I’m still pretty new to this truck driving malarkey, so when MAN offered me a ride and drive with one of its driver trainers and TGX 26.480, I jumped at the chance.
Given the choice of doing the drive from Manchester or Swindon, being an ex-Northern(ish) lad, I plumped for the former, and May 3 was set. The only issue was that was the day after Truckfest and I had to be on the 0640 train from Peterborough. No rest for the wicked, as they say, but at least the train journey was without incident!
I’d asked MAN if I could tackle the Woodhead pass in this drive. Woodhead holds a special place in my heart as, while a student at Huddersfield Uni, if the weather was good I’d drive there on a weekend and sit on the platform of the closed railway station reading the football reports in the Sunday papers. Therefore, to drive a truck this way was certainly on my imaginary bucket list, so to speak.
We got clear of Manchester relatively easily and then tackled the tight town streets near Hadfield before getting out onto the A628 and the start of the really challenging driving. Initially I’d thought we’d head back via Huddersfield but the plan was to come back via Snake Pass. Now, if I thought Woodhead challenged my rookie driving skills – which it most certainly did – then it was a walk in the park compared with tackling Snake Pass. And also, to get to the A57, you need to negotiate the busy city streets of Sheffield. Again, another test of my skills, but again, I’m glad to say I passed with flying colours!
The A57 really did test me to the limit. The truck was fully loaded and this road had it all – hill climbs, and obviously, descents as well, lots of bends, narrow sections, bridges and a generally poor road surface. There was also the added distraction of the stunning scenery, not to mention groups of ramblers and cyclists also encroaching on the highway.
Still, unperturbed, and totally determined, I ignored the tailback behind me and took it steady and safely all the way and successfully got to Glossop with no incidents. Back at Manchester, I felt not only relieved, but also quite proud. John, my driver trainer for the day, had commented that this was a very challenging drive indeed and that I’d done well. That made me feel very good indeed.
So, what’s the point I’m trying to make, I hear you all cry. You’ve driven a heavy truck over Snake Pass, whoopeedoo. What do I want? A medal?! Well, as I say, for someone who does not drive trucks all that often, and is still learning about them, this was not only a taxing drive, but reaffirmed my commitment to myself that I would not shirk away from any drive no matter how challenging. Maybe I’m not ready to drive the Bolivian ‘Death Roads’ or the Canadian Ice Roads – just yet – but one thing is for sure, I’d give them a go if offered!