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OK, so this isn't really a ride report, but it does have to do with riding (even if it is the world's best racing around a track) so. I may never have the opportunity to see the Isle of Man TT in person so this is my next best choice. What one never knows is the variables involved in air travel and what can set you back on your schedule or throw other curves at you.
Departure Day, Wednesday evening, April 10:
We did the balance of our packing ahead of time so it was just do the check list thing and load the bags into the car and head for Edmonton AB for our flight early Thursday morning. After a very fine meal at the Mikado South once more, we settled in to our motel just minutes from the airport the next morning; it was to be a night of tossing and turning and at best, maybe an hour of sleep. We arrived in good time at the terminal, parked the car and headed to the ticket counter (no prior check-in due to shared airlines), no bags to check (all carry-on minis as we were traveling as light as possible) and went through the Nexus line in short order. After a departure lounge breakfast we headed to our gate to a greeting of a 3 hour delay due to a snowstorm in Minneapolis. So, after reading for a couple hours, we got another announcement. Minneapolis still closed due to snow and our flight delayed another 3 hours. Good bye connection to Austin. So we stay in the Twin cities over night right? Wrong. An hour later our flight there was cancelled as were all flights in and out of MSP for the day. The gal at Delta pulled out all the stops and got us on to Denver in the morning and then on to Austin Friday afternoon. So much for the practice day viewing and the autograph session Friday evening. No room at the Rennaisance (OK for $300 a night there were but..) Airport hotel, so we opted for a room at the Sheraton 3 miles away ($125) and they graciously let us in early so we could relax for the remainder of the afternoon. So, an evening meal watching the hockey game and then back to the room for a sleep. Not. Same s**t different pile as the night before only this time we had to be at the airport by 4:00 am to get our tickets sorted and boarding passes. Tried to eat some breakfast but nerves ended that in short order. so I had ice water instead along with some antacid. Terrific.
Finally in the air at 6:30 and on the ground in Denver at 11:00 (CDT). 3 hours later we were in the "friendly skies" to Austin. Made it to the hotel by 5, and after settling in, we strolled downtown to a seafood restaurant for some fresh Galveston oysters and a fine meal of shrimp for me and a seared tuna salad for herself. We both thought a margarita would go nicely, then herself said "it's early, let's get a pitcher of them!" Me being the accommodating dude I are I had to agree. Been a long time since I got the bill and the food was less than the drinks:surprise:
Saturday's forecast wasn't stellar but not that bad and we boarded the tour bus to the track at 715 under cloudy, misty skies. By the time we got to the track it was an out and out downpour. No worries, the teams will put on rain tires and all will be good. Wrong! As we headed for the gate (which wasn't due to open for another 15 minutes, the light show started. Lightning everywhere, and strong winds. By now you've heard what transpired starting in west Texas and traveled northeast into 3 or 4 other states as well. So there we were under a metal frame awning tent in a blazing thunderstorm and wind driven downpour. Nice. Finally they let us into the main concourse area behind the main grandstand where they kept about a thousand of us imprisoned for another two hours. On the other side of the track above the pit area was our VIP lounge with hot food and drinks (adult type drinks too BTW) but alas they wouldn't let us go there. Argh.
Finally about 10:30 they let us out of jail and we scurried the half mile or so to the paddock and VIP quarters. Sausage and eggs and an espresso never tasted so good. The espresso was likely good thanks to the medicinal dark rum infused in it (em, medicinal of course).

Eventually the weather cleared and by 1:00 the track was drying out and brief practice sessions went on with rain tires still, and then the qualifying rounds began. While the speeds all 3 groups were displaying on the "wet" tires was astounding, what was really amazing was the noise level. With the main grandstand across from us, the paddock and pits below is the sound pretty much gets trapped and echoes everywhere at major Db levels. Ear plugs were definitely in order.
Moto 3 And Moto 2 were really no surprise with how the placings went. Alex Marquez took the poll in Moto 2 and Suzuki (riding on a Honda LOL) took Moto 3 Poll. Marc Marquez took the MotoGP poll by a significant margin and with the exception of Vinalez ending up in 12th on the grid, the front runners were all pretty much expected with Rossi in 2nd, Martin 3rd, Crutchlow (not Repsol but monster Honda) 4th, Dovisioso, Lorenzo, Ianone and the rest of the major players rounding out the top seeds. I'll try and post up a list more accurately complete with team affiliations as soon as I can. Bit of concentrated research to do on that part. But it eventually became the day I was waiting to see for a good many years. I have a whack of pics to download when I get time, and a couple vids I shot with my phone (they have a couple oops moments in them but they're not horrible. I don't have an editing software so not sure if I can clean them up at all but I'll see what I can do. In the meantime, these are before the action got going after the rain on Saturday from our vantage point above the paddock/pits in the VIP lounge area.
 

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Awesome Daryl....looking forward to more pics!

And an Isle of Man trip would most definitely be a bucket list thing to do.......if only.....
 

