A Travellerspoint blog

Afghan Heroes Run

Up early to get up to Stop 24 to meet Ian Gardner. As we had plenty of time I had a bacon sandwich and a coffee. At the Oakdene we met another group from the SOC Kent Centre.

Then it was zoom to Bracknell for the first refuel and then onto the airfield to book in. It was all a bit haphazard and pretty disorganised and we lined up and they never even looked at my registration card just whipped a fiver off me and said that the special wristbands had run out. How to get one now? The organisers are working on a way to get those that missed out on the special wristbands.

We were put on the back of a huge line of bikes. One half of the group went round the left side of the runway and we were on the right.

As we inched forward it seemed that it didn't matter how long you had been waiting, the riders on the left seemed to leave non-stop. This was evidenced as one of the Oakdene team, Brian Squibb, was home at 1645 or so about the same time that we got to Swindon on the way home!

In the end it was worth it to say that we had been there on this run. "I WAS THERE!"

Sometime in the future everyone you meet will claim "I was there on the first Afghan Heroes Bike Run".

We will nod and simply smile because WE WERE.

Even after all the waiting and messing about. What made it worthwhile were the people of the villages, Malmesbury and Wootton Bassett that came out to wave and cheer us past!

Would I go again if they do it next year? Of course. Bring it on.

Loads of pics courtesy of Nedine Blackman O'Brien's photo gallery website - http://feraphotography.co.uk/Wootton_Bassett.html#220

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More photos!

Posted by InvictaMoto 14:31 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Isle of Man TT

The Centenary TT

Although I had been to the Isle of man three times previously, this was Claire's first visit.

Day 1

Left at 1010 and made good time on the motorways to Steve's, where we should have arrived about 1710.

Unfortunately we suffered a "Doris Moment" and spent ages in the vicinity riding round and round. A map problem means that there are no routes involving Liverpool work properly.

Day 2

Up a bit late and. out about ten-ish for the short ride down the East Lancs Road and into Liverpool. Passing Goodison on the way in.

By ten thirty we were parking up in Albert Dock. NB they make you pay to park - £1.50 an hour. We had an hour!

Once at the Steam Packet we booked in. . Parked up and had a burger. When. We came to board we found that they guy hadn't given us a boarding card so they wouldn't let us on. Back to the check-in for him to say he couldn't give us a new one but to go to the office. Now we were experiencing one of those "Airline" TV programme events! We had to go through our luggage to prove we didn't have them and despite me having the booking letter they ummed and aaghed before they gave us new ones. The fact we never had one originally was lost on everyone but us!

The boat left 30 mins late and so here we are on the Irish Sea. Can't be long now.

Royal Liver Building

Royal Liver Building

Day 3 saw us up early and breakfasted and out to get to the Liverpool Arms for the BMW Club TT Natter Meet.

When we arrived we saw that Peter Lewis, who lived on the Island, was there and had the banner up already. Gradually, people started to arrive and soon there must have been around 40 bikes parked up alongside the pub and in the car park. Thanks to Peter especially for his help on the day.

We left about 1.45pm for a run into Douglas essentially for a look round and a look for Tesco and to look round. We didn't find Tesco but did buy stuff for lunch and for tomorrow when we will also need to be out early to get a good view of the Senior TT.

All in all, I thought the Club meeting went off very well and I tried to natter to as many people as I could.

We got back to where we are staying at about 5pm for a lie down before setting off again for dinner and to look for an optimal viewing spot for tomorrow. Pie and chips was tonight's choice from the limited Ramsey eatery list.

Day 4

Up early and off up to the Bungalow.

There were loads of cars and bikes already there but we were able to get a space about 200 yards from the footbridge.

Everyone was so spread out we got a spot on the hill where we could see the bikes come over the Veranda and sweep down across the railway line.. Perfecto. Until the mist descended on us.

