Race weekends can often feel shaped like odd animals for those at work in paddocks, especially when one has “additional commitments”.
Securing a hotel close to either the circuit or the local train station is a no brainer. The first port of call must always be a reasonable mattress and an easy way to get in and out.
There are annoying little sacrifices to be made here and there though. Not that I am complaining of course – this aspect of my life is great, but arranging this existence around ‘real life’ occasionally means odd flights at unusual hours and cross country traveling in empty train coaches.
The recent trip from German Grand Prix was a case in point. Although the flight in to Frankfurt was managed at a reasonable hour, the return leg of the journey was a touch more challenging. Leaving Mannheim via national rail toward Frankfurt Main just after midnight on Sunday night was an adventure.
In what seemed like an old metal bucket held together by blutac, the train trundled along at what felt like two miles per hour for a time and then a quarter of that speed once we had ventured out into the real German countryside.
At one point, the train ground to a halt in the middle of nowhere. There were no lights out, no signs, no sound, no indications of progress and as 2am had long since passed, any plans of catching the original connecting bus to their airport had long since evaporated.
Eventually the bucket made it to a remote station on the outskirts of Frankfurt, dropping me to the middle of nowhere. Thereafter began a search for a bus stop, which was eventually located under a bridge by the side of a sad, long empty road.
By 3.45am, the journey was done – almost.
There followed a nap on a bench and eventually a 6.30am flight to London and then a series of DLR and underground trains, which would link me to my office for ‘real life’ work at 8.30 on Monday morning.
The adventure continues at Spa-Francorchamps this weekend and then Monza, when late flights will get me to Brussels and Milan after midnight on both occasions, to be followed by 5.30am train and bus trips.
Sexy, no? Maybe not, but interesting and exhausting nonetheless.