A race, a journey and an inner voyage. The Rebelle Rally for its fourth edition once again tested the 38 female crews who traveled, with the only help of maps and compass, 2300 km through the most beautiful places in the American west.
Photography and story by Paolo Baraldi
Is there an offroad race that can profoundly change your life and your awareness of you? Yes! After my fourth Rebelle Rally I can say with extreme certainty yes!
The records of Rebelle Rally
Rebelle Rally boasts many records: the only American all-female offroad competition, the only old-style navigation competition (maps and compass only without the use of any technological device), the longest (2300 km) race of the United States and I would add that the Rebelle Rally is the only event able to improve self-esteem, determination and self-awareness of the women who participate.
Rebelle, "If it was easy, everyone would do it"
This last aspect that I just mentioned is the most important and the one that most characterizes the Rebelle Rally. Emily Miller's motto (Rebelle founder) "If it was easy, everyone would do it" summarizes in the best way what it means to compete at the Rebelle Rally.
The Rebelle Rally, as Emily says, is not easy and this is the first awareness of her Ladies. The Rebelle is difficult, not because to orient the Ladies must use maps and compass without the help of modern electronic devices, which are strictly banned, but because first they have to deeply believe in themselves, in their own abilities and in those of his own adventure teammate. In the car between driver and co-pilote a deep synergy, understanding and bond is created that goes beyond the race; a bond that remains for life.
Secondly, the Rabelle Rally is difficult because for the entire duration of the race the Ladies are isolated from the rest of the world, they are out of their comfort zone and are deprived of the affection of their family members.
And finally, in addition to all this, let's not forget that this is an offroad competition through the harsh deserts of the American west and on the challenging dunes of Glamis.
Only a woman can do it!
This is the Rebelle Rally! This is the meaning of "If it was easy, everyone would do it" and this is why the Rebelle Ladies have all my respect because, as a man, I would say that we boys will never be able to compete with their own determination, concentration and ability.
Rebelle Rally 2019, through the real American west
All this happened from October 10th to 19th 2019. From the Squaw Valley (in the heart of the Sierra Nevada in California to the border with Nevada), where the registration and tech inspection took place, up to the dunes of Glamis (on the border with Mexico) passing through the most iconic places in the American west such as: Bridgeport Ranch, Gold Point, Death Valley, Trona Pinnacles, Wagon Wheel, Harrison Ranch, Cougar Buttes (Johnson Valley), Joshua Tree National Park and Imperial Sand Dunes.
Rebellation Awards and Gala
Before reliving the Rebelle Rally day by day, I want to present you the podiums of this fourth edition which were awarded on Saturday afternoon at San Diego’s Broadway Pier.
In the 4x4 Class, Team Escape the Paved - #176 (Lindsey Hunter and Sarah Homer) finished in third place in their Ford Raptor. After posting the best score in the dunes on the final day boosted Team Rouge Wave - #123 (Teralin Petereit and Melissa Fischer) and their Jeep Wrangler to a second place finish at the end of the rally. The winners, Team Xelles - #190, led the overall standings from start to finish of the rally. For their efforts they received $5,000 each towards 2020 Rebelle Rally registration, Suunto watches and Ada Diamonds sustainably cultured diamond necklaces. Rachelle Croft and Taylor Pawley not only held off a field of talented competitors, they did so in an unmodified Lexus GX460 to also take home the Bone Stock Award.
In the Crossover Class, rookies Team Sand Mode - #208 finished in third place. Second place went to military veterans Team Record The Journey - #207 in their Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, with driver Karah Behrend making history has the first adaptive athlete to complete the Rebelle Rally. First place went to four-time Rebelles Emme Hall and Rebecca Donaghe of Team Jeeves - #200, who proved that the Rolls-Royce Cullinan has the off-road capabilities to match its luxury appointments.
Team Sand Mode - #208 of the Crossover Class take home the Lasernut Rookie of the Year trophies. This is a testament to the abilities of the Honda Passport, as well as the skill and acumen of Chassis Reliability Test Engineer Liz Casteel and Engine Systems and Drivetrain Test Engineer Tasha Krug.
Canadians Team Clearwater Design - #100 won the International Cup for the third year in a row, earning them $2,500 for the Alzheimer Society of Canada.
After checking in to host hotel, the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina, for a well-deserved shower, friends new and old celebrated the completion of the rally at the nearby waterfront Coasterra restaurant on Harbor Island, with the stunning downtown San Diego skyline in the background. The final award of the event was presented later that evening, the Team Spirit Award. Voted on by the competitors, Rachael Ridenour and Team Record The Journey - #207 won the Team Spirit Award for the second year in a row with her 2019 teammate Karah Behrend. The recognition earned the team $5,000 towards Rachael's non-profit organization, Record The Journey, which provides veterans with opportunities to witness the beauty of nature and wilderness and encourages them to photograph their experiences.