IOM Bungalow

IOM Bungalow

John McGuinness sets new outright lap record and race record. Damned Honda!

John Mc a little blurry at that range!

John Mc a little blurry at that range!

That aside what a great winner and an exciting race to watch.

When we arrived at the Bungalow it was hot and sunny. By race time it was freezing (in comparison) and the mist came and went obscuring the track way back from our bit.

I managed to get a few decent photographs of the race, but having to use full digital zoom means that until you see them on the bigger computer screen you have no idea how good they actually are.

The MCN Parade of Champions was held up for a while as there had been an accident on the Ramsey end of the mountain. A rider had crashed and his bike flew into some spectators. He was killed and two of them also died.

The Parade was at a pretty hectic pace with Carl Fogarty off first and harrying the leading travelling marshal as they passed us.

Once it was over we went back to our B&B to change and then head out to Douglas for dinner. Sadly on arrival the Austrian selling goulash had gone home! In the end we had to make do with a "Bigfoot", although I could think of a better name for a 12" sausage; "lifesize?" Perhaps not.

After a walk we ended up opposite the Carol Nash/Bushey's marquee where the evening's entertainment was to start. A few loonies doing burnouts before a stunt rider whose name I can't remember, came out and did some stunts, wheelies and burnouts etc. Once he'd blown his tyre they fired up the mechanical bull, and we left for a quick ride back to Ballaugh.

Stunt Rider

Stunt Rider

At Balacraine, an old BSA Goldstar came from the left, wheezing off the line. By the time the lights changed he must have been through Laurel Bank. I eventually got the chance to pass him on the long downhill into Kirkmichael. It might have been old and two-up but the rider had a good line and unlike me didn't have to brake!

Feeling like we needed a drink I pulled into the pub at Ballaugh Bridge. A quiet pint alongside the track at 10pm.

Day 5

Moving day. Packed and paid Sarah Everest and set off south to new B&B at Foxdale - Clag Mooar.

As it seemed too early we stopped in Peel for a coffee and a walk round,then rode down to Foxdale. Good job we did as they were getting ready to set off to Castletown and the Southern 100 Club's Billown road races.

We dumped the luggage and changed into lighter clothing. We set off as well towards Castletown to where the road was closed. We arrived in time for the practice for all three races and found a good viewing place, right by a convenient tea bar!

I took a few pics, but as with the Senior TT, the camera's shutter speed is too slow. By the time it decides to take the pic, the subject has left the viewer! In the end I started to anticipate and press early!

After practice the road was opened and we decided to head off back to Peel for a walk and perhaps a paddle. In the end we had one of Davison's excellent ice creams. Gorgeous!

Later on we found that where we had been viewing practice, Fourways, was where there was an incident when a bike went in the crowd. During practice a few overshot the right hander and went up the road to turn around.

Then back to the B&B for a shower etc and then back out to Douglas (again!) for did-dins.

Day 6

No more racing to occupy our days. So today was spent travelling around the Island.

Firstly, we went into Douglas and avoided the town centre but by the grandstand to let Claire see it.

Then on to Laxey and the Lady Isabella Wheel. Then we needed a cup of tea and so went down into Old Laxey.

Lady Isabella Wheel @ Laxey

Lady Isabella Wheel @ Laxey

Old Laxey is quiet and like the beach places we used to go to years ago. After a pot of tea we set off again for Snaefell. Sadly the museum and cafe was closed. You might get the idea that our trips revolve around tea. You may be right!

From Snaefell we dropped down to Tholt Y Will and the Wheat Free Bakery. Time for lunch? A roast pork bap and another tea later and we were Peel bound.

Continuing down to Sulby and on to the track, but going against the race direction. It was very quiet going our way, but there were still loads of loonies bombing around the track as though they are Mini-Me John McGuinness's!

We were in Peel for hours. Walking in the sun and of course eating. This time another of Davison's excellent ice creams. We walked it off though (!) along the harbour wall to see the seals.. I won't embarrass myself with the pictures of the seal!

