Well, as I mentioned, today is the first day of another trip up north. This time to survey a new piece of road for possible use as a Special Test for the Road To Mandalay Endurance Rally.
I left late. I was up shortly after 6am, but didn’t get out of the house until almost 8. Why? Well, I don’t have an answer, but I was pondering that when after only having travelled about 80kms, and zipping along at 130kph, the front left tire took it upon itself to explode. No exaggeration.
I think it must have looked more spectacular from outside as I eventually managed to rattle to a halt on the left shoulder in a cloud of smoke and flaying tire parts. Inside? Well, let’s just say I didn’t need a second coffee to keep me awake! It was all a bit of a bit of surprise given that Bert (my Ford Ranger) has only done about 7000kms.
At this point I had to call into question my masculinity, because, yes, I had to read the Owners Manual. Real Men don’t do that. But you see, although I knew the spare wheel was hiding underneath the rear truck bed, I had no idea how to get it down from there. It seems you have to assemble a bunch of rods and handles, using instructions that read like an IKEA DIY kit, and then stick the end of the rod through a small hole above the rear license plate and turn it counter-clockwise (the rod, not the license plate, silly) until the spare wheel magically descends to the ground. It reminded me of the starter handles we used to use to crank the engines of cars in the days of yore. But you’re too young to remember that.
The next surprise was the fact the spare wheel is a solid chunk of steel, not the nice light alloy of the normal rims, and it’s damned heavy. Sweat was sweated. Muscles were muscled. Curses were cursed. But eventually the wheel was mounted.
Anyways, long story short, the process wasted a good half hour, and made my earlier tardiness even more embarrassing. But at least it left me thankful I’d insisted on getting a manual in English.
And then I was further delayed by the fact it seemed to be National Tree Felling Day, as the traffic ground to a halt while crews dropped large trees all over the road, and we waited while they hacked them into moveable chunks. I must put the date in my diary.
But the odd thing about the tire incident was that the manual warned me that with the chunky spare wheel “handling may be affected.” I decided that if it was, I probably would abort the trip. And sure enough, it was. The handling was better! Which lead me to conclude the exploding tire had been damaged from birth. No doubt I will have interesting discussions with the Ford dealership persons who will not want to replace tire, and perhaps rim, FoC. They may not know it now, but they will do it FoC.
So, I eventually arrived “up north” rather later than planned.
Okay, no biggie, I just had to work faster. By nightfall, I’d figured where the Special Test would be, written tulips (route instructions) to link the original route to the test, and from the test back to the original route. I picked a route that went close to the Pranburi Dam, but unfortunately below the level of the dam, so the reservoir was not visible.
But that didn’t mean I couldn’t find a road with a view. So here’s some pix…
Anyways, I was happy with the day’s work, and after reaching the hotel I even had time for a walk on the beach, accompanied in the increasing gloom by several rats that seemed to be enjoying an early supper by nipping out from under the rocks to snatch inattentive crabs. Do I know how to have fun, or what?