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18th October 2006

Tales of the Trailer Section - at the BMCM's 15th anniversary

Dutch Panthers, Argentinean Panthers, Chopped Panthers; and we haven't even mentioned the British Leyland cars, the trailers, and the caravans yet. E.J. Loon tells the story of a motorcycle club with no members' 180th meeting...

What does one do when one lives almost in the northernmost corner of Holland in a place called Middelstum and one has a love for British motorcycles? One starts a motorcycle club, appropriately called the British Motorcycle Club Middelstum.

Koos and Els Groenewold bought themselves a house that once had been a furniture factory, providing them with a huge barn and covered shelter behind it. One part of the barn has been turned into a club house, and the rest is rented out as caravan storage (including Koos's own hoard, with all types of British Leyland cars in similar states of disarray).

There has been a club meeting every third Saturday of the month ever since. It's a great club: Koos is its chairman, scribe and treasurer, there are no membership dues as there are no members, so there are also no arguments, no AGM's with voting issues, no, just the chance to meet up with some good folk every month.

Once every year when all those caravans are away at their holiday destinations, Koos celebrates his club's anniversary. A rockabilly band is engaged, more deep frying stocks and cases of Grolsch are bought and the tiny town of Middelstum is turned into a Brit Biker Bonanza. This year marked the BMCM's 15th anniversary which is an achievement to be admired. This was the 180th meeting; Koos and Els certainly have good reason to be proud.

Doff doff doff doff doff doff doff doff doff doff

With its location between Borkum and Buinen it was decided that the Panther Owners Club's Trailer Section would make this a proper section meeting as well. With me driving up from the middle of Holland that Friday evening I was the last to arrive just after 10 p.m., making the sixth Panther. The others were from Long John, Walter Bühler, Jan and Anja Eggens, Henk de Roo, and Rieks from Germany, on a similar chopper as Long John's. We outnumbered all other marques but Triumph, both the Meriden and Hinckley varieties. Koos was pleased but not really amused when we proposed to take down the Triumph banner over the doors and replace it. That is now on the list for next year. Tents were put up at the back and after some lengthy discussions about the state of the world we went to bed at around 3 a.m.

Saturday was spent in an excellent way. Jan and Anja's air mattress had given up that night, as had BSA Bé's. Neither Jan nor Anja provided a clue as to whether their not sleeping caused it to leak, or if its leaking caused them not to sleep. Henk wanted to go shopping for camping gadgets and Chris had to come along in case of anyone breaking down, so they set off to return to Drenthe, to the local camping Wal-Mart, called the Vrijbuiter.

Long John, Walter, Rieks, his Norton friend Stefan and I went the other way. Rieks was born and raised in this part of Groningen before moving to Germany thirty years ago, and still knew every country lane. We finally ended up in Den Andel, where Lies and Han have their Motomania garment printing business. Lies owns a '53-'55 M100 (the engine says '55, the paper work include '54 and factory records indicate '53…), which was found with its magdyno detached.

Batman, Robin and... another bloke. Note the discarded panther skin clothing and is that an LE in the corner?

It was like a case of Batman and Robin, with the Doctor and Rieks coming to the rescue! One hour later the bike was up and running again, with its timing seriously reset. Do visit Motomania's website, as they have introduced a great new shirt for other lady Panther owners ( Too bad Jan and Henk were still out shopping, we could have had seven Panthers in one photo.

The evening was superb, the rockabilly band with its entourage seriously looked like a copy of the Beverly Hillbillies and there were about 100 people partying. Koos and Els enjoyed themselves greatly, too, with Koos doing all sorts of dancing exercises. The Panther bottles (Wild African Cream, with proper panther skin fabric covering the bottle) that we had given them the evening before proved so popular that they ended up stolen. The things some people do to acquaint themselves with us, it's sometimes hard to believe.

Sunday afternoon we drove back to Long John's via beautiful country lanes. Unfortunately it started to rain, so we stopped to put on our rain gear. It was then that my Poes decided that the club's side stand is indeed far to short and steep to keep bike and trailer upright and fell sideways. Not once, but twice, so as to indicate that the side stand needs a serious piece of metal welded to it in order to properly function! One little dent in the tank and a slight mark at the edge of the front mudguard were testing results that I can live with, thank heavens.

An Argentenean Panther belonging to a man called Walter, yesterday.
Random Panther Stuff on

Back at Jan's place, Rieks and Stefan loaded up their van to set out on the 450kms back to the Frankfurt area and I drove off to Soest, which is some 90kms from Emmeltown. I know I have mentioned rain and rain gear before, but this time I really needed it. I have never been in such rain on a motorcycle before!

Should I mention that I thought that my leather trousers would have been water tight? I guess I'd better not, now that I know that they certainly aren't. Should I mention that Poes kept on going? I certainly should, if only as a compliment to Doctor Long John's expertise in rebuilding engines! Talking of this, should I mention that my Poes has not used any oil in the 2,200 miles that I have covered with it? I can only thank Long John again, he rebuilt it for the previous owner some six years ago. That chap never finished it, so it only came back on the road two years ago. I know it's exceptional and probably will not last, but I certainly enjoy it while I can.

I finally made it home at around 5 p.m. soaked but pleased. It had been another great Panther weekend!

EJ Loon


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