IOMTT: Monday’s Superbike race

Featured

It wouldn’t be TT 2019 if we didn’t have a twenty-minute delay due to a non-racing medical emergency and awkward spectators would it?

62022244_2949728905041550_3353379180451463168_n.jpg

It was the Superbike race up first. This was scheduled to run on Saturday along with the Sidecar Race 1, however, as we are all aware, the weather didn’t exactly play ball last week. Due to this, the Clerk of the Course shortened the Superbike race from six laps to four. Many people will say ‘it’s not a proper Superbike race unless it’s over six laps’… I completely agree, but considering on the Sunday there were question marks over whether we would see any racing at all, I’ll take the four-laps thanks! Of course, as if we weren’t already short on time, we had a twenty-minute delay. A non-racing medical emergency, which of course can’t be helped, but what can be helped is spectators not being bloody awkward! I know a marshal who managed to survive the ‘axe-murderer of Laurel Bank’ a couple of days ago (you think I’m joking, I’m not…) and now they’re having to deal with more spectator-led issues. It really isn’t on. Can you all just behave yourselves and watch the racing like civilised humans rather than pack animals?!

Anyway, the race finally got underway at 11:05 with weather conditions reported as good all around the Mountain Course with the exception of possibly the mountain itself where winds were gusting up to 25-30mph. Head, tail, cross-winds – none of which make for pleasant racing up top, but I suppose that’s why we have ‘Windy Corner’. It didn’t seem to dissuade any of the racers as they all seemed to get off to a cracking start. Harrison led at Glen Helen on the opening lap, one of the fan favourites, and Hickman slotted into second just 1.1s back. As the Isle of Man TT is a time trial, it’s hard to imagine what 1.1s looks like around here. It’s something you never see. I still find it hard to comprehend that if number 10 catches up number 9 on the road, number 10 is 10-seconds faster than number 9 already even though it doesn’t appear that way as they flash by you.  I know a lot of people may be used to the Irish road races where they’re set off in waves, but essentially the majority set off together. Not here. Each racer gets the tap on the shoulder every 10-seconds, therefore it can be quite difficult to distinguish correct positions until the quickest person has gone through the timing beams. This is a major pain in the bum with Hickman being #10…

James Hillier slotted into third at Glen Helen whilst Conor Cummins placed fourth only a tenth of a second behind Hillier. Okay, a tenth of a second could cost you a place on the podium if you’re at the end of a race, but it’s such a minute difference on lap 1! The two Michaels, Dunlop and Rutter, rounded out the top six. John McGuinness, Lee Johnston and Ian Hutchinson didn’t get off to a great start as they placed in 14th, 15th and 16th respectively, but the excitement was building at the front as Harrison was still fending off Hickman whilst Cummins moved up to third ahead of Hillier at Ballaugh. I think the Ballaugh to Ramsey section is one of the most technical parts of the course. After Ballaugh bridge you have to negotiate Ballacrye jump, the S bends by the wildlife park (Quarry Bends as it’s commonly known) and before you know it the throttle is pinned down (up? Manx for you..!) Sulby straight. Next, you’re braking hard to get yourself round the right-hander that is Sulby bridge and throwing it back over to the left to power on round past Ginger Hall. By the way, the Ginger Hall does amazing food and the TT course is on the ceiling in the bar section, so when you’ve finally had too much to drink you can have a rest and make your own TT race up in your head. Happy days! From the Ginger Hall you’re onto the bumpy, bendy bits. However, I presume, or you would hope, the suspension on these superbikes might help them to glide over the bumps a little bit better than your usual road bike especially at those kinds of speeds. It’s a bit of a blur round there!

… and then you see the ‘Welcome to Ramsey’ sign, through Milntown, past Ramsey Grammar School and brake brake brake throw it right for Parliament Square, throw it left and you’re on the way to the Hairpin. Harrison led by 1.4s, Cummins was only 3.8s back on Hickman, but around 8s clear of Hillier. They were starting the Mountain climb, round the gooseneck and off to battle those winds. A lot of riders compare the Mountain section to short-circuit racing which I understand, but you could so easily get lost as to which corner you’re at, what’s coming up next, etc. There’s even some tramlines to contend with and they’re not the best of things to deal with on open roads let alone on a superbike. Round windy corner, which I believe was very windy, and you’re heading for Kate’s cottage and then the pub – the Creg-ny-Baa. Great food too! From there, although I know some have run out of fuel between the Creg and the Grandstand, is pretty much the home straight with a few bends, dips and kinks. The end is very quickly in sight… the speeds they come round Hillberry probably helps with the ‘quick’ bit!

