The week-end of 18-19th June it was Kells road race on Crossakiel circuit. It is one of those races that are on Saturday and Sunday, so it’s quite practical as we don’t have to take days off.
We left Cork on Saturday morning, not early enough to get there before road closure, so we first went to the B&B to leave our stuffs before heading to the circuit. We arrived through another road as last year, actually to the place where we had been watching from last year for race day. The field from which we had watched last year was not open to the public this year though.
We parked the car and looked for a place to stay going through the fields. As the road was already closed and there was very little time between each practice session, we just stayed at the same spot. We could probably go somewhere else through the fields as some people were coming and then disappearing 😉 but we just stayed there. We took some pictures, not too spectacular though as we were not in the best spot.
Tony Willis & Sean Leonard
Derek Mc Gee
Brian Mc Cormack
Kells circuit is famous for its jumps, but it will be for some other occasion.
The truth is that the afternoon went by quite quickly because many people went by us, and had a chat with us before being able to cross the road… That way Juan learnt about how to do riding days at Mondello, and many other things 😉 . The Irish people are very sociable people, this is very pleasant and nice.
All practice sessions went by without any incident, and were followed by the Classic Races, and then more practice sessions, until it was late and started to rain.
For the last 2 practice sessions, as we thought it was over (no megaphone where we were), we went back to the bend before the car park. In the last session there was a red flag, Veronika Hancocyova who had a fall, but she was ok.
When all sessions were over and road opened again, we went to the paddock with the car. We went for a walk around the paddock and went to say hello to Yvonne Montgomery. She is a woman who races with a Kawasaki 400 and in Supersport with a GSXR600. I didn’t know her personally but we are on the same forum of photography Irish Race Photography from Baylon Mc Caughey.
It started to rain so she invited us under her “roof” and we chatted a good while with her and Richard, who used to be a Yamaha mechanics and also raced, and who is now spannering for her. She told us that she took her riding licence a few years ago and the next year she started to race. On her first race (circuit) she highsided and broke a few ribs, and in spite of it, she was only counting the days until the next race.
She thinks that short circuit racing is boring, she prefers road racing; she likes to take as braking reference a tree, a house, a fence… and she likes a lot Kells jumps.
After a nice chat, we said goodbye and went on with our walk around the paddock. It was quite full. We finally found Andy Farrell, but he was busy so we just said hello and went on. After another while, we left for the b&b to get some rest.
On Sunday we had our breakfast between Paul Jordan’s team and a French rider who was racing for the first time in Ireland. He usually races in the IRRC on the continent and he was surprised of the differences in organisation.
Then we went to the circuit, to the Jumps part where we took our spot between the hedges. The day had started with rain and it didn’t seem to get better. They closed the road but it was still raining. The marshals were going around the circuit to check the conditions. After a good while waiting, it started to rain more heavily, and we took shelter from the wind behind a camper van. A woman came out of the van to inform us that the races were cancelled.
The truth is that it was raining a lot, and it didn’t seem to get better. There was a lot of wind also, and there was a lot of standing water around the track. It was not quite pleasant to walk around, not saying to race with those bikes…
We went back to the paddock, had a chat with the French team who was disappointed (they had come specially for this race), and then went to say goodbye to Andy Farrell’s team. Then we took the road back home…
The week-end was shorter than planned, but we had a great time on the Saturday, enjoying the practice and the people.
It’s a pity for the club who put so much effort into organising the event, and saw it washed out because of bad weather.
Hope they will bounce back and will come back with great racing soon.
Our Holidays 2016 started here: Antrim Coast & Glens.
And we also went to the NorthWest 200.
For our second week our destination was Donegal, where we took some rest and enjoyed a few ride-outs with the bikes.
We had booked a selfcatering for the whole week in Falcarragh, co. Donegal. It’s a small village but with everything necessary (shops, cafes, pubs, restaurantes…). The house was outside of the village but close enough and within walking distance (by day).
