1911: Going Dutch

Following the success of an expedition to the 1911 TT by a contingent from the Dutch MCC the Dutch lads invited the Brits to make a return visit for an Anglo-Dutch reliability trial.


“THE RULES WERE formulated by the Dutch Motor Cycle Club, and The Motor Cycle was invited by the officials of that body to receive entries from British riders, which we agreed to do—though taking no part in the organisation of the trial—and soon so many entries were received that a process of elimination became necessary.” The leading bike clubs were called in to recruit nine private owners and nine trade riders, each team to ride three lightweights, three middleweights and three heavies (with or without sidecars); all bikes to be fully equipped for the road. 

W Cooper (3½hp Bradbury) captained the Brits’ private owners’ team.

THE FIRST INTERNATIONAL reliability test has been won and lost. Certainly it was not due to the weakness of the whole of the eighteen British competitors that the cup must remain in Holland, for whereas seventeen lost twenty marks collectively—eleven less than the Dutchmen—one English rider alone lost forty-three marks, and so it is easy to explain our downfall. It would be idle to hide the fact that the Englishmen expected to win easily, and all were surprised at the regular running of the opposing team on their FNs, Eysinks, NSUs, Vulkaans,and Phanomobiles. The Dutchmen thoroughly deserved their victory. They recorded fifteen non-stop runs compared with the British team’s thirteen. Some consolation to Englishmen is derived from the fact that a Rover, James, and Douglas, appeared in the Dutch team.
The outing proved most enjoyable. Saturday evening saw over forty competitors and friends at Harwich watching with breathless anxiety their machines being swung aboard the Copenhagen in an open-ended cage, but nothing more serious than bent footrests and guards was the outcome of the crossing. Everyone admired the enthusiasm of the officials of the Dutch Motor Cycle Club committee, who rode from Amsterdam and were in waiting at the Hook to welcome their English guests at 5am. Enthusiasm, in fact, characterised the whole of the arrangements. There was no such thing as too much trouble, the Englishmen were never left without a guide, there were sufficient functions to keep everyone interested, and that is why we returned with such appreciation and respect for the hospitality of our Dutch friends. It took nearly two hours to trans-ship the machines and have them passed by the Customs officers, what time a cinematograph operator was busy.

Heading for Holland: Wheeling the bikes off the platform at Harwich.

After breakfast in the Hotel America Mr toe Laer, the president, headed the long procession of riders, and away we went for Scheveningen, the well-known bathing place. But the roads! We were all expectant of macadam surfaces which never came. Dutch roads are narrow and twisty, whilst the surface is composed of bricks very similar to tram setts. Holes deep enough to allow three or four of the bricks to be laid flat side by side existed every fifty to sixty yards, and so, instead of the Englishmen gazing around to study the scenery, as they are accustomed to do at home, all attention had per- force to be concentrated on the road to avoid a fall. Twenty miles per hour on such roads is ample. On this run we had our first glimpse of Holland. The scenery has an attractive and unique character all its own. It would be difficult to adequately describe the beauty of the lowlands, for the dykes, the windmills, the old- world costumes of the peasant girls were all so unique and quaint. It was this entire change of conditions that impressed the English visitors so much.

“BARRED! An incident at the English-Dutch Trial; unloading FW Barnes’s Zenith-Gradua sidecar at the Hook of Holland. The photograph is reminiscent of the barred cage on the Zenith Co’s stand at the last Olympia Show.”

The visit to the Hague and Scheveningen, the fashionable sea-bathing place, was much enjoyed. After luncheon in the Kurhaus, the party dispersed in various directions to see the sights. In the afternoon, the competitors were kindly invited to tea at the Palace Hotel by Mr and Mrs Eobt and R toe Laer, where the party was photographed, and in the evening a move was made for Amsterdam (40 miles) via den Deyl, Haagsche Schouw. Oegstgeest. Hillegom, Heemstede, and Haarlem. The roads still caused much discomfort and severely tested the machinjes. Our photographer broke the frame of his sidecar, one of Applebee’s rear stays broke (he was carrying a third passenger on the carrier), and V Taylor was seen with his cylinder off. Sundry bolts and nuts were found to be missing from several machines at the end of the journey.

Geoffrey Smith (2¾hp Humber) was in the English private owner’s team.

The entry into Amsterdam was not a dignified one, for it simply poured with rain. The competitors’ machines were locked up for the trial on Monday.The rain-soaked riders requiring so long to change, the official dinner in the American Hotel, Leidscheplein, was unfortunately late, but the arrangements for this brilliant function were splendid. The majority of the representatives of both international teams were present, Mr toe Laer occupying the chair, and welcoming the English guests. Speeches were in English and afterwards translated into Dutch. The respective captains, Messrs Cooper and Pratt, appealed to the men to do their best and ride carefully and cautiously. In a subsequent speech by Mr. A. Citroen, the hon. secretary, a plaque of honour, in silver, and suitably inscribed, was presented to Mr Geoffrey Smith (The Motor Cycle) in recognition of his services in connection with the arrangements for the trial in England. Suitable acknowledgment was made. It was after midnight when the competitors retired, and they were early astir, for at 8am. the trial commenced.

