The blind drive

Hello once again.

In my last post I mentioned that I was going to be taking part in the Blind Drive Challenge in order to raise funds for Guide Dogs.

Well, as I write this, I have just come back from the event.

I think the best way to describe the experience, in a single word, is exhilarating…

We arrived at the event and proceeded to the Guide Dogs reception area to let them know that we were here and, more importantly, to hand in the money raised through sponsorship for the event. I had set a target of £150 and am pleased to say, that once gift aid is factored in, the end total I raised was around £180. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who was kind enough to sponsor me for this event.

Since Commando and I were the first Guide dog partnership to arrive we then had some fun with an impromptu photo call, and some nice pictures were taken of myself and Commando beside a very nice, and very expensive car.

Then it was time to get down to the main event. The driving…

I met the gentleman who was to be my instructor for the drive. We then went over to the car and, a first for me, I got into the driver’s side. The instructor then ran me through what we would be doing, and the kinds of instructions he would be giving me during the drive. Fortunately, for all concerned, these cars are dual controlled, and automatics, so the process is both safe and fairly straight forward, in terms of actually getting the car to move.

So, once all of that was done with it was time for me to start driving…

We set off at a slow pace, manoeuvring onto the proper track. Although working the accelerator is a fairly straight forward process, I quickly realized that steering is not quite as simple as drivers make it appear. There are a number of tiny adjustments that have to be made in order to keep a car going straight, and that process is of course more complicated when you can’t see. However, after a while I think I was starting to get the hang of it, with the instructor providing direction to me as we went. Once we made it onto a nice long straight part of the course it was time to put the pedal to the metal and see how fast we could go… I’ve heard from other people who’ve done this that this is the really fun part, and I can certainly see why. On our first lap we got into the 50’s but had to slow down because of the car in front, who’s driver was not moving as quickly. However on the second let we had a clearer run and managed to get up to 85 mph. We then drove into a smaller area and tried some figure of eights. Out of everything I had done up to that point, I think this part was the most disorienting. Due to the full left and right turns and the need to more or less turn the steering wheel completely around. After that it was time to bring the drive to an end, so we slowly maneuvered back to where we had started and came to a stop.

It occurred to me, as I was driving, listening to and acting on the instructions I was being given, that this is what it must be like for Commando whenever we are working. He’s traveling along, receiving instructions from me, and acting upon them, as well as acting on his own when he sees something in our way. The concentration that must take is remarkable. I know I now have a greater idea of what’s involved in driving, and respect for those who drive. Of course I’m sure it is a little easier when you can actually see what you’re doing.

Due to the amount I was able to raise through sponsorship I was also able to take part in the second part of the challenge, which is to be driven round the track in a high performance rally car. As you would imagine, these cars are built for speed, and speed they really do. I really felt it when we were taking corners because of the G-forces created by the speeds we were traveling at. I believe the fastest we got the rally car up to was 114 mph.

After that there was still more exhilaration when I was taken around the track in a Jaguar, which was the expensive car mentioned earlier. This time the measured factor was how quickly the car would reach 100mph once on the straight part of the track. In my case it took approximately 9.24 seconds, which I’m told is quite impressive.

I must say that this has been one of the most enjoyable experiences I have undertaken, and I am very thankful to the Newcastle Mobility Team for arranging it. I am confident that everyone who attended had a good time. I am also hopeful, that most importantly, vital funds were raised for Guide Dogs as a result of the day. If you are considering taking part in a blind drive challenge in your area, to raise funds for Guide Dogs, then I can highly recommend it. You’ll have a great time for a great cause.


Bob, 1:08pm Wed 23 Jul 2014:

Well done Craig!

Paul, 11:03pm Sat 5 Jul 2014:

Great to hear how the Blind Drive Challenge was from your perspective Craig. This was the second one I've helped out at. Everyone always has a great experience. I filmed a little of it this year and uploaded it to YouTube for those interested:

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Craig with Commando standing by a black Jaguar

Craig with racing helmet on