I’ve just read this heartfelt post on Isle of Man TT rider Dan Kneen, who was killed during a practice lap of the Mountain Course earlier this week.
It’s deeply personal, written from the perspective of a comrade, but also from an individual who clearly understands the mentality and determination of the riders and the rush of the TT – and all the glory, adrenaline, drama, camaraderie and emotions that go along with it.
We’ve had three solid evenings of practice without any real drama. The whole island seemed to be on a high – the weather, the racing and not forgetting the astonishing 133mph lap Dean Harrison set!
…but now we’re not talking about the highs. The mainstream media such as the BBC, The Independent, etc. were never talking about that. Oh, no. They’ve been waiting for this like they do every year. A red flag. A fatality. ‘Ban the Isle of Man TT’ brigade will be out tonight… and it really isn’t the time or place.
And it’s true. A quick google search will show you that every news outlet and internet site going, has – at some point or points – asked the question as to whether the TT should be allowed to continue.
Even the readers of Golf Monthly think their opinion matters.
Fortunately, the Isle of Man is not being swayed – at least not yet. And nor should they be. The riders know the dangers, and they make the decision to race or not.
Perspective. Perspective is everything. Racers aren’t forced to race these roads. They know that this sport in particular is dangerous. So do their families. It’s no secret. There’s furniture. Trees, stone walls, curbs. The more forgiving hedge and the less forgiving lamppost. These racers jump on a motorcycle and lean over a flammable tank full of fuel because it’s what they enjoy, it’s their dream, it’s their life!
For some though (and here, I’m looking at the likes of Golf Monthly readers), this won’t be enough. Their sheltered existence upon the dreary, dog-legged commuter belt fairways of Surrey surely won’t allow them to acknowledge that the rush of riding the TT is sufficient reason for someone to exercise their free will and to voluntarily put themselves in harm’s way. The UK (of which the Isle of Man is not part) has banned everything from the overtly dangerous right through to the laughably harmless on the grounds of “risk”, and it’s become a hugely sterile place because of it.
Were there some press-ganging at play here; were orphans being dragged from their beds and forced to blast around 37+miles of winding country roads at more than 200mph on machines better suited for Donnington Park, Silverstone and Brands Hatch; were they lining the more dangerous bits of trackside wall with puppies… well, then I would agree that something needed to change.
But that’s not the case. And thus, when a fully grown adult chooses to ride the TT, fully aware of the dangers they are subjecting themselves to, I think you can take your risk-averse London ways and your fancy putters and back right off.
South Africa has the best word for this: Voetsek.
UPDATE: This morning’s follow up is also incredible writing.