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11.7.16

A sandwich vs a life #TT2016

It almost feels like a sense of relief when a race finishes and you can immediately leave and go back to your campsite or to your next chosen destination without any issues.
Last year it seemed that almost every day a race or two were cancelled due to red flags.
Depending on whether or not you are inside the circuit or on the outside it can mean a long wait whilst emergency services are on scene and depending on the seriousness of the incident.

This year, it didn't seem to be too bad. It's almost inevitable that there will be deaths, accidents tend to be regular but deaths are the ones that really do shock you.
The first race day, Saturday, we watched from the mountain. A brilliant location, a challenge for me to walk across a high bridge when I am incredibly afraid of heights, a nice sunny day, good company and a good picnic. The first race made even better by the fact that Michael Dunlop won!
The sidecars came on for their race and then we noticed the road was quiet, which only means one thing.
Listening to the radio and keeping up with the Twitter feed we knew there had been a fatality.
After a delay the race restarted and then came the practice session. We'd moved from one side of the road to the other and as we settled down to watch we realised that not many of the bikes had gone past when the road went quiet again.
People started to leave, walking back to their bikes and again, we knew this was another red flag.
The atmosphere changes. It's strange.
It does from buzzing, excitement to one of "shit just got real" and this other weird feeling of....I'm not even sure of how to describe it. Panic isn't the right word, and neither is fear but the feeling is along the lines of both of those.

Depending on where you are on the circuit you are stuck, and that feeling of limbo, of not knowing what has happened, how long you will be stuck somewhere makes you feel unsafe.
We got on the bikes and headed to a pub. The road was blocked with people wanting to go both ways, frustration mounted as the Marshalls stood around chatting rather than sorting out the traffic and masses of people and vehicles crowded into this one area.
The best thing was that despite the limbo, the not knowing what had happened, who to, or how many people were involved, was that sense of community.
Everyone does rally round and you make friends and chat with people who you wouldn't have met otherwise.
Your mind is distracted by what has happened, not completely distracted. You can't remove the thoughts in your head of what, who, where and how?

It's not until people start moving again, and the barriers open that you become aware again that this situation and incident has now got to the point where someone has been saved...or hasn't been able to be saved.

We got on my brother bike and as he knows the island well we took a left. The road we wished to go down was closed so we rode over and spoke to one of the Marshalls blocking the road.
Asking advice on another way we could go we gently asked if it was a fatality.
She confirmed that it was. Telling us that she couldn't say much but it didn't look good our hearts dropped.
Knowing that not far down the road we were at the end of a man was there.
His race was up.
We didn't know who he was, or what had happened, but sadness immediately hit.

We noticed an old lady stood just in front of us talking aggressively to a policewoman.
When we asked the Marshall what that was about she told us how some of the locals were unhappy that they couldn't take their cars down to their houses for the time being. Instead being asked to park at the end of the road and walk the short journey to their house.
This old lady was moaning because of a loaf of bread.
A LOAF OF BREAD!

We were shocked.
I have never more wanted to jump off that bike and to go over to ask what on earth was going on in her head.

I get it. Some people won't be sympathetic towards the riders. They risk their lives and why should residents be stopped from going into their houses because someone risked their life and it went wrong.
It does make sense, in a way.

However, when that situation then occurs, it should be a shock to all and human nature should kick in. That moment when we accept that something went wrong.
Yes, they risk their lives but not with the hope or wish that it may go wrong.

And this ladies priorities. Totally wrong.
Totally.
Completely.
Wrong.
And selfish.
A loaf of bread. Something she could easily carry.
I remember my brother making a comment to the Marshall about us going and getting her butter and jam and whatever else she wanted from the shop to make herself a sandwich if she needed it that badly.
If the fact that a man, in danger, wasn't serious enough for her to rethink the important things in life.

A sandwich vs a life. 

Wishing the Marshall a good evening, telling her she was amazing and hoping that she didn't have to deal with many other woman like the one who stood there almost next to us, we then rode off back to the campsite.

We later found out that the rider had died.
The shock of that hit us hard as the day before my brother had stood and spoke to this rider.
Paul Shoesmith, the man that had arranged a lap of the circuit the following day in memory of another rider, and other people who have lost their lives on the island/due to the sport too.
And now...the lap would also be taking place in his honour.
My brother had spoken to him to make him aware that someone was selling dodgy tshirts, making money from the legacy lap. I was proud of my brother for that.

My Facebook status that night, once we knew what had happened and who to:


Downside to this sport. The road was closed and even though the atmosphere is still buzzing as we all patiently wait for it to reopen, there is that eerie feeling of knowing that someone may have lost their life. We road past the closed road and spoke to a marshall to see if the mountain road was open. She was lovely, and she told us that some of the residents were "irate" because they couldn't get their cars to their houses. For an hour or so they had to leave their cars on the side of a nearby road and walk to their houses. Big deal!!Not knowing if someone had lost their life or was seriously injured these peoples priorities were totally in the wrong place. We saw an old lady more worried about getting her loaf of bread home, and moaning to a police woman. I couldn't believe it. It made me so angry. These racers know the dangers, and yeah they put their lives at risk, but for god sake give them some respect if they do crash and let the emergency services etc do their job properly. Poor poor bloke.

He left behind a small family. He was an incredible man. 
And as I sat at that pub, not yet knowing who or what had happened, I knew already that I respected whoever it was more than I ever would an old lady whose priority in life was to be irate over a loaf of bread.
At that moment, I knew that I belonged in that community. 
I may not have a bike.
I may not ever be able to ride.
But in my heart, I am the same as the rest of them.