A personal invitation from fellow but ‘proper’ classic motorcycle journalist Steve Wilson of The Classic Motorcycle triggered off a trip to the Dutch Ariel Club Rally in St Oedenrode for Nigel Stennett-Cox, resulting in a very enjoyable long weekend in May.
Having no Ariel on which to go, and memories of a mixed nature regarding only one previous bike bearing the ‘Iron Horse’ badge, led to the 1964 Panther Model 120 accompanying Steve’s c.1956 350 Ariel NG. The writer’s previous Mark One Square Four had, to be fair, suffered many amateur spanner-wielders prior to ending up in his hands.
Steve and I met at Harwich port for a very smooth overnight crossing, easily getting outclassed for exhaust noise and general presence by a large contingent of chopper riders on the same sailing (they would have been heading to the Flanders Chopper Bash in Belgium – Ed).
We were off in The Hook of Holland first, and when our chopper co-travellers passed us sorting out our luggage on the quay, not one eye in their entire convoy glanced in the direction of two old men on old British bikes.
The Panther, fully laden with camping gear, and the less weighted Ariel 350 turned out to have similar cruising speeds of about 50mph on the superbly smooth Dutch trunk roads, with the only handicaps to excellent progress being in the early stages around Rotterdam when the incredible galaxy of intertwining lanes and speeding locals overtaking on both sides taxed your writer’s skills and nerve to the utmost.
Things became positively pleasant by about 20 miles in, with the only other minor niggle being Steve’s difficulty in starting the Ariel after every stop.
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