Motorcycle racing is a dangerous endeavor, something we have been reminded of heavily in the past few weeks. Losing Simon Andrews in the North West 200, as well as Bob Price and Karl Harris at the 2014 Isle of Man TT, the usual debates have once again surfaced, namely that motorcycle road racing should be abolished because of the toll of dangers, injuries, and fatalities it demands.

Despite death’s inevitability, the Isle of Man TT is a spectacular event, just ask anyone who has sat on a Manx hedgerow and watched these two-wheeled gladiators race past. The speeds on city streets are astounding, the atmosphere in the paddock is warm and friendly, and the Isle of Man itself is a picturesque locale that could come from some child’s storybook.

Modern media does a great job of translating the first-hand experience of the Isle of Man TT into an approachable hour-long TV format, but it still falls short of the genuine article.

Through a television set, you can’t breathe the fumes of unbridled horsepower from the racing machines, you can’t see past the riders’ determination through their helmet visors, and you don’t witness the hours of determined work, sweat, and sacrifce that occur in the paddock to get a racer to the starting line.

I would challenge any person, motorcycle enthusiast or not, to lay witness to a TT fortnight, and still walk away unimpressed with the spectacle that they have laid witness to — there is simply nothing else like it on Earth. It’s almost spiritual.

But why is it though? Scratch the surface a little deeper on the idea why the TT is so special, and you arrive at the notion that the Manx road race holds our wonderment in captivity because of how far outside the standard deviation of safety it operates — even under the skewed perspective of risk management that occurs in motorsport — and that forces us to take some major stock in our own mortality.

It takes a tremendous amount of mental fortitude to study, learn, and remember the 37.773 miles of the Snaefell Mountain Course…and then ride them at racing speed.

However, it takes an even greater mental power to swing a leg over a TT race bike in the first place, because in order to do that, one must first conquer the the mind-killer that is fear. Fear of the conditions, fear of the 100+ parts that can fail on a motorcycle, and the fear of death itself.

Society in general has a funny metric when it comes to measuring life, because we tend to default to the opinion that duration is the most appropriate criteria. It’s a hard thing to process, the inevitability of our existence ending, so our instinctual reaction is to hedge our bets and to be risk averse, to avoid the inevitable for as long as possible, to refrain from processing our nothingness.

I would argue however that quantity should not be put over quality, and that seems to be a sentiment prevalent, if not in the motorcycling community as a whole, then surely at least within the ranks of road racers.

The riders who line up on Glencrutchery Road do so because they want to challenge themselves, by challenging life and leaving the confines of closed-circuit racing, or even the confines of closed-circuit living.

When we come around to it, the Isle of Man TT is more than a festival and a motorcycle race, it is a celebration of actually living. Unfortunately, that celebration needs to be grounded in reality, and the reality is that in life, no one lasts forever. To live truly, we have to face our one and only true guarantee: that at some point, we will turn to dust.

That reality, that foundation, that subtle truth exacts an amazing toll of sacrifice – it requires its pound of flesh. When I hear people refer to the deaths of riders like Simon Andrews, Bob Price, and Karl Harris as tragedies, meaning that their deaths were needless occurrences of an abhorrent event, I take pause.

The greater the grief of their passing, the greater the influence that they had on our life. Grief is a selfish emotion, in that it is a feeling we have that reflects our own personal sense of loss.

When detractors to road racing or the Isle of Man TT place the lives of the riders lost on such a pedestal, that they then call for the sport’s dissolution, they create a circular argument regarding the value of these individuals, and the race itself.

For, the loss of people like Simon, Bob, Karl, and the racers who died before them, cannot be truly so great if they weren’t great people when they were alive. However, for them to have such an impact on our lives while they were with us, they surely must have achieved something remarkable in their living.

That remarkable event is of course the Isle of Man TT, which would not hold its spell over us if it weren’t such an undertaking in the first place. We as a society place value in undertaking hard things, and we put even more value in achieving those lofty goals. It is the challenge, the talent, and yes the risk, that makes the TT such a remarkable racing event.

That power gives credence to its competitors, who we then idolize. When we lose a racer on the course, as we have done so twice already this fortnight, we should have a reaction, but not the one being argued. Instead, it should be a reminder that life is best not measured by the number of heartbeats, but is instead valued by the number of times that heart raced.

