Hey all, I figured I’d finally get to writing down my thoughts, strategy, and experiences from last month’s Half-Massed Rally! Why did it take so long? Shut up, that’s why!
We were team Poor_sh. I made this IG a few months ago, specifically to use for this rally. But, it turned into just a public IG (my usual is private) for my car adventures. I like the implication of how much money I threw away, but also it purposely annoys anyone who keeps telling me IT’S PORSH-A!!! Double entendre!
Background: So you probably all saw what went down in the rally, if not definitely check this out by our lord and savior, Dusty Ventures.
But for my story, we start somewhere near Newport RI. My friend, we’ll call her G, graciously accepted to wake up and be at my place by 0630 after an all-day concert the day before. She’s awesome, but I’m not sure we knew how great the day was going to be. I think she likes my Cayman as much as I do, so at least we were ready for an entire day exploring Western Mass in a 2-seater, mid-engined, manual, fun-mobile. An hour and a half (according to google, probably not my actual time) later we were at the starting position. I wish we spent longer talking to the various competitors and exploring their sweet rides, but admittedly we’re a couple introverted engineers... and we had a plan to concoct.
Shamelessly stole the above image from Dusty, then added a terrible course in MS paint. Fight me.
The Plan: We spent some time looking at the locations and the sub-categories and came up with this sort-of zigzag to try to hit as many points as possible. We were fairly certain that along the way we could get 2, maybe 3 of the bonus points for completing categories. So our strategy was two-fold, sheer volume, and category completion. We had absolutely the wrong idea of how long this would all take.
The Morning: Introducing, the Poor_Sh Penguin! This was at the closest checkpoint, a few minutes from the start point. Saw a bunch of other competitors there, took a quick pic, and we were OFF! Everything going well so far... for about 5 minutes. Had this great idea to shoot west a bunch to get to our zigzag start point by the Quabbin Reservoir at the checkpoint Quabbin Tower. It took about 45minutes if I remember correctly. It’s long transits like this that I’ll touch on later. Also, we spent a good amount of time at the tower climbing to the top to take pictures and just enjoy the area. I’ll touch on that too. See, our original plan was not to compete for any meaningful finish and instead just enjoy a great day and experience. At this point, we were doing that!
One of the checkpoints was an old rail station that we didn’t thoroughly research. G was doing a great job in the passenger seat with research, directions, and keeping me company. But, we really thought we were looking for something obvious and at the address we found. It turns out it’s now a restaurant, down a weird side road. So we spent about 20 minutes walking around behind warehouses, and down this cool/creepy underpass... twice.... this was also the first dirt road of the day for team Poor_sh.
By lunchtime, we had only been to 7 checkpoints in about 3.5 hours and were still about at the beginning of our zigzag route.
Lunchtime: We got gas and then lunch in Chicopee near our 7th checkpoint. We were originally planning to take a nice break, eat some good eats, drink some good coffee, relax. This turned into SHOVING FOOD DOWN OUR THROATS AND COMPLETELY RETHINKING OUR STRATEGY. We realized there was no way in hell that we could just hit every checkpoint along our path... and my phone was dying.. and my car charger barely trickle charged... and G forgot her car charger. So, going forward we decided to aim specifically for the sub-categories. 2 of them. And, any checkpoints that were really close to the ones necessary for the categories would just be bonuses.
After Lunch Blitz: We also specifically hit towns/cities with multiple checkpoints, sometimes even ignoring ones along the way with only one. The above two locations were very close, with even a third there if I’m remembering correctly. Things were going much better, with us doubling our checkpoint total in just a couple hours. The only hitches here were 1) city traffic around where we were, and 2) just enough battery to take my phone off the charger, take our picture, and get back on the charger. We all but stopped taking time to experience each checkpoint. We were competing now!
However, in order to complete our sub-category bonus challenges, we had to get to basically the opposite northeast corner of the rally area, from the southwest corner we were near. Seeing this as more important than just collecting checkpoints, we embarked on another long transit. It took us about an hour to get back into a location with checkpoint density.
This epic shot on the left took place on the top of a nice big hill/mountain with torrential rainstorms surrounding us (note jacket on G’s arm now). We both agree this is one of the best shots of our day. But, it came with a long, twisty, banked turns, downhill stretch, through a downpour. Don’t get me wrong, it was SO MUCH FUN and exhilarating. But nowhere near as great as the next few hours. Something I remember extremely well was this cool realization I had on this downhill stretch: my car trip statistics told me I’d been driving a total of 8 hours, we’d been awake for about 11, and yet I felt great! My vision was clear, I was hitting ALL THE APEXES, and we were having genuine Porschey fun with every driving stint. These feelings really encapsulated just how incredible this day was.
Heading To The Finish Line: We did end up taking a few longer stops as we realized our lunchtime strategy change actually made a good difference. We also got lost... a lot. Mostly my fault, not listening to directions, or not knowing which direction was East when it said to head West or what have you. Anyway, we decided to head towards the finish just a tad early, all the way west to Pittsfield. We still had a 3 hour drive home after we would have dinner and the total seat time was eventually getting to me. Here came one of the crazier parts of our day though.
Heading diagonally through the state we passed a sign for a town I remembered seeing on the checkpoint list. A quick check with G and she told me there was a waterfall in that town.... as we passed a sign saying it was the next left. HARD LEFT and we were bumping down another dirt road (probably our 4th or so) towards an unplanned stop. Well, this dirt road turned into just deep crevices, deep ditches, with puddles everywhere. We were well and truly off-roading my poor Poor_sh. No matter, we were too far to turn back. We made it to the parking lot, and saw Chuckles and and his Fiat 500 there! Not sure he should have gone down that road either lol
So, back down the scary road, off to the last checkpoint, and then we met Dusty at the finish point. We extolled him with praise for absolutely one of the most fun car-related events I’ve ever taken part in. One of the most fun events of any type I’ve taken part in. Again, THANK YOU DUSTY!!! And then we drove all the way home.
Final Thoughts: Ok I’m going to make these bullet points and then quit. Thanks for reading this far, or just looking at pictures, either way.
1) We ended up with 4th place! Our strategy of getting the sub-category bonus points paid off pretty well, and we were the only team to get more than one (with 2).
2) We only lost the podium by enough points that we could have made up with literally doing just one of the supplemental challenges. Definitely try those if you want to compete!
3) We actually forgot to post the waterfall picture...OOPS! G, I don’t blame you, things were crazy. Plus, it would have only got us closer to 3rd, not actually 3rd.
4) I can’t decide what I’d rather do. Be competitive the whole time like the winners who DECIMATED the rally. Or, take it easy like the last place team and just enjoy the day. I think both are equally valid and equally fun. We’ll see.
5) If you want to be competitive, probably don’t plan big transits like I talked about. That ate up maybe 2 hours we could have used getting points.
6) When researching checkpoints, do more than just use google maps. Sometimes the addresses aren’t super accurate (on purpose I know) so it is good to take some time looking at what you’re really looking for.
Basically our actual course. Still did sort of a zigzag, but you can see how our strategy changed.
Finally, again, thanks to Dusty and everyone else involved. It was amazing. I want more. We won’t ever forget it.
Final trip statistics on the left. Got home at 12:37 AM.