Author: Charlene Bower
We will try everything, do the best we can and have fun doing it.
This is the motto I live by, and when going through the process of the Ladies Co-Driver Challenge to find the perfect fit for the Rebelle Rally, I was looking for someone that shared these feelings. As we narrowed the field down from 91 Ladies I saw these traits in Kaleigh Hotchkiss, along with the desire to be successful at learning and navigating. We made a perfect team. We worked together, helped each other with our struggles and pushed each other to be better. At the end of 7 days of competition we are honored to be the winners of the inaugural 2016 Rebelle Rally.
We tried everything.
The numbers don’t lie. Driveway to driveway I drove 3,551 miles of which there were 1084 competition miles, from the first green flag on day 1 to the checker flag on day 7. We went through 112.7 gallons of competition fuel. We were in the Jeep for 75 hours of competition time. There were 118 possible checkpoints, with 1062 total points available. We won with 815 points, 80% of the points available! We were a slim 30 points ahead of second place.
We worked hard and tried most all of the black checkpoints. Green checkpoints were mandatory, and relatively easy to find. Blue checkpoints were optional but we made a goal to push for all the blues, at the end we would only miss one. The blacks were our nemesis, but we tried most of them, and we got a percentage of them. Not a big percentage, but a percentage. To earn these black checkpoints, we tried everything we could think of: tracking mountain ranges on the map, triangulation, setting exact distances, pacing off meters, we even threw in some radius measurements. Some of it worked, some of it didn’t.
The driving was fairly easy when put into the big picture of offroading. We did get put into a couple of positions to test my driving skills, and we took them. I specifically remember a steep rock and sand hill that everyone was walking up, and as Kaleigh started to get out, I stopped her and said we are driving up that! As I made a large loop to gain some momentum I honked at the hikers who quickly cleared the path. There were a couple other trails that instead of hiking we decided to lock in 4-low and drive. Maybe most importantly, I tried not to get us stuck anywhere and especially in the sand, which I accomplished! No digging in the sand for us!
We tried all the food, even MRE’s. We tried to take showers every couple of days. I look back on the week and realize that we were even dedicated to trying to go to bed early so our 4:15am mornings were easier. We tried to accommodate each others routines. We Tried.
We did the best we could.
“Press and Pray” was our top motto, the second would be “Believe and Achieve”. Neither of us owning a compass 6 months before, or being anywhere near proficient at mapping skills, we had our work cut out for us. Kaleigh really stepped up in this area learning everything she could to be an awesome navigator. With her understanding of the concepts and math, I came in beside her to help with a second set of eyes, or questioning reason. We would do the best we could in the time that we allowed ourselves to decide on a point, and then we agreed to ‘press and pray’ and move on. We got a percentage of blacks.
There was no competitive advantage to knowing the areas. I am lucky to have spent a lot of time at both Dumont and Glamis sand dunes. But you throw in a map and compass scenario, with a set of rules, and all of a sudden nothing looks the same. We did the best we could in every area to find recognizable landmarks and interpret them onto the map. I will
admit to looking at both areas differently that I ever have before. Nothing was easy, especially when we were in the sand!
Keeping accountability of time was a big challenge. We knew we had to get somewhere, but we didn’t know the actual distance we were going, and at what speed we could maintain with the different terrain. We did the best we could to continually keep moving. The first day our helmet came off at every single stop. The third day it came off every third stop. The fifth day it came off before a hike or longer stops. On the last two days, it never came off. We were only late one day – by 2 minutes and 47 seconds. I recounted the time of the day that had been spent not driving or plotting, and I came up with a lot of time that we had took to support other competitors. We had no regrets.
We had fun doing it.
We were all about the fist pump. It didn’t matter if it was small or big, we knew we had to mark every moment of success. The little successes, like finishing a trail, mattered. The big successes, like finding a blue pole hidden somewhere, or making it back to basecamp on time, really mattered. When we hit a black we would fist pump and then Kaleigh liked to dance in her seat once we got back in the Jeep! We would giggle.
