Well, how about THAT! Yesterday’s score was good enough to win our Sportsman class! Sportsman are those who have done Great Race before, but aren’t good enough to win a day (expert class) or the whole shebang (grand champion class). We didn’t notice that we had won last night, but we received a lovely plaque today, and a $250 prize! Yowza Times TWO!
And today was mighty fine as well. Another BEEEYOOTIFUL day, cool and clear, rising only into the high 70’s. “For what is so rare as a day in June? Then, if ever, come perfect days.” [from the poem by James Russell Lowell].
Alas, we did not start out so perfectly today. We were thinking that the coil wire that gave us trouble, though re-inserted, might have some damage from the days it ran loose and arced. Logical, right? But we pulled it out to see, at the hotel, not thinking we had to DRIVE to an auto parts store if we needed a new one – and we had less than an hour to our start time! Yep, it was burned. Uh-oh. Just on a lark, we stuck it back in and tried it – the engine started! Probably wouldn’t work well, but it was enough to get to the first auto parts place, and that was on the way to the start hotel. New coil wire and a new coil while we were at it. Fixed and ready, we were off and away (made start time with minutes to spare).
Let me give you a little flavor of technical rallying, when things don’t go quite right.
We had a little problem at the restart, though (the beginning of the first scored leg, not the calibration start from the hotel). I let local traffic pass, and left the start marker about 2 seconds late behind them, but as I tried to accelerate, the fellow just ahead slowed waaaaay down, then turned off into the adjacent lot. No way to figure the amount of time lost. We should have stopped and restarted between two other cars and taken a safety time delay, but I was too befuddled to think of that, so we pressed on and in our confusion (and with view blocked by the turning local in front of us), turned right a bit too early, for the first turn instruction and ended up on a little dead end alley. It took a 7 point turn to reverse and get out, so when we got back to the main road, we were a full minute late (estimated by the next car that started after us just going by). We followed, meaning to ‘hack’ off him to re-establish our time. We passed him at the first stop sign, then ran 20% overspeed for 300 seconds. In principle, that should gain us 1 second for every 5, or sixty seconds in total. Of course, it assumes the initial mark (our passed hacking basis) was on time (which he likely was not). Also, we realized later that the pass at the stop, we did not account for the intended 15 second hold there (we didn’t hold, we just went around). Because we were slower then than we ought to have been on the road, we figured we had lost a few seconds there anyway, and so ought to have corrected only 50 seconds, not 60. OK, so we ran UNDERspeed by 10% for 100 seconds, losing 1 second per ten, to get to where we ought to be – we thought. In the end, we came in 19 seconds late on that leg. Rats. We would have been better to have kept the sixty. Most likely, our result was a sum of errors once things got out of control and we had only seat-of-pants estimates for our hacking target’s accuracy, our loss in the pass, and general confusion effects. Sigh.
But, we didn’t let that get to us. Once we passed the first checkpoint, it was all even-steven and we were back on our game. Today’s course had to be cut short, due to unexpected construction and paving on the intended route, making scored runs there impossible. What we did run was beautiful (Nicely done, John Classen), but we had only four scored legs today. After that first 19-second bobble, we had two 1-second legs and another perfect Ace! Likely not good enough for first in class again, but who knows? Anyway, the worst score is dropped on these early days, when figuring overall position, so for that purpose, we had a 2-second day! I expect we’ll move up in the ranks again.
We had a little scare too, after the last checkpoint, but while still running on time (as we don’t know if there will yet be another check til we get to the last instruction step). Along a wooded stretch, a big tractor pulling a wide levelling drag entered the road just ahead of us. I Thought we’d surely have to slow and take some kind of delay, but he quickly pulled toward the right, seemingly to let us pass. So I did. Or rather, I tried. It seems the rightward move was just preparation for a wide-swinging, UNSIGNALLED, left turn! As the tractor and drag turned suddenly into my path, I gave old Bender the Full Stop, Both-Feet-All-The-Way-In message. He got it, and screeched in a very Bendery way to a halt just inches shy of the impending Bender fender-bender!
We had a lunch stop in French Lick, Indiana, small town with a big resort! Turns out there is magic water in the area and this was a place to come back in the day, rather like our own Saratoga, New York! Still, one wonders about the town names in the area. French Lick? Just down the road, we also passed through a hamlet called Gnaw Bone. Really. Go figure. At least we did see a Bender Road today. We took that as a sign of good luck for tomorrow, fer sher.
Dinner was in Franklin, Indiana, and the whole courthouse square was filled with cars and people. We had more interest and interesting conversations here than any other stop so far. It may be because we’re in Indiana, Bender’s home state (he was made, of course, in South Bend, Indiana). I believe Franklin is in the running for best dinner stop!
So, tomorrow is yet again, another day, another chance to rise, race, repair (if necessary), and repeat! YES! we ARE having fun yet!!!