Road Trip - Speed Triple to the Nurburgring

Triumphs new Speed Triple gets five laps round the Nordschleife

Posted: 15 September 2010
by Andy Stevens

Trip Duration – 3 days

Total miles covered – 1158 miles

Average distance per pound - 8.8 miles

Total spent on fuel - £109

Total spent on food/accommodation/travel - £269

5 laps of the ring -  £83

Total trip cost - £461

Total miles to date – 12300

Last week I had some time off work so I took me and speedy off to Germanys infamous Nurburgring.

I left my house at 12:30pm and got to the Channel Tunnel at 1:30. By 2:15 I was on the train and by 2:50 I was in Calais, super fast.

From Calais it was 335 miles to the Nurburgring, I hoped to arrive by 8 but not knowing where I was going to stay I needed to get there before dark. I was using a Garmin Zummo 550 Sat nav which is made for bikers. On a number of occasions the “find nearest petrol station” function came into use, timing petrol stops was a constant game.

After a fairly uneventfull journey by 8pm I had hit the twisty A roads cutting through rolling hills and dense Pine Forest just 40 miles from the track. The sun was setting over the tree tops, the air was fresh and although I was knackered I had to smile and appreciate the scenery.

By 9 I was just 3 miles from the track. Still in remote woodland the accommodation seemed sparse, I was expecting there to be a big town with hotels nearby. Thankfully I stumbled across a typically German “HOTEL” called Weber, there were a couple of bikes outside so I pulled in and was greeted by a warm welcome and a “For sure we have da rooms free”, “45 Euros per night, breakfast included ok?”

That weekend the German round of the World Superbikes had been at the Nurburgring so whilst the bar felt very native you could hear random conversations around the room in English with the odd Yamaha factory paddock jacket knocking around. Being typically English I kept my self to my self and set up camp at the bar for dinner.

It turned out that the ring wasn’t open to “Tourist laps” until 5:30pm the following day so I needed to find stuff to do during the day. I made friends with a local called Marcus who worked at the diner at the ring. With this help assisted by the lodge owner Werner Weber I had mapped out some nice routes to ride in the area to keep me busy till 5:30. I had planned to be in bed early but someone said in a strong German accent “this is one thing I know about the English Man, He likes to get drunk and fuck the women’s no?” we ended up on the Jagermeister and I rolled into bed at 2am, a very random end to a very random day.

I woke up at 9 and with the memories of a conversations from last night on how dangerous the ring is and how nobody expected to see me back in one piece, I chomped through a very sober ham and cheese roll for breakfast.

Because the ring is 14 miles long it can be sunny on one part and wet on another. If changing weather conditions isn’t a big enough problem in its self, because it’s set in a dense pine forest deer on track is a constant threat. Marcus told me that already this year 18 crashes had happened involving deer a number of which had resulted in death. Perhaps I had underestimated how dangerous riding the ring would be. Whilst there are no official figures it’s estimated that between 3 and 12 tourist die there every year. One comment that was constantly in the back of my mind was “the ring is very dangerous, deer, they are everywhere, in a car it’s not so bad but on a bike, be careful, we want to see you back here tomorrow no”

With the sun shining I headed out to one of the view points to watch the racing that was going on that day. I Parked in a remote car park just off the main road and sat by the track and chilled for a while. I ended up chatting to a British guy who had been down to Switzerland for a holiday and was stopping at the ring on the way back to England. It turns out that he uses Visordown most days and had been reading my blogs about the Speed Triple. He also has the SE, small world!

Parts of the German countryside are just stunning and as I’ve come to expect with many places in Europe the roads are sweeping, reliably smooth, racetrack like and largely free of traffic. I rode the Boemanns Autosport rout from Nurburg down to a town called Punderich which is a river side town set in a grape vine glad valley. From there I headed up to Cochem following the river side all the way before heading back up to the Nurbergring ready for the 5:30 tourist session to open.

The Nordschleife or “Northern Loop” is the ring as we know it today, originally there had been four track configurations but the Nordscleife is the route you can pay to get on a go round.

In what feels like the middle of know were you come across a car park, I pulled in to see full race spec BMW M3’s, Evos, Ferraris, Lamborghinis. There was a smell of hot brakes and burning clutches drifting around in the gentle warm breeze. In the background sounds of AMG Mercedes and Porsche GT3RS blitzing down the start finish straight resonate through the air. There’s an amazing feel about the place that’s very difficult to describe.

At one corner of the car park there are two lanes with a barrier at the end. You buy a credit card shaped ticket and using the ticket machine charge it up with lap credits. There was some hanging around as 5:30 aproached and then it was announced over intercom that that the track is now open to the publick. Eager tourists, rookie racers and full on pro drivers fired up there bikes and cars.

Earlier I had been chatting with a few blokes from Newcastle that had been riding the Swiss Alps for 10 days and were now heading home, like me they hadn’t been here before and you could hear the apprehension in their voices.

I’d done my boots up as tight as possible, pushed the card on the machine, The barrier went up, and out you go on to the start finish straight, round a few cones and then nail it down the straight to the first corner. The track was grippy and smooth, kerbs are big, many of them with blind exits. It was impossible to go as fast as I wanted to because there are no less than 33 left hand turns and 40 right hand ones. It’s impossible to remember each corner and in what order they come.

I ended up riding the first lap like you would fast road riding which seemed to be enough to keep ahead of most of the cars but you could tell the guys on bikes that knew the track. It’s almost a recognised qualification to “know” the track. Back at the car park after lap one and I saw people trying to blag rides with the masters of Nordschleife so they can really see how fast it is.

Id bought five laps so went straight back to run another, this time me on the Triple, A Ferrari Enzo and Ducati 848 all hit the track at the same time!. As the laps went by I was starting to feel more familiar with things. At one point I was flat in a corner, powered out with the back end weaving, nailed it on the straight and a full on Lemans race spec Aston Martin passed me so fast, flames spitting out of his exhausts as he briefly lifted off for a blind left hand corner ahead and then just totally disappeared behind the apex, he was gone.

Of my 5 laps the fastest was 9.5 mins. The current lap record was set in a Ferrari 599 at 6 minutes 58 seconds, and I thought I was going fast!

By 7pm I was back at the lodge, having had the best part of two solid days riding an amazing bike on amazing roads I was knackered. I had dinner and reflected back over the day. Their really is a special feel about the ring, the danger, excitement and complete lack or UK legislation make it unlike anywhere else in the world.

The Survival tips are simple, stay to the right as much as possible so people can overtake on the left, if you crash get back at all cost because the recovery companies charge criminal fortune to recover you, don’t stop to help others otherwise you get fined and what ever you do, don’t hit a dear.

The whole experience on track was made that even more special by the fact that spectators are scattered around the various graffiti clad corners taking pictures as you approach them. And it wasn’t just race cars and bikes on track, there were people on Honda VFR’s with pillions going round and at one point I saw a old 5 series BMW estate cruising around with 3 unsecured kids in the back who were hanging out the windows waving at me as I went passed.

As the evening drew in it turned out the boys from Newcastle were staying at the same lodge as me. One lap for them was enough and they felt it was a fitting end to a great biking holiday. We had a few beers together and I headed off to bed ready for the ride home in the morning.

If you can get a few days of work and have a spare £300 then go to the Nurbergring. The Speed Triple was a perfect bike for the overall trip, comfortable, great breaks, punchy and totally reliable. But next time Ill take a car with some mates! roll on next time!.

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