Foto Friday: Josh Brookes – The inner calm of riding at the Isle of Man TT

by | Jun 12, 2020 | Foto Friday, Latest News, Road Racing | 0 comments

A picture is worth a thousand words but the memories of a picture can be even more important. What does a picture mean to you and what does the moment captured mean?

We’ve already seen what it feels like to win a race or what it feels like to race on the roads but this week Josh Brookes reflects on what it’s like to race at the Isle of Man TT…

A picture is worth a thousand words but the memories of a picture can be even more important. What does a picture mean to you and what does the moment captured mean?

We’ve already seen what it feels like to win a race or what it feels like to race on the roads but this week Josh Brookes reflects on what it’s like to stand on the startline for the Isle of Man TT…

Josh Brookes has had a very unique career. The 2015 British Superbike Champion rose to notice by shocking the World Supersport and winning on his debut as a wild card at Phillip Island in 2004. That day he held of Kev Curtain to win by a bike length. It was a remarkable achievement by the then 20 year old and marked him out as a future star.

It would take a move to Britain to show the best of Brookes and from 2009 he’s been a regular race winner and title contender in BSB. His 2015 title was the culmination of those efforts but it’s easy to forget the impact that Brookes made on Road Racing.

As the fastest ever TT newcomer when he made his debut in 2013 it looked likely that he’d be a serial winner on the island for years to come. It’s not panned out like that for Brookes, a year in WorldSBK saw him miss the TT in 2016 and then he made a return the following year. What drove him to race on the island though?

“I just love the TT,” said Brookes. “There’s a lot of history there and you know that there’s a selfish element to wanting to race there. It’s not a safe environment; it’s completely wild. Your first lap is crazy because you’re mind isn’t used to it but you adapt to it and the speed doesn’t affect you. The front doors, driveway posts, letterboxes, trees are all going past you and during the practice week it becomes easier.

“The corners become less severe. The speed at which you’re travelling appears to be less. You’re becoming used to the environment. The TT gives you so much back for riding that track. Something happens to you emotionally while you’re riding around this track. I get so much enjoyment from riding here.”

While the enjoyment of riding the Mountain Course is clear for all riders there’s also the obvious tension of racing there. What’s it like in the build-up to the start of a race?

“There’s a lot of nervous energy in the paddock but, for me, it’s not different for me to race here compared to a short circuit. The TT is recognised because there’s a danger. That carries with it a lot of nervous energy. The energy sort of just hums about the paddock, and then you carry a lot of that with you. You don’t want to but it happens. You carry it until you hop on your bike and you start and all that nervous energy goes away.

“Riding the bike at the TT is like anywhere else. You’re in control and you choose when you brake and when you open the gas. You start to brake when you don’t feel like you don’t want to go any faster and need to slow down. You don’t open the gas until you feel like it’s your moment to accelerate. It’s all your own choices and your own actions, so you don’t feel nervous when you’re riding the bike.

“On the bike my riding style isn’t something I think about. You go into a state of natural self-preservation. There are corners on this track where I know I can go quicker. There are corners that I could get on the brakes deeper and carry more speed but as the track’s coming at you your brain stops you from being able to hold the throttle open. It makes you grab hold of the brakes. You know you can go quicker but there’s something that always stops you from doing that. It always pulls you up short of where the danger lies.

“On a short circuit you’re at the point of nearly crashing all the time as you find the limit of everything. Can your tyres take a little but more? Is your line perfect? Can you lean over a bit more? Short circuit racing is about finding the limit of what you can do with that bike every single apex, every single corner, every time you jump the brakes. There’s a huge amount of intensity on a short circuit whereas at the TT the intensity comes from processing a lot of information.

“You feel very, very relaxed. It’s a much calmer environment in your own thoughts. You feel very calm in yourself compared to riding on a short circuit. But the intensity is there through another medium – the actual speed of things passing you. That creates the intensity on the bike.”

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