32nd Windmill Rally- 23rd and 24th July
photo to see a larger picture in a slide show. Most taken by myself
with a few downloaded from the VMC website)
The Windmill Rally - held bi-annually and for 2016 it was in Holland.
Wales won the 3rd Windmill Rally back in 1967 when it was incorporated
as part of the Saundersfoot run. The winning Welsh team then was:
Pat Cravos - 1924 Douglas
Graham Gardiner - 1925 Scott
Phil Griffiths - 1925 Sunbeam
Bryn Boulter - 1928 Norton
Colin Chambers - 1936 Scott
Bob Perring - 1941 Harley Davidson
There were three England teams and one Dutch team.
By winning we were obliged to organise the next running of the event
and somehow we managed to squirm out of it. I seem to remember that
Arthur Mortimer sorted that out for us. The Windmill Rally was again
held in Wales, as part of the 1983 Saundersfoot, starting from
Llandovery - we made sure that we didn't win it again.
The event is a timed event and as some background information,
part of the regs are as follows:
DESCRIPTION OF THE
The Windmill rally will be held over 2 days. The route on each day has
to be at least 100 Km and should have one break minimal.
The participant has to point out the average speed. We recommend a free
choice of 24,30 or 36 Km/ph average speed.
All competitors must present their motorcycles with cold and stationary
engines at the start.
All machines of riders of the 'A' and 'B' teams have to stay at least
12 hours in a parc ferme before the start on the second day.
Class A: Machines manufactured before 31-12-1914
Class B: Machines manufactured between 01-01-1915 and 31-12-1924
Class C: Machines manufactured between 01-01-1925 and 31-12-1930
Class D: Machines manufactured between 01-01-1931 and 31-12-1940
Each competing nation should present an 'A'-team, competing for the
'Windmill-Trophy' and eventually a 'B'-team, competing for a national
The members of the 'A'-team and 'B'-team should be nominated by their
'A'-teams should consist of 6 riders and 1 reserve, with the following
- 2 machines manufactured before 31-12-1914,
- 2 machines manufactured before 31-12-1924 and
- 2 machines manufactured before 31-12-1930.
The machine of the reserve should be manufactured before 31-12-1930.
If a nation wants to compete with an 'A'-team that doesn't require with
the years of manufacture, a number of extra penalty points will be
given to that team (see Penalty Points).
'B'-teams should consist of 4 riders and 2 reserves and the machines
should be manufactured before 31-12-1940.
So, moving on to 2016 and the 32nd running of the event which was to
happen in North Holland. For me, a chance to ride our 1908 Triumph
just too good to miss. However, other Brits were thin on the ground and
they were, Vic and Laura Blake(1926 Raleigh), Dave and Christine
Pritchard(1929 Triumph), plus John and Pat Salsbury(1928 BSA), so no
British team this time.
Jean and I were booked on the overnight Harwich to the Hook of Holland
ferry on Thursday 22nd. We had a cabin booked so slept all the way and
never saw any of the crossing. Arriving at the Hook at 8am gave me all
day to drive the 165 miles to our Hotel in Eext. Eext is a small
village, next to Gieten in the district of Drenthe and some
15km East of Assen. A leisurely drive got us to the camping field by
11:00, so we called in to make contact. There had been torrential rain
on Thursday and the ground was still rather water logged and squelchy
to walk on. Anyway, there were plenty of vans and tents there already,
but no officials, that we could find. Not that it was a problem - so
after a quick chat with a few of our Dutch friends we decided to head
off to our hotel for a sit down with a coffee and a sandwich. The hotel
had 14 bedrooms and was barely a mile away from the main event
campsite. As we arrived at the hotel, we found it swarming with
all stopping for lunch. It was pure chaos. We watched
all the comings and goings over a bite to eat and after the dust had
settled, we booked in and arranged an evening meal. The intention was
pop back down to the campsite later on and try and sort out
scrutineering and signing on before returning to the hotel for our
After sorting ourselves out we headed back to the campsite and found
the organisers in the main marquee handing out the paperwork and goody
bags. Moving on to the scrutineering and in a real creepy manner I
asked if anyone could help as I had my bike in the van. I explained
that it would be a nightmare to unpack everything and then to have to
repack it all. "You can come back in the morning" was the reply.
Sheepishly, I said that I'd still have to pack and unpack, as I
ride the bike across the soggy campground. Eventually, and feeling
sorry for me, I think, the bike was scrutineered in the van.
There was a BBQ laid on for later that evening to be followed by the
raising of the country flags. The Union Jack was used to represent
'Engeland' a common mistake and one that is rarely corrected by the
English. I made a mental note that I'd take a Welsh Dragon next time.
