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Road Races

Armoy 2017

Posted on 11/10/2017 at 10:47 pm by / 0

This past year I haven’t been very active with the blog as I have been many months without taking the bike. The cause of it was of a little human being who was growing during 8 months and then landed in our lives mid February. Emma, a gorgeous little girl (of course! 🙂 ).

So the bike stuff was temporarily put apart, and between nights without sleeping and another nights without sleeping, we didn’t find any energy to go to the first road races of the season. Apart from the fact that we thought that she was a little bit small to take her on walks across the fields under the rain (which happens pretty much in road racing in Ireland…).

But finally we decided to give it a go when the stars finally got aligned, probably because of the luck of the Irish. We had thought to go to Armoy, or well, we had thought that it would be very nice if the road race which was our first one could also be our daughter’s first road race. While we were thinking about how to go to watch a road race with a 5 months old baby, 2 things happened:  they reopened the Pub that had been closed for about 2 years in Armoy’s village, and this pub “The Armada Inn” was now also offering bedrooms as “Bed and Breakfast”. I contacted them but they were full. A couple of months after, for whatever reason, they had some rooms available again. We didn’t think it twice, it was our opportunity! I called and booked a room for our short holidays. A room with some space for a travel cot, and with a view to the circuit! Better than a 5 stars VIP Pass!!!

We arrived on Thursday afternoon, on time for the classic bikes show. We also had some time to spend in the Club shop to buy some merchandising, as the one we had from our first year were quite worn out… We also bought the programme. And we had a nice chat with 2 of the Club ladies who minded the shop.

A little bit later we had our first “Irish Stew” in the village coffee room, very good and at a good price too.

After that we went to the room to watch the parade lap of the classic bikes. Emma seemed to like it.

On Friday morning, after the typical “Ulster Fry”,

we went for a walk to the paddock. It was a little bit muddy because of the showers, but it would get worse later. We went twice around the paddock but couldn’t find Andy Farrell’s team.

But we did meet with Yvonne Montgomery who was recovering from her accident in Skerries at the beginning of the month, she was walking with crutches but was talking about racing at the UlsterGP 15 days later (!!!) .

We saw a few racers like Davy Morgan and Michael Dunlop, but I had forgotten my camera in the B&B and with the phone the result wasn’t too good.

After the second round we went back to the village where we met with a very nice couple from Barcelona, Spain, Montse and Randy, who had contacted me and who were coming to Ireland on holidays on their bikes, and were also taking the opportunity to watch their first road race. We had a coffee and a nice chat until they left to find a place to spectate before the road closure.

And the practice started. What a privilege to be able to follow all the practice sessions from the bedroom window, without having to worry if the baby needed eating, changing, sleeping, or whatever… She took her nap as usual (even with the classic bikes practice going on…), she had her lunch watching the bikes by the window… I think that without this option we wouldn’t have enjoyed much. We had bought ear protectors for babies and they didn’t seem to bother her at all…

The practice sessions went on, starting with the Newcomers. This year Patricia Fernandez from the United States was a newcomer in Armoy.

The female racers weren’t many this time as Yvonne was injured, and Veronika couldn’t go on with the Irish season after Cookstown. But Melissa Kennedy was there with her Moto3.

The practice sessions were stopped at time because of the rain,

and also there was a red flag because of spectators in prohibited area.

Forest Dunn & Andy Farrell

Adam McLean

Forest Dunn

Michael Dunlop

After the practice sessions, they started with the races, the first being the Senior Support won by Adam Lyon *29, second Joe Loughlin *150 and third David Howard *4.

Then there was the first Supersport one, which was stopped a first time because of an incident (without consequences) involving Paul Jordan and Adam McLean.



Then it was restarted, but stopped again after a few laps because Michael Dunlop’s engine blew up.

As it was late and the road had to be checked and so, the race wasn’t restarted. The final result was given later, won by Derek McGee 86, second Davey Todd *174 and third Christian Elkin *8.

On Saturday race day we had an early breakfast and also a nice chat with the amateur photographer John Condie. Then we waited for the road closure.

