Kurland newcomers get a taste of Latvia

Ian Kerr joins three motorcycling colleagues in an eye-opening introduction to Latvia’s Kurland Rally

Since the late 1970s, the name Juris Ramba has been synonymous with vintage and classic motorcycling. The Latvian collector has also become the man to go to when everyone else says something is unrepairable (ultimately proving them wrong in most cases!) as well as writing some interesting articles in UK publications about vintage motorcycling behind the Iron Curtain.

Bikes are meant to be ridden regularly – and these four hardened warriors belonging to four British ‘Kurland virgins’ certainly look as if they are. Tony Page’s 1949 Vincent (left) was declared the most technically interesting at the event.

That barrier, of course, has long disappeared, and Juris created the Kurland Rally to allow riders from around the globe to experience the roads and culture of Latvia, and the hospitality of the locals.

The biennial event has spread its wings away from the Kurland area despite retaining its trademark title, this year moving to the ‘Swiss’ area of Latvia in the Gauja National Park, one of the largest and oldest of the home national parks, and characterised by its biological diversity, variety of landforms, natural springs, picturesque views and historical monuments.

New experiences

Moving the start and finish locations allows the rally to take in more of Latvia to allow regulars to see more of the Baltic state and its culture, as well as enjoying new roads and riding experiences.

One heck of a character, Juris Ramba is a legend of vintage and classic motorcycling in Latvia.

This year it was four Kurland newcomers who loaded up their machines and drove through France, Belgium, Germany, Poland and Lithuania to join riders mainly from northern Europe at Sigulda, just east of the capital city of Riga.

Fellow first-timers Clive and Jo Warrington, though, had ridden their 1956 Triumph from the UK taking in a totally different route involving ferries, and while the ride resulted in a few bike problems, they still won the furthest-travelled award.

Read more in the August issue of OBM – available now!

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