The Anglo-Dutch reliability Trial - Wellesbourne - 2009
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Jean and I were looking forward to our week at the Walton Hall Hotel near Wellesbourne. The very name Wellesbourne brings back memories for me, as my dad, who was in the RAF, was posted there in 1949 before being posted to Singapore for two years in 1950. My mother, brother and I were all with him for these two postings. The RAF station was called Wellesbourne Mountford and the married quarters were the usual war-time wooden huts. Must say that I can't remember much about the place now, but do recollect watching a pilot called Commander Tommy Handley(not the ITMA comedian) flying his Spitfire in and out - he was stationed there as a pilot tutor, on loan from the Navy. I went to school in Wellesbourne, but that was a long time ago now and recollections of it are pretty hazy in my memory.

Back to the present - The '08 Triumph outfit was ready well in time for the event and we set off on Monday the 3rd with the weather looking pretty good. The hotel was quite impressive and we had five days of dinner/bed and breakfast to look forward to - all we wanted was decent weather, however, the media seemed to change their weather forecast almost by the hour. There were 22 Dutch and 18 Brits - I say Brits, as two were from Scotland, with us, of course, from Wales. Walton Hall was once the home of Danny La Rue and we were told that the place just about bankrupted him along with all the lavish parties that he used to host. It is quite an impressive place and has it's own church and graveyard - Jean does enjoy reading gravestones - is there a name for that as a hobby, I ask? Anyway there were two types of accommodation - either in the hall itself at a fairly hefty charge, or in the newly built hotel wings for the likes of us.




Tuesday
We woke to find it raining quite a bit - still, motorcycles were built to get wet. Jean and I had new wet suits so reckoned that we should be ok. Today the route was of about 80 miles and by 9.30 we were on the road. I had asked Mike Wills, the organiser, what the hills were like and he was very non-commital about it, but then I'm always willing to have a go. The first part of the morning saw the outfit get along quite well but I did find that there were quite a few hills that Jean and I had to push up. Must have been six or seven, I reckoned, by the time that we got to the morning coffee stop. Normally, when we get to a hill, I start to pedal to help the motor, but most hills were just  too much and we ended up pushing the outfit over the top of them. At the coffee stop I had a sit down and after five minutes, or so, would normally have been ok to continue. This time, however, I felt quite light headed and my legs felt quite wobbly. Jean and I decided to pack it in and head back to the hotel. As it happened we managed a lift on one of the back-up trailers. Back at the hotel I had a hot bath and a couple of hours sleep and recovered fine, but had to agree that I'm not getting any younger. The new wet suit? well, I think it worked ok, but must say that I was wetter inside it than I was outside - all sweat, I'm afraid.



Wednesday
It was still raining and we decided that I should have a day off from riding, so decided to follow the route and act as a back-up with our trailer. Just as well that we did, as we collected two breakdowns. Ronald Branse from Holland had serious engine problems with his 1913 Douglas. Whilst the other casualty that we picked up was Geoff Hanson from Scotland on a 1904 Minerva. He had lost part of the top of his float chamber that located the needle in the vertical position. The route was around 75 miles with lunch being taken at the Hook Norton Brewery - a fascinating place. Jean's training as a school assistant cook paid off here and she was soon doing the washing up of the cups to make sure there was enough to go around.



Thursday - the Trial day
Was I going to miss this one - not on your nelly. The two previous days had pointed out that the '08 Triumph just couldn't cope with the terrain - or should it have been that I couldn't cope with it? Anyway, I quickly removed the sidecar and made arrangements for Jeannie to have a lift with Baz Staple's wife Jennie. I was then able to ride the bike solo and had all the confidence that I needed about getting up the hills as a good veteran Triumph will climb almost anything. Something like 80 miles to cover today at an average speed of 20mph - a piece of cake - and the sun was shining. My time away was 9.33 and I set off up the hotel drive feeling pretty chuffed with life and the way the bike was running. All went well in the morning with lunch being at the Fleece Inn at Bretforten. The Fleece is the only pub that is owned by the National Trust and it's well worth a visit, if you're ever that way. As I ate my lunch the weather decided to change and it started raining again. I had my new wet-suit jacket on but not the trousers - and I thought I was well organised. The afternoon run was all done in the rain and I was a trifle wet when I finished at the hotel, however a soak in a hot bath soon brought me round. I reflected on the days run and the hills that the Triumph had climbed with ease - couldn't have done it with the sidecar on, for sure.



Friday
Glorious sunshine - where had it been all week. Today was a social run with lunch being taken at the Heritage Motor Museum at Gaydon, plus another visit to a Bygones Museum - again the Triumph just ate up the hills as though they weren't there. Half throttle was all I needed on any of them.



Friday evening and the results
Everyone was basically in their country's team, but only the best 8 scores would count as the team that competed for the trophy. Mike Wills didn't give anything away at all as to who had won the event and first announced the Best Performance with there being a three way tie, all on 5 points lost, one point for each minute out on time.  Mark de Boer and his 1912 BSA came out best on countback for the loss of points. Best English performance went to John Mockett, again on countback, with a loss of five minutes with yours truly being the third person to lose only five minutes over the whole day. Best Dutch performance went to Vincent Belgraver and his 1912 Sarolea.Then the announcment that we all wanted to hear - It was close with only 9 points being the difference between the two teams and, as it happened, we had won.



Saturday
I re-attached the sidecar, loaded it onto the trailer and we set off for home feeling quite pleased that the week had gone well. Two weeks now to the Oude Klepper Parade in De Haan - Two years to the next Anglo-Dutch event in Holland - we'll be there. Would you fancy joining us? There's a nice single speed 1909 Triumph with a Mabon after market clutch about to come on the market - talk to me.