Tyumen to Yekaterinburg; 395.40 kms. An easy day? …….or maybe not….
We headed out of Tyumen, everyone revved up and rearing to go, tailgating each other to a circuit where we would do two rounds before we headed west to Yekaterinburg. We hadn’t had any time trials since a fast sand track three days ago and you had to get back into competition mode. We were like kids before an exam this morning at the main time check, everyone stressing because the first kilometer interval was 200 meters too long!!! You wouldn’t think we had just navigated all the way from Beijing across the Gobi desert. I think it was all the Michael Schumachers testing their tetesterone levels.
It was a slippery dirt track and we took off, spraying the marshals in dark dust and bumble bee sized mosquitoes. The first circuit went okay and we began a second one almost straight away. Gunther drove great guns and we braked hard ‘astride’ the finishing line. There was a very loud bang. We crawled Tilly down to get out of the way from the next car barreling towards us and to get our time card electronically chipped. Gunther got out and looked under the car,
“Oh oh, the wheel is at the back of the wheel arch and the castor bar has come loose,” he said with a worried look on his face and started to walk towards the finishing line to get the pieces that had fallen off.
There ensued the beginning of our demise and Gunther and the mechanics spent the next one and a half hours trying to reinstall the castor bar and also straighten the steering arm which had been bent. Finally we had it sorted (no, not ‘we’ really, I should say that the boys had it finished) and we headed off across the paddocks trying to catch up with all the others who had long since abandoned us. Talk about FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out, something I struggle with at the best of times) We drove about 200 meters when all of a sudden, BANG, and it fell off again. It was very quiet in the car.
The whole time that they worked on the car there was a group of young car enthusiasts all there at the track with their Moscovich’s and Wolga’s, one especially looking like Elvis in his aqua Wolga with matching vest. They were very curious about the car and asked many questions in Russian/ English. They sat in the Mustang with their girlfriends to get their photos taken and proudly showed us their cars. One came over and offered his workshop back in Tyumen. We gladly accepted.
We are now sitting in the workshop, waiting for the mechanics to cut a new thread on the castor bar and put different nuts on it to secure it in place. This will lose us many hours and we won’t make it back to the Main time check at the end of the day.
Just like at school, this means that we will get penalized, lose our hard won gold status (which means a medal at the end for making every time check punctually), and have about 15 hours added to our penalty card. This is sad news as we will now drop down the placement list and slip into oblivion. We are trying to be stalwart and philosophical. There s always a silver lining. But right now we feel ever so slightly disappointed and have yet to decide who to blame. It’s got to be someone…….surely.
This was not the end of a not so fabulous day. We finally got going at about three after Sergai, the lovely young Russian fixed our car with his friend. He was so enthusiastic and keen. Trying his best to get Tilly fixed, he took us to a workshop which was in the middle of an industrial area full of other car workshops. I think it would be the Tyumen equivalent of Bruce’s workshop in Ferntree Gully.
If I could I would take Sergai home with me. He was so full of life and energy and so willing to help. He and his friend worked for hours and made a new thread for the castor arm and put it into place. He refused to take payment for it. We waved goodbye with promises of sending a postcard from Paris. I actually tell a lie. He wanted my Facebook page. The young Russians are no different to our kids. I had to disappoint him and tell him I only had an email address.
Suffice to say, Gunther thought he’d lost his wallet about 10 kms after we left the Russian policeman and we drove all the way back only to find it next to my seat in the car!!!! The policeman were very nice and helped us look for it at the side of the road. You may ask yourselves why we needed it in the first place????
We finally arrived at our hotel at 9.30pm after driving brought torrential rain and flooded streets. Yekaterinburg is a huge and quite modern city. Gunther was however very tired and emotional and I had to tuck him into bed!!!!