You can cut the ten­sion on the TT grid with a knife, but do the rid­ers feel it?

Motorcycle News (UK) - - TT 2017 PREVIEW - By Oli Rushby SPORT REPORTER

Ask any­one who has watched the grid form at the TT and they’ll tell you about the in­ten­sity that sur­rounds the rid­ers. It’s an at­mos­phere thick with fear and dan­ger, yet alive with an­tic­i­pa­tion and ex­pec­ta­tion.

Of course, there’s a buzz when the grid forms in BSB, WSB or Mo­togp, but the senses are height­ened by the real­ity that some of the guys wait­ing to take on the most chal­leng­ing cir­cuit in the world might not re­turn in one piece.

“You end up with a lot of ner­vous en­ergy ahead of the race be­cause of the peo­ple around you,” ex­plains Nor­ton rider Josh Brookes, who is re­turn­ing to the TT after two years away. “It’s al­most like the pad­dock is full of fear. Ob­vi­ously no­body wants to ex­pe­ri­ence the worst case sce­nario, but they know it can hap­pen.

“Be­cause it’s so raw, the emo­tions are quite no­tice­able. You can feel that ten­sion, peo­ple just want ev­ery­one to come home safely and that fear spreads through ev­ery­body and then into me. I start to feel re­ally ner­vous. The fear, worry and hope that ev­ery­one comes home safely is ob­vi­ous and then that comes to you as a rider. You carry all that with you un­til you head to the line and it’s your turn to start and then it all goes away. Rid­ing a bike is what I’ve done my whole life, this isn’t some strange thing I’m be­ing forced to do with a gun to my head, it’s not like I haven’t pre­pared. I can choose how fast I go and how late I brake. I’m in con­trol.

“I think if it was just the rid­ers, not that you’d ever get that en­vi­ron­ment, it would be much less of a tense en­vi­ron­ment. All the rid­ers feel com­fort­able within them­selves, no­body feels like they’re do­ing some­thing out of their com­fort zone or they’d stop do­ing it. That’s why we go back each year.

“Once you’re head­ing down to the fa­mous arch and it’s your turn next, the ten sec­onds go quickly. Ten sec­onds isn’t long, is it? All you’re think­ing about at that mo­ment is how you have to be in gear ready for a good start, pre­par­ing to set off as fast as you can.

“You go from a broad spec­trum of thoughts that are im­por­tant over the next two hours and start to nar­row it down to the more spe­cific things the closer you get to set­ting off. Once your vi­sor is down you’re on your own, you’re not com­mu­ni­cat­ing with peo­ple, you’ve just got your own thoughts and it’s the same as any other race. You feel very calm. Once your hel­met is on and the en­gine is run­ning, that’s the noise and at­mos­phere you’re used to sur­round­ing your­self with and you’ve only got your own thoughts and you’re just watch­ing every­thing else around you carry on do­ing what it’s do­ing. Your life be­comes less com­pli­cated.”

‘You carry all that with you un­til you head to the line and it’s your turn to start and then it all goes away’ JOSH BROOKES

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