2007 Isle of Man TT

An TT first-timer gets his feet wet at the 100th anniversary of the Isle of Man TT

| November/December 2007

Leaning the booming bevel-drive Ducati 900 hard into the corner, I let the bike drift over into the opposing lane, fearless of oncoming traffic. I’m racing the clock on the infamous Isle of Man TT course, so I’m not worried about any four-wheeled interference. Rough-hewn stone walls blur past inches from my helmet as the rear tire wiggles along the slippery, off-camber surface. Thousands of people cheer along the roadside, but I don’t have time to wave as I set up for the next corner, which is heading towards me scary-fast ...

“Wake up, Mr. Roberts,” says the nurse at the side of my hospital bed. Time for another needle. Great. (Why do they always stick you at 2 a.m.?) Well, it was a nice dream while it lasted. And Lord knows, I needed my dreams.

A month in hospital and rehab facilities gives you plenty of time to ponder life. I was there thanks to a bad motorcycle accident, and it looked like I’d done some serious damage to my right foot, not to mention my busted-up right shoulder and upper arm. But more importantly, things were looking grim for my long-awaited trip to the famed Isle of Man TT in England, which was only six months away. I’d been planning for the 2007 Isle of Man TT for years, asking friends as far back as 1999, “Hey, whatcha up to in June 2007? The 100th anniversary of the Isle of Man TT is coming, wanna go?” Now, it looked like I might have to pass. Who’d want to travel to a bike race in a wheelchair?

A bit of Isle of Man TT background
If you don’t know the Isle of Man TT (for “Tourist Trophy”), you should. As Mecca is to Muslims, as the Vatican is to Catholics, so is the TT to motorcyclists worldwide: It’s a place of pilgrimage and worship, holy in the annals of road racing, sacred in the Scriptures of Speed. To visit the Isle of Man for the TT is to be immersed in 100 years of two-wheeled speed-freak history, and to be surrounded by the most hard-core of racers and fans. Until it was taken off the Grand Prix circuit by the international racing body FIM in 1976, the TT had been another stop in the motorcycle GP world tour for years. Racers such as Giacomo Agostini, Mike Hailwood, John Surtees, Joey Dunlop and Phil Read built their heroic reputations screaming around the island’s 37-3/4 mile-long course.

The time had come for my own Isle of Man TT hajj, so I made up my mind: If the doc said I was OK to use crutches and get outta the #*@! wheelchair at least two months before the June TT, I’d go no matter what. I was liberated from The Chair at the end of March, and after twice-weekly physical therapy sessions I managed to strengthen my right arm enough to crutch around like any healthy 90-year-old ...

There were, however, a few, er, logistical problems I’d have to deal with on my trip, mainly the fact I couldn’t carry gear in my usual duffle bag as my hands would be full of crutches. I decided to use a backpack, something I’d always associated with the grungy young touristas I’d hung with during my years living in Southeast Asia. How to carry a heavy pack on a busted shoulder? No worries, I’d work that out on arrival.

Ride 'Em, Don't Hide 'Em Getaway

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