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Rallye Aicha des No Sleep

“Bonjour Gazelles!  C’est quatre heure!”

Every day through eight days of competition a melodic French female voice called out to us and every day I wanted to yell back, “SHUT THE FUCK  UP IT’S 4AM ARE YOU CRAZY?!?!”

One of the most difficult aspects of the Gazelle Rally is the lack of sleep.  You’re up at 4am, you leave at 6am and you put in anywhere from 10 hours (if you’re a really really good team) to 16 hours (if you’re a new team like we were) in the truck.  During that time you never know what will happen.  You may dig yourself out, you may help other teams dig out.  You’ll probably be running up and down terrain, scouting it out and you might change a tire.  Or two.  .  You’re plotting points and plotting your strategy.  Mentally and physically you are spent at the end of the day.

Yes, they are heavy.

Back at the bivouac you still have to set up camp, fuel the truck, talk to the mechanics, and eat.  You may or may not have a chance to take a shower.  Mostly I did not.

Getting to bed by 10pm was a luxury.  We were usually collapsing into our tents around midnight.  Even though it was bulky and took up space in the truck, I was so happy to have my Kelty cot.  I was getting some quality 4 hours of sleep.  My fellow Gazelles with their aired up sleeping pads often did not fare so well.

This video was taken the day after the infamous Crater Road, where we traversed a giant crater in the dead of night, only to descend down Sketch Boulevard into the maze of a palm tree farm.  I still don’t know how we made it out.

 

Lesson Number 1 From the Gazelle Rally

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve been back from Morocco, and I’m still trying to process everything.  Most of me is really proud that we did it and finished and kept our ranking through the whole thing.  We finished in the top half of the First Participants Challenge and in the top ten of the Isuzu Media Challenge.  All in all we had an awesome time.

And yet….

There is a part of me that won’t shut up about the mistakes I made.   One of my goals was to take care of the truck and if you followed us at all you know that on Day 2 it all went to a bit of hell.  I came up out of a wash, hit a deep trough of some sort, and put a nice dent in the frame of our truck.  As a result we had to sign a waiver that said we understood the risks of continuing with a bent frame and that we wouldn’t drive faster than 50 km/hr.  They put an alert on our Iritrak system so that if we did it would sound an alarm back at the bivouac.

50km/hr is 30mph by the way.

I’m not sure how much this contributed to our finishing position, but I can’t help but thinking that if we could have gone faster between checkpoints we would have, well, made it to more checkpoints.

But shoulda coulda woulda, right?  The lesson to come out of this (besides the given Don’t Break the Truck) is Patience.  We were stuck with what we had.  We couldn’t go any faster, and I just had to deal with it.  This is how I did it:

Follow My Team at the Rallye Aicha des Gazelles

It’s less than TWO WEEKS until we leave for the Rallye!!!  We know a lot of you want to follow us on this crazy adventure.  We are proud to announce that we have partnered with Jalopnik as part of the Isuzu  Media Challenge.  The Media Challenge is a mini-challenge within the Rallye.  Participants must drive an Isuzu vehicle and partner with a major news outlet who will post daily updates.  The winner of this challenge gets 15000 euros for their charity of choice.

That’s right.  We don’t have to win the whole Rallye (although we wouldn’t mind doing that too), we just have to beat the other teams in the Media Challenge to win some serious coin for our charity.  We have chosen FORCE: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered.  We wanted to work with them at this point as they specifically benefit women who have a hereditary risk of breast cancer, like Navigator #1 Michele Martineau.

Of course, we wouldn’t be us if we didn’t try for even MOAR press coverage.  During the Rallye, March 19-28, you can follow us at

www.jalopnik.com
www.dirtnewz.com
www.herhighway.com
www.roadfly.com
www.femaleracingnews.com

We hope you will take the time to write to us.  After March 16th just go to the Gazelle website and click on Rally Live.  There you can find a link to all the teams.  Click on us,  team 178.  Go to Write to the Gazelles and follow the instructions.  The Rallye will print out our messages for us at the bivouac each night.  We imagine this is a lot like mail call in the Army and any messages we get from our supporters will mean a lot to us.  We will try to write back but we have heard that there are only 3 computers for 300 women.  Those are not good odds.

And of course, you can track us.  Even though we won’t have GPS, we will be tracked via satellite so you can monitor our progress.  Just go to www.gazellerally.com.  We are team 178, but there are 4 other American teams to cheer for:

Team 107 Lerner/Reina; Third Time Participants
Team 136 Hamilton/Beavis; First Time Participants
Team 182 Klishevich/Chiadmi; First Time Participants
Team 185 Meddows/Barone; Second and First Time Participants

We wouldn’t be going to Morocco without the help we have received from our friends, family, and supporters.  We realize these are difficult financial times for everyone, and we thank you SO VERY MUCH for helping us get to Morocco for this crazy, life changing adventure!

