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Old 6th July 2007, 16:06   #1
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Default Your most challenging drive

I would love to start a thread that will talk about the most heroic feat you achieved on four wheels and how you did it. I hope every one will share at least one story from their driving experience. The real challenge is not really the feat itself – it can indeed be something very simple. But overcoming the fear within is the most difficult part.

Here goes my experience. I hope others will share too

When a famous Guruji visited Kolkata last year to hold a “shibir” in a football stadium, I somehow got involved with this and got the task of bringing a golf cart from a resort near the city and keep it in the stadium, so that Guruji could move around the ground distributing ashirwad to his disciples.

Sounds like a simple task, right? Even I had thought so but as I soon realised it went on to become my most nerve wrecking driving experience on four wheels.

I reached the resort with a small Tata 407 to pick up the cart on the designated day. The resort manager had told me that they have a concrete ramp from where the cart can be easily driven into the truck. But when I reached the spot it was found that the ramp was not usable. The guy in-charge of the cart said it will be driven up using two long wooden planks. They had an in-house carpentry workshop there, so eight-ten feet long strong planks were available aplenty.

They set these two planks parallel to each other at an inclination; one end touching the ground and the other end the back of the truck. But the guy who was taking the lead in organising the whole thing backed out at the last moment and told me, why don’t you try to drive it up sir?

The inclination was like 60 degrees. I would think twice to take even my car up on a proper road with that kind of inclination and here I was being asked to drive a golf cart up these two wooden planks on to a truck.

But I had to teach this smart Jack a lesson, because when I had initially said let me see how best it can be done he didn’t even look at me. So I took the challenge. They initially tried to push the cart up, but with eight extremely heavy Trojan batteries inside, it was impossible to push it even a few inches up that incline. It had to be driven up.

First I checked if the planks were properly aligned to the two front wheels of the cart. This was perfect. The planks were, by the way, narrower than the tyres. And I ensured that each plank would be just in the middle of the tyre. There were two challenges – first the cart has to gather enough momentum to climb up the inclination. Second, the cart has to be stopped the moment I reached the top. Because it was a small Tata 407 which was just about the size of the cart. If I couldn’t stop the vehicle, it would bang into the wall behind the driver.

So I started the drive some 20 feet away from the plank. And drove really really fast. People were standing on two sides of the plank. And I drove almost with my eyes closed. The vehicle climbed all right and stopped like an obedient boy just where it was supposed to. No drama there.

But the moment the vehicle stopped instead of heaving that big sigh of relief, I realised now bringing this down in that stadium will be an even greater challenge. Because I have to repeat this feat in reverse gear.

What we did not calculate while climbing up was that, the couple of inches of the plank that were jutting out from the level of the truck’s platform made the plank move up, horizontal, and then fall from there with a big bang – like a seesaw. Someone who was standing in the crowd got badly injured in this. Probably his toe was broken.

To compound matters I realised there were no such wooden planks in the stadium. And whatever boards and planks that were there were either too small or too thin. Finally the labourers brought in a few wooden choukees (I don’t know the English for this but those short squarish wooden bench like things) and they created an inclination that was even steeper than what we used earlier to climb up. In fact the inclined choukee was so small that to make the gradient slightly safer, they made it land on another choukee that was put on the ground. It didn’t look very safe, to say the least. I even took a couple of pictures of this with my mobile camera before getting up to the truck.

I really felt this cart could just overturn. It looked absolutely impossible that it would come down safe. There were several risks. The choukee combination could just give way. One could make the other slip away with the weight and force. The cart could just overturn. But since these carts are open from all ends, I decided to take the risk. Probable worst-case scenario was the cart would break and I would break a few bones. But it wouldn’t be fatal and I didn’t really care for the cart’s safety.

I don’t really know how to say this – but the cart came down just like an obedient boy in a split second. No drama, nothing. The final point where it hit the ground was a big thud, but beyond this nothing really happened. I didn’t really do anything once all the four wheels were on the inclined plane of the choukee. But before this when the rear wheels were on it, I controlled the speed with brake modulation.

The lesson that I learnt from this, most difficult things look difficult when you think about it. But once you overcome the fear and actually do it, in hindsight it looks rather simple. I shall try and see if I can upload those pictures.

Last edited by Sudipto-S-Team : 6th July 2007 at 16:11. Reason: edited out the codes
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