The Anglo Dutch event - 2015
(Click the photo to see a larger picture in a slide show.)

The A/D International Reliability Trial (Internationale Betrouwbaarheids Rit, in Dutch) for this year, was based at the Landgoed Ehzerwold hotel, Almen, in central Holland, near Zutphen. This was our third visit to Ehrzewold and a lovely hotel and base for the event it is in it's woodland setting. There were 23 Dutch and 21 Brits, plus 1 from USA and 1 from Germany entered. The event gathering started on the Monday, with scrutineering from 15.00. Then, from Tuesday, there were two social riding days, followed by the trial day, with a fourth day being another social ride on Friday.

Jean and I, along with our 1908 Triumph outfit, were booked on the 08.00 Dover/Dunkirk ferry on the Monday morning, with a 240 mile drive afterwards into central Holland. Didn't quite all go to plan, as you can imagine. We were booked into a Premier Inn at Dover for the Sunday night, with instructions from DFDS to give at least 90 minutes for check-in the following morning. Check-in was to open two hours before the sailing time, so should be available at 06.00. Firstly we had to negotiate the M20 and the mass of lorries known as 'operation stack'. As it happened, the congestion on Sunday was so bad that the M20 was closed. So, we left the M25 just after Clacket Lane services and headed for Tonbridge and a cross - Kent run to Hythe, Folkestone and Dover. All a bit of a nightmare, but at least we kept moving and only added 35 minutes journey time to the option of using the M20.

Things didn't improve much on Monday morning. Up at 05.30, so as to get to the port by 06.00, when the check-in desk was to be open. I must admit that Dover docks is always in a state of metamorphosis and this time was no different and I ended up following other cars and the road markings. We ended up at the Dock staff entrance, so had to be escorted in and out for another circuit, eventually ending up in the check-in queue at 06.10. Nothing happened until 07.30 when the check-in opened - 90 minutes late. We got to the front of the queue at 08.10 to be told that the boat was running an hour late. That turned out to be a bit of a porky, as it didn't sail until 09.35. Seems that DFDS had to switch their Calais ferries to Dunkirk as there was a French manpower dispute with the company over them buying the 'My Ferry' boats with the possibility of 400 redundancies. Consequently, our sailing was full and we made Dunkirk at 12.30, an hour and half late, with a 240 mile drive ahead.

The next bunch of problems arrived at Antwerp, and anyone who knows the Antwerp ring road will understand - it must be the biggest bottle neck and nightmare on the continent. Why on earth Belgium doesn't remove the tolls on the left hand side of the ring road, I don't know, as it would solve the congestion on the free side of the ring road. I used my own judgment and went for the left hand ring road which is a toll road and used less because of that. That upset the GPS and in no time I took a wrong turning and was in the centre of Antwerp. I had to then rely on the GPS to get us out and we ended up on the motorway heading south to Brussels. I can tell you that if it wasn't for the need of the thing - Emily, the lady on the GPS, and I - would have parted company by ejecting her through an open window of our van.

We did eventually, make the Hotel at 17.45 - Dinner was at 18.00. After a good feed and sit on the terrace with a nice cold beer, things began to improve somewhat.

Tuesday - day 1
The run for today was of around 80 miles, with a coffee stop in the morning at Roolijke Frans in Brummen. Lunch, at the Tullekensmolen Ford museum in Beekbergen, with The afternoon stop at Wapen van Bronkhorst in Bronkhorst. Our Triumph was number 1 and the weather looked a bit iffy as every one lined up for the 09.30 start.

I have no idea where we went most days as there were no route cards that I could use as a crib, apart from the stops that are listed in the programme. The Dutch system of route marking is to use orange indicators of around 6 inch size, round for right, square for left and triangle for straight on. I must say that I like the system and it worked well - most of the time. The first stop was at a ferry across the Ijssel river before reaching the morning coffee stop, by which time we'd all had a good soaking, before it stopped raining and dried up.

After the coffee stop we set off on wet roads and soon came to a junction only to find Nel de Boer pointing to the right, so round we went, as did a dozen or more behind us. It soon became clear that we had missed the lunch stop, so we all stopped and re-grouped, followed by a quick phone call for help to Fred, one of the organisers. Fred came and told us that we had ridden half the afternoon route before he lead us all to the lunch stop at the Ford Motor Museum.

I was in need of some fuel after lunch, so backtracked to a garage before coming back to the Ford Museum to start the afternoon run. We eventually reached the ferry across the Ijssel, there's a song there somewhere, I think. Across the other side and there was a coffee stop in Bronkhorst, which is a very pretty village. There were cars and pedestrians everywhere as we entered and I was concentrating on keeping the motor running at walking pace, so consequently, missed the stop and we were soon out on the road to the finish. At one point I missed a turning because the orange turn left sign had come off it's post. Luckily, Jeannie noticed the straight on that was on the left hand road, so we stopped and I put the sign back. At one point Wim Marsman, on his 1913 AJS passed us and I knew that we'd missed the afternoon stop, as Wim was the clerk of the course and always ran in front so as to check the signs. We were soon back at base though, just behind Wim, and first home. The weather had not been good, we rode through a real downpour and got soaked before it stopped raining enough for us to dry out a little - thing was, that happened four times during the day and Jeannie got quite wet in the basket sidecar despite hiding behind a double duck cover.

