|It's late here so I'll keep this short. I woke up this morning about 7:00 to the alarm I set so I could get up and ride the mountain road before it was closed for the races. I headed out at about 7:40, and climbed the mountain only to find that it was so foggy that I could not see beyond 20 feet in front of me. Needless to say, it was a long trip to Douglas. Not to worry, I was on a mission to complete my autograph collection so I headed straight for the paddock. I would have my 5 favorites or die trying! I knew I would have to be there early before the races started because once they got their game faces on, I would not get any autographs before they went home. unfortunately I arrived at the paddock to find that many of the paddock trailers and tents were gone! See everyone was supposed to be done with the TT yesterday, and as you know, the final blue ribbon race, the Senior, was postponed until today. Many of the riders had to be in the UK for their next races so they sent their crews on ahead to location so they could start prep'ing their other bikes. I had to be deviously clever now. The riders would only show up minutes before their race, and it would be impossible to get their autographs then. Well, I bagged Michael Rutter's signature as he was exiting the men's room in the Mike Hailwood welcome center! He never saw me coming. I sussed out Ryan Farquar's paddock tent in the back 40 and nabbed his too. I was amazed that he took the time really. When I found his tent, he was reassembling his bike in prep for his race. I know better than to interrupt somebody who is putting their bike together because I know from first-hand experience that you might forget that you were only halfway through reattaching a critical part and never finish the operation. Well he saw me standing outside the tent, stopped what he was doing, and said "come on in." Wow, that's fan appreciation. Or his fear that such an old man might die on his doorstep. The police investigation could keep him from making the race. Best to move the old man along. Coincidentally, Ryan Farquar and Michael Rutter finished 1st and 3rd in the day's race. I'd say I brought them good luck, wouldn't you? I forgot to mention, I had been by Michael Dunlop's tent right after the "Michael Rutter Incident" and was told he would be in later. I circled like a little girl at a Beatle's concert, but no Michael Dunlop. Well, where the heck is John McGuinness anyway? More circling and wringing of hands, and as I am walking by the McAdoo paddock tent I see some guy crawling into a van to fetch a t-shirt for a fan who wanted to exchange his medium for a large. "Well" I says to myself "that can't be Michael Dunlop. He wouldn't be mucking about for an exchange t-shirt." So out climbs the guy in the van and poof! It's Michael Dunlop. "Well I neva", I says to meself. Right, quick as a flash I'm on the spot. Michael was pleased to sign the shiny helmet. Well then, where's John McGuinness? Hey, that looks like William Dunlop in that tent there working on his bike. Out of my way, kid, I'm bigger than you and I want my autographs! Not really, but I do manage to wish William the best of luck in beating his brother today (they have quite a rivalry and I already had Michael's signature). He offered to sign my helmet twice! Ok, so those of you who are keeping track know who my top five were, and John McGuinness was at the top. No McG in sight. He is NOT getting onto his bike until I have his John Hancock (turns out there was a rider by that name in a photo on the wall in the Mike Hailwood Welcoming Center). Now I am sitting on a stack of plywood from the now-missing Ian Hutchinson paddock area blabbering to anyone who got near me that I had to have John's autograph. I would not be getting Hutchy's autograph, and it did not look good for McGuinness's either. It just happens that earlier on I had pointed another rabid Dunlop fan with autograph helmet to the brother's respective hiding places (you see I was now the old man on the block, sought after for advice by all other autograph collectors). This girl returns with a big smile to show me her newly acquired Dunlops and she hears me crying about "no John McGuinness today" and she says, "well I heard that his camper trailer is over in the campgrounds somewhere." Ah ha! Now I've got him! You see, I had watched the new DVD called "TT: Closer to the Edge" just before coming over. It was not yet released in the US so I had to buy it online in the UK, and set my laptop's region to region 2 so I could watch it. Little did I know how useful this maniacal act would prove to be. You see, in that film, they interview Himself in front of his home and his Winnebago is parked right behind him in the driveway. I catch the license plate on it and it reads "JM IOM TT" and I think, well I might need to know that some day. Easy enough to remember that acronym. OK, so warp back to "Now I've got him!" The hunt was on. Sure enough, out in the field is the very same Winnebago. I approach the cagy animal so as not to spook it, and I ask the hapless fellow washing his bike in front of a tent nearby "Have you spoken with Mr. McGuinness today?" I used my best official voice as if I had very important matters to discuss. "Oh yeah" he says as if he speaks to Himself every day. Well, he does actually. So I explained my peril (and John's if he doesn't comply with my request)and he says matter-of-factly "well, I'll go see if he's in." "No, I'm sorry, it appears he has gone out to sign autographs." I contain my rage over the fact that he didn't call me first, and ask the gentleman to please hold my helmet as I would be back later to collect it with his signature. (Actually I asked if he would be so kind). He says sure thing stop by around 2:00 (why so late? I'm thinking). I thanked him for his kindness and headed off to get some food to stuff into my face as I was very hungry. I get 20 yards and the man calls out "wait here, he is on his way. I called him and he says he'll be right down to sign your helmet." You have to be kidding me. A few minutes later, there he is, and I say to him as he pulls up on his scooter with a big grin on his face, "no rest for the weary, John." This guy is one in a million. He had been up in the midway food area signing autographs on his spare time as if he ever gets any. So you can see pictures of the McG Winnebago and a picture of myself and Himself in the photos for today's post.
