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We're off to the Ulster Grand Prix

Fri, 13 Aug 2010 00:00:00 -0700

I was pretty excited about going to the TT in June and it didn’t disappoint – three days of ram-packed entertainment,  on all fronts.

But the Ulster Gp is a different buzz. For starters I’m taking racing mad offspring no 2 for a lads and dads weekend away. Secondly, I’ve never been before and thirdly, the amount I’ve heard about the event over the years have created this sort of myth that I just have to see myself to put the record straight.

We had an uneventful but largely wet ride up. The VFR with its new top box handled like a ferry boat, loaded, as it was, with a fidgeting 13 year-old boy and panniers (and top box) full of three days’ worth of detritus. Dunlop Roadsmarts continue to impress me, though, especially in the pissing rain.

We arrived in Birkenhead with five minutes to spare to discover a poor feller from Norfolk who’s Aprilia Mille alternator had given up the ghost. We pushed him on board using his right footrest and my left foot. It wasn’t pretty but we did it. What a rubbish start to your holiday. Electrical trouble. 250 miles from home. On day one. ‘ I’ve thought about dropping a match in the tank on a number of occasions’, he said, dryly. Think he meant it, too.

The Norfolk Line boat is amazing. Clean,  friendly staff, great food (included in the price) nice cabins. This is not the Isle of Man Steam Packet.  By a country mile. £250 return with super clean cabins and inclusive food for two people and a bike. As both crossings are eight-hour jobs and overnight, I viewed this as an inclusive hotel. It cost £160 for just me and a bike to to get to the TT and back with no cabin, no food and far more miserable, surly and reluctant service.

Sea’s a bit choppy though. My VFR’s tracker system keeps sending me desperate, lonely text messages. ‘Movement alert. Movement alert. Position: Mersey channel’ I kind of wish I could send it a consoling text  back…

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By mark forsyth


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