This May bank holiday weekend Urban Element entered the Twin Town challenge, a four day 1000 mile road trip to raise money for Special Effect. The trip would see us drive a ten year old Citroen with 100,000 miles on the clock from Witney to le Touquet and back again. We would tear around race tracks, lose all power to the car, and even open a bar.
After a long period of preparation, including a free service from Mac’s Garage, the start date had finally arrived.
We met the team at half 6 at the Urban Element offices. For some members this was the first time meeting each other and the road to the official event meet was full of excited chatter. The team consisted of Jon and Natasha Ellard, the directors of Urban Element, Matt Gilbert and Douglas Handford from the Urban Element online marketing team, as well as prospects from St Peters College – and now clients - Brian and Caroline Hicks.
We met the rest of the teams in Cornbury Park, the home of Special Effect. Although we had seen most of the teams’ cars on Facebook and Twitter through the #TwinTown, to see fifty £500 cars lined up with revving engines and Twin Town decals was a sight to behold.
Bacon rolls in hand, the team set off to hand out complimentary Urban Element cupcakes and advice packs to help competitors use Social Media and the Twin Town Diary effectively throughout the weekend. We then left Cornbury Park in a fan fare of blaring horns, engine noise, and the sound of an applauding audience as we left.
We hit the road as a convoy and soon we were roaring through the miles. For £450, and 100,000 miles on the clock, the car ran beautifully. It was smooth, fast and the only visible complaint it had was one check engine light –surely nothing to worry about.
After a couple hours of trading horn beeps with other competitors and running the Twin Town Diary from our I-Pads, we reached Brands Hatch to be greeted by the sound of super cars. Our Twin Town troop arrived with a carnival atmosphere. Water guns were sprayed, music was played and the Urban Agility team opened up our party trick for the first time – the bar we had installed in our boot.
With a boot full of Gin, Vodka, Jack Daniels, and Beer, and soft drinks for the drivers we were a very popular team.
However soon the short party drew to close and the serious matter of the first challenges began. First up we had a slalom challenge, which involved weaving around a tight obstacle course before reverse parking into a ‘garage’ of cones. Each time a cone was hit it was worth a ten second penalty and each time the car hit the grass it was a 30 second penalty
Matt Gilbert took this first shift and, despite driving a car one and a half times the length of his usual Megane, posted a very reasonable 1 minute thirty.
Next we took on the blind driving challenge where we drove through an obstacle course with a totally blind driver and a team full of navigators. This time Brian took to the wheel with Douglas navigating for him. However what was supposed to be a series of calm instructions soon turned into chaos as the whole team shouted directions. Nevertheless we finished in a decent time and only hit one cone – however we did hit it twice.
After this Douglas took over the driving. Having only had six months’ driving experience and none in an automatic, he looked very confused and asked his team mates where the clutch was.
Three minutes later Matt gilbert took over the driving. Next stop France.
The road to Le Touquet sailed by. Considering we drove 120 miles, crossed the channel and drove on the left (wrong) side of the road, it was a smooth and easy journey. We even found time to open up the bar in the back of the car, crank up the music and open our very own Eurotunnel nightclub.
We reached our hotel in Etaples at 7, a full 12 hours after we left Cornbury Park, and left for the civic reception for 8. We were hosted in a beautiful church and treated to a buffet of local delicacies. Wychwood set up stands, trading their famous Hobgoblin and special Car-beer-etta ale in exchange for donations. After speeches from the French mayor, event organiser Brendan, and Mick Donegan, founder and Director of Special Effect, a video was shown reminding everyone exactly why we had come all this way.
Following one last toast we had a free night to explore the delights of the sea side town of Le Touquet.
The free night in Le Touquet had left us all with slightly fuzzy heads but the morning brought more challenges. The first of which was a bounty hunt. Over the next 24 hours we would need to collect:
We explored the town, looking for all we could acquire from the list whilst also making the most of the time we had in Le Touquet. It is a modern yet quintessentially French town, complete with pastry shops, chocolatiers, and coffee shops that drew stark contrast with modern American style bars and restaurants.
We enjoyed a relaxed afternoon where we found a golf tee and a children’s beach toy before heading home.
That evening we met at the Globe Trotter sports bar, a busy but friendly British styled bar. Here we competed in the eye gaze challenge, with Natasha posting a very respectable 1 minute 33 seconds, leaving only a crash between her and the winner at 1 minute 29.
The night rolled on and we managed to collect a menu, a pamphlet, a beer mat, and a ball – meaning that by the time we strolled back for the night the challenge was only half done. With a dead line of 11 the following morning and a one and a half hour road trip to get to the Croix En Ternois race track, that left us approximately zero minutes to find the rest of the items.
Urban Agility would have to get creative.
Part 2 will be arriving shortly.No items found.