The Anglo-Dutch reliability Trial - Almen, Holland - 2007
(Click any photo to see a larger picture - then just follow the slide show.)

The first Anglo-Dutch motorcycle trial was between teams from Holland and England and took place in 1912 in England. The second trial was in 1913 in Holland before the war stopped the series. The entries for the first two trials were half from manufacturers and half from private entrants. The idea was that you were given a speed schedule and had to average that over a given route with marks being lost for each minute early or late. Whoever had the lowest loss of points was the winning team. Bonus marks were given to off-set against any losses. If you didn’t have a gearbox you had a bonus mark, likewise another bonus mark for not having a clutch – and so on. The event was re-started in 1989 to commemorate the original series with bronze finishers medals being cast from an original 1913 Dutch medal. The trial is held every two years – alternating between England and Holland. Only Veteran (pre 1915) machines can take part in the event. This year there were 46 – 22 from England and 24 from Holland.

After a Saturday family wedding in London, we travelled to Dover for the 23.50 ferry and arrived there early in the afternoon. So, with time to spare we visited the town and museum. We parked up on the sea front and about 18.00 decided to check the paperwork and found out that the ferry was booked for 23.50 on Monday and not 23.50 on Sunday. Mild panic set in and we headed for the ferry companies ticket office. The guy behind the counter changed our ticket and asked where we were parked. When I told him he said “You’d better be quick then, because I’ve put you on the 20.00 boat”. That meant a very quick walk back to the car and an even quicker drive into the Dover ferry port. The channel crossing was quite calm and we arrived in Dunkirk at 23.00 continental time, and set off on the overnight journey of 250 miles to Almen in central Holland. The GPS got us to the hotel at 07.00 so we just relaxed for an hour before booking in and getting our room key.

The rest of Monday was spent talking to people and watching the bikes being checked over.
 A good friend was transporting our bike in his van and all day I expected the van with our bike in to arrive – but it didn’t turn up until 20.30 that evening during the evening meal.

Tuesday (social run)
Drizzling rain, but not very much, as we set off on the first days run of 100 miles. At the end of the Hotel driveway the nipple pulled off the cable that operated the exhaust valve lifter – just can’t ride the outfit without that so it was a case of fitting a solderless nipple to the cable in order to continue.

Within a short time the rain had stopped and the roads were dry by the time that we’d covered the first 25 miles to a coffee stop of 30 minutes. We then crossed over from Holland into Germany to arrive for lunch and a visit to a private motorcycle collection. On the way back in the afternoon the front wheel had one of the bearing cups unscrew – which made the steering more than a bit dodgy. At the side of the road I soon had the wheel out and screwed the bearing cup back into the wheel and locked it up – wheel back in the bike and we were soon away and had an uneventful trip back to the hotel and a leisurely evening meal.

Wednesday (social run)
Glorious sunshine as we set off to the south of the hotel. We were riding with Mike Wills on his 1904 Bradbury and we were all enjoying the ride until we realised that the road was going uphill. So, Holland does have some hills after all and I thought that it was all flat. Both Mike and I managed to get our bikes up over the first hill with just a small amount of pedalling to help the engine. I tried to accelerate the Triumph but soon realised that we were still going up hill – and it got steeper and steeper. So, a push of about 100 yards was needed to get over the top and on to the coffee stop. After a 30 minute break it was a case of continuing, and this time we went down a fairly steep hill for over a mile. My thoughts were that I would not attempt to come back up it, and if we had to, I was going to find an alternative route that was flatter. Anyhow, after about five miles or so we found ourselves on another hill and, again, made it to about 100 yards from the top. Luckily a Dutch pedestrian helped us push the outfit up to the crest. What did we find there? The self same coffee stop that we were at an hour before. Gee, if I’d known that, I wouldn’t have gone on the circular route. From there we travelled down the hill that we had first pedalled and pushed up – it was a lot steeper than I thought. On we went and we soon arrived at a preserved steam railway for lunch in one of their dining cars.

The afternoon run then was back to the hotel for the evening meal. 85 miles covered today.

Thursday (Trial day)

The day of the official competition and the Reliability Trial. We were on a schedule of 30 kpm, which is about 18.75 mph. I know that the outfit can average an easy 20 mph so, 18 and a bit mph would not be too difficult. The route was about 75 miles and we were told that after lunch there was a hill to climb. We lost two points at the first checkpoint for being two minutes early – the second check point we were one minute early then at the third we were four minutes late and at the lunch stop we were one minute late.

Lunch was in the Taverne next to the American Motorcycle Museum in Raalt. The restart of the trial saw us heading back home and it wasn’t before long that we started the climb up the afternoon hill. Both Mike Wills and his Bradbury along with us on the Triumph were running pretty fast at the hill and we were way ahead of our speed schedule. Both bikes made it to the top with ease, thank goodness, so I slowed down to try and lose some time and by the finish we were only one minute out.

With our bonus marks taken into account our total loss for the day was only 6 points – not bad – but the results would not be announced until the final dinner on Friday evening.

Friday (social run)
Another day of 75 miles that took us, via a couple of coffee stops, to see a working Steam sawmill and museum. All very interesting, for sure.
Plus today we had to cross a river and to do that catch a ferry. As we arrived back at the hotel after the days run it just started to rain – not bad really, as apart from first thing on Tuesday we’d had it dry each day and had no further problems with the bike after those of the first day.

The Final results

At the evening dinner the results of the trial were announced – there were 24 Dutch entries and 22 British entries. All took part in the trial but only the best 8 were to count as a team. The best in each team won a trophy.

Tjitze Sipma on a 1914 Rover for Holland and a character called Bill Phelps on a 1908 Triumph for the Brits. Total loss for the Dutch team was 28 points – total loss for the English team 68 points – we were well and truly beaten.

After a good breakfast it was time to head for Dunkirk and the ferry. We covered the 250 miles to the ferry terminal by 13.00 and managed to get on the 14.00 boat instead of the 16.00 that we were booked on. Arriving in Dover at 15.00 I drove the 250 miles back to Wales, non-stop which saw us get home at 19.30. Not bad going at all.