Tag Archives: air ambulance

Have a little patience

Finally! After the dark, the first signs of spring are here. Not the daffodils spearing up through the verge ready to get widdled on by the dog (sorry, daffodils) and not the fact that it’s daylight at home-time. No, spring is on its way because Saturday was the RBR awards dinner.

This year (and last year, but I couldn’t go last year, because Scotland) we gathered in The George Hotel, Lichfield, in a blue, vaulted room lined with slightly dodgy paintings (“Look,” said Jenny. “That chap’s feet are floating above the grass.”)  The Wingman isn’t allowed to come and it’s a bit too cold for him to sit in the car so he stayed at home to watch the Olympics. The good news was that despite me changing the fuel line and cleaning out the carb on Saturday morning Hortense still made it. The bad news was that I stabbed myself in two fingers with the end of the choke cable doing the job and they still bloody hurt.

“We’ll do this in reverse order and start with the Finishers,” announced Dave the D. Yes, that was me. I had the fewest points of all this year’s awards guests. That’s what happens when your Lomax dies in June and your job only lets you take days off if three other women agree you could have those days. (And that, dear reader, is why it isn’t my job any more. Three women with a veto on my riding time!) I got six landmarks out of more than 50. But they were good ones, in the remotest corners of the Highlands.

Now I have to scrape together as much patience as I can muster because the 2018 list won’t be released until March 11.  A few years ago Graham began auctioning preview copies for those whose pockets were deeper than their patience – an innovation which has raised nearly £4,000 for the Air Ambulance. I bought a preview list one year – but these days the moths are in charge of my wallet so I am just going to have to wait.

Still, that gives me three weeks to fix the Lomax….


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Helter Skelter

When it comes to the Round Britain Rally I am not famous for my stability. Ruby is prone to flinging herself at tents, other bikes, and most recently a neighbour’s caravan, which was innocently parked and minding its own business when she wantonly pressed herself against it.

Since my first rally in 2003 I’ve had five addresses, including a temporary stint at the Polar Bear Training Dojo, four jobs and three surnames.

Two different partners have come to the Annual Dinner with me. Twice I had to cancel because I couldn’t guarantee that there wouldn’t be a domestic over the coffee and mints, which rather disturbs the digestion of everyone else round the table.

All this change is rather exhausting.

But sometimes change is for the better. For as long as I’ve been going, the Annual Dinner has been at the Manor Hotel Meriden, though JD and others recall an earlier venue with happiness, I think mainly because of the size of the puddings. General belt-tightening and the feeling that the Manor was a little too corporate led Dave the D on the search for a new venue: and he picked a winner.

In autumn the RBR Camping Section meet at Conkers for the adjudication weekend-cum-massive barbeque. Conkers has a Camping and Caravan Club Site, a Youth Hostel (of the new, shiny hotel-style), and a Forest Discovery Centre. Which is available for functions. So Dave booked it. The RBR likes Conkers, Conkers likes the RBR but no-one likes the Youth Hostel, which is why I was camping. In February.

I say camping…wallowing might be a better word. The site was a bit anxious about the state of their grass, and as the site manager’s boots sank into the squelch, I understood why. But I am rarely daunted, so Paul put the kettle on, Jim supervised and I got the tipi up while only covering most of my jeans, my boots and the sleeping bag in pale beige mud. Ci, Jim’s new Jack Russell, enjoyed helping.

The plan had been to walk to the Forest Hall but Jacki and Phil offered to drive, and it would have been rude not to accept 😉

Some things change, some things stay the same. Dave the D’s children get a bit taller each year, there are a few more auction lots (including the RNLI flag which we were given by the crew at the Lizard to take round all the other stations), and Rufus gets a fancier outfit, but the main business of chat and catching up continues unamended. This year I thought I would innovate by wearing a dress, though some are disputing whether there was enough of it to count as such, and by wearing heels, though Miz felt the fact I was carrying my army boots in lieu of a handbag rather spoilt the effect.

The food was fabulous – especially the apple pie. JD wanted two helpings and Paul narrowly avoided having none, being away from the table when the waitress came round to ask “custard or ice cream?” “Say ‘A bit of both’ next time,” he advised. Which I think is a rule that could apply to many of life’s decisions.

And no-one is saying that RBR’ers are competitive but as soon as it became known that there were helter-skelters in the centre there was a rush to become the first All-Rounder. An honour which I think was nabbed by JD…

Graham has studied the map and persuaded me that I can do 2/3 of the Air Ambulance run and still put in my 2 days at Cadwell Park for Hopp Rider Training, so that’s the new plan for May. I was gutted when the date was moved because I was so looking forward to doing this run for the first time without having to worry about whether I was going to be dumped when I got home.

Some changes are for the better!

Archimedes didn’t just need a lever to change the world. He also demanded a strong place to stand. This year I am finally standing on my own two feet – but I’ve still got the stabilizers on. When Ruby has a wobble, my RBR friends help pick her up. And it’s the same for me. See you all at the A.R.S.E!!

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Ruby sings the blues

“It’s 2000 miles to Beaumaris, we got half a tank of gas, 3 fully packed panniers, it’s dawn, and we’re wearing sunglasses.”

Yes – it’s LifeBoats Ride -1. We start tomorrow night at the Lizard but despite what you might conclude from my entry in Britt Butt Lite last year, I still don’t like to ride more than about 300 miles in a day (yet) so I’m starting off today, stopping tonight after visiting a totally unique graveyard in Dorset (Sorry to be cryptic, I’m still not entirely abreast of the new rules on blogging about the LMs!) and making the second half of the run down through Cornwall tomorrow.

Last time I did this with the RBR we were visiting the Cardinal Compass Points of the UK – also known as the 6 points (You can read my blogs about it here, here, and..oops, there is no Part 3). This year we’re visitng one of every kind of lifeboat station to raise awareness of and funds for the RNLI. Some of the guys have taken sponsorship forms out and about, personally I feel a fraud asking people to give me money for me to do an activity which is about as optional as breathing, so I’ll make my own donation when we get back. If you do feel moved to support what, despite its life-saving role, is a wholly voluntary service please visit our team JustGiving page.

Why lifeboats? Boffin has been a big supporter since he was a young man, when the RNLI intervened to ensure he would be able to become an older man. I imagine
being plucked from a buoy in the middle of the Bristol Channel would inspire lifelong loyalty. I’m more in the deeply grateful category and thought that I was unique in being rescued by the Coastguard while on the bike, but it turns out that Mel was once rescued by the RNLI after knocking himself out duelling for second place in a beach race.

I wrote once before that sailing and riding had many similarities. We pit our talents and our training against a challenge which if handled poorly could kill us. And we thank the deity or ruling principles of our choice through fiscal donation that there are volunteers out there ready to help without judgement if things go wrong.

PS – forgot to explain the blues reference! Camping kit has been expanded by the world’s smallest amp, for Steve Lockwood has an amp for all occasions. As we progress up the coast Ruby and I will be pausing to serenade the seagulls now and again in order to keep my hand in.

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