Well, today was our first day in Canada!
…it didn’t go well. It started with rain and no breakfast, our fault for not having calibrated our sleep schedules correctly yet. Then we started going through the instructions, and discovered we had some 10 and 15 MPH runs to do. Once more, we had to hold speeds we hadn’t calibrated. Two rough guesstimates (which we have no way of checking) and new tape marks (the speedo is more tape than plastic now). Despite these forces working against us, we hit our start time fine. The informal, untimed one from the start, anyway. The one after the transit zone, where the timing actually started… Well, lets just say I didn’t know my speedo went that high. We ended up crossing the start line 2:17 late, and therefore two positions and cars down. With some strategic prodding of the squirrels housed in our engine bay, we managed to gain the two positions back, and when we finally hit our checkpoint, we were only 7 seconds early! Amazing, considering the shambles that was our start.
The next leg, well, we tossed that advantage right out the window- 1:02 early. This leg was the most “rally” like: it was primarily gravel, on a placed but not yet paved road (the end of it was paved). Holding any speed on there was very difficult, usually acceleration was severely damped by the wet gravel simply sliding and letting the wheels spin. Even still, we ran up behind the people in front of us, in so much as we were debating passing. It kept crossing our mind that the people in front of us were sportsmen, and that they were therefore NOT the ones doing it wrong. Somehow, though, we were convinced that we had timed it all right… Ah well, if they drop any leg today, it’ll be this one. That was a great road, too.
The lunch stop in Elliot Lake was odd. Usually when the Great Race arrives in town, there’s a big to-do. However, the building we were going to use hasn’t usually had its roof collapse on people… Very impressed that Elliot was still willing to put us up for lunch, and our thoughts go out to those caught in the trouble.
After leaving Elliot, we had barely entered the timed section before we hit a checkpoint. According to our tally, we were 7.6 seconds late when we hit the stop sign before the checkpoint, and we accounted for one second there, thinking we’d have MUCH more time before we had to worry about crossing a checkpoint (it was, in fact, the last checkpoint of the previous leg, just reverse direction). We ended up 6 seconds late, almost exactly what we expected. If only we’d known, we could have tried to lose those 7 seconds in the stop… Nicely played.
Then it got worse. In the next section, there was a HUGELY long 50MPH hold. Something like 30 minutes, best guess. Normally, not an issue, but we fell prey to the trap- the next instruction was a speed change, and the one after it. We finally saw the second clue, and we started to wonder. Then we very quickly caught up to the previous car. Oh bother (this is not a verbatim quote), we’d missed the sign. In retrospect, or next action was wrong. We said, “okay, they have it right, let’s back way off, and then time them at a landmark, and pass that landmark one minute after them.” We did it, and did it well, but what we should have done was kept going, so that we could have calculated the time we had to drop. We were fairly sure we were close, but not great (timing off a landmark is not very accurate at all). Instead, we got to the checkpoint ONE SECOND LATE! A second off an ACE, on a leg with missed instructions!
The final leg threw us for another loop- mostly due to the transition zone in the middle. We were still reeling from all the trouble with the last leg, and we didn’t record our in time exactly, so our out time had a high chance of being wrong. Once again, we hacked off the team in front. Whether or not that helped though, we can’t say. This leg was full of railroad crossings, all of which were treated as stops. This allowed us to really dial in our seconds to where we wanted them. Soon we were heading towards Sudbury, and all of a sudden, the instructions (primarily stop sign commands) started coming up VERY fast, but without any warning of such. Normally the notes page will tell us that something “comes quick” or “comes very quick” to help make sure we don’t miss it. All of these weren’t marked at all, which wasn’t a directional issue (after all, a stop forces a direction choice). It was an issue when we had no warning to prepare the split times, so the last few were near complete discombobulation. It showed. 32 seconds early. Not that bad, all things considered.
Tomorrow should be interesting. We finally have all our tools in hand; the accel chart helped a lot today. We shall see. Anyway, just before I sign off for the night, Nick just came back from talking to his girlfriend, and he gave me some interesting news: We’re 3rd in X-Cup! That means we managed to make up a place, there’s 4 X-cuppers. Additionally, he talked to the Fredettes, who run in expert class, and they told him we had an INCH-PERFECT ROLLING START ON LEG 3! That start was even on a hill! We had a while to wait for that start, so while we waited, we estimated the distance from where we were to the sign that designated the start, did some basic distance/time numbers, and found we needed 7 seconds from our start time to hit the sign perfectly, but that assumed we instantly went from 0 to 20, so we then took our 0-20 time from our chart (5 seconds) and cut that in two (since we were still moving forward while accelerating) and added that to the travel time to get 9.5 seconds. We left, then, at 10 seconds. According to the Fredettes, at X:XX:59s (I don’t remember the exact time), there was nothing there, and just as the second hand hit “0”, we passed by the sign at speed.
So maybe the day wasn’t so bad after all.