Antwerp, Belgium
June14- 16, 1996

From: Ton van Bart

Date: Mon, 17 Jun 1996 11:27:50 +0200
Subject: BMW: Antwerp (fairly long)

On Friday Dirk and myself arrived at the hotel at about 22.15 after an uneventful ride of about 140 km (just over 85 miles). Here we got to meet some of our fellow prezzes and played the game "put the face to the name" for the first time. We went to bed around midnight since Carlo wanted everyone ready to roll at 8am the next morning. Hey, we're here for fun, right?? :-)

The next morning, after seeing a lot of IBMWR T's at breakfast, we went outside. What a sight, this long row of BMW's with license plates from about half a dozen countries. Off the presidential convoy went, escorted by police, to the Antwerp city hall where the first group shots were taken. Then out of town and back into Holland to visit Sluis. Unfortunately the place where we chose to sit down for coffee turned out to be closed so since we didn't want for them to open up, we moved on to Knokke. Here we found the "have you seen me" square and got our coffee after all while watching locals show off. Apparently we behaved better than Carlo had thought since no-one was terrorized. Only the waiter was a little p.o.-ed when he found that he had a group of about 30 people who a) all wanted their drinks at around the same time, b) all wanted to leave at the same time but c) all wanted to pay separately ! On we went to visit Brugge and do a well-prepared tour. What a town. I had only seen it _briefly_ once before and that was in the rain, too. Now I know I will come back.

After a beautiful walk and boat ride (words cannot describe so I won't try. GO THERE !) it was back on the bike and off to lunch. After that on to Brussels were our "reserved" parking space turned out to be not so reserved after all. That is they *had* put signs that said "parking interdite apres 1600 hrs" but everybody had just ignored them. Again we made a short walk in town and had a seat and a drink on the central square (sorry Belgian Prezzes but I'm not big on streetnames). On to see "manneken pis" and then our inland guide Carlo showed us back to the bikes. One anecdote here : when Clemens started to express his doubts of Carlo's navigational abilities, Carlo finally asked a passer-by and much to our amusement she pointed straight down the street we'd just come out of ! After visiting the Atomium it was back to the hotel for a quick shower and dinner in Antwerp.

On sunday we got to sleep in; that is we had to be ready at 9am instead of 8. Alas the first goodbyes were made as Kees and Fred were going home. Then off we went towards the Ardennes. After a stretch of highway we arrived and had a at times very scenic ride along, indeed, yummy roads. It got even better after Dirk gave me some hints about how to ride the twisties (I've been riding Harleys for nine years, and according to him it showed). Thank you sir.

Finally we arrived at Francorchamps were we took another group shot *whith* banner and some of us tried their hand on the part of the circuit that was open. What a sight, seeing Clemens flying by on his brothers ST1100 and then locking the brakes as he went in! Here Dirk and I bade everyone good-bye as we had decided to go home (it was now 1700 pm). For us it was a short ride to the highway in the direction of Luik and then back home over a >>boring<< stretch of highway. After dinner and three traffic jams :-<< I finally arrived back home at 20.45 to greet my family.

For me this weekend was a total mind-blower. Seeing words on a screen is one thing; seeing this greast big group of people, riding with them, and hearing conversations going on in four languages at every meal is quite something else.

Riding behind Fred van Waaijen is something everybody must do; he is so big that his R1100RS just disappears. His shoulders are wider that the cylinders of the bike and from behind it looks a if he got tired of walking, sprouted a wheel and fender and just rode off ! :-> (Fred this is NOT an insult!! :> )

I didn't get to speak to all attendees in person and when I look at the group shot we got to take with us I think "now who was that??" more than once. But everyone I spoke to was sympathetic. Carlo said before that he'd never been dissapointed meeting prezzes in the flesh; I can see his point now. We must do this again.

Finally : soap box mode on. I would like to publicly thank Carlo and Frank for putting this together. I thought it was *very* well done. From time to time I thought Carlo was a little nervous about everything going right; he needn't to be. like I said before this whole event was very well put together and went like clockwork. So thank you to Carlo anf Frank, to Nick for preparing the Brugge tour and to all others who helped out. Great job guys. I'm still wearing that IBMWR T today just to remind me that it really happened. (dismount soap box)

Best regards, Ton/Maarssen/Holland


From: Nigel T.

