At a loose end 28„30 Septem­ber? Book a ferry to see Brits race in Hol­land.

BIKE (UK) - - CONTENTS - with Alas­tair Mcfarlane Alas­tair Mcfarlane has or­gan­ised and led tours to mo­tor­cy­cle race events all over Europe. He has vis­ited Assen ev­ery year since 1997. When it comes to mak­ing the best of Assen he doesn’t miss a trick…

NEVER BEEN TO A BIKE event abroad? Then Assen BSB is a great place to start. The cir­cuit’s mod­ern, with good fa­cil­i­ties, and the curv­ing track de­liv­ers tight, ag­gres­sive races. And be­cause there aren’t the same huge crowds you get at a Motogp round, you’ll end up with an unim­peded view of the ac­tion. Prac­tice day – Fri­day 28 Septem­ber – is free. That means you can rock up to the cir­cuit, buy your week­end pass and come and go as you please. If you buy your week­end ticket in ad­vance from ttcir­cuittick­ it will cost 40 eu­ros (£35) and an ex­tra 15 eu­ros (£13) to post it to you. Al­ter­na­tively, pur­chase in the UK for £36 at

Bikes, fer­ries and planes

Assen is in north­ern Hol­land, near the town of Gronin­gen. DFDS run overnight fer­ries from New­cas­tle to Am­s­ter­dam – £208 re­turn in­clud­ing cabin, but you’ll need to stay in Am­s­ter­dam on the Sun­day night. Al­ter­na­tively re­turn on Sun­day with P&O’S £264 Hull-rot­ter­dam overnighter, but you’ll need to scarper straight af­ter the last race. Stena Line ad­ver­tise a 10% off BSB deal on their Har­wich route, which works out at £180 re­turn. Live in the South? Ride to Dover for a £50 re­turn P&O to Calais, or to Folke­stone for a £67 re­turn Euro­tun­nel short stay saver ticket. Also con­sider the DFDS to Dunkirk for £75 – it drops you 30 miles closer to Assen. Take a sat­nav to help you ne­go­ti­ate the mo­tor­ways around An­twerp – they’ll be busy and junc­tions come thick and fast. Avoid­ing mo­tor­ways means rid­ing through towns and vil­lages, which is a leisurely 350-mile trip if you’re rid­ing up from Calais. Stop for fuel ev­ery 120 miles and the jour­ney should take you seven hours. All ap­proaches to Assen have speed cam­eras. How­ever, if you are stay­ing in Gronin­gen and ride the A6 to avoid Assen the po­lice are thin on the ground. Fly­ing is also an op­tion: Flybe of­fer a cheap 75-minute flight from Southend to Gronin­gen for £92 re­turn. Stay in Gronin­gen and get a bus to the cir­cuit. A re­turn flight from Manch­ester via Southend is £116. KLM re­turn flights to Am­s­ter­dam’s Schiphol air­port start at £99. Then Gronin­gen is a train ride away.

Where to stay

Book via the MSV web­site (shop.msv. com) and camp for only £10 a night on the Asser­boys site near­est the cir­cuit. Af­ter a night of may­hem you may wish you had paid more and been fur­ther away. A safer bet is the friendly Camp­ing Seinen (camp­ing­ It’s qui­eter with good fa­cil­i­ties, but a 40-minute walk from the cir­cuit. Great value home-cooked food on sale, too. Three nights camp­ing Thurs/sat costs 120 eu­ros (£106). Ho­tels in Assen are in de­mand and the town gets noisy at night. Book early, but dou­ble-check your ho­tel isn’t a long walk from the cir­cuit. Choose some­where with se­cure park­ing for your bike. Ho­tels fur­ther away will be qui­eter and cheaper. Try the Mar­tini Ho­tel (mar­tini­ho­ in Gronin­gen (three nights for £240). Great bars and restau­rants nearby. Good deals are avail­able at ttcir­cuittick­ for 199 eu­ros (£176) you get pit ac­cess, a pad­dock walk and two nights in a four-star Assen ho­tel. Note that this is a shared twin room and that the cir­cuit is three miles away.

Race day

Drop your hel­met off at the Riders for Health hel­met park by the cov­ered grand­stand. Bring change for the toi­lets – 50 cents a go, but the loos are spot­less. Put the hel­met re­ceipt in your wal­let so you

ASSEN don’t lose it. Then stand in the queue near the grand­stand for the free pit walk. You’ll get to meet the rac­ers. Ask a mar­shal at the event the day be­fore what time is best to line up, but get there early be­cause the walk is re­stricted to the first 200 peo­ple. Crowds on race days will be closer to 10,000-strong rather than Motogp’s 100,000. That means your view of the rac­ing will be un­ob­structed if you get there early enough to se­cure your pitch. There is no pre-al­lo­cated seat­ing so you are free to roam the cir­cuit. Head for the cov­ered grand­stand on the start/fin­ish straight if the weather looks iffy, oth­er­wise go high on the bank­ing so you’re not look­ing through the wire mesh fenc­ing that makes pho­tos look rub­bish. On a sunny day choose the Strubben or Haar­bocht Tri­bunes to get a good view of the bikes.

BSB: damn good rac­ing, but with­out the huge Motogp crowds

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