Friday, May 27, 2005

Heart of Darkness, Apr. 30

Heart of Darkness was the first all-nighter for Stephen and I. The event started in Hope with first car out at 23:00 and first car in around 8:00 the next morning in Chilliwack.

I have to say from the outset that all-nighters and me are not a great combination. I had planned on sleeping most of the afternoon prior to the rally but most-of-the-afternoon turned out to be just a couple of hours. Anyhow, the rally got off to a good start and we ended up with one of our best point-totals ever.

As is usually the case with low point-totals, there aren't many stories to tell. The transits and regs were spaced nicely enough so that there was plenty of time for calcs before each reg. The most exciting moment of the rally was when, as is our tradition, we had our late start (camera fidgeting, I won't name names). On the particular reg that we started late, CAS was very difficult to maintain let alone catch up to where we should be. It was 12 km before we finally hit a school zone (CAS 27 km/h) where we were able to get back to the right position. Our late start was something like 20 seconds and we couldn't catch up!! I think CAS was a little too high for this reg or perhaps the pre-run was performed during daylight hours. Anyhow, it was almost 1:00 when we got to the school zone so we made the assumption that children would be in bed and sped through the zone to get back on track.

My energy level had been good until 4:00 rolled around...sometime around then I finished up the last of my calcs for the rally and my only duty after that was to read the route instructions and do time/odometer checks. Sadly, since I no-longer had to think (no calcs to do), my brain went into hibernate mode quite quickly. The last couple regs were quite a struggle to stay awake. When the instructions were fairly close together it wasn't too bad but on the long intervals I was pathetic. My usual strategy for long intervals is to note our odometer when we pass the last instruction and then check the time each km or 0.5 km afterwards until we get to the next instruction. So we'd pass a cattleguard at km 6.55 at 21:44 past the hour and I'd think to myself, "OK, we should hit 7.1 km at 22:24 past the hour...waiting...waiting...crap, we've passed 7.3 km...OK, next one is 7.6 km at 23:04" and so on. I think, on average, I managed to actually make 1-2 out of 3 planned odo checks on each long interval that we came across once I had gone into hibernate mode.

I was glad when we finally pulled into rally HQ at White Spot in Chilliwack. Strangely enough, I was able to stay awake through breakfast and the awards. We managed 7th overall out of 11 cars, 1st in novice and 2nd in calculator (there were only three calculator cars including the two novice cars).

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Rally mud/dirt factor: can still see a lot of blue. Posted by Hello

Halfway through day 2, somewhere between Kelowna and Merrit. Posted by Hello

There we are at the end of the line... Posted by Hello

Check out the accessory odometer on the rear wheel. Posted by Hello

Okanagan Lake in the background. Posted by Hello

Lined up and ready to go somewhere south of Kelowna. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

T-Bird Rally, Day 2, Feb 20, 2005

Day 2 of the rally was quite a relaxing affair from a co-drivers point of view. Due to the complaints received by the police during the Big White regularity at the end of day 1, this same regularity in reverse was scrapped for the start of day 2. Translation...plenty of time for calcs before the first regularity. In fact, we had so much time that we took a detour on our way to the first reg to go over our 'passing of the salt truck' part of the road in daylight. It was pretty clear in daylight that we had made a somewhat risky manoeuvre. Hindsight is great.

The weather was fantastic on day 2, bright and sunny and we had an awesome view of the lake to start one of the regs. I believe we were first in novice class after day 1 but we made one critical mistake on day 2 that put us into 2nd...

We were approaching an acute right turn and we could see the checkpoint vehicle ahead on the left. Unfortunately we missed the turn so we decided to continue until a safe turnaround spot could be found. I figured that we'd passed the checkpoint so our time had been logged. Wrong. The road crested quite frequently and wasn't that wide so by the time we found a nice turnaround and actually headed down the right road, we were way off schedule and our time was logged as we passed the apex of the turn and not the beginning of the turn as I had thought. We were pretty happy with our performance until we got scores for the day. Stephen did an awesome job keeping the car on the road and catching up to where we should have been on the reg.

Other cars weren't so lucky that day. We saw the novice Escort over a bank but they waved us by. We also came upon a safety triangle with a car embedded in the snow at the left turn ahead followed by another safety triangle at the very next turn with a car pointed 180 degress the wrong way in the left snow bank. We had some fishtail action ourselves but Stephen managed to keep everything under control.