The trial
The roads were little, if any, better. It was bump, bump, bump, and every 200 yards of comparatively smooth road was counterblasted by a jar sufficient to cause one’s vertebra? to dither. Certain it is that bricks do not cause so much dust. Railway crossings are numerous in Holland. They are not guarded by swinging gates, but by a sort of collapsible gate which lifts vertically. To see it descending as one approaches the crossing is reminiscent of the Sword of Damocles. The first check at Soestdijk caught a number of riders much too early, and in sight of the check balancing feats were the order. Practically everybody was too early, and as none of the milometers agreed with the distance on the route card, a re-measurement was made, with the expected result; that it was found to be short, and two: minutes were consequently allowed every competitor at this point. Unfortunately, three leading English contestants were outside this amount, and lost marks thereby. They were WW Douglas (Douglas), four marks; FW Barnes (Zenith sidecar), one mark; and F Smith (Clyno), three marks. Slowing down to lose time, CM Down accidentally stopped his engine—bad luck indeed.

“FC Wasley, who would make a fine Dutchman, is seen posing with two Dutch peasant girls.” On the face of it a jovial reference to Wasley’s Dutch attire. But, through no fault of his own, the hapless Wasley had cost the Brits victory in the trial…could that “fine Dutchman” be a gentle dig?

The lunch proved somewhat of a scramble. Here FC Wasley (Douglas) failed to put in an appearance until after the timekeepers had left, and lost the maximum marks (forty) in consequence. He experienced magneto trouble, the fibre of the contact breaker having worn so much that the platinum points would not break. The hopes of the British team were shattered thus early. Public interest in the trial was most marked: at every street corner crowds assembled to witness the teams file through, and frequently cheers were raised. The ubiquitous boy scout pointed the way at all doubtful points. The regularity with which the Dutch eompetitors were runnfng caused much surprise and comment; occasionally they would be observed repairing tyres, which did not involve loss of marks, and only three experienced trouble. At De Steeg (81 miles) riders dismounted to sign the checking sheet, then on again to De Grebbe (104 miles) for tea. De Grebbe is one of three hills in Holland. Its gradient had been kept secret, so the competitors were somewhat curious to know the worst. A standing start was made, and away the competitors were sent every twenty seconds to climb, not 1 in 4, but a gradient of 1 in 14, which most of them did in true English style! D Croll, of the Dutch club, stopped his road wheels owing to a slipping clutch. Shortly after this, probably the prettiest stretch of the whole run was encountered. V Taylor was passed by the roadside; his trouble remains a mystery. He was reported to be inflating a hard tyre. An unlucky experience befell Reg Holloway hereabouts. His carburetter commenced flooding, and at last choked the engine. Pedalling his hardest, he kept the machine on the move whilst he unscrewed the float chamber but had to give in at last and investigate matters. His trouble was a punctured float, which he adjusted temporarily and continued. It was generally agreed among the competitors that the rough course tested the machines as severely as two or three long days’ runs over English roads. People turned out in thousands at Utrecht, where for the twentieth time during the trip the British National Anthem was played by a band.

Left: CW Wilson (Morgan runabout) leaving the Soestdijk checkpoint. Right: Signing in at the Apeldoorn checkpoint. Nearest the camera is a Coronamobil; the bike’s a four-pot FN.

A few more miles of tramlines, several more railway crossings with the metals an inch or two above the road level, bridges approached at right angles, clumsy waggon drivers who would not heed the rule of the road, are recollections of the last stage of the journey. F Smith lyno) punctured, and changed a wheel, which at first worried the officials, as they had not provided for detachable wheels on motor cycles. Another unfortunate Britisher was FW Barnes, who punctured his back tyre, but continued on the rim. Near the end one of the cylinders of G Smith’s twin Humber commenced misfiring, but the machine was kept going on one cylinder for two or three miles, and by holding the terminal close to the top of the plug so that a spark gap was obtained, the carbon was burned away. A big crowd assembled at the finish, the Darracq Palace, Stadhouderskade, Amsterdam (158½ miles).

Climbing De Greebe, the only hill on the course. It’s 14 to 1 gradient didn’t impress the Brits.

All the party met for dinner at the Krasnopolslcy, Warmoesshaat, the same evening, and next day the much looked forward to boat trip to.Yolendam and Marken was enjoyed, a special steam boat being chartered. The band on board played the National Anthem as the steamer moved off, and as the boat approached the lock entry to the Zuider Zee a cornet player again obliged. An- other anthem much in evidence was the British war-cry, ” We’re, here, because we’re here,” etc. The little fishing town of Volendam with its picturesque inhabitants in national costume was especially attractive to the English party in particular. The children especially looked most quaint in their old-world garb. A shop with Dutch clothing and clogs in the windows was too great a temptation for Dover, Slaughter, and Wasley ; their example was followed, and the shop taken by storm. The men emerged one by one attired in clogs and huge trousers, and seemed most concerned because they could not purchase a new pair of bags with patches on!

