I will never be able to adequately describe the experience that is the Isle of Man TT, much less Great Britain. But at the prodding of my hosts, I've compiled a list of personal highlights presented in roughly chronological order (scroll down to get directly to the TT stuff):
* New Players Theatre - Badass London piano bar that serves spirits - and chili con carne - until 2:30 in the morning and saved me from urinating on the steps of Downing Street and certainly being arrested for the remainder of my visit.
* Westminster Abbey - The most ornate, intriguing building I've ever seen, exuding the years of labor involved in its construction in every corner and crevice.
* Brown sauce - Red sauce plus molasses.
* Red sauce - Ketchup.
* Tate Britain - London Museum of Art focusing on British artists over the last 500 years. Now displaying an exhibit on the Iraq war that includes images of children that have been injured or killed, documenting the unspeakable - I broke down.
* London Pride - One of the best ales I've drank, so I had a dozen.
* Full English breakfast - Sausage, bacon, eggs, salmon, toast, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes and so much more. Did I mention the sausage?
* Strongbow - Best cider I've ever had.
* Magners - Second best cider I've had.
* Ace Cafe - Resurrected, this place has more cycles on car night than most bike bars on any other. Try a Friday.
* The Tube - San Francisco Muni on steroids with trains to every part of London every two minutes.
* Sub Space - Manchester's truly underground dance club. The only place that can make Men at Work sound cool.
* 5th Avenue - Manchester's answer to 1015 Folsom. Vodka shots at 3 a.m. never tasted better - not!
* The Sun newspaper - Page 3, 'nuff said.
* Chorlton - Hidden gem of a neighborhood in Manchester with good food, pubs and friends.
* V50 - Little Moto Guzzi that can do it all.
* Steam Packet - Ferry company and the only way to get a (common) man and a bike to the Isle.
* Promenade - Island strip filled with cycles, restaurants, pubs, carnivals, jet-powered bikes, air-born motorcrossers, you name it, at least during the TT.
* Ago's Leap - Less than a mile from the races' start, where bikes launch 150-mph wheelies that last forever and sidecar passengers hold on for dear life.
* Carling - Worst lager I've ever had.
* Carlsberg Export - Best lager I've had.
* Okells - Worst bitter I've had.
* Isle of Man hedges - Sharp, stone walls that border the course, threatening life and limb and epitomizing the dangers of this most challenging circuit. There is no room for error, and the riders are all heroes, first to last.
* Paparazzi - Best pizza on the Isle.
* Bushys - Best brewery on the Isle, the Ale of Man.
* Goldblade - Smashing punk rock outfit that almost literally brought the house down.
* English countryside - Beautiful rolling plains and hills, separated by wooden stick fences older than my own nation. A mix of east and west America, lush, warm and lovely.
* Isle of Man residents (and those I encountered throughout the United Kingdom truly) - Some of the most genuine, helpful people in the world, from the fellow on the ferry who climbed off of his bike to raise my still half-lowered centerstand to the gent who rushed out of his house down the road to let me use his phone before 6 a.m. when he gathered I was lost as hell upon first arriving on the Isle.
For the truly curious or bored, here are links to some of the items above: