Dutch Lions to Aachen – Part 2 | FEATURE
In part one, Doug Turner and his merry bunch of chums headed off to the Dutch Lions before riding further into Europe for the Aachen rally. You can recap on part one here, or just get on with the trip…
I had booked two nights in the Chateau de Rolley, which rented seven rooms and we took the lot. This venue was home of the 101st Airborne, commandeered by the regiment where General Patten decorated Col McAuliffe and the regiment.
I personally slept in Patten’s room, which was an absolute privilege. This place was awesome, and we will talk about it forever. The owners were so helpful. Her comment and surprise when we all arrived on scooters was “My father had a Lambretta, he was always fixing it” – and yes, I did ask if she still had it.
Having commandeered two workmen with a trailer (in part one) to recover Martin’s stricken Lambretta we tried to source a replacement AF clutch.
Thanks to everyone who helped us locate a clutch, Scooter Center, Casa Lambretta Belgium and Liege Scooterists who all had BGM parts. A quick call to Karen at AF and it was on a 24/48 hours DHL. What to do? Food, drink and Martin riding in Dave’s sidecar. Bastogne for the evening and then back to the chateau for a bit of exploring, relax, food, wine, spirits and beer. The best two nights we had were at the Chateau, having it all to ourselves.
Band of Brothers
Once we were happy the clutch was organised we headed off into town. The nearest taxi was 40 km away, so we went on scooters. A quick drink, wander around, petrol and Carrefour for a feast of local produce and alcohol. We were all shattered so we spent the night reflecting on Band of Brothers, Battle of the Bulge and the privileged existence we all had. We even watched “A Bridge too far” on my iPhone. We walked around the lakes, Tim took the boat out and it was a complete contrast to anything else we had done on this rally.
Wednesday was our first day on scooters without being loaded up, it was so nice. Mike took us to everything we missed the day before. The foxholes of the 101st. Seeing the stainless memorial the bastards had stolen for scrap, then the 101st Memorial of the foxholes. Easy company were told to dump their gear, as they would only be there for a week – they were there for two months in the snow in the end.
Two sides to every story
We bumped into an American tourist couple who took us to the Recogne German Military Cemetary. We forget that all sides lost fathers, brothers and uncles in the atrocities. From here we went to the Bastogne Allied Museum, which is a must for everyone – check out the website. We then all hit Bastogne for an Italian and a play on the Sherman tank in the town square. Then back to the chateau for some R & R. Not to stop there, Harry Handsome and Aussie hit town on their scooters, as we were all drinking, this did not appeal to the rest of us.
Instead, we went for a walk to the point where the Germans were taking back the chateau and Bastogne but historically ran out of fuel just a mile away. The wounded and the medical staff grabbed everything they could defend with, a single solider taking out two panzers with a bazooka. If you don’t know it, the weakness of a Panzer/Tiger tank is from behind and not the front. This was fundamentally the end of the war for the Germans in Belgium.
Then we ran back as the heavens opened. Of course, Harry Handsome made it home on his GTS, but Aussie had another flat on the front wheel, pierced three times from putting it on the rims.
Up early on Thursday, off to Le Gleize to the Tiger Tank Museum, December 44 Museum. It was a German museum, rather than Allied Forces. There were many Germans visiting it. Like all museums on our trip, it was sobering and thought-provoking. We left Martin behind at the chateau, waiting for his DHL delivery. Finally, he got it, although we were 30 miles ahead of him, he fitted the clutch and hammered the 80 plus miles to Aachen to catch us up.
Feel the strain
Eight days of togetherness took its toll, and everyone had had enough of others snoring as we were, (apart from the chateau) four to a room. So, the night started. Reminiscing of two years earlier, at Borderland Breakdown, the square, singing, drinks and more drinks.
Friday, we set off for Eschweiler. Aussie had already broken down again and was waiting for a hire car to arrive. His rings had seized up this time (at least he still had two fresh suits and four pairs of shoes).
When the Kulturbanausen Roller Klub (Philistines SC) lost their rally site, they told us that they felt they had a duty to get something else organised as many were depending on it. They got together with the local bikers and they hosted the rally for the Scooterists.
They were ‘99% Bikers’, due to the politics and the Biker fur Social Engagement, Eschweiler were tops. Their clubhouse had everything except a shower. What it did have was great hospitality, kitchens, great cheap food and bottles of Bitburger at €1 a shot – and it was all cold. They actually sold out the weekend beer by Friday lunchtime and the brewery trailered in a refrigerator trailer full of it.
Every type of music was played by DJs all over the weekend, with Marky from Dirty Devils and more. The weekend hosted about 100 scooterists, mainly on the return trip from Hungary, EuroLambretta and us. Including Dangerous Dave from the Maidenhead Phoenix, Oxford Roadrunners, Sam and co from Belgium Lambretta Finder, Germans, Dutch, French and others. Two trouble-free days of an 80s style rally. A breakfast feast was included, and various cheap quality full meals served at lunch and dinner.
Saturday we were all shattered, but about 20+ of us had arranged a visit to Scooter Center Köln. We had a road captain and two bike outriders that blocked all the roundabouts to our 35-mile destination.
Scooter Center, what can be said? Their hospitality, the tour of the whole warehouse and structure of its workings. I have never seen anything so professional in the scooter world personally, there probably is, but this was mind-blowing to me. So many SX, Vegas, one-off specials, smallframes, etc. – piled four storeys high – the photos do not even tell you half of the story.
Back to the site and another evening of hospitality, but we were fooked, so for many, it was bed by 11.00-12.00. Most were either en-route back from Euros, or on our own personal escapade. Music was great, cascading through my tent, reminding me of why I took the scooter path in the 80s. Big thanks to Steve, Thomas and the biker club for organising everything.
Sunday, tents down and heading home. Before we knew it, the first 50 miles were done and we were making great time. We set off again and over the next 60 miles we lost Howard, plus Kev’s Lambretta and Mikes P range had given up the ghost. Howard was collected by a Dutch lad at the rally and he dropped him off with us.
Carole Nash was on order for three scooters. They completely let us down, 70 miles and 6 hours from the ferry – they wanted to repatriate the scooters and give us a taxi. We sent the recovery truck packing, flagged down a Luton van and got to the ferry ourselves. Mike and Kev in the front and Howard riding rodeo in the back of a closed Luton… 80s style.
The founding members of the newly formed ‘Pa-Pillion SC’, decided to dump Mike, as he was broken down now and got on the back of Harry Handsome. You’ve got to watch them Pa-Pillions SC, they are a mercenary bunch!
Everyone made the ferry. My AF 200 had just done its third consecutive overseas rally twos up without missing a beat. Dave and Martin’s both had new clutches, Paul sheered a bolt on his GP long-range tank, Tim’s Rallymaster never missed a beat and Harry Handsome’s GTS was just a gifted workhorse. Every overseas rally needs one.
13 like-minded people, all different, having a fantastic time – can we surpass it next year? Dutch Lions to Aachen, we salute you and all our forefathers.
Words and photos: Doug Turner
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