Steel Horse

Stalen Ros cycle show and jumble, Neerkant, Holland, March 26

I guess it´s a bit late, but then, better late than never. Members of the CR mailing list will recognize large parts of this post, but perhaps some of you are no members or, if you are, have a short memory.

I don´t visit many old bike shows or meets, firstly because there aren´t many around here, and secondly because during the season riding as many sportives/centuries as possible for me is more important than getting yet more bikes and bits. This rules out most events like the German show which is near Düsseldorf, and in May, or the fantastic Retro Ronde in Belgium, mostly in June.

But Neerkant is relatively close and just outside the cycling season proper, and as we have visited all of the Stalen Ros shows it has become somewhat of a tradition for us. So my son, a friend and myself entrusted ourselves to my nearly 21 year old Volvo 740 estate and drove the 240 km from Osnabrück, Germany, to Neerkant near Venlo, Netherlands. We spent a day of brilliant spring sunshine in the car, and as it turned out, weren´t so sure in the end if we mightn´t better have used the weather for cycling. We felt that we had been spoiled that much by the wonderful shows in preceding years, Maarsen and Rotterdam included, that there was not much news this year.

The organization was friendly and perfect as always, and we met a number of friends and acquaintances. There were people from all European cycling nations and even an attendee from the US, and new friends just queued to be made. For this, meets like Neerkant are unbeatable, but this time it also seemed that it was for spares prices. It was possible to score some nice items early on, but those were soon gone. Besides that it was NR and cheap Shimano over and over again, ad nauseam, and not much really interesting stuff. I noted many downright worn out or broken items this year – why do people bother, I wonder? Was it just bad luck or are things wearing thin? Also it was quite a challenge to keep ahead of professional buyers.

The exhibition was a little less well stocked than on the preceding occasions, it seemed to me, but there were some stars. The idea was that people brought their French bikes this year, and there was quite a number. Perfect PX and PY 10s, gold anodized bits and all, Alcyon, Hirondelle, you name it. I guess the toppers were two Alex Singers, c/w all the goodies. One had a tablet computer inserted in its handle bar bag´s upward facing map compartment so that you could watch a slide show – weird.

Neerkant definitively was one of the very few places in the world that weekend where you could discuss the relative merits of different Masis and Singers, Peugeots and Gitanes, artsy paint styles and parts combos, and all you had to do to give examples was to walk five or ten meters. However, there were a number of old friends among the bikes, too; the usual suspects were all there, and Italian steel abounded, for better or for worse.

Will I go next time? I guess so. If there´s good weather, though, I´ll definitely take a bike for riding, too.

The photos were taken by my son.

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