Time is a funny thing, a fixed constant, but seemingly one that speeds up and slows down at will, usually in conflict with the direction with which you require it to go! Throughout today the competitors on the London to Lisbon rally would have experienced this, the anticipation of the start under clear blue skies causing time to retard itself, the seconds ticking by at a fraction of their usual pace. Anticipation will do that you see, but regardless of how slow time seems to be going, it never actually stops and so, eventually, the flag did drop and at 10:31 am rally time the adventure to Lisbon began!
Of course, in rallying parlance time is king, dictating success or failure and even at this early stage for some the clock would be less than kind. Before that though there was the escape from Brooklands to contend with, and a fast-paced test that began upon the legendary banking would provide an early release for drivers who had undoubtedly built-up dangerous levels of energy in their right feet.
Out in the lanes and things moved at a much calmer pace, although there was plenty of traffic to contend with, especially early on. Sadly, whilst the route planners can take measures to escape other road users, in the south of England traffic is part of life. Near calamity would strike early on, as a road closure would force a diversion that would then lead into another road closure, and with heads being scratched a solution to the problem would come from an unlikely source, the media teams own Gary Williams. It is a fact that Gary isn’t known for his powers of map reading, but today our protagonist would transform into Gary Garmin, path finder extraordinaire and lead the cars back to the safety of the route. Not all HERO’s wear capes…
Back on the leafy lanes of the south downs and the competition would continue, over the often hedge-flanked roads there were fields of Rapeseed sparkling yellow in the sun and with the trees in full blossom overhead there was a real feeling of spring and new beginnings in the air. The countryside was punctuated by idyllic villages, with many out enjoying the cars in the sunshine as they picked their path towards tonight’s destination of Portsmouth. Very soon time would remind us of just how quickly it can move when it wants to, and suddenly it was late afternoon, the last regularity of four was finished and the overnight ferry to St. Malo was beckoning.
For many this first day is a prologue to the adventure proper, when we can get some foreign miles under the wheels and really feel like the exploration has begun. That day will begin with the Austin Healey 3000 of Ken and Sarah Binstead at the top of the timesheets, Dick and Harry Baines second, with Nigel and Sally Woof hot on their heels in third but tied on overall penalties. They will all be eager to improve upon their first day’s successes and the chasing pack will also be keen to close the gap. Mostly though, everyone involved will be looking to the distance and the anticipation of the incredible roads to come, particularly as the levels of traffic begin to fall away as we head south, and as the altitude begins to increase.
The mountains are still a long way off though, but as long as the wheels keep turning, they will come. There are many miles to enjoy first, and they will become memories as quickly as they arrive, time ticks on, and you cannot leave time behind without leaving a piece of yourself. Best then to ensure the anticipation is kept in check, and great memories are made along the way.