From Tuesday 21 to Sunday 26 February, the Birmingham NEC will be home to the Caravan, Camping & Motorhome Show 2017 where nearly 350 leading leisure brands will be exhibiting the very best in caravans, motorhomes, tents, camping equipment and accessories.
The six-day event has a packed entertainment agenda with a celebrity line-up and live cooking demonstrations, as well as plenty of interactive features, including an indoor children’s’ assault course, towing and motorhome manoeuvring tuition, a much-loved dog agility arena plus new-for-2017 bushcraft workshops. The show is a great day out for all the family with advance tickets starting from just £7* and children 15 and under go FREE.
If you love the great outdoors the Caravan, Camping & Motorhome Show 2017 offers all the inspiration you need for your next holiday.
To be in with a chance of winning a pair of tickets to the show on a day of your choosing, simply answer the following question:
What is appearing for the very first time at the Caravan, Camping & Motorhome Show 2017?
A) Towing and manoeuvring tuition
B) Dog agility arena
C) Bushcraft workshops
Send your answer by email to MOTORHOMENEWS
Your entry needs to be with me before Sunday February 5th 2017.
For more information about the show, please visit:
Terms & Conditions
TICKETS TO BE COLLECTED AT THE PRESS OFFICE AT THE NEC.
*Advance ticket prices £7 Senior (0ver 60’S) £8 Adult when booking before 23:59hrs 20/02/2017 after which time prices revert to the on-the-door prices of £9 Senior and £10 Adult. A £1.25 transaction fee applies. For full terms and conditions please visit http://www.ccmshow.co.uk
None of us much like being told what to do and us motorhomers are of an independent disposition and we in particular do not like being bossed about – we can always just drive away to a better attraction or a better site or, at this time of year, a more friendly relative. Remember over Christmas my mother’s adage that “Fish and friends go off after two days.”
However, as a mature adult we all learn that some rules are good to follow. Best not to murder anyone over Christmas if you can avoid it, pay your VAT on time and don’t drink and drive.
And, follow the directions to a Caravan Club site as printed in the Sites Directory and Handbook.
I have been at Hunter’s Moon this week which is near Wareham and despite having an all singing and dancing satnav with the sites pre-programmed, it would have had be wandering round Poole and Wareham given half a chance whereas by staying on the A35 as specified in the directory everything is kept simple and in no time you arrive at the site.
Simples. But am I and others tempted to pop the address into the satnav and hope for the best? Of course we are – but over time we have learned to do the right thing. Even as a motorhomer.
I wish you a very Happy Christmas. Try not to muder anyone over this very stressful period; plan a nice January trip instead!
I am a fan of the Poolsbrook Caravan Club site in Staveley near Chesterfield. I stayed last week on my way to York Rowntree Park and once again it reminded me how good it is. Close to the M1 – but not too close – it has a touch of the Strathclyde about it and is not only a good transit stopover but also a destination site in its own right.
Here is the blurb – which unlike most blurb is spot on:
“You will be delighted by Poolsbrook Country Park Caravan Club Site – situated at the heart of the 165-acre Poolsbrook Country Park, it was previously the location of an active colliery. The land has now been magnificently transformed into an extensive country park, including a children’s adventure play area, visitor centre, cafe for refreshments and many well stocked lakes for fishing. There are also many trails to explore, be it by foot, by cycle or with your dog, with the added bonus that the caravan park adjoins the Trans-Pennine Trail. Poolsbrook Country Park Caravan Club Site uses a number of sustainable resource and energy features, making it an appealing destination for the environmentally aware concerned with kindness to our planet. The caravan site is also just 2 miles south of Staveley town centre, where you can absorb the area’s industrial heritage. The entire area offers the opportunity to observe the interesting local wildlife – it is rich with a large variety of birds and animals. Easily accessible and conveniently located from the M1 motorway, the site is conveniently placed for stopover visits.”
I am spending time in York staying at York Rowntree Park Caravan Club site which is in Terry Avenue for those of you familiar with York’s chocolate heritage. It is an outstanding site in an outstanding city and one of my favourites what with the York Railway Museum as well.
It is all part of my Christmas Avoidance Measures – being away from home helps me not think about it – less still do anything about it.