The other memory moment of the day was a hairpin left that we had been warned about at the drivers meeting. We were told to take it veeerrrrry slow...less than 20k, 10-15k is even better. What they neglected to mention on the route instructions is that this hairpin left was preceded by an even worse hairpin right that dropped off as you went around it. The hairpin left that we had been warned about could be seen coming since the exposure was on the left too...the hairpin right totally surprised us since it's exposure was on the left too! At the end of the day, I think every other team we talked to had the same experience.

The day finished without any scratches on the car. We ended placing 2nd in novice class and got a little plaque for our efforts. Everyone got toques too on day 1 which I forgot to mention earlier.

One more thing to note, one of the lugnuts got cross-threaded when we were putting the all-seasons back on at the end of the day. Canadian Tire was closed and none of the gas station had any so we ended up driving home with 4 lugnuts on one wheel instead of 5. Everyone said no problem but I think we were both a tad worried.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Waiting to start the Big White regularity. Posted by Hello

This is what happens when trees go bad. Posted by Hello

I think a lighthouse or two are missing some vital equipment... Posted by Hello

This Beetle is at every rally. Cool. Posted by Hello

Nice rack! Posted by Hello

Mo' Mini. Posted by Hello

Sweet Mini Cooper. I think I've seen moutain bikes with bigger disc brakes. Posted by Hello

Stephen's WRX. Note the Team AMMP logo! Posted by Hello

The motel parking lot in Merritt. Team AMMP cars 16 and 29. Posted by Hello

T-Bird Rally, Day 1, Feb 19, 2005

This is all from memory...

T-Bird ran the weekend after Valentine's from Merritt to Kelowna and back. We headed up to Merritt on the Friday night to check into our motel and catch a good night's sleep before day 1 of the rally. The ride up was uneventful for the most part...we saw a couple other rallyists on the way but that was about it.

When we arrived, we were quickly informed by the check-in dude that we got the last room and the heater was broken. "Not to worry," he said, "I stayed in that room for two weeks and it has a space heater that works." Great. The space heater was as big as a toaster but smaller than a toaster oven. Lucky for us, we had arranged to stay the following night on Ger's floor so we had our sleeping bags with us. After we got our stuff to the room, we headed over to the Team AMMP (Adrenaline Rally, M45, MBCU and Phoenix?) HQ in one of the nice suites and relaxed for bit. Doug lent us his portable impact wrench to put on the winter tires. The entire motel was filled with rallyists so we didn't feel to bad using it after 23:00.

The next morning we got our route instructions and headed out. Being car #47 has it's advantages...plenty of time for calcs before the first regularity. The first regularity got off to a rough start. A few minutes before our start time I decided a bathroom break now would be a good idea instead of squirming in the seat for half the regularity. I hopped down a snowy bank and picked a spot. I did a quick shoulder check and realized that I was in full view of the lineup of cars. To remedy this, I ducked under branch to move further away just as a tree jumped at me from the size and poked me in the head. "Just a scratch," I thought. Before I had finished #1, blood was dripping on the snow. I checked the wound and my hand was covered in blood when I brought it down. I zipped up quickly and ran back to the car. As I was running around the front of the car and pointing at my head, Stephen realized something was up. I kept running past his door and around to the hatch. Stephen had got out of the car and came back to help me get the first-aid kit. Lucky for me, there was a nurse in the car behind us. She hopped out to get me bandaged up and ready to go asap.

We had one white-knuckle moment on the first regularity while heading for a tree but the Blizzak's did their thing. Winter rallying is great! The rest of the day was tonnes of fun up to the last regularity: Big White. This regularity was on mostly on tarmac. Unfortunately, it was two-lane road with a double yellow line. Nobody knew that though since it was covered in brown snow and salt. We got stuck behind a salt truck shortly after the start of the regularity. We waited back for a while and the the salt truck pulled to the right as the road took a long left. We took this opportunity to pass it which resulted in the truck driver laying on the horn as we went by. We didn't find out until we got to Rally HQ in Kelowna that we were passing over a double-yellow line. Whoops. If we had known it was a double yellow, we would have stayed behind. The police were called and had our car number along with several other car numbers as well. The organizers smoothed things over and no one was punished. We hung out a rally HQ until the scores were posted and then headed over to Ger's spiffy townhouse to crash for the night. We weren't great guests but we really appreciated the free room. We crashed on the floor and got some nice warm sleep until day 2.