Phillip McCallen tells Guy Martin it's time to get out with his faculties intact
When Guy Martin famously 'went off on one', branding the North West 200 boring in a live TV rant when things didn't go his way there in practice last May, I posed the question in my column in this paper: 'Is his heart still in motorcycle road racing?'
I wondered with all the other commitments and distractions in his life, principally his TV and film work, and his bucket list of other extreme events to tackle, should he really be racing at all if he wasn't fully focussed?
Unlike the vast majority of guys he was racing against at the North West, Guy isn't worried about where the next pound is coming from. It looked to me that racing was no longer the be all and end all to him and, as I know more than most, that's the time to get out with your faculties intact.
Guy's confirmation that he will not compete at the North West or TT this year did not shut the door completely on a return to the roads at some stage.
But it shows there is doubt in his mind and road racing is much too tough and dangerous a sport to go out even 0.1 per cent less than mentally right. That's asking for trouble.
Guy is a fantastic rider and an extremely likeable bloke who has raised the profile of motorcycle road racing through his quirky personality. People love him and the camera loves him which is why his TV programmes have been so successful... just by being himself.
There's also a steely determination to conquer every challenge he undertakes which is probably why he has been reluctant to close the book on road racing completely without the elusive TT and North West wins he so desperately wants.
There was a clue to his thinking when he rode so hard at the TT last year but Bruce Anstey, John McGuinness and Ian Hutchinson were just that little bit better and maybe Guy realises that's the way it is going to stay.
Another complication is his contractual obligation to the television companies. Will they accept costly programming having to be shelved if Guy is injured as happened at the Ulster Grand Prix last year?
Guy has nothing to prove to anyone but himself and maybe he has indeed realised that he can get his thrills at a much safer, and better paid, level.
For Guy, that will come from his TV and film work and events like the American cycle race he is going to tackle. For me now, it is the cut and thrust of business.
You can never say never - look at Ryan Farquhar's big comeback - but I'm more firmly convinced now than I was last May that, like most all action TV heroes, Guy is riding off into the sunset.
- North West 200 and TT legend Philip McCallen now operates a Belfast motorcyle dealership