Saturday, August 23, 2008

The 2008 Road Trip

    The best bits
    Ready to go on the track
    We left just after dinner on a rainy Saturday afternoon heading for the travel lodge in Ashford as we had a 7.30am crossing on the Eurostar. The Hotel was one we had used before and has rooms that sleep up to 4 people. The following morning we were up at 5.30 and on the way by 6.30 to get to the train. The weather had changed to a sunny day. We arrived in Calais and filled up with petrol as its cheaper than in England and went on away to Belgium stopping every 100 miles for fuel. This time Jon had his sat nav with him so he was leading, I reminded the others how last time we went I took a wrong turn after these services and it had cost us about 30 minutes in Brussels, we pulled off the services and Jon and the Sat nav took the same road as I had 2 years earlier, I thought this is the way I went, its wrong, Luckily the sat nav found a route back to the E40 that only cost us a few minutes. We seemed to have been riding for hours when I noticed a sign that said Malmedy and Spa to my thinking it was only about 50 miles to Adenau so thought oh dear Malmedy is not as close to France as we had hoped. We stopped at the services just by the German border to have 15 minutes for something to eat and then to refuel, Col pointed out a woman who worked on the garage forecourt she was smoking a cigarette right by the petrol pumps, we got out of there as quick as we could. Eventually we got off the Autobahn and rode through the Black forest and a few villages until we arrived at Eddies at around 3pm.
    The weather as usual rained for an hour or two on all the days we were away but never stopped us doing what we wanted too. I learned a new word in German" Brotchen" which is bread roll, something the local cafe woman said with a big smile each time I ordered my meal from her "mit brotchen?" My phrase book didnt have the word for glue in it, try explaining, I want something to stick rubber to leather, to someone when they dont know what your talking about, I was offered tooth paste, electicians tape and corn flakes before someone else said try the DIY shop in the village. Luckily UHU glue in German is still called UHU so my boots that had come apart were re glued every night.
    Marks Burg

    Infront of the fire in the great hall
    Laacher sea
       Marksburg castle is by the city of Koblenz, we visited the castle and had a guided tour. I didnt pick up my ticket from the lady behind the counter and nearly missed it, luckily a German man told the guide he saw me pay and I was let in.
        Its great at nurburgring talking to europeans in the hotel especially the night Col was asleep and two 19 year old lads from Austria who like Top Gear had a chat, they can easliy be convinced that as we are from the UK we know the Stig... Some say he get tired when he rides a motorbike and some say he comes riding with us....
    We went to see Laacher sea which is a lake in the crater of a volcanoe, apparently the only one of this type in Europe, It was nice ride to get there and the scenery was beautiful. We stopped at the cafe and stared at the water. Gas bubbles can still be seen escaping from under the lake, which means it could erupt again one day!
    We returned to the Nordschliefe to get some lap time, I did 3 laps and Jon and Col both did 6, laps ( They took loads of money). As the track was quite busy, and the weather made the track damp in places, care was needed on the corners and under the trees on most of the laps.

    The track was very damp
    On day 5 we went to Malmedy, Jon had the Sat nav already to get us there. It took us along some amazing roads and through some great scenery and nice villages that looked like they hadnt changed in years. Germany is very clean. We crossed the boarder into Belgium and through a village called Udenbreth which looked like Uderbreath on the name post, which made me laugh. We arrived at Malmedy which is a nice town in Belgium right by the motor racing circuit of Spa, and they speak French there, we raised a bit of interest from some old locals as the 3 bikes came to town with UK plates, while Jon and Col were away looking for the hotel and I was left on bike watch, an old man decided to try a conversation. It was a bit like 'Give us a Clue' with both of us gesturing and pointing at things as his English was worse than my French, but between us we talked for 4 or 5 minutes. I remember it started with him saying "le grande velo" which from my school boy French I understood as big bike, he went on to ask by pointing and saying things like vitese (speed) persumably how fast it went and then pointed to the after market clock stuck on the handle bar, I told him in a mixture of English and my best French "it can do over trois hundred kph, and thats a clock, it says douze heure et vingt-trois" 12:23 as it was the time, he raised his eyebrows waved both hands and he walked off then walked back and mutterd something about velos and douze heure and went on his way. We stayed at a very nice appartment attached to a cafe and a blacksmiths shop where we stored the bikes. After dinner we went for a look at the Spa-Francorchamp circuit which to our suprise had a practice session for the motorbike race that was being held the following weekend and then for a ride along the old roads that were the longer 1960s /70s circuit, which was very straight. That evening we had a walk around town looking at the cathederal and local bars and pizza shop. The pizza shop man had the air of sophistication and the smell of onions, but the pizza was good.
    Me at Spa

    We got up to start the long journey home, about 425 miles worth, to a flat tyre on the Suzuki, our hearts sank as Jon made the call and was told they couldnt help until 9.30am. I suggested we find a garage and get an aerosol puncture repair kit which we did and it fixed the tyre and got us home without a problem. It was a nice sunny day all through Belgium and France, as soon as we got off the train back in England it rained and rained for the next few hours. Col signalled he needed to stop so at Warwick we pulled into the services as his bike was crippling him.
    I enjoyed this trip as we didnt go just to the same places as the first time we went to Germany. I would like to visit the Nurburgring again, but tag it onto another place like we did this time.

    Practice day for 8hrs du Spa
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