Neerkant, I Love It – Or Do I?

Visiting a meeting like the Stalen Ros (“Steel Horse”) at Neerkant gives the attentive blogger some rather deep insights.

You meet lots of people, and as the popularity of our very special pastime is growing, there are some new faces too, very nice. There are loads of new meets, mostly rides, great. I can vividly remember that when I myself tried to get a lightweight run going about 15 years ago interest was limited. But in 2013 here we are with a whole plethora of folders announcing lightweight rides and swap meets:


Also it seems people get more and more knowledgeable and interested in detail, still better. Two more things I can remember vividly from 10 years ago: There was the weird occurence that I was ridiculed on a German old bike internet forum because I dared ask which lugs a bike had, and the other one was that there actually were people who collected bikes like stamps, by the colour. Collecting colour variants is of course OK if technical progress is not what you focus on as a historian/collector, which is a decision everybody is free to make, but still.

What I definitively don´t like is that parts and bike prices are skyrocketing while the market seems to be swept clean of special parts. E.g., you find loads of Shimano and Campag mid-range items, but good early derailleurs are few and far between. I think there were only one or two thirties bike in the show, and none offered for sale AFAIK. For the first time I didn´t buy anything, save a rather tired 10 Euro 1950s B17 to be soaked, straightened and used up on a hack bike and an admittedly nice book, which I´m going to post on, for a fiver.

Erik Boelen, the organizer, says that there were fewer than the 50 pre-registered bikes in the show, this may have been due to the fact that Western Belgium and large parts of France, the UK and the Netherlands were snowed under in the most wintery March we´ve had for decades. It says in the newspaper that in our part of Germany, nature is a month behind in her spring activities. So this was all there was in the show this year,


and this was a large part of the swap meet:


Erik says that there were 54 stalls with 33 Dutch, 6 Belgian, 9 German, 3 French and 3 UK stallholders. Nearly 450 visitors came to Neerkant despite the wintery conditions many experienced on the way. Eric thinks that the weather had a negative influence on these figures, too.

Of course, some old stalwarts attended, like Heinz Fingerhut of


I´m not saying whose greedy hand it was that snatched a feeder bottle out of the box while an unsuspecting Heinz was grinning into the camera.


Most other stalls were well stocked if small. And here´s another greedy hand, but no smiling face.


Here´s a grinning face that shouldn´t be, and deservedly no greedy hand, at least not for the Jan Ullrich book. Actually the Ullrich book is an autographed copy, until the meet unbeknowns to the vendor, and when a potential buyer found out and was fair enough to mention it, the book vanished in the vendor´s collection on the spot. This is a good example of the relaxed and friendly atmosphere I like about the Neerkant meet.


Very nice and orderly, no face, no hand, just good stuff.


Not quite so orderly, but also typical in the way of the quality of goods offered.


Even less orderly, but even nicer stuff.


Again very orderly, and the snatching hand and grinning face were both mine as the only affordable non-sprung Brooks in the meet was the one I got.

Now some impressions of the frames and bikes offered. There were three bikes in the meet that I either found interesting myself (original 1940s Hugonnier-Routens, 1950s Gold-Rad paced bike) or that have grail quality for many readers (unused 50th anniversary groupset equipped Masi). I will soon describe these in their own posts. Good opportunity to become a follower of this blog in order to be informed by email when those posts are up.








The problem for me in taking photos at the event was that it was just too dark on the premises to switch the flash off and just too bright for the flash to work properly. Perhaps I better explain: The main feature of my camera is its being pink. It is a 90 Euro Samsung sold to me for 45 because it seems people don´t want pink cameras as much as they should. I find it´s a great conversation starter, though, especially at control posts of testosteron soaked cycling events. Actually the deal didn´t save me any money at all, because my wife wanted the camera as soon as she´d set her eyes on it, so I had to get her a pink camera, too. By that time the shop had run out of cheap Samsungs, and I had to purchase a full price Nikon. Pink stinks.

Anyway, at Neerkant this is what happened more often than not:


No, I didn´t stay until midnight, in fact I left before mid day, it´s the effect of the flash. You´ll have to excuse the fact that the snaps I took at Neerkant either seem to be 12 hours out of date or are shaky. As soon as this blog has a million followers and multinationals line up to pay me for advertising space I´ll get a better camera, promised.


There was a nice, but indifferent track bike in the show which had lost all its identity. Its owner is looking for info, but I wonder what the Dollar signs are for. I wasn´t under the impression that the bike was for sale. Here´s a pic of the early style Nervex Pro lower headlug and the wonderful twin plate fork crown:


Also there were some interesting cars visitors came in. The white snow caked ex-ambulance is Hilary Stone´s conveyance. I had a similar car, a Citroen CX Ambulance Normalisée, years and years ago, and can only say it was the nicest car I´ve ever had; fast, roomy, powerful, combined super comfy suspension with perfect roadholding. Even better, mine was a first series specimen with stainless bumpers and seventies spaceship style controls. The Rover is a 3.5 litre V8, and the Volvo sounds rather gnarly, too.


Tot volgend jaar!


One Comment

  1. Bonzo
    Posted June 12, 2013 at 5:03 pm | Permalink | Reply

    What year would you date that track bicycle (regarding the lugs)? I have the exact same one overhere (same Nervex lugs, same twin plate fork crown) but I have no idea on dating the thing.

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