Isle of Man TT: Pinchin's blog - meeting nice people and seeing nice motorcycles, what the TT's all about
02 June 2008 10:30
I got caught out on Saturday by the scorching sunshine in the morning before the Superbike Isle of Man TT race and it’s been sunny ever since.
Despite copious aftercare, the tan is wearing off. I’m peeling!
Why am I writing this? It’s my way of saying the weather has been absolutely bloody gorgeous on the Island.
Sunday was a bit of a lazy day after a week of practice sessions and Saturday’s races, which meant working late into the evening. Tough, but someone has to do it.
So my partner Helen and I trundled over to Port Erin on the narrow-gauge steam train for a spot of lunch. Keeping things totally traditional, instead of fish and chips sat on the beach, we opted for the gold old British Sunday roast in the Falcoln’s Nest, on the corner of the coastal road, overlooking the beach. Very nice lunch was too, thank you.
Outside the hotel was a bunch of Kawasaki triples. I’d seen them wailing along the Douglas Prom earlier in the week making a right old lovely row and was hoping I’d get a close look.
Here they were – well five of them, ranging from very early 500s to the later 400s and a 750. The 750 was absolutely gorgeous, with that old-style two-tone purple gas tank, what I assumed was a lengthened, box-section swing arm and chrome Denco pipes.
That tweaked my old memory banks to time when everyone worth their salt with two-strokes ran Dencos.
I held my own private concours on the spot. The 750 wasn’t original but who gives a toss? One of the 500s had Denco’s too but with little cans on the end its stingers. Another of the 500s, an original white Mach III (is that right? I’m not a classic buff) was a bit scruffy. A brown-coloured 500 was beautifully restored. Cool, but not as cool as the ones on the 750. The 750 won my vote!
I was just happy to see some older motorcycles on the Island. Last year we noticed a huge percentage of Seventies and Eighties superbikes at the Centenary Isle of Man TT and thought it might be a trend. But this year it’s predominantly new sportsbikes
Just down the road (well everywhere is ‘just down the road’ in Port Erin, it’s a tiny place) we discovered an awesome old curiosity shop called Erin Curios. There’s a bunch of old antiques in one window but the rest of the shop if full of motorbikes – and it looks like a working motorbike shop. Well, there was a bloke in there fettling what looked to me like a BSA Rocket Gold Star when I was peering through the window.
In the window there’s a Gilera 500-4 race bike and a red Vincent. I kid you not. There’s also Vincent engine bits all over the shop, a beautiful Francis Barnett and, not quite to classic but just as gorgeous, an old chain drive Harley Sportster - just like my 1991 five-speeder. Well I liked it….
And in the ice cream shop 100 yards down the road there’s another bloody Vincent in the window. Surreal.
We had to wait almost an hour to get the train back to Douglas but what the hell, we sat and had coffee at the station ‘tea shop,’ watching the staff prepare the old engine for our return journey. I do like this laid back lifestyle. And two coffees? Two pounds thirty of your English pounds sir. Starbucks, take note. And it was a better quality coffee too.
The carriages are like little private rooms for six to eight and Jono and Lee, two bikers from Cambridge, jumped in our cabin at Castletown. Turns out the lads had escaped from the judgery of normal life on ‘weekend passes’ – well that’s what they said - and had to go back on Monday but at least they got to see the Superbike Isle of Man TT and Sidecars.
It’s fair to say there was a bit of banter. They were over on a Honda and a Ducati Foggy replica but, long-time bikers and Isle of Man TT fans (26 years since their TT ‘debuts’) they came over last year on a Trident and Commando to celebrate the Centenary.
And then had the temerity to say they could see a time when they might have to buy Harleys. At that point they had no idea I owned a Harley! The ‘leather chaps and tassles’ piss-taking that followed certainly made it a memorable trip.
You meet the nicest people…..on an Isle of Man train.