Page 59 - The Chapka 2016
P. 59

   Lance Corporal Thomas and his posse Provincial France at its best
In late December, fourteen fit and eager Lancers left a blus- tery Catterick and headed south in search of excitement and adventure. Exercise ROUGHTRACK LANCER (the exercise formally known as Exercise CHAMPAGNE LANCER) was a mountain biking AT expedition with a subtle difference. As well as tackling some tough French singletrack mountain bik- ing routes, the group were also able to take advantage of some regimental connections in the Champagne region.
On crossing the channel and entering France, the group’s first thought was to comrades of old. Exactly one hundred and two years to the day after the event, the group enjoyed an impromp- tu stop at Moy de l’Aisne, the site of the 12th Lancers’ charge against the 1st Prussian Dragoon Guards. The party visited the memorial commemorating the centenary of the battle and the graves of the four Lancers who fell during the action.
The evening stop was at the house of a friend of the Regiment in a small village north of Epernay. The group were spoilt with good food and better company before settling down for the night. The following day, a tour of the grape vines preceded an educational visit of a large, commercial Champagne house, where the Lanc- ers were able to sniff various differing styles of fizz.
But the real work was yet to begin. A further four hours driving south got us to our campsite. It was the end of the season so the Lancers had secured a lakeside spot with ample parking, sunset views and spacious accommodation. Barbeques were the flavour of the month and Lance Corporal Thomas went about his busi- ness with a paternalistic confidence, cooking up the first of six heavenly feasts thanks to ‘Cash in Lieu of Rations’.
Some didn’t get the memo that it was a tour of the Champagne grape vines and not the Stella factory
The following morning, the group of mixed ability riders set off on their first orientation ride. It was a chance to gauge the levels of ability which existed within the group, and a chance for Cor- poral Green to demonstrate he requires a little more orientation than most. The three days which followed were filled with rides covering a mixture of farm track, woodland trails and single- track. The area is developing as a hub for cross-country riding, with well-marked and graded routes of differing lengths.
Keen to push the boundaries of physical fitness, Lieutenant Luke thought it wise to conduct a friendly triathlon on the pe- nultimate morning. Swimming is not a Royal Lancer sport, as had been demonstrated throughout the week during the vari- ous cool down sessions in the lake. Nevertheless, showing true Royal Lancer grit and determination, thirteen Lancers set off for a 400m swim, to be followed by an 8km cycle and a 4km run. Lance Corporal Morrow thought his skills were best placed guarding the personal effects of the participating triathletes. Fit- ness was the overall winner and there was some promising talent on display throughout the impromptu event which saw most of the group complete their first ‘swim-bike-run’ event.
A final battle against the French biking trails was all that re- mained before the long drive back to Catterick. Thanks must go to Corporal Watkinson and Lance Corporal Yorke, without whom (and their qualifications) the trip could not have gone ahead. Mountain biking is growing in strength across the Regi- ment, with some exciting expeditions planned for 2017; watch this space.
  The group enjoy a very French post-triathlon brunch

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