May 18: Day off. Time to catch up. So, to back up. On Wednesday on our run from Colorado Springs to Durango, we crossed three mountain passes, each 11,000 ft. OK, the last one was only 10, 018, but the first one, Monarch Pass was 11312 feet, so it evens out.
This was a very difficult day for Stewball. I should let him tell it in his own words, but it might not be fit to print. He didn’t like the altitude or the temperature. He bucked and kicked slooooowly up these mountains in second gear. Ed had already leaned out the fuel mixture, but even then, it was a tough go. Bottom line, we made it but we missed all our check in times because we just couldn’t make the speeds.
This brought us to a decision. One of the things that appealed to us about the way this rally was organized, was the possibility to run this is a competitive way on some fast dirt and rocky gravel sections timed to the second, or to run in a relaxed manner, skipping these sections. Any team can make their decision on a daily basis. One day competing, another day relaxing, depending on your mood and your car’s condition each morning.
Now we have decided to skip the time trials, give Stewball the break he deserves and enjoy our drive to Alaska. We’re not willing to subject our car and ourselves to this level of challenge and since we left the rally earlier for two days for a graduation, we never would make up for all our penalties.
We will be following the rally route along with everyone else, checking in and out each day, but we are leaving the serious competitions to those who are willing to punish their cars and themselves. Every day there are accidents. Just yesterday one car hit a concrete rail and another had to be pulled out of a ditch. Every evening drivers and our mechanics are out in the parking lot, putting cars back together, replacing most anything. We know of broken rear axles, brake lines,and broken wheel rims but none of this compares to the earlier accident in which two young women were injured and are still in the hospital.We have now learned that one recently had to be transferred to intensive care with a collapsed lung.
Endurorally warns that ” the onus is on the competitors to drive carefully and safely at all times”, but the definition of “carefully and safely” seems to vary among competitors. We have found the way to make this work for us and will leave the serious competition to those who have greater skills or experience.
Jan (with Stewball’s input)