It was an early start on the day of the Saunter as I had decided to go by train, hoping to ride back afterwards. The Saunter itself was due to be 20 miles which didn’t seem much at all! So out the door at 8.15am to Coulsdon South, with a change at Redhill then on to Penshurst. My pockets were stuffed full ready for adventure with snacks, a packed lunch, map and a compass. I was particularly pleased with my homemade map case made out of a hole-punched Ziploc bag and an old piece of ribbon!
The train was full of cyclists obviously all headed to the same place. Chaos ensued at Redhill station as some unclear platform signs saw cyclists all ending up on different platforms for the same train. I was a bit alarmed to see my team mates across the tracks on a completely different platform moments before the train was departing from where I was. Luckily after a bit of a sprint (and a few naughty words from Des!) everyone made it in time.
Anerley were fielding three teams: Anerley’s Finest with Des, Bob, Dave and Marilyn. Anerley Angels being Viv and Allison and finally Anerley Go Mad with Tom, Asif, Tom Tom and me.
We set off in a convoy from Penshurst station to the start at Weald Village Hall. Here we were greeted with tea and coffee and given our first challenge of plotting the route onto the OS map from half a dozen co-ordinates. Should have been straight-forward but for a strange “Complementary” system where we had to subtract each digit from 10. Has anyone ever heard of this before? We certainly hadn’t, points subtracted for not knowing, boo!!
Once we had our route confirmed we were sent out with a list of clues. Easier at this point as all the teams were still quite bunched up giving away where answers to clues could be found! Despite Asif’s puncture we found our way to the first checkpoint at the Wheatsheaf feeling reasonably pleased with ourselves.
After handing in our answers and plotting our route for the second section we were just about to confidently head off again when we were advised of a further “fun little challenge”, to memorise an entire poem to be recited at the end of the day. The poem for anyone interested was Mulga Bill’s Bicycle written by Banjo Paterson, an Australian poet that also wrote Waltzing Matilda! Five verses to memorise so one verse each and worry about the fifth one later, yikes!
It was back to Weald Village Hall for the next checkpoint. Here we were very relieved to discover that we only needed to recite 10 lines of the poem and not the whole lot, phew!! Things had started to fall apart a bit for Anerley though, with some team members calling it a day for various reasons. Des was left in a team of two with Bob Gilly and they soon disappeared determined to finish regardless!
Another answer sheet handed in, route to Leigh plotted (using the “Dolly” system of lines relating to junctions on the map as explained by Jim on Tuesday!) and we were on our way again to the next checkpoint at Leigh.
Here, the extra challenge was to list forty words of four letters or more from the letters of “Saunter”. Piece of cake, done in no time so dashed off hoping to make up a bit of time (we weren’t as behind as we thought, actually in the middle).
We finally arrived back at the Village Hall at 5pm. There was only one train an hour leaving Penshurst so we rushed in to recite our poem. Well done team, all ten lines recited perfectly!! I decided that sadly it was a bit late to cycle home so got the train back with the others. I have done this event a few times and can really recommend it!! Clue solving included amongst other things, spotting cottage names, signposts and weather vanes, converting numbers on telegraph poles into Roman numerals (great job Tom!), and converting miles into yards. I was back home by 7pm so a long day but definitely lots of fun!!
Sue Diamond, ably assisted by Tom Vaz and team!
And a P.S. Mention above, of Banjo Paterson, and his famous song – Waltzing Matilda – which became known as the unofficial Australian national anthem, means that his less well known poetic masterpiece – Mulga Bill’s Bicycle – also deserves a bit of publicity.
This poetic masterpiece, at least for cyclists, was a fitting, and memorable challenge on our Saunter! When in the 1890s, Anerley B.C were out cycling our country lanes, the Aussies were also exploring the Outback. See https://anerleybc.org/mulga-bills-bicycle/