This event has been running since the 1930s and uses the strapline, “The BEST excuse ever for a ride out”. I took part last year (after a 20-year gap) and really enjoyed it, and I know that other members would as well.
Think of it as a Treasure Hunt, around England (similar events are run in Scotland and Wales). You chose how many miles you wish to ride and then plan a route to suit yourself. The manned control points of previous years are being rested at the moment, so even if the restrictions continue, we should still be able to ride it. Instead, the volunteers (clubs, ACU/BMF centres, church groups etc), have nominated a venue (pub, factory, coffee stop etc) and placed a yellow poster there with a unique 6 digit number on it. You record the number and the time at each stop.
Once you have completed your route, you upload your results (or send them in by post) to the ACU and they will confirm your award. This will arrive a few weeks later, and for 2020 was a very nice Glass trophy and enamel rally badge.
Entries will open this May and the event takes place over the weekend of 3/4th July.
5 of the categories are on Saturday only, but 2 additional ones continue on Sunday. If it is your first attempt, I would suggest doing the one day. All types of road bikes can and do take part, and for some, this is the perfect excuse to run a vintage or classic bike. There is even one entrant who now rides his dad’s old bike which competed in the 50’s and 60’s when it was a 24-hour event.
Once your entry is accepted, you will be given a rider number, and your details will be available for all to see on the official entry list. This shows your rider number, name, town, club and bike to be used. Three riders can then register as a team and list their numbers together. You do not have to ride the same route, but simply pool the points from all 3 to compete for the Team Award. Last year, as I was the only Mayflower member listed, I rode in the LPMCC Embers Team with two old clubmates from Leicestershire. We didn’t win as one only covered the Bronze route, but we still each received a very nice certificate.
Two weeks before the event, the matrix will be published. This looks like a spiders web and lists the control numbers and the points earned between each one. The points are roughly 1 per mile, but some are rounded up and some down (and some are nowhere near), but you can use it as a rough guide. Points are usually in 20,25 and 30 intervals.
Now some riders will create their route on a laptop, and then download that to sat navs. I like paper maps and start by using coloured highlighters to show all of the 20 point routes on the matrix, and then decide, roughly where I want to start and end. The fun then is to plan a route, without bypassing or visiting a control twice, which earns you your chosen award.
Chrome: 120 to 175 points and a minimum of 3 controls
Bronze: 180 to 215 points and a minimum of 8 controls
Silver: 220 to 285 points and a minimum of 11 controls
Gold: 290 to 325 points and a minimum of 13 controls
All of the above are for Saturday only with a start time between 09.00 and 10.00
And finish by 22.00
Special Gold: 505 to 535 points and Day 1 achieve a Gold Award and Day 2 collect another 215 points (so 290 to 325 on Saturday and 215 on Sunday)
Platinum: 325 and 13 controls on Day 1, 215 and minimum of 9 on Day 2
With this one, you have to be spot-on (the exact number of points with no leeway) and is the hardest one to do.
Once you have planned your route, you can test it out with other club members or on the LPMCC Embers website, where Ben allows you to upload your route for his programme to check for accuracy. So no missed controls and the right number of points.
I then plan the route once again on my paper maps and make notes, one per control on postcards. In some cases, I will use Google Maps or Earth to locate a country pub or garage and make additional notes such as “next to McDonalds”, which helps when you are riding.
Prior to the Rally weekend, I check the bike over, tyres, fuel, oil, lights etc., and load it with bottles of water (it is important to stay hydrated), some snack bars, maybe a packed lunch if you want to avoid cafes etc. and some hand gel. Then, my route cards, the matrix, the control list, pens and a fully charged phone. Waterproofs are a good idea if you are going to be out all day and maybe a jumper for the cooler evening ride.
You must take a minimum of 45 minutes rest at each 6-hour mark, so plan that in as well.
If we can and are allowed, we are planning to host a camping weekend so that members who wish to, could use that as the finish (at a nearby control point), or overnight break before riding day 2 back to base. We will let you know via PP and Facebook if this comes off.
And talking about the dreaded Facebook, the National (or NRR) has its own page, where riders post messages, and the organisers and control points can let you know anything important, like last-minute changes due to roadworks etc.
Search for National Road Rally.