Monday, March 06, 2006

Fun Drive - before

The Gulf News Fun Drive has been something of a national institution here for a number of years. It always seems to be oversubscribed, so not to be outdone, this year the Khaleej Times is organising a separate event that is along similar lines.

The basic concept is that in the UAE there are an awful lot of 4x4 vehicles. "Thank you Einstein; I think we could guess that much." But most of these never go off road any further than the shopping centre car park. Despite there being several off-roaders' clubs, there are many 4x4 owners who would love to drive in the desert but don't know how, don't know anyone to go with, are afraid of breaking the car, any number of reasons.

Enter the Khaleej Times' The Great Escape. For a nominal fee, the participants drive around a predetermined route along tracks and over sand dunes for about 70km. At the end there is some organised entertainment: live music and a desert barbecue. Hopefully it'll encourage more people to enjoy going off the beaten track.

My involvement is as one of the marshals. I've driven the route several times. Actually I've driven multiple variants of the route, but we now have an official one that is to be issued in a booklet to the competit...sorry, participants; it's not a race. To any rally drivers who might be reading this, apparently it's called a tulip diagram. Why? No idea. Maybe it looks like a street-map of Amsterdam.

WAITING: Marshals taking a brief break from the driving

Last Friday was the final final marshals' drive-through. It was the third (of two!) Tiger Tape runs, in which strategic bushes along the route were tagged with striped hazard tape, apparently to give the camels some variety in their diet. It was a motley crew that consisted of the Jeep Wrangler Fetishists Society, Dubai 4x4, ME4x4 and miscellaneous others. We started off in Dubai with a huge and hearty breakfast and then headed off to the official start for petrol and Standing Around drill. At Al Awir we deflated our tyres. In my case that's about 1 bar, or 15psi in the old money. Then we all set off for a nice gentle bimble in the sand.

QUEUE: Dubai's traffic jams are becoming legendary. It's even starting to happen in the desert...

It is nice and gentle too. There should in theory be few stucks and fewer (I hope) broken cars next Friday, provided that the participants remember to drop their tyre pressures and don't drive too fast.


Doha Diva said...

And providing the competit ... sorry, participants don't hit any trees. Like the British Army managed to do at Khor Al-Udaid in 2003. I didn't even know there WERE any trees on our route but they managed to find one ...

Grumpy Goat said...

According to the Guinness Book of Records, the loneliest tree in the world survived being rammed by a truck.

Trouble is, with nothing else to look at, drivers tend to aim at any feature. A similar thing happens when aiming a speed boat near a buoy, much to the alarm of the diver who has just surfaced in the same spot...

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