Alcan Winter Rally: February 16-26, 2008.

Bill Beers

Explorer
Hi folks, maybe some of you have been keeping track of our preparation on this thread: http://expeditionportal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=11097

For those of you who haven't, here's a brief synopsis. My buddy Doug and I are entered in the Alcan Winter Rally. The Alcan 5000 Winter Rally is an endurance driving and navigation competition. The rally starts near Seattle, Washington on February 16th, 2008, and continues through February 26th, 2008, ending in Jasper, Alberta. The route goes North through Canada's Northwest Territory and above the Arctic circle before returning south again.

The event is divided into several types of competition. In the "TSD" or Time-Speed-Distance sections, a car must drive according to a set directions, reaching checkpoints in exactly a specified amount of time. Points are accrued for reaching the checkpoints too early or too late and the goal is to have zero points! There are also a few ice slaloms, where the goal is to go as fast as possible around a defined, closed course.

The Alcan 5000 is a team event, with each car having a driver and at least one navigator. Doug and I plan to split these duties so that we each get to drive and navigate part of the time.

While we do hope to be competitive, our main goal is to have fun and enjoy the beauty of Northern Canada!

-Bill
 

Bill Beers

Explorer
Passed Tech: The show starts tomorrow!

We've made it through tech inspection. Here's a photo at the hotel with the Team Mitsubishi cars in the foreground.



Here is a photo taken by Matt from Team Mitsubishi. The blue WRX behind us is the team of Stevan and Kristin Arychuk, who is our buddy team for the transit portions of the event.



There is a good field of cars here, including one Dakar competitor, and a car full of previous winners!

Tomorrow starts the actual competition, with one TSD before we get into Canada, and one more before we finish in Quesnel.
 

1leglance

2007 Expedition Trophy Champion, Overland Certifie
I watched the Build Thread with great interest and now I am watching the race thread...
now I wish you guys had bgan sat coverage for live updates :)
have a great time
 

Bill Beers

Explorer
Day 1 results and what not.

Thanks for the words of encouragement fellas!!

Wow, what a day! It is hard to belive we were in Seattle this morning! We started the day out with brekkie at Shari's, pancakes, eggs scrambled, sausage and milk.

We're teamed up with Car #16, Kealty/Kealty (Forester,) and Car #17, Daly/Ryall/Ustare (WRX,) who make up team Sirius, for the Alcan team competition, which requires at least one novice competitor. We are all novice competitors!



The first transit was around 60 miles, taking us to Mosquito Lake. The Mosquito lake TSD was a little more than 40 miles long, with 5 controls, (the location of which is unkown,) that we were never more than 3 seconds early or late for, giving us a leg score of 11 and putting us in 8th place. In contrast, the #1 car scored a 1.

After that rather spirited driving by yours truly, Doug needed some fresh air, and we switched places in Sumas, WA. Going through the border was ok for us: we were forewarned that the Canadian customs dude in the left lane was in a bad mood, so we took the right. Given the no-nonsense attitude of the right-lane guy, I'm really glad we didn't choose the left! Car 23, Dick and Marie, were held up for 25 minutes before they were allowed through.

Here is a shot of Doug, driving us through the Fraser Canyon.





We came upon a stranded motorist who had broken his wheel on a rock, and had a malfunctioning jack. We let him borrow our jack, and we were both on our way in short order!



Following Ohio Knox and Ken Adams on highway 97.



The second TSD was Soda Creek, in the dark, and on mixed surfaces. Mixed between rough pavement/gravel and snow/ice. 600 ft/lbs of torque enables us to break the tires loose almost at will, so we have to be careful! Here is a picture of us waiting for the TSD to start.



The PIAA lights worked great, and I'm glad I took the time to clean them before starting the TSD. About 2 miles into the 17 mile long stage, I pulled the transfer case shifter into 4-Hi. This was a good time to engage 4wd as we started exceeding the limits of our traction shortly thereafter.

At one point we made a wrong turn, but corrected it within .2 miles, but at that point were a minute off the pace. Making up that minute was exciting! Frank, imagine riding with me in Delphine's Mustang on North Bay Drive! We were late to check points 2 and 3, but made 5 and 6 within 5 seconds of perfect time.

Stevan and Kristin went off sometime after checkpoint 3, but were subsequently rescued by Mitsubishi Car #1, Zursch/Tabor/Bockman.

We got into Quesnel, (pronounced Quinnell,) filled up on diesel, and checked into the Sandman Inn. Dinner at the Shark's something: I ordered the soup of the day, but the waitress didn't know what it was and said she'd be back to let me know. I said don't worry, I'll have what ever it is. It turned out to be pretty good tomato bisque.

Some bad news: the slalom tomorrow is canceled because they can't get the track plowed. Which means that we'll have three TSDs tomorrow instead. Doug will be at the helm tomorrow.

Provisional scores were posted late tonight, and I found a flaw, now corrected by the officials, with ours. Checkpoints 4 & 5 had our times and Stevan and Kristen's times mixed up. We're currently tied for 12th overall, and 1st, (of two!) in class IIE. The official website has us listed as 19th, but they'll get that patched up soon.