Have you heard about FrankieJ? Frankie is the BFGoodrich Tires Jeep JK built by Impulse Offroad. We were really having kitty cat withdrawals during the event, so we decided we needed a pet cat for next year. Then the opportunity presented itself. Our first touch to the real world put us at a gas station that sold a huge selection of stuffed animals (I don’t think I’ve ever seen a gas station sell stuffed animals!) I found the cutest cat and brought it out to the Jeep after appreciating a flushing toilet and soap and water. We had our first group picture, and Kaleigh named him Frankie JR; FrankieJ for short. FrankieJ hung out on the center console for the rest of the trip. He also hid the ruler and plotter a couple times - I swear!
Part of the fun for both of us was meeting new people and learning about them. The mornings and evenings spent in the basecamp tent allowed us time to communicate with others where we learned little bits about them. Occasionally we would have the opportunity to chat with ladies while on the trail, but not as often, we were all really focused on our tasks at hand. I enjoyed hearing their stories of the day, what got them to this event, why they pushed their limits. Each lady and staff member that was part of this event was amazing.
The most fun we had was on our self-camp night in Dumont Dunes. Everything added up to create the perfect atmosphere. No wind, pleasant temperatures, bare feet in the sand, comfy dune to sit on, about a dozen girls, MRE cooking, maybe a little bit of wine and a ton of laughs. When we had our helmets on we were competitors, when we had our helmets off we were moms, wives, girlfriends, daughters, business owners, employees - all with our own struggles and challenges that we tried to pack up with our cell phones at the start line. The atmosphere of this night really allowed for everyone to let their hair down and forget about every element, we were just a group of girls with our toes in the sand!
The equation worked. Neither of us came into this event to win. We specifically came to accomplish the three above-mentioned items. In fact, let me step back two months prior when we were headed to Reno for our training weekend with the Rebelle Rally staff. Both our competitive spirits were in agreeance: we were training to win. Two days later we left Reno completely defeated. There was no way we were going to win, we just needed to do the best we could. We took all the expectation out of the equation. It’s true. Defeated. This was probably the best thing that could have happened to us.
There is no doubt that this event is all about teamwork. The Ladies Co-Driver Challenge absolutely worked and I am so happy that Kaleigh was able to join me on this adventure. Her persistence on the navigation piece allowed me to focus on the vehicle and strategy pieces. Knowing what I know
now, Kaleigh as the CFO of a hospital has the perfect personality for the numbers and being methodical. Where I brought my small business owner personality that is faced with hard daily decisions, time management, strategy and endless workdays. We both helped each other. I was her second set of eyes, and she was mine.
There was never a reason to give up. There was never a negative situation that we let linger longer than a few minutes. We had to treat each other with respect and after a long day, be positive, happy and supportive of each other. We never allowed ourselves to dwell on a negative, we knew we had to learn from it, log the situation and not let it happen again. Our success was built on a pile of failures. We did it.
We tried everything, did the best we could and had a lot of fun doing it! Oh, and we won! Wow!
Our Full Story - On Video:
Previous Travel Days:
Day 1: Leaving for 18 days & Trail Hero CLICK HERE
Day 2: Trail Hero CLICK HERE
Day 3: Trail Hero CLICK HERE
Day 4: Travel Day CLICK HERE
Day 5: Bakersfield, CA CLICK HERE
Day 1 - October 11
It was day 1 with Kaleigh, but it was actually day 6 of my trip and my 40th Birthday and my Mom's Birthday! There is a lot of background to why doing the Rebelle Rally was important. Some of it has to do with business, but really it has to do with my spirit and pushing myself to the next level of my limits as I check out of my 30's and into my 40's.
Today started with a 5 hour drive to pick up Kaleigh at the Sacramento airport to start this wild adventure! We immediately headed east to wash the Jeep then get to our Meet and Greet at Poor Red's Bar-B-Q outside of Placerville, CA. The company was amazing and the food was excellent too. Super happy that my Mom was there to celebrate our birthday's together and that my parents will be joining us on this first leg of the trip.
I finished out the day trying to say Thank you to all those that wished me a happy birthday...not sure I was successful at that, so Thank you!!