Date: Mon, 17 Jun 1996 17:46:08 +0100
Subject: BMW: A weekend in Antwerp

This isn't the first post about this great meeting, and I doubt it will be the last, so I'll keep it to my personal highlights and my trips out and back from the UK.

I had to work on Friday so to avoid the long ride from the office to home and then back round the awful M25, I arranged to meet Victoria at a service station. This we did, over an hour late already, only to find that I had left the directions at the office. This meant a slight detour to pick them up, and added another hour to our delay. We finally reached the shuttle terminal at 8.45, nearly three hours later than anticipated! We grabbed a bite to eat, and got the next shuttle which left at 9.50. This put us on the road in France at 11:30 (10:30 UK time) and I stopped off to phone Carlo to let him know we were OK but would be horribly late. The French phone system had other ideas. We crossed the Belgian border at 1 am and arrived at the hotel shortly after 2 am, not bad progress. Of course, this meant we missed the introductions, so spent the rest of the weekend playing catch up with people's names.

My personal highlights:

The police escort in Antwerp

Looking in my mirrors on the Autoroute from Brugge to Brussels to see BMWs spread accross all three lanes Franks joke about the maturity of the British (as we passed the old British consulate, now a primary school)

Vitoria's highlights:

The Brugge boat ride
Knokke (sp?) and the villages round it
Belgian fries
Finally getting some sleep last night

The riding was incredibly disciplined. It would have been very easy to start "swarming" with that many bikes (28 I think). At one point I thought I had a sticker of an R100RS on my mirror until the riding order changed and Sven-Erik swapped sides.

My French was just enough to keep up with Frank's Mad Mac joke, but not enough to follow Carlo's comments to the Harley riders. Which is a pity judging by the quality of his wit in English. That's another thing to put on my list of skills to learn. (How many languages do you speak Carlo?)

Unfortunately, we had to leave for home after lunch on Sunday, so missed the race track. We were followed by a couple on an electric blue K1100LTSE who's names I kept trying to find out, but never succeded. Finally we waved goodbye as we turned off towards Charles-Roi and France. Even leaving early (3pm) it was still 10pm (11pm Belgian time) when we got home, though I wasn't riding as hard as I was on the way down.

I learnt a lot on the weekend, mostly about what a great bunch of people there are on this list. Adrian and I agreed that what we most wanted to do after our tour of Belgium was to go back. It has some great cities, some very pretty villages and some great scenery, and I want to see more of it. Many thanks to Carlo and Frank for organising it, and to all those that helped lead and keep the ride together.

Victoria and I had a great time, fell asleep at every opportunity and would have loved to have had the chance to talk to more of the people there (and more to the people we did manage to talk to). A quick tally showed nearly 900 miles of riding and 10 hours sleep, but we slipped into bed on Sunday night feeling tiredly content rather than exhausted. Next year, desperately hoping there will be a next year, we will take Friday and Monday off work so's we can make more of the weekend.

Totally satisfied, thanks!

Nigel


From: Carlo Ratzersdorfer

Date: Mon, 17 Jun 1996 19:19:14 +0200
Subject: BMW: ANTWERP, a report. Part 1.

Friday, June 14th. 1996.

I'm leaving work early to go to the hotel to meet the prezzes arriving. Get there at 3 PM and get help from Mr. Moriaux -sales manager- to hang the banner and get everything shipshape. I hear that Adrian got here in the early morning. He shows up at about 4PM and we start a lively conversation. Slowly but surely, folks are starting to arrive. It's difficult to remeber the order, but by 6PM we have fairly taken over the bar of the hotel. Conversation is flowing among the prezzes. I can't believe it, but ALL our long distance people are here. First Edson and Minna -an emotional high- then Clemens who just arrives after I've shown Fred van Waai how to get to the underground parking and then Klaus Kreye. I'm flabbergasted. This is a dream coming through. When I started putting this thing together and Frank joined in the act, we never ever dreamt this was going to materialise in such a way. Sure, people were registering, but we thought that by the time it would take place we'd have more cancellations then confirmations. Well, nothing of the kind happened. The people who confirmed all came, except of Paul and Kate Hounslow who couldn't make due to health reason, - I hope that both of you feel better - Jan Richards and wife, and David Eastman, for professional reasons. All of you were sorely missed.

