Saturday I attended my second Eiskhana (read about the first one here). Jerry went with me again, sort of. He had errands to attend to in the morning, so he came up a bit later. So I arranged to meet up with Doug and some of his friends and caravan up together. We were supposed to be there for registration at 8; we gathered at Doug’s at 6:45. It’s only about 40 miles, so that should be plenty of time.
We had barely headed up the hill to Genessee before we hit a wall of traffic – all three lanes creeping along at about 10 mph. It was clogged that way all the way to Idaho Springs. Given that much traffic I expected to see lots of ski racks on the other cars, but there were surprisingly few. I’m still thinking it was ski traffic. Do that many people rent their equipment? Anyway, it took us nearly two hours to go the 40 miles.
The Eiskhana seemed a bit more organized this year than last. This time, each car was given an entry number. I was 87, and there were at least a dozen people behind me. The organizers said they were getting only 20 cars a few years ago and were happy to have over 100 entries now. I don’t know how many cars there were last year, but I’d guess it was fewer.
I expected a different course and that was the case. I didn’t expect that it would be so much shorter. They had the starting gate set up fairly near the ramp to the ice. The course didn’t go past half way across the lake, starting with some esses before turning around, leading to a lollipop then the end gate. To the north of the course they set up a skid pad. The idea was you make two runs of the course then try out the skid pad. Or in the other order if you prefer.
It was my turn on the ice before Jerry arrived so I made the first run without him. I figured once he arrived we’d do the skid pad and then the second run. Unfortunately, by then they’d collected the cones from the skid pad. Then they decided to change the course, making it a bit longer. It was still quite a bit shorter than last year, but it looked like the ice on the east side of the lake was quite rough, so it’s probably just as well.
Prior to the first run, I attempted to set up the course for my lap timer. I had only used it for closed courses before, except for a test run around the house. To set it up, I needed to walk through the start gate and end gate, pressing a button on the phone at each – mark “Start”, mark “Finish”.
When I rolled up to the start gate the first time, the timer started a good fifteen or twenty feet early. Oops, they moved the cones! I managed to get a time for the first run but failed on the second. I didn’t bother trying again when they rearranged the course. I was enjoying shooting the breeze with the other folks and didn’t really want to get in the way of the stewards.
The two runs at the first course were comical for me. I did a couple 360′s the first time, and on the second I got confused and did the lollipop around the wrong set of cones, and on top of that threw in an extra 360 or two. At one point I thought I’d gotten stuck – just spun the tires no matter what I tried.
On the longer course, though, I kicked ass. Well, I’m sure I was nowhere near a “fast” time, but I never lost control of the car. Had it a bit sideways a time or three, but never looped it. After we did my run, Jerry paid the fee for a second driver ($10) and I let him take a stab at it. To add to the degree of difficulty, he’d never driven the car before and hasn’t driven a clutch in ten years or more. But he did pretty well and I think he had a good time. When you think about how quickly the run is over, ten or twenty bucks ends up being pretty steep, but it’s not the kind of thing you can do every day.
The weather was fantastic. Forecast for Denver was upper 50′s, sunny and calm. At the lake it was in the low 40′s and sunny. There was a chill breeze before the sun hit the ice but once we were in the sun it was quite nice. By afternoon I was worried that I should have brought sunscreen but I managed to escape without any sunburn.
It’s a Porsche Club event so obviously there was a preponderance of Porsches. Doug and I were the only Elises. One of his friends has an Elise but drove his Mini instead. Cindy was there in her Evora. I may be mistaken, but I think we Loti were the center of attention. We fielded lots of questions and everybody was taking pictures of us. Well, our cars, not us. People asked if they could sit in the cars and we obliged. I don’t think the Subaru or Buick drivers were in the same boat. I’m used to the car being the center of attention on the street but not to this extent at car events.
Jerry and I were nearly the last ones there. Although I’d eaten my lunch only a couple hours before, I suggested we stop in Idaho Springs for Beau Jo’s. Unfortunately, everybody who left before us met for lunch at another restaurant in town and took up all the parking spaces. Oh well. So we called it a day and headed down the mountain. Traffic wasn’t nearly so bad on the way home – we hit the road before the ski lifts closed.
They finished widening the tunnel east of Idaho Springs. I didn’t expect it to be complete already. I think they need to repave it – the road is a bit rough for a stretch, but it’s nice that it’s three lanes now. Westbound is still only two lanes. So it took them a bit less than a year to add a lane for eastbound traffic the few miles between Idaho Springs and the bottom of Floyd Hill. I wonder what that cost.
All in all, a fun day.