61707208_2949728271708280_1093483731370377216_o

Harrion’s opening lap of 132.48mph gave him a slight lead over Hickman who remained second. Cummins retained third, but Hickman had pulled the pin and the gap to second was now 4.8s. The top three were the only three riders to lap at over 130mph. At the end of lap 1 McGuinness pulled into the pits and got off his Norton Superbike. He was forced to retire due to an oil pressure issue. Derek McGee was also a retirement. The rest of them were starting lap 2 and Harrison had made his way to Glen Helen before anyone had time to blink. There was, however, no change with Hickman still second and Cummins third, Hillier fourth. The only change near the front was Rutter had moved up to fifth pushing Dunlop down to sixth. Harrison put the hammer down between Glen Helen and Ballaugh to increase his lead to 4.8s, but Hickman retaliated over the Mountain to reduce that gap to 0.045s and Cummins re-gained the lead on the road ahead of Harrison. It was all still to play for as at the end of lap two it was time for a pit-stop.

At the end of lap two Hickman had finally overhauled Harrison and now had a 1.7s lead. Cummins remained in third whilst Hillier broke the 130mph barrier to continue in fourth with a comfortable 13s lead ahead of Rutter, Dunlop just behind in sixth. Jamie Coward was having a phenomenal race up into seventh with David Johnson, Gary Johnson and Davey Todd completing the top ten at the end of lap two. Hickman still led, but Harrison was eking back the lead slowly as the gap at Glen Helen had dropped to 0.69s. Both Harrison and Cummins had almost made their way to Ballaugh before pulling in due to a full-course red flag.

The race was declared a result as at the end of a lap two meaning Hickman won the 2019 Superbike TT race on-board the Trooper BMW, Harrison took second and Cummins third. Hillier finished fourth ahead of Rutter and Dunlop with David Johnson, Jamie Coward, Gary Johnson and Davey Todd rounding out the top ten. 

61554993_2944174988930275_549756921989562368_o.jpg

A red flag in any race makes you a bit nervy, but a red flag during a road race makes your heart sink. Manx radio had stated there had been an incident at Snugborough, between Braddan Bridge and Union Mills, but there were no further updates at that time. When there’s been a red flag, I don’t think you can really concentrate on what’s to come until there’s been an update, but you’ve got to remember these are the TT races and the races must go on. You have to try and think ‘no news is good news’, but in reality, you know that never really appears to be the case. It really does seem heartless when it’s written down, but hand on heart no racer who has lost their life at the TT or any other race for that matter would want any races to be postponed or cancelled. It’s a difficult concept to understand, but we go again…  It’s a sign of respect, it’s a show of solidarity. My heart goes out to the organisers during red flag situations particularly the marshals involved. We know when we sign-on to marshal we could be faced with an incident, but until that time you don’t really know how you will react. The race officials in the control tower not only have to deal with the incident at hand remotely but the media and the speculation too. On top of that they also have to stay one step ahead and figure out the remaining day’s schedule too. Although the Superbike race was declared a result, the sidecars were still scheduled to race and that’s exactly what they did. More about that later.

Just after the sidecar race finished, although not through the official channels, there was the news no one wanted to hear.

Daley Mathison’s wife tweeted that her husband had lost his life.

Shortly after the ACU issued an official statement confirming that Daley Mathison had been involved in the incident at Snugborough which occurred on the 3rd lap of the Superbike race and had sadly died.

The statement read as follows:

ACU Events Ltd regrets to confirm that Daley Mathison, 27, from Stockton on Tees, Durham was killed in an incident during the Superbike Race today at the Isle of Man TT Races.  The accident occurred at Snugborough, just over 2 miles into the Course, on the 3rd lap of the race.

