Monday, 15 July 2013

A lucky escape

I said that I would let you know about some of the things that happened as we travelled from Southampton to Vladivostok Russia and this is one of those stories. It makes me sweat every time I think of it.

As you know we have two Suzuki Jiminys that we're driving around the world, LC02SUZ is the one that I'm driving and I intend to drive the whole way around myself. LCO3SUZ, the second vehicle was being driven in this instance by Graham Higgins and Mike Bailey on a shared driving basis. 

It was Stage 3 of the journey and we had crossed the border at Kyakhta, from Mongolia, back into Russia on Monday May 20th, day 51. We had found ourselves driving on a few kilometres of decent road for a change, good for overtaking, because there was lot of traffic in both directions. We had had a fair bit of hassle crossing the border that morning, it seemed to take for ever before they opened the gates and let us pass. During the drive that day I wasn’t tired, more frustrated at wasting time at the border and wanted to push on as we still had a long way to go before dark. Both the Jimnys are standard UK specification with the steering wheel on the right hand side of the car. Cars in all the countries that we have driven through have the steering wheel on the left, so we are at a disadvantage because we can’t see to overtake easily. What we have to do when behind a big truck is drop back a bit, hope that nothing is coming in the opposite direction, ease out enough so you can see if there is anything coming or not before overtaking. Not a problem if you are doing the odd journey, but if you are doing it day in and day out you get sick of looking at the backs of lorries and end up taking chances.

This particular day I had already overtaken slow moving lorries a few times by going up on the inside using the gravel side of the road. Not the right thing to do but it breaks the monotony. Anyway I knew things weren't right with me because I was talking to myself, never a good sign. I was irritable, trying to catch up on the time we had lost and taking chances. I came upon two very big 30 wheeler trucks travelling at a speed just a little bit slower than myself. Waiting a while for an opportunity to overtake, my frustration was getting the better of me. I was swinging from side to side looking to see how I could overtake when the road started to turn in a long ark to the right. I went to the right hand side of the road to give me a clear view in front of the trucks. I had to let two cars pass and there was a small truck some way off. I let the cars pass and it was then clear to overtake. I wound the little Jimny up to give me all the power I could get, eased out to overtake, and started clawing past the first lorry. At that point I saw that there were three trucks not two and I'm now halfway past the second truck when my speed started to drop off. We had entered a small incline. It didn’t affect the trucks speed but my Jimny wasn’t going forward as quickly now. I looked up to see where the small truck was and I froze.  It wasn’t a truck, it was a fast moving white Toyota flashing his lights and he was almost on me. 

I started braking hard and watched as my life drifted by. The same time the driver of the first truck must have been watching what was happening and dropped back a little.  So as I'm watching the Toyota coming at me I dived for the gap just making it as the Toyota, horn blearing, went hurtling past.

Boy was I lucky that day. I've started sweating again just writing about it. So I'm sandwiched between trucks thinking what a stupid fool I had been and thanking the Almighty for another chance, when the truck drivers eventually took pity on me. The truck in front started flashing to telling me it was clear to overtake.

This very near miss frightened the life out of me. God knows what my travelling companions thought of it, they had had to watch it all unfold and it was only the day before that I was giving them a lecture about driving safely!

Nearly not Les

next time ..... does Les get both the Jimnys through Canadian Customs????


  1. Oh dear not good, lets face it Jimny's are not know for speed maybe you forgot that. Good to hear your were ok just take care in America and Canada.

  2. I live abroad with an L200 truck and the wheel is on the right. If I have no one with me I us sharp bends to see what is down the road and if I can pass safely. The other trick is to let someone else get between you and the truck in front and when they go pull out to have a look, if there is enough room go with them.