A special section exhibiting the work of René Opstals from Midwoud, North Netherlands.
René Opstals of course is a well-known trials rider, who retired from active competition and now takes many photographs of the sport.
About René Opstals and trials:
René Opstals is now 45 years old, married with two children.
His trials career began in 1975 on a Puch moped, then pretty quickly progressed to the ubiquitous Yamaha TY80 and then soon began real trials riding. In 1978 his father bought him a Fantic 50cc and in 1979 he got his first Fantic 80cc sponsored by CITON Motors.
In 1980 the Fantic dealership transferred to Vos-Oss and from there he rode his entire childhood with the Vos-Oss dealership. Four championships won in all youth classes. In his youth he rode in a lot of international competitions in Belgium, Germany, France and Luxembourg all in preparation for the Trial GPs.
René Opstals: “My father wrote in and I rode the event! Unfortunately those big trials needed a driving licenses what gives some trouble with the Dutch federation. Since 1988 we began at the “official” World Championships and of course the Scottish Six Days Trial and that is for sure the most beautiful trial and period of my motorcycle career.
In 1988, I was entered as “Rini Nijssen” alias René Opstals at the SSDT. This because I had to wait seven months for my 18th birthday. Cold weather, snow and rain but that’s the way it has to be in this adventure and I in the first sixty-five and a first-class award”.
“In 1990 I went back with my good friend and team-mate Marco Reit to try to finish in the top twenty! Unfortunately Marco had retired due to technical problems. Therefore he came into time trouble and was out of the SSDT. Marco helped me very well. On Wednesday my result was a 2nd place behind Steve Saunders and after six days I came to a 20th place with a Special First Class Award. For the World Rounds was my dream to be in the points. Unfortunately this has not worked out the way I wanted. The first fifteen get points. In 1988 I have twisted, torn my ligaments and damage kneecap in the right knee. My further trial period was very painful and difficult”.
“In 1992 I had my first operation and chosen to clean-up the knee and go quickly back to trials riding but now with a carbon-brace. The invention of the brace is super but trial is freedom and with the brace it was difficult to get used to ride the new way. Another championship I achieved at the highest Dutch class with a bad and damage knee! After driving for more than three years with pain I took a year off. Rehabilitation year in 1993. Still to much pain without driving so I decided to start to trial again. Without training in 1993 I received my new bike two weeks before the first trial and direct a second place. In 1995, the Dutch Trial the national team went to Austria and together we gained a fantastic sixth place, individually I was the best Dutchman. Unfortunately I returned immediately back to the Netherlands for another knee operation”.
Highlights of René Opstals’ trials career:
1st official World Round: Bainbridge UK in 1989.
Most favourite World Round: 1991 Bruel Cervinia Zermatt Italy.
“Italy had beautiful surroundings with sections situated between 1800 meters and 2800 meters altitude. Also the World Round in 1992, Canada and the USA with Dutch team are 1st in the B group. During these two heavy weeks we drove to three World Cups in two weekends and that was such a journey. That was not easy but it is one of my best experiences”.
“My worst World Rounds: Biasca Suisse 1998, Canada 1992 because it was dangerous and Osnabruck Germany, top 15 after the first lap and in the second lap a broke my hand. After four more sections I had to stop”.
The Belgium championship round in 1990 at Aywaille on a Wim-Vos Beta Zero : 1st place for Eddy Lejeune.
“World Championships 1989-1995 training between the UK and Ireland with the family Shirt (Gas-Gas UK) and also the family Lampkin (John Lampkin Beta UK)”.
“Nice work out in the mud and delicious bar meals in the afternoon. The best time in my Trial life!”
“National Championship – 1991 finally Dutch champion at the Senior / Inters. It was a difficult year”.
“Training during the World Cup with Jordi Tarres, Steve Saunders, Thierry Michaud, Donato Miglio, Robert Crawford, Steve Colley, Marco Reit and Woody Hole (and many more) was always enjoyable”.
“High Step: Bilstain, Belgium is always dangerous and the Plateau (The Big Step) is always the most dreaded step as I can remember. Furthermore, Biasca, Switzerland was always very dangerous because there were always gaps between the large stones which they’ll never could find you bike or body back between those stones”.
“Also enjoyable: UK, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Belgium and Luxembourg because there were many Dutch fans who encouraging us”.
“How do you look back on your International trial career: accomplished what you thought you could achieve? No, I really wanted to be at the top fifteen, but with forty hours a week at work and travelling it is almost not possible. Unfortunately no points but twice 17th and once 18th with my early damage knee I’m pretty happy”.
“I had a super time with the trial and that helped me a lot in terms of large luggage to face difficulties. The injuries are only a shame but given the intense career not really crazy. My knee was playing tricks on me already since 1988 and that has given me a lot of trouble and pain sadly worried. Fortunately I was fairly without cruciate ligaments by means a carboxylic brace with 70/80% in terms of mobility”.
“After the trial I began to pick-up my old sport kick-boxing again and the historic road racing on a MV Agusta 250B. In 2000 we started serious racing on the Suzuki GSX600R and in 2001 on the Suzuki GSX750R”.
“In 2001 I suffered a terrible crash at the Dutch Super Bikes on the TT-Assen track with unpleasant consequences. Two broken neck vertebrae (bone chips ) and a lot of damage to the muscles, tendons and nerves in my neck. A broken shoulder, chest and further internal damage! I’ll spare you the rest! March 2010, I finally had surgery in Germany because the pain was incredible and work I could no longer work with the sustained pain level of 9 or 10. A Peek prosthesis is placed between C5 and C6 and almost all the bone chips are moved out. Finally fifteen years after the accident the pain and whiplash rehabilitation starts after the holidays”.
“Currently I have found my passion in photography and that gives me a nice distraction!
“I hope you enjoy my work … Kind regards to all”,
Images by René Opstals:
More René Opstals images to follow shortly…
Link to: Rene Opstals Photography
We are indebted to René Opstals for his generosity in allowing Trials Guru to share his fantastic images of the sport of trial.
© – All text copyright: Trials Guru / Moffat Racing, John Moffat/ René Opstals – 2016
© – Images: World-wide Copyright Claudio Pictures/René Opstals, Netherlands (All Rights Reserved) – 2016.
Photographs and their copyright:
- We respect the copyright of our photographers who give us access to their work free of charge.
- Please do not breach copyright laws by taking images from this website for use elsewhere. Permission has been sought and granted from the copyright owners for the use of images on Trials Guru.
- We are indebted to our photographers for their continued support of this venture.
- Please be aware: All photographs displayed on Trials Guru are not held in any archive by the website operator, as the images are the legal intellectual property of the photographer only.
- We do not sell any images used on Trials Guru, if you wish to purchase a copy, we can put you in touch with the relevant photographer.
Trials Guru – Dedicated to the sport of trials… running free of charge!