Day 2 - October 12
Kaleigh and I knocked out our whole list today! We took time to unpack and repack the whole BFGoodrich Tires Jeep Frankie so we know where everything is, as a team. After a gorgeous drive to Reno, we hit our errand list starting with picking up some Ladies Offroad Network beanies and then Walmart for everything else we needed. Our Meet & Greet was awesome, including two other teams' vehicles on display, good friends, and Aaron showed up with THE fender (check the pic for the story). Special thanks to Cantina Los Tres Hombres. Of course, there are always details that need to be tended to...so the night before the event was all about arts and crafts...with glitter! Why wouldn't it be?!?
Day 3 - October 13
We got ourselves checked into the Rebelle Rally!! Ladies Co-Driver Challenge Team #125. It's been fun having Mom & Dad hanging with us the last couple days, so today I put Dad to work getting some cool photos on our drive up the mountain in the fall colors. We arrived in South Lake Tahoe and was ready to check in, excitingly nervous that there may be something that we forgot...but great news, we passed all the check points with flying colors!!!! Our final meal was scrumptious at a small restaurant that is clearly a locals favorite - of course we splurged on dessert...not one to share...we all got one!! Then it was off to the hotel to finish up our last arts & crafts project and work....how am I going to turn everything off for 8 days again? Ahhh.... Our toes are ready for the dirt, tomorrow we launch into the unknown!!
*** Our Bower Power Hour LIVE coverage of Emily Miller's opening ceremonies. The first half is inspiring / the second half is details on the event.
Day 4 - October 14
Today started with wind and rain....and a wild fire changing our Rally School location. No stress! We learned more about the rally, including you can have daily updates (tracking actually updates every 5 minutes) @ www.rebellerally.com/live. We were on our first mission to find base camp with the opportunity to calibrate our terra trip and odometer. It was time to do this! Thanks to BFGoodrich Tires, Impulse Offroad, Matt, my family and every single one of you that supported us on this journey.
Team Ladies Co-Driver Challenge #125 turned off the phones and became desert people for 8 days.
There was wind, rain, fire - all the elements were hitting us on the way to Basecamp One where we set up our tent for the first time. Each night of a new Basecamp we would have to unload our gear onto the ground and then hike it to the specified area. Kaleigh would get the tent set up while I would deal with the fuel and vehicle - we only had one hour to get our keys turned in after we crossed the finish line. We had our introduction to the amazing meals that we would be blessed to eat the rest of the week - food was our fuel. We clicked on our Mr Buddy heater to take off the wind chill of the night in our tent and then went to bed at 9pm, 2 hours later than we wanted...4am was going to come early!!
Day 5 - October 15
The Rebelle Rally officially started!! At 7am, Pam Hall took the first "green flag" with us following in the 29th position at 7:53am. But that wasn't really the start. We were stirring at 4:15, awake by 4:30, and the cowbell was ringing at 5am - but by then Kaleigh was already in the tent ready to get started plotting. Emily started the day telling us it was a "slow, easy, and super scenic day" to get our mind and vehicle ready for the rest of the adventure. Our goal of the day, and every day after, was to not get any penalties. (we never did!) We clicked off 11 checkpoints , including our first try at a Black checkpoint - that we completely blew! (no markings for blacks). We stopped for our lunch and to map out the rest of our day when the medics showed up to check on us - all was good. The medic group was awesome - they rode their dirt bikes around having as much fun checking on all of us as we were! It was a great first day - we got our bearings figured out, our roles better defined, and our teamwork was on point! We finished 12th for the day. We were happy.
We also took our first shower in the 5 shower trailer - who knows when we would have another chance?! It wasn't as awesome as you might think. We got the stink off, but left sweaty. I won't deny, it was worth it!
Day 6 - October 16
Official Rebelle Rally Day 2
I have labelled this trip the "Trip of Sunrises" - I don't think I have seen so many consecutive sunrises in a row! We had our usual morning routine with the 4:15 wake up, but we had an earlier start time today at 7:22. Plus, we had to break down camp. While Kaleigh plotted points in the tent, I broke all the camping gear down and hauled it up to the Jeep - somehow putting the puzzle of items back together again - this would get easier as the week went on. This camp spot was about 1/4 mile from our Jeeps, so it was quite an interesting task for everyone, I ended up helping a couple girls with their bulky items, but then it was time to get in and get going!