By the way, I lied about keeping it short. Sorry. The third picture is the Japanese "Shinden Mugen" electric bike that John rode in the TT Zero. The name means "unending power of the gods" Just a little bit of trivia. Let's move on to #4. Back when we owned Millennium Antenna Corp. I had visited a small business, A.J.S. Electronics, in Sydney, NY to discuss their doing some automated circuit card assembly for one of our designs. When I arrived, the owners gave me a brief history and explained that they had started out by building motorcycles, and they showed me a photo of one in the main lobby. I thought that was pretty cool, and nothing more. So there I am at a petrol station in Ramsey and in drives this classic A.J.S. motorcycle. I had just finished watching "The 100 Year History of the TT" where I learned that A.J.S. Motorcycles were ridden to wins in a number of the early TT's between 1904 and 1920. I had to shoot a pic of this classic for my race fan friends. I have also included some pictures of Mike Hailwood's winning Ducati that was in the welcoming center. If I remember correctly, this is the bike that Mike won on after being away from the TT for 11 years. Everyone thought it was very quaint to have Mike back on the track for a photo op, and they were quite surprised when he ran away with the race. Clarke, you probably know this race - 1977 or 78 I think? Not sure.
Move past the two pictures of my autographed helmet (placed here solely to inspire the envy of all of my race fan chums) and onto the illuminating signpost. I had been told early on in the UK that all gratuities are included in the bill when you take a cab, buy a dinner, etc. So I knew that it wasn't necessary to tip, but I had no idea it was a fine-able offense! (Tipping is the UK word for dumping)
Why does he have a picture of a stone wall? you might ask. Well, a bit of Manx trivia - it has long been believed by the Manx that there is mystical power in white stones like quartz (now we know where the folks at the craft fairs in the US got the whole mystical gems idea from). I had noticed that most of their walls are topped with white stones or white stone shards and asked a local who offered that explanation. He says that they placed white stone tiles in the floors of many of their churches as a matter of fact. Umm, OK. I will be visiting their historical sites on Monday and will check this story.
Just in case Clarke or Lora or Greg are getting impatient to hear who won the Senior TT, I have to tell you before I go any further - nobody. Much to my dismay and everyone else s it was cancelled for the first time in 100+ year the history of the TT. Well, there's always next year right?
I walked several miles to get to the "Gooseneck" on the mountain road so I could watch the Lightweight TT (650's) and the Senior. By the time I had gotten McG's autograph I did not have time to ride up there before the course was closed. Bob, the neighbor I told you about last night, actually walked half of the way just so I wouldn't get lost. I tried to dissuade him but he wouldn't hear it. Great guy, and a lot of fun to talk to. I took a very nice wooded path for the last half. It was very steep, and pretty muddy, but it was a beautiful walk. I got to the Gooseneck, and planted myself in a great viewing spot and prepared for another great race. It was not to be, but I met two Scottish bikers, and we had quite a lively chat for an hour or so before the cancellation was announced. I walked back to Anne's house and stopped along the way to watch a couple of laps of the Lightweight TT in Ramsey's Parliament Square. I will have some video tomorrow night. I went to join Bob and his family for a BBQ with their friends and had a great evening of banter with all the crazy Manx folk. What a warm and lively bunch. In the picture is Bob and Crissy's oldest daughter, Amelia (1st from left), Bob (3rd from left), Crissie (6th from left) and Nevie (sp?) (last on right). They all had lots of questions about the US, and it turns out that one of his friends (whose wife introduced him as the fruity guy) was, like Bob, a veteran of the bike wars. He described his accident (as all long time bikers do - don't worry girls, I have already had my accident) and the pins that remain in his hip today. He doesn't ride any more because he no longer trusts himself on his bike. He was being foolish when his wakeup call came. Anyway, that's it for tonight. Tomorrow I am off to see the prehistoric monolith, and the Manx Museum. I hope to have some good photos.