We had most days of very nice weather, and a few with rain. The rainy days were spent resting and reading in the living room with beautiful views…
We went for 3 spins on the bikes during the week:
The “national roads” are quite in good condition and very pleasant with the bikes, with some nice twisties and everything to enjoy a motorbike spin. The secondary roads can be quite bumpy for our sport bikes, but if you take your time, you can enjoy them anyway with any kind of bike. The landscapes are amazing, with turf fields all around, mountains and seaviews. If I had to compare with somewhere else I’d say it is much like the Connemara but with more houses around (but it’s still very rural!).
Bloody Foreland Parking
This year Ireland was commemorating 100 years of the Easter Rising, and the Proclamation of the Irish Republic, which led to the Irish Independence in 1922 and the separation in 2 of the island of Ireland.
In Memory of the victims of the Great Famine
The second ride-out was to go down to see the famous Slieve League cliffs.
They are not as famous as the Cliffs of Moher in co. Clare, but they are not less nice either, and for sure they are less touristic.
We took the N56 down, the road is mint, except for some roadworks that were on to retarmac at one point, which would cause traffic jam. So I guess next year it will be perfect! We took that road down to Killybegs and then the R263 to Carrigan Head. There is a carpark where you can park and proceed walking, as there is a fence for cows and sheeps, BUT you can open the fence and proceed with the bike (or car) up to the end of the road, on the cliffs themselves where there is some room to park. Just make sure you close the fence after you.
If you decide to go up walking, it is very nice also, but not quite practical with the motorbike gear on, so it is better to go to the end with the bikes (unlike ourselves, although I had read that we could take the bikes to the end on the very useful website www.roadtrooper.com we didn’t follow the advice, and we would have arrived to the cliffs a little bit less tired… ). At the end of the road, there is a truck with some refreshments and icecreams. We had brought our sandwiches, so we just bought some cans and later treated ourselves with a nice icecream in the sun with beautiful views…
The cliffs are beautiful, the sun was shining and we also had some amazing views over the rest of the coastline and several surrounding islands. I had a short walk up the cliffs. The walk proceeds further up but I went back soon as I was already tired with the first part of the walk and also because the temperature varied 10 degrees every time a cloud would get passed the sun…
So we went back to the bikes after enjoying the cliffs, and took the R263 again and then on the left in Carrick, to Glencolumbkill, and then the R230 that brings you back to the N56 just before Ardara. That part of the itinerary was not ideal for our bikes as it was quite bumpy. Though the landscapes around were amazing, particularly when going over the Valley that can be seen from Glengesh Pass.
The third ride-out was to go to Horn Head, which is a short way from Falcarragh, the weather that day started quite cloudy and we didn’t feel like going for a long spin…
The last part is quite bumpy, but the landscapes are beautiful, with green and brown fields and mountains that drown into the ocean.
We had some time to enjoy the view, come back and stop in Dunfahagany for lunch, and after lunch it started to rain..
The last “spin” was actually a walk down to Falcarragh beach. Unfortunately I didn’t take the camera, the sun was shining and this beach is just amazing, with beautiful views to Tory Island from a white sand beach and sand dunes covered with grass. We will have to come back…
After one week enjoying co. Donegal, on 22nd of May it was time to go back home. Just when we were ready to go, it started to rain… So we waited for a while until it rained less, and went. All the way down we had a mix of showers and sun, and also some hail… and for sure more than one rainbows…
In the last filling station close to Portlaoise, my bike stalled. It looked like the battery had enough. A nice lad helped us pushing to start it again…
After some more rain, we finally got home around 8pm, quite tired with the tension of riding in the rain. Juan put my bike in the garage and we heard some “clong” and some bike part fell on the ground… It was the counterweight of the right handlebar :O
But at least we had arrived!!!
Our Holidays 2016 started HERE.
On Tuesday it was the first Practice day of the NorthWest 200.
We woke up early, had breakfast and went to the circuit following the GPS, which took us through the Dark Hedges- not a soul there at that time of the day.
We arrived to the circuit and parked on the car park of the Golf next to the paddock. We went to the paddock where we had a look at the bikes of all the different teams. There were also a few racers who were getting prepared: Hutchy, Malachi Mitchell-Thomas, William Dunlop, Maria Costello, etc… After a first round we tried to find Antonio Maeso, who was back to a road race since his accident 2 years ago at the TT, where he almost lost his knee.
