I decided I'd look for a site near Combe Hill which was about 12km from the start. My first visit was about 2 weeks before the event on a sunny Sunday afternoon. The car park was literally overflowing, there was even a van selling ice creams, which I tried out, and my first reaction was that this place is too popular. It soon became obvious that everybody was heading towards the monument and that if I went in the opposite direction into an area called Low Scrubs it was almost deserted and I found what I thought would be a good site. A week later I returned to put up an aerial on another sunny and warm day. In the week leading up to the event I kept an eye on the weather forecast for the Wendover area. By the Wednesday it looked fairly reasonable but the predictions got worse and worse as the 27th approached and the final forecast was heavy rain from about 1600 onwards and a temperature of about 2 degrees.
I arrived on site at around 1500. Fortunately the aerial was still there. I spent some time putting up the fisherman's umbrella which I hoped would keep me and the transmitter dry and by 1600 I was set up and ready to go. I thought I would probably be the second station on people's itinery so I didn't do too many transmissions after 1700, but to my surprise at around 1730, Bill Pechey appeared. After a bit of hunting around at the wrong end of the aerial, Bill saw me and clocked in. The next team to arrive was Tim and Richard who were on their second station. By now it was dark so torches gave away their position and as it was cold, wet and miserable, I decided that I would transmit whenever I saw torches in the vicinity. Peter appeared about 20 minutes later followed after a few minutes by Roger and Alan and then Graham's team. 5 teams in by just after 1900 - too good to be true. Only Justin remaining, and he kept me sitting in the cold for almost another hour! Just before 2000, I saw the familiar Justin searchlight and I left the transmitter running until he clocked in.
I was able to shut down soon after 2000, by which time the rain was beginning to turn to sleet. I needed 2 trips to the car to get all the gear off the site so it was nearly 2100 before I set off for the pub. I have to say that the pub put on an excellent supper, so thanks to Peter for organising it. Also many thanks to Min and Steve, the other operators, who were not quite as fortunate as me and kept going in the cold and wet until the contest finished at 2100.
Thanks to Peter and John for organising the evening. John organised the rough locations and asked me to find somewhere to the north of the start about 12-15Km. Considered Northchurch Common and Berkhampstead Common, but I donít like leaving my car at night in any place non public.
Perusing Google Earth indicated that Wigginton offered possibilities, with easy parking by the pub and fairly short walk in.
Put the aerial up on Wednesday, but had real problems getting height. Every time I threw my weighted line over a high branch it wouldnít come down enough to reach. In the end had to just get something up. Wasnít too bad in the end.
On the day got on site about 3.30pm so that I had plenty of time to get sorted before the showers started. Connected Tx and discovered that with the switch set to measure power output the meter was reading nothing. Switching to Amps was OK, but I didnít know whether to tune for max or min, so a call to Peter resulted in the answer and we did a quick test transmission to confirm I was getting out.
Normally on these events, assuming someone has chosen you as their first station, you can expect activity about 5.30. Staggered to see Tim on site at 5.15, getting to me at 5:23. Found out later that he had parked in Wigginton for the 5pm transmission. He said he wasnít aware of anyone else visiting me first.
I wasnít expecting anybody else till about 8pm. Surprised to see 2 torches just after 7pm. These turned out to be Justin on his first site (he wasnít very happy) and Bill on his second.
Then Peter appeared at 7.45pm and found me fairly easily. Just after that Min texted me to say that Tim had been to him, so I knew it was going to be close between the two of them. Was now only waiting for Roger and Graham.
By this time, I was very wet and very cold, and knowing we had a winner went on continuous to get the other two in asap. Roger phoned me at 8pm as they hadnít heard me at all for a while. Confirmed I was still transmitting and said head for Wigginton. They were only a few Km south at the time, so donít understand why they couldnít hear me, maybe the rain was having an effect Ė tried to keep the Tx as dry as possible. Managed to get him in, but there was no sign of Graham.
|Position||Competitor||Finish||Time A||Time B||Time C|
|5||Graham Phillips||19:04:59||18:04:29|| ||19:04:59|
|6||Bill Pechey||19:12:28|| ||19:12:28||17:37:52|