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Big Ben to Land's End (and back again)
- Done and (well and truly) dusted!

Big Ben to Land's End (and back again) 2014

 

 

 

"The 700 mile fancy dress banger rally, from London to Land's End to Brighton...

All in the name of madness and raising money for the Teenage Cancer Trust you say??...

Donít mind if I do!!"

Click here to see the Big Ben to Land's End 2014 Gallery!

At 7.30am on Saturday 24th May, 18 bleary eyed people and 5 amazing chariots arrived at a very damp Crystal Palace to start an adventure that was going to take us 750 miles across the South West of the UK to the most southerly point of our fair land... Land's End! (and back again of course!).

With an impressive combined age of 68 and mileage of well over 700,000 miles between them (the cars, we couldn't work out the drivers' ages and didn't really want to ask that early on!), our convoy burst and spluttered into life and charged off into the sunrise over murky London Town!

Twin Towers Challenge 1

Before we knew it the message that came over the CB of "follow the submarine, we know the route up to Westminster Bridge" was accepted... followed by another message from the Ghostbusters of "That's not Westminster Bridge, you're going the wrong way!" That aside, the crew from the roaring V6 submarine guided the convoy admirably through the slightly bemused streets of London and after dodging the pesky traffic weasels, we escaped London and out to the open(ish) road!

As the miles rolled by, the smiles of people that constantly overtook us got wider... the banter over the CBs became livelier and we were already loving the madness of the whole situation! 200 miles on day 1 without so much as a misfire!

8.00am on Day 2... RAIN! By this worryingly early stage of the day, it had become pretty obvious that just because you have a newer car, it doesn't mean it's going to work! Fred Flintston'ís 12 year old diesel Clio would have benefited from leg power as every hill created a very colourful dashboard with every single engine management determined to end its adventure, but it battled on!

Whenever you mention Land's End to people, the reaction is usually "Oh, it's so commercialised"... Not when it's hammering down with rain in a force 10 gale! It didn't matter, it could have been hailing bowling balls... WE HAD MADE IT! It really was some of the worst weather anyone could imagine, but as we stood to have our picture taken with TeCTo under the world famous sign, the laughing, the banter, the frankly ridiculous situation created an atmosphere closer to a Jamaican carnival than a soggy Cornish cliff top!

BB2LE 3

The big man upstairs must have thought we deserved a break and day 3 was dry, sunny and perfect for our amazing convoy to complement the majestic scenery of Dartmoor (although that could be a slightly controversial statement)!

It's amazing what a drop of the sunny stuff can do... it makes people you thought you had known all your life turn into thief... Sunroof thieves to be exact! As if the constant threat of "limp mode" wasn't enough to contend with the rather ill Clio now had a massive hole where the sunroof once was... and as we hit the motorway... It started to rain! Check our YouTube and Facebook pages for the results... It wasn't pretty and ended in a very damp Fred Flintstone with a MASSIVE afro!!

Sunroof returned, Herbert indicator circuit repaired and Afro tamed, we ended day 3 in true form... in the rain! The bank holiday rain induced twilight wasn't all bad... All those winter nights wiring tiny LEDs onto TeCTo, Herbert and the Sub had seemed a bit of a waste of time until now... Who needs a rainbow when you have the technicoloured RCUK convoy!

Despite driving well over 600 miles by now, it was party night in Bournemouth (all included in the £165 entry fee of course!) and the RCUKers didn't let us down and the champagne & suspicious looking cocktails flowed! Just a note to anyone thinking of taking part in the 2015 adventure... watch our treasurer when she gets friendly at the bar... she will probably be after your free complimentary drinks vouchers! We know her game!

BB2LE 4

So, the last day and only a few hours until we had to accept reality was getting annoyingly closer by the mile, but not before an impromptu "river" stage to the route through Brockenhurst! Someone really should have told Richard and Graham that the Submarine actually didn't have to be tested completely submerged... but despite a moment when we thought the mighty Rover manufactured sub may have been permanently sunk... it burst back into life and along with the rest of the freshly washed convoy, began the last leg of what had been the most amazing adventure!

The problem with filling 4 days with so many "highs" is that when the end becomes inevitable, you can't help but start to feel sad as you realise you are going to miss the people who have made your cheeks hurt from laughing so much, and the cars that have, against the odds (and engine management systems), loyally just taken you over 700 miles! In comparison to the constant banter and mickey taking that had been constant since we left 4 days earlier, it was eerily quiet over the CBs as we climbed the last steep hills to Devil's Dyke... but then came a message from Simon:

"Can I just say, it's been an absolute privilege to play with you all this weekend"... (A line from Titanic as the doomed boat was sinking). Another silence fell over the airways before a reply... "You're not getting all emotional are you?"... Another silence before a 3rd message... "You big tart!!" rang out from the PA which had accidently been switched on in TeCTo! The odd looks from passers by were enough to make our trade mark grins return as we arrived at Devil's Dyke and completed "Land's End to Big ben && back again) 2014!"

BB2LE 6

18 people and 5 faithful cars completed the 715 mile adventure that was Big Ben to Land's End 2014. Yes, the cars had kept us on our toes at times and, to be honest, the weather had been pretty pants at times... but wow, what an adventure! And ironically enough... let's be honest, Simon's statement was spot on... It had been an absolute privilege to escape reality for 4 days and "play" with 17 amazing new life-long friends! Reality may have been round the corner... the memories will always be there!

...Until new ones take their place in August 2015 and the next Rally Challenges UK adventure!

So, at the time of writing, after 3 weeks of being back to reality, have we learnt anything?... Was it worth the late nights, early mornings and getting soaked every 30mins?... Would we do it again?!

Seriously... anyone who took part in Big Ben to Land's End 2014 would give you same answer without a second thought! "Too bleedin' right we would!"

BB2LE 5

Every RCUK rally is so much more than 100s of miles in a clapped out car... It's about the adventure and experiences that will last a lifetime! It's about making new friendships and spending time making old friendships stronger! Itís about helping another team when they are standing wondering where that fluid is coming from or why their lights have decided they no longer want to be lights!

Most importantly, it's about making a difference... for us and for that child who lives down the road from you who is going to need the Teenage Cancer Trust in a few years time, but doesn't know it! Our mad adventure is making a difference for today, tomorrow and the future.

BB2LE 7

 

 

TO THE 2014 BBtoLEers:

Sometimes "thank you" doesn't come anywhere near expressing how you feel, but it's the best I can come up with at the moment! So thank you all so so much to everyone who filled the 4 days with laughter, banter and memories that we will all remember for the rest of our lives!

To be part of this adventure, to meet new friends and spend time with old ones... to help each other every step of the way... to know we have made people smile and spread the word of the Teenage Cancer Trust! To make that important difference!

You all did that every moment and every mile! Thank you again... you are all amazing!

Simon (Fred Flintstone/Bannanaman) Chapman
Rally Challenges UK 2014

 

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