Day 18. Route

Today the destination was the Nurburgring. Ian and I set off together after Crispin departed straight back to the UK. It was a fairly uneventful trip and we would have made Nurburg with time to spare were it not for the fact that the route we had been given was via a ferry over the Rhine. It was a very cunning ferry as it was totally unpowered. It hung downstream of a cable suspended between two pylons on opposite banks. In layout it was a catamaran pointing upstream and once the cars were loaded the pilot/driver/captain whatever simply moved the rudders to point the bow into the current and it swept majestically  across the river. It probably helps that the Rhine at that point is remarkably fast flowing for a river of that size. Unfortunately it is also a heavily trafficked river and so it took something over an hour to get across. I did get the chance to sample 'currywurst' from a snack caravan though. Currywurst, it turns out, is a lot like bratwurst, but chopped into slices with lots of ketchup, and curry powder sprinkled on the ketchup. Not great.
The opposite bank was France, and I led through some rather nice villages on completely the wrong route, then back into Germany towards Triberg. On a nice twisty road thorough forests I caught up with a Blackbird who seemed rather poor at overtaking. He had a habit of hanging back from the traffic to get a run at twisty bits then charging through them only to catch back up with the traffic. A bit odd, but I suppose legal and possibly even sensible. This behaviour became even more pronounced when we caught up with him. I followed for several miles but, after panicking mid corner, braking and nearly crashing as I lost faith that the FJ could corner as hard as he appeared to be doing I went past him and the several cars in front in rather brusque (and almost certainly illegal) way, Ian did likewise and we carried on.
I waved Ian through into the lead as I was beginning to feel uncomfortable having a 'critic' following, especially when I was riding as poorly as I was. Approaching the next big town I decided that another way would be better than the one Ian was taking so turned off. A U turn or too later I got into the town, heading the wrong way just as the heavens opened in the heaviest downpour I had been in so far during the trip. Visibility was incredibly poor and the road was running with a significant depth of water. Out of the town I got back on the route, which turned out to be on a twisty road through gorges just as the wind got really strong. The road was littered with leaves and bits of branches and it was getting unreasonably hard to stay on the road.
I came up behind a car and overtook it not because I wanted to, but so that somebody would see me fall of if in fact I did. (I was keeping the speed up for stability, but it really wasn't the sort of road to encourage speed). The weather finally abated, and even got quite nice as I descended into the valley of the Moselle. The river valley is quite deep and quite steep, and every square foot that will hold soil is given over to viniculture, as are lots that wouldn't hold soil were it not for the elaborate terraces that have been built over generations. I was wondering how they worked such precipitous fields, and how much hassle it must be climbing up to work in the morning when I noticed the tiny one-man funicular railways climbing up from the roadside into the vineyards.
After several miles of such things I saw a sign marked 'Nurburgring' and turned left. As it happened this was not the route on my card, but it turned out to be none the worse for this, and gave a great view of a Schloss, both from below, and a few bends later, from above.
I arrived at Nurburg and became a little puzzled, the village is small but the environs of the racetrack are extensive. After riding to Nurburg village itself, and right out the other side I got on the phone, and found that, for once, the others had not only made it to the destination, but had beaten me to it and found accommodation. In fact they had been to the 'ring, but hadn't been round as it had closed early as it was raining. As I pulled in to the carpark of the Pension my phone rang; Ian was back down the road in the Mosell valley with a puncture, and was not having success with his repair kit. He was asking for someone to go back and help. I didn't really want to and went into the hotel to find a willing volunteer. There wasn't one so I was somewhat relieved when Ian rang back to say that a chap from a local garage had taken the wheel away to repair it, saving me a 60 mile round trip. It turned out that the Pension had been recommended by Adamanda Curtin, who were heading out to the 'Ring the coming weekend, but on learning that we were there had elected to come early and would be joining us the next evening.
We headed off to what appeared to be the only open food and drink establishment in the village, and proceeded to be overcharged for both. Welcome back to the west. Ian joined us shortly before closing time.

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