9th September 2017
The ‘Ring, Nordschleife, Northern Loop, The Green Hell….call it what you will but this 12.93 miles of snaking tarmac demands respect.
This weekend I will be heading out on my trusty ZZR1400 to try and tame the beast. I will update this blog and Facebook along the route so stayed tuned for updates…
Leaving Saturday afternoon and arriving back in the UK on Monday is the plan but let’s be honest this German toll road has claimed it’s fair share of victims with its limited run off and armco barriers.
The story begins tonight with bike preparation and luggage….watch this space…
For those of you who know me…I am a bit of a clean freak. The other solicitors have been known to lend me their bikes because they know they will come back cleaned. It’s a bit of an ongoing office joke.
So before I loaded up the ZZR I cleaned her
Some of you may be wondering why I am taking my ZZR on this trip. Well…at this moment I have the choice of an 848 Ducati, Honda Fireblade or Martyn’s Triumph Street Triple R (which I ‘borrowed’ off him).
I had strict instructions not to take Martyn’s pride and joy so that is out of the window and I didn’t particularly fancy walking around like John Wayne after I had stepped off the Japanese and Italian sports bikes. So it left the obvious choice of my ZZR1400.
I am riding from West London to the Nurburgring and back in a short 3 day trip. This bike is immense. Big, powerful and comfortable. I really am struggling to think of another bike that would do this trip with such ease as the ZZR (and be a blast on the ‘Ring itself).
With the big green Kwak cleaned and siliconed up I fitted luggage and, the most important part for any road trip a sticker!
Tomorrow morning will be for last minute packing, tyre pressures, oil and fluids and finding my passport before I hit the road for the Eurotunnel.
Watch this space for the next update…
In typical Eurotunnel fashion we have delays! I’m sorry Eurotunnel but the last two trips I have been on with you guys have resulted in 2-3 hour delays.
The knock on?
First nights stop in Luxembourg will be in the dark which means less photo stops for this blog. The bulk of the story will come tomorrow with, hopefully, a dry track.
I will update again once on the other side of the puddle. Hopefully the Brexiters haven’t pushed Europe even further away!
Goodbye cloudy England:
Hello Belgian autogrill:
So I decided on comfort and being waterproof on the way out; hence the Rukka textile gear but on Chef’s advice I also packed my zip together Furygan race leathers. This is the Nurburgring after all I am visiting.
This brings me back to the ZZR. What an absolutely amazing bike. Top box full of race leathers. Spider bag full of tools and other bike related gubbins and a tank bag full of my pants and a toothbrush. To top it all off the bike has covered 450 odd miles of M25, Kent coastline, Belgian and French boring flatness and the Ardenne region in the wet and dark. It has not missed a beat. It has had three tank fills but rewarded me with three figure digit speeds without so much as a whimper. This bike is fast. Really, really fast.
Perhaps a little too fast for the ‘Ring? But you know how the saying goes….the throttle goes both ways. Tomorrow will tell.
For the evening I am staying in the beautiful Vianden in Luxembourg. If you’ve never been I really do recommend it. Plenty of bike friendly hotels and great food and beer. To top it all off the roads in and out are fantastic and this beauty overlooks the town:
You literally have to cock your head skywards to admire it. It is built that high above the surrounding town. At night it is a sight to behold; all lit up.
The final photo for today before the fun really starts, can you spot the ZZR?
The big day! I took the B257 from Luxembourg to the village of Nurburg. Fantastic mornings ride. Not much traffic and the usual great European roads which make our pock marked streets look like….well…I can’t really type what I think here.
As I got closer to Nurburg I could hear the whine of something familiar, DTM was in town! What a time to pick to come to the ‘Ring. The atmosphere was fantastic. Lots of petrol heads, lots of amazing machines both two wheeled and four.
First things first…buy some tickets for the tourist ride. Whilst the DTM boys were tearing up the GP circuit the Northern Loop was open for the public.
Four tickets purchased I headed across Nurburg to the entrance to the track. Excited doesn’t even come close to the feeling and atmosphere. I could hear the constant drone of the DTM cars lapping the circuit and arrived to find this:
Not only was the circuit closed (for a clean up of an earlier accident) but the no bikes sign was illuminated. What a bummer. All this way for a closer track. Not a happy bunny.
Whilst waiting in the newly created bike park section I bumped into none other than Billy Burke from Nurburgring Biker Blog:
Let me just say one thing. This guy is fast. Like mega fast! Before we could get out on track he gave me an invaluable run down on the do’s and don’ts of the Ring.
