BLAZING SADDLES, 8 hour Monte Carlo Navigational Road Rally

Gorman - Buellton

June 22, 2002

(If you'd like to follow along, and you didn't run the event, you'll need AAA maps for Ventura and Santa Barbara counties plus the Cities of Santa Barbara County map.)

It was the first day of summer, but, as usual, it was almost brisk at 4400 feet in Lebec. Everyone showed up on time and everything went smoothly at Start.

First checkpoint was "not on Frazier Mtn Pk Rd. Enter heading east." There were 2 possibilities, Mt. Pinos Rd. in the bustling burg of Frazier Mountain, or a tiny piece of road shown in a triangle where Lockwood Valley Rd. intersects Frazier Mtn Pk Rd. Experts at Standoff 1,2,3/Start were told the triangle was considered part of Frazier Mtn Pk Rd. Reg/Nov were told IN 1 was on Mt. Pinos Rd. It was intended as a quick introductory leg so especially first timers could see what a checkpoint looked like right away.

Legs 2 and 3 were located in the Cuyama Valley in an area south of 166 and west of 33. Experts were told to enter IN 2 heading east and that Kirschenmann Rd was Safe. At Standoff (Start) all classes got a handout telling them that 2 was east of Kirschenmann. That information dictated a simple search pattern. Schaeffer, Foothill and Santa Barbara Canyon Rd. were the only possibilities. After IN 1 everyone took that classic run over Cerro Noroeste to 166. Then down Kirschenmann, check the dead-end piece of Schaeffer Rd., then go down to Foothill. If IN 3 had been on Foothill just west of Kirschenmann, then 2 would have been close, just east on Foothill, or possibly on Santa Barbara Canyon. Since 3 wasn't visible to the west at Kirschenmann and Foothill, then 2 had to be further east on Foothill, closer to CA 33.

Note to people learning the sport: Experts frequently run a different course from everyone else. Don't be surprised if you see them stopped in strange places or doing something different than you expect.

Another note from the rally coach, the Generals state that you will be penalized for intentionally stopping between Standoff and Inmarker (with certain exceptions such as stop signs, other rally controls, etc.). In practice, due to our interest in safety, ITN doesn't penalize entrants for stopping at a paved intersection marked on the map. This is so you may safely evaluate the roads at that intersection, as well your choice of route from that point. Even if an Inmarker is visible from an intersection, you are not considered to be on the Inmarker road until you actually turn onto it. The Inmarker road is considered to be only the section of relevant road between the two nearest intersections marked on the map, one on either side of the Checkpoint. Once you're on the Inmarker road and particularly when you are within sight of the Inmarker, any u-turns, weaving, etc. would be considered Evasive Action. However, turning away, or u-turning, at that last marked intersection is allowed by the Generals.

IN 3 was to be entered away from Kirschenmann if it was on Foothill, or entered heading east if on any other road. After going through 2, you could conclude from time and mileage that 3 could only be one of two places: either the very west end of Foothill where it comes into Bell Rd., or on the little east jog of Bell Rd. between Foothill and 166. It was on Bell. Novices were told in a handout at Standoff exactly where it was, and given a short explanation on how they could have figured it out themselves.

Next came a 40 mile run west on 166, by now at about 4pm. It was a really nice afternoon, traffic was minimal, and we saw no law enforcement presence. The conditions were perfect for some serious ass-hauling. Having gotten into the spirit of things, the Cobra went by the Standoff (which was just west of Tepusquet) so fast they blew right by it. We had given everyone a reference in the Route Instructions that Standoff was 0.9 miles past a well-signed ranger station. I asked if that helped. "What ranger station?", was the response. Now I have ridden in the right seat of that car, and I can tell you from experience, once you hit triple digits, the vibration from that massive lump of a motor and the buffeting of the wind gives you a kind of tunnel vision. The vanishing point of the road is clear, but everything else is just a blur. So, I could understand how they might miss a few things.

At Standoff 4,5, with both checkpoints only listed as being on roads intersecting 166 and as being "entered in the only direction possible in the time allowed", everyone was shown a photo for IN 5, indicating it was on Tepusquet Canyon Rd. The bearing should have put it either at the summit, or in the last 2 miles or so just south of 166. Now where was 4? Novices were told it was on Bull Canyon Rd. Experts and Regulars were expected to narrow the search as follows: There were 4 possible roads, 2 dead end roads north of 166 - Alamo Creek Rd. and Suey Creek Rd., and Bull Canyon Rd. to the south, plus Thompson Ave, which runs north of 166 along the east side of Hwy 101. Time from 4 to 5 allowed you to rule out Thompson, because you had to go too far north before you could have looped back. There was not enough time to get to even the closer possible location for 5 from Thompson. Alamo Creek Rd. has too close to Standoff, where you should have had about 15 minutes left to get to 4. Suey Creek was possible, but only if 5 was at the summit of Tepusquet. That left Bull Canyon Rd. as the choice which best fit all parameters. 4 was the only Passage Control on the rally so that those who had searched some of Suey Creek wouldn't be immediately penalized. If they got to 4 late, they had almost 40 minutes on Leg 5 to try to make up their down time.