Rebelle Rally Tech Inspection - October 10, 2019
Teams from near and far descended on The Village at Squaw Valley near stunning Lake Tahoe to take part in the fourth annual Rebelle Rally. This driving and navigation rally spans over ten days and 1,500 miles across an all-new course through Nevada and California, including seven open OHV recreation areas and two national parks; Death Valley and Joshua Tree. What does it mean to have a permitted event in areas like this? Rebelle Rally founder Emily Miller and Course Designer Jimmy Lewis have spent years working tirelessly with national, state, and local agencies in order to access these areas. “The dedication of our staff and the actions of our teams, consistently demonstrating their responsibility and commitment to Tread Lightly principles, are the only way this is possible,” Miller explained.
Before the teams hit the dirt, rally school and technical inspections took place at Squaw Valley to distribute satellite phones, apply team numbers, and install the Yellow Brick trackers that allow live tracking of team positions on course. This year’s rally will offer more live coverage than ever before from the page www.rebellerally.com/live. This includes not only tracking via Yellow Brick, but also a customized Mapbox-enabled map with start and finish lines, checkpoints, competition notes and points of interest along the route. There will also be a live webcast on the Rebelle Rally homepage daily throughout the event to keep you glued to your screen. Live tracking begins Friday, October 11th.
The thirty-eight teams are split between the 4x4 and Crossover classes, with champions crowned in both classes. Competitors are vying for a free entry for the 2020 rally, a pair of high end Suunto watches, custom Lasernut trophies, and, of course, bragging rights. Additionally, there are special designations for Bone Stock, Rookie of the Year, and International Cup. As the name implies, the Bone Stock Award is for the best finisher in a vehicle that is exactly as delivered from the factory. All parts must be OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer). No modifications are allowed beyond aftermarket wheels and tires. The Rebelle Rally has become a proving ground for OEMs, with factory entries from Jeep, Honda, Ford, Nissan, Lexus, Mitsubishi, and Rolls-Royce this year.
The Team Spirit Award is given to the team that displays the best attitude, helps others, and defines the Rebelle spirit, as selected by their fellow competitors. It is searching for solutions, proving encouragement and treating others with respect and enthusiasm, which ultimately results in fostering a spirited competitive climate. This team will have $5,000 donated to their selected charity in their name.
The Rookie of the Year Award is presented to the top scoring team among new Rebelles. Both team members must be competing in the Rebelle Rally for their first time, regardless of previous competition experience in other events, rallies, or races. One hardworking team will take home a pair of Suunto watches and beautiful trophies from Lasernut.
What are the differences in the classes?
The Rebelle Rally is designed for stock vehicles. Roll cages and modified vehicles are not required. There are two vehicle classes; 4x4 and Crossover:
- 4x4 - 4-wheel drive vehicles that have a two-speed transfer case (low range)
Examples: Pickup trucks and SUVs including Jeep Wrangler, Toyota Tacoma, Ford Raptor, etc.
- Crossover - Unibody construction and two-wheel or all-wheel drive (no low range)
Rebelle Rally Day 0: Squaw Valley to Gold Point - October 11, 2019
Teams departed The Village at Squaw Valley before first light and headed east into the rising sun on Day 0 of the Rebelle Rally. Why is it called Day 0 and not Day 1? First-year and experienced Rebelles alike were given the opportunity to get a feel for the start procedure, navigating via map and roadbook, and see what green and blue checkpoints look like. This prologue gives the teams the opportunity to be warmed up for the first day of scored competition on Saturday. Note that we called the Rebelle Rally a competition, not a race. While a race is a type of competition, not every competition is a race. Success at the Rebelle Rally is determined by navigational accuracy, driving prowess, and time management.
Teams made their way down the scenic Highway 395 to Bridgeport, California and the Bridgeport Ranch, where Rebelle founder Emily Miller briefed the 38 teams on the itinerary for the day. Competitors used their maps and compasses to navigate past Mono Lake and winding dirt roads in the shadow of the 13,124-foot tall Boundary Peak. The course went past Benton and Lida Canyon en route to Gold Point, Nevada, the destination for Day 0. Once arriving at Base Camp, each competitor was required to turn in their GPS-enabled devices (such as cell phones, laptops, etc.) for the duration of the event, as no GPS or outside assistance from staff is allowed on the Rebelle Rally.
