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Motorcycling Events on the Isle of Man
After living on the Isle of Man for three years I can categorically state that there are two things this tiny, fascinating island in the middle of the Irish sea can throw into any motorcycle fans bucket list, namely the Isle of Man TT in June and the Festival of Motorcycles in August which incorporates both the Classic TT and Manx GP.
While the June TT is a full on, balls to the wall, red blooded, hard partying, testosterone fuelled adrenaline junky’s annual fix, the August Festival of Motorcycling is far more laid back. This is for the motorcycle historical aficionado and connoisseur of all things motorcycle related and in turn attracts the most fascinating of enthusiasts and a simply incredible collection of motorcycles.
Isle of Man Festival of Motorcycling vs. June TT Races
The Isle of Man TT gets the lion’s share of visitors for good reason, mostly because it plays on the edge of insanity and is unarguably for me the greatest show on earth. The only downside to the June TT from my experience of living on the IOM was the crowds and amount of accidents caused by nutters speeding on roads they don’t know on bikes they can’t handle causing fatalities, traffic jams, closed roads and delayed races for everyone else. To be honest for the TT period I simply kept my bike in the garage as riding on the island during this time was overly risky, frustrating and not particularly enjoyable, although it’s worth it to see the show This a shame as outside of the TT circus the isle has some great roads and many great sites worth a visit in their own right.
However the Festival of Motorcycling, i.e. Manx GP / Classic TT is an altogether different ball game to the TT and is the one that became the highlight of my time on the Isle of Man. Maybe it’s an age thing where nostalgia inevitably creeps into one’s bones or maybe it’s an appreciation of just how far the motorcycle and road racing sport has come in the last 110 years and the ultimate sacrifice so many racers, and even fans have paid in the course of our all consuming passion.
Or maybe it was simply the whole experience being brilliant from start to end, from the bikes, the racing, the fans themselves and distinct lack of immature boy racers suffering from terminal stupidity
Not so long ago I was sitting in The Terminus Bar at the far end of Douglas Promenade near Onchan enjoying a relaxing afternoon Manx Ale in the rare Manx sunshine with my good wife. Along comes the horse and tram which pulls in at The Terminus Bar and unloads a group of English pensioners who sit down beside us and order the quintessential English afternoon tea & cake and begin to natter on about the old days. I could not help but listen in and had a little laugh to myself at their fascination and evident pleasure in the fact that the Isle of Man had changed not a bit since the 1950′s.
And it’s true. Like the West of Ireland where I now blissfully call home the Isle of Man seems to have completely ignored the passage of time and the rest of the world’s entry into our current age of 24/7 media harassment of fake/not fake, who the feck cares news and endless bombardment of irrelevant modern crapola where good taste, common courtesy and looking out for your neighbours has forever left the collective consciousness of many of today’s “modern” city dwellers. Yes, I am becoming an opinionated ol’ git lol, but I’m not too grumpy as yet
Anyway, back to the point. The fact is that the Isle of Man is utterly lost in time and space which then lends to the nostalgia of a more innocent and simple bygone age. Add then in August an island attacked on all sides by goggle & tin pot hat wearing lads and lasses in antique leathers, oilskins and old RAF flying boots riding a circus of classic two wheeled wonders. Now, between the old island itself, these vintage classics and motorcycle historical aficionados in full period drag arriving to watch a bunch of happily insane nutters race similar vintage motorcycles on a race circuit made of bumpy country roads still baring the scars of Junes TT and you have a recipe for a uniquely memorably occasion. The racing itself also has a distinctly different flavor as the spectators wonder at the old bikes racing by or discuss the potential of future heroes in the lineup for the more amature oriented and equally enjoyable Manx GP.