Okay, time for bed.

-Bill
 

Bill Beers

Explorer
Day 2!

I had the Grand Slam at Denny's this morning: pretty good, but their pancakes need work. I did like the two sausage links I had, they were like mini-kielbasas. Doug had the Grand Slam as well, and was quite pleased that grape jelly was available.

Team Mitsubishi says: "We love Denny's so much, we park there at night!"



Since the ice-slalom was cancelled, Jerry added another TSD to the days events. This one was entitled, "11% Grade" and was pretty hairy at times, lots of switch backs and required average speeds that were virtually unachievable. The TSD started in the parking lot of a local elementary school. The kids all came out to look at the rally cars.



We picked up 47 points over 7 controls. Car #10 (McMillen/Crippen) were the best on this one with 10 points. At least 4 cars took the 200 point max for the leg.

We headed back to Quesnel, stopped by the Tim Horton's for some Timbits, and, with just a little looking, found the start of the Black water TSD. Again, this route had lots of snow, hell, it was completely covered with snow! As it turns out, there were only two controls on the TSD, who awarded us a total of 11 points. At least 7 teams earned 0 or 1, while we were one of 6 teams to score double digits.

The end of this TSD left us on Blackwater road, and was the high point of the adventure so far! The road was close to 100 miles long, covered with snow and traversing some of the prettiest country I've ever seen. I mean covered: we didn't see gravel, (except crossroads,) or pavement for almost 100 miles. The truck worked like a dream, and had no problem keeping up with the BMWs and Subarus.

Here we are as part of a train of sportscars. We have both the TomTom and the Garmin GPSs going, and Doug's laptop with the TSD data on our RAM Mount.



We were even able to help a fellow in a Subaru un-stuff himself after he cooked it into a 90 degree left a little fast.



We followed the number 20 car of Marinus and Renee Damm for quite a while. The Damms have some friends with a restaurant in Burns Lake, and provided a late lunch for the entire rally! That's a class act that will be tough to follow.



We were almost late to the final TSD of the day, Fraser Lake, arriving at the start just two minutes before our scheduled out time. Doug did a great job keeping on pace, and we only really flubbed on of the 5 controls, picking up 31 more points for the TSD.

Our Day Two total was 89 points. The most recent scores, (which are not yet on the official Alcan site as of 2310 on 2/18,) have us in 9th overall with a score of 115, two points back from Car #14, Hansen/Perret. From there though, it is almost a 50 point jump to the next competitor.



Doug is asleep, and I will be soon. We're out of here, (The Robber's Roost in New Hazelton,) at 0630 tomorrow. The plan is to make the Dease Lake TSD by 1330. It is 330 mile from here, north up the Cassiar Highway, which is only paved for the first 100 miles or so. We'll need to average 47 mph to make it on time. Stevan and Kristin would like to visit Bear Glacier, which will tack on another 32 miles, plus whatever time spent there. We'll have to see how thing are going before we know if that is viable or not.

The Dease Lake TSD is short, only 10 miles. That's good, because then we go to Whitehorse, which is 400 miles from Dease Lake.

I think Doug has a bit he'll post up tomorrow morning early. Be sure to check out the other teams sites in our links, there is some good stuff out there!

-Bill

 

1leglance

2007 Expedition Trophy Champion, Overland Certifie
I can't wait to hear the full post race debriefing when you can really dig into the details :)
Thanks alot for keeping us posted and if you would be interested in teaming up next year I would like to give this event a run if my schedule allows.
Also on the website it references a summer event, any word on that?
good luck with the rest of it
 

Bill Beers

Explorer
Long Day, Fun Day.

Today started early from New Hazelton. We were on the road 0640. Breakfast was oranges and jerky, washed down with water.

We drove around 2 hours, where we hooked up with the Team Sirius cars near Medzian junction. We then took the optional 16 mile sidetrip to see the Bear Glacier. There was a beautiful view of the glacier over a snow covered lake. Although we started out the morning ahead of most of the competitors, this sidetrip put us near the back of the pack. We still had plenty of time, and the organizers allowed us (by plan) to start the TSD section either on time, or 30 minutes late.

Photo: Cars 17, 18, and 19 at Bear Glacier.



Photo: Doug and Bill at Bear Glacier




We stopped at Mama Z's restaurant in Dease Lake before starting the 10 mile TSD section. While at Mama Z's, we met a typically friendly black labrador. Being in Dease Lake started to bring back good memories for me of my year 2000 trip up this way on two wheels with my Dad.

We scored 15 points on the TSD over three controls. I think we should have done better, but I'll blame Doug. Ok, not really. I'll blame the spreadsheet, or the way I called instruction. Heck... 15 points is pretty good, so I guess I'll shut up now. I mean really, every team took points on that TSD.