We had our highest number of U-Turns today! We got super challenged trying to get to a green flag and ended up on all kinds of crazy washed out two track trails. Poor Frankie!!! There was a lot of "vehicle sympathy" during this section!! When we finally did found the green we heard we were (around) the 5th or so vehicle through, so we learned to re-evaluate our pushing the limits - we were doing fine. At the end, this would be the only day we would miss a Blue Checkpoint. We couldn't find it in a wash, we did a couple U-turns trying a couple times. We finally made a decision that we needed to head to basecamp because it was getting close to the the cut off time and we didn't want to be late. We couldn't find in any of our paperwork the penalty for being late, but we knew there would be one. (There wasn't one. We just lost the points for the final checkpoint.) We ran up a very rough warsh and hauled into basecamp...just on time...to understand that we were an hour early!! The CP Guide for the day had given us an extra hour of competition time, but we hadn't read that... Silence overcame the vehicle in that moment. Five minutes later we were back into our mode of unpacking our gear for Basecamp 2, "it-is-what-it-is" but lessons had been learned. We made it into the top 10 for the day - and looking back - had completed one of our hardest days of the competition.
Day 7 - October 17
Official Rebelle Rally Day 3
The day actually started with the wind howling at 3:15am. Not really able to go back to sleep, we were both ready to roll at our 4:15 alarm. It was 48 degrees with a serious windchill at 7am while I broke down camp and loaded it up. It was today that we started our most famous motto: "Press & Pray", while looking for a Black Checkpoint. It was also on this day that listening to the morning meeting and interpreting our mistake quickly bought us the opportunity to earn some valuable points.
We got to enjoy some Nevada desert scenery, visit the Goldfield mining town where we stopped and plotted points inside the old tavern out of the elements. We went towards Beatty for fuel, but really appreciated the flushing toilets and sink...plus we added a friend - FrankieJ, our new stuffed kitty-cat!
We were onto Dumont Dunes for our self camp night. But something didn't add up as we hit the road. After listening to the morning meeting, and missing a black checkpoint opportunity when the road book took us left instead of right, I was insistent that after a certain point we would need to start tracking the map and the roadbook, and would have to peel off somewhere not noted on the roadbook. With a 20 minute stop on the highway in a construction zone (with our helmets on!) a large group of competitors bunched up, with us being about mid-pack. As we approached our turn to make the round-about way into Dumont to get the extra checkpoints, we waited in anticipation to see who had also figured this out and would dive off with us...no one in front of us...and then no one in back of us....we made the commitment by ourselves, and we went for it! We found two blue poles that we were SO extremely happy to find, but didn't do so hot on the blacks in the canyon. As we came out of the canyon we saw the rest of the competitors and we dove in for the next black feeling accomplished. Kaleigh nailed it dead on with a lot of girls around, so we jumped back in the Jeep and did a celebration wiggle in our seats as we drove up onto the Dumont plateau. We had one more black checkpoint to find and then the green at the self camp. The black looked to be at the top of a rock covered sand hill, with a narrow trail leading to the top. We checked our points from the bottom and then Kaleigh said she would walk up...heck with that...we have a JEEP! I'll take you up there! So with a good run to get momentum, and a honking horn for everyone to clear the "walking path", I drove right up to the top! Kaleigh jumped out, signaled the tracker, and we went down the backside. We did it! Now to find the green, which wasn't actually easy tucked up in one of the fingers of the dunes.
We checked in, got our paperwork for the next day, went and got fuel at the truck, then found a great spot against the dune with a group of other girls. What I thought might be the casual and quiet night ended up being the most fun night of the trip. We had committed to trying MRE's, and none of us had ever eaten or tried to cook one. With perfect weather and toes in the sand, the scene was hysterical from emptying the contents like it was Christmas to reading the instructions, and then there was eating the food. There was a lot of laughing and no one wanted to say goodnight, but it was finally time. We dove back into our tents knowing at 6am we could start Day 4. We had no idea we had just passed everyone in the standings for the lead...it was just another day in on the trail!