For who doesn’t know who is Antonio Maeso, he is one of the very few Spanish riders who raced in the Isle of Man since the FEM doesn’t give anymore licenses to race there since Santi Herrero fatal accident there in 1970. Antonio races under English license. You can follow him on his website: http://www.maeso.eu/
Antonio Maeso – Thursday practice
After asking around and another round we finally saw him going through the technical verifications with the bike, and we followed him to his stand to say hello and wish him good luck.
After a while they closed the road and we went to the grandstand from the paddock, which is at the end of the finish straight, in front of 2 bends. Though from there we couldn’t see the starting grid.
The day was sunny with some cloud from time to time, and this seaside breeze a little fresh, enough to keep my jacket on and put my hat on (down on ground level it was much warmer).
Practice time started with the Newcomers first (if I remember well)- the ones who never participated before- in reduced groups behind a leader, usually a confirmed racer. Then followed with Supersport, Superbike, Supertwin and finally Superstock.
The day went on without any incident until 2 minutes before the end of the last practice, which was ended with a red flag. The accident involved Ben Wilson, who resulted with a bad leg injury (when publishing this report, he is still with rehab).
We went back to the paddock and after a round to see if to have a bite there or outside, we decided to go back to the parking, take the bike and go to Coleraine for a bite, then buy some food and back.
On Thursday, the morning was for Practice and the afternoon for races. We left early to take seat before the road closure. As the ticket gave access to any grandstand around the circuit, we went to Metropole bend. From the grandstand we have a good view over Metropole corner, then a short fast straight and then farer away, “Church Corner”. We stayed there all day, taking pics during Practice, that ended around 2.15pm.
They opened the road then for about 3 hours. We took advantage to walk around the merchandising stands and buy some drink (which was less expensive than in the paddock, but we had brought our food anyway). When the race hour got closer, the grandstand started to fill quickly. Until it was completely full, not an empty seat.
They started with the Supersport race, which was quite intense, with many overtaking on the long straights of the circuit. We could follow the action on the big screen. Alastair Seeley won the race, beating Robert Dunlop record, with 16 NW200 races wins.
Then started the Supertwin race, which was stopped after 2 laps because of a fire in the garden of a house close to the circuit (a burnt barbecue…), and the firefighters had to act quickly.
Ryan Farquhar & Dani Cooper
Malachi Mitchell-Thomas, Adam McLean, James Cowtown, Danny Webb
Around 7.45pm the riders were on the grid again for a 4 laps race (I have no pics of the second part as the sun was too low for my camera).
After 2 intense laps with many overtaking between Ryan Farquhar and Dani Cooper, there were red flags out and the ambulance went out. Ryan Farquhar had fallen and Dani Cooper couldn’t avoid him. Both ended up in the hospital, Ryan with many injuries, including broken pelvis and ribs and some bad internal injury, and Dani with a shoulder injury. (When publishing this report, Dani is fit again, but Ryan has been through very tough moments and with a long way to full recovery. But he is quite optimistic and confirmed that his team will be racing next year).
After a long while without information, and with too many people walking around the circuit while the road was still closed, we were finally able to get back to the bike and get out when road opened again. There was a beautiful sunset on the ocean, but spirits were too low for taking pictures…
Saturday was the big day, Race day. We woke up early and arrived to the circuit around 8.00am. The roads closed at 9.30am so we went for a walk around the paddock.
If you go to the NW200 with your bike, think about taking something to put under the sidestand of your bike, some car parks are not for bikes… the Golf parking is part of the Golf, so it’s grass all around, and it’s better to be ready…
The teams were very busy and there was a long queue for the bikes technical verifications.
Then we went to the Grandstand we had booked for the Saturday.
With the “Grandstand” pass you can access to any grandstand around the circuit on Tuesday and Thursday, without a reserved seat, first arrived, first served. Then on Saturday you have your seat booked on the grandstand you chose. We were on the so-called “Start-Finish” grandstand, where you can only see the Starting grid (and the podium if you are enough on the right side), as the “Finish” line is far behind big containers with all the Television, Race control and so, so we can’t see it bar on screen. (I think there is no actual grandstand in front of the Finish line).