Right after the TSD, we came upon the Team Sirius cars at the side of the road. They were waiting for us and the Arychuk's behind us so that we could transit together. After a short snowball fight, where Doug successfully avoided a well thrown snowball by jumping waist deep into a snow bank, we came up with a fun plan: Wait for the scoring officials to come along and ambush them with snowballs. I'd like it to be clear (to the officials who may read this,) that this was not our idea. In fact, Doug and I only eventually succumbed to peer pressure and threw a few snowballs so that it looked good on video. Oh yeah- There's video of the fun ambush. I'll try and see where that is being hosted.

A little later on the transit, Doug and I both noticed movement on the road about .5 miles ahead. We initially thought it was people, then dogs, then maybe... Caribou!!! I snapped a picture just as they scrambled into the snow on the side of the road. Very cool siting.



A bit later on the transit (hey, this was a LONG transit!), we reached a place called "Bell 2". Funny thing about Bell 2 was this: They were supposed to have gas. Most of the cars on the Alcan carry around 16 gallon gas tanks. With all the gear folks are carrying and roof racks, gas mileage suffers. But, the gas pumps at Bell 2 were frozen, so most emptied their spare gas into the tank and continued from there. We on the other hand, made the almost 800 mile day with only one fill up in Dease Lake. Hell, we still have a 1/4 tank! According to the truck's computer, we averaged 16.4 mpg. According to the Garmin Nuvi, we averaged 52.2 miles for the day.

It can get pretty mucky hanging out behind a tractor trailer rig, waiting to pass:



Overall, the roads today were in good shape. A good snow pack covering was there for most of the day. Toward the evening it warmed up a bit and the roads were nearly clear. We kept the truck in 2WD all day and only had a small amount of minor sliding in the snowpack.

Here's a shot of Doug as we enter the Yukon:



Today looks to be really fun. We start with a 8 mile TSD, and then go to our first ice slalom. We're both really looking forward to the ice slalom. This should be a great photo/video opportunity. It will be tough to be competitive in the truck, but we hope to surprise a few people!

Hey Lance, as I understand it, the Alcan 5000 event is held every two years, alternating summer and winter, much like the Olympus. The organizers typically do a course survey in the year in between if they plan on changing anything.

There are a couple Yahoo groups, the URLs of which I'll track down tonight to post up. In the mean time, I'll try and talk with Jerry Hines, the event organizer, and get some of your questions answered.

-Bill
 

Rallyroo

Expedition Leader
Great pics. I've been wanting to do the Alcan 5000. Now I just need to get off my butt and start planning. And I'd probably do the winter rally over the summer rally.
 
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BajaTaco

Swashbuckler
This is GREAT! Perfect for a little intermission (from work) while I munch on some dinner. (Thinking of Mama Z's Jade Boulder cafe... mmmm. We ate there last year on our way south from the Arctic.)

:lurk:

Thanks for in-progress updates. Hope you got 'em good on that slalom course! :REExeSquatsHL1:
 

Bill Beers

Explorer
Whitehorse to Dawson.

I had a good breakfast of brown toast, eggs and sausage yesterday morning at the Yukon Inn in Whitehorse. Class act that they are, the Keatleys picked up the tab for both Doug and I. I think that was so when they thouroughly trounced us at both the day's TSD and at the Ice Race, that we'd still have to be nice to them! Also, they are truly two great guys.

The entire rally was granted a late checkout from the Yukon Inn, which allowed the uber-competitive teams to leave all of their excess gear in the hotel so it wouldn't weigh them down for the ice race. In contrast, we pulled out our cooler, so it wouldn't slide back and forth.

The TSD yesterday was a dead-turn around. Early on the first half, we missed a turn, and Doug had to scramble to get the car back on course. I estimated that we'd been off course for .2 miles, and had to add that to all of the subsequent time hacks in the excel sheet. Doug's spirited driving got us back on course, though our scores on the way end suffered from the odo being off to our time, giving us 42 points on the first half. After the turn around, and re-zeroing our odometer, we only picked up 5 points on the way out, including our first zero!!! Letting the wind out of our sails was car #26, Keatley/Keatly, who netted 5 zeros, and only picked up 5 points total on the remaining 3 controls!

After the TSD, we transited to the Ice Race. Many thanks to Jeff Z. of Team Mitsubishi for taking some absolutely kick-*** photos of us at the Ice Race!!! While we couldn't really compete with the more nimble Subarus, we were the crowd favorites, as evidenced below.









After leaving the Ice Race, we headed back to the hotel to pick up the rest of our gear and check out. We hit the car wash, (though you can hardly tell now!) We picked up some food to go and headed out on the Alcan Highway. Soon we turned onto the Klondike Highway, and headed for Dawson City.


We stopped at the Pelly River Bridge so Stevan and Kristin could refuel, but there was no premium available for their WRX, so we pressed on to Stewart Crossing. I was convinced we'd seen the last of premium until we got back to Whitehorse. I was wrong, and the gas station was damn proud of their premium gas: $5.70 a gallon. While they were fueling up, I noticed something familiar in the snow by the pumps...



Lots of Western Star, Sterlings and Freightliners running around up here.

We made it into Dawson City after dark, and put the beer in the fridge while we ate dinner at the restaurant in the El Dorado Inn.



I'll post up our trip up to Inuvik in an hour or so.

-Bill
 
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