This weekend sees the start of one of the UK’s largest, dangerous and most famous motorcycle races, the Isle of Man TT.
The fortnight-long festival and competition has been an institution on the Irish Sea island since starting in 1907, and is highly respected for the breakneck speeds riders can generate and the tightness of the course. It’s the combination of these factors which have been responsible for the death of more riders than any other motorcycle race in the world.
The winding roads of the 37.73 mile course are a rarity of modern motorcycle racing in that they are very much public highways. Lined with lamp-posts, farmhouses and of course hordes of fans, these obstacles make the ride so much more difficult to navigate at speeds of around 200mph, with over 200 riders falling in fatal accidents, and many more suffering serious injury. This includes both professionals and amateurs who compete on the Snaefell Mountain Course on ‘Mad Sunday’, the halfway point of the race’s two weeks. The practice sessions for this year’s competition have already seen one death and a serious injury, following the collision of two riders in the 850cc classic practice on 27 May.
It is the speed and skill of the riders which bring the huge crowds of around 40,000 spectators every year, but if you’re in the crowd, make sure to keep your eyes peeled, too. Safety bales are wrapped around some of the most precarious parts of the course, but there have still been occasions, such as in 2013 when Jonathan Howarth careered into the crowd on Bray Hill, injuring 10.
If you’re heading to the festival and are riding your bike, the track is open when there is a lull in racing or practicing, so you can try it out – just imagine doing the mountain section from Ramsey to Douglas! We recommend that you take care, though, and remain vigilant. Yes, the roads are open for you, but also for all other motor vehicles, so there could be some traffic dotted around.