The Classic TT & Wild Atlantic Way Tour 2017
Prices include 11 Days Riding, 12 Nights accommodation, SatNav with daily routes and BMW motorcycle rental. A truly once in a lifetime experiencing of both the old world hospitality and world class motorcycling touring roads on Irelands west coast and the Classic TT / Manx GP at the Isle of Man Festival of Motorcycling on one incredible 11 day/12 night motorcycle tour you will not forget!
|Dates||Arrival: 21st August 2017
Return: 2nd September, 2017
|Your Tour Includes:||
|Discount:||As a RoadTrooper reader get a 5% discount on motorcycle rentals with our discount code: RT8Plus when booking online or quote via phone to our Killarney office +353 64 669 4109
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Your tour begins at the 4 star The Brehon hotel, which is situated right beside our Killarney showroom and the start of the Ring of Kerry. This will be an incredible trip of a life time – best of both worlds: Irish hospitality and world class roads along Ireland’s wild coastline and the legendary Isle of Man Classic TT & Manx GP road racing. Sit back, unwind – have a drink on LemonRock – your holiday has begun!
You’ll need to arrive the day before the ride starts in Killarney and this night is included in your package. This will give you time to meet up with the LemonRock team, your fellow riders and of course your bikes. Additional nights can be added before or after your tour at The Brehon.
This tour will take you around the Wild Atlantic Way and includes Northern Ireland, Isle of Man,the West and East Coasts of Ireland – so truly a trip packed full of variety and discovery to say the very least.
You will have 3 nights on the Isle of Man in Douglas in the center of all the action.
The maximum number of bikes on this tour will be limited to 8. Riding in company on this tour is not mandatory, you are absolutely free to follow the route with the supplied SatNav and routes at your own pace meeting up with the rest at the evenings accommodation!
How to get here:
Twice daily 55 minute flights from Dublin Airport to Kerry Airport (20 minutes from us) are operated by Aer Lingus. Direct Ryanair flights to Kerry Airport from Luton and Stansted in the UK and Frankfurt Hans & Berlin in Germany.
Direct flights to Kerry Airport operated by AerLingus to/from New York, Boston, Chicago, Orlando, San Francisco and Toronto
We can arrange for you to be picked up at Kerry Airport and brought directly to us.
Regular trains run from Dublin and Cork to Killarney – Check with Irish Rail (www.irishrail.ie)
Check out www.rome2rio.com for lots of different options for trains, planes and bus.
Arrival – August 21st
- Complimentary pick-up from Kerry Airport or Killarney Train Station
- Pick up from Shannon & Cork Airports also available
- Check in with The Brehon for overnight accommodation. (4 Star)
- Early check in when available for international arrivals
- Complimentary drink at the bar or meet up with fellow riders
- If you are early, you can check out your bike and riding gear
- Kick back and enjoy the facilities of the Brehon or its sister hotel The Gleneagle next door which has live music
- Visit Killarney town and soak up the atmosphere
Day 1 – Tues 22nd Aug – 285 Km – Overnight Dingle
- The Ring of Kerry – Your route starts out on the famous Ring of Kerry, which is a “must do” on every visitors list while in the South West of Ireland. We ride the Ring in a clockwise direction so that you ride with the sea on your left and in the opposite direction of the coaches – it’s the perfect way to see the Ring of Kerry! Within minutes from LemonRock you will be entering the national park.
- Enjoy a spectacular vista at Ladies View has to be witnessed. Stop the bike and take it in. Next you’ll be riding through Molls Gap which is a magic stretch of twisty riding road cut into the hillside bringing you on down to Kenmare by the sea.
- Riding with Kenmare Bay on your left, you’ll pass through Parknasilla and then we divert up to see Staigue Fort and on down to O’Carrolls Beach Bar and excellent restaurant. Back onto the ring for Coomakista Pass which offers fantastic views over Kenmare Bay. Past this the Skellig Ring scenic drive starts in Waterville and takes in the wonderful Valentia Island accessed by bridge from the picturesque Portmagee.
- From Portmagee the route glides along the vistas along the Ring of Kerry overlooking the Dingle Peninsula to the north.
