Yesterday saw the 19th edition of the “Nachtrit”, with a record number of 63 cars (including 10 CT teams from 3 different countries) showing up at the start. As ever there was a wide variety of cars taking part, ranging from a TR3 to a Volvo 480.
As we had number 1 we were flagged of shortly after 5.00 pm for the first leg from Slenaken in the Netherlands through Belgium and Germany to the midway halt at Büllingen in the Belgium Ost Kantons. From there the route made a wide clockwise loop around the nature park “Des Hautes Fanges”. This part also incorporated some off the stages from the ”Boucle de Spa” rally.
Although the weather forecast wasn’t that bad, I had prepared myself mentally for some slippery roads. It had been rather damp and grey for the past few days, the farmers were busy harvesting their crops and off course there were lots of slippery leaves on the road...
But it turned out to be far worse. Shortly after we crossed the border into Belgium it started to drizzle. The kind of drizzle that makes everything soaking wet but doesn’t wash the muck from the roads. As a result of this in some places the roads were almost as slippery as ice, especially the smooth tarmac in Germany! The drizzle was also of the kind that was too much for the interval wipe and to less for the normal wiper, so visibility was rather poor at times. Which reminded me of the fact that the one-wipe function on the wiper switch works much better than the interval function. Luckily that’s easy to change, which I did at the halt. To make matters worse there was the odd fog patch which reduced visibility even further.
And then there was this pageant to celebrate St. Martin, in one of the small German villages we passed through, that stopped us for nearly 10 minutes. So it was no surprise that shortly after we reached the halt in Büllingen, a small group of cars also arrived.
After a well deserved meal and a pint of beer (to muster some courage) we set of for the second leg. Despite the weather still being the same the second leg turned out to be much more fun, mainly thanks to the rougher tarmac in Belgium. Although there were some very dense and local fog patches which reduced visibility to almost nothing. But even these couldn’t prevent us from reaching the finish shortly before 11.00 pm and having a few well deserved beers. It turned out that all of the participants had had their fair share of problems with the conditions but everyone returned safely.