Daley was an experienced competitor and was seeded 19th for today’s race.  He made his Mountain Course debut in the 2013 Manx Grand Prix Newcomers A Race, finishing fifth.  His TT career included three consecutive podiums in the TT Zero electric bike Race in 2016, 2017 and 2018 including the runner up position in the race last year, representing Nottingham University.

He also achieved an 11th place finish in last year’s Superstock Race and a pair of 13th place finishes in the 2017 and 2018 Senior TT Races.

He set his fastest lap of the Mountain Course – 128.054mph – in the 2018 Superstock race which made him the 34th fastest rider of all time. He set the second fastest TT Zero lap ever with lap of 119.294mph in the 2018 race.

In total he started 19 TT Races with 14 finishes and 3 podiums and won 6 silver and 8 bronze replicas

ACU Events Ltd wishes to pass on their deepest sympathy to Daley’s wife Natalie, his family and friends.

D8K3ETQWwAIPXdR

Unfortunately with the likes of social media something like this isn’t kept quiet anymore and usually it is published on every site before official confirmation. However, this time, maybe for the first time in years I saw no speculation. Maybe I was fortunate enough not to see it, or maybe it wasn’t there to see. Those of us who know this sport, who respect this sport know that nothing good ever comes of speculation. It’s heartbreaking that families and teams don’t get the privacy they need to process what has happened first before it is publicly announced. However, Daley’s wife, Natalie, has dealt with the the social media aspect so admirably. No one knows how they will react until it happens to them. My thoughts are with Daley’s family, team and friends at this sad time.

I really struggled to write this. It’s hard to convey any kind of excitement about the first two-laps of a race when you know the outcome of lap 3. We all know the risks of the sport and I’ve never been one to shy away from the negatives because it is, unfortunately, part of road racing. However, we often criticise certain news outlets for only focusing on the dark side of this sport and I for one will not follow suit. The racers that went out afterwards in practice and those who went on to race in the Supersport race in the evening showed so much courage to get back out and race around this 37.73 mile course. They went back out to continue to live the dream for those who no longer can’t. They get back on two-wheels and race down Bray Hill because it’s their therapy, their happy place and they deserve their moment too. Please don’t try and tell us our sport should be no more, that we should suppress such natural born talent on a motorcycle because some people who aren’t even involved in this sport are worried about the consequences. We will always treasure the moments we had with those who are no longer here to live their dream and we will ensure their dream and their life lives on through racing.

D8K3FRYWwAIcWFO

Words by Samantha Wanless

First 2019 IOMTT Practice Session

Featured

It may be a day later than planned, but the first 2019 Isle of Man TT practice session has been completed over a rather blustery Mountain.

61113052_2932813926733048_2249375437790642176_o.jpg

Dean Harrison on-board the Silicone Engineering 600cc Kawasaki

The first practice was due to take place yesterday (Saturday), however due to extensive hill fog and intermittent rain the Clerk of the Course Gary Thompson chose to cancel the session at approx 3:30pm. The prompt decision is something as a marshal I am very grateful for and it meant we could go grab a takeaway instead rather than stand around for hours in the rain awaiting a decision. Happy days!

There is a contingency plan in place one of which allows the roads to close on Sunday for practice until no later than 6:30pm. CoC announced this would happen to allow the solo and sidecar newcomer’s to complete their speed controlled lap followed by Supersport, Supertwin and all newcomers. The schedule was provided as follows:

  • 11.45:  Mountain closes Barrule Park Ramsey to Bungalow
  • 12.00:  Mountain closes Bungalow to Creg Ny Baa
  • 13.00:  All roads closed
  • 13.30:  Solo Newcomers’ speed controlled lap
  • 13.35:  Sidecar Newcomers’ speed controlled lap
  • 13.50:  Start Supersport / Lightweight Practice
  • 17.30:  Roads open except Mountain section
  • 18.30:  All roads open

Obviously it’s great to say we’ll use the contingency plan, but the weather needs to behave itself first. I got woke up by my other half at 5:30 this morning saying the rain woke up him… I can tell you now, I was dreading opening the curtains when I woke up properly. I’d already pretty much written off today, but then the sun started to poke its way through and the wind was acting like an official TT hairdryer. Next thing, I’m grabbing bags of crisps, snacks and whatever else I can find from the cupboards to put in the scruffy racing bag ready to marshal. A marshal’s diet is very important you know. We thrive on chocolate, crisps and sarnies, but are partial to cake, biscuits and most definitely coffee. 