We were on the second row from the bottom, which is quite down taking into account that on the front of the grandstand, there is the area reserved for disabled persons, with wheelchairs, and depending on where you are, you can’t see too well the starting grid. But we had a good sight on the podium.
If you chose this grandstand, it is better to take some row from the 4th row and up, and from the middle to the right (facing the podium). But not too much on the right hand side if you want to see well the starting grid… When you book the tickets it’s impossible to see what’s the view from the seat.
The day was very sunny still, but there was a chilly breeze coming under the seats on the feet (where the sun didn’t get). But we did not complain, this was the first NW200 with sunshine in 10 years…
They finally closed the road and the races started. The truth is that watching the start is really impressive, all the grandstand is vibrating with the roaring of the engines, thrilling. The rest of the races is mainly seen on the screen and the small bit when they go through the double bent at the end of the finish line, this is a nice view when they are all grouped together, and it can be quite “funny” when some rider misses the bend and does some motocross…
Also it is interesting to see how the teams and the racers get prepared before the start.
In any case, personally I would recommend to book another grandstand for the Saturday, where there is more action, and maybe watch the Thursday afternoon races from this one (though I guess they fill in quite early for Thursday, and it might be quite boring to follow all practice from that grandstand on Thursday morning).
Anyway the races were quite intense, particularly the Superstock one. There was some red flag and some delay out of the organisation hands, but the first 3 races (Supersport, Superstock and Superbike) were very interesting and nice to follow (on screen).
Superstock Podium- Hutchy, Hickman, Seeley
The fourth one, the Supertwin one, was stopped with a red flag. The first two racers had gone through the bends before us, and the 3rd one, the young fella Malachi Mitchell-Thomas did not follow. Then we saw Jeremy Mc Williams, who was in 4th, coming in and get directly into boxes after the red flag. Something might have happened with Malachi 🙁 . They informed that there was an incident and that the medical team was working there. It lasted quite a good while and it was worrying. We were together with the Spanish couple we had met at Joey’s Bar on Wednesday. After a good while they informed that the rider involved in the accident did not survive to his injuries 🙁 . They didn’t give the name at that moment but we knew too well who it was 🙁 .
Malachi was 20 years old, he came to racing through Supermoto, and had made his road racing debut in 2014. In 2015 he won the Manx Grand Prix Senior. In 2016 he had a very good season start on the Irish roads, with 2nd in Supertwin, winning in Supersport and Superbike and finishing 2nd of the Grand Final at the Mid-Antrim. Then in Tandragee he followed with a 2nd in Supertwin, 3rd in Supersport, 3rd in the Open/Superbike non championship and 3rd in the Superbike/Open championship. And in Cookstown, he won the Supertwin, finished 3rd in the first Superbike race and 2nd in the second Superbike race. At the beginning of the season he had signed a contract with Cookstown Burrows Engineering Racing Team, and his youth and happy smile in the paddock had already left a big impression on the fans all over Ireland.
This sport gives so many sensations, but sometimes it’s so cruel. He was 20 years old… We will have to think that he went while realising his dream and being happy. Rest in Peace Malachi.
They cancelled the 2 remaining races, and after a short wait for most people to leave, we also went back to the bike, with very low spirit.
Personally and without taking into account the circumstances of the race day ending, if you have to go to only one road race in Ireland, this is not the one I would recommend. At least not if you want to have a taste of the atmosphere of all other road races of the Island. It is much more like a short circuit race from a spectator point of view, you are quite further away from the action (though much closer than in most circuits!), and it’s not cheap either. Well, it’s not compulsory to take a grandstand seat, you can walk and seat around the circuit for free outside of the grandstands, but then you have to know and chose well where to spectate from, as the circuit is very long and it is complicated to move to another place once roads are closed.
The good thing is that you can see most of the most famous road racers and some BSB racers, who usually do the TT (Mc Guinness, Hutchy, Hickman, Dunlops, …), and most don’t do the “National” ones, and maybe have less pressure than in the Isle of Man, being more accessible.
At the end of the season maybe I will be able to give a broader opinion on which race I would recommend best in case of only going to one…
This year we had our holidays in May. The plan was to spend both weeks in Ireland, one in Northern Ireland, and the other in the North of Republic of Ireland, Donegal. We planned the dates to coincide with the NorthWest200.
