Open Monument Day 2017 – Bielefeld Racetrack

Unexpected experiences often are the most interesting ones.

I had planned to visit the 2017 edition of the open day at the Bielefeld/Germany cycle track on Sunday, Sept. 10, expecting to witness some exhibition racing by stayers, but when I arrived at the scene, I already could hear that something unusual was going on. So through the tunnel, and into the track oval inner field.

Parallel to the cycling part of the open day there was a meeting of people foolish enough to risk not only their lives, but also their wonderful motorbikes on the track. This is possible because Bielefeld was built for stayer racing in the 50s, and so can stand the stress exerted on the track by heavy and speeding motorbikes. On the Saturday there had been heavy rainfall, so that no fun could be had by the motorbike people, who had been allowed to take the exhibition racing over on the Sunday – some of them had travelled for 1.000 kms to ride their bikes on a track, so who could have refused them?

There were some weird and wonderful bikes assembled inside the track oval, a 1929 NSU racer for example,

or a recently finished re-creation of a JAP engined track racer,

but the stars of the show on the track were the fast and hard ridden Harley Flathead WL model conversions. Strictly speaking hardly any of the motorbikes present were actual track racers, but boy did they let fly, never mind knobbly tires or other un-track-like additions.

Riders actually developed some racing ambitions and up to four serious contenders were on the track at a time. One thing bikes did not have were exhausts worth mentioning, so the warm, low key noise of the Harleys, the NSU or the JAP was contrasted by the sharp sound of a sixties Honda.

In the bends, the low pressure, large diameter tires of some bikes were visibly compressed by the G forces exerted on them at speeds of up to 100 kph.

Of course, there also were cycle related activities. Old films about the track were shown, and Christian Dippel, one of the last great pacemakers, explained some tricks of his trade at the small exhibition of cycles and motorbikes.

Outside the track proper, there was tent in which visitors could partake of cake and other delicacies, and the tent also harboured a small collection of very nice, but hard to photograph racing bicycles.

A short ride for people on old racing bicycles had also been scheduled, and one bike in it, a fully original Bianchi Specialissima, was ridden by it first owner who´d had it for quite exactly 50 years.

Soon it was time to return home, but first the beautiful weather had to be used for some photographs.

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