Friday, 16 April 2010

Day 9 - Ettlingen to Prüm

The ultimate purpose of this long journey was to meet Frank Schultmann and Andy Dainty in Ettlingen.  I added a few days before the meeting in order to make a trip to Motovun.  And just as I was on the way here yesterday for the meeting, I started getting text messages to tell me that because of a volcano eruption in Iceland, Andy was unable to fly to Germany for our meeting.  A bit ironic, because we ended up with Frank and me in his office connected to Andy via Skype!  But we managed to deal with all we needed to deal with, and then Frank and I went to lunch with one of Frank's colleagues.  We went to a Bavarian style restaurant in Karlsruhe, which was very interesting!

I had checked out of the hotel in the morning, after breakfast, so when Frank dropped me back, all I had to do was get my gear on and hit the road.  It was 14:30 and I had 308km to cover, about 3 hours of riding.  I was soon on the A5 again, headed northeast to the A6 which was more in the right direction, to the west.  There were copious roadworks again, in between blasts of speed, but it was not possible to get much speed up because of the Friday afternoon traffic, which was heavier than usual.  However, when I turned on to the A62, I found an autobahn that ran across hilltops, with loads of bends and bridges, almost no traffic, and mile after mile of unrestricted speed!  It was awesome opening up the bike across here.  There was loads of empty road, and I had learned to keep the windscreen lowered, and crouch down over the tank, which put more weight over the front wheel. Perhaps the lowered windshield provided a better aerodynamic as well, but it meant that I did not suffer from the bike weaving at top speed, and I was able to maintain 130mph plus or minus 10 for long stretches, except when there was a proper speed limit on occasional stretches that had slow moving traffic.  One interesting thing was slowing down on bridges that sprang across impossibly wide valleys at high altitude; slowing down for crosswinds, rather than for traffic.  Some of the bends had good visibility and smooth enough surfaces to take them at 120 mph.  And on the straights I was touching 140 mph frequently.  This was the longest sustained high speed I had done in one go, and I made the most of it, because it will be a long time before I get another chance to do this.

I arrived in Prüm at 17:30 as the satnav predicted, and it found the parking around the back, for which they gave me a key to raise the barrier.  I got internet passwords, and when they told me breakfast was 08:00 to 10:00, I grimaced, and they offered me 07:15 instead, which will enable me to get an earlyish start for a long run tomorrow, 638 km and about 8 hours - quite a run, but the channel tunnel will give me rest as i cross to England.  I must say, I am really looking forward to getting home again after all this!

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Reading, Berkshire, United Kingdom

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