Isle of Man Classic TT 2016

Editor-in-Chief Richard Backus and 13 intrepid Motorcycle Classics readers travel to the Isle of Man Classic TT.

| March/April 2017

  • Fans watching at the Gooseneck, an excellent spot to watch racers as they start their way up Mount Snaefell on the Isle of Man Mountain Course.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • Prototype 1975 BSA single with Norton Isolastics at the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham, England.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • GPS à la carte. Cellphone taped to the gas tank on one of the Benellis — sticker reads “In this country we circle on the left.”
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • Getting ready to load onto the Ben-my-Chree ferry at Heysham for the crossing to the Isle of Man.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • Helmut Dähne in the paddock with his 1976 IOM Production TT-winning BMW R90S.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • Our group split between two hotels in Douglas, the Ascot (shown) and the Rutland.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • Our group split between two hotels in Douglas, the Ascot and the Rutland (shown).
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • A sea of bikes at the Festival of Jurby. The parking lot was a show in itself.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • Alan Millyard’s 5,000cc aero-engined Flying Millyard.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • Jan Coning exiting Governor’s Bridge during the Senior TT.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • The famed Creg-ny-Baa pub on the back side of Mount Snaefell.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • Our group getting ready for the return ferry.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • Where’s the best Yorkshire pudding? On the Isle of Man, of course.
    Photo by Richard Backus
  • Our group on the quay at Peel. Would we do it again? Without hesitation! It was the trip of a lifetime.
    Photo by Richard Backus

Read our blog post featuring feedback from some of the participants and Mark Scott's story on the tour in addition to our full article below.

“Owners of domestic animals and livestock adjoining the course, please ensure they are secure during the practice and race periods.” That’s not the sort of warning you normally hear blaring from the public address system at a race. But then, this isn’t your normal race. Welcome to the Isle of Man Classic TT.

It’s Saturday morning, the first day of racing at the 2016 Isle of Man Classic TT and Manx GP, and our group is struggling for equilibrium as we work our way through the paddock to watch the start of the Senior TT. For the past two days we’ve been riding across England, acclimating ourselves to confusing roundabouts, riding on the “wrong” side of the road, and fighting various problems with our vintage motorcycles. Our ferry has only just landed in Douglas, the capital, a few hours ago, after a 2 a.m. departure and 3-1/2-hour sail. We are, in a word, beat.

The “we” are myself and 13 intrepid Motorcycle Classics readers, joined together for a tour on vintage bikes from London to the Isle of Man. Leading our ride is MotoTouring founder Eligio Arturi, a veteran of tours to the far flung reaches of the world, including Africa, Japan, Bolivia, Southeast Asia, Central America, Cuba and more. An adventurer at heart (he led Land Rover expeditions across North Africa before BMW hired him in the early 1990s to lead adventure motorcycle tours), Eligio clearly enjoys rides that are a little rough around the edges, where the unexpected is welcomed, even when it means things don’t go your way.



Running dry

That last bit has definitely rung true on our ride so far, with several breakdowns — all minor, and all fixed quickly — and several bouts of running out of gas. Those little “oops” moments truncated our visit to the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham and, the next day, Liverpool, famous as the hometown of the Beatles. A planned afternoon at the museum shrank to a few hours, enough time to make a circuit of the collection but not enough to really take in the world’s most remarkable and comprehensive collection of British-made motorcycles. Then again, that would take days. In Liverpool we stretched our legs at the city’s historic harbor district on the River Mersey, some of us going straight for the pubs for a bite to eat, others checking out the Merseyside Maritime Museum at Albert Dock or heading toward the “Three Graces,” a trio of elegant, early 20th century buildings (the Royal Liver, Cunard and Port of Liverpool buildings) lining the waterfront.



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