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So ya think ya wanna rally, eh? PNW Rally School, from RMS and Konflict!

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RMS    havoc

Hey Brian...whatcha doin' next weekend? 


And so, an adventure was born!


RMS   roadbook setup


Rally Management Services (Dave Peckham and Phil Bowman) teamed with Konflict Motorsports and Suspension (Alex Martens) to put on the PNW Rally School the weekend of 8-9 August, and it was an absolute blast! It's cool to see the same faces pop up at all these great rides, because the people really make any event, and this was no exception. I got a call from Alex a couple of weekends ago, asking me to cover down on the food and beer. I think Whitney Koeberle (Dirt Bike Safety Training) was egging him on after I showed up with a ton of great chow and fed everyone at the Touratech rally pre-ride back in June. To be fair, most of the credit goes to my wife and shopper-in-chief, SunJa, who brought us in on budget with a HUGE surplus of food (well, we did plan for several more people). I just set the grills up and wielded a spatula for the most part. Lesson learned: my 1100W blender for margaritas is a bit large for the inverters on hand. Maybe it's time to look for a hand crank model. Or re-purpose that 31cc 2-stroke weed wacker... Hmmm... 

With that in mind, as well as questions on the incomplete healing of my recently-separated shoulder, I tossed the 950 Stupid Enduro in the back of the truck with a half dozen coolers full of food and libations, as well as a well-stocked toolbox, and headed out to get schooled.  Of course, I showed up totally prepared, with a rear tire that I’d been saving to burn up on the road.  All the best maintenance and install work happens the night before or the day of…right? 


RMS   firepit Pit


For the ride itself, we did two days of 200 and 260km each. That's around 275 miles for my American and Limey friends, and the vast majority of it was off-road. I learned how to run a proper road-book (4-inch paper for 275ish waypoints!), which you can think of as an old-school turn-by-turn pre-GPS device. These were laid out to the 1/100th of a mile and include turns, dangers, and reference points to keep the rider on track--so long as he can balance riding his ass off with reading the roadbook. It's a serious mental game, that's for sure. To make it better, the abbreviations are for French words ("fesh" is silt, HP is hors piste or off-road, and so on) because this just hasn't really caught on in the US, but is huge in Europe and elsewhere. I imagine our rotten land availability has something to do with it, though I'm surprised there aren't more people into it in the PNW and the SW with all the open land we have here between BLM, NFS, state forests, etc.


RMS   silt hill

RMS   trail prep

Regarding road books, I learned the fine art of taping them together (at least Dave was nice enough to copy them on 14" legal paper), feeding them into the holder, and how to highlight hazards or turns and the like to call my attention to them. Definitely an art here, and definitely a rider preference thing. I need more practice to figure out what's right for me. Absorbed some tips and tricks, like leaving extra strips of tape with pull-tabs inside the reader and leaving a tail of old roadbook to tape in the new one quicker. Oh, and tape the top of the subsequent page OVER the bottom of the preceding page, so the joint is smooth on the rollers.

RMS   roadbooks

Here's an excellent description of the basics of rally and roadbooks. It all seems so simple...until you add speed and harsh terrain and fatigue and dehydration and other riders! ;-)  Dave’s analogy about the confidence meter is so perfect for this endeavor.  When it’s all working, you’re confident and the decisions are easy and you’re feeling good.  Miss that “obvious” turn, and suddenly, you start second-guessing yourself and doubting, and the fun takes a temporary down-turn.  Again, there is a HUGE mental aspect to rally—at least to doing it well!

One more note about roadbooks, is that the setup and development is ultra time-consuming. Alex spent hundreds of hours working on that thing, and that's not just pre-running and then re-running. Rally Navigator (which I need to learn more about) is a program that interfaces with Google Earth and does a lot of the work, but customizing each "tulip" (the turn/hazard drawing waypoints in the roadbook) takes time, finding the trails takes time, proofing the trails takes time, getting stuck in the dark and stalked by mountain lions takes time, etc.  But it all comes together for awesome pics like these.  It's a seriously labor-intensive undertaking, and I really thank Alex for his incredible hard work!


RMS   railroad

In short, I highly recommend this opportunity to my friends. Yes, it'll cost you a few bucks to get the equipment (niche market), but it's a huge mental challenge, the riding and the locations are great, and the kind of guys who came out to this course were absolutely top-notch folks with a wealth of experience and knowledge. We’re talking Baja and Dakar competitors and support teams, not just slouchy bum-off-the-street types like me. 


RMS   chumstick

Looking at the top of Chumstick Mountain

RMS   with whitney

Good people up here

RMS   chumstick reverse

The easy route up Chumstick


RMS   cant pass Gas

About the only thing I can't pass on the 950SE is a gas station

RMS   chunky tire


RMS Konflict writeup.pdf

Edited by brian.havoc1
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