Day 8 - October 18
Official Rebelle Rally Day 4
We started the morning with a different routine because of the self-camp night. I made Kaleigh coffee (which is scary!), cleaned up camp and got everything ready to go while she plotted points to get us through the first section of the day.
We worked our way around Dumont - the first checkpoint completely throwing us off, but we finally found where we needed to be. We ended up having one of our best blacks of the competition to date, and we laughed as it was a 'very educated complete guess' that worked out perfectly! We made it in and out of the dunes, supported some of our fellow competitors that had challenges and then carried on to Baker where we got to stop for gas...in our helmets. Can I tell you how many weird looks we got! We were routed down what had to be a race course that eventually led us through Razor Road. A few checkpoints along the way - that were fun and challenging - we got to the far edge. It was time for Kaleigh to plot the rest of the day while I made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. We took our time to do it right, but then jumped in and kept moving.
We had asphalt to hit - Route 66 to be exact - while we chewed. The powerline road into Johnson Valley was pretty epic with cross cut waterbars and questionable rises. It was enough of a challenging road that you didn't want to pick up the pace too much so you could quickly make a correction. We thanked the ICON Vehicle Dynamics suspension a few times! As we rolled into Johnson Valley we had blacks and blues to hit, and baseceamp. Time had become and issue as we were getting close to the cutoff, and didn't know exactly how far basecamp was, or what the terrain was to get there - slow or fast. We hit the first black dead on. Then it was time to pass on a black and go for a blue...which we should find easily! No, it was not easy! We hiked. We climbed mountains. I locked it in 4low. After spending a lot of time, thinking I found the blue that turned into a Chevron Gallon Oil jug, getting mad and still looking, Kaleigh finally found it in a rock ravine. She whistled and went in to click the tracker while I got the Jeep turned around and out of the rock trail ready to hit the dirt to basecamp. We knew the direction and that we had a short amount of time to get there. I drove! We plowed through silt, we hit bumps, we almost got high centered in silt, we traded back and forth on trails that were whooped out looking for a better route. We apologized to Frankie (the BFGoodrich Tires Jeep) ALOT.
We finally rolled into basecamp hot and we were 2 minutes and 47 seconds late. Ask me how I remember that number! lol! All that work for the day and we had lost our final set of points. 2:47! As we rolled through the line to unload I quietly recounted the ways we had lost time. Helping some girls that were turned around. Staying in Dumont a few extra minutes to support some girls that had been challenged. Chatting at some of the checkpoints. We wouldn't have changed anything ~ it all was meant to be.
Kaleigh setup camp for two nights in Johnson Valley while I decided to take Frankie into the mechanics area so I could have a good look over everything and change the air filter. Each night I would do a bolt and fluids check, but we were hard on her that day, thankfully, there was nothing wrong! At dinner that night I learned that there was a nice "paved" flat trail just a couple hundred feet farther north from the silt route we had taken into basecamp. Yep. That was awesome.
At the end, we were in the lead by 1 point. Wow! Seeing our names at the top of the list was incredible and crazy and wild and wow! We literally came into the event to do the best we could and have fun, well, our equation was working out! We felt excited that we had the top rung for a day and had accomplished a unspoken goal, but knowing the points were so close, we didn't expect to see our name there again. Time to keep doing what we were doing...because what we were doing was working!
Day 9 - October 19
Official Rebelle Rally Day 5
We got to hang out in Johnson Valley all day! Now, this might sound funny to some of you, but I've never really been out of Hammertown on any of the trails in the 8 years I've been to King of The Hammers!! Ok, so Backdoor and Chocolate Thunder, but really, I'm always working... So, again, we had no competitive advantage on the area, which the maps pretty much cleared out anyways.
