Part 2 of the Ireland trip begins.
Last night was quiet. The highlight was going to get pizza around the corner from the hotel. While sitting inside I comically watched as homeless people accosted a man for his slice of pizza upon exiting the restaurant. When I left, completely forgetting what I just witnessed, I was immediately set up by vagrants like a pack of seagulls accosting a small child with a loaf of bread at the beach.
I woke up in my hotel in central Dublin and took a taxi to the airport where I boarded a flight to the Isle of Man. No that is not the name of a new reality TV show backdrop, but rather a very small island between Ireland and Great Britain. Why would I be going to this remote location in the middle of the Irish Sea you ask? Well, it happens to be the location of the oldest motorcycle road race in the world, and more famously, the most dangerous. The Tourist Trophy (TT) Road Race happens every year. Thousands of fans and 50+ racers show up to beat the clock around a 37 mile loop comprised of country lanes hemmed in by stone walls. It averages a few deaths each year, and this year proved to be no different.
The flight over was uneventful. It is hard to have too much happening on a flight that last 15 minutes. I guess there were a couple stories. One was that a Nascar Driver, Kurt Busch, was on my flight. There were only about 30 people on the plane so it was not hard to pick him out. Honestly I would not have known, but some other American guy made a fuss about it. It was kinda funny because in America it would have been a huge deal I assume, but over here no one cares about stock car racing.
The lady next to me on the flight was the one who pointed it out. It was a fortuitous situation for me because after we got to talking, the lady offered me a ride from the airport into town.
Otherwise I would have had to wait for a bus and navigate how to get close to my campsite. Since the race takes place on the city streets it was a clusterfuck to try and get anywhere. She basically dropped me off right on the other side of the track from my site. I was supposed to arrive after that days races, but since someone died earlier that afternoon, the race was delayed a few hours while they cleared the debris. To get to my camp I would either wait 3 hours for race to end and road to open, or climb under and through a bridge drainage duct. I opted to wade through the stream. As I got through I broke one of my flip flops. It was muddy, and if you have ever tried to continue walking on a broken flip-flip you know it doesn’t go well. When I emerged, I had my backpack on and basically needed 2 guys to help me up onto the bank. I felt like a beached whale on a beach that do-gooders were trying to rescue.
I had a beer, as the lady in the car gave me one. Who randomly carries beer in their car after a flight I don’t know, but I opened it with my teeth and sat and watched the races.
These guys were racing past at 200mph. After a few laps I had go the gist and went to find camp. I then realized that even though I crossed through the drainage ditch, I had emerged on the wrong side of the river and had to go back in and climb the opposite bank. I was spending the next few nights in a tent on a rugby field.
I registered and got a tour of the showers and facilities that were to be shared for hundreds of drunk Englishmen.
I set up the tent. The races were still going on so I walked the 100 paces over to a stone wall to watch the side cars. I thought the crotch rockets were crazy. These 2 guys are flying around the track, leaning into each corner. How would you like to be the passenger on this contraption. Thinking, “Man, I really hope Jimmy isn’t pissed at me about how I told him off last night and cut this corner to tight and send me flying into a 800 year old stone barricade.”
Then one of the spectators dropped his sunglasses over the wall onto the track. I thought, “oh this has a lot of potential.” I wondered if he was drunk enough to climb out there and get them. Waving back to his buddies, “I got them!” as a side car cuts him off at the knees. He opted for the responsible course of action and let the glasses lie.
I was in bed early that night and took a few sleeping pills as I knew otherwise I would be up all night listening to jackasses around me. The people all around me sounded like Brad Pitt in the movie “Snatch”. I could not understand a damn word they were saying, but I could tell it was just meaningless drivel flowing from their mouths. This was like the English version of Sturgis back home. Instead of bearded rednecks on Harleys with American flags these were Manchester hooligans wearing all leather riding gear on crotch rockets. Revving first gear at ear-splitting decibels. When the track opened up, all these idiots would fly around the course. I think the majority of the deaths are from drunk fans thinking it was a good idea to take a sharp corner at 80mph, scrapping a knee on the pavement, and then launching over the hedges. I made sure to not watch the race from a corner.
