The Isle of Man. Chances are that if you like engines in your bikes you know the place pretty well. It’s all sort of blurry with scary bits now and again where you have to brake quite hard.What you may not be aware of is that the island’s residents are also quite keen on bikes without engines. Until recently they had kept this fact to themselves, just inviting the rest of us over once a year for the End to End, several hundred riders in a mad charge from the Point of Ayre at the top right of the island to Port Erin at the bottom left.
In recent years though they have begun to expand their repertoire of slightly crazy events. You have by now probably all heard of the Manx 100, this began as very small event in 2012 when a bunch of locals decided to basically do the End to End by taking the scenic route, 104 miles with 16,000ft of climbing, a lot for such a small island. This has since grown to quite a big event, a lap of the island’s best bits starting and finishing at the TT Grandstand in Douglas, and will be the UK National Marathon Championships in 2017.
One other event which has been quietly going on under the radar for a number of years is the Longest Day - Longest Ride. The clue might be in the name with this one. It’s a 24hr race on the weekend closest to the summer solstice, the 1st and 2nd of July in 2017. Yes, I know it's not quite the longest day but it's close enough that they didn't feel the need to change the name. The race takes place at Conrhenny Plantation near the famous Creg Ny Baa and has grown from a mere 16 nutters in the inaugural event in 2010 to 272 last year so they must be doing something right.
Nutters? Well, 24hrs on a 5km lap. That’s a lot of laps. 77 for Steve Kelly, the winner last year, to be precise. There is a certain degree of mental toughness required on that one I think. I suppose the short lap is relative though, the Isle of Man is quite small, albeit surprisingly hilly. On a 5km lap of Conrhenny you will see almost exactly 100 times the proportion of the island as you would of the British mainland by doing a lap of the Relentless course. And nearly 2,000 times as much as the proportion of Australia as you would see by doing a lap of Stromlo.It seems that a ’standard’ 24hr is no longer enough for some people and a number of daft ones have taken off in recent years, think of the Strathpuffer for example, and the LDLR is certainly daft. Won’t a 5km laps get a bit dull after the 77th time around? Well, no. Aside from the fact that the lap itself is pretty decent, a mix of fast fireroads for overtaking, or being overtaken, and some lovely twisty stuff with a fair amount of boardwalk sections the short lap means that you will always have company, you won’t be out in the middle of nowhere on your own for hours at a time, there will always be someone to race, someone to cheer you on, someone to pass you a bottle, someone to encourage you, just how a race should be
Steve Kelly, en route to winning the 2016 race.
Anyway, Longest Day - Longest Ride. Entries are open here for 2017. Get yours in now. Teams, pairs, solos, everyone is welcome.