Biting Back: Seaside towns gear up for start of North West 200
We're on the grid for another North West 200 week. The big bikes are throttling up for first practice around the iconic Portrush-Portstewart-Coleraine triangle course tomorrow, while the seaside towns gear up for the influx of tens of thousands of fans from home and abroad for the area's biggest earner of the year.
There is nothing quite like the North West in our sporting firmament. It attracts both purist and tourist; the thrill-seeking out and out bike fans and in their slipstream, that peculiar Northern Ireland phenomenon - the event people.
There to see and be seen, their money is as good as anyone's, the classic case of a crowd attracting a crowd. And there's no doubt the coast will be awash with cash this week. Hotels, B&Bs, bars, restaurants and chippies will be coining it... but here's the irony - everyone makes money from the North West but the race itself.
When all the bills are paid, the event is running on empty. For the most part, it is a free show and you might be surprised to learn that its' biggest single source of revenue comes not from sponsorship or TV, but from programme sales.
So when you're counting out your beer and burger money for your week on the coast, do your waistline and the race a favour, keep a few quid back and buy one to help keep the North West tank topped up.