Thursday, June 05, 2008

Vroom Vroom

(A while ago I read a book written by the wife of a British Diplomat, all about her life as a "Trailing Spouse" which is apparently the phrase used to describe the Other Halfs (or should that be Halves) of those who travel to far-flung places with the Diplomatic Service.
So, this is my account of being a TT Trailing Spouse on our trip to the IOM to see a bit of the Motorbike road racing which is going on now over on the island.)

We've been over to the Isle of Man for a few days, visiting the Outlaws and watching a bit of the TT Racing.

Usually when we go there the weather is really grotty and I don't think I've ever been over and had 2 consecutive sunshiney days but just for once this aactually happened and we actually only had one day of the grotty kind of weather!

I've only ever been there once before during TT and it was quite unnerving, soooooo many motorbikes - there must be thousands of bikers descending on the island during the two weeks of practise and racing. I'm sure some of them never see so much as a glimpse of the actual racing though. This time I was more ready for bikes whizzing by seemingly out of nowhere and didn't jump out of my skin quite so often!
On Friday there was only a practise session in the evening so we spent the day with MIL and went for a walk along the coast to this fort (I'll have to add the place name once I've asked hubby where it was though.....), we had a pub lunch then strolled along the harbour at Port St Mary (pic2), which is one of the places I like best over there, then on to Port Erin which is busier and more trad holiday place - those people who know how much I moan about the cold on the IOM will be amazed when I say that it was so hot that there were people on the beach and even paddling in the sea! Lots of bikers were catching up on their sleep along the prom (too much time spent in Bushy's the night before I expect). We sat on the prom in the sunshine and ate huge icecreams.
Only problem is, MILs house is so cold all the time that I'd put long sleeves on thinking it was just bright but chilly - so I was roasted!

In the evening Hubby and I went on a whistle stop tour of some of the TT course to watch the practise session.
First up we went to Bray Hill because he thinks thats the best place to get the full impact of the speed the bikes go at. I played a game of "try to get a bike in the photo not just the road" it wasn't easy - thank goodness of digital cameras and the delete button! I was quite pleased with this one though as it gives a pretty good idea of how quickly they go by (and this is just the practise)
From Bray Hill we went to Quarterbridge for a few minutes which is a really tight bend, but I didn't have a big enough lens to get any decent photos the one above was just taken with my regular one as the bikes are quite close there. Last stop was "Signpost" which isn't far from where MIL lives and on another bend, but a much better view - we saw the end of the regular bikes practise session and a bit of the sidecars. What in the world possesses people to hang for dear life onto the back of a glorified teatray beats me! The TT course goes through villages, town, countryside, wooded areas and across the mountain so theres quite a variety of places to watch in and all sorts of different obstacles - and all at speeds getting on for 130mph!

Saturday was the first day of Racing proper so if you want to be "inside" the course you have to get there before the roads shut. Even though the actual racing didn't start till about noon we had to make an early start and take a roundabout route along roads I've never seen before - the mountain road we'd normally take to get there shuts earlier than the rest of the course route -to get to hubby's chosen spot for the day. We were going to The Bungalow, which is about halfway down the mountain. We parked a LONG way down the hill - obviously a lot of people had set off much earlier than we had, and we had soooo much to carry, coolbox, cameras, flasks, rugs, jumpers, waterproofs, fleeces etc - well you have to cater for all kinds of weather when you go anywhere on the IOM, eventually we got to the mountain road, went over the footbridge and found a good spot to set up camp. Funny though - it seemed even further on the way back and that was downhill.
Hubby set me up with one of the bigger lenses for my camera this time and I like this photo with a fast bike and a slow train on it, even though the motorbike is still just a dot on the road! The train usually goes all the way up to the top of the mountain, but obviously on race days it can't go across the road so they have one train on the other side of the road just doing the top bit and the other trains go up and down from Laxey and stop before the road depositing lots of race-watchers. Theres a footbridge here so you can get to the other train and go up to the top of the mountain even on race days. The road bends round to the left after the bit in this picture and we had a good vantage point on a little hillock - always good when you're only short and want to see over the heads of those standing at the fence!
Here are a few photos from the first race day - between us we took hundreds but don't panic I've no intention of spending the rest of my life posting them all!
Some are mine and some hubby's - obviously the better ones are his, but I took loads because, well, it's something to do while sitting on a mountainside in the blazing sunshine while bikes whizz by. All the photos can be clicked on should you want a better look.

Actually what I should have done is taken a few shots of the bare backs of those idiot blokes nearby who sat all day without putting any suncream on, steadily going redder and redder and redder - there was quite a cool breeze all day, very very deceptive - boy did they look sore by the end of the afternoon!

One rider missed the bend completely and missed the crash barrier too - how he missed hitting the stone hut you can see in the photos I don't know. One stupid film ameraman nearly got knocked flying as he was filming from a really dangerous place (he stayed behind the safety barriers after that), the biker was OK but he did fly through the air and bounce across the ground a bit - lucky really that he didn't crash into that hut. He did have to be airlifted off the mountain by helicopter though.

I might do more IOM stuff tomorrow if I'm not too bored by looking for pics of bikes to put on here by then!


Karen said...

You have some excellent shots there Kathy. I think you sat near where my Mum etc sat when they went a couple of years ago. Rather you than me tho as I would have probably gone to sleep! X

Angelnorth said...

Well, rather you than me sweetie! I spent some time riding pillion in my day but I never really understood the racing thing - give me a classic Triumph or BSA any day! You managed some great shots between you though, glad the accident you saw wasn't one of those with a tragic outcome.

Kaz said...

Great photos Kathy. I'm glad your break was good.

Janice said...

Oh my goodness, I don't think I would like that Kathy. However, it did bring back memories of our hol on IOM with the boys when they were 5 and 3 years old. We got stuck on that mountain railway for about an hour when it broke down! I also loved Port St Mary - we travelled around quite a lot by steam train which was fun for the boys. Glad the weather stayed nice for you.

Sue said...

You've got some super photos there, looks like you had a good time.
Sue x