See www.iomtt.com if you want really comprehensive information.
If you post a question on the message boards, someone somewhere will know the answer.
In the meantime, a couple of drab FAQs below....
Q. How long has the TT been going on?
A. Virtually every year since 1907. The centeneary in 2007 is going to be a big one. Some hotels are fully booked already.
Q. Do you need tickets for the TT races?
Q. So, it's free then?
A. Not exactly. There's no actual entrance fee to see the racing, but it will cost you a packet to get there by boat or by aeroplane. There's a small charge to use some Grandstand viewing points, and some church yards / school yards etc. ask for a small donation to their funds in exchange for a seat and some tea and cakes.
It's too far from the UK mainland to go back and forth for each race, so unless you have buckets of money and your own private jet, you stay on the island for a few days, or the full raceweek, or even the full fortnight.
Q. Errr..... What's a "fortnight"?
A. For the Americans - a fortnight means two weeks.
Q. Can we ride on the race circuit?
A. Yes - mainly because it isn't a true race circuit as such. These are public roads, open to all and sundry, which are just cleared and reserved for the race bikes at practice and race times.
Q. Is it true there are no speed limits?
A. YES - but again with reservations and exceptions. There are speed limits in villages, towns and built up areas, and these are strictly enforced. BUT, there are sections of open road (including the famous Mountain Section) where you can ride as fast as it is safe to do so. However, although there is no limit in terms of mph, there is a reasonably high Police presence, and if they consider you are riding dangerously, you can still be prosecuted. The Manx Government is considering bringing in a blanket speed limit (like the mainland), but it was defeated in late 2004. It may well be introduced later however unless accident figures come down
Q. Is is dangerous?
A. Yes. To be honest with you. There were 10 / 11 deaths in 2004, which is higher than normal. About half these (more?) were TT fans riding the circuit, or in one sad case, an innocent member of the public caught up in a reckless riding incident. Take care - don't exceed your personal limits, and be aware that there are some real nutters out there.
Q. Is it scary?
A. The first time I went over there, I was scared of riding the circuit, given its reputation. But, when you're out there riding with the other bikes, it's not half as bad as you think it's going to be. Don't relax too much however, stay on your guard, concentrate hard on what you're doing. The circuit itself is quite straighforward with no real nasty surprises. The main danger is from the high number of other bikers on the road at the same time as you; many of whom think they have something to prove.
Q. (a real one from USA)
I have my moto license so I ride, but not really ride, at this point, but could be proficient by next year. BUT, then you said many people crash and so on and so on, so I am just wondering.......HMMMMM?????
Difficult one to answer. In theory, anyone should be fine while riding on the island, but here are just some observations - very general observations & comments, with a few facts thrown in. Not many people crash actually - but just ONE causes me & the group immense grief & delay, so I'm trying to reduce the risk of this as far as possible :)
1. The first time I went over the the IOM and rode the circuit, I was also a little apprehensive after all the stories I'd heard. However, when riding, going with the flow, it wasn't half as bad as I imagined. Like traffic in Mombasa (Kenya), Colombo (Sri Lanka) or Indian cities I have ridden / driven in - from the sidelines the traffic looks terrifying - but get in amongst it, and you soon get the hang of it, and it doesn't seem so bad.
2. Every year, 4-10 people get killed at the TT. Some will be the racers taking part (as you'd expect) but about half will be riders, like us, doing the circuit. Sadly the odd one or two will be just an innocent bystander, with little or no connection to the racing.
These numbers (although a concern) are not actually that high. I'm told far more come to grief at Daytona Race Week. With 40,000 visitors to the IOM, perhaps 15-20,000 on motorcycles, riding around all day at high speed, then the casualty rate is quite low.
The worst crashes seem to involve people riding the race circuit (just a road by the way) at very high speed (120 to 160 miles per hour), and losing control or hitting another rider. This probably won't be you.
Some accidents are caused by overseas riders (notably Germans) forgetting to ride on the LEFT side of the road. (Americans can also do this!)
3. For the last two years Americans have had accidents on my TT trip. To be fair, this has had NOTHING to do with TT races. Both incidents occured on the way to the island, before we even left England. Both were low speed incidents which had nothing to do with reckless riding.
In 2005, in heavy rain, a guy was on a roundabout (you don't have these) and he thought a car was going to pull out in front of him. So he hit the brakes too hard, slid off at 15mph and broke his shoulder. In 2006, a guy from Texas dropped one of my bikes while turning around at 2mph in a narrow street. He fell awkwardly and broke his leg. In 2006, 2 other Americans (NOT customers of mine, fortunately), hired a bike from a contact of mine on the island, and on the last day, they looked the wrong way at a junction, and pulled out in front of a car - which hit them. As a result of this he will not hire bikes to Americans anymore, and these incidents have been instrumental in my decision to stop offering bike hire.
