Tuesday 10 October 2023

October 6th, 7th & 8th - Club Triumph Round Britain Reliability Run 2023

 The day that we had been preparing for for months & months was finally upon us. The Club Triumph RBRR. 2000 miles non-stop in 48 hours. 

We had all arranged to meet at a Toby carvery to get a decent meal inside us before the event started. It was therefore a pity that this was probably the worst food I have ever experienced at a Toby carvery. Absolutely awful! We wont be going there again. 

Around 3.30pm we headed over to the start at Knebworth House and met up with old friends and other entrants. The weather was lovely and it was a pleasure to be out in the sunshine. 105 Triumphs were starting this event. Lower numbers than recent years, but still good considering the cost of living crisis that our wonderful government seem to be doing nothing about. 

The 6pm start time was soon on us and we filtered out of Knebworth House and onto the A1M northbound. Our first control was at Wetherby Services in Yorkshire. There had been a lot of discussion regarding the weather in Scotland and we were all hoping it was being highly exaggerated.

We left Wetherby and continued up the A1 before heading through Corbridge, Jedburgh, Edinburgh and then across the fourth road bridge and up to the next control at Kinross. The rain had started around 10pm and still in full swing when we arrived at the control.

The rain continued to hammer down as we took the M90 towards Perth and then the A9 to Inverness. Skiach services was the next control and once again, we didn't hang around to socialise as it was raining heavily. We were glad of the sunrise (not that you could see any sun!) as it makes the driving easier than in the pitch black. We arrived at our breakfast halt at John O' Groats at around 07.30 and enjoyed a good hot meal. 
At some point the night before we had lost sight of the third team car that we were running with, and so ended up running as a twosome. We decided that the conditions were so poor that it was hard enough concentrating on the driving, without looking out for other people. So we just all just decided to go with the flow and do our own thing. 
With the rain still present, we left JOG and headed across to Thurso and Bettyhill before heading down the B871 down to the next control at Falls of Shin. Whilst we were here we heard that our planned route had been cancelled as the A82 over Glencoe was closed due to flooding. None of us were surprised. So we then headed back the way we came, back down the A9 towards Perth and then to the next control at Gartcosh. Just as we were about to take the M9 towards Stirling we found that it had been closed, also due to flooding. The diversion wasn't much better and cost us a good thirty minutes. 

The awful weather was the subject on everyone's mind at the Gartcosh control as it had now been raining heavily and non-stop for 17 hours. 
After some buffet food and coffee, we set out on our route towards England. Apparently England was a lot drier and we had all had enough of Scotland's rain by now. 

The next control was at Tebay services and by the time we got there, the rain had finally stopped after a 20 hour continuous downpour! It was nice to be able to finally get out of the car and not get wet!

After another quick coffee we continued south on the M6, before taking the M56, M53, and then A483 to our next control at Gledrid. From Gledrid we then headed to Oswestry and then to Welshpool and Newport. These are some fantastic driving roads, especially at this time of day (Early hours) when there's no other traffic in front of you. Some spirited driving can definitely be had!
All too soon the fun was over and we reached our next control at Monmouth services. We didn't hang around long here, as the next two sections are the hardest. We were now on our second night without proper sleep and the M5 to Exeter and the A30 to Cornwall are both completed in total darkness due to the unlit roads. 
The control after Monmouth is Oakhampton in Devon and for some reason the car didn't want to start again once it had switched off in the queue for petrol. We pushed it onto the pumps to fill it up and by the time we had filled it and paid, it then started again! Odd!

The A30 was quite foggy, but we made good time and arrived at Lands End around 07.30am. 
After another good breakfast, we set out earlier than we should have done in order to miss the roadworks on the A30. The sun had come out and it was getting very warm, so quite a contrast to what we had witnessed in Scotland the day before!
The next control was at Bude castle. It's a beautiful location and we were made to feel very welcome with free coffee and biscuits. After enjoying the sunshine, it was time to move on and head across country to the control at Dartmoor. 
Dartmoor is a nice location, but when the weather is glorious like it was, it gets very packed, very quick. With this in mind we were the first car to leave there as we headed for the penultimate control at Popham Airfield in Hampshire. 
The A303 was heavy with traffic and it was a relief when we eventually made the Popham control. Once again free coffee was provided and it was nice to get out of the car for a while and enjoy the sunshine. 
Annoyingly, when we were ready to leave, I found that my Lucas electric fuel pump started cavitating and making strange noises and the car wouldn't start again. After moving some stuff in the boot to allow some cool air get to the pump, it started running normally and the car started. Relief!
All we had to do next was travel up the M3 and onto the M25 before taking the A1M to Knebworth house and the finish control. 
Well the journey up the M3 was fine and presented no issues, but when sitting in traffic on the M25 the car suddenly died and wouldn't start again. We were in the outside lane at the time and just didn't have any time to move across to the hard shoulder. 
We had no chance of trying to fix the car where it was, so we rang the police to advise of out situation. They then told us to ring our recovery people while they organised the highways agency to come and remove us from the outside lane. The highways agency arrived after about 30 minutes and the AA arrived about 30 minutes after them. 

So that, I'm afraid was the end of our rally. Even though the rally is London/John O Groats/Lands End/London based, and we had covered that, the fact that we couldn't get to the final control classes us as DNF. (Did not finish) We were 40 miles short of the 2000 required. 

As you can see from the pic above, I was absolutely dejected. Not only did I not finish the rally, but I also wouldn't make the planned beer and curry meal with my team mates. (I'd also be charged for the hotel room that I now wouldn't be staying in.) 

The AA man was a good guy and he dropped my co-driver off at junction 25 of the M25 where his wife was waiting for him and then carried onto my place to take me and the car home. 

Despite the disappointment, (and the weather) it was still a fantastic weekend and I had some great laughs with some brilliant mates. 
This is now the second breakdown with this car since converting to fuel injection, so at present I'm seriously considering going back to carburettors. I need to give it some thought. 

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