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Event report: Alberni Autumn Invitational, Saturday 19th November 2022 with Richta rally timing.

Photo by Peter Francis

Event Entrants: Scott Justson - Yamaha 250. Jamie Emery - KTM 500cc thing. Peter Francis - Honda Africa Twin. Robin Black - another big cc KTM. Owen Partaik - borrowed BMW 650. Darrel Thompson - another big cc KTM. Stuart Ockelford (sweep) - Suzuki DR650.

Event routes:

I staged the Alberni event as a dress-rehearsal for next year's GoldRiver300 event, to introduce gps Richta rally timing to motorcycle Rallyraid events in British Columbia and as a late-season reminder of what we are all about. While much of Canada is already up to its gearbox sprockets in snow, the extreme west of the Pacific Northwest remains more or less snow free.

I had previously laid out aRichta test route around the block where we live but could I integrate all the event preparation steps, scouting a route, constructing a roadbook and setting the timing system data into a single, scalable, rallyraid event....?

You will recall the adventures myself and Jamie had scouting the route during the atmospheric river rain event we had at the end of October, setting the Richta gps timing markers in monsoon-like conditions and then the adventures me and Stuart had in the snow trying to verify the function of the virtual Richta Control Points. If not you can read about them in previous blog entries. The weather conditions really did vary by the shown amount, full winter at 600m, mild autumn at lower elevations.

These photos by myself and Stuart Ockelford

Over the three weeks between setting the course and trying twice to verify the route the rain turned to snow above 400m elevation and then froze to rather slick ice. In contrast, the road conditions at lower levels were entirely snow and ice free...

If you look at the route profile you can see that across the 87km of the route, the first "mountain" peak (at 609m) was the highest. The subsequent climbs were much lower (though no less steep) and the peaks were below the snow line. Get over the first mountain and the rest are a piece of cake!

Having made all the preparations, the morning of the event came around as they do. I had set the start point at a position where there was still a little cell-phone signal. Not much but just enough for the smartphones to register with the Richta centre and connect to my phone running the Rally Master app. Because the Richta timing system is contained within each participants smartphone - progress around the course through the Control Points (CPs) registers with each phone rather than with an external register, there isn't a must-do need for each participant to have a set start time...

So, after a short discussion Jamie, Scott and Darrel agreed that they wanted to ride the course solo under as close to "competition" conditions as we could get, Owen and Robin had ridden over from Vancouver after catching an early morning ferry and wanted to do their first roadbook rally together, Peter and Stuart made up the second pair setting off last with the intention of sweeping the course.

The snow at the top of the first climb had been compressed by the passage of some 4wd vehicles then frozen to ice-rink conditions. The times I had set for each leg had assumed good traction as even in the torrential rain of our first trip, the angular crushed rock resource roads had very good grip for off-road knobbly tyres. Frozen snow and ice made target times impossible to achieve and everyone scored a max going across the first mountain.

Scott, Jamie and Darrel managed to find enough traction in the virgin, crunchy snow on the shoulders of the road and were not delayed greatly, reaching the first descent and finding snow-free conditions.

Owen and Robin were on relatively light bikes and had the vigour of youth on their side. They struggled, together, worked as a team and with only one or two mishaps, made it through the crux section and pressed on to complete the rest of the course.

photos by Robin Black.

Meanwhile, Stuart and Peter were having their own private epic.....

Video by Peter Francis.

Polished ice, heavy bikes, slightly warming conditions made for a very Canadian "Hockey"fest...

Again working as a team, they persevered and prevailed over the crux section. Well out of time and late in the day they took the right decision of abandoning their attempt and using one of the sea level return routes to the start/finish.

Everyone returned safely. Everyone had a good day out, a good ride, came back in good spirits with tales of their adventures and the moments that "I nearly died!".

Quotation from Jamie: "despite having ridden this route the first time, it looked TOTALLY different than it did in the rain....."

Quotation from Stuart via his InReach: "we've stopped by the waterfall for a rest and something to eat before using the return route...." (There were hundreds of waterfalls around the route)

Quotation from Scott: "I did that without a speedometer!" And still he won....

