(As it used to be)

After chatting excitedly until after midnight, we crawl to our beds and try to get some sleep...Will the alarm clock go off at the right time or will we be in a deep comatose state...We ponder this fact for what seems only a few minutes and then suddenly there is a terrific noise next to my ear--ALL the darned clocks have gone off ---one is simply not enough if you want to be up on time


There is now a mad scramble as we try to find socks and trousers, originally put carefully in supposedly easy accessible areas next to the beds..Well it WAS easy in daylight...Someone is stirring in the next room and we hear that person trip over what turns out to be a boot... Strong saxon language, not often heard whispered, permeates through the walls of the rooms as our colleague gives acid vent to the badly placed article, on which he has stood in bare feet..After an almost endless struggle, we are dressed for action and raring to go and then we find that the bedroom door creaks like one from a Hammer Film set...."Where's the WD40 when you need it ?".......Stage SHssssss are heard as we try to be as quiet as we can...We now try the staircase which also joins the same horror movie and we start giggling hysterically as each of us tries to miss the creaker..One of us tries sliding carefully down the banister rail but unfortunately leather on polished wood sounds like a hippopotamus breaking wind...We all dissolve in silent breathless shrieks and tears flow down our cheeks...We must have wakened most of Douglas by now, yet, can you believe it, there are some of our party STILL in bed and have actually slept through the noise--We'll wake them tomorrow !! Once out of the residence our dignity returns when we remember the important tasks we have ahead of us and we set off for the Grandstand area to meet up with our rider and his machine...We now find Bill has his boots on the wrong feet...We all collapse again......

So we have now established that T.T. Practice sessions start early in the morning before most people are even turning over for their second sleep ! It is therefore still dark as the first groups start arriving at the Grandstand area and drive into the Paddock area...to begin unloading bikes, to collect official credentials, to sign on and to get the last vestiges of sleep out of heavy eyes....There is a feeling, a thrill, as the first waves of warm dawn air brush ones cheeks. The lights come on in the various offices in the Grandstand complex and scrutineers bays, and bikes and riders begin arriving to be examined and cleared for practicing...Nervous laughs are heard in the distance as a joke is appreciated. Hot coffee is now obtainable from the TT Supporters Club tent and a small queue forms. The smell of cooking bacon is now on the air and this emanates from what used to be called "Sheila's Kitchen" just below the Grandstand...How many breakfasts can you eat in one day ????"
The Press Centre opens and representatives of all media formats, from literally all over the world, sign on, pick up their press-packs and try to digest the information over a welcome cuppasoup from the press office machine. Everyone shivers with anticipation as the dawn begins to break---Dawn in the ISLE OF MAN is very special, very unique......One minute it is pitch black and then a series of colours appear in the East. Ranging from deep purple to red, from orange to light green and then to the deepest blue, the dawn comes in over Douglas Bay. It never ceases to amaze and each morning the sequence is the same.......Suddenly, the first machines fire up and the bird population wakes with a cacophony of calls. Riders and officials are now preparing for the off, and while most of us have been up since 4.30 am., the start area officials keep everyone under control as bikes are brought on to the Glencrutchery Road to line up in no particular order.The engines are revved very carefully to get the oils and fluids flowing round their systems. Tyre pressures are checked and helmet visors are cleaned carefully. It is now coming up to the time when the first riders will be released and the noise of engines drowns everything. It is difficult to converse and most contact is made via hand signals or by lip reading. The timekeepers box is the centre of attention until the green light comes on and then the first riders speed off down the road towards the top of Bray Hill. This green light flashes at set intervals and so allows more machines to set out on their 37.73 mile lap.. All of the riders have now set out and silence is again golden as the last of the oil smoke blows away.. The machines just away, can still be heard right down to Quarter Bridge where they turn Westward. Mechanics, family and fans can now relax for a while so they grab yet another coffee, light another cigarette...... It seems only a few minutes since the last rider departed to when we hear the first machine way up the road coming down from the Nook to Governors... The first to return is usually one of the works supported machines....Some bikes scream through the Start to go for a second lap while others come in to swap machines and helmet. Each rider reports his findings on tyres, machine set-up and general assessments. Notes are taken and stop watches consulted to compare and contrast the privateers and works teams...

All too soon the red flag is displayed to signify the end of practice.. The race bikes are loaded back into the vans and we make our way back to our residence.. Some of us go back to bed for an hour, others sit chatting, waiting for another breakfast, and a couple go off to do a lap of the course before breakfast....A lovely start to the day...We can now feel the heat of the sun.......

Early Morning Practice is one of the most missed parts of the TT Programme.since it ceased only a few years ago. It was stopped due to a number of factors including the noise at that time in the morning, the need for marshals to be up at that time and the pressure placed on riders with regard to on-going tiredness.