Tomorrow morning the competition officially starts, with Rachelle Croft and Taylor Pawley- Team Xelles (#190) first off the line at 7 AM Pacific in their Bone Stock Lexus GX460. Teams go off the line one vehicle every two minutes. Group B and C will head north first, completing a large loop that includes high desert traverses through pinyon pines followed by a dramatic descent into Death Valley. A Rebelle Enduro starting at the 2nd Green CP, will keep them on route and on time as they navigate around Lone Peak and the Crater – near Crankshaft Junction. Upon their return to the start/finish, they will then head south for a short loop to round out the day. Group A will begin with and complete the short loop before tackling the longer loop. The day takes place on fun, graded roads for the most part, and is considered a quality warm up day with no major driving challenges.
Several key geographic features are easily visible for most of the day, allowing navigators good points for triangulation and navigational reference. However, this can be confusing if they do not use their compass to orient themselves.
Daily Tech Tip- What Are CPs?
Rebelle checkpoints (CPs) follow the same color scheme as snow ski runs, with green, blue, and black CPs.The green checkpoints are the easiest, marked by a staff member and a large green flag. The green CPs are worth the most points and are mandatory for all teams. Blue CPs are optional and more difficult to find, marked only by a small stake or flag in the ground. Most difficult to locate are black CPs, which have no visible marker on the ground. The closer teams are to black CPs when they signal their tracker, the more points they receive. New for this year, competitors will be penalized for making "hail Mary" attempts at Black Checkpoints. This occurs when a team is lost and activates their tracker to find their location, not actually mark a checkpoint.
Rebelle Rally Day 1: Gold Point Loop – October 12, 2019
Rebelle Rally competitors were awoken at 5 AM by the sound of rally founder Emily Miller and her now famous cowbell. Spending a chilly night in cowboy country at Gold Point, Nevada, it was more appropriate than ever. The first scored day of competition got serious in a hurry, with roads criss-crossing from Gold Point in all directions. The course led teams through Eureka Valley at the northern end of Death Valley National Park, which they crossed with roadbooks as part of a Rebelle Enduro Challenge. Stunning views greeted the competitors as they descended to Crankshaft Junction before returning to Gold Point and making another loop to the north of town to round out the day. The Base Camp at Gold Point contains a remote fueling truck, repair station, mobile showers and bathrooms, as well as a dinner prepared by Michelin star chef Drew Deckman.
The first stage in the 4x4 Class was won by Team Xelles - #190. Rachelle Croft and Taylor Pawley in their Bone Stock Lexus GX460 sit six points ahead of Team Roads Less Travelled - #154. The top scoring rookies were software engineers April Leone and Joanna Chen (Team Luna - #107) in their Total Chaos-equipped Toyota 4Runner. Four-time Rebelles Emme Hall and Rebecca Donaghe of Team Jeeves - Team #200 currently lead the Crossover Class in their 2019 Rolls Royce Cullinan, proving that the Cullinan is just as capable as it is luxurious. Rachael Ridenour and Karah Behrend of Team Record The Journey - #207 are currently second in the Crossover Class in their Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross. The Crossover Class boasts twice as many competitors in 2019 than last year, ensuring a battle that will play out over the next seven days of competition. Both the 4x4 and Crossover classes serve as the ultimate proving ground for both vehicle manufacturers and aftermarket parts builders as well.
"Two women. Two veterans. 2,000 km of rugged off-road terrain. One adventure of a lifetime. Meet Rachael Ridenour (Navigator) and Karah Behrend (Driver and Adaptive Athlete), two U.S. military veterans with Team Record The Journey who are piloting a 2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross as Mitsubishi’s first Community Utility Vehicle in the 2019 Rebelle Rally."
Team Fast N’ Curious- #145 is the first off the line for Day 2. The competition is certain to become even more intense tomorrow as the course covers 390 kilometers of extremely diverse landscape and locations. Straight off the start is a Rebelle Enduro Challenge to a Green CP with a jaw dropping view, and the Enduro ends just in time for competitors to soak it all in. From there the route will drop down to Beatty and on to Amargosa Dune, otherwise known as Big Dune, for the first sand of the rally. From there teams return to Death Valley National Park, passing Stovepipe Wells and traversing Wildrose Canyon. Then it is on to the ghost town of Ballarat and the impressive Trona Pinnacles before ending at Spangler Open OHV Area, one of four new OHV areas scheduled for the 2019 Rebelle Rally.
Daily Tech Tip- What Is A Rebelle Enduro Challenge (REC)?
