ClassicLine’s resident roadtripper, Ben Coombes, is back with a brand-new series of motoring travel blogs. Combined with his love for classic cars, Ben will be bringing us tales of epic road trips, driving adventures and the latest from the Pub2Pub HQ.
Back in 2018, having returned from my TVR-powered drive across the planet, I launched Pub2Pub Adventures, with the intention of bringing a little bit of the spirit of my adventure to those who were keen to experience it. Since then, one could say that it’s been very much a tale of two halves.
The early days were characterised by optimism and positivity. Trips were dreamed up and run, new people met, new friendships created. We took sports cars to Europe’s far-flung bars, drove older classics to Monaco’s rarefied roads and held meet-ups closer to home as we built up this new brand into something synonymous with driving fun. But as we all know, it wasn’t to last.
In the spring of 2020, about eighteen months after running our first ever trip, the world changed. We were told to stay home. Six weeks to flatten the curve and beat the virus. Given the severity of the situation facing us, we obviously took this very seriously. We continued to do so as the six weeks rolled on open-endedly. Six weeks, six months, a year. All of the trips we’d hoped to run back in 2020 were cancelled, partly due to the uncertainly, and partly because it seemed to be the responsible thing to do, in the face of a pandemic which seemed to thrive on travel.
We all hoped that 2021 would be different.
We hoped the pandemic would be behind us. But we were disappointed. Despite starting the year with a selection of trips optimistically planned, by May the headwinds were feeling unyieldingly strong, and I took the difficult decision to cancel the year’s itinerary. Back in May, it felt like it could be a premature decision which would make me look like I’d misjudged things; here in the second half of August, with Italy and Belgium still imposing quarantine on arrivals, it feels more like a lucky call. None of the trips I’d hoped to run this year, and scheduled for September to give them the best chance of happening, could have gone ahead as hoped.
Another year has been lost.
Two years of lost income is the least of the potential issues inherent in a situation like this. Any business like Pub2Pub thrives on momentum. When things are going well, the business feels self sustaining. Happy customers tell their story, creating new customers. Word circles the social media world, stirring up interest. The very existence of the trips seems to provide the promotion they need to continue to grow. But the reverse is also true. Two years is a long time for a company based around running trips to not be able to leave the country. In two years, people’s memories will fade, momentum will stall and gradually, the chatter dies away.
The first half of Pub2Pub’s existence took place against a backdrop of growth; the second half has done its best to cancel that growth out.
So, what of the third half – the future, as cunningly alluded to in the title of this post?
Well, that half will be happening very soon, and we’re going to be coming out fighting to make up for the lost years.
With the vaccine take-up and a feeling that relative normality is coming back at long last, the early signs are that 2022 should offer a chance to get this show back on the road, and we’re already planning our itinerary, because for sure, we could all use a road trip right now. We’re going to be bringing back some old favourites, such as the Eagle Rally, launching new drives, such as the Beer Italia, holding our first UK event and also running a TVR-only event to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the TVR Chimaera. Because if you’ve followed our adventures at all, you may have noticed we’re rather partial to that particular car…
Without wishing to turn this rundown into an advert, if you’d like to find out more about the plans which we hope – with the assistance of ClassicLine Insurance – to bring to fruition next year, you can follow updates over on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/pub2pubexpedition), where we’ll be bringing further info on upcoming trips over the coming weeks, before opening entries to our various drives in the Autumn.
So, bring on 2022 – it may be a case of third time lucky, but hopefully it’ll be worth the multi-year wait.