Travel

Strap on the snow tyres, it's going to be a slippery ride

Ashley Bright and his teammate Douwe Buursma at the finish line.
Ashley Bright and his teammate Douwe Buursma at the finish line. Ashley Bright

FOR seven consecutive days, Ashley Bright's world was black, white, cold, fast, noisy - and a hell of a lot of fun.

He has just returned to Australia after taking part in Navigate North, an adventure car rally with an endurance and navigation twist that ran through the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Lapland, Poland, Denmark and Germany.

For Ashley, the journey played out to the beep-beep of an in-car Garmin GPS and the tap-tap of the navigator's fingers on laptop keyboards as routes were mapped.

But mostly, all he heard was the thud-thud of windscreen wipers shifting snowflakes and a Volvo XC-90 engine purring and whirring through some of the most spectacular arctic scenery on the planet.

In this place, at this time of year, colour goes into hibernation. There is black, and there is white. Plenty of white.

Driving in snow at night, headlights illuminate snowflakes as they zap horizontal, and drivers channel Han Solo shifting the Millennium Falcon up to light speed.

And all he felt was motion. Constant motion.

So much that he suffered vertigo when his feet finally landed back on Sunshine Coast soil.

This year's Navigate North had 22 teams of two traverse some 7000 kilometres across 10 countries in seven days.

Snow tyres that would have melted on summer roads were imperative in the minus-18 temperatures. So was stamina, a sense of humour and an adventurous spirit.

The rally was not a race, but a test of navigation prowess and human endurance.

Organisers calculated the average time it should take between checkpoints.

Teams could take whatever route they desired, but they had to cross the finish line as close to that time as possible.

Under or over, they lost points.

And if they travelled more than five kilometres over the speed limit they lost points.

After a week of all this, as well as closed roads, avalanches, accidents and delays, Ashley and his teammate Douwe Buursma managed to finish seventh overall.

The European importer of the spotlight covers Ashley makes at his Australian Spotlight Protection business at Landsborough asked him to take part in the rally.

"It was awesome," he said.

"Very tiring. I would do it again, definitely, if my wife would let me.

"We split the driving and the navigating, but one day I drove 12 hours and he drove three.

"Once you get into the car you don't know how long you'll be in it for...on the last day it was 32 hours.

"And when we got into Germany, where speed is unrestricted on the autobahns, the organisers put a self-imposed limit of 150kmh on the cars.

"One day, we were sitting on 150kmh for 10 to 11 hours.

"It was amazing scenery because it

was snowing most of the time we were there.

"It was twilight for six hours of the day, and the rest of the time it was dark.

"We actually used the rally to test our orange (headlight) covers. The amber covers don't reflect as much light from the white snow and you can see further. They worked a lot better."

You know you are in a tough race when even the organisers' cars get in strife.

Ashley remembers one incident where a rally official in a Rav 4 drifted into microsleep and into a snow-filled ditch.

"His car headed off to the side of the road into the snow that was banked up. He was lucky it wasn't the other side of the road - that was a 40-metre drop into a pine forest.

"We had to ring in (to a central control centre) and say we had stopped because we were assisting with a recovery.

"We were lucky, we didn't have an incident. We had very good tyres. I got out of the car one day to take some photos and I slipped over on the road, and yet our tyres were gripping so well on that same road."

One of the reasons Ashley said yes to the rally was to strengthen the business relationship with his teammate.

"It was great for advertising for him. And the winner had our orange spotlight covers on, so it was excellent.

"Everyone was asking me where I fit in and I said, 'Well, I make these' and then they realised.

"It was really good."

 

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Petrol is about $AUD2 a litre in the Arctic region right now
  • Mr Bright was surprised at how well the locals spoke English there

Topics:  cars, motor sport, travel


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Police investigating Ballina incident

Do you recognise this man? Police would like to speak with him.

Can you identify this man?

Rubbish collections back on agenda

BULKY RUBBISH: A Ballina Shire mayoral candidate has raised the issue of kerbside collections for the region.

Kerbside collections of bulky rubbish on the agenda

Latest deals and offers

Legal poppies will make you die, not high

A NEW crop will be popping up across the state after all sides of politics agreed to lift a ban on poppy seed farming for medical use.

Police investigating Ballina incident

Do you recognise this man? Police would like to speak with him.

Can you identify this man?

Rubbish collections back on agenda

BULKY RUBBISH: A Ballina Shire mayoral candidate has raised the issue of kerbside collections for the region.

Kerbside collections of bulky rubbish on the agenda

Battle over North Coast lake road continues

BATTLE FOR ROAD: Lennox Head's Stop the Lake Road Closure committee spokesperson Pip Carter (back, left) with NSW Minister for Sport, Stuart Ayres who has described the decision to close the road as odd.

Battle to keep road open is not over

Local teen actor to star in cult horror

Nicholas Hamilton.

Nicholas Hamilton, 16, has cemented his Hollywood career

John Williamson winding up for another Gympie Muster

John Williamson is bringing some new songs and artists to this year's Muster.

John Williamson is back and ready to put on his best show ever

What's on the small screen this week

Bella Frizza in a scene from the TV series Married At First Sight.

THE Block's $65,000 bathroom is revealed and strangers marry.

MOVIE REVIEW: Life on the Road

Ricky Gervais, Ben Bailey Smith and Foregone Conclusion (Steve Clarke, Andy Burrows, Stuart Baxter Wilkinson, Michael Clarke) in a scene from David Brent: Life on the Road.

Ricky Gervais has brought David Brent back to life on the big screen

Jessica Alba wants tequila shots served at her funeral

Businesswoman and actor Jessica Alba

There won't be mourning at this funeral

Tom Hiddleston's Instagram account hacked

Actor Tom Hiddleston

Thor star the latest celebrity targetted by hackers

Charlize Theron's son dresses up as Frozen character

Actor Charlize Theron

Star's son spotted dressed a beloved Frozen character

BOOKS: Food for thought in Caroline Beecham's latest novel

Maggie's Kitchen by Caroline Beecham is published by Allen & Unwin, RRP $29.99.

New novel reminds readers that bravery exists in many forms

REVEALED: Pat Rafter's $18m Coast house on the market

Check out the photos of the Coast's most expensive property for sale

The "correction we had to have" in Gladstone's rentals

UPWARD MARCH: The rental vacancy rate in Gladstone has improved for the first time in more than a year, providing a confidence boost in the market.

Vacancy rates improve with signs that things are getting betterF

ISLAND FOR SALE: Cheap Fraser Coast island drops price again

Suna Island in the Great Sandy Strait will be auctioned by Ray White Hervey Bay on Saturday morning.

This is the cheapest island you will find for sale in Australia

How a family home can fit on a 250sq m block

This is what you can build on 250m2.

Here's the floor plan of a home built on 250sq m

Investors eye Gladstone's $4m island with resort approval

UP FOR SALE: Turtle Island is on the market.

CHINESE and Sydney investors flag interest in Gladstone island.

Take a sneak peek at this $19m Whitsunday mansion

Mandalay House features a private helipad.

Mandalay is currently on the market with an asking price of $19m