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8th March 2006

The 2006 Hot Rod Rally

Peter Twyman rode his 650 twin to a BSA rally in Holland. For the 15th time. In January. In the snow. To go camping. No wonder he needed a teddy bear...

This year the Hot Rod Rally, organised by members of the Dutch BSA Club, was once again based around an old German war bunker, on the coast just north of Amsterdam. I checked out my A65 on the Thursday evening, tied down the luggage, all ready for an early start in the morning.

On Friday at 6:30am I pushed the bike out of the garage. I must have loaded more on than I thought as it seemed hard to push… but shining a light on the front revealed that the tyre was completely flat.

At least Barnaby looks warm.

Oh no! I should be at the shuttle terminal in half an hour! The valve could not have re-seated properly after I pumped the tyre up yesterday. Out with the air pump and up with the tyre. The bike still does not handle very well at all so I stop down the road, but can see nothing obviously wrong in the dark.

So on to the motorway, ride on to the shuttle train, ride off in Calais, France. I head directly to the nearest service station and park up by the air pump. Now it is daylight I can clearly see the problem. The tyre has not re-seated itself properly on the wheel rim. It is miles out. Pump it up to 4.5 Bar -- still no good. Luckily this pump can also extract air as well, so out the air is sucked and back in again to 4.5 Bar. This time it worked, so I reduce the pressure back down to 1.75 and away we go.

It's a bike rally, Where are all the bikes?

Just before the Antwerpen ring road I stop for a warm up and fill up. I can't stop for too long though as I may get too warm!

On the other side of Antwerpen the A65 starts losing power. I pull the clutch in and it revs and freewheels OK; headlight on or off makes no difference. Junction 4 of the E19 is just coming up -- I don't believe it! This is the turn off to St-Job-in-'t-Goor, the same place that I had to pull off the motorway a few years ago, heading for the same location. That time I had a battery delivered to me by Belgian BSA member Dirk De Rycke.

There's a bike, behind that bloke in the hat.

I parked in the exact same spot as before, checked out mechanics, changed plugs, started the engine again. It ran fine until I turned on the headlight and everything went dead. Checked the fuse: it was ok. Cleaned up the ends and terminals and it all worked fine again. I must admit that I only have a 13 amp fuse from a household electrical plug and these are shorter than the 15amp glass fuse, so that does not help to make a good connection…

From here I decided to ride non-stop via Breda, Utrecht, past Schiphol to Haarlem, Beverwijk and my destination at Wijk aan Zee. Great, 250 miles from Calais in just under six hours!

Still no bikes...

Nothing had changed at the rally site. The bunker had a new coat of paint on the outside, the wind was blowing and slight snow showers, just as cold as ever. So up went the tent and I travelled into town for some provisions.

The bar in the bunker slowly filled up with people, hot snacks were available, making it a nice warm and cosy atmosphere, a good evening in all, the time seemed to fly by. Just after 1am I decide to make my way to my tent and walked outside the door. Oh no! There's a camp fire going -- this is not normal on a Friday night… before I have chance to move on a large can of beer is placed in my hand and I am forced to endure another hour of pleasant company.

Perhaps they burned all the bikes to keep warm?

Saturday I could not rise before 9:30 but WC was calling. My feet had been cold all night despite the two minus-6 sleeping bags and socks. I must do something about it before the next night as I would need a good few hours sleep to stay awake for the ride home.

Today it was bright sunshine but still bitter cold, I decided not to go out on the ride so went for a long walk instead. I wished I had not, my shoes that had been packed in my pannier had been bent out of shape, and halfway through my walk I developed a large blister on my toe -- this was still weeping four days later.

Random A65 on

A lot more people arrived and by late afternoon I counted over 30 tents dotted around the sand dunes. The collective evening meal was at 18:00, this was the usual Chinese takeaway, always very good value with more than you can possibly eat. Later on the live band was exceptionally good. If it was too noisy for you inside, the campfire was going well outside, but the band and warm company were too good for me to spend too much time outside.

That night (morning) I was as warm as toast all over. Wait… I can hear voices and tent zips going up and down, but it is still dark… Oh no it isn't! I had kept my woolly hat on, pulled down over my eyes. That was the best night's sleep I'd for ages -- an extra pair of socks and more clothes draped over my sleeping bags saw to that.

'Oi! Wheres my bike?' Etc.

After a small snack I try to take my tent down, but my hands get too cold to do anything so I decide to wait for half an hour. OK, tent down and packed away. I left the rally site just after 11:00, with one short stop near Aalter in Belgium for petrol and a drink. I arrived in time to board the 17:05 shuttle, which meant I was at my home before that time in the UK and it was still daylight.

This was the 15th Hot Rod Rally in a row that I have attended. In 2007 it will be the 15th Hot Rod that Frans and Martijn Hendriks have organised, in total it will be the 30th, the previous ones being organised by Jules Dassen near Maastricht. In 2008 the Hot Rod will be held at a new venue with new organisers, this will be officially announced in January 2007.

Once again I really enjoyed the rally this year. It is well worth the effort to attend, you are always well and truly welcomed by any foreign club when you travel abroad on your British bike. Five BSA Brits attended this year as well as three other non BSAers, it was great to see Matthew Bradbrook and Tom Warburton, both under 25 years of age and each riding a BSA to the event. I think that they may be hooked on this rally now! I do hope so, for several of the past 15 years I have been the only English person attending -- but then, you are never lonely with the BSA family abroad.

Say goodbye Barnaby. 'Goodbye'And the teddy bear? He is Barnaby and he belongs to my granddaughter Megan, She left Barnaby behind in Holland when we were last there in December 2005 visiting a Dutch family.

Barnaby was returned to me on the Saturday and helped to keep me very warm -- the temperature was minus-9 that night!


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