Nürburgring (25-28 March 2005)
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SundaySome b*stard (no, not Karl) decided to steal an hour's worth of sleep by introducing summer time. Said b*stard however didn't tell the cook in my B&B however, as Soren sent me a text message that he'd been down for brekkie and had found the place deserted. Having looked out the window, Helen and I had decided that we weren't in too much of a hurry to go outside.
Once things got going in the breakfast room, we received lots of attention, as the Danish and the Dutch apparently appreciate painted eggs for breakfast during Easter.
As an experiment I tried to fit my new gadget (a Garmin Quest) to Helen's car, but the car wasn't having any of it. The cigarette lighter socket wasn't big enough to accept the Quest's plug. Must be a French thing, as it fits perfectly in both the SquealMobile and the 964.
Great minds thinking alike resulted in Matt and I coming to the conclusion that with a closed track, this would be a good opportunity to hook up some of our gadgets. After a slight detour to warm up the 964 a bit (and for fun, of course), I arrived at Matt's doorstep. Ben and Birgit were just finishing off breakfast. This was a good thing, as we definitely needed more space for all the gadgets.
A more comprehensive overview of all the gadgets present can be found in Ben's trip report; this was just for starters. The idea was to transfer some files from Matt's iPod to my external harddrive (for offsite backup purposes), and to transfer some of my files from my external harddrive to Matt's iPod (also for data security reasons). Of course there were some challenges, such as my laptop not having a firewire port, and Matt's iPod's USB-cable not allowing the iPod to charge while being used. Sometimes it's a good strategy to make a problem more complicated before trying to solve it, and that's exactly what we did. Hence two trips from Birgit to bring down more gadgets, switching my WiFi card to soft access point mode, and trying to get a wireless LAN going. In the end we just accepted the fact that the iPod would have to run off its battery while we did the copying.
Meanwhile Ben was busy writing his trip report and beheading an Easter Bunny. I was glad the Ringbunny wasn't there to witness this.
Matt had to time-share his brain by identifying people on Birgit's video, while Niek had to time-share his brain by eating and making clever remarks.
Naturally all the scouts that had promised to text/phone us when the track opened didn't. Quite silly of us to expect that at least one of them would notify us. With all the backupping done, it was time to head to the track.
Two laps later (with Matt as passenger) it was time to get some lunch. Somebody had found out that some ex-Pistenklause personnel had started a restaurant of their own. It's located in Barweiler, just a short hop down the B-258. Matt and I drove there in my 964, trusting to the "you can't miss all the cars out front" description to be sufficient to locate the right place. The cars were hard to miss, but inside nobody was there, apart from a local or two who looked bemused as Matt called for further directions. Through a little doorway we found a large dining room containing our fellow lunchers (lunchees?).
Nick was setting a new trend to compete with Atkins: leave the majority of your meal uneaten.
Birgit wanted to have a look at the outside of the Karussell, as it might make a nice place to do some videoing. Having been there and liked it for picture-taking purposes myself we drove there in two cars, parked Birgit's company Merc in a safe spot, and went up the slippery muddy mountainside in my lowered 911.
A bit of hiking and climbing later and we were where we wanted to be: at the outside of the Karussell. Birgit started filming near the center of the bend, and I went to the exit, making sure to find a place behind some nice old armco. Quite a few familiar cars and boiks made their way past me, including Gary, Ruud, Matt, and Kurt.
Having selected an old piece of armco instead of a shiny new bit made me feel a bit better when a Scooby went into the Karussell too fast, popped out early, but kept the power on to pull it back into what was from both his and my perspective a nicer direction (i.e. away from the armco).
Some more entertainment, but in a more controlled fashion, was delivered by some of the boikers.
The climb down isn't worth mentioning apart from the last meter or so. I was leading the way and used a nice thick branch to hang off of while descending the last meter. Birgit thought she used the same branch. I remarked offhandedly that I hoped that the branch would support her, and received a suitable reply, the gist of which was that if the branch supported me, it damn well better support her too. I figured that that would be a good moment to mention that the branch she used was quite a bit thinner than the one I selected.
