Originally published here.
I went to Le Mans on the weekend. It was a bloody incredible experience.
After meeting up with a couple of BMW GS’s, a Suzuki Bandit and a Harley(!) at 4am on Friday morning we got the 6am ferry from Dover to Calais and then took some nice roads south to Le Mans arriving at the circuit at about 2pm.
Staying in the campsite was unlike anything I have ever experienced before. Anyone who’s been will know what I mean. For those who haven’t, you need to imagine something like Mad Max. The campsite is between the airfield and the circuit but you can barely hear the noise of either the aircraft or the race track due to the constant insane revving of motorbike engines in the camp. This literally goes on without stop from Thursday until Sunday. All through the day and night bike engines are screaming in torture being held at the limiter and having their cut-off switches flicked to produce flaming backfires. The French call it the Rupture. The noise is deafening. Some take the cans off their bikes and some attach home made garbage can trumpet attachments for extra awesomeness.
Other features of the campsite are flares, fires and massive amounts of alcohol and drunkenness. Oh and dust. Lots of dust that mixes with the smoke of the campfire and the early morning mist to produce a kind of smog that coats your bike/tent and floats across the circuit.
Oh yeah, the circuit. That’s right. The race that everyone is supposed to be there for. The racing is incredible. I do not know how these guys do it. It’s pretty surreal. As a spectator you watch the start and several laps. Then maybe have a wander round the circuit, watch a bit more and catch up on the positions then head back to camp for dinner. After dinner you wander back over to the circuit, and those guys are still flinging their bikes around the track, lifting the front wheel through the Dunlop bridge and overtaking into corners. Then you might watch a bit of the rock concert and then head back to the track. They’re still racing. It’s getting late so you head back to camp for more drinking / general madness and try to get a couple of hours sleep over the noise of the rupture. You get up early to watch the sunrise over the circuit AND THEY ARE STILL RACING! They haven’t slowed down AT ALL! An hour or so later you head back to the camp for breakfast / beer and later on walk back to the circuit to watch the final few hours of racing. OMG THEY ARE STILL GOING FLAT OUT! I don’t know how they do it for 24h. I know the riding is split between 3 or 4 riders but it’s still insane.
The whole thing was unreal. I got back home at 2am on Monday morning and I still haven’t fully recovered from the weekend. Oh and the French loooved the Daytona. I’m not exaggerating when I say everyone who walked passed my bike in the campsite either turned to gaze at it or more often stopped and discussed it with their mates. The Harley barely got a glance. I only saw a couple of other Daytonas although there were a few more Streets.
I’ll add some photos I took when I have had a chance to look at them but here’s a great video of this years race.
A few pics. Full gallery is here.