RECs are precision driving sections that involve a set route with an assigned start time and assigned target average speed through the route. Participants use a roadbook common to rally raid events, such as Dakar, to navigate to the next Green CP while trying to maintain a designated average speed. The goal of competitors is to follow the route and maintain assigned target speeds as closely as possible, points are awarded for being “on time” at each time control. Learn more about RECs here.
Rebelle Rally Day 2: Gold Point to Wagon Wheel - October 13, 2019
Day 2 was a long one for Rebelle teams, covering 390 kilometers. The teams departed Gold Point starting at 7 AM on a Rebelle Enduro Challenge before heading to Amargosa Dunes (aka Big Dune) south of Beatty, Nevada. Many teams spent far too much time in the soft sand, not fully aware of what awaited them in Death Valley National Park and beyond. The course covered over 100 miles on dirt and went through Death Valley’s Wildrose Canyon before reaching the Trona Pinnacles. There were numerous blue and black CPs near Trona and the finish line at the Base Camp at Wagon Wheel OHV area, but most teams had to forego these CPs in order to reach the finish before the closing time 11 hours after they began.
Last year’s Rookies of the Year, Team Escape The Paved - #176 edged out Team Xelles - #190 by just one point on their way to the best score of the day in the 4x4 class. The Xelles’ Rachelle Croft and Taylor Pawley retained their overall lead though ahead of reigning champions Team Clearwater Designs - #100. In the Crossover Class, Team Dandelion - #202 bested The Naviguessers - #210 on the day, but Team Jeeves - #200 held on to their overall lead in the Crossover class.
Many teams struggled with time management on the day, a situation that was not completely unforeseen by Rebelle founder Emily Miller. “We purposefully made more checkpoints than were possible to force teams to strategize about what CPs they were going to chase and which ones they were going to abandon,” she explained. “This isn’t something the competitors have seen before, and even women who have done the event for four years struggled today.” Those struggles are something that will have to be left behind on Day 3. “There is a reason the windshield is so much larger than the rearview mirror,” mused Tech Director Chris Woo. “You have to look forward, not backward.”
After dinner, Teresa Carrington spoke to the women about her business Ten by Three. Ten by Three reduces poverty in developing countries by using their unique Prosperity Wages model to pay for artisan products. This innovative financial model creates a cycle of entrepreneur driven growth resulting in permanent financial independence for the artisan. Teresa shares the ideals of the Rebelle Rally and explained how she has met so many women who have the heart of Rebelles, even if they have never had the opportunity to participate in the rally.
The exhausted competitors will be happy to learn that they have only 160 kilometers to cover on Day 3, but it won’t all come easily. Day 3 is the first half of a marathon stage, starting with a winding Enduro through high desert terrain overlooking the Southern Sierras. Vehicles in the 4x4 Class will head south into winding canyons, while Crossovers will head into Dove Springs Open OHV. Dove Springs is a tight canyon with extremely steep, yet short climbs. These trails can be visually intimidating to a person in a stock vehicle, but once examined more closely, most will realize these are absolutely conquerable. Once leaving this area, they will head north through a thick, impressive Joshua Tree forest before cresting a pass where the Pacific Crest Trail crosses. Just south of Lake Isabella, the competitors will climb up Piute Mountain to their camping location at the high alpine, private Harrison Ranch.
Daily Tech Tip- What Is A Marathon Stage?
A Marathon Stage takes place over multiple days with minimal outside support (only fueling is allowed). Mountain House freeze dried meals substitute for Drew Deckman's cuisine and there is no mechanic in camp to repair vehicles. The teams are required to carry all of their own camping gear and cook for themselves, without the luxuries of Base Camp.
Rebelle Rally Day 3: Wagon Wheel to Harrison Ranch - October 14, 2019
Rebelle Rally competitors enjoyed warmer temperatures overnight in the Wagon Wheel OHV Area outside of Ridgecrest, California. Wagon Wheel was one of four new open OHV areas visited by the rally in 2019. What is the importance of open OHV areas to the rally? Wagon Wheel, Spangler, and Dove Springs, three areas which comprised much of the course for Day 3, are criss-crossed with roads and washes that make navigation far more challenging for the competitors than the two-track roads of Day 1 and Day 2. The CPs in Dove Springs were dotted among the peaks and valleys in order to test the precision of drivers and navigators alike. The CPs were split into two groups to keep teams from following each other, and Course Director Jimmy Lewis put CPs from both groups near, but not too near, each other to really push teams in the fourth edition of the Rebelle Rally.