D7fr8KuWsAYF6ff

…okay, I may have grabbed more than some snacks. Full Factory Marshalling this!

After we’d set-up, roads closed and there we had it… a 30-minute delay.  The road was still drying in places, particularly under the trees, but most vitally there were not enough marshals in certain places around the course. Every marshal’s post has a minimum number. If that minimum number is not met, the TT racers cannot turn a wheel. A plea went over the Marshal’s radio asking those who were over minimum to shuffle around. It appeared there were technically enough marshals, they just weren’t dispersed evenly.  This led to a further 15-minute delay, and then another 5-minute delay. If you are here to watch the TT, please consider signing on to marshal. If you’re unsure as to what it all entails, you can find out more here. 50-minutes later than scheduled, it was GO time!

First out were the solo and sidecar newcomers. They must complete a speed-controlled lap before they can be let loose on their own. If the speed controlled lap is not completed, whether it be mechanical faults, etc., they will be given another chance during the next practice session. I believe all solo’s completed their lap, but one sidecar outfit, unfortunately, didn’t. When they had all nearly completed their first-ever lap, the flood barriers were opened as well as the throttles on the Supersport and Supertwin machines. It was finally time to release the beasts down Bray Hill for the very first time… and boy were those throttles pinned.

During practice two riders set off together with a 10-second interval between each pair.  This is obviously unlike a TT race where they set off alone 10-seconds apart. Time trial remember… Before Michael Dunlop set off he said live on the radio ‘I need to sort my shit out.’ Er, yes please. If you could do that before you begin your lap that’d be ace, or at least before you get to the bottom of Barregarrow because you scare me enough as it is on the first lap…! Always fills a marshal full of confidence that. The two men first off the line were Ashcourt Racing’s Lee Johnston and Honda Racing’s Ian Hutchinson. Throttles pinned they were down Bray Hill on their Supersport machines. It doesn’t take long until they reached cronk-y-voddy. With the wind strong, we could hear them storming their way through Glen Helen. We knew it wouldn’t be long until they flashed by, but it wasn’t who we were expecting. It was Dean Harrioson on-board the beautiful Silicone Engineering Kawasaki shortly followed by Johnston and Hutchinson. Wow. First thought, in fact the same I thought I have every year on the first day of practice, this is f!*king BONKERS.

Usually the first practice session is untimed, however it was announced that it would, in fact, be timed today and the laps will count towards qualifying. It can be quite difficult to keep up with timings when there are different classes out and about around the course, but it’s even more difficult when you’re marshalling. You don’t really get the privilege of listening to the radio because you can’t hear yourself think let alone hear what Chris Kinley has to say. You don’t look at your phone unless there’s an interval, so timing-wise, you’re quite blind! However, I’ve heard the new live timing app isn’t that great anyway and that all sounds like a political farce, but I’ll save that for another day shall I? Instead, I keep myself entertained by oohing and aahing at different race lines, telling newcomers to put their knee away even if they can’t hear me and testing my race number/rider name skills. Oh, this is whilst fuelling myself with coffee and cake. It’s quite the multi-tasking effort you know!

Unsurprisingly it was Harrison who took to the top of the timesheets – 121.97mph quickly followed by a 124.39mph lap. He was hungry for that Senior win last year and I think he’s back to take another bite of the action proving to be a very popular guy in the road racing paddock. Harrison put in six-laps all together, but I felt like I’d seen him more times than that. Every lap I saw him get smoother and smoother; it was almost as though he had ironed out all the bumps and he was gliding along. Then boom. A 126.09mph lap. That’ll do, lets park it. Now he’s qualified in this class, he’ll probably work on perfecting the settings on his Superbike machine going forward, but maybe he won’t. We won’t know until the day! When being interviewed after their laps, it was clear the winds were proving to be a bit of a nightmare up over the Mountain. Conor Cummins said there were tail-winds, head-winds, cross-winds and windy corner was windier than usual. It doesn’t get any more windy that that, does it? Gary Johnson didn’t seem too phased and even told everyone he’s survived wind, so if Gary can we all can! Joking aside, the high winds are very challenging up top. It can completely blow you off-line, unsettle the bike. However, it didn’t deter many racers as most completed at least four if not five laps.