The morning start was different. They had us line up faced out and accountable for a 7am meeting, which is when we were told our CPs for the day were on the windshield! We already had Kaleigh's table area ready so she started plotting right away as I looked over the sheet for any strategy decisions. We started about 30 minutes later after the first set of checkpoints were plotted. We tried most, but decided to pass on a couple blacks to keep our time in check, with the 2 minutes and 47 seconds still hanging in our minds from the night before. We really had quite an awesome day. Everyone had a peace about them this day. There were groups running together on the "green trail ride" going from green check point to green check point, not worried about anything more difficult. There were teams trying harder checkpoints that hadn't taken time to try them on earlier days. Then there was us, just doing the best we could at each of the stops. We climbed a sand mountain, tried to cut through a rock valley, skirted around huge mountains and "pressed and prayed".
Until there was a noise under the Jeep. We were rolling up to a black checkpoint, map and focus on the target, when Kaleigh picked up on a weird noise. I couldn't hear it at first through my helmet, but then I did. It was a ticking noise that sped up and down with speed. We were close enough to where Kaleigh wanted to go that I decided to get to the stopping point, let her out to start getting the bearings while I looked at the Jeep. I pulled out the BFGoodrich Tires mat, laid under the passenger side and couldn't see anything unusual around the driveshaft. I laid under the driver side and noticed what looked like some bush debris that had gone up under the skid plate. Pulling it out I could see it. A 1/4" diameter, 12" long stick that was hitting up against the driveshaft. Phew! That was a close one! Never been so happy to see a stick! We carried on through our checkpoints and made it back to camp an hour early. I think we took a shower in celebration.
Day 10 - October 20
Official Rebelle Rally Day 6
What we affectionately call Turtle Day. We drove as slow as a turtle for hours on end and saw a tortoise! No, seriously.
The morning started out "normal": 4:15am wake up, Kaleigh plotting points, I tore down camp, 6am meeting, 7am start and we pulled out of Johnson Valley knowing we would end up at Glamis by the end of the day.
We had no idea today was a day of PATIENCE. We rolled out through Yucca Valley filling up for gas in our fancy helmets, then turned right into Joshua Tree National Park. What was the speed limit? 35mph! oh, then 45, then snap, back to 25! We had goals each day, but the #1 goal was no penalties so speed limits would be my challenge today. This went on for a solid hour plus. As we broke out of the National Park I thought for sure we would get some amazing dirt action. Nope. As we started off on the powerline road there was a group stopped in front of us. As I approached we soon realized that there was a Desert Tortoise crossing the road! We had been well briefed on what to do, so I counted out 100 ft from where we could cross it's path and waited for the tortoise to get to the mark. Heeeee Fiiiiiinnnnaaaalllllyyyyy did, and we were off again. Kaleigh had thought ahead and walked to the next blue checkpoint that was about a 1/2 mile ahead so she could mark the point and be ready to jump in when I drove by, allowing us to leap in front of the group of vehicles ahead of us. It worked out great!
Next, we were able to experience a trail that few can ever get on, with a max speed limit of 35. The speed zone was very clearly stated in the morning meeting. The views were amazing, and we completely blew our black checkpoint in the canyon, but it was ok. The ridge line offered views that couldn't be repeated. As we came off that section of dirt we thought we were going to be excited to do the TSD (Time Speed Distance) section until we really did the math and realized that we had to go 17mph/30km for 3 hours! Yes, this is no joke. My job was to maintain the speed, but the reality is you can't. So, Kaleigh's job was to repetitively do math to understand if we were fast or slow and let me know by how much. We were never off but by a few seconds so I learned how to easily adjust the speed up or down depending on what she wanted me to hit. We ate a lot. Gummy bears mostly. Almonds next. We chewed off the inside of our cheeks with the helmets on. It was day 6 ~ we were exhausted and going 17 mph ~ it was all we could do to stay awake. We turned on the radio, but it was a slow country day and we couldn't change the station to gangster rap because the screen was covered (no gps). Oh, the torture!
