Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Day 20 - A day on the autobahn

For those of you who just want to hear the music, click here.

For those of you who also want to hear about driving on the autobahn, continue reading here …

Today was the last silly long distance endurance test. An 8 hour blast down through Germany, almost entirely on the autobahn. As you know, some sections are unrestricted, so it became necessary to establish a real 200 kph, not just an indicated 200 kph like on the way north.

I decided that an indicated 230 kph was adequate, particularly as we were gaining rapidly on some large relatively slow-moving trucks.   The Garmin GPS reported that my indicated 230 kph was a genuine 218 kph (see photo below). 

Note to Jennifer:   Am I permitted to be classified as a real driver again?
There is no video clip of Karen squealing with delight at the new record. That’s because she was asleep at the time. Yes, in a baking hot car, on a carbon seat with negligible upholstery and no recline mechanism, without earplugs considering the windows were open. Impressive eh.

After this run, I decided that continuing at 200 kph for the next 5-6 hours might test even my powers of continuous concentrated driving, so I imposed a restriction on myself ... no more than 160 kph.    The journey might take a little longer, but playing chiken with trucks would be so much calmer and more leisurely at 160.   Don’t you agree?

A new first

I did have a new experience today. No, not the speed - I’ve been there before.   But changing down a gear, when already doing an indicated 200 kph, in order to overtake a "slow-moving" car.   That was a first.  (For your techies like Nicholls:  from 200 kph in 6th gear, the Elise just gains momentum rather than accelerates. Change down and it lands smack in the power band (6,500-8,500 rpm) of 5th gear, so it accelerates quite well.

The madness of the autobahn
While I’m on the topic of autobahn driving, I have to admit that the current situation is really nuts. And that’s coming from a long time petrol-head. It’s especially insane on those 4-lane sections of autobahn (2 lanes each way) that are unrestricted.

Consider this:   the inside (slower) lane has cars, caravans and trucks doing 80 kph, which are constantly being overtaken by other slow lane traffic doing a moderate 100-120 kph.   The outside (quicker) lane has mostly Audis (and the occasional Lotus) doing anything from 180 - 230 kph.   Now to put this into perspective for those Aussies and Yanks who are not accustomed to such high speeds, let's subtract 80 kph (50 mph) from all speeds.

-  slower lane has cars/vans doings 20-40 kph (100-120 less 80 kph) but these are constantly diving out into the fast lane to overtaken stationary trucks and caravans (80 kph less 80 kph)
-  meanwhile, the faster lane has Audis and Lotuses doing 100-150 kph (180-230 kph less 80 kph) constantly diving on the brakes because a 20-40 kph van has suddenly moved into your lane while you're doing 100+ kph.

For Americans and Brits,
- slower lane has cars doing 12-25 mph but these are constantly diving out into the fast lane to overtake stationary trucks etc.
- meanwhile, the fast lane Corvettes doing 60-90 mph are constantly diving on the brakes because a 15 mph van has suddenly moved into their lane.
Let me illustrate a little for the Aussies .... say you're cruising along at 100 kph on the Geelong Road   A bloke in a white van is doing 20 kph, but he simultaneously indicates and swerves from the inside lane into your lane to avoid a truck parked in the middle of the inside lane.   Your foot hovers anxiously over the brake pedal while you check the mirror.  Shit, there's a guy doing 150 kph just behind you and he's madly flashing his lights to encourage you to move into the slow lane out of his way.   It's all legal.

Now do that for several hours and hundreds of kilometres.  It's obviously a lot easier on a 3-lane road, where the only problem is the buffeting that your car receives when another overtakes at a speed 100 kph greater than yours (imagine you're stationary and a car passes really close to you at 100 kph;  now imagine you're already doing 100 kph and you're carefully threading a needle between a truck and a barrier when the Audi goes by at 200 kph;  are you sweating yet?

While we're on the question of Audi's, this is a question for Kenny to put to Nicholls.    See the photo.  Note the V12 badge.   V10 Audi, yes, but V12????   BTW, it was very fast on the autobahn.

PS:  Note to Tim Noel, although Tim is likely to be snoring by this point in the motorhead drivel.   Tim, see the food bag.   Still giving sterling service at coffee break and lunch.

Is it appropriate that we spend our final night in N├╝rnberg?   Some 60+ years ago, another group of people were awaiting their final night here.   But today, it's a beautiful town with vibrant old walled centre (reconstructed of course because it was flattened around the mid 40's).

For us, our journey tomorrow is back across the Alps to the Italian quarter of Switzerland.

Ciao ciao

Day 20 - Alps to Arctic

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  1. It's been great driving to the Arctic and back with you. Thanks for your dedication to your blog. I never managed to keep a diary for more than a couple of days and it must have been difficult balancing the laptop on your knee while you sped around in the lotus. Better than a postcard!!! Thanks, Hammo

  2. The final day is about to be posted ... not too dramatic ... more mountains ... more rain ... and the obligatory glass of champagne back in Lugano ... where it's nice to be able to order in the local lingo.
    Keeping a diary is impossible ... because there's no connection ... but a blog is like a webcast ... if you can imagine readers and listeners ... then it's easy.
    (many people hate doing work-related webcasts because there's no audience, but I loved them, because I could believe there were many listeners, even if there were none!!!)
    I'll let you know when Karen identifies our next adventure ... it won't be far away, at least in time!!