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So, some pics from Sunday's action. No spoilers here, just some shots I'm happy with. No descriptions yet, just the raw shots. Nikon D80 with a Tamron 70-300 zoom 1.4-5.6. 300mm obviously...
 

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Few more. Actual subjects to follow
 

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Sweet! I thought about trying to get over there but this darn work thing gets in the way. One of these days......
 

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Nicely done pal, and strong percerviernce in the face of changes.

I watched the 2nd race on the tube and looks like the bikes really love that track.

Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk
 

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Wow, a little too fast for my blood (except maybe in the Corvette) LOL Thanks for the great pic Daryl. Can't wait to see the rest and some videos. Thanks for taking us along..
 

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Nicely done pal, and strong percerviernce in the face of changes.

I watched the 2nd race on the tube and looks like the bikes really love that track.

Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk
Lots of conflicting thoughts on the track. Riders say it was rough and unpredictable. There's a major bump somewhere on the back side after turn 1 either in the esses or just out of them. They say it's dangerously big. I spoke with a guy that has done a race school there and he agrees it's evil for bikes. Cars (Indy or otherwise) don't barely notice it apparently so COTA isn't really concerned. They will be if Dorna pulls the plug because of it. The track looks super smooth, but in reality it's diamond cut and very ragged. Hard on tires too.
 

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Glad you made it (still smiling) after all that
Great pics
My brother was mentioning the storm and entrapment on Sat.
Looking forward to more pics/videos
Enjoy

every day is a good day ......some are just gooder than others
 

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What the COTA peeps did to us during the storm was ridiculous. At one point there was about 1000 of us trapped inside the main concourse and they had us blockaded and could not get out. Then somehow, there was maybe 100 of us left so I don't know where they went or how they got there. We tried like 3 times to get over to the paddock and we got turned away every time. In the meantime my race program got wrecked in the wet, and I never did get another one. Going to try and contact COTA and see if I can purchase a leftover...
 

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Lots of conflicting thoughts on the track. Riders say it was rough and unpredictable. There's a major bump somewhere on the back side after turn 1 either in the esses or just out of them. They say it's dangerously big. I spoke with a guy that has done a race school there and he agrees it's evil for bikes. Cars (Indy or otherwise) don't barely notice it apparently so COTA isn't really concerned. They will be if Dorna pulls the plug because of it. The track looks super smooth, but in reality it's diamond cut and very ragged. Hard on tires too.

Some of the fastest and most fun tracks are the roughest.....>:)


I remember pitching the tail end of the Reynard in turn 2 on a bounce @ Nazareth at about 105. Heart in throat, almost something in my driving suit.....................but oh! What fun!

:2guns:
 

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More pics. Alex Marquez (Moto 2 #73, Marc's brother) 1st 2 shots, , 3rd, Moto 2 group action, 4th pic Jorje Lorenzo, last pic Marc Marquez (both GP)
 

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Sunday dawned bright and sunny, just about a perfect day for racing. The grid was a solid lineup for HRC riders: Suzuki on the HRC Honda on the poll in Moto 3, A Lorenzo on the poll in Moto 2, and M Marquez on the poll in GP with Crutchlow in 4th spot, and Lorenzo in 7(?). Then the unthinkable happened. Suzuki (Moto3) went over the bars in turn 12 at mid race point after the front wheel tucked and sent the bike into a cartwheel. A Marquez had some sort of mechanical issue that dropped him from a commanding lead into 11th at mid race point of Moto 2, and Crutchlow washed out the front in turn 12 (right in front of us) on lap 6 or 7, then Marquez lost the front wheel at the same spot in mid race on turn 12 (same spot) while holding a 5 second lead over Rossi. I had remarked to several beside me that he was running too hot and something bad was coming...and it did. He managed to get the bike upright but it refused to restart and that ended it for the former 6 time COTA champion. Lorenzo in the meantime had blown up his bike in some manner and he was retired from the proceedings early on. Egads. But the Rossi faithful cheered Marquez' demise rather loudly (not sure that it was very sportsman-like but hey, fans are fans) and then the dual was on between Rossi and Rins for the rest of the race. Rins squeaked past the Doctor on the 20th lap and held Rossi off for the remainder of the race to take the win in a very thrilling finish. Sure I was disappointed to see all my Honda brethren fall to disaster (only 1 HRC bike finished the GP race, 10th place) but to see Rins in the center spot on the podium was gratifying. First ever GP win for him and the first win for Suzi since 2016. I would have rejoiced for the Doctor had he taken the flag, but nothing shameful in a second place finish. At 40 years old to see him just as much a threat to take it all is just awesome. Great rider and a very gracious individual.
So, in spite of all the hurdles getting there, and hardships with the weather and everything else, it was a magical thing to be there and see live the heroes of my craft on the track. All that remains for my list is the TT, but if that doesn't happen, there's still COTA and I highly recommend attending if you are at all a race fan in any form. Know this though, It's freaking LOUD so bring ear plugs LOL... and a rain suit.:wink2:
 
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