The Netherlands and Limburg 1998 Sleenaaker Vallei 1998
Spiders, aerobics, tandem and nursery.
What a great time we had. Stina and me, Wille R from Sweden talked the whole way driving back home through Holland and Germany about the weekend in Limburg. It all started in April when I was chatting on the Internet with Hans de Kok from the www.alfaspider.com about a meeting for Roundtail Spiders. Limburg was his choice and now I know why. We'll be back next year, that's for sure.
With new engine oil and the -67 Roundtail spider well tuned, we started through Denmark and passed on the brand new Belt-bridge, one of the biggest in Europe. What a view, we could almost see Amsterdam. Since the traffic in the Hamburg area is known to be hard, we decided to spend the night in Elmshorn. After the usual procedure with "Schnitzel Ziugeuner art" and some beer, the next morning we took the ferry from Gluckstadt over the Elbe, just ten minutes, and we were finally in Holland.
The welcome was terrible, heavy rain and thunder near Groeningen made us stop under some trees. Well, you could have a worse time than sitting in the spider with your 'spouse, listening to good music by Duane Eddy and Jerry Lee Lewis from the tape recorder.
As always, things got better and we had a nice drive on the small roads and passed Leuwarden, Afsluitsdijk and stayed in Medemblick for the night. I had then noticed that the gas tank had a minor leak. The problem was, that I was not able to find any liquid gasket sealant to stop the leak. The smell was terrible and everybody just stopped and started asking questions whenever the bonnet was open or even worse, I was under the spider. The people however were very polite and friendly, but the leak continued.
Friday Friday morning we took the road to Lelystad and passed Harderwijk and continued on the small and winding roads through Putten, Ede, Nijmegen and had a good time. Stina and I realised that we would never make Limburg on time so we decided to take the motor-way instead. Suddenly two spiders came along.
What a relief, Cobi and Jan with Dagmar and Ingmar took us on the fast lane to Valkenburg. It was very fun to drive in a convoy at a good speed. BTW, since Stina has her opinion about speed, I had swapped the Jaeger speedometer for another one which only shows a maximum speed of 120 kph, no matter what the rev. counter will say. 4.800 rpm still is a nice 120 kph and so is 3.400 rpm. I'll never trade that speedometer.
What a show to see all the spiders and to meet everybody. There were spiders everywhere and people from various countries like Holland, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Sweden, UK, Germany and Italy of course. Nice to get a badge with you name on. Then we didn't have to say "that tall guy" or "the green spiderman", instead we all knew who we were by name.
Very fortunate, most of the fellas handed over the accommodation or other details to the females and then we opened our bonnets and started to tell lies about our Alfa Romeo spiders. Many interesting thoughts and ideas were penetrated and examined in the parking lot. Time just flew away for Andreas Rottman, Jacqout Christopbre and Klaus Mohr. There were also some nice IV-series spiders, I noticed a black one owned by Christian Spaan, young Alfista. His father Jan had a Kamm-tailed spider. Lots of Alfas in that family too.
My tank was still leaking and everybody was most interested. Nice welcome dinner and after some refill from the hotel bar, we all had a good night sleep on Friday evening.
Saturday Saturday morning the rally started. Roni "Spiderman" handed out the maps, very impressive in full color print and easy to read. The Rallybook contained some questions and assignments and a start list with every spider according to the start number with full names and license plate numbers. Thanx.
We were supposed to drive and make some assignments which turned out to be very instructive. Like everyone else, I followed the leader, i.e. the car in front of you. In my case it was a black Giulia Spider with a very nice Dutch couple. After a while I followed the leader and ended in the parking lot. We had to pay to get out from there and in the meantime we saw the other spiders passing one by one.
The rally was real fun even with a leaking tank and Jan Groen's spider looks so nice in the rear mirror, especially when overtaken! Everywhere we looked, there were Spiders all around. Fabulous! I had my mind set on the tasks and had prepared myself real good. I know how to tell the difference between the sound from a 1300 Jr engine with NKG sparking plugs and a worn clutch release bearing with Pirelli tyres from a 1750 engine with spin on filter and ATE valves. I had even rechecked the movies "Police academy no 14" and "Rocky VII". That's what we do way up north. But I found it hard to find the border pole but managed anyway.
As I run the Alfa Romeo Roundtail Spider register on the web, I was very happy to see so many Duettos and Veloces in such good shape. I knew some of them from the Internet already but had never seen the owners. Suddenly "Cobi.Groen@WXS.nl" and "email@example.com" got a face and were something else than just a VIN or a chassi no. I took lots of photos and I was so happy.
