Words: Mal Jarrett (formerly of PS Importers that imports Triumph) Pictures: Beth Jarrett
Each year for one week in June, the beautiful hamlet of Neukirchen in the Salzburg region of Austria changes its name to Newchurch, shuts out the rest of the world and becomes all things Triumph and all things British.
It’s Tridays and Triumph banners and Union Jack flags adorn virtually every building in the town, Beefeaters patrol the streets, fish and chip outlets are in abundance and if it wasn’t for the traditional Austrian styled buildings and the magnificent backdrop of the Alps, you’d swear that you were back in ‘Old Blighty’.
2012 was the seventh year of Tridays, and perhaps even its mastermind Uli Bree would be surprised by the success of the event. Local volunteers are enlisted to assist and finding them is not difficult as an amazing 80 of the approximate 2000 local residents own a Triumph.
“Triweek” kicks off the Sunday prior to the Tridays long weekend for those who just can’t get enough of the Triumph feel-good event, with guided tours from Newchurch into the surrounding Austrian Alps, taking in mountain passes such as the Grossglockner, the Gerloss, and Thurn, all spectacular and challenging rides.
Tridays proper kicks off with the legendary warm up party on the Thursday evening followed by the opening of the Dealers Boulevard on the Friday lunchtime which lines the main street from one end of the town to the other, which has been closed off to through traffic for the event.
The Dealers Boulevard consists of a plethora of aftermarket accessory suppliers, as well as clothing suppliers, bike tour companies and food vendors as well as the above mentioned pubs and clubs.
Triumph Motorcycles is the main sponsor of the event and chose to reveal the new Trophy at the 2012 Tridays, giving attendees the opportunity to see the new touring bike before anyone else in the world. Members of the international press were also invited to witness the unveiling of the Trophy and partake in what Tridays had to offer. Triumph also held a ‘Hinckley Era’ Exhibition as well as having its own outlet store and test ride fleet on hand.
Further afield was the stunt area which hosted Triumphs world-renowned Kevin Carmichael, supported by German newcomer Dirk Manderbach. Kevin and Dirk entertained the crowd up to three times a day on bikes such as the Speed Triple, Street Triple and also the new Triumph Explorer, much to the surprise of many, with stoppies, full vertical wheelies, burnouts and huge power slides to mention just a few of their stunts.
There was also the running of the inaugural ‘Tridays Rumble’, a short course off-road sprint race, open to any off-road biased Triumph, although a lone MZ 2-stroke snuck in somehow, as did a Standard Bonne fitted with semi-knobbies.
Not surprisingly Scramblers with full knobby tyres were the favoured mount, although a well-ridden Tiger XC made it all the way through to the final showdown, a lack of traction being its undoing in the end. It was ironic that the only rider to crash was none other than stuntmeister Kevin Carmichael! The event was run as a knockout event with the winner of each heat progressing to the next race until the final showdown.
Saturday afternoon also sees the running of the Triumph parade, where anyone can participate to represent their country. In 2012 the furthest travelled attendee was yours truly from Australia, though one attendee had ridden all the way from Singapore, so I guess this made my 4500km round trip from Hinckley pale into insignificance!
The biggest night of the event is the Saturday when attendance has peaked and everyone is out for a good time. Scottish punk band Celtica blew the crowd away with its covers from hard rock bands, with flames shooting from their bagpipes and flaming baton twirling a spectacle to behold.
Many of the 20,000 that attended will no doubt return to Newchurch for the annual pilgrimage to all things Triumph. Old friendships will be re-acquainted and new ones formed. Whether attending Tridays as a group or solo, no-one will feel left out or alone. Tridays has to be one of the greatest examples of what it’s like to be part of the worldwide Triumph family.