Uh….we quickly tore open our instructions and found a baffling combination of GPS coordinates and pictograms. I quickly dubbed them hieroglyphics as they bore no resemblance to any language I knew. The name stuck. We finally found our bearings and tore off down a trail we thought might be the right one. It wasn’t, and we were forced to back track and start from scratch. This was the beginning of a long day for Team 31.
As the day wore on we gained familiarity with the directions and began to feel more confident with ourselves. We hit the first checkpoint/challenge early in the day; our task was to re-seat the bead on a tire and inflate it to between 20 and 25psi. If our tire was higher or lower than the prescribed pressure, we were disqualified. It was timed, points being awarded for the shortest time. We would run into similar exercises during the event.
Another of the major challenges that morning was a timed rock-crawling event. There were five different lines ranging in difficulty from “easy” to “barely doable” to “get the helicopter,” with points being awarded for the more difficult. Both rigs didn’t have to do the same line, but once you started one you were committed to it. If the rigs didn’t finish, zero points were awarded. Both vehicles had to complete their line in 15 minutes.
After careful consideration, we decided to send Jesse up a very difficult line called “The Crack.” As the name implies, it’s a very deep crack that requires you to straddle them in order to conquer. Sounds easy until you factor in the steep angle of the ascent. As you climb, all you can see is sky; spotters play a huge role. After a couple attempts and near event-ending rolls, it was deemed too icy and slick to be possible. Jesse backed down and followed me up one of the easier lines. Though denied by “The Crack,” we completed the challenge in the allotted time, gaining us some points.
We completed the first of four daytime “loops” around 1:00pm. This was due to some directions we couldn’t reconcile with the road we were on. We wasted valuable hours back-tracking and second guessing ourselves. Finally we finished, but this error both in navigation and judgment (not simply giving up after the first few missteps and cutting our losses) would end up affecting us throughout the rest of the competition.