Oh dear, one year?

Well hello there. If you thought our blog was dead for good, I can’t blame you. In my last post I told everyone to “check back in a few weeks” – I think I missed that deadline by a couple days or three.

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I could just blame documentation again, but I won’t.

In any event, since none of our millions of fans noticed that we had been silent for quite a long while, we concluded that the world possibly doesn’t revolve around us (although evidence is still inconclusive).

Some say, better late than never, and we shall stick to that for now. so we still owe you a summary of the 2016 Rallye Monte Carlo. This was brought up by the fact that we will actually be leaving for the 2017 edition in just a few days! In any event, let’s talk about last year first.

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This rallye, while being for electric cars, is the real deal. It is FIA approved, organized by the emerited Automobile Club de Monaco and offers real challenges in the form of a regularity contest – with a subsequent ranking.

We subscribed rather late, it was a spur of the moment thing. We didn’t really know what we got ourselves into but as usual, we’d just let it flow and see what happens.

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Our first task the morning of the first day was to cover our car with stickers, followed by the inspection of said sticker coverage. Incidentally, they also checked that our car was road legal and equipped according to rallye regulations.

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Inspection

The cars were assembled in the Cour d’Honneur of the Chateau de Fontainebleau, a wonderful venue; even the weather was perfect!

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The field was rather mixed, pretty much every common EV was present. We ourselves had chosen to participate in a Nissan Leaf, even though we would have the possibility to use David’s Tesla. But where’s the challenge in that?

Most noticeably, aside from a few Kangoo F-Cells, Renault was present with an official team entering four Renault Zoé’s. Also unusual was the fact that three Toyota Mirai were present, a pure hydrogen fuel cell vehicle.

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The first car to go over the starting line was a Toyota Mirai.

Now if you wonder how many hydrogen fuel stations there are in France, the number is zero (or close). If, in conclusion, you wonder how they would manage to drive a thousand miles across France in a hydrogen car, well the solution is easy:

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The automobile version of BYOB.

One of the sponsors being Air Liquide, their sponsorship consisted of providing participants with hydrogen gas along all along the Rallye. So you could say the hydrogen cars brought along their filling station wherever they went. Quite convenient, isn’t it?

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The first leg of the rallye took us across France from north to south. A lot of time was allocated for that distance, which led to the fact that this wasn’t really a challenge for teams with more experience (I’m not gonna say any names).

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First car on site. Guess who?

After a night spent in Alès (under torrential rain, unfortunately) we prepared for the first stage – two laps on the track in Alès. Now if you google the Alès track you find lots of beautiful pictures showing a perfectly good racetrack.

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However, as we were soon to find out, we did not compete on the regular track but on the hilltrack seen on the lower right part of the picture above. This might sound like a downer at first but the steep ups and downs and tight corners made this much more of a challenge than a “regular” track would have. In any event we completed our two laps and drove off to find the starting point of the next stage.

As it was the case for the first bit of driving, charging stops were involved, but nothing out of the ordinary. Somehow we managed to always find our chargers to be free, despite our fear that there would be much intereference with other rallye participants.

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This itinerary would take us from Alès (A) to Monaco (H), whereas the bits in between describe the regularity stages we had to attend (B-C, D-E and F-G).

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Unfortunately, we were both very busy during those stages – for understandable reasons – so there aren’t many picures around to show. But just imagine narrow roads with tight corners, in the dark, trying to dodge hogs and hares while trying to maintain a certain average speed at all times. All three stages were around 20 km long, with ups and downs, crossroads and traffic. If you don’t think this is a challenge, well let me assure you it is.

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We crashed into our hotel beds (not literally) around 2 am and slept like babies. The upcoming day began in a relaxed fashion since there was time for breakfast and a leisurely drive along the coast. We did enjoy our day, since the weather had taken a turn for the better again, and arrived in Monaco in the middle of the afternoon.

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We explored Monaco for the rest of the day, pretending that we weren’t nervous. Because the most difficult stage was still ahead of us: The legendary Col de Turini was up for the final stage!

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130 km of small backwater roads in the french alps, to be covered in three hours with three regularity stages in between! We knew this was to be a big night and we were really looking forward to it. We were going to drive across the Turini at night during a Rallye Monte Carlo, it hardly gets better than this for an average nobody like myself.

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The departure took place in front of the Automobile Club clubhouse, smack in the middle of Monte Carlo. There were lots of people around, and we were handed some finger food and an alcohol free drink. Then, we went off.