By Reuben Bakker-Dyos & Cycling Plus
Riding the length of Britain: 6 days and 1,000 miles
Reuben Bakker-Dyos enlisted the help of some buddies to ride the end-to-end route in just 6 days
Tackling the length of Britian in six days
Tackling the length of Britian in six days (Dave Caudery)
Callum, Daniel, Jørgen and myself had known each other for a while before we’d even ridden together. We met through one of the dustier, more niche corners of the internet, Reddit’s cycling forum reddit.com/r/bicycling/. Despite coming from varied cycling backgrounds, we all had an appreciation and a longing for that one challenge that would test us. So when a reader suggested Land’s End to John o’Groats, I pitched the idea and without hesitation they said yes.
For months the challenge didn’t feel real, even while trying to solve the arduous logistical puzzle of organising a week-long journey for six people. Then suddenly there I was, standing outside my front door with Jørgen awaiting the imminent arrival of our home on wheels that carried the rest of our six-person ensemble.
Leading up to our Land’s End grand départ, the weather had been fairly spectacular, which bummed me out. Not because I hate nice weather but because I knew it was only a matter of when, not if, the weather would turn. However, on the morning of Sunday 31 July, day one, the sun provided a pleasantly warm start to our 1,000-mile journey.
Three days of being at various degrees of damp to wet take their toll on enthusiasm. At times we did get a bit… snappy
Our planned route that day was just shy of 200 miles through Cornwall, Devon and Somerset’s steep, undulating hills, and was the day I was most worried about. Thankfully the wind was on our backs giving us a gentle push through the 15-hour day.
Arriving at The Caravan Club’s Burnham-on-Sea campsite as the clock ticked over into the early hours of the next day after 15,000ft of climbing was a real eye opener into what we’d got ourselves in to. We still had to deal with our post-ride routine (showering, locking the bikes up, laundry if required, eating, tidying up, charging gadgets and prepping for the next day). We finally got our heads down around 2am, after a brilliant meal cooked by our soigneurs-for-the-week, Don and Gwen, Daniel’s parents.
Day two’s early route visited Weston-super-Mare, Clevedon and on into Bristol (my adopted home and home to BikeRadar and Cycling Plus magazine), which meant we received welcome support through car beeps and drivers waving their arms as our four-man train snaked its way through Somerset bound for Wales. I’m certain it was all encouragement and nothing else; we were all in Team Cycling Plus Sugoi kit after all.
The drizzle turned into rain almost as soon as we crossed the Severn Bridge, conditions we would have to contend with for the next three days. On and off spells of rain plagued us all the way through to the Lake District where our 150-mile day ended with an eerie but incredibly atmospheric six-mile climb up the south side of Kirkstone Pass through fog, resulting in an even more spectacular north side descent into the valley surrounding Ullswater. There we were greeted with the warmth and comfort of sunshine.
We ended our day in the hospitality of The Caravan Club at Troutbeck Head campsite. Warm showers, dry clothes and the evening sunshine rejuvenating not just our legs but also our spirits.
You might think that riding from one end of the country to another would mean an endless maze of picturesque country lanes and villages. Reality struck fairly early and about 70 percent of the time it was the complete opposite. Traffic-laden A-roads, potholes that resembled Arctic crevasses, petrol and salted road spray that stung our eyes to near blindness in the rain, with miles of broken roads that shook our bones to the core.
Three days of being at various degrees of damp to wet take their toll on enthusiasm. At times we did get a bit… snappy. Thankfully there were no major ones, but certainly grumpiness at times, which came as no surprise with six people living in close proximity for eight straight days.
We’ve all seen motorhomes crowd the car parks of start and finish towns at professional races, and hiring one was an exciting part of this journey. I felt that the classic hotel-to-hotel option that most supported LEJOG rides feature had been done to death so wanted to test just how feasible it was to live in and out of a house on wheels — thankfully the others agreed.
In a nutshell it’s cramped. You have to ditch any ideas of privacy and accept a life of bumping into people, saying sorry when you realise you’ve been standing in the way and trying to keep as organised as possible. Organisation is the key to keeping sane in such small spaces.
Scicon had provided us with kit bags, personalised with our flag of origin and name — a nice touch that made us feel a little special.
