If you came here from Part 6 – Race Day, you’re up to speed on how this story has evolved. If not, I suggest you start at Part 1 – Background. When we last left our heroes, they had overcome a series of ridiculous obstacles and had earned a 64th-place finish (out of 90 starters) in the 2014 Manx Grand Prix with a 1992 Suzuki GSXR 1100 that was built in our garage. The bike and tools are packed and ready for shipping, so now they can enjoy the awards banquet and three days of sight-seeing and visiting friends.
As I mentioned in the last post, Rich reported that Wade was able to hobble up to the podium to accept credit for his 64th place finish. Just surviving the race is such an accomplishment that everyone who finishes gets acknowledged at the banquet. Rich also pointed out that the awards banquet had a nice pub, and that the Barkeepers give the racers one heck of a pour.
Three days as Tourists
Until the race was in the books and the crates packed, every moment was spent overcoming adversity and tending to business, which included daily laps of the island in the rental car to familiarize Rich with the course. As I mentioned earlier, those laps were critical to giving him the perspective he needed to interpret to the feedback he was getting from Wade and make appropriate tuning adjustments to the suspension and the engine. But they didn’t really count as touring.
With three days to relax before their flight home, our heroes finally had a chance to relax and be tourists. Among other things, Rich reported these field trips:
- The IOM actually has three race courses and we hot lapped each one in our rent’a’racer.
- We also spent a nice afternoon visiting Peel, one of the oldest towns – as a Left-Coaster, it’s hard to get used to grave markers that list DOD as 1400-something
- Lunched in Ramsey sitting by the quay enjoying the sea air and just relaxing.
- Met up with Peter and Jean Tucker, locals who have known Wade since the mid-1990s but didn’t manage to cross paths until after the race. Peter later sent me this photo of the four of them.
After Wade and Rich got home, I scoured the internet for photos and found these gems. Dave Kneen, Manx Photos Online, you ARE the man! As always, click on the photos to see the full-res version – trust me, it’s worth it, especially for the Ballaugh Bridge photo.
Town of Kirk Michael, Practice, Thursday 8/21
Gooseneck, Practice, Friday 8/22. Note his left hand shading his eyes against the sun!
Creg-ny-Baa, Race, Friday 8/29
And of course, the one you’ve all been waiting for, the iconic Ballaugh Bridge airborne shot, Wed 8/20 (his first day on course). Remember, he’s about to land on a broken right foot!
Getting home seems anti-climatic after what they’ve been through. I know, you probably expected to hear that the volcano in Iceland stranded them for weeks. Or that their plane vanished in the Bermuda Triangle. Or that the cargo ship sank with all of the Team USA bikes aboard. But none of that happened. Wade and Rich made it home as scheduled without incident, and they calmly cooled their jets for 2-1/2 months until the ship with the bikes wandered into port just before Thanksgiving. BTW, here’s what the shipping crate looked like when it showed up in the driveway on the trailer after being picked up from the Port of Oakland, with tool boxes and lifts stuffed in every nook and cranny..
Well what else, planning for 2015. Our motto is, “If one was good, more will be better.” We had hoped to bring four bikes in 2015, but two of them didn’t work out. One was recently denied entry by the organizers (for reasons that are unclear to me – politics?). At least this year, we got that word in advance of shipment – last year, Wade shipped the bike and was denied entry after it showed up. The other (a Classic Moto-Guzzi) didn’t get finished in time because the engine builder wasn’t able to meet the deadlines. As I write this, the following bikes have been entered and accepted in the event, and are currently undergoing final prep for shipment:
- “Betty Boop”, the 1992 Suzuki GSXR750 we’ve grown to love in this tale, will be making a repeat appearance, but in the Classic TT Formula 1 race instead of the Senior Manx GP. She has a new engine, but the venerable eBay motor will be along for the ride as a spare.
- “Purple Yam”, the 2015 Yamaha R6 that spent about 10 minutes in its new-from-the-showroom configuration before it was unceremoniously stripped and rebuilt with all new parts and bodywork, will be entered in the Junior Manx GP.
Yes, all of the bikes have nicknames. Just like our pets.
In 2015, the goal is to win a replica award. These are special trophies given at three levels – Gold, Silver, Bronze – only to those who finish within a percentage of the winner’s time.
You can bet there are more episodes of this Isle of Man Adventure to come!
All photos on course (Ballaugh, Creg-ny-Baa, Gooseneck, Kirk Michael) – Dave Kneen, Manx Photos Online