Then, problems started. I could not find the proper itinerary based on the roadbook – mind you, it was handed to me on the starting line. we went back past the clubhouse twice to re-initialize our trip counter and find our way to no avail. Why is this important? Because if you deviate from the defined route, you were to be penalized with 1800 points, which we didn’t want but ended up to be anyway (spoiler alert).

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After a while I found back into the itinerary description and we found the regularity stages without any problems – if it wasn’ for the fact that I got really sick… I shouldn’t have hat that drink back at the starting line! ugh.

Despite all that, we managed to get through the night without any major accidents, both vehicular and personal, and arrived back in Monaco around 2:30 am, being handed another 1800 points because we were more than half an hour late with respect to our predefined return time. This was due to the fact that we had driven back and forth across Monte Carlo to find the right way. We completely misjudged the time required to cover the rest of the stage.

In any event, thanks to instant ranking and the internet, we quickly found out we were ranked as 22nd, which wasn’t much of a surprise given the penalties we had collected. A small consolation was the fact that almost everyone considered the roadbook confusing and all but a handful of cars were penalized that last day, and 22nd out of 36 isn’t half bad for first timers.

The event closed on Sunday with a Gala Lunch at the clubhouse – where our rank was confirmed on the official announcement board.

When the rankings were announced, we applauded the first three teams – until we were called on stage. Much to our suprise, we ended up receiving a trophy because we had beaten everyone else on the track event.

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All winners of the 2016 e-Rallye Monte Carlo; we’re the underdressed ones.

This was a quite satisfactory, if completely unexpected, ending to a great adventure. Not bad given that I had performed the timing on my cellphone.

It took us about three seconds on the way home to decide we’d go again “next year”, which – if you beared with me until now – you know is “next week”.

So I will close this entry by promising that it will not take another year until we report back from the 2017 edition. Honest!

Image sources: Calendar – world4.info; Rallye Poster – Automobile Club de Monaco; Keep Calm poster – some meme generator; Fontainebleau, refueling, car shots – Jo Lillini; track pic – Club du Pôle Mécanique;  all other pics – Wattwurm!

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Our last adventure, and a new one

Some of you might wonder what has become of our plans to attend the Gigafactory opening.

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Well, we actually managed to pull it off. We found someone kind enough to give us two tickets, and we were able to attend the event and see what’s going on in Reno.

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To be quite honest, we do understand that slogan. Reno wasn’t exactly the most exciting place we’ve ever been to; plus, it has a drastic shortage of coffee shops. Some of you might know that’s a disaster for me, and reason enough for a state of emergency.

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WHERE’S MY COFFEE??

In any event, the Gigafactory opening was a really cool party, and we got to visit the factory itself. Now if anyone out there thinks building that factory was just a spur of the moment thing, believe me, it’s not.

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Even though it’s only around 15% finished, the factory is already huge and it’s pumping out Lithium cells like crazy. We’ve seen a great team of young engineers, overmotivated and full of passion. If anyone thinks Tesla and Panasonic aren’t serious about getting s**t done, believe me, they are.

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The party itself was kind of laid back, of course it included a speech by Elon Musk, great food and cool drinks.

Incidentally, we also managed to take a closer look at the Model 3 on display.

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Also, and that’s at least worth as much as the whole trip, we met awesome people and made new friends. How cool is that? We’ll grab this opportunity to say thank you once more to our kind hosts Norman and Judy for the tickets, and Tudor for being our MC for the night.

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After the event, we toured Nevada and California. Awesome landscapes and lots of fun.

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Another high point of the trip was going four wheeling in the Sierras with our California friends. That was another outstanding experience we aren’t likely to forget soon.

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So, you say, great news, great trip, back home and business as usual right? Well no. We had barely been back when we decided to go for another adventure this year: the Rallye Monte Carlo.

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Yes, that’s right. Any car buff will have a slight OMG moment just hearing this – at least I did. But of course we aren’t attending the “big” Rallye but the electric version of it. Specifically, it’s a regularity challenge between Paris and Monte Carlo taking place between October 12 and 16. It’s a professional rallye hosted according to FIA rules which is a first for us.

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So even though this Rallye is nothing like the classic Monte, it will still be challenging. It includes a track day and driving the Col de Turini at night, just like the big event. It will involve lots of calculations, time keeping and map reading. Given our history with electronic navigation aids, this time we decided to take along paper maps.

Preparing our route

Anyway, if you’re interested in what will be going on during the Rallye, make sure you follow our facebook wall. We’ll be posting regular updates and pictures as usual. Unlike the WAVE, we won’t have time for daily blog updates, but make sure you check back here in the next few weeks since we will be posting a summary of the Rallye.