Boys you will be missed, but yours were lives truly worth measuring — truly worth living — we should all be so lucky. The loss we feel right now, is the life you put in us. Godspeed.

Photo: © 2013 Daniel Lo / Corner Speed Photo – All Rights Reserved

  • HateUK

    Great article, thank you for that. Also fix the typo in paragraph 9 please ;) But like all things, the TT will come to an end some day. It has only survived this long due to being geographically isolated from the weakness and cowardice that has spread throughout the nearby lands. But until that day comes, every true rider salutes these men.

  • Well, my father use to race in enduro championship, had a many broken bones and now he participate in veteran road racing series and all those years I could see that most important thing for those mens is just fame. Even when it required death, sometime. When some rider have a fatal accident and die, once again everyone speak about him, so sometime that moment become last but highest peak of their fame, you know what I mean… For me, as I know well, how many fear and worrying moments my mother and whole family had to come through, I would say that seeking for that fame like this is also a bit “selfish” from those who risk their lives so much….
    And that why I like racing on circuits, where we can see such kind of accident very rarely.
    And maybe one more parallel with horse racing (few years ago I rode few…). When we tried to change hurdles layout on racecourse (I mean racecourse with Taxis hurdle: with target make them more safe to avoid so many broken legs etc., we had strong opposition. They said, that we broke truly spirit of that, but our argument was, that its enough, that horse fall and lost that race and its not necessary that he have to loose his life as well. That horse got some owners who feed and take care about him for years, often likes him very much, so they dont deserve to watch their horse to be shoot down, also because next year he can win that race. You see…?

  • Old Boy

    A heavy subject indeed. Seeing the TT in-person gave a whole new appreciation for the challenges these riders face and take head on. I have lost friends to racing and stood bedside in ICU’s for days on end waiting for a young racer to come out of a coma.

    The real heros are the family and loved ones who take on the heavy burden of a death or disability of a racer. Love knows no bounds and being of service to others is the greatest gift we can offer each other.

    Great piece Jensen.

  • Jackoat

    The Why.

    It is very easy to criticise road racers, or anyone who does extreme sports where a relatively small mistake (even someone else’s) can cost you your life. It is also easy to romanticise it. For me it is the wonderful feeling or riding a road as fast as possible. Road racing is not like a track; it’s not just about the closeness of walls or lack of run-off areas, it’s the character of roads which makes them irreplaceable by anything artificial or safer. The ability to run flat-out, or close to it, for miles is unattainable on any modern circuit. Spa might be close, or perhaps Le Mans for its straight, but the character of road circuits – the bumps, dips, crests, kinks, are just not, in practice, obtainable anywhere else. Yes, the paddock is a special place at the IoM because of the people who race there, and the effort that is made to keep it simple and open, but the big thing is the road, the speed, the extreme sensation of a vehicle doing those speeds on that type of road.
    It is, to me, wonderful. I couldn’t do it the way they do and I fear for them every year. But I celebrate our freedom to do that type of thing and it is the same sort of character, spirit, or whatever you call it that makes man great and fearless (I nearly said stupid) at the same time. It comes out in different ways in different people, in any endeavour taken to the limit of human capacity, but if we squash that characteristic for the sake of safety we lose an important part of what made mankind evolve and develop to this point, and there is along way to go yet – when we will need people with that character. It might end in failure, in death, but the success requires that risk to be taken in several walks of life. there is a bigger picture, and it’s a very important one.
    Space travel will require such spirit in people, just as starting your own business often does. Different poles of the same character. Anyone who thinks it’s about other people or safety is wrong in my view.
    The IoM TT seems to be getting stronger, as one of the few places left where racers can do that type of thing I hope it continues, and grows. The loss of these riders makes me sad. But I value their freedom to do what they wish to and enjoy their ‘buzz’. It’s not for me. I am in awe of their ability though, and the support around them that allows it to happen.

  • Paul Cypert

    Humanity was a lot better when more pushed themselves to their limit.

    Let adults own their lives and really live it if they so choose. They’re the ones pushing all of us forward. Teaching us what we can do, what we can endure and what we can accomplish.

    Some half-ass reporter, sitting at a desk trying to gain clicks and sound informed for his moment of glory should feel shame for writing it.

