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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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Old 4th October 2017, 18:00   #2
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Default Re: Your most challenging drive

Dada, though a pretty long lost post, but I am interested to see some of the snaps. Can you please post a few.

I just learnt to drive few months back, so if I am not driving regularly, it's always a challenge during the first few moments.
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Old 4th October 2017, 19:31   #3
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Default Re: Your most challenging drive

Originally Posted by Sudipto-S-Team View Post

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.
Well said. Whether it is driving through tough terrain or going through life's surprises, it's all in the mind.

Starting through the post, I thought it would be a drive through hill terrain or through slush or through very heavy rain and the like. But getting golf cart across had turned quite a task.
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Old 4th October 2017, 22:41   #4
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Default Re: Your most challenging drive

Heh! This one is easy - driving in the Arctic North in semi darkness on permafrost roads in a snowstorm where the car wants to slip and slide all the time in-spite of studded winter tyres. On top of this there are 50 tonne lorries thundering down the other side of the road at 100 kph and you have to maintain 90-100 kph or else there will be a train of vehicles behind you in no time.

I have *never ever* faced this kind of driving challenge anywhere else in the world. One mistake and your car is either in a ditch beside the road or in the fjord on the other side. No wonder scandinavians are the best drivers in the world. For outsiders driving there, it is like learning to powerslide a car on the job. Holding the steering is like holding on to dear life. Scary but a huge adrenalin rush at the same time.

On these kinds of roads, I drove 1500 odd km in 10 days
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Last edited by reignofchaos : 4th October 2017 at 23:07.
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Old 5th October 2017, 13:33   #5
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Default Re: Your most challenging drive

Came across this thread thanks to the bump by reignofchaos. My most challenging drive has to be back in 2006, when I was driving my first car with friends to visit a famous shivapur hotel from Pune.

We started off alright and this was in the month of July with heavy rains everyday. Fifteen minutes into the drive and it became visibly darker with clouds gathering in the sky. The time was about 4pm. I had only recently purchased my first car and my driving experience was limited. We began to approach the Katraj ghat.

Soon enough began the pitter patter of raindrops and in 2-3 minutes it had turned into a full fledged downpour. I put the wiper speed to the max and slowed down to 25kmph yet the visibility was near zero. Almost all the vehicles had put on their hazard lights and many were staying put at the roadside. There was complete chaos in the car too with some friends insisting we stop, one saying turn back and one coaxing me to keep going.

The rain kept up its drumming and now it became even more difficult because the windshield was all fogged up (with ac blowing on it). I was totally scared but did not want to give up (stupidity i know). Finally after pouring down heavily for 15-20 minutes someone up there finally turned off the tap.

However, those 15-20 minutes sum up my most challenging drive with limited driving experience combined with darkness, ghat roads, pouring rain and near zero visibility.
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Old 7th October 2017, 11:30   #6
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Default Re: Your most challenging drive

Hi all,

Did my most memorable and challenging drive today. I am driving a WagonR VXi for 5 years with 40k on the odo. I had some very urgent legal matter to attend in Kolhapur and come back to Bombay same day. I left home in BORIVALI at 7 in the morning , reached Kolhapur at 02:30 in the afternoon. Started back from Kolhapur at 05:00 PM
and back to home in Bombay at 01:00 am in the night.

So that amounts to 16 hours of driving and 805 KMs in all in less than 20 hours. Phew !
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Old 7th October 2017, 12:54   #7
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Default Re: Your most challenging drive

My most challenging drive was because of a steering malfunction, which I had to survive for 12 hours.

Originally Posted by Samurai View Post
Ok, today I drove the Jeep back to Manipal. And it was quite an unforgettable drive.

I started off from Bangalore with the confidence that the Steering is good enough for today's drive despite the play. And.... it was. I didn't have any understeer or oversteer issue throughout the drive, even in the twisty ghat section. But there was something else altogether...

Palm Meadows, Whispering Woods, Laughing Waters, Wandering Wheels...

Yeah, they obviously sound like the new fangled names given to residential apartments these days. But there is something odd about the last one.

The last one isn't a residential apartment, instead it is the new affliction of my Jeep. Say I am driving on the road, if the road banks to one side or the other, the front wheels turn by themselves without any steering input from my side.

