Rayce Night 1: Sleeping with the Termites

Impulse charging at camp 20km out of Katherine
Impulse gathering the last rays of sun at the end of Rayce Day 1.

It may not be immediately obvious to some, but even when Impulse isn’t on the road, there’s a great deal for us to do.  Things like choosing a place to spend the night, fixing any persisting car issues, and setting up camp all have to be done sometime during the night, while at the same time making sure everyone has enough food and sleep to keep up the pace the next day.  And for a crew of 22 people, this can take a bit longer than expected.

The first thing we do after every race day is choose where we plan to stop for the night.  We are on a time limit when we do this, because the team will be penalized for each minute after 5pm that we continue along the road.  Likewise, if the car stops too early, we lose a bit of distance that we otherwise easily could have traveled.  So the trick is to stop as close to 5pm as possible, wherever that may be.  Last night it happened to be on an unmarked turn-off road next to lots of trees, brambles, and termite mounds.

The team had managed to drive Impulse to Katherine under her own power. We stopped for the required length of time, and after some unfortunate confusion which delayed our departure, we got back on the road, and drove about 20km out of town. Our camp for the night was along an unmarked side-road leading off the Stuart Highway. It was no holiday inn, but it turned out to work very well for us.  There was enough room to pull our entire caravan off the road and do our tasks for the night, without having to worry about traffic.  But rather than pat ourselves on the back, we instead worked to quickly take off Impulse’s top shell and angle it at the sun, so we could make the most of the day’s remaining sunlight.  Some members of our electrical team also decided to take another look at our systems to double check what had disrupted our drive earlier in the day.  While this was happening, the rest of us started laying down tarp, setting up tents, and cooking food for the whole team.  Everyone had a job to do, and within about 2 hours we were all eating and talking, going over what had happened over the day and what the plan was for tomorrow.  The team decided it would be best to get to bed early, because in order to be back on the road at 8am, we will need to pack away our tents and cars, Impulse has her electrical and mechanical systems checked, and we get some morning battery charging in.

Not bad for our first night of the race, and I’m sure by the end of the week we’ll have this down to a science.