Tuesday 30th April 2019 WRWR Day 63 – My Day 6.
So today is my last leg in WRWR, and I must say I am quite glad. I’m also sad to be leaving my new firm friends, Colette, Mar and Trui, whose company I have enjoyed immensly, however group riding of this magnitude and duration is just not for me, too much togetherness is not my style.
I ride the few kilometers over to Sas Van Gent to meet up with today’s participants. Again we are treated royally , with a cafe opening especially for us it would seem. We are right next to the canal so I take the opportunity for a few scenic shots.
It really is a pretty place. As you can see we are again a large group of bikes, I’m not sure how many but certainly more than 50. We gather for some group photos…
And another of the international set….
This one includes Sara, next to Mar and another woman next to her who I don’t remember actually meeting, (I am reliably informed that this is in fact Marianne Lebens from Liege). Sara and Thirza are not riding with us today as they have to return to the UK, but it was great to meet them and hopefully I will see them again sometime in the future.
Very soon we are called into our ride groups for the day.. today we will have red ribbons. Our Ride Leader is a dutch woman whose name escapes me, but I think it was Lisa. She is very organised and starts by giving us a thorough briefing, including no overtaking, follow the dutch road laws, leave on time, stay in the order you start in, oh and did I mention no overtaking?? I give Mar a nudge and wink, she likes a bit of overtaking. Our leader, who I dub The General, is riding a big Harley tourer with all the hard luggage so I like her, lol.
Because we have the Celebrrrrity we are, once again, the lead off group and we soon depart making our way up the coast of Netherlands. This will mean lots of bridges and 3 ferries. We need tickets for the ferries, which we get before we leave…. one is free but we have to purchase the other 2.
We are travelling quite quickly and, although the day is a little overcast, we are making good progress… until we arrive at a swing bridge, which is just beginning to open to allow a ship through so we pull up and park. The big harley has its music blaring and before long we jump off our bikes and start dancing. Trui and I make a lovely couple, once we decided which of us was going to lead!
10205957067162244 (This is a link to the film on Facebook, am hoping Colette can send me a copy so I can post it here without the Facebook link)
As the ship passes through we climb back on our bikes in anticipation of getting underway when I notice the ships name and port of origin… ah ha, that’s my home in Eire, Arklow, Co. Wicklow so I grab a quick photo.. we are both a long way from home.
We soon stop again, at a motorcycle equipment shop, it’s enormous, there must be at least 200 different helmets on display, row upon row of boots, jackets, trousers, endless tubs of cut price gloves, tee shirts, luggage, bike accessories.. I have never been in a shop with this amount of variety and there is even a huge womens section, which is almost unheard of. I am fleetingly tempted by a gorgeous dog carrier… oh how I would love to bring my puggies on tour with me, but no I just think if I have an accident they probably wouldn’t survive. I do browse of course but I do not buy… I just don’t need anything! They have laid on coffee, rolls with cheese, or ham, or peanut butter, or jam… I have a couple of rolls to keep me going.
On the road again and we are soon boarding our first ferry. I look at the bike parked on my right and it is a gorgeous old Harley Shovelhead with foot clutch and hand shift… what a fantastic antique… the owner is also in my age bracket too so hats off to her, this isn’t an easy bike to ride!
I love the hand painted name “My Best Friend” and fall into conversation about hand shift and kick starts.. she says she got fed up with the infamous unreliability of the kick starter and had an electric start fitted.. I tell her I am building a bobber with a kickstart, foot clutch and hand shift, but I can’t get the electric start jackshaft to engage properly so she is still on the table lift. We don’t get to discuss it further as we are now arrived on the other side and need to disembark.
We are setting quite a quick pace and soon arrive at our next stop, another motorcycle shop, this one isn’t as enormous as the first, but again we are treated to drinks and cake. This shop is a multi brand outlet and there is a Harley section so I make my way over for a browse. Nothing here I want, however I do look for a poker chip to add to my collection, but am disappointed they do not have them. I now need to fill up so make my way outside anticipating we will call into a petrol station next. I ask the General if that is the case? No, everyone has filled up while we have been here.. Oh, no one told me, I’d better go fill up now, where is the petrol station? We are leaving now, you should have filled up already.. I feel rather reprimanded and am a bit annoyed at the way she is speaking to me. I ask someone else where the petrol station is and am told it is just around the corner. I tell Colette that I am going for petrol to which she replies not to worry, they won’t leave without me… Ok good.
I get to the petrlol station and there are only 4 pumps, all already occupied by other women and there is a queue so I join the end of one… of course the other queue is moving quickly , whereas mine is very slow. At last I am filling up and as I look over I see the General, followed by the rest of my group zoom by.. oh thanks Colette, so much for waiting for me!! I finish filling up and pay, then I leave the petrol station intending to catch the group, however I don’t know where we are going, I haven’t been able to download the route map. I pull over and before long another group comes along.. the purple ribbons, so I tag along with them. They are very slow, and there appear to be 2 men behind the leader and when we stop they seem to be telling the lead rider what to do, which of course I find rather patronising… fume, fume.