Saturday June 15th. 1996,

I get to the hotel at 7.30 AM, in time for breakfast. Everybody is trickling into the dining room. The weather is glorious, and you can feel the camaraderie starting to flow. The police escort shows up right on time. I invite them for coffee. The local riders are arriving as well and the display of Beemers on the street is really quite impressive. We are starting to attract the looks of passers-by. At 8.05, the only guy missing is Clemens. The gentleman is ASLEEP ! He says he'll be down in five minutes, and he actually makes it with time to spare. Beats my record. The police escorts asks me where we are going. I explain to them that we want to go to Town Hall and afterwards the coast via Holland, but want to do it slooowly. Edson found the pace funeral like, but they DID see us in town. It was GREAT. We stopped at Town Hall for a group picture and a look see, and after a while, manned our mounts to go on. Our escorts were having at least as much fun as we did. They left us at the town limits, and we moved on towards Hulst and Sluis. The group was really impressive to see. 29 bikes strung out, riding in staggered formation keeping the speed limits scrupulously such as to be noticed. Crossed the border at Hulst and merryly rode on, till we were stopped at a bridge on the Gent-Zelzate canal to let an enormous car carrying ship float by. The coment was that we even had arranged THAT. We didn't, but it was superb. Sven-Erik (what a guy) had prblems starting his bike, but the front part of the group didn't notice, and moved on. Luckily, we had plenty of locals to stay with him and push-start him. Rode on to Sluis, the place where we had intended to have coffee was closed. So we WERE going to make ourselves noticed on the Place M'as-Tu-Vu (have you seen me square) in Knokke. We parked our bikes, totally illegally in line abreast on the square, and went for a drink. The local police came and just wished us a pleasant day. It probably has to do with the fact that they also ride K whiners... ;)

We then moved on towards Damme and Bruges. Meanwhile, we had found out that every time we reached an intersection, the group was getting split up by cages, and decided to play traffic cops a bit. Nick Hanne, Daniel Hamou and myself were blocking the roads to let the troup ride by and stay together, to the great pleasure of the cagers, who did not seem to mind one bit up to this point. Its funny what wonders a wave can do. Illegal but nice for all involved. The ride went on towards Damme and Bruges. Since there had been a misunderstanding with the local authorities in Bruges regarding the parking, -they thought we were going to come on Friday- we got parking on the best spot possible in the city, the Market Place. The cooperation of the authorities in the cities of Antwerp, Bruges and Brussels was totally extraordinary, this should be emphasised. Nick Hanne had prepared a walkabout in Bruges that was superb, and was enjoyed by all. We also had a boat ride of the canals of Bruges. This was to be one of the highlights of the day. Bruges under the sun is one of the most beautifull places in Europe. After Bruges, we left for Loppem to have a delicious lunch. We were joined there by Berdj Anastasian who had taken the group picture in the morning, but had to work afterwards. The next stage was a bit boring, riding to Brussels on the motorway, but we had time imperatives too. Riding into Brussels proper was a bith chaotic, the group being split up by traffic lights, and us not daring to block intersections in the city. We stopped for a drink on the Brussels Grand'Place. The refreshment was seriously needed. After a while, we went on to have a look see at Mannekenpis. He was wearing the colours of the Brussels American football team .:)

We then rode on to Wemmel and the atomium. While we were catching our breath, Clemens was turning non-stop on the roundabout that forms the base of the atomium. I behaved like a squid and hitched a ride, not wearing a helmet, mea culpa. It was getting late, so we had to get back to Antwerp for dinner. Everybody freshened up and we took the tram to go to the Old City. We had dinner at Isola Sarda. As the IBMWR tradition requires, we toasted our spiritual attendees, Paul and Kate, Jan and wife, David Eastman and Jodi Lee. The awards were distributed to the long distance travellers. Actually, the longest distance ridden was the work of Sven-Erik. We went by total mileage effected from place of residence. We only had time to print out 4 awards, but the others are all getting their's, it's a promise. We also distributed the commemorative plaques to the attendees. I had to convey the Revengers compliments to Clemens, but that's another story altogether. :) It was midnight, and everybody was tired, particularly Clemens, (him AGAIN ! <G>) who was asleep on the table. We pushed him in a car and had him driven to the hotel. The others walked with me.

