The plan was to see if RallyMoto could work with a third party event organiser and explore the possibility integrating a roadbook element into an existing ATRC round.
Keilder was the perfect venue to try this new format out, with extensive tracks and trails to ride it was possible to create a roadbook route which utilised the proposed ATRC course and then gave the roadbook / rally riders some additional kilometres to make it a bigger day – with a 300km first day and a 175km day two.
The additional roadbook element was also a real challenge for RallyMoto as we had three weeks to sort a route and create a roadbook for the whole course, not just the additional loops.
With two reccy trips with a 600 mile round trip under our belts, and a third reccy by Tony Whitehead as a final check we headed off to Keilder once more with our printed roadblocks and plans for the event.
We met John Kerwin, the event organiser, as we rolled into the car park and his opening words were “We have some changes to the course, but this won’t effect you will it?”, closely followed by “Oh yeah, the timed stage has changed too!”
Brilliant! We got geared up and headed off onto the course to check the roadbook and document the last minute changes, we had already had a couple of amends to the course in the run up to the event but now the roadblocks had been printed so we had to make sure our riders briefing included precise changes to the roadbook.
There was just one course change and this resulted in changing 7 boxes on the roadbook but it mean’t some nice single track had been replaced with a short section of “off piste” riding which was a bit boggy, but totally rideable.
On the day we had 7 takers for the roadbook option, which was a bit disappointing but it was late notice, in school holidays and along way to go – but this was an experiment and we had our guinea pigs, including Liam on a Quad fitted out with full navigation kit.
Day 1 went pretty much to plan with Jonny Morris commenting “The best part of the course is the additional roadbook loop from CP1 through to the 25km point, great riding”. All the riders had noted and ridden the changes to the roadbook.
The changes to the ATRC special stage were a different story, these proved to be challenging and a sighting lap had been arranged as the course veered off the usual tracks and into a dense wood, with a narrow, heavily rooted entry point. This terrain was too tough for the timed section and was an obvious bottleneck as riders became stuck in the single track – the course was changed to follow the quad route and this section was omitted from the course.
So the roadbook riders could still compete in the ATRC they followed the arrows on the timed stage with no roadbook for this section.
Day 2 came and we had lost Lulo on his 690, Liam’s quad had thrown a chain, James Ford had gone home so we were down to four riders for the final days roadbook. All went well, we had a few mis-navigations at the point the roadbook course left the main ATRC route, with Jonny Morris and Giles Cooper doing a few extra kilometres but they sorted themselves out – Tony Whitehead rode the day perfectly but he had done done it three times before !!!
So, what did we learn?
We learn’t that it is possible to run a roadbook class in an ATRC event, with a bit of imagination and a different route for the navigation aspect.
It would also be necessary to have a more structured briefing process and riders meeting prior to the event.
Last minute course changes can be dealt with and briefed to the riders correctly.
We learnt that it would not be too difficult to run the extra roadbook loops as timed stages 😉
We can mark hazards on the course very accurately and add an additional level of safety using a roadbook.
We discovered a high level of interest in the navigation side and riders in the paddock were very interested in the roadbook aspect and adding a new dimension to riding off road.
It was possible to do a roadbook course, check it three times, make amends, print the roadbooks, do 1800 miles and pre-ride the course, all in a three week period !
We also proved to a number of parties that with this type of navigation the riders are very accurate at following the course, this was one of the Forestry’s main concerns. We also proved to the the organisers that we don’t need orange arrows to follow, so they don’t need to be put out and collected in !!! The marshals liked that one.
RallyMoto has proved that a roadbook event can be run in Keilder Forest and the opportunity to have a proper UK rally event is possible, Keilder offers a wide expanse of wilderness terrain and the possibility of a 2 day event with over 500km, or even a 3 day event!. The next step for us is to sort out GPS tracking of competitors and to introduce speed limits into the roadbook and course to further help with the acceptance of our sport.
A BIG thank you
I’d like to thank John Kerwin, the Keilder K2 organiser, for taking the chance and letting us try this experiment. I’d like to thank Tony Whitehead for his support and great local knowledge which really helped during the reccy’s. I’d like to thank the riders that signed up did the roadbook, proving to everyone in can be done and as a result we have a chance to take this forwards.