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Desert Champions Trophy - 2021

Morning Intermediate Desert Drive - Faqa-Ganthoot: Border Patrol - Dubai - 09 Oct 2021


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Faqa to Ganthoot: Border Patrol Run - Drive Report

The path of least resistance is the path of most allowance - Abraham

Warning: this post contains self-criticism questions that I kindly ask the members to help me answer 🤭

As transpires from some post-drive comments, this was indeed "The" longest drive. For most members who joined, as well as for me. Spurred by a background in long-range trips, I have tended to push my drives longer than average (within the half-day time constraints we usually have). Yet, only a handful of drives made it over the 100Km mark, and only one was longer then 110 Km. This "Border Patrol Run" actually beat the previous record (BTW, on a similar Faqa to Qudra route) by 2 KM: 116 Km of total driving, in 40 minutes less driving time than the previous 114Km record.

These drives express my philosophy of desert driving: getting from A to B in the shortest possible time, using all available off-roading skills in a safe manner, and being able to visit all the interesting spots along the route (beautiful dune formations, areas of peculiar vegetation, local fauna, geological features). To manage long distance drives, I tend to plan and commit to a "path of least resistance". As the saying goes, this should allow to achieve more, more easily. So, does this mean that these drives are easy ones? This is a question I often ask myself, vis a vis other drives I have done as part of a convoy, led with a more extreme orientation in mind (longer climbs, riskier crossings, taller side-sloping, etc.). Should I favor, at least at Fewbie Plus and Intermediate levels, more daring maneuvers (reaching for higher and faster criss-crossing, or attempt extreme side sloping)? I kindly ask the members who joined, either this or previous long distance drives, to provide me with their view and feedback to the question: did the drive provide the expected challenges, or was it too easy, in the attempt to last longer? Should we have delved longer in play-areas, and providing more challenges in terms of specific skills, at the expense of completing the planned itinerary? Your view will help me perfect my future FB+ and IM drives. 

Having said this, I must admit that I DID enjoy yesterday's drive a lot. The terrain of choice proved diverse as far as landscapes were concerned, and all-encompassing in terms of the skills necessary to manage it. The convoy behaved in an almost perfect way, both in terms of discipline (only one time the order was broken, when facing a delicate exit from a criss-crossing into a deep man-made track), and driving skills (only one pull off a stuck into an unavoidable sand bowl, and virtually no refusals.....hence my questions: was it too easy, or the drivers were just great?). Perhaps most drivers did not notice that almost from the beginning (except a short initial stretch in Faqa, and the final part of Little Sweihan) we crossed the cordons from the slip-face, hence the drive acquired an additional factor of difficulty. One small disappointment came from the deep man-made tracks we encountered and crossed in most of the Faqa segment. A limiting factor throughout the drive was also the blinding refraction of the sunlight off the sand, forcing me to reduce the drive's speed, in order to avoid dangerous blind spots. Other than these few issues, it was a great drive, covering, as we said, 116Km, in 4:14 hours of driving (with only 40 minutes of breaks), and with an average moving speed of 27Km/h (24 Km/h overall).

My thanks for this record-beating drive go to @Thomas Varghese for the Second Lead (well executed, at the perfect distance to guarantee re-directions and corrections), @GauravSoni for anchoring the convoy, and @marks for the Sweep (glad you both saw relatively little action, and could concentrate on having fun). My hat comes off for @Sunil Mathew (I hope you enjoyed your IM baptism), @Ashok chaturvedi (welcome back), @JeromeFJ@Looper, @Matt.T, @Arman, @Lawrence_Chehimi, @Ranjan Das and @Russ, all of whom drove almost in silence, which I take as a sign of concentration and enjoyment. 

Thank you very much for your participation. While I wish you all a great week, I am looking forward to your feedback regarding how to improve these IM drives, if you think some adjustments should be made.

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Dear Desertnauts. A first round of info about next Saturday's drive. In particular, about the route, it'll copy and paste four previously driven tracks (Faqa's lower area, the crossing of a techn

Just checked my profile… this is going to be my century drive!!! @Ale Vallecchi time flies! Its nice to celebrate with such wonderful convoy!