61373771_2932914090056365_4617282004331790336_n

Manxman Conor Cummins on-board the Padgett’s Milenco Honda Supersport machine

It was great to see Michael Dunlop back on the roads as he set a lap speed of 123.9mph with Manxman Conor Cummins clocking 123.71mph on his fifth lap of on-board the Milenco Padgett’s Honda. If you get chance to go down to the bottom of Barregarrow, go and watch Conor from down there. He has got it so finely tuned that the bike drops away from him, arms extended and away he goes. It’s just so perfect. He doesn’t fight to stay tucked in, he just goes with the flow and it’s clearly working. Prez Racing’s Jamie coward was fourth on the timesheets at 123.19mph and James Hillier managed to not cause chaos down at Barregarrow to clock 121.9mph placing him fifth. Ian Hutchinson finished in 12th for the Honda Racing Team just ahead of the legendary John McGuinness. I must admit, I wasn’t too impressed with his overtaking manoeuvre on a higher numbered rider just as they were to tip into the bottom of Barregarrow. Maybe understandable during a race, but personally I don’t think it’s called for during practice. Thankfully it was all okay, but I definitely think it would’ve been safer to have waited till after Barregarrow considering the stretch to Cammal Farm is straight… Onto McGuinness – he does indeed have a Supersport ride after announcing yesterday he had partnered with his Padgett’s family once again to ride the stunning Milenco machine. So get that scribbled in your race programme! He didn’t go too mad on his first time back at the TT since his NW200 accident, despite doing a couple of parade laps last year, placing himself 13th. Respectable first practice place.

The Supertwins were also out amongst the Supersport machines with Jamie Coward topping the leaderboard at 119.96mph and defending champion Dunlop putting in a 118.52mph lap placing him second. Last year’s runner-up Derek McGee finished in fourth with a 116.19mph lap whilst Stefan Bonetti, after his mega win at the NW200, posted the fifth fastest time at 116.02mph.

60986066_2932814383399669_322580498087936000_o.jpg

McPint on-board the Norton Lightweight machine

I personally don’t think that lap times/speeds really matter on the first day of practice, but I’ve put them in for you just in case you are bothered. Yes, it’s great that it has counted towards their qualification within the Supersport and Supertwin classes because it can sometimes be very difficult to qualify every machine due to delays, cancellations, mechanical issues. However, it really isn’t necessary to go all balls out for the ‘fastest racer in first practice’ headline. I’m just glad they’ve managed to get a few laps of practice under their leathers because it really is so vitally important for them to get the laps in. With over 200 corners, I don’t think I could ever do enough laps around here to know them all inside out and I live on the Isle of Man!  Some of these racers take part in British Superbikes/Supersport, other road races and of course they must obtain enough signatures for their Mountain Course license, but they don’t get to race here every weekend. Some do race in the Classic TT, but many only race the TT meaning the last time they took to the Mountain Course was approx. one year ago. I’ve said it many times, but the road surface changes significantly. Trees disappear, appear. Curbs appear, get lowered. Your yellow drain braking marker might have disappeared or a new drain cover has appeared. That year really has an impact on a racer’s memory of the course, the bike settings, everything. For me, the first practice session is the most important. Racer’s will now spend the evening relaying all their information back to their teams. Adjusting front/rear suspension, altering tyre pressures, gearing. This first practice session is about fettling the bike back in and sorting out your own head. Johnston spoke about how he was clearly feeling a little rusty, but it’s now time for them to process the 37.73 miles in an attempt to perfect their lap times. It must be so mentally draining, but the adrenaline and the TT in its entirety is clearly worth it. First practice is literally just the beginning for these racers and there is certainly more to come.

