Last Days at the Isle of Man

The final days of Alex’s blog from the Isle of Man

Day 16
Second sidecar race was postponed and so was practice. I went out about 3.45pm for one lap on the Superbike and immediately felt good, the best I’ve felt on it in fact.
That must have been why I passed four or five riders by the time I got to Ramsey. I just thought they were taking it easy but it seems I was my fastest lap yet, apparently over 120mph, not that it matters because I didn’t finish my lap.
I was having a great time, just enjoying myself. When I got to Keppel Gate the bike pulled a nice wheelie, shaking its head as it came down, then off the drop from Kate’s Cottage to the Creg it did the same. When I put the brakes on for the Creg I didn’t really have any so it was a thrill ride into the air fence outside the pub.
Minimal damage to the bike and no damage to me so all ok. I do feel a bit embarrassed that I didn’t think quick enough to pump the front brake to get the pads back. I should have known better.
The team spent yesterday evening preparing and fixing the big Superbike for today’s six lap Senior TT. It does not get any better than this.
Day 17
Senior TT day. The Lightweight race for 650 twins was run first and was a cracker, with Dean Harrison taking his first TT win. His dad Conrad did likewise in the first sidecar race earlier in the week. I believe it’s the first time a father and son have won different TT races in the same event. I bet they will have a good time tonight.
I started off 66 on the road. I would probably have qualified higher if not for my ‘incident’ yesterday but there’s still plenty of fast guys near me. The times are all so close, only a few mph between 20 riders. That said, getting that few extra mph is not easy.
I started behind South African BSB rider A J Venter. He’s a very nice bloke and pitted next to me.
I got a good start and by the end of lap one I had caught A J on the road, passing him on Ago’s Leap. My first lap was 121.01mph from a standing start. Of course I didn’t know that at the time, but the bike just did not feel right from the get go. I first noticed it through Glen Helen. The front did not feel planted like normal, but as the road was a bit damp I thought that was the issue. Coming out of the Gooseneck there are two left handers, the second one very fast. Through there I felt the same lack of feel from the front end. On the second lap I was coming out of the Gooseneck again, and into the first left hander when the front started chattering real bad. I was behind another rider at the time so didn’t think I was going too fast, and I was waiting to pass him coming onto the Mountain Mile section of the TT course. As I entered the second left hander the front end of my Superbike tucked. I went down on my knee and tried to get the bike back up, all at close to 200kmh mind you, and I just managed to get the bike near upright when I ran out of road. I hit an embankment which sort of bounced me close to upright I guess, knocking my right leg off the bike. The amazing thing was I then managed to jump a gap in the bank where a gate was, clearing that and hitting the other side of the bank.
Somehow I managed to stay on the bike and get back onto the road. By this time I was well crapping myself, and made my way back to the pits at a reduced pace. The almost unbelievable thing is I still managed to do a 120mph lap despite almost nutting myself and rolling back the throttle. Who knows what the lap time would have been if I hadn’t have had such a close shave. I must have had the bike leaned over a fair way as even the engine side cover was scratched.
When I got back to the pits for my fuel stop at the end of the lap I decided to park the bike. I had scared myself silly by this stage and as the bike didn’t feel right I thought it would be smarter not to continue. I was very upset with myself and feel as though I let the team and myself down. A big disappointment for all but the smart and safer option. When I got off the bike I noticed lots of grass on the spokes of the front wheel and brakes. Wow!
I still don’t really know what the problem was. Was I trying too hard, was there something not right with the bike after yesterday’s crash, was the front tyre ‘off’, was there something on the road? Who knows. Another rider said he thought the road was breaking up a bit in that area so maybe that was the problem.
Cam Donald and Dave Johnson came down for our BBQ after the race and they both said I was a lucky boy not to crash there so I should buy a lottery ticket.
I was still shaking an hour later and thought, ‘that’s it for the TT and me’ but on reflection it most likely won’t be. While I haven’t had the results I would have liked I feel I’ve shown some of my potential, especially seeing I’m still only 20, and the youngest rider at this year’s TT.
I don’t know where I go from here regarding the TT but we’ll let the dust settle and reassess I guess. I have agreed to ride an electric bike for Catavolt in the FX series not long after I get back to Australia plus there’s some classic racing during the rest of the year as well. I’m looking forward to all of that.
We leave the Isle of Man in a couple of days and it will be sad. We have been treated like kings by Maggie, Sheila, Aalin and Kirsten at our digs in Douglas and Team DP Cold Planing/TC Racing (Mick, Sam, John, Liz, Alannah, Gaz and Pressie) prepared some fantastic bikes and looked after dad and I like family. I cannot thank them all enough for what they have done for me and I feel as though I have made friends for life. It’s like the Isle of Man is my second home now, I’ve been here three years in a row.
I might have the post TT blues but right at this moment, but whether it be me riding for another team or bringing my own bikes over, I think I will be back.

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