Riding Northern Ireland

Hopping on to the ferry to visit the home of the Armoy Armada and the great roads which they developed their craft

Pouring off the ferry at Larne just North of Belfast along with hordes of other bikes for my first North West 200 I was already grinning inside my lid because I had three clear days ahead of me armed with a spanking VFR1200 to check out the racing and the surrounding countryside.

The real treat of the trip away from the racing  was heading into Armoy. The two Dunlop memorial gardens in Ballycastle are a must to pay your respects to both legends, but for deep road race heritage Armoy is where it’s at. Home to the fabled Armoy Armada road racers of the 70s who included Joey Dunlop and Mervyn Robinson, this tiny village and its memorial to the Armada is a gem.

Better still are the surrounding roads. Read up on the Armada and tales abound of Joey and the others testing their race bikes on the roads around here, and you only have to ride them to see why this area bred some of the greatest road racers the world has ever seen.That evening over a total gourmet blowout in the Bushmills Inn I discovered that Guinness does indeed taste better in Ireland, somehow managing to be smoother and fresher. Oh, and they don’t put ridiculous four-leaf clovers in the head over here either.

The next day’s racing rocked, pure and simple. Up close road racing is mesmerising, and riding the course when it was open again the next day I have no idea how those blokes clock the speeds they do. Hats off to them. Either way, if you haven’t been to the North West I’d recommend sticking it on your biking ‘must-do’ list, and while you’re there, take a few days to get lost and check the rest of the place out. You won’t regret it.

For more information go to www.discovernorthernireland.com

Thanks to: Honda UK for the VFR