The next stop was Bergwerk. This time Birgit knew the way, so I followed her. It's a good thing we didn't spot the "Agricultural vehicles only" sign, or we'd have had to walk a lot further than we did. This way we only had to climb up to the little platform on the outside of the bend to get a decent view of Robin, Jocke, ThoRSten and Jules, and the Irish invasion in their rentals.
By this time the light was starting to fade, and it was time to do one or two more laps. The "one or two" turned into a bit more, as I was having way too much fun on a perfectly dry nearly deserted track. After two laps the fuel gauge was pointing in the "Empty" direction again, but as the warning light wasn't on yet I figured I could do another lap. Upon entering the GP-Strecke I noticed a 964 Turbo ahead of me, who pulled away from me rather quickly. However, after each trun I seemed to be making up some ground, so instead of doing the GP-Strecke in a fuel-efficient manner (as I had intended) I took a more vigorous approach. This resulted in two things: first of all I was on the Turbo's tail by Hatzenbach, and was let by before Flugplatz. Secondly, by the time I entered Wehrseifen the "Low fuel" warning light was on, meaning that there's still 7 or 8 liters in the tank. No problem making it round, then, and I continued on my merry way up Ex-Mühle. And accelerating out of Bergwerk there was a bit of fuel starvation. Hmmm... Better cruise the rest of the lap then, as I didn't want to have a Bren experience. The Turbo overtook me again at Eschbach, probably wondering what was wrong with my car. The pictures below were taken by Simon Jessop.
A quick pitstop at the Ed Tankstelle and I was ready again to do some more laps. By now people were starting to switch to dinner mode, as I started receiving text messages saying things like "Pistenklause tonight". A bit strange really, as the track was still open, dry, and nearly empty.
The grip was pretty good but not perfect, and I went a little sideways through Maddock bend when taking it nearly flat. Good thing I didn't go for flat, then :) This particular bend is flat in the 964, but you do need to have the proper tyre pressures and a grippy track. As my line was the same as when I take it flat, I guess the necessary grip wasn't 100% there.
Some more wonderful laps followed, and thanks to one of those little quirks of fate (wonderful colloquialism, isn't it?) I managed to sneak out for yet one more lap while the marshalls put the wooden barriers across the road behind me. Given the state of my rear tyres I decided to have a little fun. With nobody behind me I drove very touristy for the first bit, and had some sideways fun at the GP-Strecke. Quite entertaining really, even if the slides were quite small.
On the Nordschleife I just enjoyed the feeling of owning the track by going at a relaxed pace. Not everybody was having that relaxed feeling: a car was parked on the grass in Fuchsröhre. When I slowed down to see what was wrong they gave me a thumbs-up to indicate that they were OK, allowing me to finish my lap in style.
The original plan was to have dinner in Nürburg, and to drive home afterwards. Matt managed to persuade me to stay another night. Not that there was much persuasion needed... The B&B had a room available, so I hauled my luggage out of the 964 again. Then it was time to download the day's pictures to the laptop, and have some dinner while the 'puter was digesting them.
Of course the Pistenklause was quite full when I got there, but as usual there's always room for one more. Having been there before I ordered without checking the menu, making sure to select a dish that could be eaten in a small space. There's no way a Steak am Stein would have fit in the table space available to me.
Where's there's a concentration of Ringers, there's a concentration of gadgets. It wasn't as extreme as that morning, but with a couple of laptops and PDAs it wasn't too bad. Matt was again called in to identify Ringers on Birgit's videos, while my laptop ran a slideslow of a small selection of pictures.
As luck would have it I ended up next to Steve, who was having his birthday. He managed to extinguish the solitary candle on top of the tiramisu before I could take a picture of it, but that didn't stop our end of the table from polishing off the tiramisu after Steve had left.
Jocke showed off a Nürburgring T-shirt. I suggested that it would be even better if they'd printed the map upside down: that way the wearer could look down to see where the track was going.
Jochen and Birgit swapped phonenumbers the modern way. I forgot why, but it was probably to show off their respective gadgets :)
Again I decided to leave at a more or less reasonable hour, to be more or less fit for another early start.