I am really bored with this group, no offence to the riders, but it is just too slow… after a while we board the final ferry and I see my group at the front of the boat. Mar, Trui and Colette wave at me, I scowl back of course, but am secretly relieved and delighted to have caught them up.
I leave the ferry with the purple girls, but gradually overtake each rider to get in front and then catch up to my group.. thank the goddess the General isn’t here ‘NO OVERTAKING’ oops.
We ride along for a time and it is now getting quite late. I don’t know how, but we seem to have lost half the group.. including Mar, Colette and Trui.. where did they go?? I continue to follow the General and the roads are great, narrow and twisty.. she is setting a fast pace so the ride is very enjoyable. Before long we arrive at Motozoom in Utrecht, our last stop before Amersfoort, or so I thought.
Anyway, I wonder where the others have gone and the General informs me that she has made a wrong turn and missed another stop off point so we have actually arrived in Utrecht well ahead of schedule…. oh… naughty General. They are putting on a BBQ for us and are already starting to cook. There are burgers and sausage.. it is only later that I find out they are vegetarian burgers, I thought they were dry, but they didn’t taste too bad actually.
I spot a notice, it announces that at 6.30pm Trui will be giving a talk about her book regailing her stories of a trip she took overland to Iran with her ex-partner some years ago. I am looking forward to that, I expect it will be in dutch, but nevermind I will go along to give support.
I notice I have lost my red ribbon.. I recall seeing a ribbon on the ground near to my bike so walk back to reclaim it, but it’s gone… damn, I wanted to keep it. The General is parked next to me and I mention the red ribbon, she says she has picked it up and put it in her saddlebag in case there aren’t enough ribbons for tomorrow… bloody hell, talk about mean… grrr.
Next a couple of dutch women ask if they can take a photo of me with my bike.. they want me to move the bike so they can take the photos, but I’m really not in the mood so refuse.. they insist that they really want to take a photo of me.. seriously!! In the end they say they can take a photo where the bike is parked already, so I agree.. how odd.
Shortly after this the other women start arriving, including my 3 friends, I am pleased to see them. The Celebrrrrity is soon accosted and dragged off to be interviewed while Trui, Mar and I eat more BBQ. Mar is due to be back in Spain by Thursday.. over 2000kms away. Colette is very anxious about her riding too fast, recklessley in order to make it back in time and has been encouraging Mar to leave all day. I now chime in with her, it is really quite a feat to ride all that way in 24 hours and I agree with Colette, but Mar is in two minds whether to stay over in Utrecht tonight.. Oh, aren’t you going on to Amersfoort, our last stop.. I ask, No, this is our last stop, everyone is splitting up here, the leg tomorrow starts in Amersfoort. Ok I have booked a hotel in Amersfoort so I’m going to have to ride there now, over 40kms and am not looking forward to it. Mar is suggesting that we ride together tomorrow morning as I am returning to Calais to catch the train. Trui then says she is returning to her home in Ghent so why don’t we all ride together. Sure why not, but they are both staying with a woman called Inge in Utrecht and I am going to Amersfoort. I get talking to another woman and mention that I am thinking of finding a hotel in Utrecht so wonder if anyone would like to take my hotel in Amersfoort.. she stayed in the same hotel last night and wants another night there… after speaking with Trui it seems I can also stay at Inge’s home tonight and ride part way home with her and Mar tomorrow. I look for the other woman, but am too late, she has just booked a room already.. damn. I think to myself, well I have paid for the hotel, it doesn’t really matter if I actually stay there or not and it isn’t going to cost anything to stay in Utrecht tonight, so I cancel my hotel room.
It’s time for Trui’s talk… she also introduces Colette to the audience and invites her to talk to them about her WRWR adventures. Mar also gets a mention as one of the main administration team.. I don’t know how I missed that nugget of information, so after all this time and drama it is only now I’m finding out that Mar is in fact a big cheese in the WRWR organisation.. well I never!! Colette also gives me a nod too.. and tells the story of the smouldering engine… caused by the leather fringe on my Git Back whip getting stuck to the exhaust pipe in France… I am a little bit embarrassed by this story as I think it makes me look a fool… I do actually build motorcycles you know Colette.. hurmph!
Trui then talks about her numerous trips to Iran.. wow what a courageous woman.. one of the many interesting points she mentions is the expectation that there will be a man involved somewhere.. of course Trui and her partner at the time are both women so they had to invent ‘husbands’ as it was dangerous to be unattached to a man, they might even ask for a phone number and ring them to check!!
This is the photo Trui is holding in her hand in the image above… Thanks for the use of it Txx
It is now getting late so we make our way with Inge and the extremely tall Ron to their lovely home. It’s not long before I am in bed, again a very, very long day.