We left on a Sunday morning after a day to rest a little and prepare everything. With the stuffs packed the day before (for the first time in many years), we had breakfast with no rush, and while I finished packing and put some order at home, Juan was mounting the luggage on the motorbikes.
Finally we left around 10am. Around 10.15, we stopped to fill in the tanks a few kilometres away. After filling, I want to turn on the bike. Nothing happens. I have the dziiiiiii noise when I turn on the key, but when I push the starter button it makes tactactac… and doesn’t start. We had something similar happening a few years ago in Cuenca (Spain), and by then it was my anti-theft chain under the seat that was producing a short circuit with some cable and blew the fuse.
We took out the chain, and after a while, the bike started again, and we finally left around 10.40, close to 11.00am, our usual time lol . We went on the motorway most of the way, with 3 or 4 stops to fill the tank and/or eat/drink. At every single stop the bike started without any problem. Just before 6.00pm and 520km later, we arrived to our destination, in Armoy, where we would spend our first week, in the same place where we stayed during our honeymoon travel.
After unloading all our stuffs, we thought about going for dinner in Ballycastle, on the coast. I turned on the key, tried to start, but then again, NOTHING happened. Again the same problem! After checking for a while all cables and fuses, we decided to leave it to the next day and go for dinner… walking, as I didn’t have a bike and Juan’s is single seater since he changed the exhausts… So there we went…
After dinner and buying some basic stuffs in Armoy’s shop, we went back. On the way back I thought that when we turn on the bike, the lights are on, and lately we had a problem with a connector of the lights. So maybe this had something to do. So we would try to turn on with full beam lights. When back to the bike, while I was looking for a torch, I heard the bike started 🙂 . Well then, the problem is not solved but it looks like the bike starts from time to time. If not, we have a problem as we are 35km away from the NorthWest200 which we came to see, and public transport is “kind of” limited around… So let’s see what’s happening next. This is the end of a first day full of surprises, we have no clue why the bike stopped, why it started again close to home and on the way, and why not now. No logical explanation but at least we made it there, this might be “The Luck of the Irish”…
The next day we took our time to sleep as the bike should start, and planned to go for breakfast in Armoy. Juan tries to start the bike, but the battery sounds weak and the bike doesn’t start. Now we have 2 problems, the whatever problem and the battery that now is weak for asking more than usual…
Finally it started and we went to Armoy but the place where we wanted to have breakfast was closed. So we followed to Ballycastle, fingers crossed that the bike still starts. We had breakfast in the café of the hotel in the sea front.
We went back to the accommodation to take a bagpack and nets and went to Coleraine to pick up the NorthWest200 tickets. I forgot to take the indications to get to the ticket office, and for some reason I thought it was in Coleraine, on the road to Portrush (the circuit is a triangle connecting Portstewart, Coleraine and Portrush), and it is quite long (not fit for walking it!). After a few loops around Coleraine, we stopped to ask to a lad with a Joey Dunlop tee-shirt, for sure he would know! We followed the indications, and we had to stop again for asking. But we were not far away as we were surrounded by protection bales, grandstands and signs on next chicanes and bends 😉 . Well at last we found the ticket office (which is in Portrush, not in Coleraine) and picked up the tickets. We also asked about the parking facilities and if they knew about any Suzuki dealer around, but were told to look on the internet… On the walk back to the bikes I almost bumped into a bearded man on a mini electric bike… it was Bruce Anstey lol .
We asked to 2 men about the dealer, and they told us to ask to a man with a van selling road racing stuffs. He was very kind to look into the program for the name and address of the Suzuki dealer who sponsors the NW, in Ballymoney, and told us that it was just in front of Joey’s Bar, so we couldn’t miss it!
I forgot to mention that there was a heatwave over Ireland, that had started the previous day, we were with short sleeves at 7.00pm, which is not usual in Ireland, less in May. And for some reason, this was the first time ever that we go on holidays without our summer gloves. And the winter gloves, mainly in the villages, were becoming quite unbearable.
We arrived to Ballymoney and went straight to Joey’s Bar and yes, just in front of the bar there was that huge Suzuki and Ducati dealer: Millsport Motorcycles. We got in and explained the problem, and they told us to leave the key and that a mechanics would have a look after lunch time.
