By Nigel Harkness
Back in early February, Helen had one her “good ideas”, Eden Valley MC were running a 99 mile 12 car. The words “Fun” and “Challenging” were used. It would also be a chance to drive some unfamiliar roads, so no guessing where the route might head. There was also the consideration that we could get lost without anyone else knowing about it!
An entry was secured and with entries in high deamand, we were committed to doing it. A few days before, I located the appropriate maps (no running around trying to find them the afternoon of the event). Cleaned the car, removed the junk from the boot, tied everything else down. We were ready.
Saturday night arrived and I tanked the car up with fuel and we headed down to Tebay, then to the pub at Orton for the start. After a short time sat in the pub, we soon realised that we weren’t the only Spadeadam members, a few more had turned up to compete or marshal. After signing on we were given an envelope with our novice pre-plot instructions, so headed to the car to get started. I opened the envelope, passed Helen some NAMs to mark, and some general instructions. Barry & Neil came to the car to see if we had needed any last minute words of encouragement and I said there didn’t seem to be much information. To which I was asked “Are you sure there’s nothing else in there?”. Ahhhhh, I hadn’t gone far enough into the large brown envelope, I pulled out a whole pile of paper. Now we might get further than the pub!
Off we headed to the start, kind of, after a quick u-turn (not a good omen!). The first time control was below Tebay, and we found ourselves at the back of a queue. All too soon however, we were at the front it, then we were off! This 1st section was part of the pre-plot, so it was quick, narrow and icy. A very twisty road, with cobbled walls and ice gave me an idea of how much grip we had i.e. not much. We got through that section, we even managed to find a code board, this might not be such a bad idea after all.
Next couple of sections we were still going OK, in fact, no real issues until we found that someone had put a great big bypass in the way. The map that I acquired from my Mum’s collection, happened to be 17 years old.
17 years ago the bypass was only a twinkle in some engineers eye. This completely confused Helen, though it doesn’t take much. (Harsh-but true! Ed.) With January’s “OTL” still fresh in our minds and a long, long way still to go, we decided to miss the rest of the section out and head straight to the control.
By the time we’d got to John Ross’ control, we were quite happy to see a familiar face. This next section contained a warning of a “fresh air bend”. Sounds interesting, I thought. 2 miles then turn right – onto sheet ice & snow, pot holes, road cone gates and huge boulders lining the sides, well, we were on a quarry road! I don’t think the cars ABS and traction control knew what to do for the best to stop the hooligan driver from crashing. Then a very quick blast back to half way re-fuel.
The second half of the night went without too many hitches, well, apart from missing out quite a number of sections. Age must have finally caught up with my navigator as she was struggling to read the map, it may also have had something to do with the tears, worn edges and sticky labels stuck on it too. The result was another couple of sections partly missed, I think we were also suffering from OTL-ophobia.
Finally the end was in sight. Kind of. The end of the results list anyway. 10th overall, out of err, 10 finishers. It was definitely good fun and we got to try out some new types of instructions and drive some fantastic roads. It was a very good learning experience, so the navigator says, she also says she’ll start improving at some point – hopefully by March 16th!
Well done to Jonathan Fowler and Jerry Hettrick on winning the event. Phil Jobson, who was navigated by Chris Sheridan came 4th overall.
Thank you to EVMC for having us and to all the marshals who braved the bitter cold.
1st Jonathan Folwer / Jerry Hetrick 3 fails 11mins30 Escort MkII
4th Phil Jobson / Chris Sheridan 4 fails 17mins 24 Escort MkII
10th Nigel Harkness / Helen Gibbon 14 fails 20mins 43 Astra SRi