Report on Copper Beater Rally at Luyksgestel Holland 1974
I had the bike, I had wanted to go to the FIM rally but was talked into going to the TT instead. I had to go somewhere on the continent and do a rally. We set to talking one weekend at a rally and it was soon agreed. Pete the Snuff, myself and a lad called Brian from the London area were set to invade the continent in October, starting with the Steel Horse Rally in Brugges, Belgium.
I had a BMW R90/6 attached to a Stieb S350. The sidecar really was a wreck and it was painted at least 7 different colours and in true Stieb tradtion the bottom had rusted away, but it handled beautifully. I managed to get hold of a piece of steel sheet to drop into the boot and I fixed it in round at Pete's just before we left. This involved Pete lifting the sidecar in the air as I crawled underneath with an electric drill. That done we were away down to Dover to meet up with Brian.
Snuffy was on his 600 single Norton ohv that he had just put a new big end bearing in and Brian was on a 350 Yam or Suzuki. I was having a little problem with one of my eyes. Something in it, but as we were tight for time we carried on. Once on board the ferry to Zeebrugge I asked on the boat about first aid and was directed to the lady who allocates the cabins. As soon as I mentioned something in my eye the hands went up and "Sorry we can't touch you" was the reply.
We landed at Zeebrugge and made our way to the Steel Horse Rally site at Brugges a few miles inland where we camped for the Friday night. Many British lads were there and I finally sorted the problem out with my eye in the mirror in the toilet. A small piece of metal was stuck to the surface of my eye. That was from drilling the sidecar boot. I dislodged it with my finger nail, painful for a short while.
Late Saturday morning we departed for the little Dutch village of Luyksgestel. Due to the location of the village, near the border, you have to go past it then come back on yourself. We got to the outskirts of Eindhoven and stopped to consult the map, unsure of where we were and which way to go. I decided to ask in the nearby bar. A very friendly Dutchman tried to give me directions but he didn't have enough English to get it over to me and besides which he was the worse for several glasses of Heineken. He said "You follow me" and jumped into a two seater Opel sports car and shot off like a scalded cat. I had no problem keeping up with him but I was losing Snuffy and Brian on the wet cobbles ... Next thing you know the Opel driver lost it on a small island, skidded off the road and went sideways into a lamp-post. The impact detached the lamp which came down onto the roof of the car. We stopped, feeling a bit guilty, but the driver pointed down the road and said "Four hundred metres. Now I wait for the police."
The rally site was at the far side of Luyksgestel in the woods. A good venue with a couple of wooden cabins and picnic tables. Snuffy won the long distance award, a nice hand crafted figure of the copper beater about 8 inches high. We had a good evening drinking bottles of pilsner and as we were chatting to some of the other Dutch lads there. One asked "How long are you here for and where are you going?" We really didn't know. We had a couple of weeks off work and someone suggested "Why not go to the Oktoberfest in Munich?" So that's what we did. But, that's another story.
- Les Hobbs