So we took advantage to go for some refreshments at Joey’s Bar, while looking at Joey Dunlop’s RC30. After a coke and cleaning the visors (that’s the problem with the heat, all insects are flying to their death on the bikers visors), I was going for a second round when I saw by the window that a mechanics was taking down my bike back to the yard. So there we went and the mechanics told us that this was not an electrical problem, nor a battery problem. This was the starter motor that got stuck from time to time. He showed us how to unblock it if it happened again. They couldn’t change it as they didn’t have the spare part, but he told us that it could wait for us to be back home, as the bike would not let us down for that, we could follow with our trip without worries.
As they didn’t want any money for the diagnostic and the solution, we bought each a pair of summer gloves, as it was quite dangerous to ride like this anyway. I also had to take off the jacket lining. Then back to the bikes we stayed a while chatting with more people from the dealer who were happy to see a SV with 145.000km 😉 , they probably don’t see one everyday.
Then we went for a place to eat, which we didn’t find in Ballymoney so we went back to Ballycastle, where we had a fish&chips on a terrace on the seafront. Then we had some rest on the seaside, there were bikers and bikes everywhere. We did some basic shopping for the night and the following day (so basic that we forgot half of the stuff) and went back to the accommodation, happy for having the bike problem temporarily solved.
Tuesday was the first day of Practice of the NorthWest 200. For the NW 200 report, it’s HERE. Tuesday was Practice day, Thursday was Practice in the morning and Racing in the afternoon, and Saturday was Race day all day.
On Wednesday we had planned to go back to the Ballymoney dealer to change the back tyre of Juan’s bike. We didn’t change it before going on holidays as we knew that it would get squared on our way after 500km of straight line…
We couldn’t wake up early but we finally made it to Ballymoney “between showers”, without getting wet. While they were changing the tyre we had a look around the shop for the bikes, and I sat on the new so-called SV, which has so few left of mine. It looks half mine, the tank looks half of it (probably more comfortable?), and the frame is the Gladius’. The back seat is very small, probably even less comfortable than mine. All has been lost of the nice wasp silhouette of the original SV. The only positive thing in my opinion is that it has a lower and narrower seat, so I get better to the ground… But I defo keep mine! They also had one beautiful original SV for sale, in blue and white painting, beautiful. If I needed a second bike I would buy it straight away!
Then we went to Joey’s Bar for some refreshment, sitting outside in the sun. After a good while and for the second round, Juan came back with a Spanish couple from Tenerife, Laura & Víctor, who were coming to the NorthWest200 for the second year in a row and were also taking some time to visit Ireland. We stayed there chatting for quite a while and another round of 0.0’. Until we decided that it was time for a bite. You might not believe it but in the meantime in the sun, I got some suntan… or got a little bit sunburnt actually… After picking the bike we went to the parking in front of the museum, and tried a café next, but they only had sandwiches and similar. But the very nice barmaid told us to go to the main street, that there were plenty of places to eat properly. So we ended up the 4 of us in a pub, where we spent a good while.
Then we went back to the car park to say goodbye, and a group of French bikers arrived, and we started to chat also. They also came for the NorthWest200 for the second year in a row. They wanted to go to the museum but it was closed by then (I think it was already 6.00pm…), so finally they headed to Joey’s Bar and we said goodbye to Víctor and Laura.
Friday was also a sunny day. After a quiet breakfast we decided to take advantage of this glorious sunny day to go for a spin with the bikes. At the dealer, a client had advised us to take the coast road from Cushendal and anticlockwise. So I prepared an itinerary from Armoy to get to Cushendal through the nicest way. The truth is that there is a mount above Armoy that always grabbed my attention, and I was curious to know what was up there. So I checked the map and planned the itinerary through that mount.
And there we went: the fact is that the itinerary was also well indicated on the road, even though it was easy to find with the map. We soon found a narrow road in the middle of the mountain, surrounded with brown turf fields, and not much more. The road was good but we had to be careful with some loose gravel from time to time. Then the road went through a softwood, and then more turf fields. In Ireland they still use the turf as a fuel, it is taken out of the soil, cut in long and narrow prisms and let on the ground to dry.