 

JFF at BAP

 

We had such an awesome time at Battle at Primm this past weekend!  SNORE Racing put on such a well organized and safe event.  They had over 200 cars there but everything ran smoothly and on time, with plenty of volunteers and an awesome staff.

There were 26 cars in our class, and AAAALLLLL the big dawgs came out to play.  Many of them had their single seat 1600 cars, which probably weigh about 10 pounds over the minimum.  They all had their win faces on too.  I knew this was a place to sit back, learn, and JFF.

As we pulled into staging on Saturday, I was shaking and my stomach was in knots.  Just seeing all 26 starters there and knowing I’d be out with them on those short 13 mile loops was enough to get me super nervous.  I needn’t have worried though.  Since we were unable to attend qualifying we started in the back and I am not kidding when I tell you I saw only two cars that first day.  What I thought was going to be some kind of epic wheel to wheel experience was more like any other desert race where you often find yourself out there alone for long stretches of time.  I’m sure the guys in the front didn’t have that same experience, but for me I was rollin’ solo.

After the first day, it became obvious that the leaders had me in just flat out speed, to say nothing of drive experience.  BAP is all about fast straightaways and dangerous turns.  I’m sure I lost some time in the turns as my entrances were pretty timid (there is a limit to the whole slow in/fast out theory after all) but I was pinned in all the straights and the highest Mark saw for me on the GPS was 72 mph.  Mostly we ran those sections in the high 60s.  I am sure the other guys had at least 5-7mph on me in those straights.  It’s a combination of gearing, weight, and let’s face it, money.  I can’t afford a new engine or a complete tear down every race.  So I guess we will continue on our quest to JFF and know that we are doing the best we can with the resources and talent we have got.

Mark took over driving duties on Sunday.  Everyone turned in slightly slower lap times since the course was chewed up a bit from the day before.  The fast speed I saw for him was 75mph, but there was a wicked wind and we may have been pushed a bit! At one point on the dike jump we could both feel the wind push us as we were flying through the air…not a good feeling!

We ended up 14th out of 26 overall so that isn’t too bad. I learned about the car, I got a lot of practice in dangerous turns, and hell we even got to drift a bit in the stadium section of the course!  Next up for me is the Rallye Aicha des Gazelles in Morocco March 19-28th.  In a week or so I’ll have info about how you can follow my team as we navigate our way through the dunes using only a compass and an old map.

OMG I ALMOST FORGOT ALMOST THE BEST THING THAT HAPPENED OVER THE WEEKEND! Fellow Gazelle Julie and her hubby Ben drove out from Vegas to say hi…IN A RALLY FIGHTER!!!  I was so not expecting them to show up in a freaking Rally Fighter!!!  And get this….BEN LET ME DRIVE IT!!!!!!!!  It’s way bigger than I thought it would be and feels quite ponderous.  The hydraulic steering is a bit twitchy but nice and heavy and the torque is just clean and available through a wide power band.  I drove it on the highway and off road and while I was nervous because, hello it’s not my Rally Fighter, I did go fast enough to feel confident in saying that this car is a beast!  AND Ben is hooking us up with a set of pink MaxTrax for the Gazelle Rally.  Thanks, Ben!!!

 

 

 

Battle at Primm Is Next

Hola, race fans!  We had a good time out testing this past weekend.  The Mr. Miyagi of shocks was on hand to dial in our baby.  It’s always a balancing act; a tweak done on one component effects the other and it’s all about finding that correct edge.  It’s a very tricky process and it means a lot of turning something 1/2 turn, then running up and down the test track for 2 minutes at flat out.  Then come back, turn something else 1/2 turn, back to the test track…lather rinse repeat.

Mr. Miyagi, doing work.

 

After testing we headed on over to the Slash X, or /x to those who know.  Always a great time to be had.  Sabrina, my navigator for Gazelles, was able to join us and she just fell in love with the place.   There are always motorcycles, quads, and buggies parked outside as families come out for a day of wheeling and always stop at the /x for lunch.

 

Hot damn she looks good!!

 

The next race will be Battle at Primm with SNORE Racing, Feb 22-24.  Truth be told I’m scared shitless.  There are at least 30 1600 cars entered (we’ll be running #1611 as our number has already been taken) and ALL the big dawgs will be there.  The format is 2 days of racing with your class, and we will do 5 laps of 13 miles each.  There will be a ton of wheel to wheel racing and I’m in my head about it a bit.  I’m always scared before a race though.  I think you’re an idiot if you’re not scared.  Hello….you could die!!  The trick is to push through that fear.

Because there are so many cars they will do qualifying runs.  I won’t be able to get there in time for that but it’s just as well.  My plan is to let the big boys battle it out and break down.  My strategy is always JFF.

Just Fucking Finish.