It’s 5:30 am and I’m in the Oakland Airport.  I see a man walk past me in Friday business casual and he is mad – spewing expletives I’ll delete.  He’s pounding his Starbucks and he is looking around as if he’s thinking to himself , “I hope everyone is looking at me, I’m very important.”

In a moment of clarity and guilt, I realize that most of the people at this gate are more concerned with finding outlets for their various electronics and relieved that Starbucks is open this early.  I understand, I am one of them.  But in know that half way across the globe, my racecourse awaits me and the beautiful people of Southern Morocco will welcome us with open arms – no electrical outlets, no Starbucks (oh wait, I pack Via), no luxuries that we westerners now feel entitled to.  I can’t wait to get there.

So where is this post going?  Bear with me, it’s early.

The last post was about the big picture for new teams – pieces of advice learned by me and Wendy in a mere two trips to the Gazelle.  As Wendy and I talked about what the write, the list became quite long, so we decided it was best to post two stories – big picture followed by key details.

Minding the details –

Your vehicle – your truck is your best friend in this race, treat it that way.  Abuse it and it won’t remain on your side.  You’ve got nine long days of competition plus it has to get you there and back.

The tools – just because the mechanic that handed your vehicle off to you told you everything was accounted for AND working, take matters into your own hands.  Air compressor – Check your air compressor before you leave and make sure it is fully functioning.

Sand ladders – 4 are better than 2.  But you CANNOT do the Gazelle without them.

Shovels – Bring 2.  There is nothing worse than one person shoveling and one teammate watching.

Tire gauges – Bring 4.  You’ll lose them.  Keep one inside your handy Girbaud custom vest.

Tire sealant – You only get 2 spare tires and the tire dangers are endless.  I use Slime.

Fuel treatment – I’ll spare you my story…Just bring it.

Your camp – Your home away from home is important from the standpoint that whatever sleep you are able to get should be quality.  Make sure your sleeping pad is uber comfortable, sleeping bag warm and tent can shed water.

Your mind – Managing your mind is the critical component of the Gazelle.  Clearing your mind for intense focus is something you should have already been working on in your training.  But Wendy wanted me to talk about the dunes.  Navigating and driving dunes is a level of mind trip that doesn’t compare to the rest of the journey.

Remember, if the organizers and media vehicles can get to the checkpoints, so can you!  But your mind and skills better be sharp if you want to exit unscathed.  When Wendy and I were in the dunes for our first time together, it was a frightening experience for Wendy only because it was so new and different.  Navigators must have total faith in their driver’s ability, so it is a driver’s responsibility to drive smart and instill confidence.  We took the necessary time during an amazing sunset to study them.  I knew her comfort level was critical for our success and with her skiing ability, once she understood the lines she excelled.

So our recommendation is since the Gazelle Rally isn’t about speed, take the dunes in steps, stages.  You have nothing to prove and launching your car or rolling is a sure way to end your rally.   Develop a system of communication early in the game, when in doubt get out and look, following is legal but chose those cars carefully, and when your brain needs a break, take one.

Good luck girls and see you in Africa!