Sunday, July 07, 2013


The Breda-Paris moped rally in an 'unsanctioned' (ie, secret and probably illegal) event held every two years, and is something of a legend in vintage moped circles.  Typically, 5 teams (pairs of riders) compete to see who will be fastest between the start and finish points, which are kept secret until the start of the rally.  The event has been organized by the Puch-Tomos Club of the Netherlands since 1991.  

I met Floor at Wheels+Waves, whose team the 'Voodoo Vultures' (Floor and her boyfriend/mechanic Mike - who share a photographic company - won the last event - Floor was the first woman to compete in Breda-Paris (two years prior), and the first to win the race, cutting two HOURS from the previous record!  She was kind enough to share some words and images with The Vintagent, describing her epic race:

"The Race:
Breda(NL) to Paris (F), a vintage moped rally/old-fashioned cat-and-mouse game.  The best 374.4 minutes/440 km/1200 cobble stones/45 hills/3 traffic diversion/66 squawked flies/2 police chases…of our life.

Mostly Puch aficionados, but sometimes Tomos; 50 to 60 CC fan-cooled motors (2 to 5 speed) without many restrictions...which results in hybrids between a lawnmower, pigs in purgatory and coughing horses.

- Grow a beard ;-)
-Tuning! Mutant Machines, our jack-of-all-trades was responsible for a serious case of quality-acceleration.
- Bikes stripped for less weight
- Low handle bars for aerodynamics
- Cheater 5 speed gearbox, with a dfferent sprocket setup for the ultimate waltz between our 2 mopeds.
- Extra large petrol tanks for less stopping time.
- Lightweight packing policy; no luncheon,no clean undies,no cameras, only candybars/energydrinks in the pockets of our waxed cotton jackets for quick pitstops.
-Crossexamening each other about the route while on our honeymoon (in a hammock) the week before...’so where do we go after the gas station in bla bla’...

The Start:
Midnight in the center of Breda (Netherlands) in teams of 2, at 10 min intervals. The final destination/competition # is always kept a secret until the very last minute for an extra sense of challenge/adventure, but is always a landmark (Eiffel tower, Sacre Couer, Notre Dame etc).

The Race:
Breathtaking rural landscapes reminiscent of Hieronymous Bosch, cobblestone towns, misty forest scenes and yellow panoramic coleseed fields, just before hitting Paris. Potholes the size of Albany. By the time we hit Brussels, one headlight had hiccups, resulting in some moustached gendarmes dropping their coffee & waffles...and us making a unwanted detour.

It lifts the heart to see the sun come up along the way, old French women sweeping the stoops in the brisk morning air, the smell of freshly baked baguettes. Chin on the fuel cap, a blissful smile, despite our dehydrated mouths and hollow eye sockets, black from the fumes, eyes on extended hyper alert while slipstreaming mudguard-to-mudguard, blurred asphalt flies beneath our wheels. The suspense coursing though our bodies like a nerve current as we put distance between us and our nemesis.
We repeat the mantra:é-Cœur... 

Our Result:  We broke the old record of 8.5 hours by 2 HOURS, dropping it to 6.24 hours total!  Just over 400 km, that’s a good 64 km on average...topping around 80 km/h.  I was the first gal to ever finish this race.  
We made History!"

And if you think moped aren't cool, perhaps this Puch video from the late 1960s will change (or blow) your mind!


Thomas "Burrito Bros." said...

Great story!

Grandpa Jimbo said...

The first 5 years of my motorcycling life was "unsanctioned" (secret and illegal).

Jim A., Tucson, AZ