March Hare Mini Rally – “we’re off to Milton Keynes”

The name says it all. I lost count of the amount of bunnies I almost hit.

This was my first rally. I’ve always been curious of them and decided to have a go. The February event was cancelled so my first one was on the 16th March.

We pulled into the lay-by on the A422 at 6:20pm to see a few friendly faces amongst the cars – Tim and Ellis in the GT6 and Dale and co-driver in the Herald. A short time later Steve arrived in his 13/60. I can never remember his friends name and always refer to him as “the guy who sat opposite me at the club dinner in 2007”, sorry. It’s no shock that his name escapes me now… My co-driver was meant to be Sam Shattock but he couldn’t make it so David took the “honours”. First things first, up with the bonnet to sort out why the car was hesitating when accelerating and to try and see what might be causing the very unnerving scratching and scrapping noise coming from the front right area of the car. I’ve yet to discover what that was but it only happens around 70mph and my wheel didn’t fall off…

I was told by Rod who organised this event that it would be nice and simple. Was it, my arse! It was a steep learning curve having never done any map work before. We were briefed on the basic ideas behind the event and then given our first set of clues – spot heights, little numbers showing the height of the land. Easy enough, when you can find them. Being slightly flustered by having to look through two maps in a tiny Herald with no light we didn’t notice the tie-breaker question at the bottom of the clue sheet. Off we went to get more assistance and the next set of clues – grid references. We’d never seen these before and it took a lot of help and the use of Rod’s romer to figure out what each part meant. It’s all really simple, once you know how – figuring out the how’s saw us walking back to Rod and help from Tim and Ellis and some words from Dale. Then it was time to pick up the last instructions which were Tulip diagrams. Again, very easy just not a good thing to do with tired eyes. Or when you’ve getting very impatient – which I was. Once we’d plotted the route it was time to leave and look for the code boards at the side of the road.

I think this is where things started to go wrong! “David, where am I going?” “Erm… We’re going…. Erm… Can you pull over please?” Through luck we managed to get the first three boards (I think) after having to turn around after missing a turning. Then we ended up on some odd route nowhere near where we should have been. I was getting frustrated and I think David was getting flustered from being dropped in at the deep end. I know I’d struggle to navigate! Still, that road with the first big puddle was rather nice. So nice in fact that we drove it three times! The car is now in need of a wash, not that it needed it before, of course.

I have no idea how it happened, but we ended up by junction 14 on the M1. We pulled over, got our bearings headed back onto the route and then I pulled over again to check the map as things didn’t seem right to me. Sure enough, we’d somehow managed to skip the last half of the first section, the whole second section and were starting the last section of the route. Try and figure that one out! A quick choice was made – sod it and head for the pub at the finish line. We got there thanks to the sat nav which I had to turn off earlier because I forgot to charge it and it was very low on battery power, oops. We handed in our sheet and Rod totted up the scores. Is 15 fails a new record? Still, we made everyone laugh, got a story and learnt a hell of a lot. I fully intend to do the next event. As an added bonus the landlord of the pub was the old landlord of the Hitchin pub my area uses. Talk about a small world.

Things learnt;
how to read maps and some of the clues given out on these events
charge your sat-nav
charge your phone
make sure your batteries in your torch aren’t dying
make sure you take pencils and not pens – otherwise your map looks like it’s been attacked by a five year old
take a large board you can rest the maps when you mark them

Things needed for the future;
a romer – I have a compass but never took it…
a ciggy lighter in the car to power the sat-nav – I’ve got to do this for the RBRR anyway but when I do I’m building a centre console for gauges and moving the car battery to the boot so I’ve been putting it off
more light and a way to not distract the driver with it

3 thoughts on “March Hare Mini Rally – “we’re off to Milton Keynes””

  1. Great to hear your getting into evening road rallys. They are a good laugh, if a bit intense at times when the codes appear to bear no resemblence to the OS map and you’re under pressure of time!

    I came last with horrendous fails my first time too. It isn’t somethnig you can just step into and be great at immediately… well I can’t anyway… I’m still rubbish after my 4th event.

    The codes are slowly going in my head, and we are speeding up accordingly, but they still manage to chuck in codes I’ve never seen before!

    I know what you mean when you say it was supposed to be nice and simple and in fact wasn’t! Reading an OS map accurately is quite challenging normally, but converting different codes to map references on a pitch black country road in a small car is a completely different thing altogether!

    I have to say I’ve tried using a board under the map and find it gets in the way. Once you get the knack of how to fold the map, it is perfectly firm enough by itself to scribble over just resting on your lap.

    Anyway, don’t be down beat. I’ve been told, and believe it, that it takes a good year to get all the codes fluently in your head etc. Keep at it and it’ll all make sense….. eventually!

  2. Hehe, thanks for the funny read. I expect next time will be easier – but it was definitely a new experience and stressful and fun at the same time. Looking forwards to the next one if I am able to make it and hopefully I will not get us lost as much!


  3. Ha! It is a hoot. Been Johns driver, and despite all he says he has improved hugely in the 4 rallys he has navigated. Shame my driving has not improved as much.
    Don’t get a board for the maps, not recommended as they cause serious damage in an accident. Many use a couple of layers or corrugated card taped round the edges, and a decent head torch is a must. Found all that out the easy way, copy everybody else!
    Have fun!
    ps we both got VERY wet feet doing a rally last night. And we didn’t get out the car!

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