Out Of The Saddle REVIEW
by Holly Blades
Last weekend was the fourth annual Out of the Saddle Dinner and Auction in Rotherham. OOTS was created by Dean and Russ Downing to raise money for charities close to their heart, and the end of season shindig has become a staple of the party season calendar.
This was my first year at Out of the Saddle and I wasn't sure what to expect, other than a good night out, but as to be expected as it's run by the Downing brothers, there was a definite atmosphere of “family”. The guests of honour, and recipients of the charity auction's earnings were Brothers on Bikes, two teenagers who recently cycled from John O'Groats to Lands End to raise money for charity in memory of their late uncle who were in attendance with their father. It was the first ever cycling dinner I've been to where children were eating at the tables with their parents – and not just Ben Swift and his mum and dad!
Though perhaps without the continental 'big names' of the likes of Braveheart, Out of the Saddle featured a host of domestic and grass roots riders, past and present, such as Jon Tiernan-Locke, Kristian House, Malcolm Elliot, Tom Murray, John Tanner and Matt Stephens. Whilst the auction was a smaller more low key affair than some, I personally preferred the framed works of one off cycling related art to the usual 'signed jerseys'. Although, the item that left us £500 lighter was pretty cool too – Maglia Rosa; a Giro d'Italia book published by Rouleur and signed by around 15-20 pink jersey wearers/winners including the late Fiorenzi Magni. Whoo, and a little bit of ouch at the same time.
But, of course, before we could have the auction, we had to have the food! This is again where OOTS differs from the other major cycling dinners in that the food was served on a buffet. Whilst the queues were long, everyone was in such good spirits that no one seemed to mind as it just gave you more time to finish your drinks and have a chat with those around you. The only major problem I ever have with parties is the sit down meal – I don't eat a huge amount, especially on a belly full of beer, and so I either feel guilty that I've left so much food, or sick because I've eaten it all. I remember one year at a function, I had to go and have a lie down between my main course and pudding! So, it was really nice to have the chance to dictate how much went on your plate, and whether it was the lighter salad and poached salmon option, or the delicious chicken tikka or Chinese selection on offer. Or, y'know, all three.
Tables were named after domestic and continental teams, often with a reference to each team sat on the table, for example, Brian Smith was on the table named after Endura etc. This again added to the family feel of things as, I think I said to Dean Downing in passing, it was like being at a wedding, and good fun to see which “team” you were on for the evening.
After the auction came the disco – another favourite touch of mine, with the only gripe that, as the buffet and the auction had over run so much, the disco played about six songs before the plug was pulled. Fortunately, one of them was Dancing Queen so all was well in the world. And so, it was into the bar to mingle with the other guests and partake in actually rather cheap beer. We put all of our drinks for the evening on our room and only paid £63 in the morning - £23 of which was a bottle of wine, so, yay, cheap pints!
David Harmon Interviews Ed Clancy
Whilst I know the Downings were running round like the proverbial blue bottomed flies all evening, in the morning they informed us that they'd raised over £7000 for the Brothers on Bikes charity and that it was their biggest and most successful event yet.
I realise that there was talk of needing to expand the venue for next year, as half of the guests were sat in the “atrium” (read: conservatory), and the buffet took around 2 hours to complete, but one thing that OOTS needs to make sure is that it doesn't lose that “family wedding” vibe as it's so lovely and what the charity is all about. A great night out by all accounts, and I can't wait til next year.
You May Also Like...
Leave A Comment
Please login to leave a comment