GTR DAY 2000
Photo's are here
Since the Year 2000 Kawasaki Merkclub Nederland GTR Day fell on Saturday the 8th April this year several of us decided to make a long weekend of it. Jesal, Steve & I met up outside of Steve's in central London, and after a few minutes chat, kitted up and headed out of London.
How glib that sounds, "headed out
It took us 1¼ hours to get to the start of the M20, a total of 17 miles.
Around Victoria station Sanji started misfiring and soon decided that she didn't want to fire on #1 at all, so I got to struggle the rest of the way to the M20 on 3 cylinders. Once she cooled off #1 started working again so I decided to continue the trip. Would have been a nightmare if I hadn't as Steve & Jesal would have had a hard time finding their way around.
I went the wrong way twice, and decided that a 30 minute break in some motorway services at the start of the M20 would help the bike and my temper cool off a bit. Try leading 2 Canadians who are not used to filtering (lane splitting) on fully laden ZG1000's through heavy Friday afternoon London traffic on a bike that's not firing on one cylinder, your clutch is slipping through overheating, and then you get so stressed you miss your turning twice.
Onto the M20 and a casual 80Mph run to Dover and the Ferry. It feels so good to be free of London, with 4 cylinders, all firing, that I cheer up somewhat and by the time we get to Dover I'm in a good mood. The sun is shining, it's warm, the sea air, and what's more we're early. Life is great.
Onto the Ferry, strap down the bikes
and up to the bar (only soft drinks mind you!).
The Ferry crossing is smooth, and 1½ hours later we're in Calais.
Unstrap, ride out into glorious sunshine, non-existent Passport control & Customs so we're straight out onto the Autoroute and on up to Dunkerque, the Belgian border, and Oudenburg to the Groenedijk Motorcycle Loft Hotel.
GRD is a wonderful Motel where cars are not welcome. You get to park your bike indoors if you are a guest, and though the rooms are basic, they are comfortable, clean, & cheap. Into the bar to check in and the 1st beer is on the house, then unload, unpack, get changed, and into the Bar for dinner and lots more lovely Belgian beer! J The food at GRD is excellent, the music is good, and not too loud, and the decor is artistic without being overwhelming. Ivan & Karine, the Proprietors, are friendly and helpful, and they have a workshop and tools if you need them. All in all, and ideal base from which to explore northern France, Belgium, and southern Holland. There's not many businesses I support and publicise, but this one qualifies 110%. Check it out, and say "Hi" from me.
John Larmon had arranged to meet us at the Hotel and was there before us, having ridden from his home in Wiesbaden, Germany (at crazy speeds knowing John <LOL>). He moaned at me for not telling him about the Motel before, and he's off back to the USA soon. Sorry John <G>. After an evening of good company, in a pleasant environment, with excellent beer, it's time for bed.
Up at 07:30, breakfast, and by 09:30 we're off to Oss in Holland for the GTR Day. Down the E40 to Gent, fill up at some services, up the E17 to Antwerpen, round the R1, E19 to Breda, stopping at the border to get some Dutch Gulden, then A58 to Tilburg, N65 to 'S-Hertogenbosch, and the N50 to Oss. 160 miles.
We arrive at Bike + at 11:30 and the event is already in full flow. As last year there are GTR1000's everywhere, some that I saw last year, and many new ones, including those of Piet Hooftmans and Philippe Meme both of whom I'd met via email thanks to this website. Was good to see you guys. Philippe had ridden up from Versailles near Paris for the event. Next year, hopefully he'll meet us at the GRD so we'll have more time to chat. The parking was a bit more haphazard than last year, and many of the GTR's were parked in a spot across the road, but there were a lot more bikes than last year and inside the shop it was setup much better.
There were drinks and snacks upstairs
in the cafeteria, the KMN stand
selling T-Shirts, stickers, manuals, etc. and a stand selling GTR1000 specific
accessories (Rifle screens, SuperBrace fork braces, Dale Walkers Holeshot
silencers, as well as a lot of used spares.
I bought a used set of coils with leads & plug caps.
Helmut eventually turned up (Na Helmut, war waar je? <VBG>) and we spent the rest of the afternoon chatting with all and sundry, and ogling the bikes. John put his bike on the Dyno and clocked a respectable 104Bhp at the rear wheel (BSM Vampire silencers and shimmed main needles) then Helmut bought the Holeshot silencers, had them fitted, stuck his GTR on the Dyno and ran 102Bhp at the rear wheel. I bought his stock silencers as my Motad's have finally succumbed to the British wet & salty winter roads and are rotting fast, besides, I'm told that they are getting too damned loud <VBG>.
As the event wound down, we headed
back to Oudenburg and the GRD with Helmut "Loud Pipes" in tow.
A 2 hour 80Mph run and it's time for more good food, excellent company, and superb beer. The evening was only marred by the inevitable open piped Harley starting up at 01:30, then another one at 09:00 Sunday.
When are these people gonna learn that they just end up looking like dickheads and nobody thinks they're cool, just a bunch of muppets on chromed lifestyle statements. Oh well, who needs sleep anyway.
Breakfast, then say goodbye to John & Steve. John is headed home and Steve is going to visit friends in Marburg, Germany. Eventually, Jesal, Helmut and I decide we're going out for a run so we head south towards Kortrijk, Tournai, then over to Brussels where my Speedometer packs up in Waterloo after some pretty horrendous screeching. We had lunch in a Pizza Hut, then a quick stop at the Waterloo battlefield (where Napoleon got his butt kicked in 1815) and Motel-wards.
At the junction on the Brussels Ring
where Helmut headed back up to Holland, and Jesal & myself peeled off onto
the E40 towards Oostende, traffic, a confusing junction, and some mixed signals
resulted in Jesal & I becoming separated, and we spent the next hour trying
to find each other. Jesal got an unwanted tour of western Brussels and a visit
to an Ambulance station (to ask for directions), and I got to ride in a suburb
of Brussels I'd never been to before. We finally met up in a service area just
onto the E40 and after laughing over the confusion, headed back to Oudenburg.
More great food, music, & beer, and a long peaceful nights sleep.
Monday, Jesal & I check out (£110 for 3 nights, with 3 course evening meals, breakfast, and lots of beers!) and head down to Calais for the ferry. On arriving we met 3 guys who had been to a Classic bike rally in northern France (Royal Enfield with 250cc Villiers 2 stroke motor, Norman with 250cc Villiers, and a Triumph 650 Bonneville). Helped get the Enfield started (much kicking, and eventually it bump started), onto the ferry, Dover, the only Passport check of the entire voyage, M20, round the M25 to Jesal's for dinner, and home.
A total of just under 1000 miles in the weekend and apart from the misfire in London and the busted Speedo, Sanji has behaved well. Looks like time for some more servicing. I really must get around to getting another GTR. Sanji really is getting to be a bit old (14years old on the 11th May 2000) and I am getting sick of having to fix her after every long run. One of these days she's going to die in the middle of nowhere again (see Gearbox, Trials & Tribulations).
I'd like to thank Steve, Jesal, John, Helmut, Philippe, Pieter, all at Bike +, the KMN mob, and Ivan & Karine and all at the GRD Motel for a great weekend. I'd like to thank Sanji for not blowing up, the moron in the white Vectra for not running me off the road, and the Harley guys for being sad.
Same time next year guys?