30th June - 3rd July 2019
Getting closer !
|Sunset over Tallinn|
|1929 RR Phantom I in Tallinn|
roadworks necessitated some "ERA Arrows" to be posted at the last minute to change our route out of Tallinn. No problem, except somehow our Monit had changed its distance measurement from kilometers to miles, and markers in the route book (like gas stations or churches) were coming up very early ! After a while I sussed what was happening and got it back to reading kms again !
|Laitse Rally Park|
|Halinga Cafe Park|
smooth dirt sections in between the tarmac main roads, stopping at the Halinga Cafe for lunch during another TC wait. It was then on south, crossing into Latvia where we had to search between parked cars to find the border post ! It was then on down to Riga,
|Lunch stop at Halinga cafe|
I have to mention chicanes, as they form a very interesting aspect of these circuits we go on, intended as they are to slow us down.
|Volvo in front at Bikernieki start|
|Factory BMW 326|
|Russian copy BmW 326|
Motor Museum, where one of the displays showed a beautiful BMW 326 next to a......not quite so beautiful BMW 326. The second one is actually one that was made by someone in Russia who wanted a 326, but couldn't
|1938 V16 Auto Union|
vehicles, trying to make it look like the original - And failing just a little ! For me, the Steyr 220 was just a delight, but upstairs, the replica 1938 Auto Union V16 race car was just sublime, and set off perfectly by the old movie of it on track used as a back drop. While the Riga Museum previously had an original V16 car, that was swapped for a replica which is now on display, while the original now resides in the Audi museum. But the replica is pretty authentic, and Nick Mason did drive it at the Goodwood FoS in 2007.
Following the museum visit, we headed the short distance to the Radisson Blu hotel, located on the banks of the Daugava River.
|Treelined country roads|
|Taking a nap at Nemanus|
After Nemanus, it was a long 250 kms down to Mikolajki, where we had a special circuit test very close to the hotel. The circuit was a figure of 8 loop with a bridge / underpass in the middle, and
|Giant restaurant in Mikolajki|
We then drove the short distance over to the hotel, which was the
|Sweeps party in car park|
|One for Jasper|
Day 31. Mikolajki to Bydgoszcz. 371 kms. In the morning, after an excellent breakfast in the enormous restaurant, us navigators waited for our start times inside the hotel, while the drivers were sent off to get the cars and bring them round to the front, in roughly starting order ! ERA keep the same starting order for a few days, so we quickly get to know the two or three cars ahead of us, and we watch those navigators so we know when to be ready. This morning we were all sitting on a large staircase, and, some time before we were due to start, suddenly one of the navigators with a similar start time got up and ran off. This caused turmoil amongst the other navigators, who wondered if they had either missed their start time, and if not, why he had left. A couple of minutes later he returned, and, concerned, we all asked "What is going on?". "Oh, I just had to go to the loo" he said, sitting back down ! Yes, we were all getting weary after 30 days on the road, and if our expected schedules are disrupted, we get jumpy and want to know why !!
Once our times did come round, we set off to the delightful little cobbled town square just down the road, where we were told there was to be a cermonial start. Our start time is about 1 1/2 hours after that of vehicle #1, the Contal of Anton and Herman, and when we got to the square, there wasn't a lot going on. We found out later that the Mayor of Mikolajki, Piotr Jakubowski, (a motorsport fan) had been there in the beginning, to personally greet and shake hands with competitors, along with Polish TV crews and national photographers milling around the Plac Wolnosci. However, by the time we got there, they were long gone, and had actually gone back down to the bumpy special circuit (which was our next stop) to watch the action there. Needless to say, by the time we reached the circuit, they had long since left there too !
|Parked outside Kwidzyn Cathedral|
the Sunbeam. They kept their roof down much of the time, and with their car being the same age as Gidget, putting the roof up took them a while, like us, so we sometimes used them a bit as a weather guide. We stopped for a TC in a small café, and when I came out, Ashton had decided to put the roof up - David and Jo had already headed off ahead of us, so we assumed they had put theirs up too. Shortly afterwards, we did have some quite sharp showers, so were pleased the roof was up, but not long afterwards we caught up with the Sunbeam, and they still had their roof down !! Was good for a laugh later !
