The 2nd Trans-America Challenge 2015

7th - 28th June 2015

Day 21 - Reno to Eureka

California dreaming

We received a couple of workshop updates this morning even before the fruit salad and coffee had been served for breakfast. There's bad news from Marco and Carol Marinello. Their Porsche can't be fixed, but they've rented another car and will make it to the end with us.

Also, Richard Martin would like it known that there was a lot more than a bit of 'light spannering' going on in the car 5 pit yesterday. The 240Z rebuild continues apace and yesterday both he and Travis were hard at it till the evening. Gentlemen we salute you, this will be the best prepared car in the car park by the time we pull into the Fairmont Hotel.

Once we'd digested this news then it was down to some real eating and, with this finished we pulled out of Reno and found the City to be traffic free, bright and clear. It was a case of straight onto the Interstate which fairly whizzed us Northwest to the California State line.

We had a busy day planned. Three Regularities and a total, distance of 601 km.

As we approached the 'border' we checked our guns to make sure we only had the regulation ten rounds in the magazine before proceeding to the fruit and veg checkpoint where they keep an eye open for any of those dangerous apples and pears from Nevada.

From the State line the landscape changed very quickly. We left behind the desert and entered the forest and began climbing over the Beckwourth Pass to Portola where we joined Grizzly Road and went onto the gravel running along Lake Davis through a dense pine forest.

Almost 44 km of sandy gravel also took in the first Regularity section at Beckwourth which reached slightly less than 2000 m altitude. It was a tough regularity with lots of navigational input required and no one managed a perfect score.  Alan and Tina Beardshaw and Paul and Sandra Merryweather tied with a two second penalty.

Alastair and Dorothy Caldwell came home with three seconds but declared that this was the best road they'd driven since leaving Halifax.

"Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft" the song says and, driving the county roads along the Last Chance River via Genesee, Taylorsville and Greenville we could see what they meant. The countryside was simply beautiful as we sped past Lake Almanor in the Lassen National Forest and through the town of Canyon Dam, with the magnificent Lassen Peak looming on the horizon.

Before we pulled into the lunch control in Mineral, we crossed another landmark, the Pacific Crest Trail. The long distance path made famous by the recent film, Wild.

After lunch there was another Hollywood connection we could claim as the Rally progressed down across the Sacramento Valley and into Red Bluff, the town where the actor Tom Hanks was born.

From here it was uphill and down dale for the rest of the day. Through the Shasta Trinity Forest to our second Regularities which came along the long ridge overlooking Humboldt County. The first, on Whiting Ridge was a 12 km broken Tarmac, roller coaster. There was no let up for the crews. The clocks, the throttle and the brakes were all called upon in equal measure to meet the required time and it was hard task. Alan and Tina Beardshaw clearly had their act together today and we're the only crew to hit the target time. The second Regularity, along Friday Ridge was much the same with the added problems of some 180° hairpins thrown in. Two timing points in a section measuring a shade under 8 km called for precision driving. Mick and Grace de Haas along with Marco Halter and Claudia Englehardt were joint winners with only a three second penalty each.

From this last Regularity then it was, quite literally downhill for the rest of the day. The Pacific Ocean pulled us down into Eureka where the end of Rally celebrations have already started with the Sweep crews hosting a tailgate party down in the carpark.

Finally, we've been asked to pass on some greetings for tomorrow. Happy birthday to Lorna Hackett. Lots of love mum and dad. xx

Tomorrow we finish in San Francisco but there's a lovely drive down the Pacific coast to be enjoyed first.

Syd Stelvio



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