THE MIDNIGHT RUN MAY 27 - 28, 2006 CRITIQUE OF THE COURSE
The following is a brief description of the intended route of the rally, along with an explanation of how you were expected to determine the locations of the various Checkpoints. If you did not run the rally, use the AAA maps for Tulare County and Kern County (or its replacement, Central Valley Region).
Leg 1. With less than 3 minutes and entered heading south, there were only 2 options. Frontage road on the west side of the freeway, and Grapevine Rd., (unnamed on map), which is the road between the n/b and s/b sides of I-5. The handout at Start said it was both east and west of I-5, putting it on Grapevine Rd.
Leg 2. There was enough time for this one to be on either side of CA 99. Once you had worked your way through the Route Instructions, you also knew that Checkpoint 20 was to be on the same road, Valpredo. Since there was no interchange at I-5, there were really only 2 usable sections of Valpredo, one on each side of 99. CP 2 had to be on one section and CP 20 on the other. At Start, a heading told Regulars and Experts CP 2 was on the far west end of Valpredo, and a handout told Beginners and Novices the same thing. You had to pick up Valpredo just west of CA 99, which meant you had to take 5 north to 99 and then exit at CA 166. Then a quick right to pick up the frontage road and make a somewhat tricky follow in Mettler to the turn onto Valpredo..
Leg 3. There were 3 roads which could be entered eastbound and met the criteria for the RI's: Western Minerals Rd. on the west side near Maricopa, an unnamed dead end road leading to the AM Kelly Pumping Station, and a somewhat curved road intersecting Sabodan near the 5/99 split. The bearing and handout put it on Western Minerals. You could take either 166 or Copus Rd after CP 2 and make it. The main trap was the hard-to-find turn onto Western Minerals, which is not signed by that name, but matches the indicated 1.7 miles from Short Rd.
Leg 4 had something a little unusual, a choice of paved or unpaved routes. Turned out the paved course actually had a lower average speed due to about 9 miles of twisties on CA 58. The unpaved was Soda Lake Rd, as fast and as smooth a 20 mile stretch of clay road as you'll ever find.
For Checkpoint 4, there were 3 main roads shown on the maps which met the criteria listed in the RI's for Checkpoint 4: Main Drain, Holloway, and 25th St. The light you were shown indicated a heading more or less in line with the Standoff road, which put Checkpoint 4 somewhere in the middle of Holloway, near the Gypsum Quarries, and ruled out the other 2 roads.
Leg 5 was deceptively simple. In the RI's you were given an average speed from Restart to Checkpoint. That told you the Checkpoint had to be 19.26 miles from Restart. The trap was that there were 2 different 6th Avenues, one in Kings County and 1 near Alpaugh in Tulare County. The only southbound portion of the Kings Co. 6th Ave you could reach in 19.26 miles was just south of Virginia Ave. However, that put you on a 26 mile loop just to get back to Alpaugh, plus 17 more miles to get the road for Checkpoint 6. With only 33.50 minutes driving time, that wasn't going to work.
Avoiding unpaved roads and going further north on 6th didn't work either, as the 19.26 miles ran out before you could go north from Garces and get back to any part of 6th. There had to be another 6th Ave, and it was just north of Alpaugh. Regular, Novice and Beginner had a Passage Control sign which named Alpaugh, so they should have known it would be close to town. Experts had a curve warning sign for a Passage Control, and it was on the northmost, diagonal portion of 6th. If Experts ran the leg correctly, they picked up the Passage Control and then encountered the Checkpoint for the other classes. Of course, there the Experts should have merely turned in the PC info.
A brief note added after the rally. I sincerely apologize for putting a rally through an area with roads in such bad condition. I swear to you I will never do it again when I am the rallymaster.
Leg 6. There have been several other times when unstaffed Standoffs have been used, but not with a flashing light. This was intended to keep things interesting on legs where we were short on crews. The Checkpoint road was named, and was further narrowed down to only one section, 4 miles of road with intersections only on the ends. The intention was for you to drive to the road and look for a light. The RI's said there would be a light visible from one end, but you had to enter from the opposite end. So if you saw the light on the south end, you had to enter from the north, and vice versa. The shortest way out of CP 5 took you to the south end of the CP 6 road. There you should have seen a light, and then looped around to the north end to enter the Checkpoint southbound.
Leg 7 involved picking up 3 Course Controls before Standoff. The reasons for the Controls were to keep you out of the traffic and slow speeds in Porterville and put you onto some true rally roads. The CC's were out of numerical order in that you should have picked up 4, then 3, then 5. That was to keep your thinking flexible and to help you learn the Generals. The only requirement for Course Controls is that you get them before their turn-in location. Standoff 7 was at the top of a serpentine grade, and was approached from behind the crest, so it offered a great view. The light was close, less than 2 miles away. You had to wind your way down the grade, and, just as the road started to open up, there was the hose, with the timing car tucked in a hollow. If you came in hot, the downgrade might have made it hard to stop in time to creep.
