It was a big one. A mean old beast with a lot of kick and a lot of buck. But showing them how it’s done, Wellesley Township equipment operator Claude Hergott tamed the machinery just fine, winning first place at the Waterloo Region Truck Rodeo.
Competing against 26 of his peers from around the region, Hergott manoeuvred his rig, a dump truck fitted with a plow, around the challenge course.
“They have an obstacle course set up and you’re driving a snow plow – a dump truck with a snow plow and a wing,” explained Hergott.
The course requires a deft hand as the obstacles are measured precisely to the size of the trucks, giving the operators bare inches of room to work with. Consider it a bit like the most harrowing plow route on the narrowest roads, in the absolute worst winter and on the side of a mountain. Knock over a cone, and you’ve just taken out someone’s mailbox.
Fortunately for residents of Wellesley Township, Hergott is as skilled a truck driver as they come. The rodeo puts the drivers through their paces with some very real, very practical challenges.
“Then you go through a serpentine it’s called, so it’s like an ‘S’ with barrels with the plow and the wing down. And then you stop, put the plow and the wing up and back through the serpentine,” he said.
How the driver operates his rig is grade too by judges, with judges looking for seatbelts, proper signalling and all the safety precautions a large vehicle operator needs to drive safe.
“It’s a driver’s test in a parking lot full of obstacles,” noted Hergott with a laugh.
The rodeo also comes with some other challenges, though, with less straightforward applications, like running the plow with the wing exactly though an open ring, or actually hitting a target with the side of the wing like a slow motion joust.
“Then you have to knock a pylon of a barrel with the wing. So you try not to hit anything and then you do,” he said.
Having won first place, Hergott will be heading to the provincial championship in Owen Sound later in September. There he will be representing the township for the province-wide title.
Hergott admits competing is mostly just for fun, and nothing to quit one’s day job over. It is unlikely he’ll be heading off to take on the international truck rodeo professional circuit, but meeting his fellow drivers, and enjoying some barbecue in the process, seems like an afternoon well spent.