Twice a year the Isle of Man comes alive. From all over the world people come here for the TT and the Manx Grand Prix races. The TT is the premiere of the two events, a comparison to the majors in the sporting world while the Manx Grand Prix is the sister event in which those hoping to compete in the TT need to earn their place, proving that they can indeed handle the sheer insanity that encompasses racing on the island.
You see racing on the island is like no other, there isn’t a well-manicured track with plenty of gravel and runoff areas allowing bikers to gracefully glide across in their leathers when they make an error, oh no, not here. Your track is on the public roads, through towns, countryside and mountains. Your runoff is a brick wall, a field, a tree or some hay bails if you’re lucky, but that’s what makes it so special. As I said earlier, every year the island comes alive for 4 weeks, the 85,000 population drastically increases with visitors getting to experience everything the island has to offer. I’ve only ever been to one TT and immediately got the bug and always wanted to go back and since I now live permanently on the island, I was lucky enough to catch some of the Grand Prix that recently took place, immediately all the excitement and tremors returned when the first bike blasts only a few feet past you doing speeds that feel like Mach 3! It’s pure madness.
If you’ve never watched the TT, I’ll leave a link below so you can see a snippet of it. If it doesn’t leave you with goosebumps on the back of your neck, I’m sorry that you miss out on those experiences. The thing with the TT and MGP is that it is so very raw, bikers scream through the closed town roads and around the island circuit with speeds exceeding 200mph… Whether you’re a petrol head or not, you must, must experience it at least once in your life, the sounds and smells are just phenomenal. In most events you can tell who the better players or performers are just by watching, with the TT, it’s the complete opposite, close your eyes and listen. How you distinguish the difference between the top and the newbie riders are the sounds of the engines and how hard they’re riding them. I love to watch at Cronk-Y-Voddy, here the riders come down a hot straight and throw it over the hill on a fast right-hander at speeds of around 175mph. I like to sit just over the hill on the embankment where the bikes come within about 4 feet of you. You can hear them coming, but you don’t see them until they come over the top and full bore at you. The experienced and I say this tentatively ‘fearless’ riders don’t lift off, they have already set themselves into the cornering line and just keep on it. Like I said, all you have to do is close your eyes and you’ll hear the difference, it’s quite the sensation. Even after you’ve felt like your world has fallen out beneath you as the bike passes, the smell that is left lingering of engine fumes is what completes the memories.
So what’s the point of this blog? For you to come to watch a TT or MGP? Well yes, but the true point of it is what I have learnt from these guys. They leave absolutely nothing on the line, it’s 110% focus and commitment. As they sit there on the bike mentally going through final visualisations and preparations of the circuit, they eventually have to tip the visor down, pull the front wheel up to the individual start line for the split start and are greeted with a friendly hand on the shoulder. They know in that very moment, right before they get the tap on the shoulder to go, that this could well be their last moments in this life. The family hugs, kisses, team good luck and goodbyes may have been the last. Tragically, there are multiple fatalities each year for both racers and tourists but these guys know the risks, they know what’s at stake and each year, continue to show up, getting faster and faster. But as they get the shoulder tap from the starter, all those thoughts disappear, it’s nothing but arrow focus and the task at hand. There is no wiggle room, you mentally disengage just for a split second, you die. Simple as. All this leaves me thinking of how pathetic it is when I feel like the world is ending after I have a poor round or tournament, these guys are literally playing Russian roulette and I’m quibbling about shooting 75…
I have the utmost respect and admiration for the riders and have learned an awful lot from them in the brief experiences I’ve had watching. As I try to relate it to my career, it’s the level of focus and preparation they do, the commitment to their craft and pure desire and drive to succeed, never let anyone ever tell them they didn’t at least give it their all. Because at the end of the day, if we die doing what we love, would we really want it any other way? That being said, I hope I don’t die on a golf course anytime soon… but when I’m a 100 years old, I’d like to think I tapped in on the 18th for a 99 in the sunset.
So what’s next for me? Well, next week I head back off to European Tour Qualifying school, I’ve opted to go to Bristol and try my luck at the Players Club this time around and I’m just going with an open mind. Trying to put away any expectations and just go and compete with one or two focus points, trying not to let my mind wonder about the what-ifs and worst case scenario, I head back into the office the following week. My game is in an interesting state, some areas are in really good form and others as my old school teachers would say, “could do better”, but we all know how fickle golf can be, I like to think that I usually start to find some form this time of the year so hoping I finally get that good streak, certainly been long overdue.
As always, scores will be available through my results page and I’m sure I’ll have some thoughts about my upcoming results. See if I can take a leaf out of the true heroes book, arrow focus and put it all on the line. I recently came across a quote from Theodore Rosevelt again, I used to have a poster of it on my wall at college, and I think it stands true whatever you do in life. Go out and give it everything you have, put it all on the line, again and again. You just never know, it may well be the week that changes your life.
Until next time,