It’s got to be done.
Turns out that 120,911 other people have had the same idea. At 8am, the queue of cars from the circuit is backed three miles up the M25. The queue of bikes is nearly as bad, but at least it’s moving, courtesy of hard shoulders, grass verges and creative use of the oncoming lane.
The constabulary were remarkably good about things — even the one coming the other way on his PanEuropean who ended up stopped nose to nose (on his side of the road) with a hapless and deeply unobservant Suzuki rider.
Half an hour to cover the three miles to the circuit — you could easily spot the 748/916/996 riders in all this — we’re the ones riding with right legs stuck straight out to the side in imitation of some bizarre Masonic ritual as the high level exhausts attempt to broil us in our leathers.
The bike park is a huge field of dry grass beside the A20, with few distinguishing features and (at a guess) containing 40,000 bikes. One carelessly dropped cigarette butt could have wiped out major insurance companies. Finding my machine again is going to be fun. At this point there’s a tech toy I can strongly recommend — a GPS receiver. Turn it on, get a lock and record bike’s location. At the end of the day, I just told it to take me to my bike, which it did, to within about 30m, from which point it was relatively easy. Sad geek. But at least a sad geek who’d found his bike, unlike many of those present…
The racing itself wasn’t that brilliant, and not just because Fogarty finished 19th and 5th in the two races (final result was a thoroughly deserved 1-2 in both races for the works Honda RC45s of Colin Edwards and Aaron Slight). Watching Corser, Fogarty, Reynolds and co getting their elbows down through Stirling’s made me realise just how far my own abilities and those of my bike differ. Got a ways to go yet. There is however a Ducati track day at Donington coming up in September…
So I paid the basic £25 to spend a day being overheated, dehydrated, ripped off and covered in dust. And I’ve have had a far better view on satellite TV. It was the atmosphere that made it something else — thousands of cheering fools, lubricated only slightly by beer (which ran out early on) but thoroughly dehydrated by the very un-English 34 degree heat. Lots and lots of Foggy cult banners, but a remarkably unpartisan crowd, at least out in the sticks of Dingle Dell.
120,912 went along. This made it the third largest sporting event in the UK this year and far ahead of the F1 car Grand Prix attendance. And did the BBC see fit to even mention its very existence? What do you think?