Oude Klepper Parade, Belgium - August 2009
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20th August saw us load the '08 Triumph Outfit on to our trailer, along
with packing the car for an 8pm getaway. We were due to catch
7am ferry the following morning so the overnight drive to Ramsgate
seemed the sensible thing. Josie was coming with us and Terry and Dilys
were also coming with their motor-home and the sleeve-valve
Beardmore Precision. Terry had made an earlier start than us and it was
gone midnight when we were to hit the M26 - that's the link between the
M25 and the M20 to Dover. When we got there it was closed and we were
diverted up towards the Dartford Tunnel.
Nevermind, we had plenty of
time and a good GPS system. The problem was that the exit that we
should have taken was also closed and we were soon heading towards the
tunnel and a Thames crossing - not where we wanted to be at all. I must
say that I've never seen so many road works and traffic cones - they
were everywhere. Terry reckoned that they were getting ready to create
as much havoc as they could for the Bank Holiday weekend in a weeks
time. We did eventually make Ramsgate at about 2am, which
was not bad
at all I suppose. Terry and Dilys were already there and at the front
crossing was calm and we were greeted in Ostend with wall to wall
sunshine. The drive to the campsite in De Haan was punctuated with a
stop at a local cafe for a celebratory beer. Anyway, we were soon
settled in to our cabin not far from Terry and Dilys's and at
decided to walk into De Haan to find a restaurant. Our first choice was
'The Lord' and we were all soon tucking in to a good feed - there's
something about a nice edible peppered steak washed down with a nice
dawned and it was time to get the bikes ready. We were all due to meet
at 2pm in the car park behind the town hall for a short 'unofficial'
ride. It's something that I suggested a few years back in order to make
more of a 'weekend' of the event for those that travel from afar. Each
year has seen more and more OKP entrants turn up and, no doubt due to
the good weather, this year saw a turnout of over 25 machines.
afternoon run took mostly small country roads and ended up at the
Motorcycle Loft Hotel between Ostend and Oudenburg.
hotel is a place that caters only for motorcyclists and you can
stay there - in fact we did a few years ago - but wouldn't do so again,
however that's another story. One thing that you can see is the museum
of autocycles and cyclemotors that is owned and run by Johan
Schaeverbeke - his web site is here: - oldtimermotorenmuseum.
We spent a very pleasant afternoon in the sunshine looking at all the
OKP bikes and drinking Ice Tea - no beer, I think? I didn't tour the
museum as I've seen it three times previously, but most of the riders
had a look around at the collection of machines.
In De Haan we collected Dilys and Josie and decided to patronise
the campsite tearoom for a beer and something to eat.
and the OKP - we set off from the campsite at 9.30 for the start
outside the De Haan Town Hall at 10.30am.
main road through De Haan is always closed for our event and there is a
large stage where
the bikes and entrants are presented to the public which line the road
and must number well up into the thousands. Jean is pictured in her
oufit with a 1922 'Stovepipe' Nimbus on the platform ready to be the
ladies in the first photo below were the programme sellers and
certainly always get into the
spirit of the event each year with their outfits. I'm told that they
always make their own
costumes. One of the things about the OKP is that it always throws up
something unusual - such as the 1902 Herdtle-Bruneau with it's
diminutive engine. Have a good look at it in the row below as
it's in completely original condition. I don't think that you'll ever
and I were away as number 20
and in no time we were presented to the crowd and were off.
Terry followed riding number 59 out of the 68 entries.
the OKP has a cut off date of 1920, but this year the date was opened
up to 1925 for machines of special interest. We were soon out into the
beautiful Flanders countryside and enjoying the sunshine. The route
took us into Ostend - not the place to negotiate with a single speed
clutchless outfit, but we managed to thread our way through the traffic
okay and out onto the pedestrianised promenade.
town council had laid out a route along the promenade for us
interspersed with the odd barrier or two and we had
been told to be wary of pedestrians, especially children. Eventually we
were all gathered together at the far end of the Prom and provided with
drinks and a plate of salad as a snack. At one point the council
tourist officer made a speech of welcome which was responded to by
an hours stop we were back on the road, again to contend with Ostends
traffic lights and congestion. Soon though, we were on the outskirts
and entered the suburb of Stene where we stopped for lunch.
lunch consisted of a platter of meats along with a baked potato and the
customary salad. We spent as short a time as possible in the restaurant
as it was a trifle hot - but outside on the terrace it was much better.
stop after the next leg of the route was in Oudenburg - or was it
Ettlegem - well, not to worry as there was an ice cream organised for
us all as we were met by a guy playing an accordian.
1914 Scott arrived with front forks bent - a tribute to a pothole on
one of the roads. In fact the front mudguard had to be removed in order
for the outfit to continue. There was a rather nice 1910 Precision that
I managed to photograph and it gave Terry some thought as Precision had
not made such a bike. The only complete machines that Precision had
made were a few Vee Twins after 1912 and they were all
to Australia. F.E.Baker was more well known as a supplier of his
Precision engines and they had been fitted in many makes just as JAP
and Villiers used to do. Baker made his first 499cc engine in 1910 and
did not manufacture a complete machine until 1912, so something
appeared wrong with this example. We came to the conclusion that the
bike was of another make and that the restorer had assumed that it was
a Precision due to the identity of the motor alone, but it was a pretty
bike all the same.
at the finish we were greeted by Paul St Mard and his wife Dorette, who
to see the spectacle - it was nice to see them both even though we
didn't have much more time together than it took to down a quick drink.
event rounded off with a hog roast and the prize giving. I must say
that it was pleasing that there was a trophy for the youngest rider -
and he was only 16, hope yet for our movement, don't you think.
to the campsite and we had five days of rest to look forward to. Rest?
some hope - Monday we caught the coastal tram into Ostend and spent the
day there - so much so that we decided that Tuesday would be a day of
letting our legs and feet recover before we set of to Kruishoutem and a
visit to Pierre's home for an evening meal. Wednesday saw us on the
tram again and then the train to Brugge for a sight seeing tour - gosh,
what a pretty place it is and having been there many times I never fail
to enjoy a walk around. So, just to bore you - some photos of Brugge -
see who you can spot: -
were to catch the 13.30 ferry on the Friday but it was delayed until
14.00 which meant that we didn't make it home and to bed until 2am on
Saturday. All in all a very successful event with the OKP and an
enjoyable trip which, in a small way saddens me, as so many of our
members could have been with us - it's only a case of making an effort.
Think about it for next year.