By Marissa Baecker
SAXONY, Germany – As the Canadian women’s trophy team set out from the start gate at 9:03 a.m., we (my husband driving so I could hang out the sunroof and photograph) set out in our rental BMW 530 Diesel Gran Turismo. Just the two of us and our British accented on board GPS.
“Follow the road” – she advised. That would be easy enough except there were hundreds of others with various GPS units, motorcycles everywhere and Germans lining the street with their lawn chairs like a parade was coming – and I suppose it was.
Once the riders leave the paddock – it’s anyone’s game. They ride on the roads, in the fields, through the woods, out on the roads again, sometimes ahead of you, other times behind – you never know where they are going to turn up and then trying to catch your favourite rider as they go by is another trick all together.
I am a rookie ISDE goer. This is my first one so figuring out how the event works, where the riders go, the testing sections, the points of interest, the time checks, the GPS in the car, street signs, road rules etc. takes a bit of getting used to. I felt like I had entered my own Amazing Race.
When the cars began to line the road side, we had to make an executive decision to not listen to our British voice in the dashboard. Through the sunroof, the cheers, horns, whistles and mufflers could be heard from the forested hill although you couldn’t see a thing from the road. Hiking was just added to the agenda.
A couple of hundred vertical feet later, several hundred fans lined the canvas fencing and riders were climbing the steepest hill of soft dirt, moss, tree roots and ruts – the more riders the worse the course became and this particular part of the competition is scheduled on Day 2’s agenda as well.
“Canada?” I questioned one fan as I doubted they spoke English – “Gone” was the translated response. Back to the beemer!
It took the majority of the day through every berg, burg, strasse, dorf – Stollberg, Auerbach, Gornsdorf, Niederdorf, Seifersdorf, Hormerdorf – you get the idea – but what an incredible way to see a country and I could only imagine what type of experience the riders must have had.
Once the girls went by, back to the beemer and try to beat them to the finish line. Apparently we weren’t the only ones – as we sat in traffic while the motorcycles lane split. Caught up to Victoria at impound – filthy and smiling and currently ranking in 9th place of 21 women from around the world.
As riders began checking their bikes into impound for the night, a group of Polizei stood at the gates with a list of rider numbers. As the numbers approached, riders were pulled aside and ticketed for passing on the right, speeding in the villages, running red lights etc. and they were expected to pay fines right there on the spot.