LSPR 2011

| 1 Comment
This year was tough.  

A couple of key organizers decided to take a long deserved break and the rest of us had to step up to take up the slack.  This had me doing a lot more organizer type things in addition to my regular rallymaster duties. Mostly this involved calling people on the phone and asking them for things. I hate sales.  But what are you gonna do?

Not ride your bike much and get incredibly stressed out it seems. 

Plus, I've kind of had a bad attitude about the sport of rally as of late. It seems I hear no end of bitching every time I try to include a cool two track stage or we don't finish in time for people to get to the bar. Add in the spiraling cost of competition that's driven away many of my friends and I was convinced that the sport was largely being overtaken by a bunch of dandies. 

Usually, my duties start to wind down a bit the week before the rally, and if I've done my job right, I can start to enjoy the event. Not so this year. I immediately had to switch into the Chief of Communications hat and recruit about 25 qualified radio operators, set up a net control station, and figure out how to run a net for a rally.  My buddy Dave saved my ass in countless ways on this one- getting me the local ham contacts, setting us up in the CCRAA radio shack for net control and generally bringing a lot of expertise and equipment that I am sorely lacking in. 

So there I am, Friday morning of the rally, already way behind on sleep and I just want to get through it as quickly as possible so I can go up to Copper Harbor, ride my bike, and get my new kayak. And then never ever organize another rally again.

We kind of got tossed into the fire on net control, but we were figuring it out.  Casual comments from previous net control operators got us moving in the correct direction and horrendous weather conditions out on the stages were keeping spectator and civilian problems at bay.

And then, finally- on the last stage of the night, we had or first "problem".  Car zero came back and said we should just skip it.  It sounded like the stage was passable, but very very muddy.  Unable to come up with a suitable plan to navigate the cars back to service, I agreed to transit the stage. Car zero came back and said if I'm going to send them down it, I might as well let them compete. There may have been some egging on by a long time competitor working the finish control too.  Go ahead and run it...

I think I can safely use the word "epic" here.  6 cars off, nearly a quarter of the remaining field. Stories of one particular driver who was giving a full on, 11/10ths driving performance when his co-driver looked over and told him he was doing upwards of 25mph.  And comments like "Sorry, no car count- our log sheets have disintegrated in the rain." It took a while, but we got everybody out of the woods safely. I was back at the hotel and in bed by 4am, but couldn't sleep. I was stoked! Finally, rally was cool again.  It was an epic battle of will against the elements! Forget winning, just getting through those conditions was an accomplishment worth celebrating. Here was rally's chance to prove it's mettle to me... 

We certainly had our challenges the next day, including a stuck transmitter that forced us to transit a stage and do an emergency frequency change, but we had mastered the basic routine of getting a stage up and running. We even made it down to the banquet to catch the last few scraps of food on the buffet (not that we need it, Dave's wife was feeding us pretty well that whole weekend).

During the awards ceremony, rally made me proud. Everybody agreed it was a horrendous, difficult night. But the attitude was, "that's what makes this cool". I didn't hear a single complaint about running that last stage.  Spent the night drinking beer, shaking hands, thanking the people on the ground that made net control so much easier for us, and talking about "next year!".

Kind of an exciting weekend for staring at this for nearly 40 hours straight:

Imagine the smell of dead mice and dCon to fully appreciate it. :) 

What everybody else got to see:

Now about the AMC Eagle SX/4 rally project I've been thinking of....

1 Comment

I think the secret to not souring on rally is to not pay too much attention to the forums. ;) The same people who will whine and kvetch and act like spoiled brats all day on the Internet always seem to turn out to be really great guys when they're actually at the event.

I got a taste of being net control at the Olympus Rally last year, and trust me, you have my sympathy; it's a big, stressful job even when it's not combined with being an organizer. You're always the first to show up and the last to leave. And the terrain out here means you have to park yourself somewhere remote and probably cold to have any chance of hearing most of the people who need to reach you. But I gotta say I had a nicer view:

When it was all over and I was driving home the communications coordinator called my cell phone and asked me if I'd do it again. I told him to call me back when I'd forgotten how tired I was. ;)

Leave a comment