GTR Day 1999
Pictures can be seen here
GTR Day took place this year in the town of Oss between s'Hertogenbosch and Nijmegen in Holland. It's a pleasant town with an open feel to it and a large motorcycle shop called Vos Oss (The Oss Fox).
I left Brussels in Belgium, where I'd been visiting my sister, at about 9am and headed north along the A12 not having the faintest idea what to expect. Don't get me wrong, I've been to Holland more times than most people, except those who live there, and it holds no surprises for me any more, although it is a pleasant, clean, laid back place (except Amsterdam!). I was wondering what the GTR Day would consist of.
I took the Antwerp Ring and headed on up towards Breda. Those of you who have never crossed the Belgium/Holland border would be amazed at the complete non-event this action is. There are a few buildings in case the border patrol get bored and feel like hassling a few people, but that's about it. Hey presto, 1 hour and I'm in Holland. Stop to exchange some Belgian Francs for Dutch Gulden (Guilders), and I head for Tilburg, s'Hertogenbosch, and Oss.
Arriving a further hour later, I actually got lost in Oss, but with the help of a friendly Cop, and following a gaggle of GTR's I found Vos Oss.
There before my eyes was the largest concentration of GTR's I had ever seen. There must have been 200 of them. All sizes, shapes, and colours. There were GTR Sidecar Outfits, GTR's with the panniers, GTR's without, GTR's with paint jobs, Tuned GTR's, New GTR's, Old GTR's ("Sanji", my 1986 A1 was and remains the oldest I have ever come across, first registered in May 1986), modified GTR's, Stock GTR's, and to cap it all,.... a Concours.
This US model ZG1000A9 ('94) belonged to John Larmon and had attracted a crowd who were all interested in the differences between the GTR & the Connie, and also in the various modifications that John had done including a CB and a Tank Bra.
I had previously arranged to meet John there, having chatted with him on the Concours Owners Group listserver. Characteristically he had already got to know several people and was in full flood, discussing his passion, his bike, so I went over and introduced myself. We wandered around some, checking out the various and sundry GTR's, discussing modifications, experiences, and generally bench racing with the best of them. It's always refreshing to discuss your passion with someone equally obsessed and involved. We chatted to many of the others there, and despite the language barrier (the Dutch generally speak VERY good English) had a pleasant afternoon.
When the rain started, we adjourned inside for a coffee and a sandwich, some more bench racing, and look around the store. They had a selection of GTR screens, and some other GTR accessories as well as a vast selection of motorcycles, including 4 used GTR's and a couple of the '99 models. Vos Oss seems to sell just about every brand going; I saw Kawasaki's, Ducati's, Suzuki's, Yamaha's, Honda's, Aprilia's, Harley's, Triumph's, Vespa's, etc. In fact, the only brand they don't seem to sell is BMW who have always been posessive of their dealerships.
At this point I finally got to meet Helmut Abeling in person. We had first come across each other on the listserver, and despite living only 300 miles apart had not got round to meeting yet, for various reasons. We wandered round the store, commenting on the bikes and trying some out for size and comfort. The general conscensus amongst us, was that even the Pan Europeans (ST1100) couldn't compete with the GTR and most of the Road Rockets would have crippled us doing the mileage we do. Feeling smug that we were GTR/Concours owners, we wandered outside and continued our interrupted viewing of the assembled acreage of Kawasaki's finest.
Of particular note amongst these was a GTR/EML sidecar outfit with EML leading link front suspension, a bright yellow GTR with an interesting Kawasaki logo, and a tuned GTR (claimed 120Bhp @ the rear wheel). THAT I want a ride on! There were several others with different, non-standard paint jobs and the selection of different accessories was bewildering.
At 3:30pm I had to make tracks back to the UK, so I made my farewells, and set off towards Calais and my ferry home. I had a great day, and definately plan on making it to the GTR Day in the Year 2000. I had ridden 800 miles in a weekend, and my "Sanji" had behaved flawlessly despite having a useless 4th gear and a strange noise in 5th. Time for gearbox rebuild #3. This time I'm gonna do it properly!
I would like to thank the Kawasaki Merkclub Nederland (Dutch Kawasaki Owners Club) for organising the GTR Day, Vos Oss Motorcycles for hosting the event and everyone who turned up for making it a memorable event.
If you are in Europe in April 2000 and fancy checking it out you can email me at Boomer@GTR1000.COM and I'll let you know when and where it's happening.