Yesterday's wheelie news was all about speed. Today's is more about distance. Twelve-time world Trials champion Dougie Lampkin is sizing up the storied Isle of Man TT course – all 37.7 miles (60.6 km) and hundreds of corners' worth of it – and preparing to wheelie the whole way around in a stunt to be televised by Red Bull.
It's by no means going to be a record breaker. Back in 1991, Japan's own trials sensation Yasuyuki Kudo stuck his bike on the back wheel for some 6 hours and 38 minutes, eating and drinking as he went, to go 331km on a single unbroken wheelie. A record that still stands.
Instead, Lampkin's effort is much more about iconic imagery. The Isle of Man course is a collection of public roads that's closed during racing. It's one of the most majestic and deadly racetracks in the world, and home to the storied Isle of Man TT. Who better to wheelie around it than one of the UK's most beloved bikers?
This is no small undertaking; logistics will be extraordinary given that it's a public road. The lane he's wheelying in will be closed off in a slow-moving convoy of safety and warning vehicles. A "mobile communication center" manned by Dougie's mates on motorcycles will ride in front and warn him of any extraordinary conditions ahead, and police outriders will be on hand to block off all junctions as he approaches.
Red Bull is going to broadcast the event live on Saturday September 24, complete with a chase helicopter and commentary team, and Lampkin's expected to take less than two hours to get around the course.
Then there's the bike itself, a heavily modified Vertigo Combat two-stroke. It's going to need a fair bit more fuel capacity than the average trials bike to make it all the way around, and presumably Lampkin's going to need to modify the engine in other ways so the lubrication and other systems can handle extended time at an angle they weren't really designed for.
The technique required to do something like this boggles the mind a bit. The ability to hold a motorcycle at "balance point" for a long wheelie takes a lot of practice in itself, but Lampkin also has to turn it around some pretty tight corners just by shifting his bodyweight.
Then there's the hills, particularly the downhills, where he might start to find himself gathering speed. The only way to slow down a motorcycle wheelie without putting the front wheel down is to let the bike go past the balance point to where it's liable to start to fall backwards, and then gently brake the back wheel to slow it down and bring it back to balance point. Not for the faint of heart.
But if Lampkin can ride up a freakin' waterfall, I'd back him to knock this one on the head, no worries.
Source: Dougie Lampkin