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Afternoon Intermediate Desert Drive - The Scorch Trials (P.1) - Dubai - 30 Jul 2022

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Just to give you all Maze Runners a heads up, convoy positions will be switched, every hour, as follows::

@Davie Chase and @Simon Dawood will take Second Lead position after @Zixuan Huang - Charlie

@Vaibhav and @Zedwill take a Center Forward position after @Thomas Varghese

@Gok Krishand @Chinthaka Ruwan will alternate in Sweep. 

Let's all start warming up 😁

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Scorch Trials Part 1 - Drive Report

"By perseverance the snail reached the ark" - C. Haddon Spurgeon

While the drive was planned to have heat as its protagonist, it was actually the quality of the sand, due to the dump weather of the past days, that became the main "villain" of the day. In fact, it was only after my third stuck in a matter of 1 hour that I was made to realize that it was the treacherous conditions of the sand that would rule the day, and that we definitely would have to plan for, and overcome it, if we were to have a smoother drive.

From the beginning of our itinerary I had noticed the, by now, typical tall "step" on the hard-face of the dunes, which forms when the wind blows counter to its prevailing direction, pushing soft sand from the slip-face on top of the ridge and onto the harder side. Nonetheless, even when I found a proper place to cross onto the other side, I ended up getting stuck on the ridge, no matter how much I pushed. And even with A-Trac, and a car weighting heavily on the side of gravity, I still couldn't get off the ridges. The reason brought to my attention by some members who had helped shoveling and eventually tugged me out, was that just under the initial powdery layer of freshly blown sand, there was a caked and hardened layer, produced by the recent rains, which slowed the car down, produced the stuck, and prevented it from being able to get free of it. 

The only other critical situation worth noticing was when 4 other cars ended up in trouble, induced by my own third stuck, with 2 more cars stuck on my same crest, another with a temporary electrical problem immobilized on the other side of the dune, after crossing it, and the car trying to tug me off the crest also stuck on soft sand, with the rope fully stretched. In the confusion that arose, one of the cars stuck on the crest was almost tugged from both sides, as two drivers, one on each side of the dune, had attached their ropes to both front and back tow-points, and almost played tug-of-war with the unfortunate and bewildered crested driver. The takeaways from this situations were: 1) always bring the radio with you once out of the car, as lack of communication was the reason for the tug-of-war; 2) do not always cut the slack completely on the rope, but use it to give more power to the tug, when the stuck is deep.

Having said this, once understood the unusual and unfriendly nature of the sand, and having taken the necessary counter-measures (finding a less sharp and tall step to approach the criss-crossing, and actually preferring crossing from the slip-face (sufficiently sturdy) to the hard-face (excessively powdery), then the drive progressed, with perseverance, to its planned end at Faqa. Indeed, we were able to enjoy the cool weather, and the beautiful "virgin" status of the sand, smoothed out by the recent winds, completing a the rest of the drive with speed and no further situations.

As promised, we did cross the Middle Earth (that land between Solar Park and Little Sweihan,  we did laps along Little Sweihan's triangle of tall dunes and deep bowls, we reached the Faqa Plateau, and we traversed it diagonally, almost to its E44's boundary, before exiting in Faqa's northern sabkha.

The drive covered 81 Km, in 2:33 of driving (3:36 total), at 32 Km/h moving average speed (22 Km/h total).

My thanks go to @Zixuan Huang - Charlie and @Davie Chase, who alternated in Second Lead, adapting patiently to my search for the proper lines, to @Thomas Varghese, @Vaibhav and @Zed, who alternated at Center Forward, and to @Gaurav Soni, @Chinthaka Ruwan and @Gok Krish, who took turns at Sweep. I hope that all had the opportunity to get comfortable with their respective positions.

See you all soon out there, and have a nice, "cool" Sunday.


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Dear @Ale Vallecchi, The phenomenon of crests was propagated by very hard sand under the very thin layer of the soft sand on the top. The recent rain and humid weather had compacted the sand so much its became hard. So when you ride the ridge a bit longer, the soft sand instead of getting scattered by the impact will start to accumulate under the skid plate to the point you lose momentum and the underbelly of the car rests on the sand which is not soft. When I shovelled your car to be out of the crest even after so much clearance of the sand from under the chassis, the tires won't touch the sand so that you can self recover. If the sand was soft the car should naturally come down with the weight and the tires would touch the sand and you can self recover. Also with my heavy weight stature I was not sinking much into the sand when I climbed up the dune with the shovel, infact it was just the opposite that i could climb up easily. 

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@Ale VallecchiThank you for a wonderful drive. Almost after 6 months i got crested which says no matter how much experience you have you can never take the dunes for granted. After the break everyone drove exceptionally well with few refusal. We were causing sandstorm with the ridge riding which was such a beautiful view in the front and rear mirror. Sad part was thinking it would be hot i did not carry the camera. 

It was a pleasure to drive with @Chinthaka Ruwanand @Gok Krish for the first time. 

@Davie Chase Good to see you back and joining us for the intermediate drive

@Zixuan Huang - Charlie @Zed @Thomas Varghese @Gaurav Soni See you in the sand soon

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@Ale VallecchiThank you for a great drive, it was certainly eventful, but that's what makes our hobby all the more enjoyable.

Apologies to the team that i could not assist with digging and my shoulder made it more demanding for me to self recover, so appreciated the teams patience.

@Vaibhav agree with your comment, no matter how much experience you have the sand is a very humbling medium that's for sure.

@Zixuan Huang - Charlie @Zed @Thomas Varghese @Gaurav Soni @Chinthaka Ruwanand @Gok Krish great to see old friends and meet some new ones, really enjoyed the drive and hope to see you all again in the sand soon

@Thomas Varghese great picture, that just about sums it up, no words need :):):)

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