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8th January 2014

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Ruinerwold Oldtimer Day, 2013

If you're planning an overseas excursion, Phil Speakman recommends this classic motorcycle rally in The Netherlands. An easy ride aboard a 1956 Adler...

It's all very well when your mates decide to book a trip to an old bike rally in the Netherlands, assuming you'll go without checking in advance. But it's a bit of a bugger when they do it on your partner's birthday.

Luckily Amanda was pretty understanding, having already had first-hand experienced of some of my motorcycling mates. And so long as her birthday present was suitably extravagant, I was allowed to head off on the morning of her birthday in the direction of Stockport en route to Rotterdam and Ruinerwold.

1956 Adler Favorit Phil's 1956 Adler Favorit

The last time I set out on such a trip, I met with near disaster before I'd even reached Manchester Airport due to a 'high speed' (all things being relative in classic biking) blow out of the rear tyre. This time I'd fitted new rim tapes, tubes and tyres and had given the bike a good checking over. The preparations culminated in a full strip-down of the Bing carburettor just the previous weekend following the sudden onset of lean running. As suspected this turned out to be due to a partially blocked main jet. Whilst it was once again running perfectly, my 1956 Adler Favorit had subsequently become a bit of swine to start when warm. Until that is, I figured out the correct amount of throttle which was now required for a warm start. Ever since then it's become a first kick starter; it just took me a couple of days to figure it out, that's all.

At Stockport I joined up with Tony, who was riding his 1976 MZ ES150/1 with its newly fitted Powerdynamo alternator / electronic ignition system, and Phil riding his ever reliable 1957 BSA DB32 350cc Gold Star. The Goldie was originally one of two competition machines exported to California in scrambler trim, now repatriated to the UK in touring guise. After a brief motorway leg from Stockport, we headed east over Woodhead Pass towards Yorkshire and our planned liaison in Hull with Hippy Dave and his newly re-wired 1970 BSA B175 Bantam, now over-bored to 190cc.

At our usual meeting point, over a pint, Dave gave us the bad news. 'It's not charging.'

Oh sod it! Not again...

You see, we'd already been through all this hassle just the previous summer with Tony's Jawa 360. However, not having any more of a notion of a Plan B than our esteemed and beloved Chancellor of the Exchequer, we set off for the ferry regardless.

The following morning saw us breakfasting on the ferry before disembarking in Rotterdam and fuelling up for the 120 mile trip to Ruinerwold. Considering the Bantam's electrical problems we decided to abandon our planned route via the minor roads, choosing instead to stick with the motorway network. It transpired that the Bantam's charging coils had died, so once the battery flattened and the motor died, Dave soon became adapt at immediately switching the ignition switch to the still functioning unregulated emergency circuit for twenty minutes or so. By doing this, he was able to keep recharging his battery without the risk of boiling it into oblivion. So by 2pm we turned off the A32 motorway, slightly north of Meppel heading for our hotel at Ruinen.

All of life is here

As we rode through the village of Ruinerwold, it became plain that preparations for the weekend's activities were being carried out in earnest. Pick-up trucks and tractors laden with trailers packed with various hardware, to'd and fro'd up and down the main street, whilst we made ourselves comfortable with a beer outside the De Klock bar. Before we'd even taken the froth off, a pleasant chap walked up to us and asked; 'who's Tony?' He turned out to be one of the organisers who'd been corresponding with Tony via email since the previous autumn and having spotted four bikes with GB plates, he'd correctly guessed just who we were.

Approximately four miles further up the road at Ruinen, we checked into our hotel for the weekend, known as De Stobbe, which translates as the stump or snag and displays a long dead tree as its motif. Our bikes were secured in their garage and after a quick swim in their pool and a shower, a taxi was summoned and we set off back for Ruinerwold for food and beer in great quantities.

Hotel Stobbe
Magnificent MZs, on Now...

The following morning, we breakfasted quite early in order to check over the bikes in preparation for the show. Normally I'd have busied myself during the course of the morning with washing and polishing my machine, but with the Adler's 57 year old unrestored patina it simply isn't worth the effort. It had been washed and polished just the weekend before, so it really wasn't worth trying any harder as it was already looking about as good as it would was going to get. Having rebuilt the Adler's engine, I've made the decision never to restore the Favorit, instead preferring to preserve it as original as possible, patina included, whilst using it as often as possible.

Doff doff doff doff

Whilst Tony and Phil fussed and wiped. Dave removed the feed to the rear brake lamp switch which had been shorting sporadically, instantly killing the already weak ignition. Yet another job for him to do when he returned home. Instead of joining in with the collective polishing, I found myself simply sitting back and watching the parade of cars, tractors, motorcycles and mopeds heading towards Ruinerwold for the day's events. The stream of vehicles seemed never ending and we found ourselves playing a game of 'identify the weird thing', as various machines passed us which had long since disappeared from British shores. For example, when was the last time any of you can remember spotting a DAF with Variomatic gearshift?

Then with an unmistakable two-stroke buzzing noise, sounding like a bee imprisoned in a jam jar, a vision of beauty in black and crème appeared which instantly captured my heart and vanished again within the blink of an eye.

50cc DKW Hummer 50cc DKW Hummer

'Beats as it sweeps as it cleans!' exclaimed Phil in response to the futuristic vision of loveliness; clad in perfect 1960's tinware which had so smitten my affections. A space-race inspired vision of concourse perfection, it was a pristine example of a machine for which I'd long given up the hunt. The motorcycle in question was a 50cc DKW Hummer and by now I was fairly dancing on the spot in anticipation of finding it again later in the day. So without further delay, we saddled up, enveloping the De Stobbe's hotel entrance in a miasma of two-stroke fumes, before setting off for our day's entertainment.

By the time we'd ridden the four miles to the centre of Ruinerwold, space was already at a premium. Eventually we found a place for our four machines near to the bar we'd frequented the previous evening, leaving our jackets and helmets inside. The next couple of hours were spent enjoying the display of just about everything mechanical and transport related under the sun. From stationary engines to the largest collection of mopeds I've ever seen in one place, cars of all marques and nationalities and probably the most abstract assembly of vintage tractors it's possible to imagine. During the course of the day the entire village became wrapped up in the carnival atmosphere and the smell of steam: hot oil, two-stroke and diesel fumes mingled with the aromas of strong black coffee, cooking meats and fish.

All of life is here

The organisers claim they expect to accommodate approximately 2000 vehicles on the day, many of which take part in the staggered drive, ride or chug, chug, chug-outs (yes, the tractors also get involved), which take place during the course of the day. There's none of that 'no vehicle movements' nonsense over here, and vehicles of all sizes manoeuvre in and out of the village throughout the course of the entire day.

Ring ding ding ding

If you do fancy planning a weekend away next year and you're searching for a great event to visit which isn't a million miles away, then I can thoroughly recommend the Ruinerwold Oldtimer Day. You'll see machines the like of which you've probably never seen before and I know for sure that the organisers will be delighted to welcome you. They were very pleased that we'd chosen to turn their Oldtimer day into an international event and they assured us that they're very keen for this to continue.

Rally: www.oldtimerdagruinerwold.nl - Hotel: www.stobbe.nl

So thank you Ruinerwold, we had a great time this summer and I just hope that more classic riders from the UK will take the trouble to seek out your event. I'm sure that just like us, they'll think it's well worth the effort.


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