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Orson

2015 Manx GP Pictures

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I have my ferry bookings and hotel reserved for Aug/Sep Manx GP.

Anyone else going?

Sadly, I won't be riding the Tenni but, will be aboard my Thruxton.

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Well, I guess I can't really call it a journey since, from my friend's farm house in north Shropshire to the Liverpool was all of 40 miles. However, an 0900 Thursday morning check in time and never having been to Liverpool meant that I had to get underway at the crack of dawn. Worried that I would miss the ferry, I hardly slept a wink that night. Before the sun had risen, I was underway to Liverpool. Due to my early departure, I beat the rush hour traffic and after a few wrong turns (no GPS) and with the helpful directions from a bus driver, I made it to the ferry docks with plenty of time to spare.

 

The two-wheeled eye candy began make an appearance as more bikes started to arrive.

 

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The original sport touring bike, an R90S

 

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Laverda Triple

 

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Honda RC30

 

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A beautifully restored Norton

 

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The Steam Packet ferry arrived, a high speed catamaran

 

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Just about every vehicle on board was a motorcycle

 

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The ferry had us arriving in Douglas in little under 3 hours. It was a bright blue day and since it was too early to check into my hotel, there was nothing left to do but head off for a lap of the TT course :D If you're like me, having grown up reading accounts of past TT races in the magazines then, the names of the course sections are embedded in your memory banks. With a mixture of awe and reverence, you pass sections that you recognize from having watched so many TT documentarys on VCR.

 

One of the many hairball sections of the course, Rhencullen. The fast blokes keep the throttle pinned WFO through here

 

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By the time I made it to Ballaugh Bridge, I had worked up a bit of a thirst so, nothing in it but to pull over at the Raven Pub for a pint of Okell's :beerchug:

 

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I sat on the veranda sipping beer and watching all the cool bikes ride by. Across the road, I noticed a plaque embedded in a house.

 

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Closer inspection revealed the plaque was a tribute to German factory BMW rider, Karl Gall who was killed at this spot in 1939

 

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After finishing off the pint, I continued on the TT course headed towards Douglas. At the end of Sulby Straight, some cheeky bugger had modified a 5 MPH speed limit sign to read 180 MPH :D

 

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At Parliament Square in Ramsey, more bikes were parked up to watch and pose

 

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Heading up the Mountain Section looking back towards Ramsey

 

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Arriving back in Douglas, there is more eye candy parked along the promenade in front of the numerous hotels. Notice required oil puddles

 

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There was no racing on Friday with a late practice scheduled for 1800 hours so, with the fine weather still in place, I set off to explore the island. Note to self: next time, don't book a hotel on the Douglas promenade but try to find a nice quiet B&B in the countryside. At 0500 hours Friday morning, the ferry arrived from the mainland and disgorged hundreds of roaring bikes onto the Douglas promenade. So much for sleeping in :D

 

Heading north from Peel along the west coast road with the Irish Sea in the background.

 

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A couple riders lean into the Gooseneck signaling the beginning of the climb up the Mountain Section and the beginning of no speed limits

 

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Blasting out of the Gooseneck

 

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Looking back towards Guthrie's Memorial with Ramsey in the distance

 

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Kate's Cottage

 

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Creg-ny-Ba marks the end of the Mountain Section. Speed limits back in force

 

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I arrived back in Douglas late in the afternoon so, I decided to go by the grandstands to view the race preparations.

 

Parc ferme

 

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A phalanx of Manx

 

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The array of wonderful machinery at the Manx GP is astounding. It is as if someone waved a magic wand and all the mythical bikes from your youth are recreated before your eyes in pristine condition.

 

The original Z1

 

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Or perhaps you prefer Castrol on your corn flakes

 

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A tidy Honda cafe racer

 

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Serious Enfield

 

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Yoshimura power circa 1970s

 

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Not sure what it is but, too much for my blood :D

 

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For the younger readers who may not know, back in the early 1980s, before the Japanese manufacturers got their act together in regards to chassis design, a small group of aftermarket chassis constructors rushed in to fill the void with exotic handcrafted frames. The Rickman brothers were former motocross racers who made dirt bike frames before venturing into the street bike scene

 

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Even exotica becomes commonplace at the Manx GP

 

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One of the nice things about the Manx as well as the TT is the laid back atmosphere. Unlike other big races, there are no security officers telling you to keep out. The entrance to the pits are wide open for anyone to have a bit of a walkabout to check out the machinery

 

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Saturday race dawned with yet more blue skies shining overhead. I decided to watch the races from a paddock at Lezayre just before Ramsey. It's a great place to spectate albeit, with one drawback meaning that once you're there, you're not moving until the end of the day's racing. Fortunately, there was a food trailer selling hamburgers and drinks.

