Can you remember the first time you were in control behind a wheel? The thrill of being independent, the wind on your face and seeing the landscape slip by?
For me it was when I visited the Beaulieu National Motor Museum, England as a twelve year old. I was tall enough to ride the motorized go-karts but my young brother was too short. Alone I stepped into the waiting vehicle, was instructed on how to use the pedals and soon sped off.
I overcorrected on the first corner but smiled broadly as I passed my parents watching from outside the track. I still remember those feelings of exhilaration and freedom several decades later and have been hooked on car adventures and long distance driving. As they say, it is the lure of an open road.
Since those days I have motored or navigated on most continents in classic and vintageant cars. Sometimes on my designed holidays but mostly with car clubs and sometimes on international Motor Challenges and Motoring Trials. Racing is not my scene as I prefer to spend time exploring various countries, cultures and food as well as making enduring friendships within the motoring fraternity around the world. If there’s charity fundraising for a road event, even better because strong community links are forged.
When some of my friends said they don’t go driving with their partners because they end up fighting, I realized that what I took for granted could become helpful hints to avoid those instant divorce moments. Believe me, I’ve experienced them too but with trial and error have learnt how to work as a team within the car. Satellite navigation devices such as a Tom Tom or Garmin have greatly helped navigation but long distance driving is more than just knowing where to go. Let me illustrate with a true incident.
My husband and I had shared many drives including a couple of camping trips up to Cape York; crocodile and monsoon country in north Australia. We decided we better learn how to understand and compete in competitive events. It was our first three day Australian rally with timed sections and rally control points and I was navigator for my husband. The organizers played a nasty trick. Each car was allocated its own number and designated route book. A few hours later, at one roundabout, each successive car was given alternate directions, either to turn left or right. Now the rule of thumb is ‘Never follow the car in front’ but follow your own decision. Confusion! Hesitation! Questions! The navigator in the car in front of us, an irate wife also on her first rally, tossed her route notes and maps out of the window with a wild flutter of pages and told her husband, ‘You won’t listen to me. You don’t trust me. So now you are on your own.’ They turned left but I told my driver to go right, as per my instructions. ‘Trust me!’ I shouted. It was the correct decision but I realized that much experience goes into the successful team to minimize stress.
Many miles and years later, I have clocked up thousands of memories and ideas during my motoring hobby. This blog is not for the professional and experienced car rallyist but for you who may be thinking of taking part in a charity run, a long distance event or on a long motoring holiday.
For my future posts, I will bring you hints from successful long distance drivers as well as my own. No-one wants to say, ‘I paid good money for this motoring holiday. I’m supposed to be enjoying myself, I wish I never came.’ Instead I hope that you too will enjoy the thrill and discovery of new places, joyful experiences and strong friendships found on long distance drives.
So long as you have your driving licence and it doesn’t matter what your age or background, you can enjoy long distance driving in many countries of the world in any motor car. It may be large or small, dented or smart but it must be reliable. Just like yourself.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained.