Saturday, 28 November 2015

Motorcycle dreams

Ghost riders
Contrary to what you may think, not all my dreams are about wars, ghosts and spectral imagery. 

I often have dreams about the countryside in more peaceful times, and dreams of places I visited. Not all dreams are related to events in my life either, remember a dream is a gateway to your subconscious, but they don't need to have an apparent meaning. 

 Last night's dream was once such dream for me. It is no secret to my friends that I'm a motorcycle racing fan, and one of my dreams was to own a British motorcycle. 

I would posit that the majority of people have heard of the Isle of Man TT races, even if you don't know their glorious history or the exact location - you have heard about the races. The races take place during the 1st week of June, and to many racing fans, they are the highlight of the season. For a long time, I had wished to visit "The Island," I even had a friend whose parents ran a guesthouse in Ramsey. My friend did offer me the chance to visit her parents, and I did take the offer seriously until I checked the travel plans. I'm no stranger to making travel plans, I plotted a course across Europe for some of my friends while I was in the RAF and stationed in Germany. However, travelling to the Isle of Man would be too arduous for me to endure.

There are two ways to get to the Isle of Man, either a flight from Manchester or a seven-hour boat journey from Liverpool. My concern is that if the trip by boat was bad, I would have the worry about the return in the back of my mind all the week. The flight was a concern because at that time despite being in the Royal Air Force I had not taken a long flight, the longest was from RAF Kinloss, in Scotland to RAF Brize Norton, in Wiltshire. That journey, although a long trip was made up a series of short hops. The longest continuous journey was from RAF Hendon (London) to the base we landed at in Germany; that was a trip of about an hour.

Another factor was that at this time I hadn't made any travel arrangement for myself, most of my leave trips where to my parents, in Clevedon, North Somerset.

My dream last night featured another long-track race, one which I would posit even the most devout road racing fans have not heard about. The event is run in May around the roads of Northern Ireland and is the International Northwest 200 These races like the IoM are more an endurance contest than the majority of road races. 

There are two main types of road races in the UK. Short track, and long track. Short track racing is usually done on man-made tracks like Snetterton, or an air base like Croft, in Yorkshire. These races are run over many laps because the tracks are small. The other variety is long-track racing, these are done on the roads used by everyday traffic such as the IOM TT races, and the Northwest 200 and only last a few laps because the length of the course can be over 200 miles long. 

One meeting I would have loved to visit is the Cock of the North weekend races held each year, in July at Oliver's Mount race track, a few miles from Scarborough

My dream last night, although about motorcycles was not about racing, but touring. In the dream, I was riding the lanes of Ireland and enjoying the scenery, I could feel the pull of the motorcycle as she accelerated and had visions of the racers taking the risks I would never take. 

 Among the British fans, there is a bone of contention as to who was the greatest British rider in recent times. Some would say Joey Dunlop is the best, and I would detract from his record number of TT wins, but racing against the best in the UK, your brothers, and only racing in the UK doesn't compare to racing against and beating the best in the world as Mike Hailwood In my opinion, Mike is far better, not only for who he rode against but because he road all over the world on tracks of varying length. To Joey, the IOM and the Northwest were like going down the road, he knew the tracks like the back of his hand. 

Whether you are a JD supporter or a "Mike the bike" fan or to older fans a fan of the equally great Geoff Duke, I would suggest the vast majority of motorcycle fans would put one rider at the top of any list - that man is - Giacomo "Ago" Agostini In his prime, "Ago" could, and did, beat the best in the world all over the world.

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