Day 2, Sunday June 16th. 1996,

The Saturday was very long, so we decided Frank and I, to let everybody, including ourselves, sleep one hour longer. Departure time was set for 9AM instead of 8AM. I was at the hotel at 8.20AM for breakfast with the attendees. Meanwhile my pillion for the day had arrived and joined in. We all tucked in the scrumptious breakfast that was set up by the hotel. At 9AM promptly we were all outside on the sidewalk making ourselves noticable again. I have to admit that the sight of some 30 odd bike on the side of the street is a sight to behold.

We set out for Brussels and Namur via the motorway, due to limitations in time, and the distance being travelled that day. Kees van der Heiden and Fred van Waai had decided to skip the second day. Kees reconing that his bike was not up to the ride of the day, and Fred having problems with his hands. More about that later.

The group was riding in such a disciplined way, that it was a pleasure to watch. Bikes strung out for a few hundred meters, in staggered formation. Can you imagine cagers waving at bikers ? Well I saw it happen a few times. They must have been jealous, I know I would be, particularly since the weather was beautifull.

We got onto the Namur-Luxembourg highway without a hitch. However, at a certain point, I noticed that Georg Schaaf was on the side of the road. Gave him a sign, asking him if everything was cool, but he waved me on. There were were works on the road a bit further and we got stuck in the jam. Now normally, I would have started lane splitting and tried to overtake everybody, but not with such a big group. Evntually, I decided with Frank to wait for Georg at the exit to Jambes. Good thing I did, because we got someone else on the right track too. It shows that when riding in such a large group is not necessarly evident to keep an eye on everybody. I was shooed off by the Gendarmerie and told to piss-off from the place I was standing at. It was too dangerous to stay there. I knew that Jean Moxhet had supplied a roadbook to every rider so I thought that Georg would rally somewhere, though I wasn't happy about the situation. Eventually, I linked up with the group at a petrol station, a bit off Center of Namur, and we rode on, minus Georg. Rode to Dinant by one of the most beutifull stretches of roads of Belgium, on the righthand bank of the river Meuse. Twisty, just enough to make you feel that you are on a bike. We were riding in IBMWR sandwich formation for that part.

You really want to know what that is don't you ? It's Edson's invention. Put one Kaw in the front, one Triumph in the rear and some twenty plus Beemers in the middle, spice as you please and enjoy. ;)

We eventually got to Dinant and stopped for a drink on a terrace next to the Meuse river. Georg joined up. He had had some carb problem. Some of us had their first taste of Belgian fries. Clemens was eating his sitting on the ground. Jean then decided to toss his hat next to him, and I must admit I don't know whe tossed a coin inside the hat, but all of us were laughing our heads off. This was also the opportunity to watch a drive-by of vintage cars. Some of them were great. A pity Kees was not around with his bike, because he would not have disparaged the parade at all.

We rode on to Rochefort through the twisties, via la Barriere de Champlon, a very steep road. It was still too early for lunch, so we voted to go on to la Roche-en-Ardenne and have lunch there. This part is superb. The road reminded me a bit of the Lost Coast. Twisty and no traffic. We were doing the right clip seemingly, because some people were complaining that we were going too fast, and some others said we were too slow. :) Lunch at La Roche was good, and we left lesurely towards Vielsalm, Stavelot and the Circuit of Francorchamps. The first part of that road is made out of beautifull sweepers. Jean, who was in the lead, and I who was number two, forgot ourselves and went slightly berserk in the curves, going full blast, only to be overtaken by a K1100LT ridden by one of our Dutch friends. Talk about those flatlanders not being able to handle hills ! :) We got to Stavelot and had a pitstop. Seemingly Clemens (HIM AGAIN !!!! <G>) fell asleep on his bike while waiting for the others to top up. I heard there is a picture somewhere to prove it. We got to the Francorchamps circuit, packed out the banner and had a group picture taken on one of the control towers. Then one by one everybody who felt like it took a ride on the public road part of the circuit, which was in refection, a new surface being put on the most interresting part of it. Still, we had the Raidillon at our disposal. Watching Clemens puliing stoppies on a 1100ST made me wonder if his brother-in-law will ever lend him his bike again. :) I personally think, he is in for new tires and a clutch. But hey, we had fun....

