This was a year that, no matter how much we try to forget it, will be remembered for one thing above all. So let's get the Elephant-in-the-Room off our chests.
COVID-19 screwed us!
Rod Hull, AKA Pud, was an early Leicester Phoenix MCC member who brought mirth wherever he went. Lifelong friend of Ron Tunks, Pud kept in contact with friends made in our years at the Rocket near where he lived.
Pud suffered poor health and mobility during his final years but remained cheerful. His funeral at Grantham before lockdown early in the year was well attended.
Rodney Taylor was accurately described as the Coventry Antelope's club's greatest 'Ambassador-at-Large'. Jean-Francois Helias collected anecdotes of his extensive rallying before the sad news arrived of his passing and they now form a memorial and reminder of this well-known and widely loved character.
Les Hobbs was a prolific contributor to this website. It was a shock to hear that he passed away late in the year. Les has left us with many stories of his motorcycling and rallying times but we will miss his extensive knowledge and good humour.
Michelle Bradshaw passed away at the Royal Infirmary on 31 December after suffereing for some years from Alzheimer's and Parkinsons' Disease. Michelle was Wal Bradshaws wife and partner who supported and assisted with his voluntary work as National Road Rally controls officer and as the Leicester Phoenix MCC Training Scheme Chief Instructor, both in the RAC/ACU years and later BMF RTS.
We are too slow to praise our friends to their faces. Perhaps you have something nice to contribute on the above friends now they will not be embarrassed by your kindness.
Contributors succeeded in keeping staff at LPMCC.net busy this year.
Heather MacGregor & Ted Trett
Posting a page of badges that lack accompanying reports was like a waving red rag to Ted and Heather. They charged in with report after report for rallies and events that therapy has failed to expunge from memory.
Ted continues to broaden his contributions with reviews of the various and many bikes that have carried him to rallies over the years.
Francois (aka Fanfan) also dived in with historical accounts of many legendary continental rallies that add new dimensions to what we generally think of as just an excuse for a party.
Francois also ensured that our list of unreported badges grew rapidly despite all the new reports. So much so, that by the close of the year we were forced to make Badges a section of its own, covering sports events, clubs, training schemes, ride-outs as well as rallies. Also postcards, pennants and (at long last!) patches!
Thankfully Francois is not just heaping badges upon us; he is also graphically preparing the images for easy scaling and insertion on the pages, making our task 90% easier!
Our hearts really went out to Hans this year. After a good start, Hans had the distressing task of reporting rally cancellations every week. Through the year his Rally Listing shrank pitifully as club after club were forced to abandon their events to control the pandemic.
Despite the gloom, Hans soldiered on and his Mobile version continues to be far and away our most popular page. As 2020 closes there are already 436 events spread across the new year with new rallies outnumbering cancellations at last.
Phil the Spill did not entirely rest on his laurels this year; he added a couple more reports to let us know he is surviving north of the border. In the meantime Phil is constantly uploading heaps of rally photos to his Facebook page.
We are also blessed by readers who are inspired to write us a note, however brief, about their participation in a rally long ago. I suspect the event occurs to them in a fit of distemper and they Google to see if it was real or a figment of their delirium. Where-upon they discover like minds have suffered the same experience. Misery likes company.
Contributions are always acknowledged in our Bibliography.
Here is what they wrote...
This year we added 115 new pages and over 200 additions to existing pages (including the News and Blog). The great majority of new pages were rally reports but we also boosted our Bikes section with reviews from Ted and the Yesteryear series from Francois.
Across the website we added more than 6000 photos, some going back over 100 years. The flood-gates opened and our badge count went up by more than 3000, which is the reason that Badges now form their own section.
News Update went out every week more or less on schedule. Thanks to Francois, Simon Over, Nick Reeves and a few others, it carried a Foz Spot to give us something to smile about. The 2020 Foz Annual was posted on New Year's Eve. As well as that, we have added a new Foz List every week since the middle of the year!
We guess that you appreciate our content because we received 400 star ratings across all sections and the average was 4.84 out of 5. Thank you.
We were successful in updating smoother methods for a number of existing features, hopefully invisible to the users. These include improvements to the rally alphabetic index pages, conventional Site Map, People and Past Member lists and F.A.Q. pages.
Our Stop Press system to alert you to urgent items has been tamed so that, once you have seen the message, you need to open the Contact Centre if you need to see it again.
National Rally Riders' photos are popular pages so, after many requests we eventually made it a little bit easier to scroll through the pictures to an approximate time at Kegworth Control. Regrettably we were not able to post photos from this year's postponed NRR.