To finish, here are a few more shots of our last trip.

We need tickets!

Yes, hello, we’re back from the dead. Why the silence, you ask? Well, we started a new project recently and have been investing a lot of time and effort, at the expense of the world’s most entertaining blog (i.e. this one). Why break the silence, you ask? Why of course, because there’s great news. We’re going west!

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No, not that. Good thinking though

So, yes, crazy ideas are still around. After attending the WAVE in 2014 and 2015 and participating in the world’s first 12 hour endurance race for electric cars (where we failed miserably due to a strategic error in the last 30 minutes), we have decided to attend the Tesla Gigafactory grand opening in Nevada.

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We suspect we might not be alone

There’s only one slight problem: we don’t have tickets for said grand opening. But Wattwurm wouldn’t be Wattwurm if that would stop us from doing silly things. Like, for instance, booking flights. Yes, that’s right, we’ve booked our flights already. Thanks to an elaborate scheme using 27 stops carried by nine different airlines (including Air Timbuktu), we’ve also managed to keep the ticket price down.

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Last seats available!

Now. Back to the point: Gigafactory. problem. No tickets. Remember? Okay, so, what now? Well, this blog post is a shameless and desperate plea for your help. Yes, you!

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We hope that there is someone out there who has tickets, but can’t attend. Maybe it’s your cat’s birthday. Maybe you don’t have any clean underwear left. Maybe they’re your ex-husband’s and you want to teach him a lesson. It’s OK, we don’t judge. Just tell us we can have your tickets and we’ll leave you alone and whatever problem/pet you are dealing with.

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(mandatory cat picture)

Oh and by the way, we’ve already established earlier in this post that we’re cheap. Well, in case that you’d have not only a pair of tickets, but also a superfluous Tesla Model S that’s collecting dust in a corner, we’ll be most happy to give it a good run for its money (and do you a favor since we’ll help you avoid storage damage). We need emissions free means of transportation for the week after the opening and we are planning to cover roughly 1000 miles. Oh and yes, we’d also be happy with a Roadster, although last we heard that would mean we have to downsize in terms of luggage.

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We’re even willing to share a toothbrush if necessary

So, to summarize, we are looking for:

  • definitely one or two tickets to the grand opening ceremony of the Tesla Gigafactory
  • perhaps a Tesla Model S we could use for a week

…wherein the tickets are the really important part. We can also crash your living room for a cigar and that 18 year old Scotch you’ve successfully been hiding from your friends but that part is entirely up to you.

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We’ll even help turning the evening into a therapy session

What’s in it for you, you ask? Well. Aside from the fact you’re helping two nice, awesome (and slightly delusional) guys fulfil a crazy dream, you’ll be our personal hero for all eternity. We’ll even listen to any conditions you might add to the deal since there’s always two ends to a stick and you shouldn’t end up with the short one.

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experts confirm there’s two ends to a stick.

David drives a Model S 85D and we each hold a Model 3 reservation. If the fact that we’re bold and tasteless doesn’t stop you from trusting us, please get in touch with us to dump your tickets on us and/or hand over the keys to your car. We’ll be happy to help.

 Image credits: all images link to their respective sources.

Everything is awesome!

Yes, we’ve been quiet lately. Much like anyone else living north of the 45th parallel, we’ve been lingering somewhere between hibernation and winter depression.

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is it spring yet?

Lots of things have happened in terms of electric cars, mobility and energy since we’ve last chimed in on something… Amongst other things, Toyota presented the Miyagi; Chevrolet wants to upgrade the Volt and introduce the Bolt (also, their naming department seriously needs to hire a new intern); the Model S 85D and P85D were launched, and while people talk about Tesla software updates and easter eggs while going crazy about incredibly dramatic footage of a Model X test mule, Elon Musk wants to start selling batteries to power our homes.

Now obviously, we have opinions on these topics (mostly strong ones, to be honest). But since we live in a time where everyone has an opinion and can voice it instantly on the internet, we’d rather shut our mouth than flood your screens with things you just read elsewhere 15 minutes ago.

Quality Or Quantity Directions On A Signpostultimately, it’s your call though

So now you’re thinking… hibernation? really? well, no. We’ve had lots of winter fun. We did have the opportunity for a quick test drive in a Twingo Kamoo and a Renault Kangoo Z.E., but we’re still working on getting the cynical bits right before publishing that. Also, our fleet is currently undergoing dramatic changes – we’ll be posting mostly about our cars during the next few weeks.

