While thumbing through the AMA's magazine, Motorcyclist, I came across an ad that said, Tour England, Wales, and the Isle of Man." I have wanted to go see the races on the Isle of Man for many years. I had read about them, watched on TV, and just dreamed. Here was a chance to go with all (or most) of the necessaries taken care of. I had heard that just trying to get booked on the ferry was a real trip. Here I had all the hotels booked, most all dinners and breakfasts arranged, plus they would rent the motorcycle too! All I had to buy was gas and lunches, plus the beer, of course. I called my brother John and asked if he would care to join me. Duh!
So he and I spent the months after signing up getting our gear together. There was to be no follow vehicle, so we had to carry all we needed. We could leave our suitcases at the hotel or bike rental place. I borrowed a pair of throw over bags and modified a backpack with plastic clips and some metal clip-ons that I made to hook under the tank or fairing. I did not want to buy another small tank bag just for this trip.
We received the listing of bikes and were to choose three; they would try to match people with bikes given that the first to sign up had first choice. Then later they asked that the solo riders not pick the bikes best suited for two up. I ended up with a Kawasaki ER500 and John with a Kawasaki ZR7. Both were nice bikes for the job.
We left on the 21st of August, a day before the tour started, so we could better adjust to that time zone. All the tour members and the tour guides met and we had a get to know your names session. The head guide explained about the tour and gave out maps of our daily rides. He explained that it was most important that we all make the ferry port in time to catch the ferry, as there was no back up.
There were fourteen tour members, made up of four couples, eight singles and the four tour guides. The ages ranged from the middle 40s to 73+ (me).
We picked up our rental bikes, rode back to the hotel, and proceeded to fit our luggage for the next morning's departure to Stratford-upon-Avon for a two-night stay. Some of us took a tour bus around Stratford; some went to the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham.
We left Stratford for a 127 mile ride over some very nice roads to Llangollen, Wales. We stayed off the Motorways as much as possible, enjoying the "A" and "B" roads, which were much nicer and less traffic. Early the next morning, we left Llangollen, going over the Horseshoe Pass. We couldn't see much due to the fog. We arrived in Liverpool at the ferry dock shortly before it was time to load. The bikes were tied three abreast by the ferry people. We watched while the ladies scampered topside to secure seating for us as a group.
We went over to the Isle of Man on the Sea Cat, which was a high-speed ferry. The trip was smooth and pleasant and only took about three hours. On arriving and unloading, we gathered together and proceeded to ride to the town of Port Erin where we made our home for four nights.
The four days on the Isle went by so fast; I have a hard time remembering all that we did. The days they were not racing, we could and did, ride around the course. On race day (we only got one, due to rain) we scattered to go watch the race from various points. John and I met up with some tour members later on during the races. It was a kick to sit up on the embankment, in front of a very old church and watch as the cycles came flashing past.
The motorcycle museum at Peel was a kick also. We took some great riding roads through the center of the island that were more like "tracks" with passing places. Fun to ride? You bet!
We visited the town of Douglas, which is the biggest town. We did some shopping, did a lot of just looking at bikes, people and such.
On Friday, races were cancelled due to rain. The wind blew so hard that it even blew some bikes off their side stands while parked in front of the hotel. The rain had stopped the next morning and the races were rescheduled, but we were already due to leave. There was some concern because the wind was still blowing quite a bit. We figured we would have a tough time going back across. Lucky for us, as we cleared the breakwater, the wind subsided and we had a good ride back to England.
We arrived in the port of Heysham and debarked the bikes, and headed for the Lakes District and the town of Keswick where we were to spend two nights. John and I took the next day to ride south to Kendal and visit with friends, then down to Lindale-over-Sands to see some other friends. On leaving Keswick, four of us went by an old WWII airfield and museum on the way to York. Finding the hotel in York was a bit of a puzzle. We, of course, got really lost, ended up going down a pedestrian pathway along the river, then down a sidewalk between two buildings, coming out near where we needed to turn down to the hotel.
York was a laundry day, so we turned in most of our clothes the next morning, being assured that we would have them back by four that afternoon, time enough to be able to repack for the next morning's early departure for Melton Mow Bray. On returning to the hotel after all day touring York, we were told that the laundry would not be back until eight or nine the next morning. Serious conversation with the hotel staff resulted in a promise of laundry at 7:00 A.M. Needless to say, the damp laundry arrived at eight thirty, and was packed in a great hurry. John and I swore never to do that again.
Four of us decided to do a side trip to Castle Donning ton and visit the Race Car Museum and Track. Finding Donning ton turned out to be a trip as they were in the middle of re-marking the roads and had some very important signs (to us) covered over. We found it anyway and it was worth every bit of trouble.
We traveled from York to Melton Mow Bray, spent the one night there and then continued onto just outside Windsor Castle to the village of Eton to stay our last night.
We turned our motorcycles in at the hire place and were bussed to the hotel for a very good dinner and good byes, a most enjoyable summer trip.