The route led them through dense Joshua Trees and narrow valleys en route to the private Harrison Ranch, where teams will self-camp (no base camp) as part of the Marathon Stage. Team SassQuatch Rebelles - #184 posted the best score in the 4x4 Class on Day 3, moving them up to 12th in the overall standings. Navigator Kendra Miller has competed in every Rebelle Rally, while driver Eliza Coleman is new to the event. It would be an understatement to say that Eliza is comfortable behind the wheel though; she is an award-winning stuntwoman and stunt coordinator who has worked on feature films including Ocean’s Eleven and The Italian Job. Team Xelles - #190 retained the overall lead in the 4x4 Class after three days of scored competition, finishing fourteen points behind the SassQuatch Rebelles.
In the Crossover Class, Team Naviguessers - #210 finished first for Day 3 to put them in fourth place overall. While many teams are all business at the start line in the morning, Naviguessers Emily Winslow and Alicia Farrar started a tradition last year of rocking out to begin their day. Today’s pick: Diva by Beyoncé. Team Jeeves - #200 came in second for the day to retain their overall lead in the Crossover Class.
Tomorrow the second half of the Marathon Stage drops down Piute Peak and through the iconic, colorful Jawbone Canyon before passing back through Dove Springs. The course then crosses Spangler Open OHV area and then returns to Wagon Wheel for a skills challenge that will test their organization and preparation abilities, followed by another amazing dinner by Michelin star chef Drew Deckman and his talented crew.
Daily Tech Tip - Is The Rebelle Rally A Race?
The Rebelle Rally is NOT a race, it is a competition. It differs from a traditional race where speed is a priority to finish as quickly as possible. By contrast, the Rebelle Rally is about precision, not speed. Precise navigation and precise driving. There is no GPS, no pre-running, and you don’t need a highly modified vehicle to be successful at the Rebelle Rally. “My vision was to create an event that rewards intelligence, proper planning, and attention to detail,” Rebelle founder Emily Miller explained. Over seven days, teams comprised of two women (one driver, one navigator) use maps and compasses and roadbooks to navigate to multiple checkpoints (CPs) in a prescribed amount of time. Some CPs are visibly marked by a flag and course worker (Green CPs), while others are marked by a small flag or PVC pipe (Blue CPs). Black CPs offer the greatest challenge, with no visible reference on the ground. Teams check in at each CP with their tracker, and the closer they are to the exact Black CP location the more points they receive. Scores are updated live throughout the day here.
Rebelle Rally Day 4: Harrison Ranch to Wagon Wheel - October 15, 2019
After a chilly night self-camping in the mountains at the private Harrison Ranch, Rebelles descended back down to lower elevations and warmer climes at Wagon Wheel OHV Area. The course passed through the spectacular Jawbone Canyon, where they refueled before heading out into Spangler OHV Area to find more CPs. While many teams struggled with the new rules on Day 2 of the rally, by Day 4 the top teams were starting to distance themselves from the pack.
Team Jeep Thrills - #177 posted the best score for the day in the 4x4 Class. The mother and daughter duo of Christine and Emily Benzie are scientists by trade (an aerospace engineer and geneticist, respectively) who have applied what they learned last year to compete at the top ranks of the Rebelle Rally this year. “They day I got home I was still distilling what just happened to us over 10 intense days,” Christine recalls. “But the next morning, as I was unloading gear and pouring the glorious sand out of said gear, my little voices said ‘next year, we take less clothes’ and ‘next year, we need a place to put all those maps’. Apparently, my subconscious had already decided: yes, there would be a next year.”
While many of this year’s rookie teams are grouped around the 20th position in the overall standings, Team Luna - #107 has moved into the top ten. April Leone and Joanna Chen are both software engineers who met at a dune training class earlier this year. “I have been following the Rebelle Rally for the past few years and it is fun to finally be able to participate,” Joanna confessed. The strong finish by Team Jeep Thrills - #177 moved them into third place overall, behind Team Xelles - #190 and last year’s winners, Team ClearWater Designs - #100.
In Crossover, Team Sand Mode - #208 posted the best score for the day in their Honda Passport. “Tasha and I have been switching off driving and navigating,” Liz Casteel explained. “It takes a lot more work to navigate here than it does to drive, and changing roles really makes us empathetic to each other.” The strong showing for the day moved the pair of Honda engineers into second place overall in the Crossover Class behind Team Jeeves - #200.
Upon returning from a grueling marathon stage, teams had the option to participate in a skills challenge. Unlike last year this challenge was not scored for points, but rather a bonus with prizes for the fastest time finding required items such as fire extinguishers and first aid kits. Team Waypoint Wanderers - #148 won the event with a time of one minute, thirty-four seconds. Prizes included items from sponsors KUHL and Maxtrax as well as a dinner at Drew Deckman’s pioneering farm-to-table restaurant in Valle de Guadelupe.