This behavior is generally known as pulling to the side. But in such cases, the steering too turns with the wheel. Therefore one can prevent the pull by holding the steering wheel firmly. However, in my case there is the steering play which completely masks the pulling. When the front wheels pulls to one side, the steering wheels remains unaffected. Therefore, holding the steering wheel firmly has no effect.

Now imagine how scary this can be! Until you see the vehicle moving away to the side, there is no warning. Then you have to panic and turn the steering to the other side to counter it.

I noticed this behavior very much in the outer ring road. But I couldn't analyse it right away. The drive over the Peenya flyover (15kms) where I had many scary moments, I finally figured out the behavior. I also realised that I'll have enough time to counter it if I drive at around 50kmph. Any faster, I won't have the reaction time to counter the pull, remember there is no warning.

Now we all know Jeep steering has lot of play. Still we all learn how to drive precisely in-spite of the wacky steering. But wheels turning by itself is a new concept for me. It has never happened to me in any car I owned or driven until now.

Therefore, I mostly drove around 50kmph in the good highways and 40kmph in ghat section. That way I could counter the wandering wheels every time it happened, at least 100 times. My last Jeep drive from Manipal to Bangalore took 10 hours (including breaks), this time I took 12 hours 15 minutes for the same trip back, in the same route. But I am thankful I reached safely without any trouble. I almost have a headache from focusing so much on the vehicle for 410kms, trying to anticipate the wandering. I rarely overtook any vehicle today, because any wandering during the passing maneuver can be very bad.

The same behavior was noted when driving from Avalakonda to Bangalore, but we thought it was because of the broken bolt and the half deflated tyre. Now I know it is neither. Thanks to driving in Avalakonda with a broken steering bolt, the steering system has picked up massive play.

Meanwhile, I had lot of time to think of a name for this behavior, that's how I coined the term Wandering Wheels.
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Old 8th October 2017, 14:01   #8
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Default Re: Your most challenging drive

Hey Guys,

You have had some really challenging drives indeed! My challenging drives do not compare on the scale of challenging roads or times, but I've had a few challenging drives myself.

The most challenging drive has to be the drive back home after my sister's wedding. She got married in Cochin, and I spent the two weeks leading up to her wedding driving up and down between Kollam<-->Trivandrum and Kollam<-->Cochin. Safe to say, I was under a lot of stress and the entire month took a lot out of me.
The wedding formalities were finished by around 6 pm and I told my parents that it is easier to drive back home that day itself. Had we stayed back, we would have slept late (chilling out with family usually ends up in us sleeping after 2 am ) and we would have had to wake up at 6 am in order to be home by 10 am. We had to organize the reception at our hometown the next evening. So we decided to set out and we were out of TDM hall by 7 pm. I was driving dad's SX4, with my uncle riding shotgun and my parents in the back seats. My grandparents and aunt were in another car, driven by our driver. A family friend (bless him, he was very helpful during the wedding) was driving his car, with a lot of our luggage for company!
As I reached MG Road (hardly 200m from the hall), both my parents fell asleep in the back. After driving for another 15-20 mins, my unlce (who was supposed to stay awake and talk to me to keep me awake, lol) started snoring! So here I was, driving at the worst time of the day, with 3 occupants who were fast asleep. I was playing music at a level where I dont disturb them. I led the convoy for about 30 minutes and I was feeling very sleepy. I was exhausted myself! We pulled up at the lights( there is a good stretch of dual carriageway for about 50 odd kms, and it is the normal dual lane road for another 120 odd kms). My friend pulled up parallel to me and I had a chance to speak to him. I told him that I'm sleepy and suggested we stop for dinner/coffee wherever possible. We found a restaurant and stopped for dinner. We set out again at around 7:45 PM and I asked my friend to lead the convoy. I told him to drive at around 80kmph and I would follow him. All I remember after dinner break is him driving in front of me, and me following his tail lights. He turns right, I turn right. He overtakes another vehicle, I do the same. He hits a pothole, I hit the same pothole! Funny when I think about it now, haha! We reached home at around 11 PM that night.

When I look back, I realize that it was not the best decision to drive back, given my state of mind. The only reason I chose to do so was that we needed a good night's rest before the reception the next day. Had it not been for my friend who was driving like he was towing my car, I probably would have had a MUCH tougher time reaching home. God bless him!