After 5 came a break in Santa Maria, followed by a restart south of town on Betteravia Rd, just east of the 101. This led into a 3 - leg maze, one where you would be expected to drive through the area to locate the checkpoints, then figure out a way to enter them correctly. The Route Instructions told you that 6, 7, and 8 were east of 101 on a map (taken from the Cities of Santa Barbara County map) showing the area south and east of town, as far east as Philbric Rd., and as far south as Clark Rd., inclusive of both of those roads. All 3 legs were said to be entered southbound if north of Betteravia and northbound if they were south of Betteravia (i.e., toward Betteravia Rd.). Regulars and Novices were also told in the Route Instructions that 7 was north of 6 and 8 was south of 6. Experts were not given that information until Standoff/Restart.

The 12.50 minutes from restart to 6 included time to search, and was not the time needed to drive straight to checkpoint 6.

Restart at 6 had you go east. The first intersection you came to had a checkpoint on Rosemary just north of Betteravia, which would have to be entered heading south. Ok, but which checkpoint was it? If there was one checkpoint to the south, then it would be 6, and 7 would have to be somewhere north of it. If there were 2 checkpoints south of it, then it would have to be 7.

The time allowed was for the following search. East on Betteravia to Philbric. No hose there.

U-turn and go back to Telephone Rd. South on Telephone (gingerly) to Gun Club road. There you would see a hose in front of you. Was there another one further south, making this one 6? If so, there was no way for you to get there. First there was not enough time for you to get to the south end of Telephone before 6, second, if the one you were looking at from Gun Club Rd. was 6, and 8 was on Telephone visible from Clark, you'd have to go through 8 to get to 6. It had to be 8.

So, u-turn at Gun Club road. If the 1st hose you had seen after restart was 7, and this was 8, then there was only one other possibility for 6 -- Nicholson Rd. south of (and not visible from) standoff. Back up telephone to Prell, then west to Nicholson. No hose. The first hose you saw after leaving restart had to be 6, the one on Telephone had to be 8.

Jump on the freeway, north to Stowell. As you turned southbound onto Rosemary from Stowell to enter IN 6, you saw another hose on Rosemary, just north of Stowell. That had to be 7. Now you had found all 3.

One other note on this maze. Sometimes the photos for the passage control signs have valuable information. The Regular/Novice Route Instructions had a photo which showed both the address (on Telephone) of the property for sale, as well as the Gun Club sign in the background. However, that information had been cropped from the photo in the Expert Route Instructions. But it did show the phone number of the listing realtor. At least 2 experts used this info to contact the realtor and get the address of the property before they left Start.

After you went through 6 on Rosemary just above Betteravia you would jump the freeway again to get to 7 on Rosemary just above Stowell, then use the freeway down to Clark, then back up Telephone Rd. to enter 8.

Next you had a course control on Foxen Canyon Rd. at a marker commemorating Benjamin Foxen's role in the war with Mexico. Besides giving a little history, this control was to direct you away from the freeway, which would have been a little faster, but is not our kind of road.

Originally we had intended to run the whole Figueroa Mtn Rd. loop in a clockwise direction, but a week before the rally, the Happy Canyon Rd. part of the loop was closed for construction. That left us with a serious problem, the road up to Standoff 9, 10, 11 was too narrow for 2-way rally traffic. We had to bring everyone up to Standoff, then have the first cars wait until everyone was up on the hill before they started back down the mountain. These changes were made after checkout, so the effect of this on Leg 9 was not fully appreciated by us until the Finish, where it was obvious that Experts had not been given enough to find 9, so Leg 9 was thrown from scoring for experts only.

Checkpoint 9 was listed as being on Baseline entered away from Mora Rd, and it turned out to be just east of Edison/154. (Originally, had you run the whole loop, you would have been forced to go the wrong way on the Inmarker road east of Mora, and continued directly into the Checkpoint. Forcing Experts to go backwards up the hot road was the trick on the leg.) 10 was listed as being on Alamo Pintado or Zaca Station and was to be entered heading north.

Regulars and Novices were shown photos for all 3 legs, although we knew it would be getting dark and we might have used flashing lights, we also knew our crews for those checkpoints couldn't get there in time to set up those lights before the rally got to Standoff. Dusky conditions made the pictures a bit tough to work with, but careful study of the photos alone would show the spatial relationship between the 3.

11 was a "gimme". The Route Instructions said it was less than 5 minutes from the Finish in Buellton. It was listed as being on Ballard Canyon Rd. and entered heading away from Chalk Hill Rd. Time to Finish meant it had to be on the portion south of Chalk Hill.

The photo for 10 indicated it had to be on the very north end of Zaca Station. Since 11 had to be south of Chalk Hill, that meant you could use the north portion of Ballard Canyon in a southbound direction to get to 11.

Mood at the Finish was highly festive. We had a terrific day for a rally and everyone enjoyed the selection of beautiful, wide open backroads (kudos to Nathan Harris for the basic route layout). Many thanks to all those who ran, and especially to David Budlong, Tom Alcott and John Willmore for working the event.

See you at Standoff.

Joe Akerman