Everything ends badly, otherwise it wouldn't end, the saying goes.
So perhaps it is well that Mervyn Whyte is not entirely severing his bond with the event his name has become synonymous with over the past 20 roller coaster years.
To riders, road racing fans and the general sporting public, unassuming Limavady man Mervyn is Mr North West 200.
He has been involved with Ireland's biggest outdoor sporting event in some shape or form since 1973 when he helped out as a marshall at Station Corner.
But it is in the last two decades that he really made his mark as race director, transforming an always popular, though largely amateurly run, local attraction into a global spectacle worth £12m a year to the local economy, verified figures confirm, with 80,000 in attendance over Race Week and millions watching on TV around the world.
Then out of the slipstream last week when, as an energetic just turned 70-year-old, he had been expected to lead the North West out of a difficult 2020 into a return to the roads next year, he suddenly announced his retirement with immediate effect.
But while Whyte is stepping down as race chief, he intends putting his vast experience, expertise and know-how at the event's disposal, on a consultancy basis, if and when required.
And that is why it is less likely now that it will end badly for the North West as a new management team prepares to bounce back from the Covid-19 cancellation of this year's Race Week to, hopefully, run again in 2021.
The baton has now passed on to Operations Manager Fergus Mackay and Event Co-ordinator Gillian Lloyd, remarkably, with Whyte's departure, the only other two full-time staff in a massive race machine fuelled mainly by volunteers mobilised by the organising Coleraine and District Motor Club. And, in a way, the North West has now suffered collateral from coronavirus for a second time.
For it was during lockdown that Whyte admits: "I came to realise there was more to life. Those four months, apart from dealing with the cancellation in May which devastated me, were the first in 20 years that my life has not been dictated and dominated by the North West. I would even be taking race related calls on Christmas Day. It was like an addiction and the step back helped me see that. The event is bigger than any one individual.
"There were times down the years when I must have neglected my family, growing up, considering the amount of time I devoted to the North West. It had got so big, it was 24-7 (Mervyn is married to Hazel with two sons and a daughter).
"Yet I can honestly say I am left without a single negative feeling about the North West or anyone associated with it. I had to walk a tightrope at times, keeping everyone happy… riders, fans, sponsors, local residents and traders, politicians, tourism and the media.
"We have overcome adversities... the Troubles, when few from outside Northern Ireland wanted to come; the Foot and Mouth agricultural epidemic in 2001 which forced a cancellation many felt would finish us; we've lost racing to oil spills, a bomb scare, and, sadly, the fatalities that are an ever present danger in a high-speed sport.
"We constantly work to improve and enhance safety but you can never eliminate all the risks associated with speeds up to 200mph.
"Riders know and accept this but they still race and we work to try and make it as safe as it possibly can be.
"But it all takes a toll eventually and I am not getting any younger."
Whyte's voice lowers and you can detect the anguish when he talks about the loss of five riders on his watch; his good friend Robert Dunlop, English rider Simon Andrews, Scot Mark Buckley, Tyrone rider Mark Young and young Malachi Mitchell Thomas, the coming poster boy of the sport, killed on the coast road in 2016 and the one that affected Whyte so deeply he considered walking away, having held young Malachi's hand as he slipped away.
"That has been the hardest aspect and I struggle with it," Whyte admitted.
"Each one knocked me for six. Robert, in particular, was a personal friend who helped me immensely, always on hand to offer advice from an experienced rider's perspective on ways to improve the course and the racing for the competitors.
"Over the years, you get to know the riders and their families coming year after year. You form friendships and when the worst happens, it is hard to deal with.
"Road racing attracts a lot of criticism in some quarters, I think because it is so popular some people see it as a means to get a reaction to a headline or soundbite. Other high-risk sports have their losses, too, but don't seem to attract the same media spotlight.
"Everyone was a tragic loss but Malachi hit me the hardest in the immediate aftermath.
"He was able to whisper a few words. I held his hand and then he lost consciousness.
"The medics worked on him for 40-45 minutes to revive him until they could do no more," he said solemnly.
"I walked up Black Hill and looked to the heavens. I was surrounded by people and at the same time I felt so alone.
"I kept asking myself over and over, 'What do I do here?' I was aware of the big crowds who had come expecting to see a day's racing.
"But the more I thought, the more I realised that I could not in all conscience ask riders to go out again after what had happened.
"Nor could I have lived with myself if I had allowed racing to resume and another accident had occurred.
"I returned to Race Control and informed the team of my decision to call off the event and not one of them voiced an objection. It was the right thing to do."
Whyte also speaks about the dilemma he faced on the Saturday after Robert Dunlop was taken in Thursday night practice in 2007, when sons William and Michael took to the grid.
"I didn't want them to race after losing Robert but I wasn't going to stop them," he recalls.
"When they pushed their bikes onto the grid I told the stewards to let them ride. I saw how determined they were. William retired early but I have to admit I could not watch Michael on the big screen as he rode flat out to win the race. He was not going to be beaten that day."
There must have been happier, less stressful times, too, otherwise Whyte would surely have taken his leave long before now.
"A good day for me at the North West was one when everyone returned home safely, riders and spectators," he insists.
"But, yes, over the years I like to think we brought enjoyment, excitement and entertainment to many, many thousands of people.
"We've given them all the great riders of the day: Joey, Robert and the rest of the Dunlops, Carl Fogarty, Philip McCallen, Michael Rutter, John McGuinness and the present day generation… Guy Martin and our local lads from Carrick, Alastair Seely and Glenn Irwin.
"Alastair's record of 24 North West wins will stand for a long time and I was delighted to see Glenn fighting for the British Superbike title after introducing him as a newcomer at the North West, winning the Superbike race in his first yezar.
"Riders can be touchy at times, and difficult to deal with, especially leading up to race. But do you know what? Of the countless riders and teams we have dealt with down the years, I never once had to sign a contract. Agreements were verbal and always binding. Riders always got their money and that's an important trust to establish to keep them coming back."
Will they all be there again in the coast road paddock in 2021?
There is talk of a contingency plan for an August or September date if, heaven forbid, restrictions remain in place next May.
Whyte views that as sensible. "With the crowds we attract, it would be impossible to stage in the current conditions," he accepts. "We have 25,000 mingling in the paddock alone, how do you get that down to 500? And who polices the hedgerows?
"We could do a Cookstown which ran without crowds in September but the crowds are as much a part of the North West as the bikes. Plus we couldn't run at that big a loss. In a perfect world, we would be charging those 80,000 spectators admission but how do you do that with them spread around 8.9 miles of mainly country roads? Our revenue therefore comes from our grandstands, programme sales and sponsorship and we are just about breaking even. But we get on with the job.
"You try to plan for every eventuality in this business but now there is this unforeseen threat of coronavirus so it is wise to look at a later date next year. The survival of the event, and even road racing could hinge on it."
And will he be in the paddock to help ensure it ends well, as he has done on numerous challenging days down the years?
He concedes: "I couldn't turn my back on the North West, especially at a pivotal time like this. I will probably be around in some shape or form, consultancy or something like that, but the handover has to happen.
"I made my decision when I realised I couldn't go on forever but that the race had to continue. It is part of the fabric of this area, of this country, with its big road racing following; so many people depending on the event, its value to the tourism industry and to sport and the hundreds of thousands who simply enjoy watching the race.
"The show must go on."