Swiss Duettos There were two absolutely immaculate Swiss white Duettos. They looked even better than brand new and in fact, they were. Andreas Rottman and Hans-Peter Krebs had done a marvellous job restoring them. I decided to park my roundtail far away from them to avoid any comparison. Some of us talked about pouring used engine oil over the white cars to make ours look better, but we never did. They Swiss were very nice people and of course Kodak must have made a fortune since everybody was taking pictures.
Andrea from Italy had a red Giulia GT with some engine noise. Jan Groen took command and was very happy to have something to lay his hands on, since Cobi was organising the event together with Jaques and Roni. Nice work Jan, to get the Giulia quiet again and I know that Andrea Piecarini will not have to do anything about that engine for a while.
The organisation had arranged another assignment too. Roni "Spiderman" asked some question about what Italy was famous for. I was the only one who shouted "amore" but that was wrong. It was tandem bicycles instead. We all had to ride on the bike some 5 kilometres, that's what it felt like. Stina and I had an interesting style on the bike, a mix of Michael Williams in Sacramento, Eddie Merckx, King-Kong after the shower and Quasiomodo break-dancing but managed. Afterwards we found out that we had taken the long run, the rest of the gang only did 50??? meters.
Prices and food, glorious food, Alfisti In the evening we had an absolute marvellous four-course dinner and wine. Stina and I had made friends with Klaus and Hildegard from Cologne and the evening went very fast, too fast. The Swiss Duettos got awards too. First price was a lot of engine oil. Their Spider did not consume any oil, as far as I could see. Perhaps the blue-oil flame Spider that drove in front of me for a while would have better use of the oil. Now I know that he who says "there is no smoke without fire" has never been driving behind an Alfa with worn valve guides.
I got a nice price too, a very big bottle of the Dutch Genever. That was a good compensation for my leaking gas tank. The price was however not for the cleanest Spider, but for the 1.500 km we had to go to get to Valkenburg. Thanx a bunch.
That evening it started to rain, but what the heck. Can you have a better time than together with other Alfisti, good eating, lots of drinks and nice girls and Spiders. That was a time to remember.
Sunday Another excellent breakfast and we were all ready to go. During Saturday and Sunday there were some more Spiders arriving to take part in the event. There was a Belgian 1750 Veloce -68 with French license plates that had been in a museum in France for almost 25 years. Still original painting, never re-sprayed and with the engine never opened. Congratulations to Luc Colemont, proud owner of this beauty. Luc runs the Alfa Romeo Miniatura
Finally, off we went in a long convoy, Cobi was leading and Roni was taking care of the end. What a glorious sight to be in the middle with Alfas as far as you could see, both ahead and in the rear mirror.
Aerobics The clouds were looking as way back in Scandinavia, i.e. rain ahead, but nobody seemed to mind. That's when the aerobic exercises started. The sky started to weep and almost everybody turned 45 degrees backwards, grabbed the hood and pulled it up.
Some Alfisti used umbrellas instead, I had never thought of that. After a few minutes, the reverse operation, top down. Moving again, shifting gears, revving and then again. Turn your body back, grab the hood and lift. Away we went and then again, top down. This operation went on for some time, but after a while almost everybody had enough and the tops stayed down. That was the Jane Fonda aerobic exercise Alfa Spider style. Some of us are not used to twist our bodies that much and we still can feel it after a week. Luc Colemont is here assisted by a Dutch Duetto owner with experience.
In the meantime, Mieke and some other nice ladies jumped out from the woods with a nice lunch bag and made my day. It sure tasted fine. I think the local inhabitants were impressed by us. I remember when they let us all pass. They had obviously no idea that we were that many. The line of cars waiting was growing all the time, but the didn't seem to mind. There can never be too many Alfas, can there?
Finally, we got the Texas-style restaurant Arizona. The organisation had a nice meal ready for us, spare-ribs. I liked that and even got an extra plate. Stina got a nice glass and Brunette and I got Alfa beer with a special designed glass. Roni and Jacques sure knew how to get a party going. Very impressive.
Time to say goodbye and everybody was saying "see you next year". I personally was getting kinda sentimental. We had such a great time together and we will be back again. Thanx a bunch.
Little Dagmar had an overhaul on a Spider and got new dipers. I liked that, well done Cobi. What will become of little Dagmar, she's already used to the Spider, just wait 'til she gets her driving license. It is really good to see the Groen family driving in two spiders with the kids belted in the seats and the top down. A real Alfa family.
Roni was very good when he escorted us to the hotel and we all had a jolly good time that evening together with the Alfisti from Luxembourg. It is always fun to tell lies about our spiders and rims and how fast we go. Time went too fast as always when you're in a good company. We all slept like logs that night.
Thanx a bunch to Hans, Roni, Jaques and Cobi and their families and all the rest who made this such a memorable visit. See you all next year.