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2012 EuroBalade 20th October

EUROBALADE - 20th OCTOBER 2012.

Mud, mud, glorious mud - not a terminology that one would normally expect to find attached to a tour report, but all will be revealed later! 

This was our second attempt at this event, which is jointly run by the French Legend Car Organisation and Belgium Kemmel Historic Comite. A very healthy entry of 72 cars had been received of which - an interesting statistic here - 31 of those cars had originally been made in GB. For the start of the Tour, the Hostelerie de la Place in Ploegsteert was the chosen venue - a wonderful, rustic café that hosted signing on and breakfast before we set to work, marking up the first half of road book. 

The French organisers have different methods with their Tulips - there being no kilometres quoted between the directions – so you just drive until you find a road junction that matches the next one in the book. Great care must be taken not to miss even the smallest white road, otherwise all will be lost. In order to ensure you have followed the organisers’ route, small letters are attached to the Stop and Give Way signs, which must be recorded on the time card. 


Another innovation this year was an instruction to count the number of small churches and shrines that we would pass on the route. We counted 29, but this task, coupled with looking for all the small roads, did make the team work hard! 

We left the Ploegsteert start and crossed over the border into France within a very short distance. The route then went via Steenwerck, Bailleul, le Thieushouck and Steenvoorde to cross back into Belgium for the first rest halt at Watou. To reach here, we had covered 56 kilometres, guided by 102 Tulip diagrams. The chosen roads were fantastic - just like the old days of Welsh road rallies, but were very muddy - the result of the recent weather and the farmers harvesting the maize. Along the route a number of temporary road signs had been erected with the word ‘glissant’ which, translated into English, means ‘slippy’. They were not joking - it was like driving on ice.


Rest over, we were soon back into France for more kilometres of ‘glissant’ and the added bonus of some good old 3-ply roads. The route crossed the A25 autoroute a number of times and used a maze of small roads in this area, before turning north-east and back into Belgium for a lunch halt the Restaurant Oude Abdij in Lo. This leg had added another 65 kilometres to the event and 108 more Tulips. 

Fully rested following our superb 3-course lunch, it was time for the first car to leave at 14.00 hours for the KHC section of the Tour. The route directions had now reverted to the usual format with very accurate kilometre distances between each tulip. 

A little easier one may think, but there was also the set of 10 pictures to be listed in the order they had been passed on the route - Dippy and crew do struggle with these! The afternoon roads were a little more open than the morning ones, but there were more new signs to be translated - this time in Flemish! ‘Modder’ means mud - and there was no shortage of this slippery stuff!


Care was needed on particular sections of ‘modder’ - as there were canals and deep ditches to catch out any driving indiscretions! The route from Lo went via Fortembrug, Waterhuizekes and Zoutenaaie in a mainly northerly direction. Then turning south-east, the route passed through Oudekapelle, Nieuwkapelle and Zuidschote to Boezinge for another rest halt at the De Zwann. This café had a very interesting display of rally photographs from past and present. 

Leaving Boezinge to the north-west, the route went to Madeliereput, before turning south for a large loop round Elverdinge and then on to Dikkebus. The last few kilometres, going south-west, brought the crews to the famous rally hotel Hollemeersch in Kemmel. The roads that were used for the Belgian section had added another 87 kilometres to the Tour and had been very well thought out to give a challenge to both crew members. 

Congratulations to both organising clubs for a superb Tour, including first class Tulip Road Books in miles and kilometres and overview maps for those entrants who might take a wrong turning during the 200 kilometres. The entry fee of €70 also covered all the food and refreshments during the day. We considered it to be excellent value and would certainly recommend a trip across the channel - you will not be disappointed and there will be a warm welcome awaiting you. Check out these websites: www.kemmehistoric.be ,www.lc-org.fr and www.classictourdiary.co.uk for more information.

Our sincere thanks once again to Peter Fieldhouse for all his help in editing this report.

Car 26 - Mike and Hilary Stratton plus Dirty Dippy