December 7 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, August 29, 2013
A biker aiming to be the first paraplegic to complete a lap of the famous Isle of Man TT course slid off his specially adapted motorbike about 25 miles into the 37-mile ride - but vowed that he will be back.
When Phil Armes broke his back in a racing accident 18 years ago, he thought he would never get on a motorcycle again.
But the 54-year-old from Hellesdon did eight laps of Snetterton Circuit earlier this month, and yesterday was one of 65 former Manx Grand Prix winners invited to ride a parade lap of the 37 ¾ mile route, as part of its 90th anniversary.
He was riding a SV650cc Suzuki, which was adapted so all the controls were on the handlebars, and his feet and legs were fastened to the foot rests and engine tank.
But he slid off at the Ramsey hairpin, and had to be brought back in a course car.
He said afterwards: “I feel gutted. I was having no problems and I was really starting to enjoy it. I had done the difficult, bumpy bit, everything was going perfectly and I was in fine form.
“But I was in a lower gear than I thought I was, and I went on the bank. They get me back on it, and I was ready to complete it, but the clerk of the course said I could not, as per the rules, because I had come off.
“I had no scuff marks on my leathers. But I will be back next year - It’s there to be done.”
The father-of-three, who was paralysed in a crash at the Ulster Grand Prix in 1995, had returned to the track for the first time since his injury following the help of Talan Skeels-Piggins who runs The Bike Experience, a project that was set up to offer disabled riders the chance to ride solo machines.
The former international rider, who won the newcomers Manx Grand Prix in 1984 and competed in seven TT races, got back on a bike for the first time in April as part of his training to take part in the anniversary event. He said it was frustrating at first because he was unable to ride a bike the way he used to.
He said: “When you ride a bike you use your whole body and I only have the top bit of my body to use and the balance was all wrong.”
In a racing career that started in 1981 on a modified 250cc road machine, Mr Armes progressed through the ranks to ride in the 1988 and 1989 Formula 1 world championships.