So you are a new member who may never have been on a Club run and wonder if you would enjoy it. The answer is, give at least one, if not more, a try. But what happens if……??? OK, you have a few concerns so, let us try and put your mind to rest with a few answers to these nagging doubts.
What is a Club Run?
We meet up at a pre-designated venue, usually Ringwood car park or, occasionally QE School, Wimborne, for a chat and get-together. The organiser will have already worked out our route and a place to have lunch. Runs are usually about 25-35 miles long aiming to arrive at the lunch stop by 12 noon. We usually move off in convoy or occasionally follow a route sheet at the designated time. We try to keep away from the main roads and towns and head off into the narrow lanes and by-ways; up and down the hills; maybe crossing a ford. We usually have a loo/coffee stop and after about 20 miles and after about one and a half hours we arrive at a country inn or garden centre restaurant for our lunch. After a suitable break we may cover another few miles or so to another place before dispersing, or we may wend our separate ways homeward, some members travelling in convoy. The organiser usually supplies a ‘get-you-home’ route if we end up in the middle of nowhere. On every run we pass through small isolated hamlets, villages and view scenery that you are unlikely to have seen before. We may sometimes stop for a scenic view. We see the best of springtime wild flowers in the hedgerows and woodlands, the summer sunshine across the landscape and the changing colours of autumn. Above all else we will enjoy driving our ‘Seven’, meeting our friends and seeing the delight of so many folk watching us pass by. During the coming year we will be organising runs with themes to follow, visiting places of interest for a few hours; there will be something, or some place(s), to interest each of us.
Please, ensure that you have done the regular maintenance as per the Austin Handbook, checked the oil levels, water, brakes, tyre pressures and wheel nuts, that all the lights are working and there is at least 4 gallons of petrol in the tank. You may need a general road map with you for when we disperse and you make your way home.
You should have a few basic spares in the car: plugs, points, light bulbs, and Duck tape, a few suitable tools, 1 pint of oil and 4 pints of water may be of use, as will some hand-cleanser wipes. But, should you need a more specific part, someone in the convoy is bound to have a spare!
I am by myself:
There are a few regulars who drive on runs alone, so just turn up and join in as the organiser will take care of any need for you to run linked up with another car.
The windscreen leaks on rainy days:
That is a non-optional extra with Sevens, we all suffer the same problem so just have a few old towels in the car. This is a very good reason why you should not wear smart clothes.
But, what if the weather is bad?
It is a personal choice as to whether you leave home. The weather in our part of the world does vary within short distances, but we are prepared to call off a run at the start if conditions are too bad but this has never happened; we would be foolish to drive Sevens at slow speeds, with poor lights, in bad weather for the sake of doing so.
What shall I wear?
Unless it is a themed run we are not into blazers, sports jackets and cravats or expecting to see our ladies in posh dresses, hats, jewellery and handbags. Ordinary everyday jeans, cords, anorak, and anything that you need to keep warm and dry depending upon the weather. Remember, you may get dirty if you have a problem on the run.
On the day:
Arrive at the start for the time given in the Events section of the club’s newsletter. You will no doubt see a few Sevens already parked in a line and a few folk gathered around chatting. Your arrival will be noticed and the ‘Who is that?’ question will have been asked. All you have to do is get out and introduce yourself. You are now in the group and soon chatting about the car, how long you have had it and what you have done to it. We do not wish to know your life history or any personal details other than names and where you are from. You have a ‘Seven’ and that is our mutual interest.
Prepare to meet the public:
Our Sevens attract interest and all sorts of folk will wander over and look whenever we park, some may speak whilst others will be reticent and wait for you to speak. You know more about your car than they do so just ask ‘Have you had a ‘Seven’ in your family?’ That is it; you are now into chat mode.
It is time for the off, but do be sure to use the loo beforehand (Sevens have a nasty effect on the bladder!). There is a good-ish public one in the Ringwood car park and one in the Sports Centre round the back of QE School. Start the car and see if there are any instructions, a route sheet or whatever. As it is your first run get yourself towards the front of the convoy with an experienced regular keeping an eye on you.
Convoy or route sheet:
If it is a convoy run then you have seen and read the Convoy rules which are published from time to time; you and/or your passenger should keep the ‘Seven’ behind in sight. If you have lost sight of the car in front keep going until you find them waiting for you. If there is a route sheet, then your passenger can read the instructions and should tick them off as you make that turn, so you will always know where you are on the sheet. If you are by yourself you will be following the car in front and they will keep you in sight. Always take a mobile phone with you - just in case.
Either a pub lunch/snack or a picnic, all details are in the Newsletter. There is no need to book as the organiser will have booked places for all of us.
But what if I break down?
We have all had our moments in the remotest of places, even with the best of maintained Sevens. There will soon be someone in the group who comes along and starts the diagnostic process. It may take 5 mins or an hour to sort it out and get you going again, but 99.9% of problems can be fixed by the roadside in a few minutes. You will find that you are pushed out of the way whilst everyone peers in and offers suggestions as this is a highlight of the run – relax and enjoy it. Normally, an experienced Sevener drives at the back of the convoy so that, as any member with a problem will be in front they will be found. Do remember, if you have the spare part(s) someone can fit it/them if necessary. But don’t forget even old hand Seveners want to enjoy the day too! Never rely on others to carry spares for you. However, you will never be left at the roadside to fend for yourself. Even if it is terminal and a roadside rescue service has to be requested, someone will remain with you.
The end of the day:
You may be asked to write a report on your day’s experience to go in the Newsletter for the enjoyment of other readers. Of course you can say ‘No’ but it is always interesting to read about how first-timers saw the day through fresh eyes.
Based on an article in the Essex newsletter with many thanks—a great idea –Ed