Leg 8 started with an epic drive out of 7 down about 17 miles of Yokohl Valley Rd.. Then there were about 20 different ways to get to Tulare for the break. The timed route avoided the small communities and then took CA 137 into Tulare. After the break came the first maze. Standoff was in the middle of a defined, rectangular hot zone, with 4 Checkpoints in this zone around the SO, entered in 4 different directions. There were safe roads, but they didn't cover an entire route into Standoff. Plus you had to get CC 6, also in this hot zone, before Standoff. There were just too many permutations of these 4 legs to allow math to figure a way into Standoff. You had to do it with pure, seat-of-the-pants rally sense.
There were 3 roads which would get you to the Standoff road and allow you to enter Standoff correctly: Ave 192 east from CC 6, Rd 68 south to Standoff road, or Rd 76 south to Standoff road. CC 6 had to be entered from the south, and Rd 64 was safe to allow you to get that far. However, at that point, a "T" where Rd 64 ended, and the road on either side was hot for a half mile, you would have to make a decision. At CC 6 you were staring at a Checkpoint just to your right (east). From its direction (it was facing west) you knew it was Checkpoint 8, the only eastbound Checkpoint.
Consequently, you could not go that way to get to Standoff, since you had to go to Standoff first. You had to turn left out of CC 6. At the next road, Rd. 60, which went only north, you could see up to the next intersection and there was no Checkpoint, so you were expected to take Rd. 60 north this far (Ave 200, which was safe). Going east on Ave 200 to take a look-see at Rd. 68 was the most direct search. Also, the Passage Control sign for Leg 9 showed a signpost for Ave 194, and since 9 was entered southbound, Rd 68 and Rd 76 were the only roads having such an intersection marked on the Official Maps. That was, of course, no guarantee that there wasn't an unmapped intersection on some other road, but it was a place to start.
At the intersection of Ave 200 with Rd 68, there was a north-facing Checkpoint just to your right (south). It had to be 9, the only southbound Checkpoint of the group. Now you had determined that 2 of the 3 roads you could use to get to Standoff had Checkpoints on them. There has to be a way into Standoff, so Rd 76 had to be safe from at least Ave 208 south.
So, you had to feel your way in. From Ave 200/Rd 68, you could see north to the next intersection. Going north to that point, (Ave 204 at a point not shown on the maps) you could see to the next intersection north and continue. Time was allowed to take Ave 208 over to Rd 76 and down to Standoff. You could also have taken Rd 204, but it didn't look paved, and wasn't on the maps.
Arriving at Standoff, you already knew where 8 and 9 were. There was a light for 10 to the southeast which put it on a tiny piece of Ave 192 just east of Rd 80. There was a large light on a radio tower due north of Standoff as the light for 12. It indicated that 12 had to be on Rd 76. 11 was covered in a handout. Experts only got that Rd 72 was safe and that 11 was south of Ave 192. The time from 10 ruled out everything but Rd 80 for CP 11. Everyone else got that info in a handout.
Note added after the rally. Not all cars got to see the light for 10. A local, who didn't like us on his road at 3 in the morning, destroyed it, and caused the CP 11 crew (me) to be unable to score the leg, due to his pointing a gun in my face. Eventually I'll print the whole, 3-act opera of a story, but a court case is pending. Suffice it to say for now that the last I saw this individual, he was handcuffed in the back of a Tulare County Sheriff's car facing charges of Assault with a Deadly Weapon, Making a Terrorist Threat (both felonies) and a misdemeanor Destruction of Private Property charge (for smashing our flashing light). Due to all this trouble, which occupied me for about 2 hours, I was unable to enter the Checkpoint logs into the computer for scoring much of the rally until I got to Finish. Of course, we were thus delayed from being able to announce the scores as quickly as we had hoped.
Between the hassle over the light and setting up CP 11, I was able to run to Restart and cancel leg 10, so the rally wouldn't go on this guy's road. Cars were told to go straight from 9 to 11 without changing any times. But after Restart things got worse. The guy went home and got a gun, and came back to CP 11. So when the rally got to CP 11 they saw, variously, a man on a quad waving a gun around, or on the ground handcuffed, or in the back of the Sheriff's car, or the Deputy talking to me. The Sheriff had parked between the box and my car, and I was using a wireless box that relies on line-of-sight transmission from the box to the clock. With a cop car blocking the signal the clock wasn't recording times, so I couldn't score you. I should mention that, being rally cars, no one let this stop them from creeping into the hose for CP 11 on their correct time. Cars came up to the timing car looking for their scores, even with the cop car's light bar flashing and the Deputy standing next to me. I really love you guys.