On Day 5 teams leave the line starting on a longer, more complex Rebelle Enduro Challenge than they have seen thus far. Timing controls starts in the Spangler Open OHV Area and ends on a dry lakebed northwest of Barstow, California. Teams continue on via roadbook and must stay on route. Two black CPs embedded in the roadbook force teams to stay on point and not get distracted by the sweeping vistas. The route then continues through Stoddard Valley Open OHV, the fourth open area that is new to the 2019 Rebelle. Teams must keep heads up and not just follow each other in order to ensure they collect their own CP, and not the CP of another group. They will then cross the pavement and make their way to the base of Ord Mountain and the northern part of Johnson Valley OHV Area. This day is designed to be slighter shorter time-wise to give the competitors and vehicles an ever-so-slight break from the beating they will face in Johnson Valley on Day 6.
Rebelle Rally Day 5: Wagon Wheel to Cougar Buttes - October 16, 2019
As the Rebelle Rally reached Day 5, some teams are finding their stride while fatigue is taking its toll on others. “This event wouldn’t have the impact on the competitors if it was only three or four days long,” Rebelle founder Emily Miller explained. “It isn’t until Day 5 that you really start to feel the weight of the event. Even something as simple as setting up your tent can seem like a monumental task when you are completely exhausted. It is in these moments that we learn what we are truly capable of.”
On Day 5 teams left the line on a longer, more complex Rebelle Enduro Challenge than they had seen previously. Timing controls started in the Spangler Open OHV Area and ended on a dry lakebed northwest of Barstow, California. They then went into the incredibly rough and rocky Stoddard Valley Open OHV, the fourth new open OHV area visited during the 2019 Rebelle. Speeds slowed to a crawl and proper plotting and compass use was key for those looking to move ahead in the standings. Others played follow-the-leader only to find they weren’t at the right CPs and arrived at base camp as the sun was setting for the day.
In the Crossover Class, Team Jeeves - #200 extended their lead over the rest of the field. Emme Hall and Rebecca Donaghe will have to be careful in their Rolls Royce Cullinan though, after puncturing two tires they risk being penalized for outside assistance if they need to source another tire. Team Record The Journey - #207 placed second for the day in their Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, putting them in third in the overall standings.
Team Escape The Paved - #176 posted the best score in the 4x4 Class on Day 5, only missing two black CPs out of seventeen total CPs for the day. This moved Lindsey Hunter and Sarah Homer into fourth place overall, with Team Xelles - #190 finishing fourth on the day and retaining a 24 point lead over Team Clearwater Designs - #100. Longtime Rebelle Rally fans will recall that the French Canadian team of Michelle Laframboise and Elise Racette were 40 points behind when entering the dunes last year, only to come back and tie for the overall victory. Never count out Team Clearwater Designs in the sand dunes.
Day 6 will cover a lot of ground, starting two at a time with Team Front Range Rebelles - #130 and Team Roads Less Travelled - #154 off the line together at 7 AM. The route starts by crossing Johnson Valley, the largest OHV area in the United States at 96,000 acres. Elevations range from 4,600 feet at Hartwell Hills to 2,300 feet at Melville Dry Lake with numerous mountain ranges and rocky canyons. All of this is fertile ground for Course Director Jimmy Lewis to place CPs in the most creative of locations. Teams will depart the massive boulders of Cougar Buttes and head to Soggy Dry Lake. After departing Johnson Valley, the next section is on roadbook through Joshua Tree National Park to the Salton Sea with the opportunity for teams to relax before entering the infamous Imperial Sand Dunes (aka Glamis), where the winners of the 2019 Rebelle Rally will be decided.
Daily Tech Tip - What Is The Bone Stock Designation?
The Bone Stock Award is presented to the team that places highest in a vehicle that is exactly as delivered from the factory. The only allowable change is different tires, but even that is limited to the factory sizing. The Rebelle Rally has become a proving ground for OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) who recognize that surviving a week of punishment off-road is a badge of honor. Team Xelles - #190 are currently leading the seven-vehicle field in Bone Stock, as well as the overall standings, demonstrating that a capable vehicle and a heavily modified vehicle are not necessarily synonymous.
