Sunday, September 25, 2005

Coast to Coast Rally, Day 1, May 14

Coast to Coast is a two-day rally literally takes everyone across the entire width of Vancouver Island. Day 1 covers Courtenay to Port Alberni via Campbell River and day 2 covers Port Alberni to Duncan via Bamfield. In total, we covered 750 km of regs and transits in the two days. This was the first C2C experience for both of us and we had been warned that this was a tough rally...especially on cars.

We took the ferry from Horseshoe Bay on Friday night and got into rally HQ pretty late. Lucky for us we had a room reserved. What that meant is that since we were the last people arriving, we got the room above the hick bar. We enjoyed loud music through the floor for a couple hours topped off with a domestic dispute out our window before we got to sleep.

We went through tech inspection first thing Saturday morning, no hitches if I recall correctly...except that we were car #13. A bad omen perhaps?

Odo check officially started at 9:30 and the first reg at 10:05. We got through the first reg with a very respectable score of 13 over four checkpoints. I always feel good when the first reg goes well. Usually it's the reg where I've had the least time to get calcs done so I'm not as on top of things as I like to be.

Reg 2 is started off great; we zeroed the first two checkpoints but apparently we were overdue for a navigational error and I unwittingly obliged. The instruction was 'sharp right just before left at stop'. A fog came over me and I told Stephen right at the stop. I thought I had done good because the next instruction was good because we hit the crossed the bridge right afterwards as expected. We kept motoring on
blissfully until the next instruction didn't materialize as expected. It was a 'keep-left, may be considered unneccessary' (KL MBCU). Maybe we just missed it? After all it was unneccesary. Next thing I new we were doing 58 along a campground. Something had to be wrong here. We had missed something important. Stephen stopped and I checked the route instruction again. We started back to along the way we had come at a high rate. I figured out that we were supposed to go left at the stop but I wasn't sure which stop it was. We were already very late when we came upon the last T in the road so we zipped right across the top thinking that was the right that should've been a left (since we'd done a right to get to that T). It didn't take so long to realize that this was also wrong so we backtracked again, headed down the middle of the 'T' this time and then across the next 'T' right after that. Phew. We were back on route again but almost a day late it seemed. We stopped worrying about time and Stephen just booted along as fast as we safely could.

We were way out of it at this point. Our hope was that we weren't so far out of it that we would be starting the next reg late too. Anyhow, we were cruising along a part of the reg were CAS was 64. The next turn we were looking for was a left at an arcing T. We were coming in from the right and heading down the stem. Since I was not paying attention to time anymore, I was relying on the odometer which is also not terribly accurate towards the end of the regs as slippage becomes more of a factor. Anyhow, I new the left was coming up soon so I was on the lookout for it. that it? Stephen slowed a little to get a better look. It looked like a set of ATV tracks into the bushes. I didn't think that could be right. I put my head down into the route instructions again and Stephen kept on driving. I looked up and we were in the middle of a giant logging-truck turn...THAT'S IT!!!! Stephen yanked the steering wheel over and we started to turn. Sadly, I gave the instruction too late and Stephen listened...we lost traction and headed towards the berm. Thump...air...bushes. Luckily for us, no roll. Stephen hopped out and I clambered out his side too (my door was facing the ground). The car was at a roughly 25 degree angle down the side of the road with the left wheels just bairly on the road. Twenty five degrees doesn't sound like much but it sure feels like a lot. Our first off. Crap. Natalie is going to kill my driver and/or possibly confiscate the car. Oh well, this rally stuff was fun while it lasted.

The sweep vehicle came upon us pretty quick. They lined up behind the car with a tow-rope attached and a couple tugs later we were out of the shrubbery. They seemed to be in a bit of rush since we got to the 'OK boys this is the last try then we're goin' tug. What? They were just going to leave us? Hmmm, not like the tales we heard at Thunderbird. We surveyed the damage: front bumper crinkled on the passenger side, fog light shattered and one dent in the passenger door. Wow...we were luuuuuuucky. The rest of the car seemed A-OK. It still drove in a straight line and nothing was rubbing. We had avoided our first DNF!

Needless to say we were max late for all of the checkpoints on reg 2 after our initial wrong turn but we did manage to get to reg 3 in time!! No, Stephen did not half to drive insanely; the next transit was a gas stop so we had loads of time.

For the story from the other seat of the car: Stephen's account of events.

Reg 3 was much better than reg 2. Let's face it, there's only one way a reg could be worse than reg 2. We were within 7 seconds at all checkpoints except for the last one which we completely missed. The sneaky organizers decided to put the checkpoint at an acute right. The only thing was that, just before the acute right, there was another slightly-less-acute right which we took. Twelve of twenty-one cars made the same mistake so I didn't feel too bad. Another learning experience for the navigator.

Regs 4 and 5 were pretty uneventful since I can't remember anything from them right now. For reg 6, we had difficulty maintaining CAS due to the large stretches of potholes. 'Potholes' were noted on the route instructions but that usually meant 'potholes for 400 m with a few car-eating potholes at the distance noted'. Since we getting late near the end due to the potholes, I also neglected to mention a triple-caution at a bridge with a very rough entry. I mentioned the rough entry, I just forgot to mention it was a triple-caution. Luckily the car went through it like a pro. I need to change my highlighter colour for caution statements in the route book.

That was it for day 1. We pulled into the hotel in Port Alberni just before 21:00, grabbed some dinner and hit the sack. We ended up with 1011 points for day 1 which was low enough to be 14th overall out of 21 teams.