The excitement and elation at the finish line was added to as each individual pulled out their Richta smartphone and their leg scores synchronised to the Richta Scoreboard app and the results became apparent. In reality, there were no prizes, the test had been negated by the changed conditions - although everyone faced the same conditions on the day and, this was a training event for participants to try stuff out. But nevertheless, the notional prize was for the winner to have his dinner bought for him in Bucksnort's Bar and Grill

The Results

Properly, before the event started I would have deleted the scores I had generated while I was verifying the course but a good scientist and engineer never deletes data and this event was amongst many things, a data-generating exercise.

Ignore my scores, the first two lines. They were recorded on different days.

Compare every other line.

Stuart and Peter completed 5 CPs (cars 8 and 5)

Scott, 1392 time points and 10 CPs

Jamie, 1914, ditto

Owen, 1916, ditto

Darrel, 1943, ditto

Robin, 1992, ditto

Anyway, Scott had to leave before dinner to catch a ferry back to Vancouver, so we ate his dinner for him!

Lessons learned.

  • Richta is a really easy system to use. In my opinion easier to use than the instruction presentations suggest...

  • From an event organisers point of view, all of the work is done well ahead of the event, scouting the course, setting the course, writing the roadbook, setting the speeds, verifying the course. On event day, the whole is ready to go. You can concentrate on making sure each participant has a running Richta Competitor app that has synchronised to the Rally Master app and sorting out starting orders and start intervals.

  • Communicate clearly to participants how they configure their smartphone to enter the event and have them activate their Competitor app while they are in strong cell-service. Where I had the start the cell-service was rather thin and the hook-up took a few minutes in some instances.

  • Have a "flying start" CP some distance down the road from the start line. Similarly have the last CP some way up the road from the finish line. Disguise the position of each CP to make it difficult for "strongly motivated" competitors to game the timing by loitering away from CPs if they are early. For example do not locate CPs at roadbook waypoints....

  • On long distance routes, have a neutralised section either side of a petrol station (say) so that a non-timed rest and refuelling stop can be provided. Restart with a second flying start CP. You may want to have a restart Marshall at the RR stop to set riders off at an agreed time interval to ensure road separation and "honest competition"...

  • When setting the CPs, the event organiser has the option of timing each CP from either the previous restart or from the previous CP. There are consequences to either of these methodologies. If each CP is timed from the previous restart CP, there is the possibility to make up lost time if a competitor makes a mess of a previous leg. The consequence of this is that the rider could be tempted to ride at recklessly high speeds in order to "get back on schedule". The roads over which VIME events are run are high potential hazard, wilderness roads with set speeds close to what would be considered the upper limit of prudent riding... Not wishing to be in any way involved in anyone's death or serious injury we will take the second option: Each CP will be timed relative to the previous CP. Each leg is a stand-alone timed element. Make a Royal FU of a leg and you will score a Max for that section. And then you move on to the next section. You won't be able or need to try to redeem your lost time as it is GONE. It is past, move on, forget about it. In this way every speed section retains its individual relevance and there is no need for breakneck riding over roads on which you can break your neck.....

  • The winner of this event and the GoldRiver200 both were riding 250's. Beware small datasets when drawing conclusions but more cc's doesn't equal an advantage (apparently) in this motosport.

  • There is scope in future events to run two classes, Solo riders and Duets. No engine size classes as there is no apparent advantage in having a high power bike. Everyone will continue to need to be road registered, insured and licenced. Off-road registered quads, SxS and ATVs wouldn't meet the requirements for tarmac road transfer stages which may be unavoidable in future events.

It appears we now have a scalable event template suitable for one day events, three day events such as the GoldRiver300 (2023) and who knows a future Vancouver Island marathon event....

I hope to see you at the GoldRiver300:


211 views2 comments


What I learned after completing the (shortened) course was how to use the Roadbook app. Perhaps due to my advanced age, I made an assumption that all I had to do was scroll the route as I rode (not easy on a bouncing bike on a gravel road). Unfortunately, the key is to adjust the size of the pdf first, then lock the screen. With the locked screen, a single tap at the top of the screen moves it up one step, and a single tap at the bottom of the screen moves it back one step. You can see several steps at one time, so it should only be necessary to tap the screen infrequently. Without the screen locked,…

Replying to

Hi Peter, thank you for your insight. I understand the Rally Navigator people also sell a handlebar control to scroll the Roadbook pdf, although I don’t know how much and if you can charge your phone at the same time. The screen tap is a reliable way of managing the display. Regards Jonathan

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