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January 31: Icht - Smara (530km)

posted Jan 31, 2013, 4:20 PM by Andras Kalmar   [ updated Feb 17, 2013, 1:42 PM ]
I can't say too much about today: I had to do some repairs on the car, hence we split in the morning. By the time I arrived in the camp the others were close to sleeping already.

I spent most of the day in various garages to fix the suspension which we damaged in the Atlas. It took much longer than expected, partly because whatever you touch in a 20 year old car it either breaks or fails or both partly because the garages in smaller towns don't have suitable equipment or spare parts. Nevertheless finally everything is done, and the costs are reasonable: 50 EUR for around 16 man hours of work.

Because of the repairs we could not finish any geo-challange today. I hope tomorrow we will be able to catch up again. Let me explain a little bit what these geo-challenges are:

In racing category, we have to master 10-20 geo-caching tasks per day. Sheets with the tasks of the day are distributed at the morning briefing (tomorrow e.g. at 5:30am). There are different types of tasks:
- find a letter or a number at the given GPS coordinates (typically painted on a rock or on a tree), or answer a question about an object, e.g. its color.
- Kinder-eggs: there are three tickets inside, you have to be among the first 3 teams finding the egg to receive points for it
- points to be reached by car: while all other geo-caches may be approached on foot (many are not even accessible by car), these have to be reached by car.
- tasks without GPS coordinates: these can be very different. Some examples: in town A find a square with a fountain and count tne number of deers depicted on it. In town B find a person called Shaik and find out the make of his car.

Some tasks are linked to each other, e.g. a number you have to find is part of the coordinates of one of the following tasks.

At all the geo-caches we have to take photos showing the solution and proving that we were really there, i.e. also showing one of us or the car.

Most of the tasks are not hard to accomplish, but there are many of them and finishing all is time consuming. Hardcore racing teams often spend all the night to finish the tasks.
We don't want to win the race, but of course don't want to be the last either. We try to finish 30-50% of the tasks each day.

Typical geo-challange

The camp tonight is the first one in the dunes this year, I am blogging sitting in a camping chair and looking at billions of stars. A beautiful sight. It is cold and windy however, I will stop writing and go to bed now. Tomorrow is one of the longest stages of the whole rally, 750km on dirt tracks, about 15 hours to drive.