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9.1.17

#tt2016 Dream Come True

"Put on ITV4 now, there is a film on called Road. It's about a family of racers in the TT called The Dunlops".
I wasn't particularly interested, and didn't pay too much attention really. I put it on but wasn't concentrating. But I managed to watch the whole film, and found towards the end that I had tears in my eyes....no surprise there really. I do cry a lot.

And then my brother invited me to the TT. By that point I knew a bit more about the Dunlops, wasn't quite aware of how amazing they are, Michael in particular when it comes to the TT. And even then I didn't really appreciate him so much, I was all about William.

Everytime we watched a race my brother would point William out to me, until he didn't have to. I recognised the bike number '6' and looked out for him every time.
I left the island, knowing I would be back again.

I was amazed by one thing really. When you go to the paddock and to the grandstand, the racers are just walking around. You can talk to them, have photos taken etc. And they are all so normal. Which obviously they are. But I never expected that.
In 2015 I didn't meet either of the Dunlops. We looked out for them the one day that we went to the paddock but they weren't around. And I was limited on time for the few days I was there so we didn't want to keep going to end up disappointed.

Then, August happened.
The morning I separated from my husband, my brother completely unaware, he phones me and then puts me on hold. The line opens again and a Northern Irish voice says hello.
It was William Dunlop. My brother was back over at the Isle of Man at the Classic TT and managed to have a chat with William and asked him to speak to me on the phone.
I managed to stay cool...after I had hung up him and he had to phone back. I told William a few times that I wished I was there, he told me that my brother probably didn't want me there (erm.....cheers!!) and he wished me a Happy 30th Birthday for a couple of weeks time.
He passed the phone to my brother and I lost it. I cried and screamed and sat in shock.

The next day, I got a message from my brother "William is chatty after he has had a drink". Oh great, so now my brother makes it worse by telling me he had seen William out that night and had a drink with him.

I made a plan. That at the TT this year I would meet William. I wouldn't leave the island until I had met him.
"And maybe 2016, just maybe, you will be kind enough to let me meet a Dunlop. Michael will be fine but ultimately, if I could meet William then my dreams will come true."
 
At TT 2016 we had our days planned. I pretty much knew which day I was going to meet the Dunlops, if I was to meet them at all.
We'd planned to walk into town, have a little look around and then head up to the paddock.
I was under strict instructions from my brother to "just be cool, if you meet them, just be cool". When it comes to my brother I think so SO highly of him and all morning I kept quiet about the fact that inside I thought I was going to explode at the thought that today might be THAT day.
I was scared too, I didn't want to make a fool out of myself. I didn't want to act like a complete loser and was scared that I might end up word vomiting at the Dunlops and telling them how they were a big part of this change in me.

We walked along the paddock, me in front of the other 3 just a tiny bit as secretly I was trying to control my breathing because I felt that build up of an anxiety attack.
We saw a van with "William Dunlop" on the back and I took a photo of it, thinking nothing at this point as there are vans all over the paddock, and carried on walking.
Then I stopped. There he was. A few metres ahead of me talking to a couple of other men. I felt sick. Inside I wanted to run up to him but instead I turned round and said "oh my god. He's there".
My brother told me to go and ask him for a photo but I couldn't do it. As William walked away, holding his lunch, my brother came to my rescue.
"William, mate. Could my sister have her photo taken with you?"
OH MY GOD. I AM NOW STANDING NEXT TO WILLIAM DUNLOP! Let's ignore the fact there is a gap between us because of my bag....ffs Lauren!!
I imagined him to be shy and quiet, and he was just that. We had a conversation with him. I say conversation...I basically said "You looked really good on the Gooseneck yesterday". He didn't quite get that I meant HE looked really good. Being as close as you are on that part of the circuit, seeing them take the corner "slowly", you get to really see the riders....in their leathers....on that machine....and he looked GOOD!

I managed to remain cool. We said goodbye, good luck. I turned round and my brother was with our other friends. I went over to him and just buried my head in his chest and fell apart.
My dream had come true.

I pulled myself together. Posted on Facebook. Told my mum. And we walked on.......not knowing it was about to get even better.

There, working on his bikes with his team....Michael Dunlop. He stopped his work to take photos with people and sign stuff. I waited. There seemed to be no actual queue and I started to worry that in time he would walk off to get back to his business as there was a lot of people.
Then I got in there. No longer the shy, overwhelmed girl I was when I had just met William.
"Put your arm around me then". Oh good lord! Did I really just say that to Michael Dunlop?! Even worse....was I seriously stroking his back a little and making the most of having my arm around him? Yes.....I was.
There were so many people around so I didn't really get to say anything to Michael, other than demanding his arm to be around me. But that moment finished my holiday perfectly...well....him winning finished the holiday perfectly!

I'll be honest. I don't like myself in the photos, mostly in the photo with Michael. I look like a state but I look beyond that and remember how I felt inside. How in that moment I felt like ME!

I might not know anything about bikes. But the Dunlops, they are part of the reason I got into this sport. Them and my brother. They are part of this change and discovery.
They also helped me to understand the sport. I used to find it selfish for men (and women) to risk their lives just to race on a motorbike. But watching Road, and seeing their passion, I get it. 


I think I pretty much told anyone we spoke to when watching the races that I had met them both.
Even now if someone spots my TT circuit necklace, or my tattoo and mentions the TT I mention that I met these two. Other people may not find it a big deal, but to me it was the best day of 2016 for me. I felt so happy.

Last year was hard in so many ways and I know if I'd left the island having not met either of them I would have been heartbroken. And there, in the space of 20 minutes, I'd met them both and I felt like I deserved that dream to come true.