To give a balanced view however - 2 of my rental bikes crashed in the last 12 months have been by ENGLISH guys aged 55-60. So, it's not just overseas people who crash rental bikes.
4. Some overseas guests find UK traffic a little intimidating. Why?
(i) Traffic Density. We have a very small country with 30 million registered vehicles on the road. Main routes in particular can be quite congested. I try and avoid the major roads, preferring the quieter back lanes. However, they can bring their own problems - often very hilly, narrow & twisty (great!), with loose gravel, potholes and wandering sheep.
Because of the roads being busy, maybe a result of stress & frustration, people often drive quite quickly and aggressively. They MUST find a way through, they MUST compete with other road users. Road Rage (in cities) can be quite common. Apparently we have the second highest rate of road rage in the entire world. (Who is number one I wonder?)
HOWEVER, we do tend to recognize lane discipline. Lanes are marked out prior to junctions and intersections (we only pass on the right by the way) and in general, although we drive fast, we tend to be in the correct lane and obey the rules. City commuters often show little patience to anyone in the wrong lane, who doesn't appear to know what they are doing.
Motorcycle riders in the UK are also legally allowed to filter through traffic. This is illegal in most States of the USA and many American riders don't know how to do it, or don't feel comfortable with this. 95% of UK bike riders will not sit in a row of cars. In a traffic jam, we simply ride up to the front of the queue.
I have limited experience of driving in North America (just about 500 miles done in Canada earlier this year), but my impression was that Canadian roads were much quieter, and the drivers much slower and calmer. The UK will comes as a shock to many!
Many riders from the USA / Canada think we ride too fast here.
(ii) Speed. Our speed limits tend to be higher than USA & Canada, 70mph (about 110 / 120 kph) on derestricted roads. Many people disregard speed limits and ride / drive faster than this. But we have hundreds of speed cameras in place to try and combat this. This is a contentious issue. More cameras, but less actual Police on the roads. So, slow down for the cameras, then speed up to whatever you want once you've passed them? Safer? Not IMHO.
5. Outside the towns and marked limits, there are NO SPEED LIMITS on the Isle of Man. Many riders legally ride over the mountain at a max of about 100 to 120 miles per hour (my kind of speed) whilst many are passing me at 150 or even 160 miles per hour on the mountain mile. This can be quite intimidating the first time you experience it!
You may be pootling over the mountain at a steady 50mph, and some riders WILL be passing you, within inches, riding up to 3 times faster than you. Really.
6. Having said all this. This need not be a problem. Not everyone rides like this of course, and you can ride at your own pace. There's a funny story to tell here. A couple of really nice Canadian guys joined my 2006 trip. (they are cc'd in this reply) They were fairly steady riders, and sensibly kept out of the high speed riding crowd, in order to plod along at their own pace. One morning, they got up early to do a circuit of the mountain, by themselves, whilst it was quiet. The roads were empty and they got up quite a head of steam. They rode faster and faster, and started to experience the adrenaline rush enjoyed by the sports bike boys. On and on they rode, like many before them, perhaps imagining they were a race rider doing a high speed lap. Then, they were aware of a strange rattling noise behind them, and it then it happened..... they were overtaken by a Post Office van.... on its rounds, delivering letters across the island. The shame of it! Nothing like a diesel mail van to deflate your race ego. This story is true - they told me themselves.
The point is they enjoyed the trip - they weren't racers or fast riders, but were able to ride safely throughout the week, with no incidents. If you keep well to the left, and don't do anything unpredictable, the guys on fast sports bikes will simply overtake, swiftly and safely, and be on their way.
7. Just to be clear though - 'cos overseas people don't seem to get this bit.
In the UK, we are pretty obsessed with fast sports bikes. Too much I'd say. The magazines promote these, and we worship at the altar of speed and performance. Riders of fast new machines try and emulate their heroes in World Superbikes and Moto GP.
Although "Cruiser" type bikes do exist here, they are very much in the minority. You will see hardly any Harleys at the TT. It's a RACE event, attended mainly by guys riding fast SPORTS BIKES. No way does it resemble Daytona in any way. Most riders dress the part, in one or two-piece race leathers. Mainly for safety, but also, as a fashion statement, the matching leathers go well with the sports machines J