Now I know this isn’t the best start, however, I wrote the best article on the IOM TT in my head. I didn’t want to wake up my boyfriend as I eagerly tapped it out on my midnight notes, so I fell asleep thinking that the job was done and I would let my fingers do the magic in the morning. Then, I forgot everything.
Somewhere, inside of my mind palace, is the greatest TT article in the world. But you’ll just have to take my word for it. Until then, this is just a tribute.
The wait. It’s a big deal. Something only those who have been to a TT race will understand. From the second you step foot on the Steam Packet return ferry, the wait begins. At least it did for me last year. I knew I was set to return every year if I could, despite the cost, despite the weather and despite whatever moans there were about price hiking or it not being the same as it used to be. For me, the Isle of Man is a place like no other. Time stands still there. Global politics vanish. Problems. Heartache. Work. It all evaporates. Stepping foot on the Isle is like having a complete retreat from everything that sucks. For the next 14 days, everything is about passion, dedication, success. All the best emotions life can throw at you, in one instant. It’s about bikes. It’s about fans. It’s about Road Racers.
Last year I wrote an article for Huffington Post called The Pendulum. It was my first experience of the Isle of Man and I came away so utterly in love that I was worried I couldn’t put it into words. This year, the pressure was on to write something nearly half as good. Luckily for me, this year I was working with Peter Hickman and Craig Neve. Two riders at two different points in their career. Both connected by the same thing. The Road.
The weather was really hard on us in practice week. Set up in my little tent, with enough Gin to fuel me through the storms, I chose Quarterbridge as my base. I waited, with all the other fans, for the first precious moments that the bikes head out on the road, for the first practice.
To pass the time, I had decided to buy Michael Dunlop’s book. Road Racer. It took me two days to read. It was captivating. Enthralling. Emotional. It took me another level deeper into this incredible world. Giving me, even more, passion for these few legendary racers and taking me further in love with the most emotional race on earth.
It took three days for the wait to be over and sitting in a bush, huddled over my radio with my iPhone in one hand live reporting, whilst my iPad ran the timings, I embraced the silence echoing through this section and the rest of the course. Everyone here was united by the same anticipation, the same wait, the same passion. Suddenly we are all completely as one. An unlikely family born from different strokes of life bound together by what runs through our blood.
For those who haven’t been to the Isle of Man to watch a TT, you may not understand why I shed a tear as the first bike, the beautiful Norton of Stuart Garner, blasted its way down Bray Hill and round the first true right-hander at Quarterbridge. It is something I can’t describe. In that first few seconds, the emotion hits you. The wait is over. You are stood amongst a crowd of stories and you are watching years of training, passion, injury, hard work, dedication, successes and hardship shooting past you so close that you can taste the engines.
And there it was again. That sound, smell and sight that pricks us like a thousand pins, after feeling numbed by the humdrum of everyday life over the last year. Then the sudden slap, as another and another come by, instantly forcing you out of this silent euphoria into noise, bustle, and adrenalin.
Last year I watched each race as a fan. Feeling a little of the pain when a rider was fallen. This year my emotions were invested a bit more. With news of every incident, at every yellow or red flag moment, I felt like a mother. Was it one of mine?
This year, I realised that one article wasn’t going to be enough to share this amazing race. So I am running a 4 part series, over the next two weeks, to highlight the stories from the Isle of Man. Because it is the stories behind every face involved, locals, teams, fans and riders, that make the Isle of Man so addictive. So heartwarming. So heartbreaking.
Will they amount to the best IOM TT articles you’ve ever read? You’ll just have to wait and see.
Next Post: Road Racers: The Riders