Motoette -in forward motion

A prelude to the Isle of Man TT

Up close and personal with the riders

Even though it is 5 months away, I feel compelled to write about the Isle of Man TT, a 107 year old road race that up until recently, I knew little about. My fascination with the Isle of Man TT began several weeks ago after meeting Mark Gardniner, a Canadian who competed in the TT in 2002, and just recently, interviewing Scott Harwood, one of a handful of Americans to be competing this coming May 2010. I will be  expanding more on Mark and Scott in my next blog, but first, a brief introduction into the history of the TT and why it has become one of the most exhilarating and risky road races in history. 

The Isle of Man is a self-governing wee island that lies equidistant to Ireland and Great Britain in the Irish sea.  An island 32 miles long and 14 miles at its widest point with a population of over 80,000, baring an infamous reputation for having the fiercest, unpredictable weather around, it’s hard to believe it can entertain one of the most internationally acclaimed road races in the world.   

The TT is held annually for a fortnight at the end of May, beginning of June on a two lane public road course which consists of 37.73 miles of undulating roads with deceptive tight corners often named after the riders that lost their lives on the treacherous turns, such as Birkens bend, named after Archie Birken, who lost his life in 1927.While witnessing the riders taking in over 200 bends, converging from sea level to an altitude of over 1,300 ft,  fans are able to stand all along the billowing roadway within arms distance of the rider, it can be as perilous to the rider as to the spectator, clearly, the TT is not for every average motorcycle enthusiast!          

In the 107 year continuance of the TT (as a time trial format race), it has managed to evolve with each decade, making revisions such as altering the road race course, classifications, motorcycle modifications, change-ups in manufactures, safety provisions, interruptions with WWI and WWII, qualifications, and race schedules, to name a few.  But, still manages to retain a timelessness in its original goal and that is to have the race experience be competitive against the clock, rather than each other.          

Being one of the oldest motorcycle circuits to exist, it’s mind-blowing to think about the first winner of the TT, Charlie Collier back in 1907 riding to victory on his Matchless motorbike in just over 37 minutes, per lap totaling 10 laps,  averaging a speed of 38.21 mph on a course that was at that time, 15 miles long!       

Now, in the recent past, we are witnessing riders like John McGuinness setting speed records of 130 mph, with lap records of 17.21 minutes per lap on the 37 mile plus stretch.   The most successful rider has been Joey Dunlop, who has won 26 times in various classes from 1977 to 2000. The first woman competitor to ever participate in the TT as a side-car passenger was Inge Stoll, in 1954, and most recently in 2009, Jenny Tinmouth of GB, taking the podium as the fastest woman on her Honda Fireblade, beating Maria Costello’s record from 2004!           

This past 2009 the first zero-emissions TTXGP motorcycle race was held, which could mean all and any electric motorcycles are eligible to enter for future TT competitions. So, it’s perceivable to think there will be more changes for the future of the annual TT road race adventure, which to me, is a good thing!          

I look forward to one day attending the Isle of Man TT road race, a mountain circuit that is without a doubt, the greatest challenge any racing motorcyclist or enthusiast can take on!          






January 2, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. Great post. Interesting that such a small island would host such an acclaimed race. I had not heard of it before your post. Fast times for such a course. Ride Safe.

    Comment by Len Hanger | January 2, 2010 | Reply

  2. Thank you Len for your input, it’s something I have just been learning more about myself. It’s just amazing in itself that it has stayed in existence for over a hundred years!

    Comment by motoette | January 2, 2010 | Reply

  3. Wow…I really like that picture “up close and personal with the riders.” Awesome shot 🙂

    Comment by Maria aka PartyGurle | January 2, 2010 | Reply

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