The sun shone brightly in the southern Cotswolds for the 2014 Chipping Sodbury Classic Run, an event we absolutely love because it totally embraces our ethos of classic cars being driven. 80miles following a carefully planned route that crews only receive at signing on shortly before enjoying tea, coffee and a luscious bacon butty, the proceeds of which all go to local charities and causes.
The fact the high street gets closed to traffic and turned into a makeshift paddock for over 200 pre-1989 classic cars and bikes for members of the public to enjoy getting up close to and watch go off the line only adds to the sense of drama. The communities of Chipping Sodbury, Yate and nearby Old Sodbury come out to view this truly unique spectacle in their home town. It is all very well organised even down to an announcer providing details of each car waiting on the line as the local town mayor meets and greets before sending each on their away. This is Britain at its best.
We took part this year in Vintage Classics superb red over old English white 1965 Austin Healey 3000 MK111 and managed to form a mini Austin-Healey convoy with Stuart Jenkinson’s immaculate 100/4 and Nick Bishop’s very nearly finished 3000 MK11 (14 years of restoration heartache). After a quick conversation we settled on a red-green-red MK111 – 100/4 – MK11 formation as we made our way through the Cotswolds and back down to Old Down in South Gloucestershire for the finish.
The route was well judged avoiding boring A-roads and instead mixing B-roads with single track lanes. It was true there were quite a few cyclists out on this bright sunny day, some on organised events which forced a pedestrian pace at times where overtaking wasn’t an option. In the scale of things by no means a disaster, more like flies at a picnic and that’s coming from someone who enjoys pedal power, although less so when he’s enjoying Big Healey power.
In leaving the high street at the start we followed our road book instructions to loop south via Pucklechurch before heading east and then north near to where we live on roads we have a degree of familiarity to ones we had no idea even existed. Part of the pleasure of a local event like this is discovering exactly what is on your back garden from quaint limestone villages to roads that run parallel to ones you might normally chose all viewed by locals smiling and waving as you pass through their little part of the world.
The experience was definitely enhanced further by anyone enjoying open top motoring by feeling closer to each and every passer-by who wanted to converse by replying to any comments made from the side of the road. Better still at junctions exchanging essential messages between cars, like is it left or right, achieved through a combination of hand gestures and shouting with the couple in the car furthest ahead making full use of their car’s mirrors to help the process along. Interestingly there wasn’t a smart phone needed or in sight.
In the 2014 Chipping Sodbury Classic Run a mid-point stop was taken at Cirencester College where a timely loo-stop and welcome tea, coffee and cake break could be enjoyed inside and out. Again all proceeds being used for good causes; it is the Rotary Club way after all. The car park filled with the same 200 plus classic cars and bikes once again but this time much more gradually in line with the 20-30 second release from the start. The timing was such that the first cars were leaving even as soon as the mid-pack arriving. This ensured a good turnover of car park space and use of the facilities with minimal queuing.
During this stop our band of three cars was formed which meant we could determine our own pace to the finish. It also meant we only needed one navigator and so as lead car my wife Julia’s new task was to guide us all for the next 40 miles as we crossed Minchinhamptom Common (The Bear at Rodborough looked inviting) Ubley, Dursley, Thornbury and finally Old Down. On larger roads we could set a quicker pace and along the way enjoy some truly breath-taking views all within 20miles of where we live and all previously undiscovered.
As last year the final rest point was at Old Down Country Park where all cars and bikes participating in the 2014 Chipping Sodbury Classic Run were parked up in tight rows before occupants walked over to a marquee to enjoy a generous lunch complete with ice cream desert provided once again by Rotary Club volunteers. There was even a brass band playing on arrival, how cool is that.
How does this event make you feel:
In one word: Patriotic
As a favourite meal: Definitely that bacon butty.
Anything else: Classic cars should be driven, particularly together.
Key ingredients: Closing the high street, event announcer, free and open public access, coffee stop and final destination with lunch and a band plus most importantly the fact it is a driving event.
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