We then stopped for enjoying beautiful view over the valley.
On the way down we found sheeps and lambs on the road, and then the coast on the horizon. The way down came quite abruptly to be honest, and we would find again this kind of roads of very sharp slopes… why make the road longer with bends… 😉
We arrived to Cushendal and to a carpark after the village, then went back to the village for a second breakfast (on that side they call the Irish Breakfast “Ulster Fry” but it’s much the same kind of nice full breakfast!) on the terrace of a hotel. Next to us was another biker who started to chat with us and ended up giving us many tips on roads to take that day and also in Donegal for the following week… Then we chatted with another biker who was on a trip with his son, and finally we headed for the road again.
We followed the advice and proceeded to Cushendun and then to Torr Head. The view from the road was amazing, the road is narrow but in very good condition (only some loose gravel from time to time), with sharp slopes upwards and downwards, and hardly any traffic. There are many places to stop to take pics without obstructing the scarce traffic, and in some others we had to abandon the idea of taking pics as it was impossible to park the bikes without them falling…
We tried our way to Torr Head, but as we arrived to the “village”, a driver coming that way informed us that the road was quite bumpy and bad for our bikes. So we parked the bikes and went for a short walk to check… We did well, there were a series of bends on a sharp slope, that looked quite worse than the Stelvio… So we took a few pics of the beautiful views and followed suit…
Then our “guide” had recommended to go to Balintoy Harbour, and so we did. It is very small but with a large car park and a bar with a terrace, ideal for the bikers rest with great views. We just took some pics and went away. There were bikers everywhere there too.
We went back to the main coastal road, which is very nice but with much more traffic, and a few bikers whom I don’t know how they are still alive with that kind of riding, overtaking on upward slopes without any visibility and other similar dangerous riding.
The idea was to go to Portrush, and take some pics around the circuit and then go to the paddock. We didn’t think that EVERYBODY else had exactly the same idea… All around the circuit and the starting grid straight were packed with bikes and cars in both ways. We were lucky and found to park both bikes just in front of the podium.
We left the bikes there and went for a walk around the paddock. Many racers were there: Dean Harrison, Michael Rutter, Davy Morgan, Alastair Seeley, Lee Johnson, Michael Dunlop and then Hutchy signing autographs. I also took advantage to buy Liam Beckett’s book, “Full Throttle”, about him Robert Dunlop. A book I highly recommend.
After a first round we stopped for a refreshment next to our neighbours from the accommodation, who were a very nice couple and who happened to be friends with Tyco BMW team owner. But after another while chatting with an old man who couldn’t stop criticising every single racer, we left for another round. It was then after 7.00pm and we went back to rest.
Sunday was farewell time, we said goodbye to the nice couple, who offered us a CD from the music band where he used to sing/play.
While I was still packing, Juan was trying to put the luggage on the bikes while he was chatting with everybody who was stopping to talk about the races 😉 . Finally, as usual, we left at 11.00am, overpacked, mainly Juan. We just saw that my topbox rack was sometimes touching the bike back tail, probably for a combination of overweight and bumpy roads, so we took things out of the topbox and put them mainly in Juan’s luggage… so he was now so overpacked that he could hardly incline in the bends and I had to wait for him after each roundabout lol .
We went westward, to the Northern-West part of the Republic of Ireland. We had booked a self-catering in Falcarragh, co. Donegal. We followed the GPS so didn’t get lost. We came across a rally of Classic trucks, very nice, during a few kilometres.
We stopped by a chance in a very nice teashop after the village of Kilmacrenan, where they served full breakfast until late. They were beautifully maintained thatched cottages, and we could enjoy a full breakfast under Donegal sun.
There was a fresh breeze but it was very nice in the sun.
As it was still early we took our time for breakfast as we had said we’d arrive at 5.00pm…
Finally, after a last road with nice twisties and beautiful views, we arrived to the selfcatering, much earlier but the nice couple was already there finishing the cleaning and painting and we chatted with them a good while.
The place was very nice, with incredible views to the sea and Tory Island, with a nice terrace to enjoy the sun in front of the bikes and with the sea at the back.
A perfect way to start our second week of holidays…