A planned stage on an airfield was called off - something to do with preparing the runway for a
|Lunch stop at Kwidzyn|
At Bydgoszcz, right in the middle of the town, is a Kartodrom, which is exactly what it sounds like ! Apparently there is some additional (straighter !) track and they do have motorcycle racing on it, but we were on the Kart track, which was tight, twisty, and an absolute hoot. I don't think there was any point on the circuit where the rear wheels were following the path of the front wheels ! Have you ever seen 4WD off road tyres smoking ?
Day 32. Bydgoszcz to Szczecin. 394 kms. In the morning it was back off to the Kartodrom, and we did the same track again - But this time in the opposite direction ! Once again, Ashton decided on a change of tactic, with the plane to "drive" the circuit instead of sliding round it. Not as much fun, but ironically only about 2 seconds slower !!
Today was "Z" day, and we passed through such places as Zdbice, Szczutki, Mrocza, Zlotow, Palac Siemczyno and Choszczno. This made the navigators task so much easier, and required us to use the system we had used in Russia with their cyrillic alphabet - Just pronounce it phonetically !
From Bydgoszcz Kartodrom, we headed off down to Broczyno,where the organizers had a somewhat complicated 10 km test for us around an old disused Cold War airfield. Just as we were about to start, the rain came down - And we had the roof off ! We decided to keep it down, and fortunately not far into the test, the rain stopped. The test started on a tarmac perimter road, included an easy-to-miss layby for a stop-and-go, and then went off around deep sandy tracks, concrete sections, turns between grass banks, and much more, all done using the precise Monit distance measurements and a few tulips. Not easy, especially at speed, or when you come across a slow Volvo on a deep dirt track section and he won't move over ! But we just about nailed it, and Ashton picked the very last exit cone which I hadn't seen to make it almost perfect. Apparently cars were seen going in all sorts of directions, some even circling, as they got more and more lost ! If you want an idea of what it was like for some, then watch this video, and go to the 9 min mark to see some lost cars !! YouTube video
With the adrenalin pumping, it was off again on the delightful local roads, to a place called Siemczyno, where we pulled into the little cobbled square and parked, and then went into the restaurant of the Palac Siemczyno hotel, where we had a delightful lunched served by obviously some local ladies volunteering to help with our lunch. An excellent lunch stop before we set off again through the Pomeranian countryside to Szczecin.
Szcsecin is a large city, with the centre focussed around the lagoon and the Oder River that pass through the centre of town. The raised freeway coming into town was not the easiest to navigate, and we missed a turn off down to the Marina, although we could see where we wanted to go ! A few judicious U turns eventually got us back to where we wanted, but the traffic was pretty bad, and as is often the case in these cities, it wasn't a lot of fun. We eventually reached the marina, where there was the MTC for the day, and also a ceremonial ramp for us to pass over, amongst all the crowds in the car park. Eventually we escaped through the traffic, and headed to our hotel at the Radisson Blu.
On a previous spanner check, Ashton had found cracks in the front suspension mounting blocks, and also we had found that the rear damper bushes had disintegrated, so there was excessive movement in them. We had kept an eye on the cracks and they didn't seem to be getting worse, but this evening he set off to a workshop that was recommended and managed to get the cracks welded up, just to be certain. Not much we can do about the rear damper bushes, though.
Day 33. Szczecin Poland to Wolfsberg, Germany. 375 kms. Since the German border was only just down the road from our last Polish overnight stop in Szczecin, and nearly all the action of that day occurred in Germany, I will detail Day 33 in the next post which covers W.Europe, as I call it - ie Germany, Belgium, and France.
Rest of the pics are here :- https://photos.app.goo.gl/Bn1X8PLCGCVxQ1XY6