- Cahersiveen, Mountain Stage, Kells Bay, Glenbeigh – these are famous parts of The Ring of Kerry and you can opt to stop off at the interesting and picturesque Bog Village museum in Glenbeigh which is always a popular stop.
- Killorglin – Home to the famous annual Puck Fair. Puck Fair, (‘poc’ being the Irish for a male goat) is one of Ireland’s oldest fairs. The “Queen of Puck”, traditionally a young school girl from one of the local primary schools, crowns the goat “King Puck“. It takes place each August 10th. The goat is released unharmed if not a little bewildered with all the attention!
- Dingle – Truly a gem of a town! Dingle is famous for its pubs and music nightlife and Fungi the dolphin!
- Overnight in Dingle, Co. Kerry (4 star)
Day 2 – Wed 23rd Aug – 250 Km Overnight Doolin or Ballyvaughan
- Slea Head – Start early as this route is very popular with tourists! The Slea Head Drive is a spectacular circular route beginning and ending in Dingle, that takes in stunning views on the western end of the peninsula.
- The Conor Pass is the highest mountain pass in Ireland, and provides the most dramatic and scenic way of entering or leaving Dingle. This narrow, twisting road runs between the town of Dingle and Kilmore Cross on the north side of the peninsula on through Castlegregory. It’s a cracking biking route but take time to stop and look back at the views! You’ll pass through Blennerville which was the main port of emigration from Co. Kerry to North America during the Great Famine.
- Tarbert to Killimer Ferry – I prefer this route instead of riding up through Adare and Limerick as both towns have very heavy traffic all year. You cross the Shannon Estuary leaving Kerry and crossing into Co. Clare. Here you will appreciate part of The Burren, one of the many wonders of the Wild Atlantic Way, with ever changing and unique scenery.
- The Cliffs of Moher in County Clare are Ireland’s most visited natural attraction with a magical vista that captures the hearts of one million visitors every year and are a Signature Discovery Point in the heart of the Wild Atlantic Way. They stretch for 8km as the crow flies, along the Atlantic coast and reach 214m (702 feet) at their highest point. Evening is the best time to view the Cliffs, in our experience, as the sun sets west over the Atlantic.
- Overnight nearby in Doolin or Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare (depending on hotel availability) This is a very busy spot (and deservedly so!) in high season. So we often have to juggle between hotels to accommodate all our guests. We do the stressing so you don’t have to!
- 3 Star accommodation
Day 3 – Thurs 24th Aug – 250 / 280 Km Overnight in Westport
- Blackhead Lighthouse – more noteworthy for the moon like landscape which slopes down to the Atlantic than for the lighthouse itself, it’s a serene spot to savour.
- The Burren National Park – The word “Burren” comes from an Irish word “Boíreann” meaning a rocky place. You can spend hours riding around here – it’s landscape is very different to other parts of the Wild Atlantic Way.
- Roundstone, Connemara – it’s a very picturesque village by the sea, and has a great selection of restaurants and gourmet food pubs to stop off for lunch before heading into Clifden and onto the Sky Road. Need I say the views on this road are mesmerizing.
- From here the route will again blow your mind as you ride through the Delphi Valley, Doolough Pass, Louisburgh and on into Westport.
- Visit to Matt Molloy’s pub in Westport – Matt Molloy is a member of the famous Chieftains – where live traditional musicians play 7 nights a week in an authentic intimate setting. Not to be missed!
- 1 night in Westport, Co. Mayo (3 star) Westport is a regular winner of Ireland’s Tidiest Town and is truly a gem to visit.
Day 4 – Fri 25th Aug – 265 Km Overnight Aughris Head, Sligo
- Along the way today is Newport nestling on the shore of Clew Bay which is famous for its 365 Islands and is a pleasant seaside resort and part of an attractive and unspoiled coastline then on to Achill Island which has a long history of human settlement and there is evidence that Achill was inhabited as many as 5,000 years ago. Megalithic tombs and promontory forts testifying to this can be seen littered along the route which brings you by Achill’s Atlantic Drive and on a cliff road to Keem beach.
