Friday, September 4, 2009

Black Forest Run

May 22, 2009 - Friday

Ascension Thursday is a holiday throughout Switzerland. This particular Ascension Thursday was bright and warm, so some United members spent the day in the Black Forest and I went with them, after having private devotions in the morning.
Roger, Fabian, Bruno, Octavian and Florian came along, and Fabian led the way. I got the second slot.
In the morning the roads were still wet, which shouldn't make to much of a difference in one's driving style. (It still does in mine though, I hate to admit.) The problem was that with the wet, there was an overlay of pollen and flowers on the road which was super slippery and tended to amass itself preferably in the curves. So in the morning we drove somewhat carefully.
I was perfectly comfortable with the speed, but I thought that if I had the level of skill and experience that the older guys had that I'd be driving 10 or 20 km/h faster, even on those roads. During the coffee break at 1100 hours, though, Roger said we'd been driving a high standard, and Octavian concurred.
I dunno. It was probably at the limit for Roger; I have no idea how he keeps his 350 kilo Rocket III glued to the ground at the those speeds and that kind of road, but he does. I think that had Fabian been on his own, he'd have been driving faster. I got a lot to work up to.
We had lunch in Todtmoos after driving "my" stretch where the accident happened last September. The spot is called the "Maria Curve" now within United (it's a great stretch and gets driven a lot) and the guard rail has been reinstalled and it double-barred. I'm not sure if that's a good idea. I'd have been much worse off if I'd hit the rail, rather than sliding under it like I did. But I guess most drivers are bigger than me and get stuck, which is even more dangerous... That stretch claims a victim every week, the police told us.
Anyhow, We left the restaurant around 1300 hours, by which time the breeze and sunshine had dried the roads nicely and we able to haul on the gas more. The problem now was the bitumen; Roger says the Metzeler Z6 holds on it but there were a few times where a tire ran over it and slid aside. So I drove to avoid the stuff, meaning slower than if the roads hadn't been streaked in black.
Octavian was behind me; he's one of those imperturbable been-driving-for-decades motorcyclists with a smooth flow that comes with time and a hundred thousand kilometers. (Or immediately available with the BMW GS series, though in return you must give up 90% of your braking skills, any potential can-fix-it-myself attitude and any respect you might otherwise have had in the bikers' community. But that's a different topic.)
Octavian didn't push me or anything, but the thought kept nagging me to not hold up the show and go faster... (My average was 90 km/h; Roger and Fabian know those roads by heart and can run them 100 kilometers faster which to me is mind-boggling.) But I kept to my speed and didn't trust too much to luck because I have neither the patience nor the money right now to deal with another accident. I was heartbroken when I wrecked Silver, after all the work I put into it. I won't have the same thing happen to the Beast, and I don't care if that means it takes me an extra year or two to reach a skill level that with gumption and luck I might have learned to handle earlier.
Florian once - once - told me that I'm not a bad driver; I just always drive with people who are better than me so I start to think that. I try to keep that in mind so I don't press my limits. And I know you only learn the limits once you overstep them, but that's what Silver will be for. On the Beastie, I'm just going to be careful.
So, like all drives with United, I can say I got in good practice and learned some more. And of course, I had fun. The Beastie only lost one screw; I hadn't tightened it properly when I remounted the motor spoiler, I guess. But that's replaced, and the Beastie got a scrub and wax yesterday so it looks fine.
Exactly two weeks until we head to Southern Tirol for the weekend. Summer is a wonderful thing.

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