing through all the traffic I got back to the house earlier than I thought, tired and dirty after a full days riding having covered about 85 hard miles all in.
Day Two: Thursday – no TT races.
TWD was still under the weather so I took a day off to do a bit of shopping in town with him and then walked up to the pits/paddock area meeting up with my mate from the island, Dave and his wife Karen. Being TT Marshals this was their day off as well, so after a good look around all the goodies we got stuck into the beer tent and had a few beers until it was time to hit the ‘eat all you can’ Chinese Buffet!
Day Three: Friday – Senior TT Race.
TWD decided to give the bike a chance so we used the same route I took on Wednesday, heading up the Millennium Way again. However TWD was none to impressed with all the ruts (he hates them) and even less impressed with the ruts filled with rocks! ( it was a bit hard on his injury).
Another view of the MW .......................followed by TWD........................and again 'enjoying' the ruts!
We carried on and made good time getting to Sulby in time to see the first bikes come through. Now if I thought the 600 were quick then these big 1000cc ‘senior’ bikes were just plain scary coming down the Sulby straight. There was the smallest of bumps in the road, but at 190 odd mph it caused the bikes to lift their fronts up and a few of them even got into some worrying tankslappers.
Waiting for TWD (note rear end on steps) ....I managed to catch a few bikes coming through with my old camera
Two bikes close together on Sulby Straight.................. and two very nice old muscle bikes parked up
We watched the leaders come round again and then shot back up into the mountains to get to the ‘Mountain Box’ section. This time we parked up and walked down the fields, crawling underneath the road a drainage ditch to get to the other side of the course. We had a great viewing spot, sitting on a grassy bank with a fantastic view of the bikes approaching from about a mile away until they flew past a few feet in front of us. The only down side was the army of flying and crawling bugs that descended upon us!
No not a troll - it's TWD in the drainage ditch........viewing at the 'Mountain Box'
Once most of the field had passed us for the final time we decided to head back down and across the island using a mixture of byways and back roads to get to the corner called Creg ny Baa, we hoped to catch the Parade Lap there. However as soon as we got to the end of the Millennium Way again TWD’s bike started moving around (more than usual) and a punctured rear tyre was diagnosed. Now normally it’s me that gets them so I was looking forward to watching TWD tackle the repair! I pulled out my tyre levers for TWD to use and went searching for a piece of wood to prop up the bike.
TWD feeling the heat.......................sick crf and ..................TWD playing the kettle drum
Bigger problems had to be solved before we could get any further though, the rear wheel nut was locked solid, and TWD’s ancient six inch adjustable wrench was not up to the job. I was lifting the whole bike up into the air trying to loosen it and I gave him a piece of my mind for having such an old piece of crap in his tool kit! Queue plenty of kicking on the handle and eventually it shifted. I got TWD to promise me he would throw the wench away once we got back to the UK. The heat and humidity took its toll and TWD was soon feeling very hot and bothered. Then came a call from my mate, his cars battery was flat and he was stuck out on the course! By this time the roads were open again but traffic was heavy so his wife was stuck with the jump leads! It all worked out in the end and a good few beers were drunk that night!
Day Four: Saturday - Riding in the southern part of the island.
On Saturday we headed off to explore the southern part of the island. We’d traveled these lanes once before the last time we visited the island, but this time I’d programmed some of the smaller tracks into the GPS. The first track of the day was a small loop at Greeba just off the TT course. Although this one wasn’t in the GPS it was easy to find. I did however make a small mistake once on the track. The path curved to the right as well as a smaller track going straight ahead. The right turn looked right so we took that and it very quickly turned into a nice challenging single track path with some large rocks that needed bouncing over. We stopped at the top for a breather and studying the map I could see something was not right so we headed off in search of the path proper. Within moments we came across the proper byway and rejoined the path almost bumping into another larger group of bikers.
RBJ having fun.......................the two of us..................Tony playin
The tracks and views near Greeba
After we rejoined the road we jumped onto another longer byway at the town of St John’s. This route goes up and over a small mountain, the going again a mixture of rocks and ruts. By far the best section is the last half a mile before you rejoin the road, it’s full of large ruts ending with a nice drop off.
We stopped to take some photo’s before heading further south on the A27, bypassing the rather fearsome track at Glen Maye (once is enough!) turning off at the Kerroodhoo Plantation and blasting up the smooth dirt track to rejoin the A36. One last track took us down into Port Erin but our destination was the sticky bun shop at the ‘sound’. Several pieces of chocolate cake later followed by a plate of chips (hey we are on holiday!) and we retraced our route.
TWD on the drop off .....and on the last rock slab......then me standing on the saddle on the rock slab
Port Erin in the background............View out to sea at Niarbyl Bay.......Looking back up near the end of the track
On the way back we tried out another byway near Glenooar and it turned out to be well worth the effort. It was a rock strewn track and we were surprised to see a group of dirt bikers head up the path dressed in jeans and t-shirts. Now I’m not a dirt biking snob but that was just plain crazy as the rocks would have cut them to pieces ahd they fallen off. I nearly ran into two of them when they got stuck half way up. Once we came to the end of the track we paused for a bit and then I pushed off coasting down the hill on the tar road. TWD killed his engine as well and without saying anything the race was on. I ducked down as low as possible to minimise the wind resistance and as we gathered speed it looked like the extra weight of the 450exc enabled me to hit a higher top speed. We swapped places a few times when I bottled a corner but regained the lead with a daring overtake on the outside of a bend and reached the finish line first with TWD calling cheat as I’d used my feet to gain the advantage in the dying moments. I must say it was the most fun we’d had all day!
