Saturday, 21 September 2013

September 5th-9th- The Club Triumph 10CR

My Club Triumph 10 Countries Rally began on a very foggy A127 driving down to Darren Sharps house to load my gear into his car for this epic adventure. After a quick cuppa we took a leisurely drive down to Dover docks via Tesco’s for a cheap breakfast and refuel.
A steady crossing later and we arrived in Calais and set about finding our hotel. It wasn’t difficult. It was the one that looked like the set of prisoner cell block H! (But it was cheap!)
Seeing as it was a nice afternoon, we sat in a roadside bar and studied the map and tried to learn the route that we would be taking over the next five days or so. It looked an interesting route and we were both looking forward to driving around Monaco and Nice.
Later in the evening with met up with Tony Pullis and Zak (Whose Mother-in-law had predicted would die in this trip! Nice!)  and had a fantastic Pizza and some beers. Later in the evening we also met up with Team Torpedo. A group of guys that had flown over from America and bought four cars in England to take part in this event. Very Impressive! After a good few beers with these guys it also turned out they were also staying at cell block H with us. They also had a large bottle of Monkey Shoulder Whiskey which they insisted had to be finished before we could retire to our rooms.
      The following morning we headed down to the official start where we met with the 70 or so other crews taking part. After listening to the final instructions we set off heading for Belgium, but at the first junction we came across the four cars of Team Torpedo all stopped in the hard shoulder. We asked if they needed help to which one of them replied ‘No, we’re ok. We’ve just left one of our guys at the start’. Still laughing we headed for the motorway which turned out to be our first mistake. Some forty minutes later we hadn’t got very far due to roadworks and traffic jams. We then made our second mistake when we decided to turn off and cut across country roads but found some of those closed due to roadworks too!  By the time we arrived at the first check point at the old Reims race track we were an hour late.



It wasn’t too bad though, as there were quite a few other crews there too. After a quick photo session we cracked on towards the next control at Dijon race track and after some spirited driving we arrived there on time, so we had caught up the hour we had lost on the diversion. Shortly before arriving at Dijon we had been hearing a metal scraping noise coming from the underneath of the car, but a quick check of all exhaust brackets revealed nothing untoward. However, just as Darren was about to close the bonnet I noticed that the battery was sitting really close to the alternator. Then I noticed that the battery clamp was missing. Closer inspection showed that the clamp had fallen off completely and was balanced over the front beam but dragging along the floor. That’ll be the metal scraping noise we heard then!
With it getting dark we decided to miss the national roads and take the motorway down to Grenoble with the hope of gaining a few extra hours sleep on the overnight drive. This was a good plan and we arrived at the Bastille at Midnight.



We took a quick pic as our proof that we’d been there and then decided to miss the sleep stop and get out of Grenoble city before the morning rush hour. It was quite an entertaining drive out of the city with many bus stops and corners frequented by young black girls with very little clothing offering their services.
Although it was late, I still wasn’t tired and we decided to just keep going until we did. The night drive was made more challenging by the full beam switch burning out, (That’ll teach Darren not to fit relays!) but we coped well and before we knew it we had arrived at Friday morning’s control point at the abandoned village at around four in the morning. Five hours early! The abandoned village is also close to the Col de la Bonnet which is the highest mountain in Europe at 2,802 metres high. Needless to say the stars looked amazing and the place was deathly quiet. We got our heads down and slept well for about two and a half hours, although we were bloody freezing when we woke up!




Newly refreshed we set out towards Nice and had the pleasure of driving through the city in Friday morning rush hour. We took the coast road towards Monaco where I took over the driving so Darren could hang out of the sunroof and take pics of parts of the grand Prix circuit. After more traffic we eventually turned north bound and back over the mountains where we managed to find a nice little French cafĂ© for some lunch. Another leisurely drive up into Italy saw us arrive at our hotel in Italy at about 3pm. I caught up on some much needed sleep after my night driving session while Darren went and ‘socialised’ in the bar. By evening time most of the other crews had arrived and it was a real good night despite the hotel running out of beer! Dinner was an experience best forgotten too to be honest.
Saturday morning dawned beautiful and hot again and the nights entertainment had obviously taken its toll on me as I managed to take three wrong turns including taking the wrong slip road on a motorway and having to go ten miles to turn round! We continued to head northwards and soon made the first control point at Lake Maggiore. What a beautiful place this is. I can see why people holiday here. Switzerland was the next country on the list and the next (and final) check point for the day was San Bernadino. After a coffee and some fruit (I wouldn't pay £8 for a sandwich!) we headed off again before diverting through Lichtenstein and Austria. After a few more stops for some pics we headed for Lake Constance where, based on the previous nights disappointing dinner we decided to eat before arriving at our hotel. Luckily we found a road side Pizza bar that served very good food. We arrived at the German hotel around 7pm and after a wash and brush up we wandered down the town to the pub where we met up with lots of other crews.
After the pub closed we headed back to the Hotel to find that Team Torpedo had just arrived after suffering a breakdown with EVERY car that day. They looked tired, deflated and dejected. So we stayed in the bar with them until 3.30am purely for supportive purposes you understand!
Sunday morning saw a grey and gloomy drive up through Germany, back into France and then up to Luxembourg. The rain stayed away though and after completing numerous check points we arrived at the race track at Spa in Belgium.


After more pics we then set off for the final check point at Rolduc in The Netherlands. This is always the final location and where the party really starts as the three previous nights are just rehearsals. Team Torpedo were among the last to arrive again although they had had a good day compared to Saturday breakdown wise. Needless to say, a huge cheer went up when they did arrive as their determination and dedication was a joy to behold. Well done guys. A splendid achievement.


I had a somewhat early start on the Monday as Darren and I had a twin room in the dormitory and due to copious amounts of alcohol consumed he was snoring like a warthog with asthma! I had had enough by 5am and went and slept in the car. I awoke at 7am and headed in for breakfast but as I walked away from the car realised I had locked the keys in it! Bugger! Never mind, it’s a Triumph. Anything will break into it. A Triumph stag key got it unlocked quite easily actually. With Darren still suffering I did the drive to Calais where we were hoping the boats wasn’t delayed by strong winds like they were two years ago on the same event. Luckily there weren’t and we back in Blighty by about 3pm. Lashing rain and cold weather greeted us and the alternator decided to pack up as well. It didn’t affect us though, we had enough battery power to reach Darren’s place.
So, it's now back to the reality of work, rain, and boring every day stuff. However, there's also the possibility of another short European trip in November providing I can get Gertie ready and find a navigator.
Here's some more pics for the event.












 

 


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