Friday 29 March 2013

Stalen Ros 2013 and Touring the Lower Rhine

Stalen Ros show and market, Neerkant, Netherlands on March 24, 2013
Cold weather continues to ruin training in the Rhineland so it was time to get a rental car and do some touring.  Last Sunday it was time to visit the Lower Rhine region and my main goal was the Stalen Ros bike show and market in the tiny village of Neerkant in the Netherlands, just over the border from Germany.

I picked up my brand new (393 kms!) Opel Adam at the Düsseldorf Airport, hooked up the TomTom GPS and headed north for the border.  On the way I took a short break in the village of Wachtendonk, which offered an historic centre in addition to freezing temperatures and a brutal ice-cold wind.  I was impressed with the ruins of the medieval castle but  also with the Pulverturm, where powder was kept and which is now an attractive restaurant.  It was built in 1605/06.

The Pulverturm, Wachtendonk

Returning to the car and testing the effectiveness of the heater as quickly as possible, I continued my drive and soon was in the Netherlands.  Leaving the highway, the GPS lead me down incredibly narrow country roads into Neerkant and I quickly found the community centre where Stalen Ros was being held.  Lots of cars were parked on the surrounding streets, many with bike racks.

Paying my 2 Euros to enter, I walked into the busy central hall and saw two line-ups of classic racing bicycles on display.  Some of them had signs with a bit of information on them but for most of them you had to know what you were looking at but luckily I have been to enough shows that many were in fact familiar to me.

1970 Raleigh Professional track bike

The first bike in the first line was a beautiful Raleigh track bike, constructed in the former Carleton shop under the supervision of Gerald O'Donovan, who was subsequently in charge of the Raleigh Special Bicycle Development Unit in Ilkeston where my own Raleigh Team Pro was constructed a dozen years later.

Stayer track bike
There were a lot of track bikes present, including an interesting example of a stayer, used in races behind big motorcycles on the track.  They are characterized by a small front wheel and a reversed fork, allowing the rider to get close to the roller behind the motorcycles.  They also have gigantic chainwheels that allow for very high-speed riding.

The next bike that caught my interest was a Chesini which might not have been all that remarkable in and of itself but featured an amazing paint scheme: blue on the left and red on the right!  At first I had thought there was a pair of matching bikes as I walked up and down the row... The two-tone scheme extended to the stem and tape.

Eddy Merckx Corsa SLX c. 1988/89

Next to the Chesini was a mouth-watering Merckx Corsa, with Dura-Ace 7402 components, and painted in the classic Team 7-Eleven colours.  For North American collectors, this is one of the Holy Grail bicycles as it reflects the era of the dominant team in US racing and the first US team to see success in European racing.

1985 Masi Prestige    

There were two Masi Prestige bicycles at the show and the one of particular interest featured the Campagnolo 50th Anniversary Super Record groupset.  Both bicycle and components appeared to have never been outside or used in any way.  Nice.

Walking through the remainder of the halls, I saw many frames, parts and accessories for sale although it was certainly not on the scale of the market at l'Eroica or, perhaps, even Rommerskirchen.  The fiercely cold weather may have reduced the number of people present and in the end the 500 Euros burning a hole in my pocket remained there.

There was a good turnout at the show and I ran into many of the fellows from the Klassikerausfahrt group from Düsseldorf.  Leaving Neerkant, I crossed back into Germany and drove across the country's longest suspension bridge (which will not be much competition to the Golden Gate) and passing through Kleve I returned to the Netherlands where I visited the country's largest water castle, Huis Bergh.  Once in the possession of the Counts of Berg, it was derelict by 1912 when a Dutch businessman purchased it and gradually restored it.  In addition to housing his collection of medieval art, the castle offers possibilities for event hosting and is really quite impressive.  I would like to return when it is warmer and enjoy the castle and the neighbouring village of 's-Heerenbergen at leisure.

Huis Bergh
Returning through Kleve, I turned Adam north and we drove onwards through Kalkar, passing Schloss Moyland, another impressive castle, before stopping for dinner in Xanten.  It had been a bitterly cold day but I enjoyed my sight-seeing holiday--even if no bikes were added to the Tin Donkey herd!

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