Tumbles and smiles

Tumbles and smiles

I came close to ending up in hospital last night, but I ended up grinning instead. Here’s why …

I fell down my stairs. To be perfectly honest, it was one of my most incredibly stupid moves (I seem to make a lot of those nowadays). I had just returned from Truck Test 2015, and was dog tired. My legs weren’t working properly (my brain seldom does). And I took a monster tumble.

Eventually, I crashed to the bottom of the stairs with a thunderous bang. I was only semi-conscious. I think I saw angels hovering above me. I definitely saw a bright light above me (it could have been the one in my entrance hall). I wondered what was broken (apart from my beloved Buddha, who had suddenly gained the ability to fly). I pondered the practicality of crawling – bloodied and broken – to my mobile phone.

And then I just lay there. And grinned.

I could not stop smiling – and Truck Test 2015 was the reason why, because, while it had undoubtedly been the cause of my near-death experience, it was also one of the highlights of my career.

As regular readers know, I just love trucking. I have had many good trucking experiences, but Truck Test 2015 wasn’t just good, it was utterly sensational.

There are many reasons why. First and foremost is the fact that nothing serious went wrong. We always worry about things going wrong – anything and everything from someone missing a turn to someone getting hurt.

The down run from Super Park in Johannesburg was not without incident – two cars collided and then hit the FAW truck (which just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time), but no one was seriously hurt and, after a bit of on-the-spot panelbeating, the FAW continued its weary way to Komatipoort.

Another reason was the convoy of trucks. They looked utterly magnificent! I got goosebumps every time I saw them. Standing on the side of the road, filming the entrants, made me feel so proud.

It was, ultimately, the camaraderie of the event that truly gladdened my heart. It was so lekker (I use that word quite deliberately) to see over 100 people from the trucking industry – many of them arch rivals – hang out together. There was lots of friendly bantering along the way – which is to be expected, but everyone involved in the test was clearly enjoying the opportunity to network, chat, tease … and share war stories.

One of the highlights was the opportunity to get up close and personal with competitors’ products. I saw one MD quietly hop into a rival company’s truck in order to check it out. Another took a rather mischievous photograph on his phone (my lips are sealed). Each entrant supplied an observer, who had to travel in another truck. So those observers also gained first-hand knowledge about other vehicles – and that proved to be invaluable too.

There was also camaraderie amongst the suppliers. Because this is, indeed, an industry event, those suppliers are an integral part of Truck Test. For instance, the event could not have happened without the support of Afrit and GRW; suppliers of the trailers – you guys rock!

Numerous other suppliers were involved too – such as Engen (fuel supplier), Ctrack (fleet management), TRAC N4 (tolls) and Wabco (that, most importantly, supplied meals en route, as well as snacks, which were dropped at our rooms).

Barloworld’s Adrian van Tonder was the “baas” of the Truck Test “plaas” and he kept everyone in line (and, it must be said, entertained). He worked hand in hand with TransSolve’s Martin Dammann, without whom this event simply would not have happened.

We also enjoyed wonderful support from Aero Truck, Afrisam, Air1, Alcoa, Bridgestone, BPW Axles, Cargo Carriers, Linde, Load Tech, One Insurance, Phoenix Risk Solutions and Scott Byers. A big thanks also to Ford, Mercedes-Benz Vans and General Motors for supplying back-up vehicles.

I thought about all these companies and the associated individuals, as I lay on the floor last night. I am still thinking about them now, as I type this article, pain shooting through my body (I feel as though the entire Truck Test field drove over me).

And I am still smiling.

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