The races started and followed as this:

Junior Support: 1- Joe Loughlin *27, 2- Marc Ironside *151, 3- Glenn Walker *44

Moto3/125: Christian Elkin *8, Adam Mc Lean *56

Supersport 2: 1 Michael Dunlop, 2 Derek McGee, 3 James Cowtown *52

Classics: 1- Ed Manly*66, 2- Wattie Brown *10, 3- Barry Davidson *40

Open 201-1010cc: 1-Michael Dunlop, 2- Derek McGee, 3-William Dunlop

Lightweight: 250cc Neil Kernohan *109 and Brian Harding *59

400cc: Darryl Tweed, Callum Laidlaw, Seamus Elliott

Poor Paul Gartland *28 got several times black flag over the week-end because of his exhaust pipe…

Supertwin: 1-McGee, 2-Adam McLean 3- James Cowtown

Senior Support: 1-Joe Loughlin 2-Adam Lyon 3-David Howard

Race of Legends: 1-Michael Dunlop (seven times in a raw), 2-William Dunlop 3-Micko Sweeney

Adam Mc Lean

Derek Mc Gee saving his back tyre

James Cowton

McGee, William Dunlop, Micko Sweeney

Melissa Kennedy 

Michael Dunlop

William Dunlop

There were also a few showers during the day, which always make it difficult for the organisers. Even though, they were able to complete the full programme and end the races around 5pm.

We met a couple of times over the day with Montse and Randy, one of them it was during a race, and I got so nervous for not being able to take pictures that they might have thought I was completely mad…

After the last race, we had an early dinner and then said goodbye.

We left the next day after breakfast, while outside they were working hard to take away all bales and protections and give back to the village its face of 360 days a year.

Of course we first took a lap around the circuit, Emma’s first lap ever around Armoy circuit! 🙂

It was so great to be able to watch the races from the room, with such a small baby I don’t think we would have enjoyed the races from the usual spectating places, even with the car close by.

Next year she will be bigger and even if we will have to change some things in our way of spectating, I think we will be able to watch races not from a “Mega VIP” place.

In any case we were very happy to be able to watch Armoy road races this year, and that Armoy was also Emma’s first road race was very special.

It’s also funny that now I have a baby, I can see that there are many people who go watch road racing with their children, even quite small. There is a future for road racing spectators for sure! 🙂

See you in 2018!


Road Races

Our 2015 Road Racing season: Armoy

Posted on 25/08/2015 at 3:11 pm by / 0

At the end of July it was time for our “pilgrimage” to Armoy, the Road Race where we had been to during our honeymoon trip (report here). Armoy is in Northern Ireland, about 500km from where we live (on the opposite side of it. In Ireland if you do more tan 600km from South to North it’s because you ended up into the sea…lol).

We had taken some days off so that we could enjoy the event at its most.

We arrived on Thursday 23rd of July, in the afternoon. After a tea/coffee with scones with butter and jam shared with the B&B nice landlady and two other guests, we went to Armoy where we arrived just in time for the bike lap with classic bikes (and not so classic ones). We bought a good lot of merchandising (after 3 races this year we understood that it’s no use buying tee-shirts of the road races because YOU NEVER SEE THEM, it’s so cold that we always have one or two layers above them. So that I bought a hoodie… Next time I might buy a polar jacket ;D ), then we had some dinner and went to the paddock where there was the “Miss Armoy 2015” celebration. We wanted to see some people of the club organising who had been so friendly 2 years ago. And there they were. We had a good chat with them, they were happy to see us again (they thought we would never come back, they didn’t know us! Lol ).

Some riders were also attending the event, having a drink, as Michael Dunlop; while others were part of the election jury (Michal Dokoupil and Sam Dunlop). A nice and pleasant family atmosphere.

After the election we went back to the B&B and stayed a while chatting with 3 Scottish bikers, one race marshal (the woman who counts the laps and waves the chequered flag) and her daughter who were all staying there, and also the landlady.

Friday was Practice day. The organisers had advised us to go to “Lagge Jump” to take jumps pics. There you have to arrive early because there is few space for many photographers…

The bad thing is that there is no close place for eating and drinking, but as other times the Irish Breakfast lasted most of the day and we had some snacks and water. Next time we’ll come better prepared, we look like newcomers!

There we spent all day taking many pics of the jumps. The speed in that straight line (with jumps) is just amazing. I have no word to describe it. A guy, Mark, joined us, and we chatted for a good while. At one point he told me “I don’t know if you look scared or if you look Wow”, but I wouldn’t know either. I have no word. Those men (and a few women) are just impressive, to go at that speed on THOSE roads, which are so narrow, with bumps and whatever, and where any small mistake can have a high cost… Respect!

