This was yet another amazing morning with our Almost4x4 family. As always, many drivers were at the meeting point before the meeting time, something I really like about our drives!
Pre-drive briefing was a bit more detailed than usual with @Abu Jimmy
explaining the essential rules of driving in the desert, convoy rules and what we should expect on the day. It was almost like a mini CM Drive briefing refresher
Briefing ended with the convoy order being announced and off we were.
was assigned as 2nd lead and following him I was the 3rd car in the convoy. We had @Youssef.Abdelhady
, @haider alnuaimi
, @Bu Zayed
and @Yazan Ali
as support with only @Johanna
within the convoy and everyone else floating as instructed by @Abu Jimmy
We started with an easy and smooth warm up session. It was my first time driving in this area so I was quite excited as I was told the dune formations here is a bit different. The 1st half of the drive was uneventful with everyone keeping up just fine (mostly). At one point we came accross another convoy and while they waited we did a mini climb (cars were released one by one) trying to get closer to the base point where we would do our actual climb to Pink Rock. Shortly after this we reached base of Pink Rock and all drivers parked in a straight line next to each other.
I have to go into a bit more detail at this point and applaud how things are done at Almost4x4. As usual it was "safety first". While all of us we were lined up and enthusiastically waiting to start the climb, before anything else certain safety precautions were taken. As there were other convoys in the area, first, the support team was positioned at strategic points to prevent any passing and oncoming traffic/drivers.
Only after the area was secured we started our climb, one by one. Before this of course instructions were given over the radio on the track to be followed and how we should make the climb. I watched @Abu Jimmy
effortlessly go up the hill and I followed with confidence. It was good exercise for me here because my car upshifts automatically when I hit the redline so I had to keep an eye on the track, on the RPM counter and keep listening to my engine to make sure I don't pass the treshold and end up with the car upshifting to 2nd gear, which would have resulted in me losing power and most probably not completing the climb. At the peak the track becomes quite narrow and there are some sharp rocks to the left of the track which become visible a bit late leaving not much reaction time. Luckily I was already positioned good enough to avoid them and just sligtly went over them hoping I did not damage my tires.
We all stopped at the other side of the hill (still at the top) where we took a long break as one of the cars in the convoy had a slashed tire due to the rocks at the top and we had to replace the tyre. The way our marshals and support teams operate in such situations is amazing, it is just like watching a theater, how safe, smooth and effortlesly they got things done, they indeed are real professionals! We all were reminded once again how dangerous rocks are, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem.
Second part of the drive started with us moving down from peak of Pink Rock but with a tiny upwards motion first. As we set off we immediately hit a patch of extremely soft sand. It looked like an easy path and having just started off from a long stop neither did the 2nd lead or myself had left the usual 15-20m distance between us and the car in front so it was 10-20 seconds of pure adrenaline 3 cars almost back to back, sliding/drifting filled with thoughs whether the car in front is going to get stuck, what if I will get stuck, oh please push push push
With this we were reminded of another very important lesson, leaving the correct distance is crucial!! I think the first 4 or 5 cars crossed successfully after which we heard over the radio someone was stuck so we had another break waiting for the car to be recovered.
While the 1st half of the drive was uneventful, the second half, actually starting from reaching the top of Pink Rock, turned into a different story
The pace definitely increased in the second half, our lead was throwing in very nice challenges back to back. At one point @Abu Jimmy
not to follow him, which is not an uncommon thing but he did continue following nevertheless. Although I head the instructions, seeing 2nd lead keep moving I also followed, but cautiously. When I came to the top of a rather round crest I saw why the instructions had come and I decided to stop, which turned out to be not a pleasant spot. It wasn't a dangerous place but I coulnd't continue driving forward, switched to 4L, engaged my rear diff-lock and reversed back down with @Yazan Ali
watching me and giving instructions from the side. I was quietly reminded of another lesson, if in doubt, just stop and radio for instructions!
I was a bit anxious because I had already seen the problematic are when I stopped at the top and now I had to cross it knowing what was waiting for me. It was kind of a V ditch and entering at the wrong angle would be problematic but I managed to pass through without a major issue (just a little bump
). The car behind me wasn't that lucky, it was a heavy Lexus and the wrong approach angle combined with fighting gravity resulted in the pop-out of the day. It was another break but happy about it as we had the chance to have a nice long chat with @Abu Jimmy
Things got only faster and more intense this point onwards. Watching ahead the 2 cars in front of me I do recall my surprize as I saw them side-cresting! My heart started beating faster as we had not done any side-crests before and for a moment I almost let adrenaline take over but quickly calmed myself down reassuring myself safety was always of the highest priority in Almost4x4 and we would never be put into a situation before we are ready for it (as proven time and again)! It really is a very different feeling, side-cresting, and we did many more of these till the end of the drive. Now I know what we did was extremely basic and any intermediate and above driver will not even call it side-cresting, but for us it was indeed legit side-cresting
We finished the drive a bit earlier (I think) than the planned time with no more issues. It was an amazing track with a wonderful mix of different challenges and experiences. Driving under the lead of different marshals I am very pleasantly amazed every singe time, it really is a great opportunity following their different driving styles!
I want to thank once again @Abu Jimmy
for organizing & leading such a fantastic drive, @Youssef.Abdelhady
, @haider alnuaimi
, @Bu Zayed
and @Yazan Ali
for their great support as always!
I've to admit, I'm still riding the high while I wrote this report, I can't wait to get back on the sand with our Almost4x4 family!