Watching an oil spill cleaner going out on track made me nervous – fluids is something I have read about and let’s be honest; diesel spills in the UK can kill. I’ve been unlucky enough to drop my Fireblade on sheet ice. I know how horrible it is to hit the invisible slippy stuff and come a cropper. I did not want that here of all places!
After all this is meant to be a fun place to visit to test your skill and enjoy your machine. It is meant to be fun. My ZZR also had the job of getting me home.
About 45 minutes later the tannoy goes off and drivers race to their cars and queue up to get on track. It has opened but for cars only….
Billy has seen this before. The staff have cleaned up the spill and will let the four wheelers drive over the track for a while. This should mean anything and everything missed is cleaned off with the inevitable rush of traffic passing over it.
I must say the staff here are efficient. Track closures are common place. Accidents are common but the staff deal with each one properly. Yellow flags on track and sent to the map showing up yellow icons so everyone can see where an incident has occurred. Now an important lesson when (not if) you come across a yellow flag situation slow down. Just slow down! It is there for a reason and it could mean anything from debris to a pedestrian on the track. If you get caught overtaking on a yellow you will be banned for the day. It isn’t smart or clever and it is policed. There are marshalls and cameras everywhere.
After taking on as much information as I could from Billy the bike sign disappears off the screen. We are go. This is it. A load of the bikers start kitting up…engines roaring into life…I won’t pretend I wasn’t scared.
I was petrified. Last wise word from Billy; that nervousness will do you good, it’ll keep you focused.
I roll up to the barrier with the Akrapovics on the ZZR burbling away. There are no baffles, I left those at home. It gets some looks from the crowd stood at the barriers. Not sure why there is some really special metal in the car parks; my favourite being a H2 that turned up. I’ve heard one of those at full chat, boy what a noise!
I’m next up. The barrier is infront of me. I reach into my tank bag for my access card. The marshall takes it from me and presses it on the buzzer; the gate opens up and he hands the card back. I stow it away. This is it…
The first lap is a complete blur. I recall getting around half way through the circuit and feeling exhausted. Absolutely exhausted and feeling sick at the thought of there being another 40 odd corners to go. This track is testing. The camber, the width, the way it snakes and elevates up and down 1000 feet from start to finish.
I think I got overtaken by pretty much everything on track. The absolute key is to keep and eye on those mirrors. There are plenty of very fast supercars and bikes here; with owners who know how to use them. Make sure you keep right and indicate right to let them know you’ve seen them and are making room. A lot of the other drivers and riders will have respect for fellow Ring goers but, as with everything in life, others won’t and on my first lap I see the result of contact between a Civic Type R and another car and a load of armco. Cue track closure and recovery and this time:
The police are called out to investigate. Don’t forget this is a one way toll road. The usual German road traffic laws apply.
At this point it thought it wise to get some food down my neck and fluids before it reopens. There is a diner on site and lots of great bars/restaurants around the locality. I opted for the former and a chicken burger and chips later I was fuelled up and ready to go.
Now I had more confidence (it must have been the chilli sauce). The Ring reopens and off we go. No more mid lap sickness. I am really enjoying this. The ZZR is a song. The corners come ever faster and I’m banking over and enjoying the engineering marvel that is the Nurburgring. Still making way for the faster cars (and bikes!) but I am getting my own overtakes in too. This feels good. Really good.
Photographs tell a thousand words so here we go:
Photo by Oliver Kalke www.touribilder.de
Click the photograph to enlarge, you can see the whites of my eyes as I concentrate towards the end of the track. You can see the BMW chasing me behind and an interesting fact; the Nurburgring elevates 1,000 feet from start to finish. It is technical in places, I mean really technical and has some massive, high speed sweeping corners. You do not want to lose control on those bends. Not just because to crash is really crap but you get plenty of really fast cars on you within seconds. Run is limited, very limited as you can see from the photographs below:
Photo by Rike67 www.racetracker.de
Cars are generally quicker and you can see here this BMW Compact hunting me down. This guy was dedicated and cocked a wheel up mid-corner, it is why I am concentrating so hard on my mirror rather than the corner!
Photo by Marcel Schindler www.nos-pics.de
You can see here how slick the track is in places. No that is not a damp track, it is the rubber left from cars/bikes who routinely thrash around the circuit. This was a bit unnerving for me. I saw plenty of other bikers getting their knees down so it can be done.
This was, according to Billy, a typical Sunday. Plenty of bikes and cars:
The track would open for a short period of time before closing because of an accident. So my advice is get out early.