SYMPATHY FOR THE ANTRAPPERS
Early morning March the 20th I kicked my XT500 to life. It had been sitting due to my defecting to a crazy, good-looking and extremely loud Kawasaki-turned-chopper. The XT is a one cylinder thumper with big power in the lower rev-regions. I just forgot. My first meters were driven on one wheel. I kept it straight and out of harms way, so we could load our bikes in the van and go.
The occasion was an Enduro-ride organised by a motorcycle club called The Antrappers. This translates to The Kickstarters but in local Drenthe-speak. The guys like to kickstart their motorcycles. Just like me. Thus, sympathy for The Antrappers was immediate. Still with a slim foundation, later that day, and night, this grew with every tug of their local brew. First, we had to spend a day in the mud, on our bikes from another era. Definitely from another era than the other 1246 riders that day. Around us flew KTM’s, Husqvarna’s, modern day Yamaha’s and Honda’s and whatnot. Most disappointingly equipped with a start-button. But we didn’t whine. We threw ourselves, sometimes literally, in that mud.
One 1981 Honda XR500, two XT500’s, one of which was acquired that very day, and so his very first ride. Reyer is the name of this hero. If that was a wise decision, other generations must decide. But heroism doesn’t come with wisdom or contemplation but with guts, courage and ‘spur of the moment’. Big thumbs up for such character. Rob threw his hybrid SR500 engined, C&J framed Yamaha in the soup. A very sought after and rare bike, another hero. Me, I just ride a first-generation ’76 XT500, that I own for a long long time. It’s my companion. I ride it on the streets, in the mud, over the mountains, and on the freeway. It is an all-road, everything bike for me. Our Motogadgets friend Jeffrey Wardenaar took his 1976 XT out, fitted some decoy headlight, added a bit of fluid in the front shocks, and off he went, shredding all the high powered KTMs and Huskys to pieces. While he raced through cornfield gutters, The Pushbuttons who tried to follow ate the dust, or the mud. We couldn’t follow either. We knew. We have excepted this a long time ago.
After Reyer succumbed to the cornfield, the rest of us merely tried to survive the day. Coasting our bikes through the trenches and gutters, over glassy day-build bridges, with a lot of spectators wishing us a slippery slide into a watery ditch. Sorry guys, maybe next time. The bikes added 15 kilos of mud along the way. We made it back. All of us in one piece, Jeffrey already on a french fry dinner and a tall boy. An indoor party at the Gebben Motoren shop kept us busy the rest of the day and night. We made friends with Aaldert the filmmaker, Arend the chairman, and Theo Otten who was Reyer’s-to-the-rescue bouncing along the fields in his Necaf Jeep with trailer.
Next day my exhausted body rode happily home, accompanied by 15 kilos of Drenthe-mud.
Guys! See you next year!