Time was becoming a pretty serious issue. The long distance at a slow speed, plus the time spent with the Tortoise crossing was pushing everyone behind. As we came out of the TSD section we hit a nice wide road, but was confused on the speed limit. We maintained our 35mph speed limit of the day, or could we do our 60mph event speed limit? We compromised for in the middle, literally pulling in quickly to blues and blacks and shooting the tracker out the window so we could keep going. A try was better than nothing! We pulled into our final checkpoint with 2 minutes to spare! We learned that the rest of the points had been discarded for the day and to get to our final basecamp in Glamis safely. As we rolled in it was dark and it was time to set up our Glamis strategy: dropping weight. Past our normal camping gear, we took everything out of the vehicle that looked "normal" and put it by the tent that night. The heater. Our big gear bags. I did extra maintenance on the Jeep getting most of my morning projects done at night while Kaleigh set up camp. We were excited and nervous for the following day...but really, mostly excited!
At the end of Day 6, starting the final day of the Rally, Kaleigh and I were up by 3 points. We were one of the top points earners for our TSD section, and no joke, we earned a black checkpoint that we stuck our hand out the window for! But literally anything can change in the sand. This event was not won by any means!
Day 11 - October 21
Official Rebelle Rally Day 7
Oh Glamis, how I love you and have missed you! A favorite place for both Kaleigh and I, we knew the good and the bad of being in the dunes in a Jeep JK. This last day has been burned in my brain, maybe because it was the last day, or maybe because the risk and rewards were so high.
Kaleigh started the day plotting in normal fashion, but I didn't. I was at the Jeep as soon as I got the keys at 5am pulling out our second spare, the spare driveshaft and other parts that were heavy and unnecessary - leaning them up against the far side of the Jeep. I reset the recovery gear box and put the MAXTRAX right on top, then tied everything down - really good. I took the tire and parts to our tent 10 minutes before the start time. Mission dropping weight was complete.
Our goals for the day included not getting any penalties and not getting stuck! The less we had to dig, the better for our time, but I had allocated 2 hours for digging in my mind. We also agreed that today was all about points - the strategy was to get to all the greens and blues and get back in time, but we would try our hand at the first black to see how we did. We did horrible. We were totally off, and we spent a lot of time trying. We jumped in the Jeep and I started peeling out towards the Green, bypassing the next black. This would be our first and only tiff... (yes on the morning of the last day! not bad if you ask me!) Kaleigh thought we lost it right there, I was in opposite opinion, we had to keep going. We hit the green with a difference of opinion and by the time we got to the next blue - that was HARD to find in a sand canyon - we were back in our routine. We made smart decisions. We got through the first part of the day and were satisfied with our progress. We jumped up on the highway to head to the other side of the dunes, and made one of the best pre-meditated decisions of the event, we marked the overlook on the map.
Now on the west side of the dunes, we kept clicking off blues and greens and then it was time. It was time to head back north, but through the middle of the big dunes! It was eire, we hadn't seen many of the competitors that we knew were around us in the points game. Were they behind us? Were they in front of us? I walked up to the checkpoint worker before we went into the dunes to make sure someone knew we were going in...it was sketchy, we were by ourselves and anything could happen. Once we passed the first blue headed to the next black there were no tracks. We were really the only ones out there! We tried the best we could to get the black with the overlook and camping areas within view to help us gauge our location. We finally decided it was time to "press and pray" and we honestly weren't that far off, but not perfect. This black was planned. It told us exactly where we were so we could find the next blue. A 1/2" diameter, 3 ft tall blue pole. YES! We FOUND IT! We danced. We laughed. Holy cow! (this story alone is super long, I'll spare you for now, but may come back later to tell
it! lol) As we pulled away we were still focused. One more blue to go and then back to basecamp, safely. As we came into the canyon by the last blue we saw a group of 3 off to the left, but then I spotted the pole to the right. We went up and clicked the tracker then headed down to see how everyone was.
Cora, Melissa, Bailey, Kendra, Micaela and Taylor were there - Micaela's Jeep wouldn't start. In true competitor spirit, they cheered us on and said to keep going to get to the finish line to win! But, we knew our time, we were good, we stopped to help and make sure they all got out of the dunes safely on their triple pull! As they made it to sand highway, we waived and headed back to camp. We hadn't gotten stuck all day & Holy Cow, we just FINISHED the REBELLE RALLY!!!!
