All revved up for a busy TT 2014

John McGuinness pictured during Tuesday evening's practice session at Lambfell, just north of Glen Helen

John McGuinness pictured during Tuesday evening's practice session at Lambfell, just north of Glen Helen

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The Isle of Man is ready to host a fun-fuelled 2014 TT.

With racing due to start on Saturday all the signs are the event will be one of the busiest in recent years, with campsites reporting that visitors are arriving earlier than usual.

Bikes lined up at the TT Grandstand in Douglas this week

Bikes lined up at the TT Grandstand in Douglas this week

Police have issued their annual warning for riders to take care on the roads, particularly as Mad Sunday approaches.

But they say the standard of riding so far has been generally good.

Roads policing office manager Constable Kevin Williams said: ‘We have seen a higher percentage of motorcycles earlier in TT Fortnight.

‘The Mountain Road has been closed a few times but generally the riding has been of a good standard and riders are behaving themselves.’

Douglas Rugby Club has operated a campsite at its grounds at Port-e-Chee during TT for 10 years.

Campsite manager Martin Higgins said: ‘We are busier than we have ever been at this stage. I don’t know if there are more numbers or our reputation is spreading. The chaps are here for the TT, they are just earlier and here for longer.’

He added: ‘At the centenary in 2007 there was a huge jump in numbers and it carried on increasing from there. We started to get busy on Monday and Tuesday. Historically there would be a few dozen tents on Saturday and Sunday, this year there were four or five times that.’

At Glenlough campsite, at Union Mills, the influx of bikes traditionally started on the Wednesday of practice week.

But the campsite was busy last weekend, with bikers keen to catch the pre-TT Classic event at Billown. They are again fully booked this weekend.

The first ‘glampers’ are due to arrive today (Friday) at Hotel Bell Tent’s site, which has been set up in the grounds of Ballakermeen High School for the first time this year.

Company founder Tobyn Cleeves said: ‘At the moment we are about three-quarters booked up, which is what we hoped for in our first year.

‘The idea is to be as close as possible to a hotel, in a tent.

‘We have done Glastonbury and now we are putting our toe in the water of motorcycle events.’

Mr Cleeves added: ‘If it works out this year and all the neighbours are happy the intention is to build it up.’

Police have appealed to road users to take extra care on the course on Mad Sunday.

Sergeant Adrian Shimmin said: ‘We want people to enjoy the day but we want them to stay safe. The roads are open and locals will be on them so respect the villages.

‘Most importantly, we need people to ride within their capabilities. Help us to keep the roads open by riding safely and preventing any collisions.’

In a new safety initiative, signs have been put up on the Mountain Road advising cyclists to stay clear.

Mr Shimmin said: ‘Don’t think of cycling over the mountain this fortnight, it’s not safe. People don’t expect to meet slow-moving cyclists.’

The TT funfair on Loch Promenade, Douglas, opened yesterday (Thursday) and the first ever Motofest, which is taking place at Jurby Motodrome, starts today.

Meanwhile the new mobile show at the centre of the Department of Economic Development’s plans to spread entertainment across the island will visit Peel, Ramsey and Port Erin before returning to Douglas later in Race Week.

TT Mayhem, a free show featuring a Moto Trials display, music, giveaways, audience participation and stunt team, will be at Peel TT Day on Sunday, Port Erin TT Day on Monday, and at Ramsey on Tuesday for Ramsey Sprint.

TT fans are looking ahead to next year’s event.

Monday, the first day of Steam Packet bookings for TT 2015, saw 2,500 bookings for almost 7,000 passengers.

Chief executive Mark Woodward said: ‘We experienced an increase in bookings of more than 41 per cent compared with the same time last year. Demand remained high on Tuesday, when in the first few hours of the day we processed several hundred more.’

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