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more importantly, David has teamed up with Karl of Team Lightning Rods and Stephan Schwarz, president of the Swiss Tesla Owners’ club, to go shopping for a bottle of Whisky. In Scotland. In three days.

P5hidden object game: find 750 kWh in this picture.

Just in case there are people left on the internet who don’t like our facebook page yet and therefore miss out on a chance to follow us daily, here’s a quick visual recapitulation.

mapin other words/numbers: 3480 km in 70 hours

You can find pictures taken on the run on said facebook page. But to sum things up, three days and two nights on the road for a bottle of booze. Once back home, I assume a shower was in order. And to be serious for a moment, this kind of adventure is so silly that it would have been totally awesome to be part of it. But… we all make our choices.

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In other news, we’re delighted to announce that we will be participating in this year’s WAVE again in our Nissan LEAF. The challenge is even bigger this time, since the total distance to cover will be around 2500 km just for the rally itself. We are sure that it’ll be a fantastic adventure again and we promise to post updates on facebook and this blog just like we did last year. More nonsense coming your way!

MagrittePipeyou’ve been warned.

Now before this post gets completely out of hand, I’ll stop here, avoid adding more vague promises about future posts and admit that this is all I have to say for tonight. stay tuned! oh and also, there’s this:

brought to our attention by an unnamed source. you know who you are.

Image credits: all images link to their original source.

Three Things You Didn’t Want To Know About Logworms

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Over the last few posts, you’ve learned lots and lots of useless facts about the two of us but we haven’t talked much about our mascot, James “Wattwurm” the logworm. In an honest attempt to resolve this mistery, we sent off one half of our team on an special mission to the north german coast to gather intelligence.

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transportation wasn’t emissions free, but we’ll admit it’s still environmentally friendly

While imagery worked out just fine (as you can see throughout this post), we’re not so sure about the fact finding part. The more information we came across, the less we liked it; in any event, we’ve decided to share it with you anyway.

Disclaimer: You’ve been warned. Proceed at your own risk

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For starters, we’ve discovered that James is lazy and slightly antisocial; he digs holes in the sand for a living, and will then sit head first in said hole for weeks on end without moving much at all. His main activities are drinking seawater and eating sand, which we assume is the maritime equivalent of beer and pizza. Gross fact #1: Did I mention his sandhole is lined with mucus?

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By the way: you shouldn’t mess with him, either.

Next, you’ll never see him on the surface. Gross fact #2: The only way to tell whether a logworm is present is… because he poops a lot. Yes, there it is, it’s out, we said it. We apologize but it would seem that’s just how things are. Large piles of poop indicate that a logworm just had lunch down in his sandhole; or dinner, or a snack, for that matter, since a new pile is produced every 30 to 40 minutes. Isn’t that quite a performance?

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Now does this picture have “party” written all over it or what?

Somewhere above, we said logworms are antisocial; it turns out they also have Al Bundy’s sex life: Simply put, lugworms don’t have sex. Still, apparently, they do get horny – exactly once a year during the full moon of October.

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hmm… sunset… is it October yet?

At this point, you might be thinking the same thing we are: Even though it’s only once a year, if everyone gets randy at the same time, at least hooking up and having fun should not be much of an issue and the whole dating thing would be much less of a nuisance, right?

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(awesome dancefloor, too!)

Gross fact #3: that’s not how it works. Instead, all parties involved prefer to, well, umm, “relieve” themselves in the water where somehow reproduction is left alone to take place or not. Since logworms are still around, we’re inclined to conclude that it works – even though it sounds completely disappointing.

We’re not gonna elaborate this topic any further, just remember not to go swimming in the sea in October. Ever.

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Here’s an innocent landscape to take your mind off, well, “that other thing”

On the other hand, beyond the slightly questionable facts presented above, we can also report that a logworm filters about 25 kg of sand per year, and since there are typically 30 to 40 worms per square meter, they pretty much manage to filter the top 20 cm of the entire north sea tidal zone within a year which, again, sounds like quite a performance. (We apologize if you’re not familiar with metric units; a simple google search will allow you to find a conversion website for you to work out how many scruples or furlongs this corresponds to).

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We think this is enough fact finding for today, so we’ll leave it at that. We’ll only add one completely unrelated piece of information we somehow came across while doing a bit of research. Did you know there is a bird called fluffy-backed tit-babbler? We’ll let you work out for yourself what kind of person comes up with such a name, or perhaps what kind of company he was with when he did.

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yes, that would be it. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the fluffy-backed tit-babbler.

Sources: The bird pic and the poop pic were stolen from Wikipedia.