I went to the main building for breakfast the next morning and then headed to the start/finish line of the day’s races to explore the festivities. At the campgrounds they have a bar setup. When I was eating breakfast, an older gentleman walked in and asked the server for a pint of Guinness. To which the server responded, “Seamus, its 630 am.” Seamus just stands there. “we don’t serve beer at 630am.” Seamus cheerful retorts, “Right-O, we will see you later I guess, when would you be serving?” “Later" the server responds while shaking his head.
I had all day. I walked a couple miles to the paddocks. About halfway there I saw a cell phone out on the road/track. I ran out and picked it up. While I was standing on the corner, some race official came by and asked if anyone saw a phone. I gave it to him and he was so appreciative/relieved that he drove me up to the race garages.
This race was unique in a number of ways. One was that the garages were all open to the public and free of charge.
After buying some shirts and checking things out I walked on into the coastal town of Douglas. It was actually a quite charming place and was surprised why more English people don’t come over here for vacation. I should say that the Isle of Man is tied to the UK, but has its own parliamentary system. Somewhat like Ireland before becoming an independent country in the 1960s.
The highlight of the walk was coming upon a statue of the Bee Gees
I learned that they came from this island. I wonder how tired the locals are of hearing about that one.
I walked back up to the track to watch the days races. I went to buy a sweatshirt, and the salesman told me, “That’s a woman’s shirt.” I replied roughly, “I know that! It’s for a friend” and walked away. I still kinda wish I bought it. Even though it was baby blue in color I did like the design. What exactly defines a woman’s sweatshirt anyway?
The race took about 3 hours. I watched a bit, got bored and walked around some more. It seems to be a forgone conclusion that 1 of 3 guys will win and the other 2 will finish in some order on the podium. I don’t know how much is skill vs bike performance, but kinda anticlimactic.
I saw this bike in the garage and was impressed with all the wiring connected to the dash
This booth set up by Monster Energy drinks was interesting. They were giving free haircuts and tattoos. Seems like a reasonable thing to do on the spur of the moment.
I then saw my buddy Kurt Busch up on stage. He was bombing as again no one cared who he was. I would see him again on the flight out tomorrow. By that point I felt like we were friends.
I watched the completion of the races and even saw the winners pull into victory lane. Michael Dunlop was the winner today, but there were a whole week of races on various size bikes.
I stood behind this guy because I could follow the loudspeaker announce various spots on the course and identify them by looking at the course on the back of his shirt
Here a shot of one of the fans. I mean who walks around a race in 80 degree heat in some full leather dominatrix outfit? Another quiet night for me as I saw no reason to get drunk in a pub with a rowdy group of middle-aged crazy people
I flew back to Dublin the next morning. It took me about 3 hours to go 20 minutes to the airport as I had to get 3 different buses and then just bailed and found a taxi after it was getting too close to missing my flight. My bags got misplaced when landing in Dublin. I eventually got back to my hotel and walked around a bit more.
I stumbled into the Jameson Distillery tour. Similar to the Guinness Tour last week, I pocket a couple tour shot glasses for no good reason other than to see if I could. They don’t actually produce any Whiskey here anymore. All is produced down in Cork, but this place still functions as a sort of museum.
After a few drinks on top of some edibles I headed back to my hotel. I stopped at a pub and had another drink
While sitting enjoying my beer I looked to my left and noticed something
It was a hurling stick hanging behind the bar. That would be great to have. I came up with an elaborate plan to have it end up in my pack, multiple steps and moving parts. I wish I could remember how it all played out, but I am sworn to secrecy. I wrote the story down and put in boxes marked "classified" and am currently storing them in my bathroom.
I flew home the next day. At airport I saw this lady with a Tshirt that said:
“They Thought I Was Gay”
I desperately wanted to find out what the back said. I came up with all these various answers, but I never did find out.
Anyway, back to my closing arguments on the trip. I had a really amazing trip. The weather, whiskey and manageable hike all played their part. I guess this is the next phase of travel for me. No more extreme physical exertion, but rather mind-altering experiences mixed with manageable levels of exercises. I do admit that I should have mixed in more social interactions and nights out at local pubs for potential stories and adventures, but there is always something to improve upon or next time.
Trail Sign I made when getting home
Until Next Time