Tandem 2010 UK National Rally
Saturday 29th May - Saturday 5th June
Kings Academy Ringmer
Ringmer, nestling just to the north of the South Downs, provided a variety of cycle routes, both flattish and hilly. Lewes is 3 miles away, whilst Newhaven and Brighton are 10 miles and 20 miles respectively. Wilmington, with its famous Long Man carved into the Downs, is 10 miles away and Cuckmere Haven, at the start of the Seven Sisters, is 14 miles away. The Seven Sisters form part of the chalk cliffs on the Sussex Heritage Coast, one of Britain's finest unspoilt coastlines.
You lot are making my life a misery. Or so said the runner we met at the foot of Firle Beacon (Giant's Grave and one of 2,010 Marilyns). It seemed our athletic friend had been asked by his wife to buy a tandem, something he wasnt keen to do so he told her you just dont see them these days. And then he told us he lived in Ringmer
So winding back a few days saw the start of the National Rally 2010. Based in the grounds of Kings Academy on the edge of our newest National Park, the South Downs, and in easy reach of the Ashdown Forest and the Sussex Weald, it was a splendid setting.
Saturday saw a few keen riders on a short ride up the Ouse Valley and back, while the rest of us arrived and set up camp. Everyone gathered in the college for a welcome evening drink and short speech. We then raised a glass in memory of our dear friend Neville.
Every morning before people set off on their bikes saw the childrens club, where all kinds of entertaining and educational activities were laid on by Sue Butcher and her band of helpers.
Sunday had short, medium and long rides towards the South Downs, Eastbourne and for the hardy souls, Beachy Head. Nearly everyone managed an ice cream in the very picturesque village of Alfriston. And then it was back to the college for a barn dance in the evening. Much swinging of partners and counting up to eight with varying degrees of accuracy while all the time accompanied by a fine band. Great fun.
Monday was as hot as Sunday and saw routes heading to the west, with the grimpeurs tackling Ditchling Beacon, some with drag brake still on. The short route avoided the hills and went into Ditchling itself, just about filling the village with tandems. A marvellous sight.
Monday evening was the long awaited Tantalising Tandem Quiz, where 21 teams battled for the magnificent prize of a big packet of Quality Street. That and the glory of winning. To do so they had to answer questions ranging from the weight of a sheet of A4 paper, to the first line of The Very Hungry Caterpillar via the different types of 26 inch tyre. The splendidly named Magenta team won by a close margin, while a team containing Chris Peachey, better known as the Tandem Club Technical Officer, won the bonus round identifying the parts found in a Sram 3 x 7 hub. Apologies to those teams from Foreign Parts who were hampered by the somewhat Anglocentric nature of the quiz. Next time therell be a round on Dutch Old Masters.
Tuesday dawned slightly damp round the edges, so some stayed at base, whilst other hardy souls headed on a fairly hilly ride towards the Sussex Weald. Morning coffee for many was at Wilderness Wood, where we had plenty of time to admire the lovely oak barn while we waited for our drinks. Some saved their legs, by doing medium or short rides, for that evening was the Tandem Club Time Trial.
Lewes Wanderers had kindly allocated 15 slots in their evening '10' for Tandem Club use, so several intrepid souls, including yours truly and Mark Noble on a borrowed Roberts, rode over to the start. Much to our surprise, after much exertion and heavy breathing, we won. The tandems owner was like the owner of the winner of the Derby.
Wednesday was gloriously hot, so everyone took the day off. Some did nothing, some went on a nature walk, some cycled and some looked round the local tourist attractions. That evening it was discovered that the nearest pub had no beer.
Thursday was even hotter and saw the delights of the Velocio trophy a sort of treasure hunt, with added bike handling tests and hill climbing. This was won, after much deliberation and checking of scores, by the Wheadon family. And if that wasnt enough, the National Hill Climb was also contested up Firle Beacon which was won by Cliff Hayward and Jake Mitchell. Thursday evening saw the chance for people to sell their unwanted cycling goodies at the cycle jumble with bargains of all kinds to be had.
Friday, the last day arrived and it was still hot. The day started with a selection of Tandem games for young and not so young, then continued with rides up into the Ashdown Forest. More ice creams were consumed, and many took the chance to visit Sheffield Park and the Bluebell Railway. The final miles were thirst making and rather tiring, but the thought of the farewell barbecue kept everyone going. This was the chance for fond goodbyes to all the new and old friends, for prize giving and speeches.
A big thank you to all who made such an event possible and enjoyable, either by organising it or by attending. It was really rather good.
Report by Tim Hall
Pictures from the event can be viewed here
Map showing location of Ringmer