@Ale Vallecchi Thank you and congrats for a very well planned drive!.  The convoy @Thomas Varghese @Sunil Mathew @Ashok chaturvedi  @JeromeFJ, @Looper, @Matt.T, @Arman, @Lawrence_Chehimi, @Ranjan

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Dear @Ale Vallecchi, for my part, what I like in the drives you propose is the exploration/ navigation part, the fact that we intend to reach somewhere, to travel in the desert, and not only climbing a high dune or circling a tight bowl. I like the fact that we use our vehicles capacities and our driving skills to navigate into the desert environment to reach a point, or travel far into one direction. Learning the specificity of the areas (geology, vegetation, wildlife, human activities) is also part of the interest. And doing so with an homogeneous convoy at FB+ or IM level just expands the possibilities.

So yes, sometimes, it might look a bit "easy" because if you isolate 20 min of the drive, one might consider that this single portion does not bring so much difficulty, but the fact that this 20 min portion is repeated 15 times in the 5h total duration of the drive is a difficulty in itself, and keeping the concentration and awareness to be ready for this slip face a bit more steep @3:47, or this sudden sharp turn at the end of a ridge @4:38 is also part of the challenge.

Having said so, I must admit, that I took the liberty in some occasions, especially in the Little Sweihan area, to go a bit higher than the car in front of me when the path was clear and the roller coaster fun was too tempting. Probably things that you see when you have a few cars in front of you to show the route, and when you don't have to worry with the navigation part.

We are lucky within @Carnity to be offered with a wide variety of drives, We have other possibilities for breathtaking bowls or climbs! I definitely appreciate a lot these long exploration drives, and considering how fast your drives are filling in the calendar on Sunday evening, sure I'm not the only one ! 

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@Ale Vallecchi I really align with what @JeromeFJ has said. I believe there is a place for each kind of drive. In terms of 'easy' I genuinely belive that when concentration is maintained and the convoy remains focused the errors are less. 

I quite like the idea that the drive is not only a drive but has a challenge to complete a route. I believe it is the case on previous drives Ale that we have not reached the target exit for whatever reason, which highlights they are not all 'easily achievable '.

I look forward to the day we have an all day challenge to test concentration!!

 

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Dear @Ale Vallecchi 

I don't know what to reply for the message you put here. Right from the time I joined Carnity I look forward for your drives right from my newbie drives to fewbie, fewbie plus to Intermediate. I faithfully joined whenever I can for your drives. I enjoy from the beginning to the end. I agree you don't do jeep jumping in the desert which is suitable for me as my car is a daily drive. I am coming with you to explore the desert and drive with you and not to do stunts. I request you to continue doing what you are doing now. To tell you the truth I felt completely exhausted from the long drive. Please note this is not as a criticism. In fact this is what I wanted. To spend all my extra energy and come home dead tired. Please keep doing what you are doing now. This is more like an endurance test for me. Imagine covering all that distance in very technical area in that much time. Thankfully all the drivers performed extremely well with almost few refusals and a stuck of mine. By the time you instructed me to change the track I was already committed to that path whereas I always put a safe distance behind you all other times. That was too tight an area and I didn't want to lose sight of you as the sand was too bright to keep track of your tracks where you went and I paid the price. Thankfully @Ashok chaturvedi was ready with his ropes to lend a hand and recovery was easily executed under your expert guidance. To be shovelling under the blazing sun would have been a torture. 

I look forward for your future drives and will join whenever I can. Actually by carefully choosing the tracks and not attempting crazy stunts is what attracts me to your drives as I know I can enjoy without harming my car. I love my car and I don't want to sacrifice it to the sands. 

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Hi @Ale Vallecchi, I too echo some of the observations of fellow drivers as above.

