I’d done a bit of research, with a trip out to MC Liile earlier in the year and I’d come across the definite date calendar on Werner Castelyns Kate’s Retro Page . With a MXBota meeting at Oreye on 27.Aug, the bikes (the Three Counties meeting back in May, a wet stubble field , was with a sense of foreboding given the incoming weather.
Signed on, 30 euro to ride with a day license (no need for an international license etc), though you pay to get the van onsite etc as well. Decided to ride the MX250 in the pre77 and it was interesting to see them run the Caterpillar tractor around the track, taking the top 30-50cm off the surface, finding mainly dry soul underneath. The track itself had some tight turns, jumps and was pretty wide in places. No natural climbs or slopes to speak of, but nicely laid out. A lot of people around, as after the classic racing on Saturday, there was a full day of modern racing planned for Sunday.
Everything is done by time and the normal programme for the day is Practice, with then two blocks of racing. The races are longer than the Welsh Championship, and are the 12 (or 15) minute + 1 lap formula, and you get two of them. The racing on the day had the following classic classes, pre-72, pre-77, 80-175cc pre-1980, Twinshock and pre-90 Evo. There was also a Quad race, Mob Cross ( basically Mobilette or moped racingb , and for modern bikes, Loisirs (leisure riders) and Veterans. Total 9 classes, each taking 20 minutes. So for the pre77 class, practice at 09h20, first race 12h00 and second race at 15h40. Good in a way, as plenty of time to fix your bike or drink a coffee or tea, or grab some frites.
I ended up out for two practice sessions, on both bikes, and as normal the MX250 didn’t run as well as it had done before I put it into the van. Your bike is scruitineered, levers, foot-pegs etc prior to practice and you get 15 minutes. The track was still muddy in places for the first session, but the YZ250 came back a lot cleaner as it dried up. Good fun on the bikes, but was getting used to a different type of track, with some modern corners (ie tight) and the jumps. YZ250 was missing a bit, but oh, the suspension on the jumps is a joy. Noticed that there were a lot of wives (and mothers?) at the track and they were they cleaning up bikes after practice with a loyalty that only comes with a life built around motocross. There’s a lot of truth that Motocross, behind cycling, is the #1 Belgian sport.
First race out was the pre-77 on the MX250. Looking around at the Maico’s and Suzuki’s on the line, there were a lot of laid down shocks and tall looking bikes (there was an XL500 also, take note Alan), as well as two HL 500 Yamaha’s. Healthy line-up, making my MX250 look a bit puny, but no problem. Dreadful start put me at the back but managed to get past a couple of people on the first few corners. Track had dried a lot since practice, so good pace and the lines opening up, with some ruts already beginning to form. The MX250 was running okay, but missing gears all over the place and still lacking power out of the corners. Good fun though and knackered by the 1 lap board came out.
Back to the van and decided to take the YZ250 out the first Twinshock race (under the insurance / license system, you are allowed to run in 3 races at a meeting). This was more serious, with some impressive bikes, not just cobbled together YZ’s on the start. A sprinkling of Suzuki’s, Kawasaki’s and plenty of keen looking riders, half of whom seemed to be called Geboers. Better start, but it was a stiff pace and with few expectations, managed to enjoy the jumps and the increasingly rough track as the race went on. With a couple of laps to go, dropped the bike on one the corners and it wouldn’t restart for bit. When it did, that was it. Back to the van and totally knackered, and went on the hunt for drinks whilst Sophie located the sandwiches. Brewed up some tea and settled down in the wind behind the van to recover from 1h15 minutes of track time in the morning.
Went for a walk and spoke with Werner Castelyns during the break between races (who should also be referred to as JR, as he learnt english from watching Dallas) and it was good find out how Belgium Classic motocross is organised. As mentioned, he runs the Kate’s Retro Page web site, which has the dates, regs, riding numbers and the latest news on whats happening in Belgian ‘old timer’ or classic motocross. It seems that running bikes in the right classes is a hot topic also and in particular with the pre-77 class. As I’d found out, the Twinshock class is very competitive, so much so some pre77 riders had moved into the older class and there was now some debate on the machinery being used (HT Yamaha’s were mentioned). The Twinshock class in the Welsh Championship has a wide variety of standard of rider and I’m sure if I rode at Twinshock specific meeting, I’d find the same standard and focus; not been to Farleigh so I don’t know.
Sophie and I also met up with Tony Hegarty and his wife who were over from Wrexham (I’d been in the same race at him at Pontrilas earlier in the year) and he, like me was testing Belgian racing out for the first time on his CZ. Also enjoy himself, and like me was surprised by the quality of the track after the overnight rain.
After some further bike work on the MX250, went out for the 2nd race and ended up in the pre72 instead of the pre77 (over eagerness and trying to avoid the incoming rain!). Much better away from the gate (no buggering around like there is behind the tape. Lots for start position in race 1 and then result from race 1 governs your position for race 2, makes a lot of sense. Lost the gears round the back of the course, but the bike went well, and again like at Abbeycwmhir, managed to loose parts of the exhaust. Good fun again, but by the end was losing pace as now tired. It was nice to see the chequered flag. Back to the van to load up and change, before heading back over to the track and the beer tent (we are in Belgium after all).
Tim (colleague from work) and a couple of friends came over from nearby Hasselt to watch the races in the afternoon and have a beer, which we followed by frites, saus and a saveloy…excellent. Weather had improved and there was some impressive Twinshock and Evo racing to watch. Also, liked the 80-175cc pre80 class as there are very few classic 125’s out there racing in the UK (had seen a rare YZ125A last year).
The route back from Oreye revealed more of the interesting side of Belgium. The N3 / Luikersteenweg
is an interesting 10km strip of lap dancing clubs and other premises of ill repute. The wiggling girls in the window had little attention from the early evening traffic, perhaps wearing motocross kit rather than basques made have an impact on the returning riders. The McDonalds in St Truiden got torched by animal rights groups some time back and some of the local kids have a facebook group campaigning for its return, however the current building with its graffiti isn’t too bad.
About an hour or so back to Lier and a stop in the excellent self-wash to clean bikes, gear and the van. Long day which ended up with me falling asleep on the sofa with an unfinished coffee.
To finish some notes on riding classic motocross in Belgium :
– best source of information is Werner’s site and he’ll be keen to help out if you want some information
– To ask for the standard beer in Flemish, een pintje alstublieft , un demi s’il vous plait in French, using the right one in the right part of Belgium is the challenge. English usually works in Flanders also….
– If you want to be competitive, you’ll need to remember that the classes are different, with a lot in pre72 and an active thriving pre77 class (with some rule leniency).
– No problem to turn up and ride, but good to let the organisers know if possible. The license system is different.
– Belgium is a small country and most of the tracks are less than 3 hours drive from Calais. The track at Oreye was okay, but will try to race one of the more classic locations next time. You can potentially get a full weekend of racing (Sat and Sun), but a lot of the classic meets are on Saturday (with modern stuff on Sunday).
It was a good, well-run event that even though I was not a regular, was made to feel welcome. Language shouldn’t a problem. Speaking with Sophie on the way back, she commented that in Belgium it seemed to be more about the race, rather than the love of the bikes; it was competitive. This may be the case, especially in the more modern classes, but no problem will turning up and riding. You will be made welcome and I’ll be back for more, probably next year.
A nice video of the racing from Oreye has appeared on youtube