Power on the move is a concern when doing big rides, because we all know if it’s not on Strava it didn’t happen. So, when you include all the gadgets a modern day cyclist needs on a multi-day ride (for us it was three action cameras, four Garmins, four mobile phones and three laptops), power does become an issue. Goal Zero provided us with its impressive Yeti 400 portable generator for the nights when we were off The Grid and away from The Caravan Club campsites.
The Cannondale Synapses we rode had surprisingly few mechanicals given the distances we were covering, a lot of the time on pretty horrible surfaces. Graphene has been touted as the new wonder material for tyres and Vittoria’s Corsa G+s were excellent, but not infallible with two punctures throughout the week.
The only other notable issue was a frayed gear cable, but Arragons Cycle Centre in Penrith sorted my bike out quick sharp to keep our time off the road to a minimum, so big thanks to Phil and Ben.
Unfortunately, our bodies couldn’t be fixed so quickly. Callum had a reoccurring knee injury midway through day two and decided to rest up and hit day three fresh. Sadly the same injury bit hard early on day four, which ultimately meant he had to pull out of the rest of the ride. Thankfully Callum used his kitchen talents to join Gwen in cooking up some morale-boosting meals.
Our second big loss came as we rolled into our penultimate campsite on the edge of Loch Ness when Jørgen said to me in a very croaky voice, “I’m broken.” The steep and exotically named B826 climb out of Fort Augustus up to Suidhe Viewpoint had inflamed a niggling Achilles heel to the point where walking was a struggle. Only with the loss of our Norwegian powerhouse did it hit me how much the other guys had been suffering. We tried but ultimately failed to talk freely about how we were feeling throughout the week.
With the team down to Daniel and myself on the final day, everything came to the surface at the final feed stop at Bettyhill — an agonisingly close 50 miles from John O’Groats.
Throughout the morning and early afternoon the conversations with Daniel became shorter and my time on the front got longer, which gave me the sense he was suffering behind me. After reaching the motorhome 110 miles after leaving it that morning, Daniel fell to the floor and let out a considerable amount of emotion. The sheer physical exhaustion we could see Daniel was in meant something had to break.
Our original plan was a quick grab-and-go stop, but circumstances dictated a longer feed so we could gather our thoughts and hit the final 50 miles in slightly better shape. With the tearful release came the moment where Daniel’s head cleared, enabling him to push on to the finish.
The final run in to the famous John O’Groats signpost seemed to drag, but once there we exchanged some weary thank yous and tired handshakes and still managed to pop a bottle of bubbly in triumphant glory.
A ride like this is more than just jumping on a bike each day and following the route. The logistics, at least for me, have been the source of endless head scratching in the months preceding our departure and this is where I want to talk about the two most important people who were with us during the week.
Don and Gwen deserve more recognition for putting up with the four numpties on bikes than we do for riding from one end of the country to another. Don drove every mile that we cycled while Gwen cooked every meal accompanied by a seemingly bottomless barrel of coffee regardless of the time of day.
Despite the fatigue they were no doubt suffering, both remained upbeat and smiley, which does wonders for motivation. When you see first hand the amount of work a carer (and that’s what they were for us) does then it puts the job of a professional soigneur into perspective, allowing a bunch of cyclists to concentrate on doing what they’re best at — riding bikes.
What started out with four blokes talking bikes on the internet ended with four friends having travelled the length of an entire country together
It’s hard to find too many regrets with a ride that encompasses everything you wanted from a challenge such as this, but due to the amount of miles we covered I didn’t appreciate exactly where we rode.
Trawling through Strava and Google Maps I’ve been reminded of some of the incredible landscapes we rode through, down, up and around — the valleys of Exe, Wye and Hope, over the unforgiving Lake District, climbing above Castle Stalker on Loch Laich, under the shadow of Ben Nevis and through the barren, midge-infested yet still beautiful lands of Caithness and Sutherland.
What started out with four blokes talking bikes on the internet ended with four friends having travelled the length of an entire country together on two wheels in six days — quite an achievement whatever way you look at it.
LEJOG in numbers (According to Strava)
1,018 miles ridden
50,048ft of ascent
60 hours, 26 minutes and 17 seconds total moving time
16.9mph average speed
37,656 calories burned
13.5°C average temperature
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.