    Do it, then you have the right to critique it. Until you do just admire the passion, guts, and will required to push beyond what’s reasonable. If there’s justice in the world we’ll be talking about these racers for years after anyone’s ever remembered the name of armchair critic, nanny-state journalists :)

  • Pah

    Some interesting points in both the article and comments. As a racer and a fan I don’t know what to think. On one hand I love that an event like the TT still exist. I’d love to attend to see men and a few women who are larger than life, even if briefly ripping down the course. On the other, I wonder how much is enough, I certainly don’t need to see the dark side in person. Back in the day, racers suffered horrific injuries and death on a scale most fans can’t appreciate. I’m sure there were plenty who said “they knew the risk”, “they died doing what they loved”….sound familiar?? It took some brave individuals to say enough. As a racer, I know the risk every time I take the grid, just as these men did….and I love motorcycle racing…but as long as safety is negotiable we’ll continue to see the same sad results.

  • Lewis Dawson

    Jensen, I disagree with the circular logic you have laid out in this article, and I disagree with your conclusions.

    First, we agree that Isle of Man racing is brutally dangerous, far outside the standard deviations of other motor racing. And second, I’ll grant that the event is extremely fun and exciting to attend. But the third part, that it is therefore worthwhile and even noble to ignore the risk and twist the throttle WFO… here you are wrong, I believe.

    By that logic, IOM racing would be even better if we could make it more deadly than it already is.

    I don’t measure a life simply by duration. I have raced motorcycles on plenty of tracks that did not even begin to approach Grand Prix safety standards, even by the crude standards of the 1970’s and 1980’s. I’ve dived deep caves and deep wrecks and extreme currents. And I no longer race at age 65, but I’ll still lay it on the line to pass you at a trackday. My point is… I’m not a risk-averse guy that would choose to sanitize life to extend its duration.

    But I don’t want the blood of 3.6 deaths per year on my hands, nor on the collective hands of society as a whole. As good as Isle of Man racing is, it is not good enough for that. There are plenty of racing alternatives that are less risky. IOM racing should be stopped.

    Footnote: The last time the Isle of Man got through a year without a fatality was 2001. In the 13 years since, 47 people have died on the Mountain Course, including 41 riders, 4 officials, and 2 spectators.

  • That’s fine to disagree Lewis, but so everyone knows what you’re referencing, those stats include the Isle of Man TT as well as the Manx Grand Prix — two pretty different races. You only have to go back to 2012 for a TT without a fatality.

  • Lewis Dawson

    Correct, I was just coming to add that fact. But the TT itself does have fatalities in 11 of those 13 years. I don’t think there can be any doubt that the carnage is extreme, whether looking at the TT alone or both meetings.

  • Douglas Cook

    No sport is without it’s risks, and that’s what partially makes it a sport. Just because this occurs on public roads, and people die, doesn’t mean that it should be banned. Riders die on closed course racing as well. Marco Simoncelli was recently made a Moto GP Legend. He raced on closed courses, and still paid with my life. I would rather die doing what I loved, then live a boring, uneventful life. I have done my share of track days in Europe, and the rush is incredble. I can’t even beging to imagine what it would be like racing on a public road.

  • “Because it’s there.”

  • MikeG81

    “But I don’t want the blood of 3.6 deaths per year on my hands, nor on the collective hands of society as a whole.”

    It isn’t, and it’s not.

  • Jackoat


    I understand the emotions in this thread, I think. However, the laws of supply and demand should prevail. Plenty of people wish to do it – why should anyone else stop them? I’m sure that dealing with the accidents is no better or worse than any road accident involving serious injury or death, but the marshals do it for their own reasons and most of that is enjoyment. The races have plenty of support and bring pleasure to lots more people.
    I don’t like football, I would not demand that somebody stops it because the fans cause chaos/people get hurt. The same applies to horse riding and fishing as sports/leisure activities – statistically much higher tolls upon humanity. Live and let live.

  • Chaz Michael Michaels

    Death of talented young athletes is not romantic to me.

    I understand I’m not going to win a “real road racing must be abolished” argument here.

    I believe reasonable minds will eventually draw some lines though regarding danger as bikes get faster and faster. Let’s face it–these races began when the bikes were barely faster than mopeds. The forefathers who started all this would call us crazy if they were here to witness how fast the bikes are now.

    Like anything, push the agrument-pendulum to each stopping point. At one end is abolish real road racing. At the other end the racing becomes so dangerous its like Hunger Games.