The picture above is actually a panoramic one I merged together with a tool that came with a friend's Canon. I used the "panoramic aid" setting on the 8700 to try and keep the levels the same to make it easier to stitch them together. The subject is Peel Castle!

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We returned to the B&B in time to see the Canadian GP and Lewis Hamilton's maiden win. Then it was into Douglas to see the transition between it being overrun by bikers and it being reclaimed by the "normals" as they no doubt think they are!

So another scorcher of a day. At least the lobster red face and head are beginning to mellow; hopefully to a tan!! Let's hope it continues....

Day 7

Last full day of the holiday on the Island. So we decided to do the south and for once it meant not going to Peel! I know but there you are! Sacrifices have to be made.

Firstly we went to Port Erin and stayed there for ages. The usual cup of tea (or rather coffee this time) but it was too hot. One of the locals said it was 82 degrees. Not what you expect from the weather on the Isle of Man.

We had to move as the white painted walls of the cafe acted like an oven. I remember from metalwork years ago to use a corner to heat metal quicker to reflect heat back!

We had a walk around the town and to the bank, then into the newsagents for a paper to read on the seafront. All very nice. Even better when the sun went in for a while. Yes, I am complaining there was too much sun!

Port Erin

Port Erin

Lunch was in Cafe Roberto, with a back drop of a Vincent single. I guess it was a Comet but I am not an expert where even this level of British bike lies in the pantheon of great bikes. Across the road was a shop that looked like a bike dealers from the fifties, also featuring a couple of Vincents, these both being twins so I guess these would have been Rapides as neither has much body work, although I suspect they may even have been Shadows. The red one though?

From Port Erin we took the coast road to Port St Mary and then onto Castletown. We stopped for a while and had a wander down to the harbour and then off back to the B&B for a shower etc before a ride out to have dinner. I fancy Indian but my belly might not and we have a long way to go tomorrow, so no Dehli Belly required!

Castletown

Castletown

In the end we set off for Douglas and found a really nice Thai restaurant. I can thoroughly recommend "The King and I" on Bucks Road. We were entertained by the proprietors son, Alex, who was the fount of all knowledge about football, despite being only 7yo! The food was excellent and cooked by the wife of the partnership, Sunny.

Tomorrow we have to be at the ferry terminal at 1130am according to the paperwork. Let's hope we get a bloody boarding pass this time!

Day 8

Not really a TT day, as it's all over and today it is home day.

We were up early and down at the sea terminal for 11am to check on the boat and found that it had been put back to 3pm from 2pm.

We had a teacake in Capone's and passed a couple of hours before returning well before 1pm to start loading, only to find about 60 bikes already through the gates.

I can't say I am all that enamoured with the service from the Steam Packet. Compared with P&O or Eurotunnel it is a case of amateur hour.

The bike was tied up and once again I was lucky that there was no body contact with the boat. Leaning the bike against a padded rail seems primitive! But I suppose it works! I didn't see anyone complaining of damage!

The crossing time was up to 2h 50m from the 2 hours on the ticket. Once back in Liverpool it was a palaver to untangle all the bikes and get off into the fresh air. It was gone 6.10pm as we emerged both by my clock and the Liver Buildings clock.

Signposts seems hit and miss but we eventually found the M62 and Manc bound. I didn't realise how we would make progress and had booked a £15 room at the Travelodge at Hilton Park. In the end we were there a little after 7.30pm so if I had thought about it I could have looked further south. I discounted riding all the way home and getting home after midnight.

Dinner was in the room watching the TV. In fact the first healthy meal of the trip. No sausage, no burger just a tuna salad.

Home tomorrow.

Day 9

All day run home with a few stops along the way for coffee and petrol. Another superb trip away.

Posted by InvictaMoto 06:32 Archived in Isle of Man Comments (0)

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