A competitors view from Roger Preston
9:00am 10th September 2017, a crisp Autumn morning saw the competitors gather at the Hollies car park on Ashdown Forest ready to do battle. Each team were given their question papers with 50 answers to complete together with 7 photos to identify. The air was thick with anticipation and nervous tension as each team went into a huddle to decide on the best approach and in our case, to allocate tasks dependant on who had the most accessible reading glasses!
Sally & John McCleverty and Dave Richardson sent each team off at 5 minute intervals and Abe was ready with the “team car/broom wagon” to mop up any mechanicals/drop outs. Low and behold, the first question came up in about 100 metres and each set of questions was spaced out between route changes or main roads to ensure the meandering team members (in our case) did not cause too much grief to other road users.
Zoot Alors! By the 3rd clue we were caught by the ladies from the team behind us. Time to throw them off the scent by pretending we hadn’t found the answer to the question (true) or stopping in a random place which we hoped might fool them into missing the correct one (no chance).
Interesting & comical sight on Bell Lane between Nutley & Fletching to see two teams, ours and “the ladies” riding south with Geoff Aucock’s team riding north! Once we arrived at the next junction with only half the required answers, we knew why! We then road north (as seemed appropriate) which confused Martin East’s team who were the next to ride south! Still with me here?
We were buoyed up having spotted one of the picture clues and rode into Fletching to find WCC Jersey’s everywhere swarming round the churchyard, in and out of Mr T’s, mostly armed with coffee and cake so felt it appropriate to join in the chaos. Having refreshed ourselves and gathered a number of answers, Mel Lomas engaged a number of ladies from the church congregation in lively badinage in the hope of progressing our cause further but sadly it appeared they were only interested in getting closer to his Lycra! Enough said!
Moving on along the route, we steadily completed our challenges albeit glad that I had taken spare writing materials as Mel had managed to loose our pencil along the way! Hope we don’t get docked points for that. I was pleased that my local knowledge from when my mother lived in Newick came into play on one question although half an hour later and with the help of a local resident we still hadn’t come up with the answer! We did eventually, thankfully before nightfall.
Progressing well via Piltdown and Shortbridge and even managing to confirm that one Donald Trump had downsized from The White House to The White Cottage (nice one) we were a bit concerned that our diligence, either accurate or in some cases guessed or dare I say (oh go on) – made up, was causing us to be running last on the road. Just as our concerns were about to be quashed it poured with rain! Great! Thankfully Abe appeared in the posh broom wagon checking on stragglers (sorry – diligent competitors) and confirmed that whilst many were ahead of us, (even some had arrived back at The Wheaty, they better not be eating our share of the buffet!) we were not the last.
A final sprint up past Duddleswell (how may 40 mph signs? Martin East knows) a very classy coffee question answered correctly (thanks Jonathan) in Harlequin Lane, followed by a swift descent down Whitehill Road and Walshes Road saw us back to The Wheaty 5 brain stretching hours after starting off where low and behold we were asked some sneaky unscripted questions on arrival by John McCleverty before we could hand our papers in, get to the bar and see if anybody had left us anything to eat. Of course John, we all carry spare inner tubes, tyre levers, pump and multi tool and thank goodness our team did as we were awarded the extra bonus points for these items. A big thank you to Ian Collins who by this time had emptied all his kit into his car but was able to come up with the point winning multi tool when asked.
Alls well that ends well, suitably refreshed courtesy of Mr Harvey’s Best and Pete’s excellent buffet, we were ecstatic (well quite pleased) to find we were tying with Martin East’s team for second. Time for a tie breaker. (drum roll please) Up stepped quiz master extraordinaire John McCleverty who then posed the question “how many kilometres in total were covered in this years Tour de France?” Both ours and Martin’s answers were close but sadly ours was not quite close enough so a fine third place was achieved, made all the more bearable as the prizes for 2nd and 3rd place were exactly the same!
Congratulations to Geoff Aucock’s team on their victory and huge thanks to John & Sally McCleverty and Dave Richardson and of course to Abe for their fantastic organisation. A lot of hard work and effort to ensure that all of us who took part had a thoroughly enjoyable and fun day. Roll on next year’s event.