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Jul
13

Blurred

Adding a couple of days onto our North West 200 trip seemed an eminently sensible way of sampling the delights of the west coast of Ireland.  Two days is an injustice, we barely scratched the surface of what this area has to offer.

An early start on the Monday morning after a heavy weekend at the Endurance Legends weekend at Donnington was not ideal, but, needs must.  Despite heading over the 62 early doors, Manchester traffic proved to be something of a nightmare, the road works have narrowed the lanes making filtering impossible.

The fast boat to Dublin from Holyhead deposited us on Gaelic shores early afternoon.  The free for motorbikes tunnel charged us 1.50 euro for the privilege and so the blur began.

The M4 and M6 from east to west are fairly uninteresting, empty but tedious, having already travelled the 180 miles to Holyhead with a similiar number of miles ahead, it was the only viable option to get us to the B&B and out for some food and Guinnness in the evening.

The N59 from Galway to Clifden wets our appetites for southern Irish roads, stunning, open, fast and by and large, well surfaced.  Bumpy at times but none of the potholes we encounter on our home roads, this was repeated throughout the trip, green blur.

Clifden provided a hugely entertaining evening, pricey food in Mannions followed by a fair amount of the dark liquid in Lowry’s bar, accompanied by traditional local music.

Tuesday morning and its raining, not predicted on the forecast, we just have to suck it up.  Like Bambi on ice I point the Zx7 towards Achill Island via the pretty little town of Westport.  A late morning coffee allows the last of the rain to clear and by the time we cross Achill sound the roads are drying and every corner reveals more eye catching scenery.

The satnav struggles to locate our second B&B, out in the boonies, the roads have grass growing down the middle!  We find it by a combination of satnav, google maps and good old fashioned road signs.  Atlantic sea cliffs are a short walk from Ocean Heights, we take some pictures and kick back with a tinnie watching the sun set and the waves break.  A few more cans and looking at the map for the following day completes the evening.

Wednesday dawns clear and bright and after another hearty Irish breakfast we are on our way early to our first stop at Mullaghmore point.  Donegal and Killybegs are both satnav destinations before heading out to Glencolumbekille, taking in the spectacular sea cliffs at Sliabh Liag, risinf 601 meters (1,972Ft) from the North Atlantic, spectacular.

The roads on the peninsular are empty and varied warming us up for the day’s highlight, the R250 from Glenties to Letterkenny.  I can’t do this ribbon of tarmac justice, suffice to say the blur got more blurred at some points.

With 150 miles or so under our belts we headed to Portrush for fish and chips by a direct route via Derry and Colraine.  The third stooge for this trip arrived in Bushmills ten minutes before us having travelled up that day and crossed for Cairnryan to Larne.

Thursday’s forecast does not disappoint.  The warm dry roads letting the riders practice before the evenings three races.  Ballysally roundabout is a great early vantage point as the bikes brake from ridiculous speeds to take the roundabout the wrong way before exiting and heading to our next vantage point, Mathers chicane, Glenn Irwin and Rutter, coming out of Mathers

Practice finishes at three with roads opening briefly allowing us to get to Metropol in in place for the evening races, Supersport, Superstock and Supertwins.  Three great races with Seeley, Hickman and Martin Jessop coming out top in those respective classes.

A leisurely start on Friday has us dropping down to the small harbour at Ballintoy, a natural cove, reinforced against the ravages of the sea providing shelter for small craft and scenery for Game of Thrones.  Breakfast in the harbour cafe at Ballycastle takes us into mid morning, before exploring  the ruins of Kinbane castle with more spectacular views of the rugged coastline.  After the climb back upto the bikes we stop for a breather, bike kit is good for riding bikes and precious little else, certainly not ascending a couple of hundred steps into an otherwise vertical cliff

Saturday’s racing takes place under blue skies with barely a delay in proceedings, we’re back at the cottage by 4.30 to sort out luggage a bikes for the trip home in the morning.

Race 1 – BetMcLean.com Supersport

  1. Alastair SEELEY, Yamaha – EHA Racing, 27:47.289, 115.906mph
  2. James HILLIER, Kawasaki – Quattro Plant / JG Speedfit, 27:52.850, 115.520mph
  3. Lee JOHNSTON, Honda – Padgett’s Motorcycles, 27:53.135, 115.501mph

Race 2 – Anchor Bar Superbike

  1. Glenn IRWIN, Ducati – Be Wiser Ducati Racing Team, 30:53.529, 121.681mph
  2. Dean HARRISON, Kawasaki – Silicone Engineering Racing, 30:54.546, 121.615mph
  3. Michael RUTTER, BMW – Bathams Racing, 30:56.676, 121.475mph

Race 3 – John M Paterson Supertwin

  1. James COWTON, Kawasaki – McAdoo Kawasaki Racing, 19:50.489, 108.077mph
  2. Jeremy McWILLIAMS, Kawasaki – KMR Kawasaki/IEG Racing, 19:51.091, 108.022mph
  3. Joey THOMPSON, Paton – Team ILR / Mark Coverdale, 19:51.956, 107.944mph

Race 4 – CP Hire Superstock

  1. Alastair SEELEY, BMW – Tyco BMW Motorrad, 26:35.361, 121.131mph
  2. Peter HICKMAN, BMW – Smith’s Racing BMW, 26:35.547, 121.117mph
  3. Dean HARRISON, Kawasaki – Silicone Engineering Racing, 26:36.887, 121.015mph

Race 5 – Merrow Hotel & Spa NW200 Superbike

  1. Glenn IRWIN, Ducati – Be Wiser Ducati Racing Team, 30:43.811, 122.323mph
  2. Michael DUNLOP, BMW – Tyco BMW Motorrad, 30:53.773, 121.665mph
  3. Lee JOHNSTON, Honda – Honda Racing, 30:53.958, 121.653mph

And as I post this, weeks later we have lost Dan Kneen, William Dunlop and Jamie Cowton, from road racing at its best, to road racing at its worst!