Additional Bone Stock participants include:
Team Martine and Nathalie #102 – Jeep Wrangler JK
Team Escape The Paved #176 – Ford Raptor
Team Jeep Thrills #177 – Jeep Wrangler JK
Team Dirt Dweebs #188 – Jeep Wrangler JL
Team Sol Seekers #201 – Subaru Crosstrek
Team Challenging Spirit #203 – Honda Ridgeline
Rebelle Rally Day 6 - Cougar Buttes to Imperial Sand Dunes - October 17, 2019
Rebelles awoke to a beautiful fall morning at Cougar Buttes with perfect temperatures and an absolutely stunning sunrise. The beauty quickly gave way to whooped out paths and rocky trails as the teams criss-crossed Johnson OHV Valley looking for green, blue, and black checkpoints while trying to refrain from damaging their vehicles or puncturing any tires. Leaving Johnson Valley, the road book led competitors through the gorgeous Joshua Tree National Park and then around the Salton Sea past Mecca and Bombay Beach en route to Imperial Sand Dunes (aka Glamis). Reaching green CPs before their closing times was an issue for all teams on Day 6, with distance, traffic, fueling, and road conditions all eating up valuable time. The format of the Rebelle Rally requires teams to manage their time efficiently, as there are set windows of time in which to reach blue and black CPs before traveling to the next green CP. Miss the time cutoff for a green CP and your day of competition is over; literally.
The Crossover Class is larger in 2019 than it is has ever been, and Team Jeeves - #200 has retained their overall lead by besting Karah Behrend and Rachael Ridenour of Team Record The Journey - #207 for one point on the day. Johnson Valley lived up to its reputation for the Crossover Class, claiming several tires and forcing Team Challenging Spirit - #203 and Team Naviguessers - #210 to retire due to dehydration and a burnt up clutch, respectively.
Last year’s 4x4 Class champions, Team ClearWater Designs - #100, posted the top score on Day 6, hitting all the CPs for the day save for one blue checkpoint. This puts them just 13 points behind Team Xelles - #190 in the overall standings coming into the final day of the event. Rachelle Croft and Taylor Pawley of Team Xelles have been leading the rally all week, but last year Team Blondetourage led much of the rally only to see victory snatched away on the final day by Team ClearWater Designs. After six days of fierce competition, there is less than a 10% difference in points amongst the top eight teams. This is still very much anyone’s game.
The final stage of the 2019 Rebelle Rally will push the competitors deeper into the dunes of Glamis in search of elusive CPs. Past editions of the rally have revealed that nothing is certain when dunes are part of the equation. Teams have gotten broken, stuck, and ran out of fuel at Glamis, plunging their position in the standings. Other teams have taken all the skills that they have learned over the past week and applied it on course to upset significantly more experienced rivals. Anything can happen at the Rebelle Rally, and on Day 7 we expect it will. Follow us closely on social media throughout the day, as Creative Director Katy Kunkel performs live updates from Glamis.
Daily Tech Tip - What Is The Team Spirit Award?
It is not always about your score, but how you compete that matters most. The Rebelle Rally Team Spirit Award is designed to promote and encourage a positive spirit in the midst of focused competition. It is searching for solutions, proving encouragement and treating others with respect and enthusiasm, which ultimately results in fostering a spirited competitive climate. The Team Spirit Award winner, as voted on by staff and competitors, receives a $5,000 donation in their name to the charity of the team’s choosing.
Rebelle Rally Day 7 - Imperial Sand Dunes Finale - October 19, 2019
The Rebelle Rally started innocently enough eight days ago with an unscored day leaving from picturesque Lake Tahoe. Don’t be fooled though, this event is an absolute pressure cooker. Rebelle founder Emily Miller and Course Director Jimmy Lewis set up the course to be increasingly difficult for each day of competition, in terms of both navigation and driving skills. "The idea is to challenge competitors, not overwhelm them," Miller explains. You could call the week practice, as it all culminates on Day 7 at Imperial Sand Dunes (aka Glamis) where there are no roads and few visual markers to use for navigation.
Just a few points separated the top five teams coming into Day 7, forcing them to use all their training and skills to succeed. Several teams rose to the occasion, with the overall winner of the 4x4 Class literally coming down to the final minutes after eight grueling days of competition. The top score of the day was posted by Team Rouge Wave - #123. “Today was the best day I have ever had on the Rebelle Rally,” three-year competitor Teralin Petereit confessed. Petereit won the Rebelle Rally in 2017 as part of Team Blondtourage and returned this year on short notice with four-year Rebelle Melissa Fischer to create Team Rouge Wave. “The Rebelle is a time when I’m fully alive and fully present,” Fischer shared. “All while playing the best game on the planet with the finest and fiercely competitive women.” The stellar day moved Team Rouge Wave to second place overall. They made up six points on Team Xelles - #190, but it wasn’t enough.