    At some point there will need to be some concessions–be it additional safety measures, restrictions on bikes, etc.

    I love real road racing and then I hate it when riders die. And when they die I don’t wax romantic about it at all.

  • conrice

    Great piece, Jenson.

    Just for a comparison, lets talk about mountain climbing. 15 people died in the month of April (14 in one day) of this year trying to climb Everest. Should we ban that? Are those deaths not just as needless? But for some reason, it doesn’t draw the same amount of attention as real road racing, does it? You have to go back to 2005 for that many deaths if we’re talking specifically about the TT.

    All of the naysayers here sound just like the same people who tell me I’m crazy for riding a motorcycle (in general). “Its too dangerous” “Its irresponsible””Its needless”, sound familiar Pah and Lewis?. Where does it end? Its sadly ironic to hear guys talking about “laying it on the line to pass you on a track day”, as if that’s universally acceptable, but the IOMTT isn’t to them, therefore it should be banned.

    Simply put – in a free society, with regards to personal freedoms (not ill will/violence against others obviously), it’s all or nothing. You can’t have a gauge of “well this is okay and this isn’t”, yet be consistent with freedom no matter what people do to themselves. You have NO idea what I value or what anyone else values, therefore, you’re not entitled to tell me or anyone else what is and is not worth doing or valuing. The same goes for anyone trying to tell any of the supporters or racers what to do. You can’t quantify that to gauge whether or not it should be allowed.

    It’s entirely okay to not support the event and not like it. But to advocate for banishment makes me more ill than the news of any racer passing. These men and women (racers, officials, and spectators) chose to go there and be a part of it. That’s freedom of will of will at work.

    Life is dangerous, it can kill you. It’s important to remember that. It’s not healthy to want to ban the IOMTT in the face of these tragedies happening. Instead, it’s important to celebrate how these men lived. As Simoncelli said, “I’ve lived more in 5 minutes racing than most will in a lifetime”. Pay tribute to them, don’t ban the thing that they lived for. And, that doesn’t just apply to the IOMTT, it applies to everything (including mountain climbing). I’m sure Karl Harris (Bob Price or anyone else that has died) wants to be remembered as a statistic in a political ploy to ban road racing. That’s not honoring them or paying respect to them as a human being.

    RIP Bob Price. RIP Karl Harris. And RIP to everyone who has lost their lives racing on the roads and on the circuits.

  • Keith

    Without risk of loss of life, limb or eyesight there is no living…we have to risk if we want to live. To do otherwise is merely existing and that is a slow pitiable way to die.

  • Chaz Michael Michaels

    Mountain climbing, downhill skiing racing, motorcycle racing, car racing, etc, etc. All dangerous. And in most non-third-world countries they are strictly regulated. Things get regulated when people get killed. That’s just the way it goes in a modern world. Wax romantic about living life on the edge all you like.

    Real roads racing isn’t going to be abolished by peeps who are against it. Rest easy. However, it has gone “underground” in a way if you consider some courses were once part of the MotoGP calander. They were removed from that mainstream racing series because of safety concerns for the riders. The riders didn’t have them removed. Riders are going to race. Riders have advocates for their safety. Ultimately that’s where this conversation will be headed to moving forward.

    The races will go on…until or unless it becomes too expensive (cost of insurance, event underwriting, etc etc) to keep such events from happening. If anything stops this genre of racing it would be that.

  • Westward

    I agree more with Lewis Dawson than anyone else on this thread. But I would not necessarily stop the IOMTT. I think they should endeavour to make it more safe. After all that is why MGP stopped racing at certain circuits.

    Shoya Tomizawa, Marco Simoncelli, and even that kid Pete Lentz at the Brickyard in Indy died due to true racing misfortune. No one would ever accuse the circuit for their deaths. But by contrast the danger in the IOMTT is the course it self.

    Through technology and engineering, I am sure there could be more done to greatly increase the safety of the pilots and the fans. Those in charge of the IOMTT, should have to invest more of its profits and resources to the issue, and not just buy more bales of hay or stack old tyres.

    If a kid gets killed crossing a street, the local government puts up a traffic light or a stop sign. Those who have parished only add to the tally that will eventually caused for the demise of an amazing spectacle. Maybe it will be 500 or 1000, but there is a magic number. Or maybe it will take someone famous like Marquez or Rossi to lose their lives at the IOMTT on a wildcard ride for organisers to really invest seriously into the courses safety.

