After the overnight shower the morning brought mist and uncertain skies but, thankfully, no more rain; which was just as well as we were going to be wide open to the elements at Cronk y Voddy. As it turned out the weather was kind to us, and Dave's knowledge of the island's back roads ensured that we weren't confined to any particular spot for longer than we wanted to be.
From the roadside banking at Cronk y Voddy we could hear the bikes before we could see them as they flew up the hill towards us, crested the rise and then disappeared down to Drinkwaters bend. Watching YouTube videos will never be quite the same after seeing at first hand the pace at which those bikes were ridden along the straight and through road-speed-easy bends that became scary, flat-out, pinned-throttle blind corners during a race.
Meanwhile, one of the lads had organised a sweepstake and asked me if I wanted to take part. I hesitated because, as I watched him totting up the bets, to my astonishment I saw the glint of twenty- and fifty-pence pieces! It was obviously too rich for my blood, so I declined his offer as gracefully as I could.
It's a slippery road to hell when you get hooked into the devil's game!
The day continued fair and dry and Dave continued my education with regard to the island's highways. We ghosted along back- and single-track roads, dodging left and right and dodging the race course, too, as we made our return to Braddan Bridge. (Always ride with someone who knows where he's going when you don't!)
In complete contrast to Cronk y Voddy, there was a seating area outside the Kirk Braddan Church where, if you were patient, you could grab a recently-vacated seat and watch the bikes in blissful luxury as they threaded their way down from Quarterbridge, over the mini-roundabout and on to Union Mills.
The days passed seamlessly and then, suddenly, Saturday had come and gone and we'd be catching the ferry on Wednesday; only three days left! Sunday was a rest day for the racers, which gave us the opportunity to make a deeper, more leisurely exploration of the island than had been possible until then and so, in the morning sunshine, a new odyssey was begun.
Douglas is quite a compact place from where it's easy to lose the traffic and escape into the countryside. From even the most modest of hills the island seems proud to display its challenging terrain, although sometimes with the emphasis on the "rain" bit in terrain.
Dave's route took us to the hill overlooking Douglas and the south quay, then along Marine Drive with its impressive archway. The road continued its meander along the coast, giving us fantastic views to seaward and of cliffs on the land side. It was beautiful, and beautiful sights are far from uncommon on the Isle of Man.
We toured around until I gave up trying to take photographs and relaxed to enjoy just being on my bike and being on the island, but there were still more sights and more thrills to come for me before we set sail for home!