Winter comes to Sulgrave (3. Sleigh races)

Bob Foster reports on an exciting event held at the top of the Moreton Road on Saturday 9th January (Photos by a variety of competitors):

As with all such good ideas it all began in the pub the night before!

The conversation had turned to the snow and what we all did as kids whenever we had the periodic 10 year dump of snow. With each successive round of drinks the voices became louder and reminisces became more extravagant. Then it was inevitable that questions were asked,  “Well, who has still has a sledge?”, which quickly developed into “I bet my sledge is quicker than yours!” The testosterone levels were rising!

Then the conversation was more about putting it all to the test and what the criteria should be. Dispute resolution procedures in now in full swing.

So the terms were agreed. The time and place was set. (11.00am at the “Blue Freezer Box” on the Gated Road). Seconds and scrutineers were appointed. Independent spectators invited. Food and drink laid on. Transport for towing the competitors back to the start was arranged.  A beautiful, bright, cloudless, sunny day was selected from the five day weather forecast with the ideal temperature of  -1 deg C.

The stage was set for an exciting challenge.

Editor’s note: The following additional pictures were supplied by David and Crissy Kellet on 23.01.10:

The competitors:-

  • Matt & Lisa from Spinners with their F 1 modified surfing g body board. Matt had wrapped his boogie board with “Teflon” tape to reduce friction and improve straight-line speed.
  • Bob & Libbie with their classical, 50 year old, made in school carpentry lessons, sledge. Bob had secretly spent most the night polishing and waxing his runners. He says that he couldn’t fine his spiked cricket boots.
  • Julian, Toffee, Dillon and Pier arrived with an inflatable “snow surfer”, which looked more like a bouncy water ski, but turned out to be very quick, if not exactly in a straight line.
  • Graham from “Towrise”, provided the quad bike powered towing mechanism and a spare sledge he’d made for his grandchildren the last time we had snow.

The spectators slid up to the start point trying desperately to avoid  practice runs hurtling down towards them.

Jules Wood transported Libbie’s flasks of hot mulled wine and hot sausage rolls in the ex-WD “Landy” up to the “Blue Box”.

David and Chrissie Kellett were the official press photographers. Sean from Little Street had a very slow start but quickly got into the swing of things – once he lost his hangover from the night before!

Julie arrived with her three JR’s, who she discovered, were most efficient at towing, (downhill) a sledge.

Mine Host and Hostess from the Star failed to respond to our reminders and entreaties from the car park, claiming prior engagements – something about needing to open the pub at 12.00!!

As for the challenge? No more was said. The mulled wine was drunk and the hot sausage rolls devoured. It was such a beautiful bright winters day. We were all, regardless of age, acting as if this was the first time we had seen snow and thoroughly enjoying ourselves sledging down the hill. In many ways the best part was the high-speed return trips courtesy of Graham on his quad bike. Many of the “competitors” remarked that they seemed to return back up the hill quicker than they had descended unaided!

Matt & Lisa tried a new technique by filling “poly bags” with snow and using these as a means of trying to keep up the more conventional sledges. These were abandoned after a five metre trial.

Sean put Graham’s sledge into a poly bag in an attempt to improve its slidabilty. This too was rejected after five metres.

Perhaps the most spectacular runs were those by Sean and Matt on the “boogie board”, all the way down the steep field to the east of the Gated Road, on virgin snow.

And so to … The Star for more mulled wine and a warm in front of the fire.

A great day was had by all!! Boys and girls will be boys when it snows – once every ten years or so.

Bob Foster


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