The Rickshaw Ramble

Following my back injury last year, my return to off-road driving has been gradual. I came to one of the scenic drives and decided to attend the Saturday’s events of the Rickshaw Ramble. Ashley’s documentation was very useful. Indeed I met him just inside the camp gates and he directed me to the rendezvous point.

          I was early as usual but soon more Volunteers arrived. Even so, we had only about three marshals for each section. I was directed to the lake as my 101 has more ground (or should that be water?) clearance than anyone else.  I was with Trevor Jones (who had laid this section out) and Neil Shawyer.

I drove through the water to see how deep it was and felt that I would be towing a few out during the day. The start of this section was a twisty climb over some banks and a zigzag into the water. A surprising number didn’t spot the offset gate in the shallows and lost points. The route through the water was reasonably straight but wide. The depth varied considerably depending on how near the bank you were. Logical really but few competitors worked this out unless they were deliberately aiming for deep water. (Why does JJ come to mind at this point?) The end was up a steep incline with a concealed hard left turn to the last gate at the top. Again, many competitors missed it, as their navigators couldn’t count the gates. Most of them seemed to be there just for the ride and clearly weren’t looking out for the gates.  Nick Dimbleby of LRO and Laurie Wright turned up to photograph the vehicles driving through the water. It was clear that some were putting on a show and despite the coughs and splutters not a single one stalled in the water. There were undoubtedly a couple of wrecked engines as ominous clanking and clouds of smoke indicated. Just the sort of thing you would expect from people driving government-owned vehicles paid for by you and me!.

         The only non-Land Rovers was a Lada Cossack and a Vauxhall Frontera. Only one new-style Range Rover appeared and this had no trouble on its road tyres. The traction control could be seen and heard in action as it climbed the wet sandy bank at the end if the lake, but the highlight for me was to see the eagerly awaited Freelander in real off-road action.

It was driven by a couple of Rover engineers. It sauntered through the water with no problem but failed to make the steep climb to the finish, which was wet and cut up by this time. It was a base model without traction-control and to be fair, this isn’t the kind of terrain it was intended for although it would have been interesting to see one with traction-control on the same incline. Neil towed the Freelander up to the finish. Is the first HBRO member to recover a Freelander?
We had a look at this vehicle later in the day. It was a two-door short body type (all Freelanders have the same wheelbase) with a folding ragtop on the back. Opening the bonnet revealed a strange sight. The engine is an unimpressive lump with the injection run by a black box and not the normal fuel-pump / regulator that one normally expects to see on a diesel. I sat in for a few seconds – Hmmm, not bad. The vehicle was a Land Rover factory trim-shop hack and had odd holes and wires around the dash. It's well
It’s well protected underneath but I was dismayed to see drum brakes on the rear.

          Once all the competitors had passed our section, we followed the competitors around the rest of the sections and had a go at them ourselves. So the lake which was perceived as being the most likely cause of problems was tame compared with some of the other sections which became nigh-on impossible once a few dozen vehicles had chewed them up a bit! Once everyone had finished, we collected the canes and returned to the RVP and loaded up the trailer, HBRO’s main task being complete for another year.

          One of these days I’ll be fully up to speed and competing again – see you around.

 

Taken from an article by Steve Kirby in the April 1998 edition of Pants & Barks

All Photographs courtesy of Laurie Wright Southern area correspondent for Land Rover Owner International

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