Mid-October 1973, organised by M.T.C. Holland (Motorcycle Touring Club)
The Najaars Treffen, or translated Autumn Rally, is the end of the year for the M.T.C. calendar. It's when the vast majority of motorcyclists stop touring. There are a few events that continue into the winter but believe me, winters on the continent can be very, very cold. But that's another story.
I came across the Najaars by accident. I was at the Bokkrijders Treffen in 1973 on a weeks holiday with the intention of doing the Lion Rally at Zolder on the way home when some Dutch ralliest mentioned that there was also the rally of the M.T.C. the next weekend at Zeist and all he could give me in the way of details was that it was near the pryamid, and due to the circumstances (which will be retold in the report of the Bokkerijders Treffen at a later date) I made my way to Zeist via Germany.
Arriving on Thursday afternoon to find that there was a Swede and his girlfriend there already, at least I had someone to talk to. We had a walk down the town on the evening and a few beers. I awoke in the small hours of the morning freezing cold. I turned the torch on and my igloo tent was a real igloo! It had rained the night before in Germany and the tent was damp when I pitched it. It was now iced up. I threw every thing I could find over my cheap sleeping-bag and lay there shivering until morning.
I had a look around Zeist in the morning and a few more beers on the Friday night. The weather had improved. It was more like an indian summer now. I lay awake in the morning and heard a few bikes arrive, English voices, then one of them said "We ought to have a brew before we get under way again. 'ere there's some water hanging from that combo, they won't mind if we have a drop." to which I replied "Mine's two sugars if your using my water." I got out of the tent to find Dave Wood, Alan Giddens and several others from the Manchester area stood around. We introduced ourselves and got chatting. They too were only dropping in to get the badge then going on to the Lion Rally so I dropped the tent and travelled down with them and we have been mates ever since.
But back to the Najaars Rally. The rally site had changed in 1974. It was now at the Pyramid of Austerlitz out side of Zeist, a cafe in front of a monument in a sheltered wooded area. A great spot, soft sandy floor, only a short distance to stagger back to the tent. There were games and events going on in the afternoon for which small prizes were handed out. A bar-b-que in the evening, another good do.
Regulars over the years included Roger Halfyard, Kelvin Clouting, Brighton Bob, John Jocys, Mike Shepherd, Alan Giddens, Ted Trett, Dave Wood, Sid Beaumont, Ronnie Burgess, Dave Hawes (Flash) a spattering of Dover 69 club, John Flittney and sometimes a few Mayflower club members. Always well supported by Brits, there also was a lot of Scandanavians in attedance but for some unknown reason they pitched their tents at the far end of the site and had their own little event.
Being a M.T.C. member myself in later years I used to help out with the event and on removing the rubbish from the site on Sunday morning it was criminal to see the food and drink that was thrown away.
The rally still takes place but the site is at Hilversum the last that I heard. I went to 7 or 8 over the years and who knows, I might go again ........
- Les Hobbs
It was a great rally, and fitted in with doing either the Lion or the Steel Horse.
My main memory from this rally was meeting up with Preston King of the Tees Tornadoes. It would have been the site at the Pyramid. Preston was trying to bump start his XL 250 Motorsport Honda, but making hard work of it due to the sandy soil. I went to help and noticed that his kickstart was broken.
"A bit of bad luck that, Preston, breaking your kickstart over in Holland." He just laughed and got me to push.
"Why don't you pull the clutch in?" I asked.
"What clutch?" says he, "That stopped working last week and I haven't had a kickstart for ages!"
All the way from Stockton to Holland and back, no kickstart (or electric) and no clutch!
- Ted Trett
I don't know if this relates to this Rally directly, but I remember chatting to Preston at our bike club one night, and during the conversation he mentioned that he was off to a foreign rally, I can't remember which one. He then reeled off a list of the things wrong with his bike, I'm sure the alternator was mentioned. I said "That's a lot to get fixed before you go." He replied "Oh I'm not getting anything fixed ... I'm in the AA ...."
Preston is a gem, we've had some real fun moments, usually with him or me almost coming to grief ... see the Navigation Rally for an example. Although to be fair the bend tightened as you got into it and there was grit all over the road ... it could'a easily been me who came off. But I couldn't have done it with such style ... fireworks and all!
- Dave Honneyman