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A Decade on the Road – Top 10 highlights of the past decade

By January 6, 2020 No Comments

Written by Ben Coombes

Following the success of the Pub2Pub Expedition, an epic 27,000-mile drive from the northernmost bar on the planet, to the southernmost, the longest journey ever made by a TVR sports car, Pub2Pub Adventures was born.

Giving others the opportunity to enjoy their own Pub-based travels, Pub2Pub Adventures are running three great trips this year – the Eagle Rally, and the Camembert Run, with many other exciting projects in the pipeline.

ClassicLine are delighted to be a main sponsor of Pub2Pub by providing insurance cover for the fleet of cars including the TVR Chimaera, the Volvo 240, plus another exciting vehicle which we can now reveal… Ben and the Pub2Pub team are going to be keeping us updated here in their regular blog feature over the coming months with news on their travels and adventures!

In celebration of our partnership, Pub2Pub Adventures are offering you the chance to save £50 on your 2019 trip when you insure with ClassicLine. For more details, click here.

As the third decade of the twentieth century begins, what better time to look back on the road trip highlights of the last ten years? Personally, while it’s very much been a decade of ups and downs, it’s also been a fascinating progression which has seen my road tripping go from being a fun hobby to something approaching a full time job, and it’s very much finishing on a high. So, here are ten of my motoring-related highlights from the decade which brought us the London Olympics, The Grand Tour and a few happenings in the world of politics, to boot…

01 – The Credit Crunch Roadtrip

For a decade which has contained so much in the way of car-based adventure, it’s ironic that for me, it began with a cycle-centric road trip. In 2009 I’d returned from my most ambitious trip yet – The AfricanPorsche Expedition – with my finances rather the worse for wear, only to find the great financial crisis taking a toll on my business. The expensive daftness of sports car adventures was out, but the open road still beckoned. What to do? Simple. We bought bikes and set off on an 850-mile lap of the land of fire and ice – Iceland. What resulted was one of my toughest challenges ever, and you can read about it here: https://drivetribe.com/p/iceland-the-hard-way-aDK0owvjQS659b8sagXQlQ

02 – Survival of the Quickest

The next adventure was rather different, as it’s the first automotive adventure which I’ve undertaken which has taken place entirely in front of a computer. It’s also the longest journey yet, taking years to bring to completion, but it was worth it in the end. It was the writing of Survival of the Quickest, the book about the AfricanPorsche Expedition, and it was the first time I’d metaphorically ‘put pen to paper’, meaning that following almost a year of writing, several years of edits ensued before I was happy to present the book to the world. And doing so was a pretty stressful experience. What it it’s terrible? What if I simply can’t write? Luckily, the eventful nature of the story spoke for itself and the book has been well received – with a current average of 4.6/5 stars average off 53 reviews, releasing my first book could’ve gone a lot worse.

03 – The Baltic Barge Expedition

So, we’re up to the third road tripping highlight of the year, and I haven’t actually driven a car yet? That needs fixing, so we kicked off 2012 in an £800 Jaguar XJ6, on a lap of the Baltic, with the goal of driving some of the ice roads which form on the frozen surface of this coldest of seas each year. So, did we freeze to death? No. Did we break down? That’s a ‘no’ too, surprisingly. And did we sink HMS Jag to the depths of the Baltic? Nearly actually, but we got away with it, and all in all, the Jag did brilliantly – for a 5,000 mile lap of northern Europe, we couldn’t have asked for a better companion than that £800 barge.

04 – MoroccoV8

So, following a near-sinking on the frigid wastes of the frozen Baltic Sea, how do you warm yourself up again? Simple. You buy a nackered old Rover P6, and head off to the Sahara for a few weeks. What could possibly go wrong with such a plan? The answer – many, many things. Here’s the full story: https://expeditionportal.com/morocco-in-a-1975-rover-p6/

05 – V8Nam

It’s 2013, and we’re up to number five on the list. And still no sports cars? We fixed that, and then some, with a drive from England to Singapore in a 1990 Corvette C4. The thinking behind it was simple, and was predictably dreamed up in the pub – V8Nam. Get a car with a V8, and drive to Vietnam. This simple idea led to one of our biggest drives yet, and certainly our most preposterous, as the Corvette completed its drive to the far side of Asia in convoy with a Rolls Royce Silver Shadow.

