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May
23

North West 200

First run in 1929 the North West 200 is classed as the biggest outdoor sporting event in Ireland.  Racers ride on closed roads on a triangular circuit from Port Stewart to Colraine and back up to Port Rush.  It’s a fast circuit with Martin Jessop hitting 208mph in practice last year on the approach to university corner.

Travelling up on the Wednesday in pouring rain on the A1, the top of the Pennines saw a change in weather and we arrived at Cairnryan in broken sunshine, the 2 hour crossing to Larne done, we head up the spectacular coastal road to the cottage at Bushmills.nw1

Thursday morning and the roads close for practice, its wet, dry, drizzling, raining drying wet conditions so most are out on full wets.

Entry to the Ballsally roundabout, the road surface kicks up as the riders exit the road and enter the roundabout in the wrong direction, rear tyres skip, land and are immediately lent over.

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In the evening we set ourselves up at Metropol to watch 3 races. Guy Martin heads Ansty.nw8nw10

Dunlop I think, ahead of Martin and Ansty.

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Riders set off in two or three groups depending on numbers and practice times, the course is too small and narrow to have the full pack all pilling into the York hairpin on the first lap.  Dunlop finished first and parked his bike in the number 1 spot at the end of the race, as instructed by the officials, only to be told he had lost first spot to Alex Sealey who had clawed back something like 6 seconds on the last lap, riding to the front from the second wave of riders, Dunlop was not a happy man.

Friday dawns bright and sunny and we head to Ballymoney to pay respects to Joey, with 26 TT wins just part of what he achieved this part of Ireland came to a standstill when the laid him to rest with 50,000 people paying their respects

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With the rest of Friday to occupy ourselves the pits and the Giants Causeway kept us entertained, along with a couple of pints of Guinness.

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most riders modify their screens to allow them to tuck in on the long straights the course is famous for.

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Downtown Bushmills for supplies

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The forecast for Saturday the main race day is abysmal and for once, unfortunately the forecasters are right, race one gets underway but is red flagged after 2 and a bit laps, a couple of fallers and its just too dangerous to continue, the 600s are the wheener class but they are still hitting 175 in the wet, the riders can’t see squat, the compulsory tails lights this year for wet conditions make precious little difference when following the bike in front at those speeds.

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We wait in the rain, knowing the inevitable, rain stops play for the day, announced at 3pm.  We ride back to Bushmills and the roads are awash, a day for kayaks, not bikes.  Will we be back, o yes.