Our Dutch friends as well as Markus Grave and some of our German Prezzes peeled off here and basically, the weekend was over, save those of the participants who were staying for a third night in antwerp. Edson and Minna, Katty, Sven-Erik, Klaus and Clemens. We had a Chinese meal after having refreshed ourselves and then I merrily switched off the power of my brain.

The highlights for me ?

- -The loosening of the atmosphere on Friday, betwwen the time I left the hotel and the time I went back.
- -The ride under police escort on Saturday morning.
- -The visit of Bruges under a glorious sun.
- -Stopping traffic at intersections to the great merryment of the cagers.
- -THE INCREDIBLE WEATHER WE ENJOYED !
- -Kees' R69. A beauty !
- -Fred's riding and boofing.
- -Sven-Erik's flegmatic and very hilarious behavior at times.
- -The internationality of the group, and the way it melted together.
- -The looks we got on the road.

All in all, I admit to having had my doubts in being able to bring this off. I hereby want to thank Frank Fensie for the help he gave me since January. Nick Hanne and Jean Moxhet for respectively organising the Bruges visit and lunch in Loppem, and the itinerery in the Ardennes. All of you guys did a marvelous, superb job. It was a pleasure to see it come together. My thanks also to Berdj Anastasian and Daniel Hamou, who though not Prezzes, helped keep the group together. I hope that we will be able to hold regional meetings on a regular base.

See all you guys soon.

Best regards,

Carlo Ratzersdorfer


From: Kees Van der Heiden

Date: Tue, 18 Jun 96 12:43:47 -0200
Subject: BMW: Antwerp, from the R69 perspective.

Just a few impressions from my side. Carlo writes the "oficial" report, so no point in replicating things.

I decided not to attend the second days ride, because that involved a lot of highway miles, includeing the ride home. I think that the R69 wouldn't have much problems with it, but my body still hurts after the few 75 mph miles. The Ardennes are on my list of "have-to's" after I have ironed out the last glitches of the R69 and after I had some neck muscle training.

Overall the weekend was marvelous. Why didn't we bother to organise something like this before? Or is Internet really growing so strong the last year here in Europe? Anyway it was great to speak with so many Presidents. I had already talked with Sven on the phone sometime a year or two ago, and it was big fun to finaly meet in reality. His bike is really an engineers dream with lots of modifications, most impressive the Krauser heads. Apart from my R69, his R100RS was the oldest bike present. Further I counted one early R80 G/S , and a couple of later GS's. Most of our German collegues? The GS is a popular bike overthere. The majority were all kind of K's. Only two R1100's (which I thought were much more popular) and two F650's. All in all it was an impressive sight, all those big BMW's, which dwarved that poor little R69.

As long as I stayed in the front of the group, it wasn't a big problem to keep up with the rest. Of course they took it easy, Somehow I have the feeling that it wouldn't have been so easy in the twisties of the Ardennes. After three years of wrenching, I have to relearn a lot.

In the end I managed to break the centerstand. One leg of it was halfway teared through. Quite inconvenient if you don't have a side stand, and you can only start your bike by kickstarting it. So instead of taking a touristic tour home, I took a more straight line. 60 Mph was a nice speed, but with a strong wind head on, even that was exhausting in the end.

Many thanks to our Belgian hosts, Carlo and Frank, who organised this so perfectly. Jean, I will send you some more thanks, as soon as I have explored your route through the Ardennes. Thanks anyway for not snorring at night ;-).

What about next year? I wouldn't mind to organise something like this in Holland, but maybe we should choose a site in another corner of Europe? What about Lulea, Sven ;-).

See you all later, Kees.



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