Belfast Telegraph

Ulster's road racers reveal just what drives them on

By Robert Jones

It's a way of life. It's a drug. It's compared to a big family. There's a sense of community and togetherness. But when there's a fatality, the impact can last for months or years.

Every year, more than 300 motorcyclists race on Irish country roads, from the marquee events like the North West 200 and Ulster Grand Prix to country town meetings like Armoy, Cookstown and Tandragee. Most of the competitors are amateurs.

Now a new three-part BBC One Northern Ireland series takes viewers into the racing paddock, to the other side of the race barriers and hedges, to capture the essence and character of the sport of road racing.

'Road Riders', starting on Wednesday, April 19 at 10.40pm, reveals the passion, commitment and the enthusiasm of the people behind the sport.

It also shows the reality of a sport that is often dangerous, and sometimes, even fatal. The racers, and their families, talk candidly about why they take part in the sport, how they got involved and what drives them to pursue their high-octane pastime.

The series - made by DoubleBand Films, the independent production company behind the feature length film 'Road' - follows 10 individuals, men and women, across a range of ages, during the course of the 2016 season.

Many of those filmed compare road racing to a community or a family. And it's a sport that can involve a rider's entire family, brought along to events to help set up, act as mechanic and to cheer on. And to worry.

Viewers hear how the riders can have such a passion for a sport, aware that it carries a risk of tragedy or serious injury. And even when they experience it first-hand themselves they still go back for more.

While the racers are blasting their bikes around country roads at speeds of up to 200mph, loved ones and families are counting the laps.

The series hears how they cope with the wait and the worry for their son, daughter, husband or father to reappear again and make the chequered flag. Why do they go through the agony and allow their loved ones to take part?

There is also a touring photographic exhibition, titled 'Road Racing People', to accompany the series featuring photographs by top road racing snapper and author of a series of books on the sport and its people, Stephen Davison.

Belfast Telegraph

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