By May we had the Reports Wanted page in place and began to be inundated with fresh reports. That in turn gave rise to the need for more and better Web Workers for coding and administration duties.
The pandemic directly caused many changes on LPMCC.net and I need to keep a record of where those changes are in case we ever need to return to pre-covid conditions.
We created a specific COVID-19 page to keep you (and us) occupied and amused. One day that will be gone we hope, but some parts may find use elsewhere on the site.
It was the first year we posted previews of our cycle rides; waste of time that was! As Embers took to solo rides we opened a WhatsApp group and posted our chattering in our reports for Embers who are still using cocoa tins and string.
Hans Veenendaal's Rally Listing soon began to look very sad as the cancelled rallies outweighed those still hopeful of happening. So we added a toggle to let you choose to only show events not cancelled.
Our Calendar Page continued to show club nights for some time after the committee cancelled them for the duration. We also changed our Skype Nights from the last Wednesday of the month to every Wednesday to give friends somewhere to gather for a regular chat. At a later stage we (and Skype) made it much easier for everyone to join the call, even without installing Skype.
All was progressing tickety-boo until half way through the year, with already twice as much development as in 2019.
LPMCC.net went off-line at midnight as described in my Blog entry for 23 June. Thus I lost the last of my hair and any possibility of sleep for the next week.
We were able to get the site back on line within a day but not without expense and ongoing ramifications.
We never take a challenge like this without looking for benefits. One was that we could grasp the nettle ($$$) of changing to a secure server. Maybe the biggest improvement stemming from this was the clearance of the last advertising that had become intrusive and counter-productive.
Downside was that we lost access to our server logs so the following months were often occupied by trying to interpret Google Analytics versions of our statistics. In fact our Statistics Page was effectively dismantled and then resurrected one chart at a time for month after month. It really needs a fresh start in 2021.
I am still annoyed at my old web hosts who pulled the plug without any warning. But that is now water under the bridge and on a general parr with other goings-on in 2020.
Fun and Frolics
The carousel that rotates relevant thumbnails on some pages has been breathed on with the air of
Having seen 3D photos appearing on Facebook I had to have a go, just for the hell of it. First one is on the Cannonball Baker page. However, it is such a fuss to implement, I can assure you it will not be overused!
Through the year errors have been (thankfully) reported and dealt with. There were a few real puzzles that sometimes took months to solve. When the penny finally drops it is great to have that "Oh Blimey" moment.
Not many of those in this appalling year. Here are a couple.
National Road Rally
Postponed until September and then operated as a daytime event without need of manned controls. So, although Kegworth and Syston were not required to provide marshals, that did give us the opportunity to enter a team.
Our team consisted of past members Terry Reynolds, Dave Smith and Dave Parry, all experienced National Rally riders. They each chose their own route and maintained social distancing while completing the event. Peter Wright rode along with Dave Parry to make sure we had a few photos.
After an excellent start to the year our Embers Cycling group inevitably fell foul of the COVID-19 restrictions as they rolled in.
We lost our Morecambe Holiday but Mick Ayriss managed to rescue our deposits.
Like the club, we moved into lockdown a week ahead of the Government announcement and continued our weekly cycling solo, sending reports and selfies via WhatsApp and other methods to keep our cycle reports active.
We press-ganged a few innocent friends into these activities, including various Embers' partners (same household), Andrew Ayriss in Kent and Nigel and Kathy Lines who would otherwise have joined us in Morecambe.
The summer respite allowed us to reform into groups of 6 or less riders and we enjoyed a couple of months as North, South and East Groups, very occasionally catching brief sight of each other in passing.
So we kept our spirits up, our friendships warm, our fitness high and our lunch money in the bank. We counted 25 Embers, at one time or another, who covered 19,678 miles between them. That's social distancing!
Rare meeting of carefully spaced North and South Groups in August. Left to right...
Richard Clark, Dave Parry, Ian Bower, Mick Perry, Mick Ayriss, Richard Sleath, Grahame Billington.
Kneeling: Simon Over, John Muschialli, Tim Wicks, Peter Wright, Ben Crossley.
Bring it on, 2021!
Big news for 2021 is that it is the Leicester Phoenix MCC 60th Jubilee!
Whether we can celebrate with a reunion depends on a lot of things but we hope and pray that the vaccines being deployed will bring life back under control sooner rather than later.
In the meantime we are distributing commemorative badges to all present and past members. Their distribution depends on you speaking up and arranging some kind of delivery. In an ideal world they would be presented at reunions but I'm hopeful that members who know other members can act as conduits to pass these badges on.
The Good Thing is that they are marked 1961-2021. We are not touching anything with 2020 on it!
Wishing you health and happiness in 2021, and hoping to see you in person!