Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Oct 5th -7th. The RBRR is finally here!

For the previous few months, most of my spare time (Not to mention money!) had been spent getting not one, but two cars ready for this event. The first choice was always Gertie, but the estate was readied too because of uncertainties with Gertie's rebuilt engine.
So, Thursday afternoon Gertie was loaded up with spares, tools, supplies and goodies ready for Friday's departure. Theo (Beans) had arrived from The Netherlands (Not Holland. I got told off for that. It's a different region apparently!) in the afternoon. So after a few cups of tea and a chat we took a run down to Enfield in the estate to meet up with Davemate and Mike and Ann Weaver for a few pre-RBRR drinks. It was a good night and a good laugh was had by all. It was also a welcome release from all of the pressure and nerves that a run such as this brings in the lead up to the start date.
   Friday lunchtime Theo and I set off For the Plough in Enfield via Dave's house for a spot of dinner. On route to the pub I went over one of the speed humps in Bullsmore Lane a bit quicker than I intended to and all of sudden we encountered a burning smell and smoke coming out from the dashboard and the car started misfiring!
After the initial panic, we realised that it had stopped as quick as it started and everything electrical was still working. We booked in at the Plough and then returned to the car to investigate. The estate was sitting at home on standby, so if the worst came to the worst we would have made a quick dash home to swap cars. Investigations revealed that one of the wires had dropped off the back of one of the gauges and had touched metal causing it to earth out. The main loom had got hot and melted slightly but the wire was still intact. So a decision was made to tape it up and carry on. (And hope for the best!)
Before we knew it the time had flown and the drivers meeting was on us and it was time to get ready to depart on this mechanical, physical, mental challenge!
Dave was the man in the hot seat for the first stint so he was 'flagged' out of the pub and we were on the way. The rain was once again was our companion all the way to the first control point at Blyth just as was in 2010. It's nice to see that some things never change.
A quick sign in and fuel up at Blyth and we were on the way with me driving. Just after leaving the services we all heard a metal vibrating noise and quickly pulled over to see what was up. All it was was that one of the headlight stoneguards had come loose. The retaining screw had workeded itself loose and wouldn't go back in, so the headlight guard was removed for the time being.
 I had already told Dave that I wanted to drive the A68 road,  (The pitch black roller coaster road!) so it was turn in the seat next. This is a great drive and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I wonder what it's like in the daylight?
  Carter Bar was the next control where Theo presented McJim with a bottle of Lambrini. I think McJim was quite pleased judging by his reaction. I think he was less impressed in 31 bottles time though!
Edinburgh airport was the next control and again we just got the book signed and moved on, before the car park got too crowded with various different Triumphs!
By the time we got to Skiach we running quite early along with a few others and hung around for a bit waiting for the control to open. Petrol was obtained, coffe drank and sausage and tomato flavoured crisps snacked on. Life was good!
John O Groats was the next stop and a well deserved breakfast was devoured. Oil, water, etc was checked on the car but not found to be needing anything. Although she was starting to look a tad dirty by now.
The stunning drive across the top of Scotland towards Bettyhill went without a hitch (Apart from Gertie annihilating a crow just like she did on the 2006 RBRR!)  but just before turning onto the B871 we were met by a high pitch screaming noise that sounded like radio interference! Turning the radio down and even off showed that it wasn't and it turned out to be the propshaft rubbing on the exhaust. We found a lay-by and luckily some Pikeys had discarded a huge mound of tarmac that they no longer required. So, we drove up one side of it and got the car at an angle so that we could get underneath. A quick modification with a tyre lever persuaded the exhaust to go back to where it came from and it was all systems go again.
Dave then took over for the drive down to Conon Bridge where a lunch of Burger, Sausage and Bacon rolls were waiting. We even managed to scrounge a longer screw so that we were able to put the headlight stone guard back on.
After leaving Conon Bridge we took the beautiful route down past Loch Ness, Glencoe & Fort William. There's some absolutely stunning views on this stretch and it's my favourite part of the route.
Further control points at Stirling, Tebay, (Where I had a lovely hot shower) and Gledrid followed and then we were off to the eerily silent Sugar Loaf in deepest darkest Wales. The drive down to Gordano followed which I did while being accompanied by some strange grunting and rasping noises from the rear seat area. These were from Dave though, nothing to do with the car. I'm not sure which end of him they were coming from either!
A brief stop at Gordano and Okehampton followed and then we were down to Lands End to watch a beautiful sunrise and a hearty breakfast.
(Picture by Theo)
With breakfast dealt with we headed north to the Bude control and were visited by two of my customers that were holidaying in Cornwall. They witnessed most of crews coming in and were mightily impressed that even though most of them had had no sleep, were still full of enthusiasm and joviality. So much so that they have offered a generous donation to the cause. Brilliant!
We continued on and completed further stops at Badgers Holt, where Dave collected an engine part from Nick Jones while we were there. On leaving Badgers Holt we went through a large puddle which set off my high pitched frequency noise that we'd heard in Scotland. Once again the propshaft seemed to be connecting with the exhaust. However, by the time we'd found somewhere to pull over, it had stopped and was all fine again! We concluded that the water hitting the exhaust must cool it down and contract (or expand?) it in some way and move the positioning of it. Then when it heats up again it moves it back away from the propshaft. Very strange! I'll add it to my 'jobs to do list' as I don't want the car to sound like I'm tuning into to a long wave radio station every time it goes through a puddle! The propshaft and exhaust are obviously very close together!
Sixpenny Handly was the next control point and very nice it was too. A very friendly team supplied us with tea and biscuits to keep us going for the next few hours.
Dave then took the penultimate drive from there up to the TR Register offices where more tea and coffee was on offer and I did the final stint from Didcot to the Plough.
The route from Dicot to the Plough was the dreaded M40 & M25 route and although the M40 was heavy we managed to miss the road closure that apparently followed. The M25 was surprisingly clear for a Sunday evening and we managed to to report to control at the exact time of it opening.
We had a fantastic time and I think a 3 man crew is definitely the way to go. Although Theo wasn't taking part in the driving he was an excellent navigator and probably had less sleep than Dave and I.
Having that third man just gives the option of being able to climb in the back and get away from it all for a while. Dave also did very well on his first RBRR and I think his experience as an LGV night driver helped. (Although he needs to remember to bring a coat next time!)
Gertie once again performed very well apart from her scare at the beginning, and all she really needs it the exhaust moved, the melted wiring repaired and a bloody good wash!  
All in all it was a fantastic weekend and full credit must go to the organisers, marshall's and anyone else involved in this event. Also thanks to the other entrants who make it such a laugh and a pleasure to be with. Will we be at the 2014 event???? Too bloody right we will! See you there?


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