    Maybe some high tech bumpers similar to what I have seen at bowling alleys for kids . Just an idea…

  • Mike

    Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing….only I will remain

  • Justaguy

    Every reason you listed (rightfully) for why the TT is magical and shouldn’t be mandated to change is similar to the ones you went off on in your post about helmet laws.

    Think about that.

    So……. is it (life, bikes, racing, whatever) about Freedom or is it about Safety? Ya can’t have it both ways.

  • Jackoat

    Restrictions or protection?

    I have some sympathy with the ‘it’s too fast’ argument. It’s an issue affecting most of the top series and that particular bullet is going to have to be bitten at some point. Whether that would actually make it safer I don’t know.
    Protection is a pipe dream I suspect. The problems and expense associated with converting normal roads and landscape into a quasi short circuit would be akin to banning the racing. The IoM is not the only road circuit in the UK/Ireland and they all have the same problems with improving safety. They also do not stand still – roads are altered (as at the NW200) and air fences are bought and shared around to improve the riskier/worse bits.
    With even 650 twins doing 115+ mph laps the speeds are not going to be brought down sufficiently to satisfy short-circuit norms unless you make it a 125 production race, and even then……
    I feel that they do all they reasonably can. Getting the riders to understand and manage the risks is a case in point – the new induction process they introduced over the past few years is an example. You will not get an entry without attending and qualifying. However, you only have to look at Plater/Brookes etc performances and the induction has also helped them be faster from the off!
    It’s a conundrum, but you should also put it with all those other extreme sports and set aside the ‘air crash’ mentality – when an accident happens it is often serious; but if you also look at the mileage and other factors and get the stats into perspective it is no worse than other extreme sports. And if you still have people turning up for the ride who are relatively normal sane people who are the bystanders to decide what is the point?
    If people turn away they will not be upset. They too have choices.
    I think people who surf in force 10 gales or huge waves are certifiable – they think it’s fun. Who am I to judge someone else’s capacity?

  • I was waiting for this one, because you are right, I am a huge advocate of mandatory helmet laws, and the “personal choice” argument is a lurid one to latch onto.

    If a motorcyclist could ride down a city street without a helmet, and have that choice (it’s not a right, btw) not affect his/her fellow motorcyclists, then I’d be fine with it. But, the reality is society as a whole pays the burden for when they crash: in medical bills, in emergency response resources, in vehicle insurance, and perhaps most importantly, in perception the perception by the public in regards to motorcycles and motorcyclists.

    If helmets were mandatory for every rider, we would have more motorcyclists surviving crashes, we would lose fewer riders to serious injury and death, and the public perception that motorcyclists are just “organ donors” would fade, hopefully bringing even more people into the sport. The next time you get hassled while on a motorcycle by the police, soccer mom, or whomever, stop and think for a minute why that might be.

    Simply put, riding without a helmet is a simple selfish choice that puts an individual’s modest gain (I’d laugh at any argument that suggests you can’t enjoy a motorcycle while wearing a helmet), against the bigger gains to be had for the riding community and society as a whole.

    Meanwhile, the TT to its best extent tries to mitigate the dangers involved. Roads have been improved, riders are fully covered with their kit, which is constantly getting better, they are fully insured, and more and more air fence is being added to the course each year. More importantly, these riders are putting on a show to the public, they are generating goodwill and entertainment for the masses.

    Whereas, riding a motorcycle on a road is already a risky affair with cars and all the other dangers, yet helmetless riders are choosing not to mitigate that risk, and for what? “Freedom”? Give me a break.

    Look at this way, if the no-helmet consortium had its way, we would eventually be talking about the end of motorcycling as a form of transportation and enjoyment, because eventually the discussion would become one similar to what we have with the TT, where the value of the act or the event itself begins to be questioned. The TT manages to walk the line on this issue, but motorcycling as a whole doesn’t. As transportation changes, especially as the use of automated vehicles increases, lawmakers and the public gentry are going to have a long hard look at the outliers, with bicycles and motorcycles being at the fringe of that group

    I’m all for making the TT a safe as possible, but realize that there is only so much that can be reasonably done in that regard. That’s what we call a managed risk, and that’s the crux of the argument this article has. No-helmet laws by their definition result in zero risk management, and that’s just unacceptable, especially when it’s everyone else that has to make up the slack for a helmetless rider’s foolish decision.

