Al somehow convinced me to fly to Reno and do the Burning Man Rally (I mean, North Nevada Rally), with him. It was quite an adventure. First of all, the Reno airport is empty. I think I was the only person on my plane and definitely the only person going to Reno in July. For example, the check-in counter was closed when I got there for my flight home. And it was in the afternoon!
Friday morning, we did recce before the rally way out in the desert. It really is by the place where they have Burning Man, by the way. The Sheriff talked to us for a bit and didn't seem too happy with cars driving by, but we assured him we weren't there to do drugs and hang out in his desert naked, so he warmed up to us. After recce and lunch, we did some stages I can't remember anything about. I do remember a mechanical DNF after the end of one of the stages, however. Something electrical gave up in the old Volvo and we had to do some lengthy roadside repairs or something. It was dark and we were in the desert. No service crew to speak of, but some volunteers hung out with us until we got the ol' girl back to the truck. Drama for the weekend over, right?
Saturday went better, Al was setting some good times until we hit a rock and half-spun, getting stuck on some embankment. We tried digging and prying and everything to get off of there, but no luck. I think we got a slow flat and changed that while it was stuck on the berm, if I remember right. Little did we know that the organizers had paused the stage half-way through so that some fire equipment could drive the road to go put out a fire. They didn't want to stop and tug us off the bank, but eventually, sweep did and we were allowed to finish the stage with a time that was about 60 minutes slower than the next slowest time. So, rally over. NO! Al was determined to get a finish after a string of bad luck, so we pressed on. Two more uneventful stages with no problems, and only one left to go for Al's goal of finishing...
... when we got a second flat. We destroyed the tire and rim to make it to the end of the stage and then were met with a dilemma. We had to make it to the final time control in order to finish. It's not like our crew could come get us anyway, since it was just us. Also, there was no one left to tow us back there, but more importantly, the spare was already pretty flat and there was about 15 highway miles to go. So we did what any rallyist would do: we bolted that flat tire on there and pressed on regardless. We rolled into the time control very late but I used some co-driver charm and got our declared time written down and we finished the day with no penalties. We finished the day on three good wheels and one pretty haggard one (and one destroyed spare). We finished. Rally is the best (when you don't have to pay for it.)
Photo by me