We've just returned from a successful trip to Verona for the Motor Bike Expo Show - one of the largest custom motorcycle shows in the world. Joining us in Italy was top road racer, coffee afficianado and very tall man, Conor Cummins. Conor has been a key rider in our posse of signed road racers for the best part of a decade and during that time, we've got to know him pretty well.
Born in Douglas during TT week in 1986, Conor's a proud Manxie and has lived in Ramsey for most of his life. Having concluded that banking didn't provide the adrenaline rush he was ultimately seeking, he became a professional motorcycle road racer in 2006. He quickly made a big impact in his first pro year by becoming the fastest newcomer at the North West 200, the Southern 100 and the Isle of Man TT. In only his second full season on the roads, he became a double Irish road racing champion lifting the Supersport and Superbike titles and topping the Duke Road Racing Rankings with a record 13 Irish national wins - a huge achievement.
He's now racked up eight TT podiums with three 2nd and five 3rd place finishes. The 2018 TT was his most successful to date with 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th place finishes and "personal bests" in every class. He was also the only man to have podium finishes in both big bike races.
Conor at the 32nd milestone, on the mountain section, TT 2018
Riding for Clive Padgett's team for the fourth season this year, he seems to have found his "racing family," producing some of the best results of his career. In fact, life right now seems pretty good for the laconic Manxman. He was recently married, became a father last Autumn and the coffee business that he owns and runs on the Isle of Man is thriving.
Conor joined us on our retail stand on the Friday and Saturday afternoons for a question and answer session with Marta Covioli of Road Racing Core. Marta's written two books about road racing - "Road Racing World" and "Road to Racing" - both featuring the photography of Diego Mola. As well as facilitating the Q and A session, she provided a full translation for the fans. Several topics were discussed including Conor's plans for the 2019 roads season.
Conor Cummins talks road racing to the fans at MBE, Verona
One of the questions explored Conor's attitude towards risk taking and whether that had altered, given that his personal circumstances have changed recently with the added responsibility of fatherhood and marriage. It does seem that these factors have affected his outlook and psychological approach quite profoundly.
He wants to go faster, win more races and "fulfill his dream of winning a TT!" As John McGuinness would say, road racers are definitely "made of different gravy."
Photos: Peter Faragher (www.wpfotos.co.uk) and Helen Anderson