Prostate Cancer Rally – The adventure begins
Vintage Adventurer Rod Wade is back on the road for this year’s Prostate Cancer Rally and the adventure has already began even before they have reached the start line.
Talk about your typical start to this challenging journey crossing through some of the toughest Australian outback roads, we hadn’t even left home yet and the Rattler had broken down! Rod, Trevor and Rob, with the assistance of Dan and Tom running from shed to shed for tools, performed the fault finding diagnostics.
It was a lack of spark, the solution was as simple as replacing ballast resistor on the firewall. No spares but luckily “Ruby” the Vintage Adventurer Peking to Paris vehicle had exactly what we were looking for. The team loaded the Rattler for the days drive from the Gold Coast to Bourke an interesting chain of events were about to unfold only 552km into the 991km day.
If you haven’t driven on the Australian Outback roads, you couldn’t imagine the strain vehicles endure with the constant pull to the left due to road camber along with the dips and potholes from years of heavy road train loads and maintenance neglect. Trevor, the Vintage Adventurer truck driver/mechanic veteran, had guided the team for the first leg of the day, stopping at the Goondiwindi BP for a much needed refuel, both vehicle and human.
As we pulled in the truck clutch pedal lost all pressure but came good after a few pumps. Now full of food and fuel it was time for a driver swap, rookie Tom decided to take the wheel. Little did the team know 160km down the road, it was all about to go pear shaped.
The leg between Goondiwindi to Moree was a steady pace behind a convoy of four road trains and a mix of various vehicles including a Q3 Audi driver overtaking a truck at a time, squeezing between of each straight.
We had reached Moree and it was time to turn off onto the Gwydir Highway, this where thing got interesting. The road had massive dips and was narrow with next to no runoffs. We held a steady 100-105km/hr speed with the trailer and Rattler safely behind as the team watched the rear view camera on every bump, the trailer kept straight and the truck pulled strong.
Little did we know the heavy duty Michelin tyres were under serious stress, not only from the load but also the camber stress from the constant wheel correction. We were 260metres before a guardrail crossing, and the next five seconds felt like 60 for the whole team.
The rear left tyre had exploded from the heat and sheer pressure. It was human nature to brace ourselves as we skidded for the next 130metres and were pulled by the truck and trailer off to the left of the highway, down the embankment towards a power pole directly in the line of travel.
Before the Vintage Adventurer team knew it, the right hand trailer wheel had detached taking the whole hub with it and flipping the trailer with a thundering unforgettable bang, tearing the chains whilst still attached to the truck.
The direct change swiftly threw the truck and trailer back over the highway, while the team looked to the left expecting the trailer to pass from behind and holding on for dear life. The luckiest bunch of men were shocked coming out of the wreck that not one person suffered a touch of physical trauma although there was plenty of heartbreak and devastation.
Had the rally of a lifetime come to an end before it even officially began? After all Rod Wade and his team were doing all of this in the joint focus of having fun and raising money for Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia.
If you ever have it get the chance to travel through Outback Australia you will see the hospitality the country people offer. The team started collecting tools, equipment and debris with Dan finding the Rattlers isolation key 50 plus metres past the accident site. Numerous locals pulled over on the highway lending a hand from water to local people who can help.
Within 20 minutes a local farmer named Ed from AFF drives his front end loader over to the scene of the accident with his support crew and flips the trailer with Vintage Adventurer Rattler on its wheel as the other wheel was a couple of hundred metres away. A new wheel was required on the rear left of the truck, Ed was kind enough to lift the rear of the truck to assist in the wheel change.
When Rod offered compensation for their assistance, they kindly refused, wished the team safe travels, provided a tow truck company and were on their way. Before we knew it Wayne, Moree’s local towy arrived unable to shake our hand as he was sporting a right hand of broken fingers.
Talk about luck, after three attempts the Rattler and trailer were loaded on the flatbed on its way back to Moree to be stored in Tait Fords holding yard, the only fair place to hold Rod’s well travelled Ford Rally Vehicle (The Rattler). In town Trevor noticed the rear right rim on the truck had a crack. This was potentially the same issue with the rear left rim that caused such an eventful day. The Moree Tyrepower crew tubed both rears for free in the name of raising money for Prostate Cancer. The night was spent at the Moree Golden Harvest.