Entries from each country were:
Holland - 99
Germany - 28
Sweden - 13
Denmark - 21
Austria - 10
Switzerland - 5
England - 3
Wales - 1 (no prizes for guessing who)
total - 180
After all of this it was a case of back to the hotel for our evening
meal and then to bed.
- day one.
run was at least 100 kms(60 miles) and the start was to be from the
village centre of Gieten. We arrived at the campsite and unloaded the
outfit, which was all prepared with oil and fuel etc, and ready to go.
I watched a few off:
and I then joined in for the ride to the 'official' start in Gieten a
few miles away. For those not able to ride, wives etc, a vintage bus
was laid on and it followed the route all day.
were riding number 20 and riders were sent off in pairs. We had a
1933 Husqvarna for company. We were soon out of Gieten and into the
countryside and following the route signage. The Dutch use a square
sign on a post for turn left, circle for turn right and pyramid for
straight on - all coloured red. A simple system that Jean and I are
quite used to following when riding the Anglo-Dutch events. All I do is
remember that Round is Right. Anyway, the first stop was at the
Windmill in Gieterveen. We had
30 minutes to down a drink and eat a fabulous piece of tart in some
glorious sunshine. I watched Harry de Boer ride in on one of the
families three Williamsons - all of which were in original condition.
route went on into the Drenthe countryside towards the Lunch stop of 90
minutes at the windmill museum "de Wachter" in Zuidlaren.
Inside the museum, apart from the working windmill, were a number of
steam engines and models in varying sizes:
continued after lunch and soon came across the fifth and final
checkpoint. The next stop for us was the windmill "de
Gieten. We were riding number 20 and, guess what, when we arrived at
the windmill, nearly everyone was already there. I've always wondered
how they do that and the question was answered on one of the last
9-Provinces that we rode. The locals just take a short cut - and in
this case could do that, as we'd signed off at the last time check, so
there were no penalties to incur.
fuel level in the tank was very low by this time and I opted to
continue until we
ran out and to then use the 1 litre that I had in a can in the sidecar.
We were soon running on fumes and - as luck would have it - we came
across a fuel station. Harry de Boer was refueling his Williamson and
kindly showed me how to work the fuel pump using my credit card, as the
fuel station was unmanned. I did feel a lot better as we continued with
a full tank.
Back at the finish, we opted not to stop, as we were feeling quite
tatered and the day
had been quite long. Our Triumph would do an easy 80 miles on a tank
we'd had to find a fuel station not long after the last afternoon stop.
I guessed at around the 100 mile mark ending with a daily mileage of
120ish. Anyway, back to the hotel, a
shower, change of clothes and we felt human again. It was then back to
the event Marquee for the evening meal. I must say that I have no idea
what half of it was, but it looked ok and was soon eaten. The
bikes involved with the country teams for the Windmill trophy were held
in a Parc Ferme overnight. As there were only four Brits we didn't have
a team, so our outfit went back into the van for the overnight.
meal a live band came on and played mainly Country and Western music -
and good they were. With all the fresh air during the day, we were soon
feeling pretty tired, so set off back to the hotel.
- day two.
arrived at the campsite just after 9am and unloaded for the 10am start.
came and we lined up and with a large crowd of spectators, I pushed the
Triumph off. In three paces the engine fired up and we were away and
looking forward to another super day riding in the Drenthe countryside.
The weather was a tad overcast, but dry. Today we were looking for a 30
minute coffee stop, a 20 minute break, a 90 minute lunch stop and
finally an afternoon 30 minute stop in Nijlande. The first stop was at
Jumbo Abbas in Gieten:
so far, then things started to go downhill. We set off for the next
stop of 20 minutes and arrived at a Dutch 'Museum Village'. The road
consisted of large cobble stones that threw the outfit all over the
place. I stopped to get our time card stamped and decided to just push
the outfit to the side of the road, as we only had to wait 20 minutes
before we were off again. Oh dear, was I in trouble. "You can't stop
there" said a marshal, "there's a big fine for parking in the village".
I was directed to ride down the road and turn left and then left again
into a field. I was feeling a little hot under the collar as I tried to
explain the starting procedure for a single gear, clutchless outfit, on
the cobblestone road. However, the marshal was having none of it and
volunteered to push. That was a bit easier, but he soon saw the problem
and allowed us to shortcut under a tape into the parking field.
Whilst I took some photos, Jean just stayed in the sidecar, as it
seem worthwhile getting out for a 20 minute stop. As soon as our time
was up I quietly pushed the outfit back out under the tape and started
to push off. It doesn't happen very often but when the motor fired up
my right foot went for the pedal and I missed - all due to the bouncing
around on the cobbled road. I hung on and as I was trying to get on
board, I was aware of a lady standing in front of the outfit and trying
to wave us to the left to go into the field that we had just come out
of. I ignored her and luckily, she jumped out of the way at the last
minute, as I continued to scramble onto the, slightly, out of control
outfit. I made it eventually and we were off to the lunch stop. The sun
was out and the uncluttered minor roads beautiful to ride.