Traveling Marshal

Doctor Fred Mc Sorley

Michal Dokoupil & Conor Behan

Guy Martin, William Dunlop, Dean Harrison

Christian Elkin & Callum Laidlaw

Andy Farrell & Jeremy Mc Williams

Dean Harrison

Keith Amor

Guy Martin

Stephen Mc Knight & Andy Lawson

Ryan Farquhar

Michal Dokoupil

William Dunlop & Derek Mc Gee

Andy Farrell

Seamus Elliott

Derek Mc Gee

Davy Morgan

Stephen Casey & Brendan Merrigan 

Michael Dunlop

The evening ended with the first race, Supersport (600). It was an amazing one. William Dunlop won it, followed buy Guy Martin and Dean Harrison.

After the race we went back to the paddock to have dinner, and the fact is that Mark is a friend and in the team of Andy Farrell #96. He invited us to come to their camp place after dinner. So there we went although we don’t like to be like “groupies” (we are too old now lol)… We spent quite a good time with Andy and his team, all very nice people. He showed us his bikes (he participates with 1 Supertwin and one 600 with which he runs several races, but he had one broken bearing gear on the 600 and had no spare part, so next day he could only race with the Supertwin).

He showed us an onboard video of an Isle of Man lap (last year Manx GP), with the comments on each reference point for each corner and circuit element (Isle of Man circuit is 60km…). Amazing.

He also told us that he had no motorbike license because it was too dangerous to ride on open roads… 8O.

This reminded me of an interview of Mrs. Dunlop, widow of the late Robert and mother of 2 of the best racers now Michael and William, who was happy that they would “only” race on closed roads because it was too dangerous riding on open roads…

But they are riding at 300km/h on those narrow roads!!!

Well I suppose that these people can’t go slowly on a bike 😉 and that they don’t even know that we actually CAN go slowly on a bike, enjoying the views and those things that some weirdos are doing when we ride a bike LOL.

He told us that when he was riding his bike that fast is when he really felt alive.

This energy they feel I think that’s what they pass on to the public. Their adrenalin is transmittable like. We can see them happy, fully enjoying.

It’s a very dangerous sport but all are quite conscious of the risks and have them assumed.

Some spend some time with doubts about going on after an accident or the loss of a close friend, but most of them finally come back. After an accident most just want to recover as soon as possible to race again.

It looks like it’s stronger than reason, something deep inside, and addictive as a drug.

Well, the chat was very pleasant and interesting. Most of the racers (including the most famous) are quite accessible on those small races where they don’t have so much pressure from the teams and sponsors.

Andy Farrell is #5 in the Irish Championship in Supertwin, #12 in Supersport, #13 in Superbike.

The next day we woke up very (too) early to take our seat in Acheson’s Leap, as 2 years ago. We forgot that in Ireland people enjoy the Friday nights in the pubs and they don’t get up early. We could have saved hour and a half of waiting, with 2 showers…

When we arrived the catering trucks had not even arrived, we were the only ones with the organisers LOL.

At last the catering trucks arrived and Juan went for our breakfast…

There was no more rain in all the day, but we are not used to those temperatures. We were wearing a tee-shirt, a hoodie and a polar jacket, and when the sun was hiding behind a cloud we would lose 10 °C and we were freezing.

At last the roads closed and the day started with a very moving speech from Dr. Fred, who was working with Doc John who sadly passed away in July, followed by a minute of silence respected all around the circuit. A really moving moment.

Then the races started and didn’t stop until completing the 11 races of the day.

Amazing Derek Mc Gee

Andy Lawson, 24 year old and newcomer in Armoy and other road races this year, sadly passed away in an accident in Ulster GP on 8th of August. This sport can be so cruel sometimes. RIP.

William Dunlop

Dean Harrison

Ryan Farquhar

Michael Dunlop

Women Power 😉 : Veronika Hancocyova

Women Power 😉 : Yvonne Montgomery

Women Power 😉 : Sarah Boyes

Michal Dokoupil

Andy Farrell

Michael Dunlop, after winning the last race  “Race of Legends”

My favourite races are the Supertwin ones, because the bikes are more even in preparation, there are usually many overtaking and they have such a beautiful sound 🙂 (and nothing to do with the fact that I own a SV650, mine doesn’t sound like that and is certainly not going that fast lol).

We saw many good races all day long. As usual Juan ended up chatting with our “wall neighbours”, which makes more pleasant the “time-outs”.

Unfortunately there were 2 incidents (and 6 red flags), with one helicopter evacuation. But both racers are back home one week later.

Once again we could enjoy a full day of great racing with a very good organisation.

