It looked impossible at times, Dougie dancing all over his trials bike like a man trying to wrestle a goat to the floor as the wind buffeted him relentlessly over the Mountain. But the trials legend gritted his teeth, dug deep and delivered one of the mos
Trials hero Dougie Lampkin made history last Sunday when he became the first man to wheelie the entire Isle of Man TT Mountain Course. Lampkin set off down Bray Hill shortly after 5pm to navigate the gruelling 37.73-mile Snaefell circuit on the back wheel of his modified Vertigo Ice Hell 300 trials bike, before rolling back down Glencrutchery road to successfully complete his attempt just over an hour and a half later.
The Isle of Man’s notorious microclimate had nearly put an end to the Yorkshireman’s attempt, with high winds over the mountain section forcing Lampkin and his team to postpone from Saturday evening to Sunday, when calmer – but far from perfect – conditions paved the way for the incredible feat.
“I’d say this has been as hard as preparing for a final round of the world championship,” Lampkin told MCN after stepping off the bike. “I’ve worked for seven months to make this happen and when it comes down to it you have to make it work on that one attempt.”
Lampkin admits he might have underestimated just how hard it would be, and came very close to throwing the towel in on the project in June after struggling to keep his front wheel up for much more than a mile.
“On June 3 this year the furthest I’d wheelied was 1.3 miles. I was in massive trouble and just wanted to call it off, but apparently that wasn’t happening! I had to pull myself together with my team and we got the job sorted. A lot of the effort came in working on the bike – we worked hard on it for what was probably months to get where we needed to be.”
In order to make the attempt possible, Lampkin’s team attached footpegs to the rear axle of his machine to allow him to stand up while on one wheel.
“There’s not a book you can look at to see what you need to do with the bike. That just added to the challenge, we knew we’d have to modify the bike but we had to figure out exactly how.”
The infamous TT course is renowned for being the ultimate test for both man and machine, and Red Bull statisticians gave Lampkin a 50/50 chance of success ahead of the attempt, factoring in weather, mechanical issues and potential distractions.
Something else the 12-times world trials champion had to contend with was that the 37.73-mile course wasn’t completely closed. While he did have the buffer of a rolling road block, he also had a lot of traffic to contend with from both directions.
“There are so many different corners on this course and then you’ve got the bumps meaning there’s no rest anywhere,” he said. “It’s the same for the road racing guys, there is just so much going on all of the time. But on top of that, we had traffic coming the other way! There were a couple of issues with parked cars and a bus desperate to pull out coming through Kirk Michael. All of those things are out of your control so I just had to concentrate on my job. But it made it more intense!”
Lampkin may have been the first to complete the feat, but he wasn’t the first to try – with stunt rider Dave Taylor first attempting it onboard a Yamaha XT500 in the 1970s.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is the face of victory – and of great relief
Undulating course – and oncoming traffic – made it harder than Dougie anticipated
High winds on the mountain had dropped by Sunday