Saturday, July 22, 2006

I Was Not Wrong When I Said to Mayo That This Day Would Be Overwhelming

Not least of which is because the start of the rally - lining up in the ring road at Hyde Park, was absolutely everything we could have hoped for - there were people there we'd waited so long to meet, cars we couldn't believe were being driven to Mongolia and both decked out in unbelievable getups (witness the Mongol Blues - who were dressed up, full on, as Jake and Elwood, in the nasty humid heat) or the team who drove a *hearse* - or the monkeytank, to which I am of course partial. Lorraine and Nina stood a humongous stuffed monkey toy (6') on their roof rack. Monkey! Some cars seemed primed for disaster - I was told that Team Pink Panda blew three tires on the *way* to the rally meet this morning. Shite!

It was absolutely wonderful fun - we had family and friends there - Jane and Jackie, Dan, Marianne, Ada Marie, Regina and Matt, who helped us prep our car and cheer us on - it was everything we could have wanted. Totally exhilirating. Pictures to follow as soon as possible. When Tom announced that the first twenty cars would hit the start, we were in that group - Paul hopped into the driver's seat just as it started to rain for the first time this week, and we peeled off. Paul was astounding - with 10 minutes driving experience in England he maneouvered his way through London with grace, following the team in front of us who thankfully had Welsh flags high on their car. Never been so damn thankful of a (literal) flag in all my life.

Then - thankfully - we made it onto the A2 - homefree to Dover, woohoo - no more city driving and then - and then - and then - nada. The car, which, as we all know, ain't perfect, took its bow in the middle lane of 50mph traffic on the A2. Paul's calm, I'm calm. And so is the clutch, which is ignoring the revving engine entirely, and refuses to engage. In what felt like hours, we attempted to get the car into even 1st gear and off to the shoulder. Nothing. Then - miraculously - a rally team (Nick and Anthony? - can't remember their team name) pulled up behind us, got out of their car. Nick stopped the traffic on the lefthand lane while Anthony pushed the car to the shoulder. With traffic thundering by (the shoulder of a 6 lane highway is really loud, actually - who knew?) we called AA (notice a theme here?) and Nick and Anthony stayed with us until it was clear AA was coming. So there we were. Four other teams (including the Mongol Blues) stopped along the way - despite us trying to wave them off, telling them we were ok - to check on us. Dozens of other teams honked and waved at us on the shoulder. I won't bore you with the details of us waiting on the shoulder of the A2 for 5 hours waiting to be towed, you can imagine, I'm sure. What I can tell you now is that the mechanic drove us to a hotel, and now, here we are, 60 miles outside of Dover. We hit the garage again Monday morning, where we get repairs done and soldier on. We're keen to hear how others have fared today in their travel - please let us know if you hear anything. And if you want to get in touch with us, feel free to call - my cell phone number is (for the next few days) 011 44 7818 080 563.

Wish us luck, and feel free to point and laugh. Last one to Mongolia is....

5 Comments:

Blogger Tim & Tom said...

Glad to hear you're getting back on track guys! Hopefully see you in Samarkand?

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