  • For the tl;dr crowd, here’s a more succinct argument:

    I’m not against people bungy jumping. I’m against people bungy jumping without a rope, and pretending that’s freedom.

  • Lewis Dawson

    Quoting Jensen Beeler… “the TT to its best extent tries to mitigate the dangers involved.”

    Jensen, with all due respect, the TT and the concept of mitigating risk just do not belong in the same conversation. One only needs to look at a few of the (excellent) TT photos published on your website this week to see that. Or check the statistics for the number of deaths year after year. The only way to reduce the risk substantially is to end the TT as an over-the-road race, and take it to a closed circuit if it is to continue at all. Like the Vanderbilt Cup on Long Island and the Mille Miglia and others like them, that is the only way to mitigate the risk.

    I’m not arguing against air fence or a bit of padding strapped to a tree or modern airbag leathers. I’m just saying those factors do not fundamentally change the TT’s unacceptably unsafe condition. Furthermore, that the TT riders “are putting on a show to the public” is a particularly gruesome and unacceptable justification for the carnage.

  • Lewis, in your world, what sport could possibly remain?

    Since I’ve been on this job, we’ve lost Peter Lenz, Shoya Tomizawa, and Marco Simoncelli…just to name a few. We must therefore ban closed circuit racing. I picked up the newspaper the other day and say that an NFL player has sued the sport for its alarming rate of head injuries. I caught some tennis today, and fear for these athlete’s elbows! When will the madness stop??!

  • Westward

    Maybe airbag vests or in leathers should be manditory.

  • There’s been a lot of talk about that very idea in MotoGP, and I can tell you at least one major apparel manufacturer is working on that concept. The problem is only three brands are really developing the idea, and only two of them are doing any R&D.

    The established motorcycle OEMs are resistant to change. I can tell you for a fact that there are no airbag suits in the US because of legal concerns. Yes, these brands are afraid that riders will sue them if they provide a safer product than previously available. There’s a lengthy, possibly boring, legal analysis on that I could make.

  • Lewis Dawson

    Jensen, in my world, all those sports would remain except open road racing, as it is the one that is so far outside the standard deviations of injury and death of other sports, as you stated in the above op-ed article. Circuit racing will never be absolutely safe, but is safer than the TT by several orders of magnitude.

  • H.L.

    Solid, spot on articulation of the TT in the first half of the article. Brave article about a brave sport and event.

    No need for long paragraphs. Everyone has their opinions but if you are a true motorcycle rider, then you wish you could be these racers at least for one lap on this course, sometime in your life.

    My daily commute for roughly 320 something days in a top 5 city for traffic and accidents is my IOMTT because nothing really challenges me like the art of two wheels in an uncontrolled environment. It’s just pure love like all pro racers and no one can or should question pure love.

  • Chaz Michael Michaels


    There is an opposing viewpoint and is has been intelligently articulated by Lewis Dawson.

    Your point gets muddled, even lost, when you display you won’t hear the opposing viewpoint. Instead you cast it off as a slippery slope straight to madness and something to poke fun at. Which it isn’t. Which makes you seem dumb. Which you aren’t.

  • Chaz Michael Michaels

    To suggest real roads racing isn’t off-the-charts dangerous is the madness. It’s awesome but it’s other-worldly dangerous.

    To harbor feelings that any concessions to safety should be mocked is dumb. Anyone knows something should be done to lessen the carnage.

    And to puff your chest out like foghorn leghorn to pretend it’s your no fear attitude, your lust for danger and anyone opposed to that aint man enough…”if ya aint livin’ you’re dying” and “life ‘ill kill ya”–well now you’re kid-in-the-playground silly.

  • L2C

    “Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing….only I will remain”

    The Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear.

    Good quote, Mike. I’ve read Dune three or four times. One of my favorite reads. And I have that quote memorized. It’s a meditation.

  • Justaguy

    “For the tl;dr crowd, here’s a more succinct argument:

    I’m not against people bungy jumping. I’m against people bungy jumping without a rope, and pretending that’s freedom.”

    Why do you or anyone else care if someone wants to do something like ^^^ that? Unless they are doing it and splatting on your property why do you care?

    I just don’t get the shift towards defaulting to laws and regulations that our nation has experienced in my adult life (44 years old). I agree there is no ‘Right’ to even ride a motorcycle unless you do so 100% on private property.

    But this shared responsibility crap, holy Commie ideals have taken over Batman. I’m a fireman, I’ve been to plenty of bike wrecks. I’ve wrecked. Unless your helmet law mandated full face helmets which are required to be inspected and certified annually you aren’t accomplishing what you desire. Unless you mandate ATGATT you aren’t accomplishing what you desire. More gov’t to accomplish that, more cash out of everyone’s pockets yet you still could violate the rule by wearing a 20 year old Bell cause it’s ‘cool’ or removing those hip and knee pads.

    Education before laws is what I say, then leave it up to indivdual choice because gov’t proves over and over that it will expand and overreach until it completely overtakes whatever it was ‘invited’ into in the first place.

    You listed safety improvements to the TT and that’s great but it isn’t up to ‘motorcycling’ or anyone besides the government of Mann and the riders racing to make those changes.

    I hope linking to pages is cool, these two articles are good reads. One could be seen to support your argument (most bicycle helmets are worthless, but do we want to mandate ‘motorcycle’ type hard helmets for all bike riders?) and the other is on my side (stop treating everyone and everything with kid gloves and let individuals figure it out by educating them not denying them).

    Thanks for a well written article and a good debate! Let Freedom ring!

    (The Atlantic one is long, but just seeing the ‘power’ 2 do-gooder’s co-opted via fear is mind-blowing. Who the hell knew playground equipment had to meet Federal regulations?!)

  • Shawn


    “Circuit racing will never be absolutely safe, but is safer than the TT by several orders of magnitude.”

    That’s ridiculous hyperbole. Even if by “several orders of magnitude” you mean two orders of magnitude that would mean for every circuit racing injury there are 100 TT injuries, and for every circuit racing death there are 100 TT deaths, which is incorrect, even if you include “specific injuries” meaning injuries/mile. Several usually means more that two, but a 1000:1 (which is three orders of magnitude), is idiotic. Formula one mitigated risk and went from multiple deaths per year in the 60-70s to a now, where there hasn’t been a death in 20 years. That sort of reduction isn’t possible on a motorcycle, it’s inherently more dangerous since the rider isn’t strapped into a crash structure, but increasing injury mitigation is certainly possible.

  • Sideswipeasaurus

    So this boils down to the same “free will vs public good” argument laced through so many of our social debates at large? I assume we readers here all come from various countries that address that issue in their own ways. To be sure a balance must be struck when those concepts come into conflict or as in this case if they are even in conflict at all or just affront certain peoples’ sensibilities. I see no compelling reason to restrict road racing as we know it.

  • “So this boils down to the same “free will vs public good” argument laced through so many of our social debates at large?”

    The odd part of the argument is that the inescapable death of each and every person seems to be lost on those who cry loudest for the abolishment of dangerous pastimes. I am all for appropriate risk mitigation, but not to the point that it gets in the way of living a full life. That definition is purely subjective, and I humbly offer that somebody the likes of Guy Martin would clearly include racing the TT in living a full life.

    What’s even odder to me is that a motorcyclist would call for the end of the TT. Banning the TT might seem like a good idea on the outside, but it sets a precedent of banning ‘motorcycle racing’, which then nicely sets up banning motorcycle riding. Which, after all, is a demonstrably dangerous pastime.

    As I pointed out on another article, there have been over 3 million traffic fatalities documented from 1899 to 2003 in the U.S. alone ( See ). That makes that arguably the MOST dangerous pastime humans collectively engage in. So, I guess we ban driving outright, eh?

    We all die. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Avoiding life as a means of avoiding death is a poor idea.

  • david

    banning the tt? have we lost our collective minds? I know motor racing fans who won’t watch the tt anymore, because of the carnage, but none of them would consider banning it. as pointed out, nothing is more dangerous than riding on the road in traffic,which would be the logical end to this line of thinking. i remember angeles crest had four deaths in a month once, still would not want to be prohibited from riding it. Plus, with the tt, it is not part of any other racing series, so people only race it if they really want to. Everest is a good analogy, no reason for doing it, similar mortality rates, yet people still want the challenge{though they may have to curtail it due to trash, but thats a different story}. Luckily, the isle does not need the permission of the safely to the grave crowd to continue. no one gets out of here alive!