Back to the critique. So, after the Restart, you were forced onto Rd 80, and you had to watch closely for the turn onto Ave 190 to avoid going backwards through 11. Back to CC 6 and then right into CP 8. Out of 8, you had to be very careful to turn right at the Standoff road, Ave 194, to avoid going backwards through 9. Ave 194 east to Rd 76, then north to Ave 208, west to Rd 68, and south to CP 9. You were intended to go south out of 9. Another quick turn onto the Standoff road, a left this time to avoid backwards through 8. Instead east to Rd 76 again, then east on Ave 208, south on Rd 84, and then a forced right onto Ave 192 into 10, which turned out to be a Passage Control even though it had a flashing light.
Out of 10 you would have gone left at the T at Rd 80, again that quick right onto Ave 190 to avoid 11. Then Rd 72, only shown on Map 4, south to Ave 184, 184 east to Rd 80, and 80 north to CP 11.
However, once you knew 10 was thrown, you would have combined the first part of what was leg 10 and the second part of what you would have done out of 10. Thus you went south from 9, left to go through the Standoff again, then grabbing the hard-to-find right turn onto Ave 190, and around the loop into 11.
Out of 11, you finally went backward through Standoff for the first time (on the preferred route) to reach Rd 76 and take it all the way north to, again, what turned out to be a Passage Control for 12, even though there was a flashing light. After 12, how surreal was that colonnade of big palms at that time of the morning?
Leg 13 used the same idea of the drive through Standoff that was used on Leg 6, but this time it played out in an opposite way. The closest route to the Checkpoint road was to the north end. There you did not see a light. And since you did not, that meant the Checkpoint was at the south end. You had to enter the Checkpoint road from the north end, where there was no light, and therefore no Checkpoint. You did not have enough time to go to the south end to see the light, and then back to the north end to enter the Checkpoint road, and then into Checkpoint.
Leg 14 was a Passage Control to break up the long drive toward the final group of Checkpoints. It should have been easy to find. At about 2 blocks long, it was probably the shortest Checkpoint road in the history of rallying.
Leg 15 was at the east end of Elmo Hwy. (The "tickle me" leg). If you took your time early on the road, you might have been late to the hose. Then was a quick break for those who needed fuel before going into the last Restart.
How to get to Standoff 16? That was the question. There were several determinants, the most basic of which was time. Once you subtracted the break, the 1.00 minute to exit 15, and Standoff allowance, there were only 22.80 minutes to get from 15 to Restart. There were 2 possible routes, Sherwood Ave. or Famoso Woody Rd. At the Start, it would have been very close. However, out of 15, you would have encountered about 2 miles of 25 mph speed limits in McFarland, where you had been directed for a break, and which you therefore knew was on the preferred route.
The Sherwood Ave route broke down like this 2.0 miles at 25 mph and 14.7 at 55. That gives 20.82 minutes, well within the time allowed. If you looked at Famoso Woody out of the break, you would have considered the 99 freeway. That route broke down as 2.0 miles at 25, 5.1 at 65, and 13 miles at 55. That totaled 23.66 minutes, which was over the limit. Therefore, after the break, you could determine there was not enough time to take any route other than Sherwood Ave to reach Standoff in time for Restart.
Also, at Start you could have used a logical method and perform a series of if-then problems. You could leave Standoff in any direction, and no direction of entry was specified for 16. There were 4.25 minutes from Restart to CP 16, so it could be on any of 4 roads: Sherwood Ave., Famoso Rd., Tule Rd., and Famoso-Woody Rd. To make the time fo 16, if it was on one of those roads, it would have to be entered heading away from Standoff. Now the if-thens. If 16 was on Sherwood, where could 17 be in only 9 minutes and entered westbound? Answer: no where in the designated area. Therefore 16 could not be on Sherwood. If 16 was on Famoso-Woody, where would 17 be? Answer: no where. There was no road in the defined area that could be reached westbound for 17 after a westbound 16 on Famoso-Woody. If 16 was on Famoso, east of SO, where could 17 be? Answer: Tule Rd. Plenty of time for that one. Finally, if 16 was on Tule, where would 17 be? Answer: Famoso Rd. Therefore, 16 could be on Tule or Famoso (both heading east from Standoff), and 17 would have to be on whichever one of those two that 16 wasn't.
