Dutch Classic Superbike Meeting, June 2010
Diff'rent Strokers' first international event ! Unless you count Wales, which we barely made it to anyway...
We'd seen mention on other forums and in the magazines of the 1st Dutch Classic Superbike Meeting in June 2009. Based around a local bike shop, the photos showed long lines of ultra-cool bikes, plenty of early GSX-R's mixing with AMA-inspired aircooled legends : CB1100R's, Katana's, Eddie-rep Zed's, Spencer CB900's and ice-cream-van GS1000's just like Wes's. Throw in a big autojumble full of trick parts and tempting goodies plus a weekend party atmosphere and we wanted in.
Due to the success of the 2009 event, the organisers had moved it to a bigger venue near Almere. The initial plan was for Darin to chuck his GSX-R750R in the van, collect Rob and his ZXR750R-K1 followed by Tim and his GSX-R750RK then nip across on the Hull-Rotterdam ferry. For various reasons including exhorbitant ferry costs, work commitments and gummed-up carbs, the plan changed significantly : Darin, Rob and Chell would get the Dover-Dunkirk ferry with 3 bikes on board, while Tim & Sara would fly over and meet them in a hire car.
The jet-setters got there first, thrashing the rented Merc round the Amsterdam ring-road and scoping out the venue on the Friday afternoon. Not 100%-convinced that they'd found the right place, they retired to the hotel, stopping off at the supermarket to stock up on biscuits and beer. The others arrived at 9pm following a painfully long drive through several other countries. A nice meal in the quiet hotel restaurant was followed by an impromptu room party where all the biscuits mysteriously disappeared.
The next morning, confusion over whether Holland followed British Summer Time or not meant that they finally made it to the event a bit later than expected. A big 'Welcome Race Fans' sign on the gate proved that the initial recce had been correct, but it was still not clear where the actual bike show was happening. It quickly dawned that the small field they were in was the location, and the flimsy gazebo's that everyone (except them) had brought provided the venue. Darin had pre-booked a "booth" with the organisers so we thought we'd have some kind of pit garage we could operate out of, but in the end all we had was three bikes parked in the open air plus the van to hide out in when it was raining.
A quick wander round the field saw a decent display of well-used but trick tackle, and a nice bunch of welcoming people keen to talk bikes. One corner held the UK contingent, with a Suzuki-based line-up of big-bore and/or turbo'd muscle. The Dutch Katana Owners Club were there with an XN85 mingling with the pop-up and regular Kat's. One guy had a pair of exotic Z1000's - a gorgeous Moriwaki Gardner-replica and a proper Z1000S1 ELR complete with numberboards, Kerker pipe and solid disc carriers. And a 'For Sale' sign on it - cue Darin's wallet having a fit. Various aircooled Honda fours were also dotted about including more than one Bakker-framed special.
The Saturday morning was a bit quiet, so much so that at one point there were three people asleep in the van (a deadly combination of jet-lag, hangover and biscuit OD). Our three bikes stood out as being a bit modern compared to the rest but everyone knew what they were and came up to admire them, especially the Suzuki. One chap who'd built his own VFR-based track bike and RGV-framed 500 Gamma special came to chat GSX-R's and two-strokes, and he brought down his Yoshi-sprinkled 'Hyper Endurancer' GSX-R1100 to show off the next day.
On the Saturday evening, we wandered up to the clubhouse for a BBQ and beer. People had been voting for their favourite bikes at the event and prizes were duly handed out, including second place for the stunning UK Katana special - on slicks ! - built and owned by Lovely Steve (as he's now known). Rob almost took up an offer of a bed for the night by a long-haired blonde but we left them all to it, the lure of biscuits at the hotel proving too great. 'Biscuits' isn't secret code for some dodgy substance or dubious activity by the way, they really are that good. Ask Darin, who can no longer get his jeans to fasten up.