We came into the finish line not knowing anything about points for the day. Had our strategy worked or failed us? As we pulled in we saw M.e. Hall and Rebecca who told us they had gotten turned around on a checkpoint and timed out. Dang-it! I was sad for them, we were having such a great points battle!
We opened our box with phones, had our first drink in over a week to celebrate the success of finishing and our new friends. At 8'ish pm the final results were posted. Kaleigh and I had WON the Rebelle Rally! There are no words to express...sincerely humbled. Wow!
Day 12 - October 22
Unofficial Rebelle Rally Day 8
We partied. We partied the night before celebrating our finish and win around a campfire ~ excited to have completed the Rebelle Rally with a group of amazing ladies. We were equally celebrating their success of finishing. Like most all parties, I was one of the last up listening to stories around the campfire.
We woke up at sunrise. Sleep in? There wasn't such a thing for many days after the rally. Our clocks were reversed and ready to go. One of the girls had wanted to go on a ride in the dunes to understand how momentum can be your friend, so I found a couple other gals to go on a short run through the dunes. Easy and nice, but fun! We came back and started loading up. With dropping the weight the day before, it took us a lot longer to put everything back in, plus we were starting to get Kaleighs gear off to one side and mine in a different zone. As we rolled out of Glamis, we stopped at GlamisFab to get the tires aired up - 5 minutes top - it is nice to have great friends in high places
As we rolled into San Diego, our parents and Matt were waiting for us at the hotel door! It was a warm and exciting welcome! Not only were we excited to see them, but we knew they were there to celebrate our huge accomplishment and success. No, we didn't run into a shower. We walked over to a mexican restaurant to have a great meal while telling some stories and then we went into the hotel for a really long shower, a quick nap and to get beautiful for the Gala.
What an evening to remember! A beautiful and expansive area at the Del Mar Fairgrounds hosted the competitors plus their family and friends. We took pictures. We signed the board. We tried chocolates. We danced. We ate. We drank. Emilys presentations were great and then it was time for the awards. We had the opportunity as the 1st place winners to say a little something about the week. I started, Kaleigh did an awesome job in the middle and then I wrapped it up. We had multiple teammates on our journey, not just the two of us. Frankie the BFGoodrich Tires Jeep, BFGoodrich Tires, Impulse Off Road and Ladies Offroad Network were all sponsoring supporters. Our parents, our families, our boyfriends and all our friends that supported us in some way were part of our success. (Watch the full speech here: http://bit.ly/2eBn8BF)
We have amazing trophies and watches to commemorate the week of hard work. The night was surreal. We did it. Now, time for a fluffy bed! (ok, and another shower!)
Day 12 - October 22
Wrapping it up and headed home!
There is a little more responsibility to being part of the Ladies Co-Driver Challenge than just attending the event. We also host Meet & Greets and have to deal with getting all the video and photos that we need to make sure our stories are told correctly. To me, the event is not over until we head home, or in some cases, finally make it home! Smile, Have Fun and Push Through!
Kaleigh and I agreed the hotel beds weren't as comfortable as our mats in the tent had been, but the showers were epic! We started the dreary and drizzly morning at Starbucks so we could get some caffeine. The first task on our list was our video wrap up interviews - we both needed a little wake up juice! We headed north towards our Oceanside Meet & Greet and hoped we could outrun the weather. We scouted the Bagby Beer parking situation, the location of the Meet & Greet, and then headed to the beach.
Kaleigh did an awesome job recounting the week and her feelings. I did my exit for the video, just as it started to rain. The full feature film will be released this week!!!
Then we headed back to the restaurant for our Meet & Greet where it was chilly, but casual. We laid out our maps, checkpoint guides, vests and a few other fun trinkets for people to check out. I enjoyed the opportunity to share with friends and family what we had the opportunity to do the week before.
It was time to wrap it up and head home - finally! Kaleigh had gone home with her parents, so Matt got my co-driver seat until I finally threw in the towel, and slept the last two hours home. We did it, we made it home at 10:30pm! What an amazing experience!!
Author: Charlene Bower