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Alberni Autumn Adventure - new riders join here…

The Alberni event (Saturday and Sunday 14+15 October 2023) is now ready to go. Roadbooks written and tested and revised, Richta timing gates are placed, contingency and management arrangements are ready.

Riders who have participated in previous VIME events will be familiar with the event and route arrangements, so this essay is intended primarily for riders who have not yet experienced a "backcountry motorcycle navigation trial". There will be much here that can be found in more detail in other blog posts on this website so please use this as an introduction to the information.

Event description.

VIME events are constrained by the law. We have to conduct ourselves in a manner that doesn't break any of the motoring, access or whatever other laws we consent to live by. The events are not race, speed or rallyraid events.

They are

  • navigation tests,

  • routes are usually between one hundred kilometers and one hundred miles in length. Anything over 150km will have a fuel stop somewhere at a highway petrol station.

  • run over public highways - in our case Forest Service Roads on Crown land that have the same legal status as Highways

  • Motoring laws apply - licence, insurance, registration, helmet and speed limit requirements apply.

  • Navigation by Gaia tracks (easiest), roadbook (intermediate) and roadbook with Richta timing to Time/Speed/Distance rules (most testing).

  • The routes will be over the most testing gravel roads I can find (that I can ride on my DR650). They will be dualsport bike level, not trials/motocross/hard enduro level...

  • The routes can be ridden solo or in pairs. Group riding is strongly discouraged as the self-reliance challenge of the events would be defeated.

  • Riders are responsible for their own safety, the safety of their fellow riders and the public. There is no glory at stake, the prizes are at best nominal...

  • Take a Zoleo or an InReach SOS satellite device.



Gaia is a mapping app that I particularly like as the maps are clear and the way the app works is pretty simple. You can try it for free on wifi or data, the annual subscription is $60 then you can download maps onto your smartphone and use the GPS function in your phone to track your progress. It is simple! I send you the route, you load it into your phone, you ask Gaia to show you where you are and you follow the line on the map. Navigation for the most directionally challenged.


Like wot gets used in proper rallies.... a pdf document that you display on a smartphone that has a long list of road junction diagrams with left/right/straight-on instructions (waypoints) with distance measurements between the waypoints and from the start. Navigation is solely by the roadbook, no maps are involved. Sometimes a degree of interpretation and intuition is required to correctly decide the route, at all times close attention to the roadbook is needed in order not to miss a waypoint or a junction out.

The roadbook gives average speeds to be maintained over each route "leg". Note the speed is an average speed - there may be elements on each leg that have to be ridden (much) slower than the average indicated speed, part of the rider's interpretation is to know how to make up time within each leg in order to achieve the target average speed over the whole leg. There will be a clue in the roadbook instructions like "it gets steep from here" which is an invitation to exceed the target average speed before because you won't be able to ride that speed after. Sometimes the average speed is simply unattainable and the leg is used as a "Time Penalty generator" to separate the best riders... harsh but equal for everyone. These target average speeds can be quite arbitrary!

The roadbook is written on a computer app called Rally Navigator, which uses Google Earth satellite images as the basis for its mapping function. The projection of the satellite images shortens road distances on steep ground in the same way that conventional mapping methods do.

The roadbooks are displayed as PDFs in an app called Rally Roadbook Reader (produced by the same publisher) on a smartphone. Rally Roadbook Reader also has a GPS driven odometer that can be adjusted for calibration and speedometer that takes distance information from the odometer. CALLIBRATE THE ODOMETER! The roadbooks are shared about a week before the event and you load them into your smartphone.

Use the app's GPS speedo and odo to get as close to the roadbook distance measurements as possible. DO NOT RELY ON YOUR WHEEL-DRIVEN SPEEDO!!! It will be wrong....

Some people print the roadbook PDFs and sellotape them into a long scroll for display in a roll chart reader - olde schoole. Your choice.


The days of having roadcrews out on the course with a clipboard and stopwatch are long gone... The power of smartphones and tablets, all running to satellite time has revolutionised motorsport timing.

Richta Rally Timing has been developed to provide a timing system for the Sports Car Club of America time speed distance rallying events. VIME events use Richta in a slightly different way to the car people because of the systematic distance errors on steep ground, the positions of the Richta Control Points (RCPs) are not precisely described in the roadbook in order to prevent any fiddling of the event timings and because the challenging nature of the roads works against "to the second" riding. This is, after all rough road riding in the backcountry.

Richta Rally Timing works by placing GPS-described timing gates on the route to be ridden, then inserting the target elapsed times between gates and awarding Time Penalties for each second over or under each target time (hence the need to disguise the exact location of each RCP).

Each timing leg is timed from the previous RCP. Mess up one leg and those lost seconds or minutes can't be redeemed on subsequent legs. No need to speed on subsequent legs. No need to break the speed limits or a leg.... on a leg :/

Unlike Rally Pro timing (the professional-level timing system) that monitors the rider's speed moment by moment and awards penalties for breaking speed limits, Richta is insensitive to instantaneous speeds. It only measures time taken to travel from one RCP to the next. It measures average speed.

The "winner" of the event is the rider who triggered all of the RCPs and scored the lowest Time Penalties.

The apps for this are free downloads. Apple smartphones are a much better bet for Richta than android. Android operating systems are not very good at multitasking - if you are running Richta (which requires constant access to your phone's GPS chip) and you receive a phone call or an email or a message, the android phone will disconnect access to the GPS chip to deal with the new task - and not reconnect to the GPS... Instant unhappiness, deferred until you get to the finish and look to see what your scores were :(

Apple smartphones can take a message and keep the GPS chip going :)

(we have found)

The Alberni Autumn Adventure....

... will be a two-day event with routes on Saturday 14th October and Sunday 15th October. The 130km Saturday route will be between Sproat Lake and the Alberni Inlet, the 160km Sunday route will be between the Alberni Inlet and Nitnat Lake. You can expect everything from wide/flat gravel Mains to the steepest gravel roads and bushy jungle roads.

Navigation will be by your choice of Gaia, roadbook or roadbook plus Richta timing. If you are riding Gaia or roadbook you can ride solo or in pairs. The roadbook/Richta class is solos only. You can enter the Saturday event, the Sunday event or both Saturday and Sunday, hyperlinks below.

All the roads are Crown land FSRs, on which you can expect other road users at every turn. Ride safe, ride sober.


Essential apps:

Jonathan Binnington

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