The session was thankfully relatively uneventful although New Zealander Daniel Mettam did part company with his machine at Black Hut in the Supersport session and was taken by airmed to Nobles Hospital. His condition is reportedly not serious, but no further details have been issued. Tomorrow evening we should hopefully see some more practice with roads closing at 6pm and an approx. aim of a 6:20pm flood gate opening. Let’s see what tomorrow brings…

One last little, but important note about today’s practice session – I couldn’t help but think about Dan Kneen, James Cowton and William Dunlop. I’m sure I’m not alone by trying not to think too much about it on the lead up to this year’s TT, but I have certainly missed seeing them race these roads today. They’ve definitely not been forgotten, but are most definitely missed by all. x

(Full practice times can be shown here, although the website doesn’t appear to be very user-friendly, so good luck if you’re attempting to use it!)

Words by Samantha Wanless

 

 

Learning To Ride A Motorcycle

Featured

This is something a little different from the race reports I usually waffle about so hang in there…

I am currently learning to ride… a motorbike. Having always been around motorbikes, whether it’s racing or travelling as pillion, learning to ride is something I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve had a few obstacles in the way, but I’m ready to tick this off my bucket list. Let’s face it, I live on the Isle of Man… there’s no excuse not to get it done!

56800774_10216158368965219_3935606523350220800_n.jpg

I’m yet to attempt the beautiful Mountain road… there’s a time and a place…

I passed my car test at 16 and yes, that is legal on the Isle of Man. I think everyone believes that because you are aware of the rules of the road that side of things shouldn’t be difficult. Okay, in some respects I believe that, but in others… not so much! I honestly think it makes you believe you should pass your motorbike test in a blink of an eye because you’ve practically done it before. Nope, wrong, false. It’s completely different and sometimes I envy those who did their bike test before learning to drive a car. I’m already thinking I should have done it that way round!

Let’s start from the beginning. Your CBT (Compulsory Basic Training.) I passed my first CBT when I was 19. Loved every minute of it even though it lashed it down. I then didn’t take my test. At 24 I decided to do my CBT again. When I did my re-CBT, the instructor said in the car park ‘are you sure you’ve done your CBT before?’ Oh eff off, yes I am sure! I’d never felt so embarrassed or put down. Yes, it had been a while since I’d been on two wheels. I’d been open and honest about that as well as the fact I’d lost all my confidence. It probably also didn’t help it was SO fucking hot the sweat was running into my eyes. It was madness, but the moment I started to ride on an actual road rather than a bloody playground, it all came flooding back. The life savers, mirror and head check…. I felt like I was spending more time looking backwards just as I did before. And, before anyone says it, yes I’m fully aware they are very necessary thank you. They take you over part of the TT course, through estates, along the prom and them dreaded horse tram lines. Potentially you pass the grandstand at a phenomenal 30mph (because that’s the speed limit folks…!) and then it’s done and dusted. You can ride legally on the road on your own on your own motorcycle as long as it’s no more than 125cc. Let the panic begin.

It is terrifying. The first time I put my gear on and sat on Nelli ready to go out on her I was nervous… of course. I was on a brand new bike for the very first time and I’d only just passed my CBT. Now, yes I’m a woman, maybe a man or another woman may find learning to ride a motorbike differently to how I did, but there are reasons why. Fortunately, riding a motorcycle kind of came easy to me, but I can see how it doesn’t for so many people. The amount of times I’ve sat there about to set off and I’m constantly thinking ‘shit, I’ve forgotten how to do this,’ ‘1 down 4 up,’ ‘fuck where’s my brakes.’ As soon as you get going it’s absolutely fine and you forget about all the crap you were thinking 5 seconds before you let the clutch out. As much as I enjoyed being on two-wheels, the fear of falling off or whatever else could happen ruined it for me at the beginning. I have now, however, found the reason why I was so worried!