Team Xelles - #190 led the 4x4 Class the entire week, and as such they had a bull’s eye on their backs. Navigator Taylor Pawley was under tremendous pressure coming into the final day of competition, but she and teammate Rachelle Croft developed a game plan, took their time, and executed that plan flawlessly. CPs were placed by the event staff in the furthest corners of the Glamis sand dunes for the largest test to date of driving, navigation, and time management under pressure, and Team Xelles rose to the occasion in their Lexus GX460 to not only take the win in the 4x4 Class but the Bone Stock Award as well. Their victory nets them $10,000 off their entry fee for next year's competition.
Last year’s champions, Team Clearwater Design - #100 were physically first to many of the checkpoints and back to base camp early in the afternoon on Day 7, even after reaching three blue CPs placed deep within the heart of the Glamis that required precise vehicle placement. When the dust settled, the Canadian team of Michelle Laframboise and Elise Racette finished fifth and took home the International Cup for the third year in a row. For their efforts, $2,500 will be donated in their name to the charity of their choice. Team Luna - #127 earned the Rookie of the Year title, finishing an impressive 12th overall for the week in their Total Chaos-equipped Toyota 4Runner. Last year’s Rookie of the Year winners, Team Escape the Paved - #176, rounded out the podium in the overall 4x4 Class standings, improving upon their seventh-place finish in 2018 in their Bone Stock Ford Raptor.
The Crossover Class was not quite as closely contested, despite twice as many entries in 2019 when compared to the previous year. Team Jeeves - #200 held a solid lead all week long in their Rolls Royce Cullinan. The team of Emme Hall and Rebecca Donaghe are one of only two teams to compete in all four Rebelle Rallies with the same teammate (the other being Karen Hoehn and Dana Saxten), and their experience helped them fend off Team Record The Journey - #207 and Team Sand Mode - #208. Honda engineers Liz Casteel and Krug of Team Sand Mode were the top-ranking rookies in the Crossover Class in their Honda Passport. And fan favorites Team Record The Journey made history as Karah Behrend crossed the finish line as the first adaptive athlete to not only compete at the Rebelle Rally, but finish on the podium with her teammate and fellow veteran Rachael Ridenour.
The thirty-eight teams at the Rebelle Rally represented six countries and twenty states, and ranged in age from 19 to 77. “This rally is really about competing with yourself,” founder Emily Miller explained. The teams now transit to San Diego for a podium ceremony at Broadway Pier against the dramatic backdrop of the San Diego Bay to the west and the city skyline to the east. From 12 PM to 2 PM on Saturday, October 19th, Rebelle competitor vehicles will be on display and podium awards will be presented. This event is free and open to the public with media in attendance. The festivities continue at 7 PM until midnight with our awards gala held at the breathtaking Coasterra. Overlooking the sparkling San Diego skyline, competitors will be reunited with their families and friends to enjoy dinner, dancing, awards, and video highlights from the rally.
Rebelle Rally: Rebellation Awards and Gala - October 20, 2019
The 2019 Rebelle Rally came to a close on Saturday with a public awards ceremony at San Diego’s Broadway Pier and the annual gala at Coasterra. Teams aired up their tires and made the drive from Glamis back to San Diego on Saturday morning, opening their “prohibited items” and reentering society. For ten days the competitors were devoid of their cell phones, laptops, and any electronics as they navigated with maps and compasses for 1,400 miles across California and Nevada’s most stunning terrain as part of the longest off-road navigation rally in the United States.
The Jeep-sponsored awards ceremony was well attended by the general public, who mixed amongst family and friends welcoming the Rebelles back from their journey through everything from mountain passes and freezing nights to winds whipping across vast sand dunes.
After checking in to host hotel, the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina, for a well-deserved shower, friends new and old celebrated the completion of the rally at the nearby waterfront Coasterra restaurant on Harbor Island, with the stunning downtown San Diego skyline in the background.
Rebelle founder Emily Miller gave an inspiring speech reminding all of the women in the room that they are unbreakable and urging them to apply everything they had learned over the past week, from confidence to overcome their fears to offering a helping hand to others, and apply it to their larger lives. Miller also announced the creation of the visionary Rebelle Impact program, which was created to give microloans to women around the world in order to provide them opportunities they would otherwise be denied. “We have already given out 23 loans, and funded 18 girls to go to school for the next year", Miller proudly revealed. “We wanted to tip the scales for these women". Money paid back on these loans at standard interest rates will then be reinvested in the program to provide even more funds for future loans through the non-profit organization Kiva. Emily Miller continues to distinguish the Rebelle Rally as not only a world-class competition that is the longest navigation rally in the United States, but also a force for good in local communities and the larger global community as well.