Day Five: Sunday. No riding today we chilled out in town and watched the MotoGP.
Day Six: Monday. Centre part of the island again.
As TWD needed to get his dressing changed again I was going to go out on my own in the morning. Waking up early I couldn’t take his snoring any more so I head off at about six thirty in the morning! I did a bit a exploring on the eastern half of the island but found a couple of byways had been remarked as footpaths. I did however find a byway ending in an old mine that appeared to be used by bikers as a play area. Heading over towards Ramsey I found a great track that was worth coming back for a second look. By now it was breakfast time so I popped into Ramsey for something to eat but everything was closed but after riding around for ages a found an great café called the Court Café, all day breakfast for a fiver. Two pieces of toast, three eggs, two sausages, bacon and hash browns oh yes and a coffee! After a bit more exploring I headed back into Douglas to pick up TWD.
The old mine I discovered, I love looking arround these old places
Some more views of the mine buildings ..... and a self portrait
Some more shots from one of my exploring sessions
So it was about lunchtime when we once again headed up the Millennium Way and again made our way over to the byway near the Sartfell Plantation. Like I said either this byway starts off with loads of whoops so we stopped to try and get some action shots. There was no sea breeze here at all and the heat was intense, sweat was pouring out of us and it was hard work having fun!
RBJ just before the MW ..... and then again getting some air .....followed by TWD
TWD getting some air ............me melting in the heat ...........and TWD flying once more
After a while we couldn’t take the heat any more so set off looking for a bend to get some cornering shots. On the way we bumped into a girl out riding on her own, her boyfriend having decided to go back to their meeting point via the road. We continued and TWD picked out a suitable bend for the shots. Unfortunately to get the effect he wanted the sun was in the wrong position. After a few attempt at some ‘cool’ photos our crap riding and twd blaming my camera we set off again and headed down to Sulby for an ice cream.
RBJ and some cornering shots
TWD and some cornering shots
TWD and some cornering shots that nearly went all wrong!
After a few snacks we made our way over the byways and roads until we got to Ramsey and the new byway that I had found on my earlier solo ride. When I’d come down it before the going looked as if it would be a fair challenge going up and I advised TWD to keep up a good pace to try and bounce up and over the rocks and steps. It turned out to be easier than I’d thought and TWD took some photos of me going up and down a few times.
Some pics of me going up and down the new lane.
Turning around we retraced our steps using the same route across the centre of the island. As TWD does not like ruts much (at all) and he’d been very vocal earlier about his crf’s ability to cope with them, I offered him a go on my ktm450exc. I’ve always found that the ktm copes in ruts very well, as long as you steer with your body i.e. weighing the pegs and not by trying to turn the bars.
He was a bit reticent at first but jumped on once I’d removed the gps. I told him he needs to stand more and speed up but he claimed the cfr would ‘have me off within a mile’ if I tried that. Well he certainly gelled with the ktm, within 200 yards he was riding faster though the ruts (standing up) than I’d ever seen before. You know he always flies on my ktm, but bulks at the idea of buying one every time I suggest it, go figure? I certainly didn’t find the crf too bad but the bars were defiantly too low, something I find with every single bike I’ve ridden, and the ground clearance of the pegs also seems less.
Once we hit the B10 we decided to use the B22 instead of using the Millennium Way. Now this road drops down all the way into Douglas, so the second round of the ‘killed engine’ derby was on! I had a commanding lead very early on and kept it until I slowed for a cattle grid that was on a corner. I’d been using the ‘stream lined’ method while Tony had opted for a standing stance and could see over the hedge so I lost the lead. It wasn’t long before the 450 used its superior speed (yes engine was off) to overtake again, but Tony started cheating by grabbing my the brush guard to block and slow me down! We coasted to a stop together at the reservoir but I’m calling a win due to the underhanded tactics employed by Tony
Day Seven: Tuesday.
Low cloud swirling around gave the ride a eerie feeling.................toys being thrown out the pram!
We reached the end of the trail and while putting the bike onto it’s stand TWD managed to drop the bike somehow and I could feel the tension was in the air! Picking it up I was doing a bad job of not laughing when it started to overbalance the other way and got ceremoniously dumped with a bit more vigor! Yes now I was laughing as the helmet nearly went over the edge into a very deep ditch once he discovered the throttle was now jammed by the brush guard!
After things calmed down we headed off to the ‘new’ tricky track I’d found but this time it was a bit more slippery and the rear tyre on my bike was shot so I managed to get stuck on the main rock slab. TWD gave me a push to clear the obstacle and once we’d got to the gate I’d said I wasn’t happy with that so I wanted to go back and do it again so I could clear it again like I did three times the day before. On my second attempt I was getting lots of wheel spine again and had to dab a foot down as I cleared the rock slab. Just as my right leg was at full stretch I felt something ping apart in my calf. I can only describe it as a bungee cord at full stretch and then being cut through the middle with a pair of scissors. I killed the engine for a while to recover from the immediate pain then I had to just get going to the top. We chilled out for a while and I took some pain killers with lunch but I knew I couldn’t do any more off road riding. I could sit on the bike ok so I showed TWD where the mine play area was and he had a bit of a play while I took photos.
TWD having a bit of a play at the old mine.
TWD having another go a the gully - and making it
Ps: I’ve been booked off work for five days and I’m seeing the doc again next week but as it feels now I can’t see me being ok before then i still can't put my foot flat.
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|©2007 John Muizelaar|