Saturday, August 26, 2006

2006 Road Trip - Nurburgring

    On 5th August 2006 we set off at 5.30am to go to a village in Germany called Adenau, where our Hotel was. We decided to use the Euro star as it would be a new experience for us all. We made our booking time with 10 minutes to spare, and the bikes were checked for explosives, before entering the shuttle.
    The ride over there was quick lasting about 25 minutes. The shuttle came to a halt and we peered out the little windows for our first view of France and Calais, hmmm!, It looked like a right rat hole! A few beeping sounds later and we were told the shuttle had a problem and the ramp for the top deck was stuck shut, so we waited for about 10 minutes until it was fixed before being allowed off.
    We went to the petrol station, and decided to test our French language skills to speak to the locals. Basic stuff like Bonjour, the petrol pump number and Merci. We could have asked our way to the butchers, told some one to open the window or asked the time, but not really understood their reply. Petrol was about 80p a litre.
    Back at the bikes we checked the minature map we had the whole of the european side of the journey condenced into 5 lines of text and a 6 inch long squiggly line showing the towns we were going to pass.There was still a long way to go, about 300 miles.That when our first piece of bad luck arrived. Cols headlights had stopped working and it wasnt a fuse blown, it was more serious,it was the switch on the handlebar. Its the law in europe that motorbikes have dip beam on during the day, Col was now understandably not in the best of moods, as we decided we would fix it when we got to the hotel. I could tell Col was not happy about travelling upto 300 miles breaking the law, and had an idea, so next time we needed petrol I said lets rewire the headlight so it has no main beam, but dip works. The 'bodge' worked and lasted all 5 days :) It got his bike the nick name Cyclopse as we only did the one light. We got talking to a German lad with a honda 750 who said ''the Nurburgring is very dangerous, be very careful''

    Next we stopped just before reaching Brussels, we had talked about visiting Brussels for one of the days but decided against it. Our second bit of bad luck came at this point, after pulling out from the petrol station where you join the motorway is past the sign that tells you which way the Brussels ring road (R0/E40) goes, so I guessed. It was a 50 50 chance of being right and it was wrong, now we are on the inner ring road of the capital of Europe, it has tunnel after tunnel some of them seemed to go on for miles, all these tunnels had names, none had any mention of the direction of the E40 which is where we should have been! I guessed again, and we ended up in the wrong part of town, it was worse than that last rat hole, Calais. There was people sleeping in doorways, or on the grass verges. Then a piece of luck, Col spotted a sign with the word Ring on it so we follewed it back till it met with the E40.
    Mile after mile went by and I was thinking we were doing well with the weather, as we had only seen about 30 minutes of drizzel when we had first set off, this changed just as we approached the Netherlands. It hammered it down, we couldnt stop anywhere to put on the water proofs, we were on a motorway and there was no services to be seen, luckily it stopped about 15 minutes later and we dried out in the 100mph wind we were creating.
    We stopped for fuel at the first services in Germany, we needed it. We got chatting to a German who told us the speed limit on the Autobahn was whatever you wanted it to be! and he said Nurburgring was very dangerous.
    I decided the speed should be about 120mph, you would think that would be blisteringly faster than everything else, but its not. Cars do 120, 130, 140 and more, cars pulling trailers do 100 and more, even a fiat uno was seen doing nearly 100mph. We came to some roadworks, there was a shop dummy in an orange boiler suit waving a yellow flag and a sign saying 120kmh, even that is over 70mph.
    I spotted the sign we all had been waiting to see, Nurburgring. So I turned onto the new road, 40 miles later I hadnt seen another sign that even mentioned Nurburg. It was dusk and we needed to stop and change the tinted visors so we could see better. It had been 13 hours. We wanted a comfy chair and a beer.I checked the not very good printout of the map I had and felt lost. We continued along the autobahn for a further 10 minutes and then It was there, the sign for Nurburgring. We took the turning. The speedlimit on the single track roads was a mystery to me, the signs didnt have any consistency to them, for example one would say 50 another would say 70 and another 110 all with a few yards of each other, so I just rode at a speed that felt right. Flash! went the speed camera. Ooops it must have been 50kmh. I pulled in for petrol just as the fuel light came on! Oh no its the oil light, wheres all that oil gone? I thought.The Thunderace didnt use alot of oil normally, I hoped the engine was ok, but was to tired to look. The garage attendant said the hotel was only 5 minutes away, I pulled out and heard beeping from Jon and Col. I checked the mirrors, oh yeah! we drive on the right over here.
    Some 13 hours later we arrived at Adenau. Eddy the hotel owner seemed a freindly chap,his english was not that clear but I understood what he was trying to say.
    I understood why his email replies only ever said the words ''the rooms are booked''.
    He did us well though as we ended up with a room with a balcony over looking the Nurburgring Nordschleife track.
    It had reached the time to try one of the more useful phrases I had researched, I placed my order ''drei beer bitte'', he understood perfectly and 3 much deserved beers, went down nicely.

    The following day we decided to go to the track, the hotel overlooks the track so we figured it cant be hard to find the start/finish of the lap, however we ended up at the entrance to the new Nurburgring track and there was a race on. The marshal on the gate would not let us in, and kept pointing to another road, and speaking German. We decided to look at this other road and found what we were looking for. The Car park was full. We had never seen so many expensive cars in one place. Eventually we figured out we needed to buy a ticket to do a lap which was not quite what I was expecting. I put my ticket in the machine and twisted the throttle, thrashing the bike down the long start straight passing a boy racer in a ford focus and BMW suddenly it got twisty and I wasnt sure where the next bend was going and the two cars passed me, followed by 2 more. I caught back to the BMW so thought he obviously knows where his going , i ll follow him, which I did for a while but he couldnt go as fast as me so I kept passing him only to be passed back in the next few bends. He couldnt keep up on the last straight as I left him in the distance at 140mph. There was fully kitted out racing cars, vans cars and motorbikes all over the place. I got passed by the ring taxi it was driven by Sabine Schmit the woman who drove the transit van around the track on Top Gear, she is fast.
    We have all lapped the Circuit

    The Castle called Burg Eltz is probably the best example of a castles in Germany. It was rated as the 4th best castle in the world at the time. It looks like the kind of place Count Dracula would live. They have a sausage filled menu in the restaurant, which I enjoyed a Curry verst. The weather was very hot, and as normal we are wearing leathers, so for 3 euros the OAP bus driver can be bribed to run you back up the steep hill back to the carpark.

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