To answer your questions :-

1. Did the drive provide "expected" challenges ?  - YES. Because the expectation for me as a participant in the drive is influenced or formed based on the pre-drive intro you usually give, with subtle hints sometimes or very clear/louder pointers otherwise. If the drive title has "long range patrol" border patrol" etc , we now know what to expect from such signature drives :-) 


2. Was it too easy ? - I would still answer with a half hearted YES, because i have experienced much more difficult/challenging/daring drives with you at lower levels. But again, this needs to be analysed with Q#1 above, wherein the drive plan is not to go through challenging crossings, but cover the distance, which in itself is another skill set requiring long , sustained concentration.

3. Should we have delved longer in play areas ? - As a personal opinion/preference, YES, again, but that is not what we signed up for, in the first place

In short, the drive did 100% justice to the announced drive plan, while personal preferences of us drivers will surely vary, but as mentioned by Jerome, we are blessed to have a very wide variety of drives at @Carnity, and all of us will continue to get the drives at various levels of alignment with each one's personal tastes. This drive , for me was special, being my IM "baptism" and having driven 100+ km, in a new area, it also gives me a sense of achievement, with a subtle message that desert driving is not only about daring crossings, riding ridges , adrenalie rush etc . 

Looking forward and coming back for more!!

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16 hours ago, Ale Vallecchi said:

did the drive provide the expected challenges, or was it too easy, in the attempt to last longer? Should we have delved longer in play-areas, and providing more challenges in terms of specific skills, at the expense of completing the planned itinerary? Your view will help me perfect my future FB+ and IM drives. 

 

Hi @Ale Vallecchi - I have joined a number of your long range patrols and happy to offer my view as requested.

Specific to your questions: 

  • challenges & ease: Yes and Yes.  I personally joint the drives knowing this was not a drive for the obstacles/challenges, rather a long range, cross Emirate exploration.  The challenge was different, the ease was necessary else we would not achieve the objective to cross almost the entire emirate of Dubai off-road
  • should we delve longer in the play areas: No, not for me.  The joy of the longer trip was the exploration and variation in terrain, obstacles and speeds.  It felt as if we tackled dunes for the purpose of crossing them vs playing and this i liked as it kept to the theme of the drive.

My personal feedback on this type of drive:

Each lead brings their own character to a drive, as such, not all would enjoy or make enjoyable such a trip so I would resist from changing the formulae as the route combined with your approach on these trips is what makes it special.  I Enjoy the running commentary, learning about the geology and geography of the regions we pass, intentionally looking for fauna and wildlife, having someone who has crossed/explored the vast deserts of Africa giving a guided tour of our sandpit - you are the special potion that makes this trip work (not the obstacles, challenges or distance). 

If you decide to adapt/evolve/change these long range patrols - we are happy to experiment with you.

Thank you for reaching out for feedback - i look forward to joining a future 'patrol' soon. 

 

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I love the long range patrol drives and had been a participant from the beginning except when I took the 2 month break. Love the way its an endurance drive both for the man and the machine. Driving non stop for 4 hours is the challenge 

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Hi @Ale Vallecchi I don’t have a great deal to add to the comments already made.

We are lucky that there are enough drives available to select ones that spur our interest, although one downside of Intermediate level is that there is generally only one drive per week, so perhaps the choice is less if you want to drive at a ‘higher’ level and have a choice of the type of drive you prefer..

Although my vehicle isn’t necessarily the most suited to technical areas, I enjoy the challenge of them and on Saturday to complete such a long distance without any issues at all is a testament not to the fact that it was ‘easy’ but rather I was at full concentration and not taking anything for granted. At the back we have the added challenge of soft churned up sand of course which always adds to the test!

I appreciate seeing new areas and exploring parts of this country I never previously knew existed, so my message would be let’s keep trying to find new terrain and encounter whatever Mother Nature throws our way on any given day!

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1 hour ago, GauravSoni said:

On a side note: I am looking for a drive which will take us from the beaches on the east coast to the massive dunes of Liwa passing through soft red sand of Mahafiz, Faya , Bowls of sharjah to the long range dunes of lisaili , cutting across the terrain of Sweihan eventually landing at Moreeb! 

My "wow" reaction was for this part of your post!!! :-) 

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