At the end of the race we went to the paddock (already half empty) to say goodbye to the #96 team, and then we went to Ballycastle, a nice sea resort, to have some dinner as we had enough hamburgers for a while… at last we finally enjoyed the sunset in front of the sea, with 2 pizzas… LOL

We went back to the B&B and to bed after a short chat about the day with the 3 Scottish guys.

The next day we got up with no rush and left for home after a quiet breakfast and saying goodbye to our nice landlady.

Next race in 2 weeks… To be continued…


Road Races

Our Honeymoon Trip- Second Week

Posted on 22/08/2013 at 9:48 pm by / 0

After our first Honeymoon Week in Connemara, the following Monday, with our heads full of nice landscapes, we left for about 380km – 6 hours.

In Ireland we were surprised by the difference between one “National” road and another, some are very wide, with enough space for 3 or 4 cars (and surprising when people start overtaking in front of you), and other also “National” much more narrow, but also limited at 100km/hour and I think you have to be mad to go at that speed on those roads 😀 , and with some spare sheeps in the middle from time to time. While travelling from one point to another, we tried to avoid the roads in “white” on our Michelin map and, took the “red” ones as much as we could!

Here we are, on nice roads, heading to Ulster, Armoy, where we had booked our second week. No problem on the road, and no rain. We arrived in Armoy in the afternoon and went to the village to buy something to survive the night, we would go to Ballymoney the following day to do some bigger shopping.

In the afternoon, we visited the Joey and Robert Dunlop Memorial Garden:

Wednesday we took the day to go to do some tourism, to The Giant’s Causeway. Beautiful.

At night, back in the village, there was a classic motorbikes show organised by the AMRRC, club organising the Road Races (fairly well). We had also a quick walk in the village garden:

We received there a very warm welcome, very nice people around, a great night in the pub.

On Thursday we went to Ballymoney Museum where there was a tribute to “The Dromara Destroyers” and followed with a visit to the Museum itself. And finished of course with a visit to Joey Dunlop’s pub.

And at last we got to Friday, practice day.

In the morning we first went to take some pictures to “The Dark Hedges”(that we had seen in Stephen Davison “Between the Hedges” which was kind of a start to us wanting to go to a Road Race).

After a long pics session, and lunch, we went to the circuit. We had planned to go to “Balaney Cross”. But as newcomers, we were walking around the paddock when they announced road closing in 5 minutes, and we did not have time to get there (we saw at the end of the day that some places were accessible from inside…).

So finally, we ended up in Kennedy’s corner, which was not so bad as there was a pub, fish&chips and nice neighbours who invited us to a beer 😉

Guy Martin

We were just impressed, amazed, whatever, by the speed of the riders, on THOSE roads… Just WOW, respect. We spent two days “Wowing”, and people asking “this is your first road race?” 😀

Unfortunately it started to rain heavily at the end of the afternoon, and the organisation decided to stop the practice and postpone it to next day. We went back to the paddock, where we were together with the racers and their motorbikes.

When the roads opened we went back to our place for dinner and get some rest for the big day. 😉

On Saturday we had woken up quite early, to avoid doing the same silly thing as the day before. We  got a good point in “Acheson’s Leap”, nice spot to take pictures of racers jumps…

We had nice chats with the guys next to us while waiting for the races to start.

It started with the practice they couldn’t do the day before. It was sunny with good temperature 23-25°C, with some cloud from time to time.

In this point they were also quite fast, and with nice jumps. It is amazing how close you are to the riders.

At last the races started, 10 in total.

The races are just amazing, crazy, the speed, the road conditions, to be so close to the action, and the atmosphere. It was so great. For me, way much exciting than MotoGP (which is quite boring anyway) or Superbikes, or any other kind of race I have seen in circuits. And also much easier to take cool pics without a professional camera 😉

Wow again.

Now the pics:

Doc John

Guy Martin

Davy Morgan

Andy Farrell

Jamie Hamilton

Rodney Patton & Jeremy Mc Williams

Michael Dunlop

Davy Morgan

Derek Mc Gee

William Dunlop

Michael Dunlop

We were quite impressed by everything, the races, the people, the racers, the speed. We will go for more for sure!

The races ended at 5pm, the roads opened and we went to the village for a pint or three… We talked to many nice people there, and just before going back home a few hours later, we met with Michael Dunlop in the other pub and had a little chat with him. That was funny, very nice lad.

At last, we had to go back “home”…

On Sunday it rained all day, so we just had some rest…

On Monday, we were on the road again, for our 3rd week holiday, 547km and 6 hours according to Google…

To be continued…


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