<Part Two of TEAM AZ Rides Europe – CLICK HERE FOR ALL SEGMENTS>
I’ve been completely packed for two days now, but I find myself making a couple last minute decisions regarding attire. I’m scurrying around my condo when I hear a concerned voice from the living room, “Whatever you do, don’t kill yourself.”
The statement from the kind, attractive woman in the living room freezes me in my tracks. Fair enough…I deserved that one. In my excitement and prepartion for the trip, I made the poor choice of showing her some video about the Isle of Man TT races. I also showed her some of the more daunting riding routes I would be taking. Her concern is genuine and unfortunate. I didn’t mean to create unnecessary worry, but my excitement clouded my better judgment.
I assure her as best I can. “I’ll be right as rain; nothing to worry about,” I say, trying to relieve some of the fear and provide confidence simultaneously. Reality is her concern is warranted. I’m accepting a larger than usual amount of risk this trip and the Isle of Man is not to be considered lightly. Several motorcyclists, including racers, will lose their life this year during the TT fortnight.
OFF HE GOES
The flight is a bit more convoluted than hoped. Thirty hours after departing from Phoenix I arrive at my chosen destination of Southport, England. I visit some friends, have a nice meal, and retire at the Bed and Breakfast (farmhouse) they’ve chosen for me. It is nice to be among friends; I’ve missed them immensely. Sadly, it initially seems like all work and no play as they are VERY busy. I can’t wait for the weekend.
On Sunday, the first major event for my trip is the World Superbike Race at Donington Park. I’ve visited several race circuits throughout the years and find the track surface to be outstanding. The venue, however, leaves me underwhelmed. The racing was fantastic and I meet up with Mike, the first friend from the US to join me this trip.
Mike and I part ways with my friend Tommo. We leave the circuit and head south towards London with an eye on the Ace Café for the Margate Meltdown rally which will happen the following day. Hope is high when we hit the sack. All we need is for that bright orange orb to make an appearance the next day and life will be good.
DOWN HE GOES
Crash! Bang! Ouch! That was the start to my morning as I slip and fall in a handicapped shower at the hotel. It feels like I’ve cracked a few ribs. The pain is immense and the aspirin I brought with me doesn’t come close to cutting the pain. Sonufa!
Not wanting to slow us down, I suck it up and we crack on with our plan to be at Ace Café by 9am. We meet our deadline, but I’m in a world of hurt. Regardless, I find a way to enjoy this iconic motorcycling spot. Plenty of shopping to do be done and lots of cool Ace Cafe stuff to buy. British sunshine, aka rain, puts a damper on the day. What typically is a 500+ biker rally ends up being about 80 strong.
Instead of following the rally in our rental car, we decide to head north where my friends live so I can obtain some type of medical treatment. We take our time and hit a few motorcycle dealerships and sights along the way. Eventually, we return back to the farmhouse in Southport. We spend a few days receiving some local hospitality, including pain relievers, and then make room for the rest of the crew to join us: Jim, Brad, and Jon.
We are ready to head to the Isle of Man where five motorcycles and a cottage await our arrival. Chops officially licked!
<Find out what happens on the Isle of Man when five Americans meet their first UNLIMITED speed sign!> <CLICK HERE FOR ALL SEGMENTS>