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Taking a ride in an American Big Rig

Frieda Paton
2 June 2017

You are never too old for exciting new experiences and I realised this when I became part of the Big Rig Forest Run on its drive from Pilgrim’s Rest to Sabie. While close to retirement age, I had never driven in any truck before but the pleasure was heightened as this was a big bright red International American flat-nosed rig polished to a mirror shine.

We headed a convoy of seven big rig showpieces and all along the way onlookers stared and waved as if to royalty. From the height of the truck, I also enjoyed stunning new vistas of the scenery on this familiar road.

I also discovered things about trucks which I had never known before. The loud machine gun-like noise that trucks make when going downhill, are special compression release brakes which work on the engine. My inner child thought that pulling the cord mounted in the roof of the cab to activate the air horn for the familiar loud “bwaaap” warning signal, looked like real fun. Do I want to drive a truck? I will give that one a miss. With sometimes forgetting fifth gear in my car, I don’t think I will cope with up to 18 gears with splitters which have to be activated in between.

The Big Rig Forest Run took place on March 13, with a number of the trucks having come up from Gauteng. Some of them were collector’s showpieces, while others still work regularly. The very cold and wet weather did not seem to dampen the spirits of the drivers while making their way from Nelspruit to White River, through Hazyview and Graskop to Pilgrim’s Rest, and on to Sabie before heading back to Nelspruit for an evening of trucker socialising. All the drivers said that they would definitely be back if the run becomes an annual event as planned.

Image: Big Rigs lined up at Casterbridge in White River.

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