Wednesday, 3 June 2015

TT Day 4 - Turbulent Practice

On Tuesday we were up at the garage at 09h00 to work on the bikes. Some final prep and a few graphics on the Triumph and putting a new clutch in the KMR.

Triumph through Ramsay

She's purdy...

In the garage, our landlords have lent us a wee wireless radio that we listen to Radio Manx on. Course and weather updates during the day. I had bumped the tuning knob earlier and it kept switching between Radio Manx and another station. We couldn't get the tuning right. Over lunch we heard on the radio: "This evening's practice has been cancelled due to adverse weather...". Looking out the window, it was sunny... but very windy. 'Bummer' we thought.

Changing the clutch on the KMR - enduro style

We would take the opportunity to get the KMR dyno'd (mandatory). By 14h00 we had both bikes ready, loaded up the KMR and hauled it up to the grandstand to get dyno'd. We waited in the dyno queue and finally it was our turn. She got the thumbs up and came in at a healthy 92 horsepower.

Queue for the dyno

As we finished, the skrootineering bays opened up and bikes started queuing for skrootineering. I saw Ivan Lintin and asked him whether practice was cancelled. Nope - it was going ahead. Because of the blustery conditions and rain showers forecast, it wouldn't be timed. The message we heard on the radio must have been a replay from Monday's announcement. We were in the paddock but only had 1 bike with no fairings on it and none of the other gear we need for practice.

Another SAffer - BSB Superstock champ Hudson Kannaugh

Battle Stations! We slung the KMR back on the trailer and barged our way out of the super-busy paddock. Back to the garage... load the Triumph and gear. Back to the paddock and fight our way through the crows to our paddock space. Unload and Triumph up to skrootineering... fairings back on the KMR and up through skrootineering. At 17h50 we had both bikes through skroots and on tyre warmers for the 18h20 practice start. Cutting it fine.

Alan (Bud) Jackson - 68 TT Finishes and 29 ManxGP/Classic TT finishes - Legend!

Practice starts from Glencrutchery Road - at the Classic TT/Manx, we start from pit-lane where it is crammed and a disorganized mess. Feels a bit more special to go up onto Glencrutchery Road for the start. Soon I'm paddling the Triumph up to the starter who put his hand on my shoulder.

Tap. And we're off. The rider staring next to me is on a 1000cc machine and drags past me up to St. Ninians. Over the bumps before that fast jump, the Triumph feels harsh and flighty. the bars flicking in my hands. Damn! We got to sort this out for the next session.

Through St. Ninians and the guy on the 1000cc had gapped me by about 10 yards... but he then rolls. I have to roll the throttle too  over the jump and then get back on the gas hard to overtake him on his outside at the next right-hander. He wasn't a newcomer but perhaps there was something wrong with his bike... or this was his first visit on a 1000cc. On with the lap...

The Triumph is fast. The fastest bike I have ever ridden around the Isle. Silky smooth power deliver, pulls from low down and sounds gorgeous. Slick gear-change through the quickshifter - I'm sort shifting a lot and only hitting 14 000 rpm a few times. Despite that, I am still going faster through some sections than I even have before. I also need to get accustomed to having very little engine braking - on the big Vee Twins I normally race, letting go of the throttle is like putting on the brakes... not so with this wee triple cylinder machine. I need to anticipate the brakes earlier.

One of the fast boys - Keith Amor

Shift lights on the dash need adjusting. my seating position feels scrunched up and a bit too small. I keep bashing my helmet against the top edge of the screen. Rain showers through Glen Helen. I get a nice slide on through the fast Doran's as I cross the white line. "Whooooah". Easy, tiger. More patchy rain and damp patches. Over the bumps the bike is a handful. I learn a lot and this bike that has very different characteristics to what I am used to.

Another legend - Dave 104 TT finishes and 28 ManxGP/Classic TT finishes since 1982

Pretty soon and I'm on my second lap - being careful where it's damp and feeling the bike. Understanding the bike.

I get back to the grandstand before the second session starts where Nic is waiting with the KMR all warmed-up, fueled and ready to go. I have a 10 minutes rest before slinging my leg over the bike and heading down Glencrutchery Road. Bray Hill flat out this time :-)

Rising star and one of the top privateers last year - Ivan Lintin

The KMR is so different to the Triumph. It's like a big, soft armchair - the Triumph a hard metal barstool. We made some changes to the geometry... they were working beautifully. She is solid and stable yet light and easy to turn. The easiest bike I have ridden around the Isle so far. Thanks Ryan and Warren!

Visor clean between sessions

As I get through Konker Trees, Ryan Farquhar goes past on his new version of the KMR. I go to school. His new bike is fast! I hang on for a mile or two till Ramsay where it is wet and raining. I get back behind him up the Waterworks. It's dry and he blitzes me up to the Mountain Mile where he disappears into the distance. The difference between 117mph and 107mph laps.

The wee bike put out a healthy 92 bhp

At Hailwood's it starts raining... around the bend and a massive black cloud is where Douglas should be... a storm in the valley. The rain turns to a deluge. The road has running water on it and the massive drops sting as they pelt off my leathers. I knock the speed off and just pootle along... getting drenched. The rain clears by the time we get to the Cregg. I do a few more fast, dry corners and when I get to Governor's dip, I decide that it's not worth going for the second lap. To the start/finish line and the session is red-flagged. Shortly after, the rest of practice is abandoned. I feel for the sidecar guys... they haven't got a lap in yet.

Pootling the Triumph into Signpost Corner

We're happy. Riding the Triumph for the first time here - it is fast, but we need to work on the handling and a few ergonomics. The KMR changes were in the right direction and she feels great :-) , Our garage landlord, Glenda, was marshaling at Kirmichael. When we dropped the bikes off after the session she said there were 4 riders behind me on the first lap... the same 4 were behind me on the second lap. Great to know that I'm not getting my ass handed to me on a plate by the TT regulars :-)

The girls all tucked in for the night


  1. Hi Paul !
    Good Luck on the TT ! Great! A freakin'n dream...
    Man, those are 2 fine bikes !
    As always a threat to read your posts. Super!
    Stay Safe, Mate !