Ian Young, on his veteran Douglas, was riding with Tim Penn and Colin Bentham and was last seen at the ferry, in the morning, on the way out. He managed to get completely lost and found a lady who spoke English, who he persuaded to ring the Hotel and ask for some assistance. The Hotel had another party of riders staying, who were attending the FIM rally which was based not far away. So, the Hotel sent one of these riders out to rescue Ian and escort him back, thinking that Ian was part of the FIM rally. Ian had become detached from Colin and Tim, as not far from the start the 1914 Sunbeam that Tim was riding decided to strip the teeth from the timing pinion in the timing chest. That did no good, as bits were floating around and chewing up the other timing gears, all pretty terminal. Luckily a Tiger cub was made available for Tim to use for the rest of the week.

Wednesday - Day 2

The weather still didn't look settled, so it was wet weather gear again. The days run was around 85 miles for the day, with the first coffee stop at the Mallumse Molen, a restaurant alongside a watermill.

We were soon riding through another downpour with the added excitement of riding the Triumph through the town of Haaksbergen. At one point I cornered left a bit too quickly and ended up on the pavement, which was just wide enough to ride along before dropping off on the end. We were heading to the Haaksbergen Spoormuseum, where we were to have lunch during a steam train ride.

The train ride was about 5 miles and 40 of us were fed on the way out in the dining car, with the remaining 40 swapping places from one of the support coaches for their lunch on the return journey. By now it had dried up a bit and we were soon on our way and out of the town and into the country again, with the afternoon coffee stop scheduled at Pol in Diepenheim.

We made it back to the hotel ok and were soon cleaned up and ready for the evening meal followed by a beer and a chat on the terrace.

Thursday - day 3
This was the trial day and the weather still looked a bit iffy. As number one, we were first away and the engine had to be cold and start within 100 metres of the start line. Those were the rules in 1912, when the first event was held. Needless to say the Triumph motor chimed in after only a couple of paces and we were on our way at a scheduled 30km speed(about 18 mph). A 45 minute coffee stop was arranged at the Ars Longatuin Garden Centre in Drempt.

Whilst having our coffee the heavens opened and when we got back to the bike, it had been drowned. Thing was it just would not start up as it usually did. I wiped the plug, HT lead and pick-up, all to no avail as the water kept running off the side of the tank all over the plug. Added to that, a 'local' onlooker showed interest and started to quiz me about the bike - something I could have done without at that point in time. Eventually I dried the tank side and changed the plug for a dry one. Bingo! we were on our way again although a little late, so I pushed the bike a bit to try and make up time. It wasn't until I was given my score card at the presentation the following evening that I found that I was 9 minutes early at the next checkpoint, so had well overdone the time catch up.

A one hour long lunch was taken at the De Zon pancake house in Wehl, before we moved just around the corner to the 'Museum Ut Olde Ambacht'. We had another hour there to look around. The museum was basically filled with every sort of old thing that you could think of - and - while we were there, it tipped down again. We were all sheltering from the rain, when Fred announced that the next control that started the afternoon ride was to close in 20 minutes, so it was a case of get moving, raining or not.

In no time at all we were halted by a herd of cows that were slowly, very slowly, crossing the road to go in for milking. That put us a good 10 minutes behind time, but by then I wasn't worrying too much about that. Soon we were at the afternoon coffee stop of 30 minutes, which was taken at FF near Steef in Hummelo

The final checkpoint was soon reached and the sun was out as we all enjoyed an Ice Cream, laid on especially for us. Then it was just a short run of 5 miles or so back to base and the evening dinner.

Friday - day 4
The final social day promised, at last, some decent weather, but we still wore our waterproofs, just in case, as everyone gathered for the 09.00 start.

The ride took us out through the forests to our first scheduled stop at Heidkamp in Ruurlo - and the sun was shining nicely.

We then moved on to a stop to view a steam operated saw mill and were allowed to walk around unhindered amongst the operating saws and engines etc. If only 'elf and safety could have seen us!

From the steam saw mill it was head to 'De Woord' in Corle for lunch, where I got some photos of riders arriving. Ian Young had got lost during the morning and was eventually found and arrived with his bike on the recovery trailer.

After an absolutely superb lunch we set off for the final stop of the day at 'Wapen van 't Medler', I must say that riding along in the sunshine, on some really beautiful tree lined roads, I felt that all was well with the world. We were one of the early arrivals back at the Hotel and the bike was soon packed away in the van before we retired to the hotel terrace for a well earned beer before dinner.

The evening meal was very good, as usual, as we all gathered to hear the result of the trial. Each country had every rider in their team with only the best eight scores to count. My loss of 18 marks just wasn't good enough and it was John Salsbury, David Miller, Chris Harvey, Mike Wills, Dennis Beale, Johnny Johnson, David Plant and Paul Morley who made up the English team. Those who managed to ride all four days received a finishers medal. At one point, Lex Biermans sang a song that he wrote about the Anglo-Dutch trial and he had organised the chorus to be sung by the KOBI choir. What Lex wasn't expecting was that the KOBI lads sang the chorus from 'the sun has got his hat on' instead. For sure the room rocked with laughter, as Lex sang his verses quite seriously, only to be followed by the unexpected chorus each time.

This year the Dutch won in style only losing 36 points to the 97 lost by the Brits - but what a great and magnificently organised event. Thanks to Fred and Janette, Wim and Gerrie.

The trip home on Saturday went without hitch, apart from the boat being 30 minutes late.

Loads more photos on the VMC website:
Results in PDF form here