The most dangerous race in the world impacts its riders.
When a rider swings a leg over their bike, they’re accepting a certain amount of danger that will come with riding. And while every rider can be as prepared as possible with their safety gear and being aware of their surroundings, a certain amount of luck comes into play.
Welcome to the Isle of Man, the most dangerous motorcycle racing experience in the world. While it might take place on a beautiful, tiny island between Great Britain and Ireland, that’s as pretty as it gets. Because with the rate of death this race has seen during its history, it’s an experience that makes it difficult for outsiders to understand the appeal.
The Isle of Man is a speed racing event that lasts two weeks and involves a series or racing around the island. While some might not consider that very impressive, it’s probably important to remember that these riders are blitzing through these tight streets at an average speed of 200 mph.
The race first originated in 1907, and since that time, it’s claimed the lives of 140 racers. The Isle of Man Tourist Trophy is not a race for the faint of heart. You don’t just have to be a confident rider to take part in this race; you have to have a sense of recklessness that encourages you to do it in the first place. These lives lost doesn’t even include the deaths of onlookers and watchers, which increases the count to more than 250 people.
Maybe some years will be lucky, right? Perhaps a year will pass where someone’s life isn’t taken? Well, not this year. Just one week into the race, it’s already claimed the life of a 30-year-old rider, Dan Kneen, who died during his first lap in the race. And this wasn’t an individual who walked into the race not knowing what to expect. He’s raced in this event before, and when someone who’s familiar and confident with the area still manages to slip up, it’s a frightening idea. It shows that even the most confident riders aren’t safe from the risk of losing their lives.
Earlier in the week, Kneen had hit his record by going 132.258 mph and making it through the course. What he didn’t know, nor did anyone else, was that this would be one of the last rides he took on his bike. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
As a culture of riders, accidents are understood and accepted. Everyone does what they can to keep themselves safe, because the idea of giving up riding is not one must will even consider. When you get a taste of that sense of freedom and adrenaline, you’re willing to accept the potential dangers ahead. But this race is multitudes more dangerous than traditional road riding, and while every rider claims that they understand the threat, you don't understand what you don’t know.
Until you’re in the position where you’ve slipped up ever so slightly, and it might cost you your life, do you truly understand the danger. The Isle of Man race will continue, despite any lives that it has taken. Last year, three riders were killed. And while I hate to think that this won’t be the only death in this year’s race, all that can be done is having the hope that these riders do understand the danger involved. And I hope it is worth it to them.
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