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Old 9th October 2017, 08:56   #9
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Default Re: Your most challenging drive

Mine is not as challenging as the ones I read here. Mine was a 5 day trip that we undertook a few years back. Drove 50 hrs in 5 days (7, 7, 15, 15, 6) that was difficult. I don't remember feeling tired at all, but was very glad to have returned home to Bangalore on the 5th day.

A few months back, my wife and I did a 17 day road trip in the US (California, Arizona, Utah, Nevada) where for 12 out of 17 days, we were travelling for about 7 hours and doing sight seeing for 5 - 6 during which we did a lot of hiking in the National Parks. The roads were good, so was the car. That's the only reason I was able to do it as the sole driver.
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Old 9th October 2017, 12:12   #10
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Another one of my challenging drives. Well not so much as the first one as the weather was a friend this time around.

My best friend from Ratnagiri got married in Pune and I was entrusted the responsibility to get the newly weds to Ratnagiri the same day since another late night function was arranged over there.

The wedding was over by 5 and we were moving by 6 in my trusted old Indica (replaced now by the Vista D90). We did a quick break at Karad and then left the highway for Ratnagiri. Now I was actually dead tired from all the running around the whole day and once we left Karad, its ghat roads.

We reached his village which is around 11km from Ratnagiri by 12.30 am. Then there was dinner and a local dance kind of function which finished at 2 am and we hit the beds soon after. The hitch was that we (another close friend had accompanied us) had to be in office the next day because the day after that I was flying back to Israel (I had pleaded with our boss to let me attend my friend's wedding, promising that I will fly back immediately).

So we were awake by 04.30 am and left for Pune around 05.00 am. It was the month of May and there was dense fog - so dense that I had to stop multiple times till we reached proper Ratnagiri. Now I was already tired with less sleep and so I missed the turn which took us back the same route and we found ourselves climbing the amba ghat. At one turn (the one just before the ghat ends) I nearly collided with the guard wall. Then we immediately stopped for a cuppa and hit my face with cold water.

We reached Pune around 11.15am and went straight to office. But by 03.00pm, the two day rush had its toll and I could not keep my eyes open. I informed my boss and went home to sleep straight 12 hours. The next day I caught the 09pm El Al flight back to Tel Aviv.

I had never done 600 odd kms in such a close run before and that too in a tired state. And never after that too
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Old 9th October 2017, 13:46   #11
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Wonder how I missed this thread which started in July 2007! Over a decade ago.

I have a fair share of challenging drives; some similar to those written above. I believe the results (to overcome the challenge) usually depend on various factors, fatigue, company we are driving with, driving skills, confidence and finally act of God.

Got my driving licence in June 2007 and remember buying my first car in 2007 (Indica Xeta GLS) on 29th August 2007. Its a matter of no pride to admit that I asked the dealership to get me a driver to drive me home from Prabhadevi as I was not at all confident.

I am sure, am the only soul on TBHP, to have committed this sacrilege of being driven home in my first car purchased by a hired driver :(

Gathered confidence in my driving over the next few months and just could not wait to go on a long drive. I gobbled every piece of info on driving, long trips, travelogues, preparing the car, do's and don'ts, ghat section drives etc. etc.

Later that year, decided to drive down to Mangalore with kid, wife, my friend and his niece from Mumbai (with just me behind the wheel). It was well past midnight and we could not find any place to stay near Kolhapur, but since Belgaum was couple of hours away decided to reach there and take a good long break at night.

We were about 40 odd minutes away, everyone fell asleep and I increased the volume of the music since I did not want to wake anyone up as we were to reach soon. Was driving on the extreme right side (close to the divided) when out of the blue I felt I heard the biggest sound of a truck passing bye, absolutely roaring. I absolutely froze.

Real reason; I had gone off to sleep for that briefest moment of madness and this truck almost startled me out my sleep.

Got my car to the side, stopped and told everyone. I had fallen asleep. Scared out of my wits. Got down and drank some water and reached a hotel in Belgaum.

Thanked my stars. Swore never ever to drive at midnight and stop at a decent place as soon as the fatigue creeps in. We know it, cause we struggle to stay awake inorder to just reach the destination which is moments away to reach.

Lesson learnt.
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