Lost in Brno

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August 14th 2011
Published: November 5th 2011
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Have you ever made you way to a MotoGP? Well, I have, a few times. Normally the MotoGP in question is in Melbourne. Klaire would hang out in Melbourne with friends and look around, while I would go and get feral with the bikers at Phillip Island. This time it was similar, except that Klaire was in Prague with her mum, and I headed down to Brno with her dad – my father in law.

The drive from Prague to Brno isn't far – just 200 odd k's down the motorway, piece of the proverbial, you might say. Indeed, but you wouldn't have taken into consideration that the Eastern Bloc preference for building shit out of concrete – apartment blocks, Berlin Walls and bunkers – would extend to highways. Fair enough, neither did I. Long story short – the road to Brno was terrible.

The limit was 130 most of the way, and, similar to the German Autobahns, you had to be committed to get into the left lane. Audis and BMWs were constantly flashing past doing 160 or better. But you should have been committed for not getting into the left lane, too. Due to the fact heavy
Near Automotodromo, BrnoNear Automotodromo, BrnoNear Automotodromo, Brno

this was the path from section to section
vehicles aren't permitted to use the left lane, the right lane is atrocious – think about the worst corrugated rural Australian road you can think of, then solidify that in concrete and put yoursefl in a car doing 110. Corrugations in concrete, really? Well, I guess forty years of trucks and Soviet tanks would put corrugations in anything.

A couple of hundred bone-shaking kms and we found ourselves at Camping Radka. On the shores of Lake Radka, I had booked a night at this place a while back. Reading the reviews on the net the night before had made me somewhat trepitadious. Looking for directions on the interwebs the night before leaving I had happened on a review by a couple of English motorcyclists – the campsite, they said, was atrocious – terrible facilities, virtually on the side of a cliff, and surly, unhelpful owners. Our arrival at what proved to be quite a decent campsite, nicely positioned on a gentle grassed slope leading down to a pretty lake, with friendly, casual owners and a relaxed vibe, simply proved that you cannot trust the Poms to give a non-whingeing review of anything.

To be sure, it was a
Saturday Qualifying, Czech MotogpSaturday Qualifying, Czech MotogpSaturday Qualifying, Czech Motogp

A casualty in the foreground
little crowded, this being MotoGP weekend, but we found a spot and set up, beers in hand, as you do. We then tried to work out how to get to the circuit. Walking was an option, but we wanted to get there the same day. Buses were another option, but too much to take at that moment, so we organised a taxi. The excellent guy in a taxi rocked up without too much hassle, quoted us double what we should have paid, and careened off down the road. But, he was sporting the best moustache I had yet seen on our entire trip, with the huge eyebrows to match, so I was willing to pay the cost. An older gent, he was listening to some local station quietly when he pulled up. As we hooned off down the road, us in the back quickly locating the seatbelts, I could hear the dulcet tones of Mike Patton through the rear speakers of the Fiat cab. The driver grunted his appreciation, then cranked 'Epic' as we sped through the burbs of Brno on the way to the Automotodromo (best name for a circuit ever). The following song was, and I kid you not, Land Downunder. Prophetic perhaps, for the weekend.

The drive to the circuit was longer than I had expected – almost half an hour – so I was a lot more comfortable that the trip had cost more than twenty bucks. On arrival we had to collect our tickets. We duly approached the “Ticket Collection” window. Not the right place...por supuesto que si.

“You must to collect your billets go to the white hut between two trees it is back the way you came but you cannot see it yet and there they will have them for you.” Rightio then.
It wasn't as hard as feared to find said white hut, and the tickets were ready and waiting, together with a set of earplugs.

It was Saturday, so we were there to get a look at the circuit, watch some of the qualifying, and figure out the best spot to watch the race from. Unlike other race tracks, the owners of Brno circuit don't own the land around it. As such, you can't walk around inside the place. To get from one bit to another you actually have to leave the gates, walk though the forest, and go into another gate, showing your ticket each time. (Actually, you probably don't have to walk through the forest - we just happened to follow some other folk down a dim trail in the hopes that it was a shortcut).

We did manage to find a good spot to watch the qualifying – on a hill at about Turn 10 or something. You could see a good deal of the action, and there were a couple of big tv screens in view, with dunnies and food just behind.

We decided that a taxi back to the campsite was a bit much – the bus was the better option. There were helpful volunteers around so we asked one how to get where we were going. Simple, he said, catch this bus right here, Bus X, then get off at the the next village, and catch bus 52. This will take you to the lake.

Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

If Bus 52 went past the lake we didn't see it. We rode Bus 52 for a long time – an hour an a half. We went from one terminus to the other, then back again. Along the way the tourists thinned out to nothing and the bus wound its way through decrepit looking housing projects. A group of cheerful young skinheads got on the bus, talking loudly as young bullies do. One of them got off, flicking a Heil Hitler salute, and I thanked my genes that I don't actually look part Japanese. Perhaps we wouldn't get off at this stop.

Eventually, by simply taking a punt, we got off in an unnamed town and just...walked. We found the lake. Halla-frickin-lujah,.

Camping Radka that night had a great atmosphere. While perhaps not as manic as the Island on a Saturday night in October, it was full of bikers, and at least there was no one doing burnouts in the toilets. We got chatting to a British couple. Well, half British – the girl was from Perth, and they were on their way there on a KTM, taking in Pakistan, India, etc, on the way. Dinner was some excellent Czech salami and a fair few beers.

We got up fairly early the next day. After some, if I may say immodestly, pretty nifty manoeuvring to get the Berlingo out of a very tight spot, we were packed up and gone by 7:30. Traffic management on the way to the circuit was simply outstanding. Every wrong turn that we might have taken had a cop there, spotting the foreign plates and pointing the right way. We were funnelled straight into a large parking area, guarded by yet more cops in towers, with shuttle buses at the gates waiting to ferry punters to the track.

On arrival at the track we got lost. Sure, the track was easy to spot, but, try as we might, we couldn't for the life of us figure out how to get where we had decided was the best place to be. So, we camped right where we were – which turned out to be the best spot in the joint. Turn 3 and 4, on the hill. The hill was ridiculously steep, but there were conveniently dug holes for the back legs of our chairs which enabled us to sit perfectly level. And, thank christ we arrived early; by midday the place was packed – all told almost 200,000 race fans had fronted up to the Automotodromo that Sunday. And most of them were German.

Pleasingly, for us, Casey Stoner had some solid support. The British may not like him that much, but to the rest of Europe he isn't Spanish or Italian, and that puts him way out in front. The Germans were here to see Stefan Bradl, racing in the moto2, and they were vocal in support of Stoner in the premier class event. The racing was excellent, and the view perfect. The result went the way we hoped, and, luckily, the Czech colours of red, white and blue corresponded nicely when smoke bombs were set off at the finish.
We left, heading back to Prague, sunburnt to buggery after spending 7 hours sitting in the open with no shade or sunscreen (an oversight on my part). It had been a top race, and it was topped off by the thousands of Czechs on every single overpass in the 200ks from Brno to Prague waving at the foreign plated cars and bikes in the traffic. One of the oddest things I've seen.

Additional photos below
Photos: 15, Displayed: 15


5th November 2011

Road to Brno
Obviously hasn't been improved since our trip there. Maybe they do what some places here seem to - wait until the road completely breaks up and then build it again from scratch. This of course means long long waits at the construction areas.

Tot: 0.877s; Tpl: 0.039s; cc: 25; qc: 98; dbt: 0.0347s; 1; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.6mb