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Published: February 22nd 2010
22nd May ‘09:
I’ve mentioned this before, but we have a tanning competition on this tour. Between 11-3pm on fine days, “Alice” and Cowboy are seen on sun loungers, vying for the mahogany crown. Cowboy - ‘I don't do poses’ - has twenty years more experience, and is winning hands-down so far, turning on the hour, every hour, with the patience of a saint. Alice, with skin closer to that of an airline stewardess than leather, has no chance, but he's doing his best, which is all one can ask for. As we edge closer to our summer jaunt around the Mediterranean, could the title change hands?
Meanwhile, in the charming little town of Hockenheim, a mere pedal or two away, I find the inimitable trucker, French Fred, enjoying a Gauloise at a street-side cafe. ‘I 'ave a new girlfriend,’ he says, sipping an espresso daintily. He hasn't met her yet, though; we are talking of an internet romance. I shudder to think what goes on behind his truck curtains, with a wireless internet signal and a webcam. But I'm curious to know his secret to crafting a personal opening message, to make each lady feel valued and
‘I copy and past ze same message to 300 woman. Yes, why not? Maybe fifteen or eighteen reply.’ I'm stunned, yet intrigued. ‘Restaurant, 'otel, let's go. Visa card here, visa card there,’ he finishes breathlessly, with a flourish. I'm impressed. I reel for a moment, processing this unorthodox approach to internet dating, before noting the website in the moleskin notebook, as he heads off to the nearest cyber cafe. I like Fred.
Back at the track, I include a pic of me overtaking a stationary Renault Magnum - on the Sachs Curve again. And I'm not even going to bother doing a gag - considering all the portable toilets here - about pit stops and skid marks..
23rd May: ("Hockenheim to Vienna)
Last night was busy; approximately 90,000 people came to watch AC/DC at the Hockenheimring. And not only watch, but camp - noisily. More than three hours after the show had finished, drunken revellers were still impeding traffic. We were laboriously funnelled into a single carriageway road - the only escape. Our next destination, in Austria, is more than 700km - an unspeakably monotonous drive - so here are a couple of photos from
the Hockenheim Motor Museum instead.
Though Hockenheim is now one of the most modern tracks for both racing and testing, it all started way back in 1932 with the first motorcycle race. But going back even further - to 1884, in fact - the history of motorcycles begins with the 'Reitwagen', slower than a bicycle but powered by a combustion engine. With a wooden frame, lateral support wheels - that's a fancy term for children's stabilisers, isn't it? - and a top speed of 12km/h, these were indeed early days.
Ooh, and the first truck was introduced to the market in 1896..
Now, while you dwell on statistics, just think of us poor chaps leaving Hockenheim at 3am, travelling through a netherworld while normal people snooze restfully. The rigging trucks are due to unload in Vienna at 2pm the same day, which leaves little time for dawdling or sleeping; it is a good nine-hour drive in a lorry.
That bilious creature, Nambian, could certainly take a little longer - after all, he only has a few lights in the boot - but he doesn’t. Loyal as a terrier, we chat on radios as the sun rises
- a depressing sight this morning, actually, because we’re barely halfway to the Austrian capital. I’m sure there are people that would give their eye teeth to visit Vienna in May, but I wouldn’t half fancy a little lie-down instead. Oh well, perhaps I’ll get some time off in September..
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