The final checkpoint at Utrecht attracted large crowds.

At lunch the English teams were tho guests of the Dutch Touring Club, Mr Fochema occupying the chair. On the way back to Amsterdam the Isle of Marken was visited, and if the stay had been prolonged all money would have been spent, so anxious were the party to take back some souvenir of this delightful outing.
In the evening the international trial was seen on the cinematograph at the Cinema Pathe. The film was not first-class, but it was cheered to the echo. Next morning, Wednesday, some explored Amsterdam, whilst another party, piloted by Mr Citroen, started for Scheveningen. All met at the Hook about eight o’clock, and again getting the machines aboard, Messrs Citroen and Ferwerda were entertained by the English riders to dinner, amid expressions of appreciation of the hospitality, kindness, and untiring attention of the Dutch Club officials to render the outing a thoroughly enjoyable one.
Dutch team
A silver medal was awarded for maximum number of marks (SM=silver medal, BM=bronze medal, NS=none-stop run). N Ruyter (3½hp NSU) BM; H Dieters (6hp Phanomobile), SM, NS; Hugo Smit (3hp NSU) BM, NS; EJE Maas (6hp FN), BM, NS; D Croll Jnr (7hp Indian sidecar), BM; E Fischer (3hp Eysink), BM, NS; PN Jelsma (2¾hp Eysink) SM, NS; P de Roon (6hp FN), BM, NS; F Posno (3½hp Rover), SM, NS; Jacq Fonck (2hp Vulkaan) BM, NS; JL Geidt (6hp Cyclonette), BM, NS; GT Arends (2hp Vulkaan), SM, NS; D van der Mark (2¾hp FN), SM, NS; JW Boots (6hp Coronamobil), BM; JH Nieuwenhuis (2¾hp Douglas), SM, NS; Firma Eysink (2¼hp Eyesink), SM, NS; C Witteveen (3½hp James), SM, NS; H Daalmeyer (6hp Cyclonette),SM, NS.

English team
Private owners: Geoffrey Smith (2¾hp Humber) NS, SM; C Maurice Down (2¾hp Enfield), 3 marks lost, BM; FC Wasley (2¾hp Douglas), 43, —; Vernon Taylor (3½hp Rudge), 3, BM; Fred Dover (3½hp Premier), NS, SM; E Lester (3½hp P&M); NS, SM; W Cooper (3½hp Bradbury); NS, SM; CW Wilson, (Morgan), NS, SM; AE Uffleman (6hp Rex-JAP), 3, BM. Trade riders, WW Douglas (2¾hp Douglas), 4, BM; R Holloway, 2½hp Premier), 3, BM; Sam Wright (2¾hp Humber), NS, SM; WF Newsome (3½hp Triumph); NS, SM; W Pratt (3½hp P&M); NS, SM; JF Slaughter (3½hp New Hudson), NS, SM; Frank Smith (6hp Cluno SC), 3, BM; FW Barnes (6hp Zenith SC) 3, BM; FA Applebee (3¾hp Scott SC), NS, SM.

ALL THE TRADE team rode consistently and well, eight of nine accomplishing non-stops, and losing a total of 11 marks; the Dutch trade team lost 19 marks. The British amateurs had not such a good record, only five making non-stops, the total lost marks being 62; the Dutch amateurs lost 12 marks.

RG Mundy (3½hp three-speed Quadrant) won a silver medal as a reserve.

Winner of the International Trophy (presented by Messrs A Citroen and J Ferwenda), Holland, marks lost 31. Messrs Phelon and Moore’s Cup for the best performance of a Dutch private owner resulted in a tie, and Messrs Jelsma, Arends, Nieuwenhuis, Dieters, and Daalmeyer will compete again. The Cycle and Motor Cycle Manufacturess’ and Traders’ Union silver cup for the best performance of an English private owner may also be re-run in England, as five competitors lost no marks. They are Messrs G Smith, F Dover, E Lester, W Cooper, and CW Wilson. Likewise The Motor Cycle cup for the trade resulted in a draw, Messrs Pratt, Newsome, Slaughter, and Applebee of the English trade team, and Messrs Van der Mark, Eysink, and Witteveen Jnr, of the Dutch trade team, qualifying for the award. Silver medals will be presented to each rider, and the destination of the cup settled in 1913. A number of chosen riders accompanied the teams as reserves, and, not being called upon, competed in a special section. Those who won silver medals for completing the course to schedule time are: R Lord (6hp RexSidette), RG Mundy (3½hp Quadrant), FC North 3½hp Ariel), FA Hardy 2½hp Norton), Seymour Smith (3½hp Norton) and JC Bennett Mitchell (2¾ hp Douglas). Eight reserve Dutch riders also won medals.