58619916_10216270507848621_6721382299344044032_n

I currently have a Benelli TNT 125

Being only 5’2″, it’s been a slight struggle finding a motorbike I can actually reach the floor on as long as trousers that fit, etc, etc. (Thankfully I found MotoGirl who’s kevlar legging type trousers are DIVINE. I will do a little gear list eventually on here.) After I passed my CBT the first time my Dad helped me buy a KTM Duke 125. She was a bloody beauty and I loved her, but I’m pretty sure I rode that bike on pure adrenaline. I couldn’t reach the floor very well at all and without the experience and confidence behind you, there is just no way you can deal with that as a learner. I lost all my confidence. I didn’t want to go out on it and instead she sat dormant in the garage for 2 years. I loved the idea of a Honda Grom, but didn’t like them to look at… They look fun-sized, but without looking too ridiculous. The amount of grown 6’4” men riding round on them at TT last year was obscene, but they all looked like they were having the time of their life! Anyway, my partner had spotted a different motorbike which was similar looking to the Grom… that’s when we took a drive up to Dedman’s Performance in Ramsey. Little Nelli was sat outside and I fell in love. Probably two weeks later I’d ordered my brand new Benelli TNT 125 and booked my CBT. I part-exed my KTM for Nelli, Paul Dedman came to drop it off and pick the KTM up and that was that. Don’t buy a bike that you don’t feel comfortable with. I learnt the hard way and now I’m starting all over again!

My little Benelli TNT 125 – I absolutely love her. The OTR prices are considerably lower (potentially £2k less) than a Honda MSX 125 and in my opinion I think the Benelli have got the design of it on point. I’ve had a few comments now asking what it is, how smart it looks, how fast does it go and they all end with ‘I want one!’ If you are looking for a little 125 to bob around on, I can highly recommend this:

Screenshot_20180831-195844_Photos

Benelli TNT 125 in white

 

As you have probably guessed, I did pass my re-CBT and here we are. Riding on the roads solo. Well, not technically. I think my mother would probably kill me if I decided to go out on my own, but also my little comfort is having Chris ride with me. Trust me, that poor ZX-7 is fed up of my 50mph riding and Chris is too…

 

IMG_20190429_185429.jpg

You’ve got to start somewhere to join in with the big boys…

Talking of 50mph, that’s the learner limit here in derestricted zones. If you’re not familiar with derestricted zones, it basically means if in doubt flat about because there is no limit. If I’m honest, I’m quite content at that speed right now. The thought of going any faster currently makes me want to vomit, but I’m sure in time that will pass. Now, in a car, I’d happily do *insert high number here* mph, but I probably wasn’t happy doing that when I was learning to drive or just passed. It’s come with time, practice and experience. After all, that was almost 10 years ago. *feeling old*

The other week I got overtaken by some crazy woman in a clapped out Nissan Micra. Was I upset? A little. Chris was even more infuriated because she then persisted on tailgating him allllllll the way through Ballaugh’s 30mph zone. Prick. Anyway, let not forget I am riding on the Isle of Man TT course and I am most definitely not a TT racer. Usually they’re in the range of 150mph+, not under 50mph, so I’ll keep motoring along at my own speed for now. I got frustrated, but there was no point because Nelli probably only does a max of 60mph bless. Also, legally 50mph is my limit and in all honesty it is where I’m comfortable at the minute. Yeah, yeah, take the piss. Everyone has to start somewhere. Whatever, overtake me. See what I care. I’m learning to ride a motorbike and that’s not something everyone does in their life, so give me an effing break. 

This little blog was inspired by that shitty Nissan Micra woman, so thanks to her you got this little insight into my brain whilst learning to ride a motorbike. 10% of the time I’m shitting myself. 85% of the time I’m loving life and probably ‘whoop whooping’ in my helmet, and the other 5% I’m raging at a shitty car driver for not understanding that I’m a learner and people have to learn.

I am currently loving and living for every minute on two wheels. It rained the other morning, the sun shined at lunchtime and I’m asking work colleagues ‘IS THE ROAD DRY?! DID YOU NOTICE?!’ Going out in the wet isn’t at the top of my list just yet, but I’ll do it eventually. Aside from letting Chris take the ZX-7 out for a blast, I’m trying to sieze every little moment on Nelli because quite honestly, at the moment, it’s the best little stress reliever going. I would 100% recommend to a friend. Just do it.

I’ve still got a lot of learning to do, lots to experience and a test to pass, but I’m enjoying being back on two wheels especially on such a beautiful island where motorcycles are a way of life.

 

D6CjfC_WwAEFWS0.jpg

17 days and counting…

Updates to follow…