April 27, 2006

To and From Valencia WSBK round

Travelling to the races can be stressful, particularly when it's last minute and things aren't lined up properly. In order for me to get to the Valencia round, I needed to rent a car. The problem was, the website of the car rental company I wanted to use wasn't working properly and despite going there in person, I wasn't able to get the car situation sorted until the day before I was to leave. That meant I lost a day, and I wasn't happy about it! What's the best way for me to feel better about something? SNACKS! This is my latest and greatest snack addiction. Soooo crunchy!

It has a fairly racist mascot/logo, so I don't know if I should be buying it or not. There are a lot of things in Europe that are just way too sensitive to ever make it in the States.

Step two was getting ahold of the car. Cue Pepecar. I picked up this sweet little beauty - a Hyundai Matrix, diesel. Naturally, it was on empty so I had to fill'er up in the city, which was more expensive than in the boonies. If you have any idea how outrageously expensive gas is in Europe, you'll feel me on this one.

A nice scenic drive down to Valencia, which included some cool tunnels and ocean views next to the highway. I was lucky because I had a companion along for the ride, Kenny Noyes' cool girlfriend, Iana. She's originally from Bulgaria, doesn't like to take pictures, and funny, too. Fortunately, she speaks English, so it was a pleasant trip.

Not only was the gas pricey, but the tolls were killer! It added up to roughly 35 Euros each way to travel 3.5 hours on the highways to Valencia. Higway Robbery?!?

Passed a nice Repsol racing Fuel Tanker along the way.

Speaking of Big Rigs, check out the nice Mercedes towing the camper!

Made it! Stopped to hit the can at the Agip station just outside the racetrack. Car was running decently, but the clutch was a little weak (i.e. no burnouts!). You may notice the large rental car graphics. . . . this would pose a problem later. A big problem.

At the circuit I noticed this cool streetfighter parked next to the front gate. Man, I miss riding custom bikes. Not exactly my style, but really nice to see someone put all the time and effort into their ride.

Another shot of the "bat-bike", haha.

They might not be setting the tracks on fire, but the fit and finish on the Petronas 3-cyl is outstanding!

Nice tank cut-away . . . . and no shortage of carbon fiber on this baby, either!

Every other time I've travelled to Valencia, I've always used the train system. That's because I always knew where I was going to be sleeping. Renting a car enabled me to get there, and have a place to crash! Since I was familiar with the circuit's shower facilities, I knew the score and how to take advantage of it. Here's a view of my palatial sleeping acommodations, including the portable home theatre system!

What kind of movie does Liam watch at the track? This caused problems later, too . . . .

Most people don't realize that it rained the morning of the race. When I woke up (hearing the first bikes running around the track), I was shocked to see how much dirt had fallen out of the sky. This really made the track slippery for the first sessions and race. Tricky conditions, for sure!

Fast forward, past the parties, the media/press events, and a fabulous weekend of racing, and I was headed back to Barcelona on Monday morning. It was a wild weekend for me, not really suitable for print, and I really enjoyed myself. I met some great people, heard some very personal and revealing interviews with some of my favorite pilots, and breathed deeply of the race gas. On my way home I passed more cool vehicles, the first being the Semi for Ruben Xaus' privateer effort. From what I understand, Ruben is riding for "free" this year, meaning he's not making any money, he's spending his own to keep racing! Good for you big guy!

All I could think about on the drive back was, "That Damn Beer!". I don't usually drink beer. . . so you get the idea.

My kick-ass weekend came to a rude end. While I was moving along with the flow of traffic on the freeway, I noticed some cars coming up behind me at a rather high rate of speed. I moved over into the slow lane, like a good little motorist, and let them whiz by. Zoom, went the BMW! Zoom, went the Mercedes! I started to move back into the fast lane to make a pass on a truck but saw a third car coming up quick, so I stayed put. As the third car went by (some no-name hatchback) I started to duck behind them so I wouldn't get all up on the truck in front of me. The passenger in the hatchback turned to check me out, seemed to notice it was a rental (remember the stickers on the door?) and then they hit the brakes. I was thinking, mighty strange behavior, but then I realized they were an un-marked Policia vehicle, and rather than work hard to bag the Beemer and Mercedes, they were going to go for the easy money. Mierda! Even the truck in front of me was speeding! I pulled over, got the whole spiel, and had to drive twenty minutes off the freeway to some middle-of-nowhere town to get to an ATM to pay my fine in cash. Immediately. I'm still not sure it wasn't just a shakedown for some pocket money for the two cops. . . . . but whatever. I had to follow them to the town, and they sped the whole way! I thought they were going to try to get me for two tickets, so I took this photo to back myself up (as if I could do anything in the Spanish judicial system!). Here we are going 60 in a 40 zone, but later we would go as high as 85 in the 40. (Sigh) Karma will take care of everything, and I'll be off to another race soon enough!

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