Triking 30th Anniversary Rally
Dusseldorf 13th -15th June 2008
As we pulled into the Eurotunnel car park at Folkestone, everywhere you looked were exciting motor cars like Ferrari, Porche and Lotus. A group of bikers asked us if we were going to Le Mans – so that was it, mystery solved! They were surprised to hear that we were turning left to Dusseldorf!
When Paul Williams advertised the 30th Anniversary Rally, Hilary and I decided we would give it a go. In the weeks leading up to our departure I had gone through the Triking making sure everything was tight, put some new Avons on the front and fitted a duplicate fuel line and pump with a changeover switch - just in case! I also fitted the hood that came with the car which we had never used but it proved to be a wise decision!
Luggage was restricted to a small case wrapped in waterproof sheeting and topped with a bright yellow waterproof kit bag for safety and mounted on the luggage rack. The rest of the stuff went into a similar kit bag behind the passenger seat.
In no time at all we arrived at Calais and switched on the Tomtom for which I had made a special shock absorbing mount on the dash top. I am not addicted to technology and had produced a set of laminated maps for the journey but the Tomtom was to prove invaluable in the coming days.
The plan was to travel 70 miles into Belgium for B&B and then on Friday to travel the 200+ miles to Heiligenhaus near Dusseldorf.
At the Belgian B&B Luc’s wife Stacey was English and knew so much about my teenage haunts in Bournemouth that it was spooky!
Friday was damp as we set off for Germany and I checked the Tomtom route against my hard copy.
Before we got to the motorway it started to rain so I pulled off onto some brown earth on the side of the road – disaster! – it was a mud filled gulley. The RH front wheel crashed down and there was a loud crunch from underneath the car. Mud sprayed up everywhere on that side of the car and over me. Thinking this was the end of the trip I eventually managed to get a gear and drive out of the gulley. Steering ok, gears ok, and it goes forward and stops – we were still in one piece but looking very much like TD on the Lands End Trial!
On the motorway we found a petrol station where I was able to inspect the damage which fortunately was only a scrape on the underside at the front cross member. The skids I had fitted at the rear had protected the body flange from damage.
At Antwerp road works caused us to take the wrong motorway but good old Tomtom soon had us back through a spaghetti of roads and on the right route and then without further incidents it delivered us right to the hotel in Heiligenhaus arriving at 2.30.
Already a group of six German Trikings had assembled in a special taped off area in the courtyard and it was not long before we had met Paul and Josef with his wife Sabina and the other owners.
Paul told us that unfortunately Tony had suffered another health setback and sadly was unable to attend with his partner Anita. Also we heard that John Grundy (an Englishman living in France) had struck a deer in Northern France bending his steering, but fortunately he was ok. We all wish you good luck with the repairs John!
Paul and Josef had put together some excellent welcome packs containing detail for the weekend together with two enamel 30 year badges.
Later Klaus List (Guzzi Gary) arrived on a Guzzi sidecar outfit with his son Philip (Klaus is still rebuilding/redesigning his Triking after aquaplaning on the motorway) Previous to this incident Klaus probably used his trike more than any other owner and as a design engineer is well qualified to know what can benefit from improvement.
That evening we all took a much needed walk to a local restaurant where Hilary and I welcomed the translation ability of our hosts!
Arriving back at the (superb) hotel we found Alex Mercy from Holland with his dog Renzo – a keen footballing collie.
After breakfast on Saturday we all gathered in the courtyard for a final briefing from Paul and even more detailed maps before we set off on the first leg of the 105mile Bergische Land tour.
Hilary and I decided not to do it alone and followed Josef in the lead group hoping we would not be separated by any traffic lights! On the way to the lunch stop we encountered some interesting sights including the suspended monorail in Wuppertal and some interesting wet roads on hairpin bends in the country!
Arriving at the lunch restaurant up in the hills there assembled probably the largest single collection of Trikings ever – 13 in the car park although I think at one time over the weekend there were 15 cars assembled?
Over lunch we chatted with ex Triking owner Cornelius and his wife Regina. Cornelius was now the proud owner of a Buckland B3 - one of a very exclusive group of 12.
After lunch we made our way to the castle at Schlob Burg where we had special permission to park in the cobbled square creating lots of interest for visitors.
There followed a leisurely stroll around the shops in the castle area, including even a brush maker where I bought some thin brushes for cleaning oilways on vintage engines.
From the castle we set off back to the hotel but Paul had to work out a new route to avoid a fallen power line!
Back at the hotel it was good to welcome Xavier Schraepen and his wife from Belgium who had come for the presentation evening. Xavier’s car is still under repair after spinning in the wet.
The hotel had produced an excellent Triking celebration buffet and there had been a very generous anonymous donation of wine to each table – many thanks to the donor!
Cornelius was even wearing a Triking tie and belt buckle for the occasion!
Paul and Josef had put a tremendous amount of work into the event and not least of all for the presentation. They had visited Tony at Marlingford where he had given them freedom to hunt through his office to search for anything which might be relevant to the occasion and so around the walls were displayed the results of their efforts – pictures ,magazine articles and technical drawings not only of Trikings but also other projects Tony had been involved in.
The presentation took us through Tony’s early life including his exploits as a racing cyclist, his involvement with big names in the engineering field and then the concept of Triking and its development while he was a Lotus draughtsman – look out for his name on early Lotus technical drawings!
A superb presentation plaque had been made to celebrate the occasion and it was sad that Tony could not be there to receive it. Following the presentation it was interesting to chat to owners about particular aspects of their trikes and how these things affected their driving experience.
The next day (Sunday) had seen an addition to the programme of events with a trip to the Rosengart museum. This would have been very interesting to me as an Austin Seven enthusiast ( the Rosengart was built under licence for the French market and the BMW Dixi for the German market) but as we had made all our travel arrangements we had to say our farewells in the morning.
Being Sunday things were fairly quiet on the motorways (no lorries on Sunday) but when we were in the middle of Belgium there were two horrendous thunder storms and cars were stopping on the hard shoulder with hazard lights going. We used our hood for the first time ever but not before we had got fairly wet and negotiating flooded roads in a trike is a bit hairy!
The rain certainly showed every leak and convinced me of the need to modify the bonnet sealing arrangements particularly at the windscreen end.
Having been held up by the weather we pushed on quite fast to Calais and at one stage a French MPV was filming us alongside at speed! The lady at the Eurotunnel check point said she had never seen such a low vehicle and there was lots of enthusiasm as we were ushered onto the train where we were dwarfed by a massive brand new Ferrari with the registration number V12 and the owners initials – bet he doesn’t worry about petrol prices!
After a welcome chill out at a B&B cottage near Hastings we were safe back home again having covered 1000 miles.
Best bits? – the superb organisation and hotel, the friendly help and hospitality of all concerned and the German trike mods including Paul’s superb under bonnet tray to take a holdall!
The learning? – never pull off a road onto an unknown surface, the need to improve the bonnet sealing and fixing and finding out how good a Tomtom can be!
Hilary and I would like to say a big word of thanks to all involved in the event and especially Paul and Josef.
Happy Triking to you all from Phil & Hilary Whitter!