I suppose that we had travelled something like 10 miles when the driver
and passenger in a car coming towards us flagged us down. "You are
early, have you had lunch?", I was asked. My reply was that we hadn't
got to the lunch stop yet . To cut a long conversation short, it seemed
that the Museum Village was the Lunch Stop of 90 minutes and not the 20
minute break that I thought it was. Anyway, the advice was to carry on
to the next village and stop in the local cafe for some refreshments.
So, on we went - this was where things again went downhill.
Travelling along a main road, we had a right turn onto a 100 yard
length of sand road. Luckily, we were soon back on tarmac, thank
goodness. We passed a couple
sitting on a bench and gave them a wave. That was one of the really
nice things about the whole event - the locals were all out watching
and waving at the bikes. On we went and soon we came to a Junction to
go straight across with a red flag hanging on a pole to our left,
indicating extreme care. You
need to picture this in your mind now. We
crossed the main road and travelled through the village of Schoonloo.
No sign of a village cafe, by the way, so on we went and soon we came
to a red square sign, indicating to turn left onto a main road, towards
a roundabout that was
some 100 yards away. No other signs to be seen, so I did the usual and
went straight across the roundabout. In the absence of signs - keep
going straight on. After travelling quite a way, with
no confirmation sign that we were on the right road, I decided that it
was wrong so back tracked to the left turn sign. Looking carefully,
there were no signs at all on the approach to the roundabout. "Maybe
some kids had removed the signs" I thought. So we set off again and
turned right at the roundabout. Several miles further on and, again
confirmation sign, I decided that the route must be a left at the
roundabout. So, back we went and straight across the roundabout on to
the only road from the roundabout that we hadn't tried.
Was it right, was it hell. It wasn't long before we came to the
junction that we'd crossed with the red flag flying. So, with my
Sherlock Holmes thinking, it must have been straight across the
roundabout and we just didn't travel far enough along that road looking
for a sign. I do hope that you're still with me on this.
Back to the roundabout and turn left - this time we were right -
weren't we? Not on your life. We eventually approached, from the other
direction, the right turn onto the sand road that we had done half an
hour earlier. Jean didn't recognise it, so after a brief discussion, I
said " I'll prove it to you" and set off down the sand road. The couple
sitting on the bench were still there and by this time, alongside, a
time check had been set up. I stopped and explained what had happened -
then the light bulb moment. The left turn square really should be a
right turn round sign. I explained it all to the time check lady and
she straight away got onto the phone, presumably to report the dilemma.
The time check was the final one for the day and I hoped it wasn't far
to the finish, as the bike was again running low on fuel. Anyway, off
we set and when we came to the left turn square sign, this time I
turned right. A
couple of hundred yards and we were back on the route with a left turn
sign in view.
The route continued using side roads with no filling stations
in sight. I was hot and sweaty and we were both getting distinctly fed
up, as the route just went on and on. Eventually the bike stopped - out
of fuel. I still had my 1 litre in a fuel bottle so poured it into the
modern motorcycle stopped and offered help and said that it was only a
few miles to the finish, luckily, it was.
The outfit went back into the van and we set off for the hotel to
clean up. We needed to be back at the event marquee by 5pm for the
be announced, followed by the prize giving. We had an evening meal
booked at the hotel for 6pm and we altered that to 7pm, as we wern't
sure on how long the prize giving was to take. As it happens, at 6pm,
an announcement was made that the organisers were having computer
problems and the results would not be announced until 7pm or later. We
called it a day at that point and on the way out had a brief chat to
Heinz Kindler, a friend from Germany. "You must come to Germany in
2018" he said. I reckoned that he knew something I didn't.
Back at the hotel and whilst sitting outside after our dinner and
enjoying a lovely evening,
some of the Swiss returned. I asked who had won and the reply was
"Germany". The following morning, at breakfast, Dave Pritchard said
that actually Sweden had won, but they had given the organisation of
the next event to Germany. So Heinz knew all along.
The trip home was completely uneventful, thank goodness, apart from the
M4 at the Brynglas tunnels being closed, necessitating a detour through
must say that the organisation of the event was excellent and that the
Dutch Veteraan Motoren Club did a marvellous job, with only the
one error, that we found the hard way, of course. There was so much to
organise - I certainly wouldn't have wanted the job. We'd
sure had a good weekend, despite the problems on the second day.
If you fancy seeing some more photos there are plenty on the
VMC(Veteraan Motoren Club) website.
Just click the links under the "Windmolenrally entry".