 

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One awesome aspect of spectating at the IOM is the sounds of racing. As the first race bike approaches, you pick up the sound of an engine being held at "full chat", the rider occasionally backing off momentarily to negotiate a kink or a bump then, back to WFO. As they pass by, you then listen to the engine note as it recedes into the distance, still wailing at full chat :D For roughly the entire 30 or so seconds that the bikes are within earshot, the engines are being held almost to their red lines :chili: Awesome :hail:

 

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Incredibly, Sunday would be yet another day of glorious sunshine. There was no racing today so, I took advatage of the break to go watch the Manx Two Day Trial

 

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Late in the afternoon, I headed north to Jurby for the Jurby Festival of Speed where classic bikes are put through their paces

 

A cast of thousands

 

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More two smokes

 

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Old Vincents never die

 

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Bella macchina :inlove:

 

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Matchless

 

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MV Agusta triple

 

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The sound of an MV Agusta being fired up is an ear splitting experience yet, dozens gather round to willfully have their hearing impaired

 

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John Player Norton. I'm not sure if this is an original monocoque bodied one.

 

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Replica of the 250cc Honda four RC166 with its awesome 20,000 RPM red line :eek:

 

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The day had a tragic note as two riders (not racers) were killed and a third one injured in a horrible head on accident on the Mountain Section. A German rider and a British rider were the unfortunate victims. So sad to happen on a holiday. The course has numerous signs posted in German reminding riders to "Ride left". Not sure if the German was in the wrong so, I won't speculate. Both bikes caught fire and damaged the road surface but, crews worked through the night to repair the course for the races.

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The weather finally changed on Monday with morning showers. I was headed towards Ramsey when I got caught by a heavy shower so, I pulled into a bus stop to put on my waterproofs. Parked up at the bus stop was another rider brandishing a beautiful Norton rotary sport tourer. He told me he refinished and painted the bodywork himself. Typical Manx GP occurrence, pull over and run into some exotica :lol: I also saw more than a few old timers parked at the roadside with their tools out but, they all seemed to take it in their stride as if it's all part of the experience.

 

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Typical parking lot scene at the Manx GP. An AJS parked next to a Husqvarna :D

 

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Eventually, the rain was swept away to unveil more spectacular blue skies. Almost unbelievably, England, Scotland and Ireland were all experiencing heavy rains yet, the Isle of Man was surrounded by a pocket of sunshine. It was as if the Norse gods decided that the racing must go on :cool:

 

If you stay on the outside of the course, you can ride around and view the races from several spots. You can also move around if you decide to stay on the inside of the course but, your options are more limited. I decided to try watching from Parliament Square in Ramsey where the riders have to brake hard for the ninety degree right hander before blasting out towards the Water Works. Great place if you want to hear classic bikes being thrashed through the gears :bigok:

 

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The Traveling Marshals are great fun to watch riding around the course. They are all former TT racers with something like 1,500 laps of experience riding around the course

 

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Later in the afternoon, I moved over to Ballaugh Bridge to watch the jumping

 

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One nice thing about the Manx GP as opposed to the TT in June is that, not only are hotel rooms and ferry bookings more accessible but, viewing areas like Ballaugh Bridge are a lot less crowded. During the TT, Ballaugh Bridge is packed like sardines whereas during the Manx, you can walk right up to the barriers. I spoke to some locals who told me that TT attendance has skyrocketed in the last three years since the TT film Closer To The Edge came out.