- Kildamhnait Castle, also on the route is a 15th century tower house associated with the O’Malley Clan, who were once a ruling family of Achill. Grace O’Malley, or Granuaile, the most famous of the O’ Malley’s was born in Clare Island around 1530. Her father was the chieftain of the barony of Murrisk. The O’Malleys were a powerful sea faring family, who traded widely and refused to submit to English rule. Grace became a fearless leader and gained fame as a sea captain and a pirate queen.
- Ballina, situated on the famous River Moy, is Mayo’s largest town.
- Enniscrone – There are 5km of safe, clean golden beaches. For eight decades people have come to bathe in hot sea water and seaweed renowned for its therapeutic qualities. Look out for the eclectic glamping village which plans to offer quirky accommodation in a range of vehicles, including London Taxis or 747 jet!
- Overnight in Beach Bar Guesthouse. Evening dinner included at the Beach Bar. FYI, the Beach Bar B&B is one of my favorite places to stay along the Wild Atlantic Way, between the thatched roof traditional bar, the serine location, good food and the perfect Guinness it’s hard to beat.
Day 5 – Sat 26th Aug – 287 Km Overnight Belfast
- Heading East towards Sligo town up through Strandhill where you can stop for a nice coffee or an ice cream
- Onwards with the Atlantic Ocean in view towards Bundoran where we head inland to Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, along side Lower Lough Erne which is a beautiful ride.
- Next stop Enniskillen and then to Cookestown, home to one of Ireland’s well known road racing event – The Cookstown 100, which is held in April each year.
- Your route takes you around Lough Neagh, through Magherafelt and Randalstown, where you join the M2 motorway for the last part of your ride into Belfast.
- Depending on how much time you’ve made, you may have time to visit the Titanic Visitors centre in Belfast which is close to your hotel.
- Enjoy a night out in Belfast or relax in your hotel.
Day 6 – Sun 27th Aug – 50 Km Overnight Douglas IOM
- Departing from Belfast to catch the morning ferry to the Isle of Man. Departing 11:45 and arriving in Douglas 14:30.
- The ferry port is right on the promenade where your hotel is also situated.
- You can park up the bikes and sample the local fare in Douglas or take a spin, your SatNav will be loaded with a number of routes around the island, inc the race circuit as well as POI’s (points of interest). You can also head up to the stadium where you’ll find the race village which is where you’ll find a feast for the eyes. If you’re looking for a good restaurant my advice would be to head to the south end of the town around the North Key by the train station and yacht club which is my favorite part of the town for the old world charm. Like I said this area has plenty the choose from with deli’s, tapas and bistros but give “Coasters” mexican restaurant a miss. For 1st rate pub grub The British bar is a great spot and you can park your bike up outside any of the eateries along this semi-pedestrian stretch no problem while sitting outside.
- Normally there will be events running which will be updated closer to the event.
Day 7 – Mon 28th Aug – Race Day at the Classic TT
- Programme to be confirmed but so far race schedule is as follows
- 1015 350cc Junior Classic TT Race – 4 Laps
- 1210 – 1305 MGP Senior / Junior / Supertwin / Lightweight Qualifying – 2 Laps
- (MGP Newcomers can participate if they wish – but laps will not count as Qualifying for the Newcomers Race)
- 1400 Superbike Classic TT Race 4 Laps
- 1600 – 1630 Classic TT Lap of Honour 1 Lap
- 1700 Newcomers MGP Race
Day 8 – Tues 29th Aug – Rest Day at the ClassicTT
- Programme to be confirmed
- No racing scheduled for today as yet, however if prior races have been postponed they may be raced today which is common.