06 – The Slovenian Job

Following the five-month, 14,000 mile drive to Singapore, things went a little quiet on the road trip front for a while as the launch of a new business took over, but this hiatus was brought to an end in 2016, with the purchase of a Renault 4 in Slovenia, and the subsequent drive back to the UK. Admittedly, it wasn’t a return to form on the same level as driving the Corvette to Singapore, but it was still not a bad way to return to the fold – you can read the full story of the Slovenian Job here: https://drivetribe.com/p/the-slovenian-job-QUeRlbufTLyuUmdUHzMWcw?iid=HNLFFMLAQ36evDUKOU15Ew

07 – NC500

The trip back from Slovenia in a sheddy old hatchback reminded me of where it all began for me – ten years earlier, on the Mongol Rally, in which I drive to Mongolia in an old Mini. There’s something about a small, light hatchback with a feisty character which makes for a fun companion on a drive, and so when we decided to drive the NC500 back in 2016, a plucky little hatchback was the obvious choice. They can be frustratingly slow though, right? Not if you make your steed a classic Fiat Panda, which has had the original 45hp engine swapped out for the raging 90hp lump out of a Fiat Punto Sporting. This much power in an original Panda certainly made for a fun lap of the UK’s best driving adventure.

08 – Pub2Pub

Are all these little Euro-hatchback trips boring you? If so, apologies, and rest assured that order is now resumed with our biggest drive ever – a 27,000 mile trek across three continents, at the wheel of Kermit – our rather awesome, ClassicLine Insurance – sponsored (thanks guys!) TVR Chimaera. If you’ve been following us for any time, you probably know the story of this particular adventure, but if you fancy a recap, then no worries, here’s some of the media coverage we’ve had so far: https://www.classiclineinsurance.co.uk/pub2pub/

09 – The Eagle Rally

Even before the first mile of Pub2Pub, I’d seen how the drive from the northernmost bar to the southernmost seemed to strike a chord with people, and had dreamed up the idea of Pub2Pub Adventures, a fun business offering adventurous road trips with a pint at the end. About six months after getting back from the Pub2Pub Expedition, we ran our first event, taking a convoy of sports cars down to The Eagle’s Nest, in deepest Bavaria. You can read the story of this first ever customer-focussed road trip of ours here: https://www.classiclineinsurance.co.uk/the-eagles-havent-landed/

10 – The Pub2Pub Book

And in at number ten, we have the publication of our second road tripping book. This time, it was a rather different experience to our first book, as the publicity the trip had generated meant we were able to get a publisher onboard. ‘Pub2Pub’ was completed in January of this year, and following a thorough going-over by the good folk of Veloce Publishing, was released in August, representing the end of a six-year journey which began when I’d first dreamed up the idea for the trip, while sat on a Dartmoor barstool in late 2013. But it isn’t just the story of a drive, as the book also details a personal journey both into and out of depression, and with its completion about a year ago, that aspect of the previous few years was cathartically put to bed. Onwards and upwards, as the saying goes! You can read more about the Pub2Pub book here: https://www.classiclineinsurance.co.uk/pub2published/

So, there you have it – a decade of road trip adventures. It’s not exhaustive, and it hasn’t been easy to keep it to just ten highlights, with the limitation meaning such other adventures as riding across Vietnam on 100cc motorbikes, crossing the Alps in a Volvo 240, Driving a Fiat 126 around Havana, exploring California in a Ford Mustang, lapping the Nurburgring 4-up in a Volvo 850 T5, Driving Kermit in the Le Mans 24hr pre-race parade, taking a Fiat Uno around Brazil and racing through German tunnels in the TVR behind a lime green Lamborghini Huracan, have had to be left out. It could have easily been a list of twenty highlights, but if it was you wouldn’t have read this far as you’d have fallen asleep long ago. And that wouldn’t have been any good, as I wouldn’t have been able to wish you all the best for your next ten years of car-based fun.

I certainly have some exciting plans coming up as we roll into 2020, and I hope you do to. And naturally, will be keeping the Pub2Pub Adventures awesomeness rolling with some great new trips, so here’s to the next ten years – cheers!

Ben!