How to memorise 37 miles of the TT course

The world’s leading professional nutcases, daredevils and racing heroes reveal their expert knowledge on the most ridiculous biking feats you can imagine...

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Having won around the Isle of Man TT course a sensational 23 times, there are few who know the circuit better than John McGuinness. 

Here’s how to memorise the 37-mile TT course by the legend himself:

“I’m not one of those riders that go through the course in their head, thinking about every gear change and every bump. To be honest, if I start thinking about the course too much it starts to scare me. A lot of people memorise everything, but I don’t. In terms of learning it takes two or three years to get any real idea of where you’re going. When I was 17 I came over on my TZR 125, filled it up with petrol and rode around until it ran out, and then did the same again and again and again.

“I watched ‘V for Victory’ a million times on the old VCR and then just put the laps in until I knew it. Now it’s engraved in my mind and I don’t even have to think about the course layout. I know the course bump for bump, gear for gear, but only the track. Milky Quayle knows every lamp post, tree and kerb but I don’t have those reference points so I have less to remember. The real twist is that you’ve never got it absolutely nailed.


“You know where you’re going but there are some things you just can’t prepare for like wind, damp sections or new bumps in the surface. Some riders spend ages going round the track before TT week but I don’t bother, you can never learn as much as you do when you do your first laps on the bike in practice week. It takes about two years to memorise it. It’s like serving your time; it probably takes you two or three years to learn how to do a hip replacement if you’re a surgeon. I went to college and learned to lay bricks, while this might be a bit more tricky it’s the same idea. It’s like learning at school.  Riding around the TT is my job; I have to know it so I do.”

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Andy Davidson

By Andy Davidson

Former MCN Feature writer