- Otherwise it’s a good chance to explore the Island and as I lived there for 3 years you can be sure I’ll have loaded a few of my favorite routes around the island even on the off chance there’ll be no race on. Along the promenade you’ll find plenty of entertainment with beer tents, bands etc as well as at the racers camp up behind the stadium
- Visit the Isle of Man Motor Museum at Jurby which is amazing
- Visit the heritage village of Cregneash where Waking Ned was filmed. This is well worth a 20 minute walk-a-bout and you’ll be forgiven for thinking you’re back on Irelands west coast
- Grab lunch at The Sound Restaurant overlooking the stunning views over the Calf of Man, this is a big hang out spot for the local and visiting bikers so expect a crowd
- Ride the mountain course or one of my other routes around the island linking up at the main attractions and best roads
Day 9 – Wed 30th Aug – 231 KM Douglas to Waterford – overnight Waterford City
- Early morning start from Douglas to Dublin port – arriving Dublin around 10:00am
- Ride down down on the east coast through Co. Wicklow, known as the Garden of Ireland.
- Cross over the Wicklow mountains through The Sally Gap – you are now riding in the Wicklow National Park. This is a favoured riding ground for motorcyclists and you’ll understand why when you get there!
- Follow the beautiful roads down through the ancient monastic site of Glendalough then on through Laragh and Aughrim.
- The road opens up as you approach your run down into Waterford, via Enniscorthy and New Ross.
- Overnight in the City of Waterford, Ireland’s oldest city founded by the Vikings in 914AD.
Day 10 – Thurs 31st Aug – 218 Km Waterford to Kinsale – overnight in Kinsale
- Today’s ride is slightly shorter however it will give you more time to sample the delights of your destination, Kinsale, the gourmet capital of Ireland.
- You’ll ride on the south coast towards Cork, via Tramore a popular seaside town. Next on to Dungarvan, Youghal, Midleton. If you’re feeling up to it, you can kiss the Blarney stone in Blarney Castle, as it is on your route!
- Next stop Crosshaven, home to the oldest yacht club in the world. Continue your coastal ride along through Roberts Cove and into the brightly painted sailing town of Kinsale
- We recommend you do your research on restaurants in Kinsale and book in advance as Kinsale is a really busy little town! However having also lived in Kinsale for a year (yes, I know, I’ve had issues with settling down) my personal recommendation for the evening would be the historical Bulman Pub by the Charles Fort which serves award winning food then grab a pint of Murphys in my personal all time favorite bar in Ireland for food and music, The Spaniard! Don’t get carried away with the craic though, ye still have another day on the road to go
Day 11 – Fri 1st Sept – 174 Km – Kinsale to Killarney
Some might say we’ve saved the best until last, although that’s going to be a fecken tall order at this stage
- Today’s ride is enchanting and spectacular which we hope will leave you with indelible memories of your trip to Ireland. We have some magic riding roads lined up here, first on the list is Bandon town on up by Templemartin into Crookstown.
- The route along Inchigeelagh by Lough Allua and onto Gougane Barra is the enchanting part of the ride. Head south towards Ballickey and turn off for the pass known as Priest’s Leap, which is optional at each riders discretion. This pass is not for the faint hearted and best avoided if the weather is against you. It’s worth the ride though, to say it’s got the “wow factor” would be an understatement. This pass will bring you into the pretty town of Kenmare, where you have lots of choice to stop for lunch.
- The final riding route brings you back via Molls Gap and the remote Black Valley, so called because it was the last place in Ireland to receive electricity! This area is particularly wild and remote in nature.
- Next your route takes you to the iconic Gap of Dunloe and down by Kate Kearney’s Cottage (bar restaurant)
- Your final destination is just a short ride away to LemonRock in Killarney, where you will overnight back in The Brehon.
- Relax in the Angsana Vitality suite (complimentary) or book ahead for a well earned spa treatment. Have a drink on Lemonrock in the Brehon bar – why not try out our Lemonrock cocktail?
- Better still, to truly finish off your trip in proper Irish style book an Irish Whiskey Tasting evening (€35-€45) with our local whiskey connoisseur and well known Killarney publican in one of Killarney’s best loved and atmospheric bars and where you’ll most likely find me anyway