Sunday morning we checked out of the hotel and made our way back to the event. The Brits had already packed up and were about to depart following breakfast. Steve gave us a far-too-detailed description of Grumpy Gary's night-time 'bubbly tummy' so we waved them off and unpacked the bikes from the van where we'd tucked them up safely overnight. We'd been told that one reason for the poor turnout on Saturday was the clash with Holland's World Cup game, so we were hoping that lots more people would turn up for the second day. Quite a few new faces did appear, but there were also empty spaces where previously there had been cool bikes. The autojumble remained disappointingly absent.
The organisers told us that there was a rideout planned for 11am, as a way of wrapping up the event. With 10 minutes to go, Rob decided to warm up the Kawasaki. Whilst it was ticking over, he nipped into the van to change into his power-ranger costume, emerging to find the bike not running. Muttering something derogatory about flatslide carbs, he proceeded to flatten the battery while trying and failing to restart it. Following a jump-start off the van, it burst into life and he let it rev itself silly until warm. Darin leapt on the Suzuki, generously allowing Tim to ride the irreplaceable Yamaha across the wet grass and sand in a borrowed helmet 2 sizes too large with everyone watching. No pressure then.
Almost 30 bikes headed out onto the narrow lanes alongside the canal, Sara and Chell capturing photos and video clips as they left. The pace was fairly gentle though a couple of wheelies were observed - they may have been deliberate or they could just be an unwanted side-effect of having a dyno-certified 265bhp. A couple of miles of undulating cobbles saw Tim riding the OW01 standing up on the pegs Paris-Dakar style, the rock-hard suspension and hyper-sensitive throttle proving a difficult combination. Shortly after, the convoy stopped at the end of the impressive sea defence wall for photos and cigarettes. Rob took over the Yamaha, Darin jumping on the ZXR leaving the GSX-R for Tim. We rode the length of the barrier, the strong wind causing everyone to lean over despite the road being arrow-straight for miles. Tim had neglected to take any gloves so could occasionally be seen warming his hands on the oil-cooled head. Incidentally, the weather all weekend was basically sunny and warm with a brief shower of rain every hour or two - exactly like a typical British Summer day.
At the end of the coastal road, we turned left into town and then right into an industrial estate. Everyone stopped and some kind of unintelligible announcement was made. We took the opportunity to swap bikes again. Then most of the riders took off, leaving a few behind. We snaked round the back streets, the pace hotting up and racing lines being taken round the corners. There was no traffic to worry about, that part of town being completely dead. Shortly, we arrived back where we'd started, with the spectators aiming cameras at the riding group. A second lap was started at which point it began to dawn on us what we were doing. By the third lap we were taking it pretty seriously, Rob on the GSX-R collecting weeds in his kneesliders and Tim caning the ZXR to try and get away from the mad bloke on the BMW Boxer who tried to stuff his front wheel up the inside on every bend. Three laps were enough and having collected the photographers we rode back through town, refuelled and headed back to the event site. We did 55kms in total in about 90 minutes and it was the perfect end to the meeting. Shortly afterwards, it was explained to us that the industrial estate had been built on the disused Circuit Almere racetrack and we'd been temporarily reclaiming it. Nice touch.
People started packing up after that, so with a few more photos in the bag we did the same. We thanked the organisers and headed off. We were almost the last to leave, but still had enough time for the van to catch an earlier ferry than expected which was a bonus. Tim & Sara found themselves with 4 hours to kill at the airport and a pocket full of spare Euro's that had been earmarked for GSX-R dry-clutch kits in the autojumble. Duty Free then.
So, despite being a bit different to what we were expecting, we had a great weekend thanks entirely to the lovely people who made us so welcome. We've already talked about returning next year and doing the whole trip by bike. Not the same ones of course, we like to mix it up a bit. Maybe something more in keeping with the tone. Probably a trio of EFE's judging by the admiring glances, unless anyone knows of a nice GPz750-Turbo for sale ?...
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