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Guy Martin on his (mountain) bike from the North West 200

By Paul Lindsay

Published 29/10/2015

Magnetic north: Guy Martin will swap North West for North America
Magnetic north: Guy Martin will swap North West for North America

Road racing's enigmatic Guy Martin will not race at next year's Vauxhall International North West 200 or Isle of Man TT, according to his latest book 'When You Dead, You Dead'.

Instead he intends to add another tick to his bucket list by competing in the Tour Divide, the world's toughest Mountain Bike race - 2,745 miles, the length of North America, from Canada to the Mexican border.

The absence of the quirky Lincolnshire racer from the north coast next May will be a box office blow to the event in terms of the following his TV and film cult hero status attracts. He is also hugely popular among bike fans here as a member of the Moneymore-based TAS Racing Team.

But his revelation will be no surprise to all who witnessed his very public rant against the event during Thursday practice this year when he railed against the course in a live TV interview.

Guy effectively blasted safety measures, declaring that he was 'bored to the back teeth of riding through chicanes'. Precautions put in place by the North West organisers to help safeguard riders had rendered it 'not a proper road race', Guy complained.

Fans, fellow riders and expert critics like North West legend Philip McCallen quickly ruled his comments out of order, pointing out they'd be more valid had Guy actually ever won a race at the North West.

For his part, Guy personally apologised to North West chief Mervyn Whyte the following day but the abiding feeling remained that rider and race had seen the last of each other... and so it has proved.

But it will come more as a surprise, to his fans and many others, that he is prepared to sit out the Isle of Man TT, an event at which he has been desperate to record a win and which he has always spoken if in more glowing terms than the North West.

On the North West, he explains in his book: "I left Northern Ireland thinking, I'm not going back to the North West. I'm hoping to sort it with TAS that I can do all the races I normally do except the North West and TT. I want to enter the Tour Divide then maybe go back to the TT the year after (2017)."

Reasoning that a year away from the TT could possibly rejuvenate his enthusiasm, he added: "I'm only 33. Look at Bruce Anstey, he was 45 in 2015 and John McGuinness 33." Anstey and McGuinness were this year's TT Superbike and Senior TT winners, respectively.

There are many references to his loss of patience with racing and those behind the scenes, but in the very last paragraph he leaves no one on any doubt where his commitment lies in 2016.

"The only reason I can think of to keep racing are the TAS team. But those aren't proper reasons to race. The reason to race is to go and be competitive. Road racing has given me a good life, and I'm not being cocky, but I've brought something to racing too.

"We've been good for each other, but I've done it for 13 years. I'm 33, I've still got my limbs, they're a bit sore at the moment, but they'll fix.

"It's time for the next job, because as my grandad always said: 'When you dead, you dead.' That's where the book title comes from."

That next job is the Tour Divide, consummating his love affair with extreme mountain bike riding.

Away from racing, the book offers the usual no-nonsense, unfiltered dialogue we have come to expect from the truck mechanic by day who feels more at home under a Scania lorry in Grimsby docks, where he works, than the racing paddocks where his individualism and natural style in front of the cameras was first spotted by TV producers, leading to the film projects that have made him a very wealthy young man.

Belfast Telegraph

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