Lotus 7 Gloucestershire 7 Group come over to the Isle of Man for their annual No Limits Trip, as organised by their AR Mike S ... and I get involved.
I met up with the Gloucestershire seveners on Saturday morning at 10 am in the Mount Murray Hotel car park. I arrived at about 9:50 am and failed to find a single seven in the car park, which was a little alarming, had I missed them? Had I got the wrong date? Having checked the email on my phone and confirmed the correct time and place I waited patiently. Sure enough not long after the noise of throaty exhausts could be heard coming down the road and then slowing to turn into the car park. One by one an array of sevens appeared, each then parking neatly in a single row. I made a rather half-hearted effort to move my car to a similar position but failed miserably. I'm still learning to manoeuvre the seven, which sounds daft given its size, but it's weirdly difficult to reverse park.
Everyone then graciously said hello and introduced themselves. Now I have to apologise, I'm terrible with names and can't remember everyone. To avoid missing anyone out I'll avoid mentioning specific names, that way I won't offend anyone. As per the Taffia club experience, everyone showed the same enthusiasm and friendliness I'd experienced on that event.
For Saturday the plan was simple, see some of the sights and roads the island has to offer. A drive to the south of the island to The Sound cafe for a cuppa. Then to the north stopping at The Guardhouse for a bite to eat and with a bit of luck a playful lap over The Mountain road through the one-way de-restricted section. If you're not aware Saturday marked the start of the TT festival and specifically practice week. The Mountain road section of the TT course becomes one way and with no speed restrictions, it's possible to stretch the legs on your 7 safely without the risk of breaking speed limits, though caution is needed as the bikes tend to push to their limits and beyond!
Setting off from Mount Murray in Santon the weather was cloudy and didn't look promising, the forecast had also deteriorated, rain was now expected. The route to the south illustrated Mike's local knowledge, he picked probably the best route, he chose to drive out towards Braaid roundabout, across Eairy dam, through Foxdale, turning up towards South Barrel plantation, then across to the Roundtable followed by a rundown The Sloc. The Sloc road provides amazing views over the south of the island, including Castletown and Port St Mary. Sadly heavy mist had descended onto the road and visibility was poor, limiting speed and the vista, such a shame! Once at the bottom of The Sloc the route progressed to Port St Mary, up towards Cregneash and then dropped down to The Sound car park with it's a stunning view of The Calf of Man. We stopped in the cafe for a drink and a chat.
On the drive down I'd noticed my water temperature gauge had been reading zero, was this my first fault? I guess so. After partaking in a cup of tea and social natter with the rest of the members I decided to pop back out to my car before everyone was ready leave to see if I could resolve the issue. I'd mentioned the issue during our tea break and the general opinion was a loose connection and so I hoped it would be a simple fix. I double checked the gauge power with the ignition, sure enough, it swept across to max and back, showing power was good, so it had to be a sensory input. I removed the bonnet and pressed against both the electrical connectors attached to the submarine temperature sender. I then checked the gauge, it now showed some residual heat in the coolant system. Problem resolved. I'll need to improve the spade connector fixing on both the signal and ground so as to reduce the probability of a repeat issue.
Our drive north, was equally as good, although once again lessened by the weather. Mike opted to drive back up and over The Sloc, then left at the Roundtable, down through Glen Maye, across to Peel and onto the coast road to Kirk Michael where we picked up the TT course to Ballaugh Bridge. At the bridge, we took a left towards Ballaugh Church and then remained on the coast road to Jurby and The Guardhouse. By the time we arrived, it was raining. I'd foolishly left in the morning without any weather protection, thankfully however a fellow member lent me a spare shower cap, and so the car remained dry while we socialized over lunch. I have to say the food was a letdown, I've been to The Guardhouse before and the cooked food was cracking, unfortunately only premade sandwiches were on offer which was a disappointment. The visit to the venue, however, had an unexpected surprise for myself and most of the Gloucestershire seveners. The islands regular Blatchat poster and Yorkshireman Derek B**** came out with his wife and met up with the group. Everyone including myself was eager to meet Derek as he seems to be quite the legend! Derek and I have been conversing over Blatchat mail for some time, but we'd never managed to meet up, it was great to finally meet Derek.
After lunch the weather improved slightly and we headed out to the Point of Ayre which is essentially the most northern tip of the island. Although the rain had eased it was cold and windy so we didn't stay too long. Ramsey was the next port of call. The plan here was to grab a coffee and also sort a rear mirror problem on one of the sevens, however, time flew by and before we knew it was time to make an attempt over the Mountain road. The Mountain road closes an hour before all other race road closures so that cones and other road furniture maybe removed. We were close to the cut off. Unfortunately, the road was damp and greasy with low cloud which turned into full on fog just past The Bungalow. Not much fun, let's hope the weather improves. I left our visitors at this point, letting Mike know it would great to meet up again on Sunday.
Sunday certainly looked a better day, and so we agreed to meet at the Grandstand at 10am and take a drive around the full TT course. Traffic around the course wasn't great and sadly full of 'Sunday' drivers doing 5 - 10 mph less than the speed limit even less in the corners. Getting passed such drivers was not an option as the majority of the course is heavily policed with a 50 mph speed limit. We did eventually get a good run over The Mountain road, I and all members enjoyed the drive.
Due to the previous days bad weather the TT organisers decided to take advantage of the improved weather and closed the roads for TT practice. Given this, most of the visiting club members took the opportunity to see some racing and went to the Creg Ny Bar. As a Manx resident I've seen plenty of racing and so asked Mike who also used to be a resident if it was OK to have a run out in his 7. The purpose of this was to experience a seven with an aeroscreen. Mike's 620S is fitted with an aeroscreen and so his car on the island represented a unique opportunity. I'm currently trying to decide if and when I should fit the aeroscreen supplied with my kit, also any attire needed.
I agreed to meet Mike at B&Q having left my seven at home. We then went for a quick drive out to St Marks, Ballasalla and back again. I took along my Stilo WRC DES helmet to see if it would provide suitable protection. It didn't, even though the Stilo helmet has an integrated visor it wasn't sufficient to prevent strong air currents from hitting my eyes, so I had to look down most of the time, I also couldn't fit sunglasses as the arms wouldn't fit between my head and helmet. At speed breathing was also difficult, even though the helmet has an integrated boom mic which wraps across your face. After the drive, I concluded a full face helmet was probably required for aeroscreen driving. After the drive I also spoke to Mike for a few minutes about his seven as I was amazed how smooth and free of harshness his car was, particularly the diff. Mike informed me his car, whilst a 620S, is using the same BMW LSD fitted to my 420. However, his doesn't exhibit the excess clonks and backlash present in mine. I must speak to Caterham again over the diff and express my concerns.
On Monday the usual Bank Holiday chores caught up with me having had two days of fun in the car. I hope the guys enjoyed the remainder of their trip and had a calm crossing back to the mainland.
It was fantastic meeting everyone and I look forward to seeing the next contingent over for the No Limits Tour 2020! Hopefully we'll see some familiar faces!
Apologies, I didn't get many photos taken