The first European GTR-rally was held in Aahlborg, Denmark on the 2nd of July. We had 13 GTR´s and one Honda among the participants. The weather was fair - some sunshine, some rain and +18°C.

The GTR Club Europe (GCE) was created in the autumn of 2001, and at that timeI had thought that we ought to organise a rally in 2002 as a get together for the new club members. A poll amongst the first members decided, it would be done! The organising committee consisted of myself in Sweden and Flemming Stuhr in Denmark. I got hold of Boomer from UK - to help with the mech&tech and Mark Harling from Belgium to help with the rally T-shirt. We decided that all work with the rally should be voluntary “slave labour” and we would have no fee for the participants. We coordinated the rally administration with the 57th FIM-rally (3-5 July) in the same town to simplify things. In the beginning of 2002 we announced the rally and the organising committee just had to sit and wait for members to announce that they would attend ;-).

The participants arrived in Aahlborg as and when, depending upon their travel arrangements. Most where combining the rally with a holiday: Steven Patriquen was going to St Petersburg, Mark and Valérie Harling where back from the North Cape, Nils-Ove Helgeland from a trip in Europe, and I'm probably forgetting some…). The participants stayed at the camping site, youth hostel or hotel depending upon their age and physical condition ;-). On the evening before the rally - we had some beers and a great time talking about common memories from other rallies in Europe and the USA. A few of us had a late full course dinner with wine and beer at 22:00hrs at an outside restaurant, bathing in the midsummer sunshine (ah well, almost). Next morning the rally started with the Mech&Tech session at 10:00hrs sharp (almost anyway….) and Boomer held a very nice session talking and explaining while he was changing rotors on my Absolut kiai. His legendary toolkit came in very useful… as usual. Since the cost of new rotors in Sweden is almost comparable to gold (approximately USD 700/pair), I had arranged for Steve Patriquen to buy them in UK (at approximately USD 350/pair) and bring them to the rally - thanks Steve! Next time I promise you'll have space to bring your own things with you ;-). During the session we also handed out our famous T-shirt. Mark Harling with friends (he had subcontracted slave labour in the form of Daan Zeydner for the layout and Berten Steenwegen as the messenger with his neighbour, the t-shirt man) did a marvellous job and made a very nice T-shirt design and we sold all T-shirts that we had printed ;-).

We also had a lot of other technical questions raised as each participant tried to make the most of our two Gurus, Guy and Boomer, to solve the "features" on their Connie. Finally we had to break up to start the rally ride, much to the pair's relief.

Flemming Stuhr had prepared a very nice ride, south of Aahlborg, which he started at 12:00 hrs sharp (well… almost). Flemming was leading the gang at a nice and comfortable speed - plenty of time to enjoy the small back roads with open fields, small forests and all the smells (flowers, wet leaves, a wonderful bouquet of aromas). One of the most cherished memories I had was when we passed through “Rold skov” the forest called Rold - where the road was totally covered by big trees and their trunks and branches covered the sky, it was like a long green tunnel - I was riding in last position when for a fraction of a second all was lit up by the brake lights in front of me - what a sight! We made a lunch break at “Top Karens hus” - an old forest inn -family owned for the last 300 years. During this lunch break we also had a surprise for the “over the pond” traveller Guy B Young - we had an opening ceremony of one tin of pickled herring (from Sweden brought by Anna Fäst - thanks) - and made Guy taste it, “not bad - I have tasted worse things” was his first comments. Almost everybody tasted it and we pickled herring lovers ruled that this was a very good quality herring. The not so pickled herring lovers had fainted with the smell by then. After this little ceremony we all had “bixemad” - mixed beef/sausages/potatoes with egg.

The rally ride continued and we passed the town Hobro, Mariager and Hadsund before we came back to Aahlborg - a total distance of 200 km. Thanks Flemming for the nice ride.

After that, we directly went to the military air force base in Aahlborg and after passing the security we used their taxiway to conduct the “traffic security session” – checking the speedometers ;-). We had some rain during this session so we couldn't have any top speed runs. Two passengers measured the time and Guy helped with the registration. I think Boomer and Nils-Ove Helgeland from Norway had the highest scores ;-). I checked my speedometer at 90, 110 and 125 km/h and found out that the actual speed was about 10% more - nice to know, it will save me some future embarrassments with the police ;-). It is very nice to do this in a safe and secluded area. Many thanks to the Danish air force for lending us the taxiway for free, and to our wonderful hostesses for bearing with us!

After all this fun we went to the camp site and hotels and prepared for the rally dinner. Flemming had booked a small restaurant “Kompassen” at 20:00hrs close to the harbour in Aahlborg. We had one table and we placed ourselves so we had a Scandinavian corner and an American corner. This was very nice and I could enjoy all the talk and stories from both sides. The food was tasty and the drinks abundant and very nice ;-). At the dinner I also had a semiformal hearing, in Scandinavian, about the experiences people had of the rally and I encouraged all to make proposals for the next rally - when/where and what we should do. The dinner continued in very high spirits (I said in high spirits, not with plenty of spirits ;-) and ended at 23:30 and we all hope that we can arrange a GCE rally again 2003.

Participants at the first rally were:

Guy B Young from the USA, Boomer and Steve Patriquen from UK, Mark and Valérie Harling from Belgium, Richard Reinke from Germany, Flemming Stuhr from Denmark, Nils-Ove Helgeland with wife from Norway and from Sweden Runo Thiger, Lars Anebreid, Arne Carlsson with son (on the Honda), Anna and Sven Fäst, Ingemar Blomgren with wife and finally myself.

We had a great time at the rally - talking GTR - compared accessories - cracking jokes - and making many new friends. Although we spoke English, German, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish we could mix all languages and made ourselves understood. As always – if people want to understand they can do so.

One final comment: A rally cannot be held if there aren't any participants coming - the core of the rally is all people sharing the same interests - thank you all for coming, you made all preparations worthwhile. We hope to see even more riders next year.

Hans-Ove Görtz
Chairman GTR Club Europe