Is it a rush of adrenaline or challenging your own limits or going beyond what seems humanly impossible or is it plain and simple death wish? You just can’t put a finger on it.
The Isle of Man Tourist Trophy, an annual motorcycle event for two weeks each year turns this sleepy rock in the middle of the Irish Sea (population 88,000) into something like a rollicking festival ground.
Organizers convert 37.73 miles of undulating public roads into an enormous, claw-shaped racetrack, and roughly 40,000 visitors, many of them bringing their own motorcycles, join local fans for a week of practices and a week of competition. It all culminates with the Senior TT, which takes place on a Friday, a public holiday on the Isle of Man. (Schools are closed for the entire race week.)
No other motorcycle race is held on such a challenging track as the 37-mile plus Mountain Course with its seemingly never-ending series of bends, bumps, jumps, stone walls, manhole covers and telegraph poles.
For riders, the TT — arguably the world’s most dangerous race — represents a supreme challenge. Yet many of the world’s best professionals have never put tire to pavement on the course. They know that the consequences of even a minor mistake can be fatal.
For this reason, and others, the TT has few parallels within global sports. The concept of mortality underpins everything here. It gives the race its prestige, opens it to criticism, makes it exhilarating and terrifying. It puts the island on the map.
Speeds over the four race days routinely exceed 200 miles per hour. Every year, there are crashes. Almost every year, there are deaths.
“If Roger Federer misses a shot, he loses a point,” said Richard Quayle, a former TT winner. “If I miss an apex, I lose my life.”
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