 

Giving it some beans heading out of Ballaugh

 

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After the day's racing, I joined the other spectators riding the TT course back to Douglas however, due to the high amount of racing accidents (no injuries) on the Mountain Section, that portion of the circuit was closed, forcing traffic to take the road along the east coast of the island. I decided to explore some of the less traveled goat trails

 

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The lighthouse at Maughold Head

 

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The Mountain Section of the TT course lies somewhere yonder over them hills

 

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Tuesday was another off day with no racing and, with the blue skies still holding firm, I set out to explore the south side of the island. Five consecutive days of sunshine in the middle of the Irish Sea must be some sort of miracle.

 

Looking south along the west coast

 

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Heading north towards Peel

 

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Heading back south along the west coast to attend the Tuesday night Beach Motocross at Peel

 

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Riders lined up for the start at low tide

 

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I noticed a guy studiously checking out this van. I was wondering what he saw as, it looked like a regular van. Then I noticed the license plate. P1 5X TT or, Position 1, 5 times TT winner :D It was Ian Hutchinson out and about to take in the beach races like an ordinary fan. The woman standing at the door has just asked him for an autograph but, for the most part, he was left alone. How cool is that?

 

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A rider blasts down the back straight

 

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Spotted at the beach races

 

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Ex-marshal bike

 

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Wednesday was overcast and cool but, still the rain held off. I ventured off to try to get some pictures of the fearsome Bray Hill. Unfortunately, unless you know someone that lives along the road, accessible viewing areas are limited.

 

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Cronk-y-Voddy

 

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Thursday was another off day so, with nothing else on the schedule, I headed up to Ramsey for the drag races but, mostly to gaze at all the great bikes on display. This year marked the 40th anniversary of the founding of the BSA Owners Club so, BSA Gold Stars were out in force. You couldn't swing a cat around by its tail without hitting a Gold Star

 

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Benelli Seis, 900cc on the left and 750cc on the right

 

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Even Ponch & Jon were in attendance

 

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Triumph Trident

 

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Molto bene!

 

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Just shoot me now

 

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Of all the bikes I saw, perhaps this gorgeous Triumph Triple stood out above the rest. It was an immaculate build and mouth watering gorgeous. After some thought, I believe that I saw this bike before in Classic Bike Magazine

 

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Friday would be the final day of racing and, after discussing viewing spots with one of the Marshals, he told me about a nice jump just after Rhencullen. It was another one of those places that you would be trapped for the whole day but, it sounded too good to pass up. It turned out to be a pretty great spot and i had it to myself and a local who was taking pictures to sell to web sites.

 

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I apologize for not having kendenton's photographic jiu-jitsu

 

My last two days on the island were enjoyable as I got to stay and watch the old timers go at it in the Manx International Classic Trial. One old codger on a massive Jawa 500 stood out. He was at least 70 years old and was clearing sections with that massive chunk of iron. After asking around, I found out that his name was Arthur Browning, an all-around rider in the mold of @#$$#! Mann who rode everything from speedway to trials. He apparently competed for the UK in the ISDT back in the 1960s. Unfortunately, my camera battery died and I didn't get any pictures :(

 

After returning to the mainland, I enjoyed one last day of glorious sunshine spent riding across the magnificent Yorkshire Dales before returning to Shropshire the following day.

 

All in all, I couldn't ask for better weather or a better time. The bikes and races were a lot of fun. For anyone considering attending the TT, I would suggest you consider bypassing the crowds in June and attend the Manx GP in August.

 

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That is really cool. I don't think there is an equivalent event in the US. I would love to do something like that one day - ride the track and then watch the race. Closest I ever came to something like that was when I volunteered as pit crew for some privateer-racing friends in the Baja 500. I got to pre-run a section on one of the race bikes (ATKs).

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Enjoyed the pictures and the narrative. Thank you.

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Orson - awesome pics and write-up ... thanks. I visited the Manx a few years back on a borrowed FJ-1200 as part of a visit back to the old country. One fork seal was blown, but I (think) I managed a 70 mph average on open roads - which I was quite pleased with - this also gave me a better appreciation of what it takes to do an average of 130 mph + around the mountain course!

 

Your story took me back there.

 

Gio

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Thank you, Orson! :thumbsup:

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Orson-thank you very much for taking the time and effort to post the pictures. That is a definite must do on the bucket list. I was fortunate to attend the Barber event last week and ran across a company that will have organized tours to the Manx next year. I am seriously considering it. If anyone else is interested maybe we could get a group organized.

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