Next up was the question of CPs 18 and 19. 18 was entered heading northeast, 19 southeast. There were 2 scenarios on the maps which fit the times and directions of entry. One scenario was that 18 would be up Bakersfield-Glennville Rd towards the town of Woody (no jokes, please). Then, there is about a mile or so of southeast-heading Woody-Granite (if it happens to you, seek medical help) Rd., near its intersection with Bakersfield-Glennville Rd.. That would have to be 19.
The other scenario would put 18 on Famoso-Woody Rd west of Standoff, and 19 on Famoso Rd east of Standoff, because Famoso is the only southeast-heading road you could get to in time on 19. If that scenario was the right one, then 17 couldn't be on Famoso, because you'd go through it backwards on 19. It would also mean 19 is on the same road as 16, because 16 would have to on Famoso. It is legal to go through a Checkpoint more than once as long as it's in the right direction. Further, it would explain the route instruction about 19 not being open until 5 minutes before your in time. That would mean 19 wouldn't count for you on 16, and you could go through it without penalty. Since the first of these two scenarios (Woody) looks like it would be about 10 miles too far for leg 20, the second scenario would seem more likely.
So, not only was there not enough time to do anything else but take Sherwood Ave to SO/Restart, there was no scenario which put any of 16 - 19 on Sherwood. Sherwood had to be safe into SO.
At SO, Experts were told that 16 was south of SO and 18 was west of SO. So, 16 was on Famoso, 17 on Tule, 18 on Famoso-Woody and 19 on Famoso (same as 16). The preferred route was as follows. Out of SO east on Famoso for 16 you came to the Passage Control for 16 first. Of course, there was a live Checkpoint for 19 just past the PC for 16. Of course, it wasn't open yet for 19. Did it suck you in? Hoses sometimes do that. The correct move was to get the PC info for 16 and turn it in at the timing car for 19. There should have been a "control" sign at the car, which made it an uninstructed staffed control at the beginning of leg 17. You were required to stop. 200 point penalty if you failed to do so. If you did stop, you should have turned in the PC for 16.
Next you had to veer left to follow Bakersfield-Glennville Rd. (did you notice the Passage Control sign for 19?), then left on Tule Rd and go into 17, which was also a Passage Control. The Generals say you should turn in Passage Control info at the next staffed Rally Control, which in this case was Standoff. You are required to stop each time you go through a Standoff anyway. You should have turned in the Passage Control then, but we also accepted it at CP 18. After going back through Standoff, you went out the way you came in, via Sherwood Ave. Then left on CA 65, and left onto the Checkpoint road for 18. After 18, it was back through Standoff, where you were required yet again to stop and check in. Then back onto Famoso Rd. and into the live Checkpoint for 19.
Course Control 7 was to keep you on a good rally road into Bakersfield, where you should have jumped on the CA 99 Freeway at Seventh Standard. Sorry for a freeway run so late in the rally. Hope it wasn't too long.
After you found out where CP 2 was, there was really no doubt where 20 would be. It had to be east of CA 99, and would therefore be entered heading west. You could see that out of Standoff it would be a simple right onto Wheeler Ridge Rd., and then right onto the Checkpoint road.
The problem was the minimum speed requirement. To do those right, you must have a mileage reference so you know how to pace your approach. At Standoff everyone got a handout telling you both 20 and 21 were due south of Standoff. Novices and Beginners also got an explanation. Experts and Regulars had to do the math themselves.
It was a simple geometry problem. The twists were the kink in Wheeler Ridge Rd, and the fact that the west end of Valpredo didn't line up with Adobe Rd. However, David Rd. shows a mileage from Adobe to an unnamed dirt road as 0.6 miles, and the dirt road lies square with Valpredo. Since Standoff is listed as 2.40 miles east of Adobe, if you subtract the 0.6 from 2.4, that means CP 20 would be 1.8 miles east of the unnamed dirt road. That part of Valpredo is shown as 2.3 miles. 2.3 minus 1.8 equals 0.5 miles. CP 20 is 0.5 miles west of Wheeler Ridge Rd. Leave that intersection 1 minute before your In Time and maintain 30 mph to Checkpoint.
Leg 21 was probably clear at Start, since it shared the same Passage Control sign. The "due south" heading from SO 20, 21 confirmed that 21 would be on the same road as CP 1, a distant 12 hours earlier. The difference was that 21 was as far up the road as it could be. So, if you were lollygagging about as you came up the road early on, you might have needed to hurry a little later.
We sincerely thank you for participating in this event. Special thanks to all the workers who made it possible. David Budlong, Nathan Harris, Marvin Castillo, Greg Kellar, Jesus Castillo, Rachel Smith, Larry Scholnick, Joey Chong and Keith Horton.
See you at Standoff on The Old Roads, August 19.