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GoldRiver300 - motorcycle navigation rally report.

The weekend of 23-25 June 2023 was again GoldRiverRally weekend. The community of Gold River is located in the spectacular mountain, river and lake scenery of the north of Vancouver Island, north of Strathcona Provincial Park.

Three days and 550km of public gravel road navigation had been planned, the Newcastle Creek wildfire requiring only a minor reroute in the vicinity of Sayward Junction on Highway 19.

Twenty nine riders had signed up for the event, twenty five took the start riding three different classes, following the routes by GPS map, by rally roadbook tulip diagram only and the third class being roadbook plus GPS timing.

Riders assembled and signed on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning and took the opportunity to ride a dress-rehearsal 7.5km route around the village of Gold River in order to demonstrate their navigation systems were functioning correctly. Then riders took their starts - the Gaia riders first followed by the roadbook only riders and pairs and then after drawing lots to decide the start order, the timed roadbook riders.

This was not a race or a speed event. Each route had legal average speeds set to which the riders were expected to keep and their progress monitored by the GPS systems.

The timed-class riders started at three minute intervals which gave the dust sufficient time between each rider for any follow-on navigation clues to have dissipated and also ensured a 2km road separation.

Friday's route followed Saunders main (a testing opening) up to West Main (eventually), around Victoria Peak and White River Main to Sayward Junction for food and fuel. After the restart the route which was to have followed M Branch FSR but for the Newcastle Creek fire was diverted along Adam River Main before rejoining the original route, crossing the Highway and taking Gerald Creek Main back to White River Main, West Main and Gold River.

After the first day's endeavours, Colin Beck (890 KTM) led the field from Jamie Emery (500 Husqvarna) and Patrick Subarsky (Husqvarna 701 Enduro). Scott Jutson, who had been expected to figure amongst the leaders had a "technology failure" at the food and fuel stop and only recorded half the route scores. All riders made a safe return - even if some of them took "unconventional" routes via Highways 19 and 24....

Saturday followed the same pattern as Friday, the Gaia riders (some a little sore after a full day of physicality on Friday) first followed by the pairs and roadbook only riders and then after drawing lots for the start order, the timed-class riders.

Saturday's route took the East Main north before tending westwards to Muchalat lake, the Maquilla Reload, an optional technical loop towards Shöen Lake including Plateau Main and the old gravel road north that was the main road before the highway was built. Lunch was at Woss before the restart and continuing north on the Markusen Main and then turning onto the Zebellos road and back towards Woss, the second census control point, Muchalat lake and Gold River.

Again everyone returned safely having found Saturday's route less demanding than Friday's (they missed out the Schöen Lake loop.....).

The head of the leaderboard remained unchanged, Colin Beck leading Jamie Emery and Patrick Subarsky. Scott Jutson's tech had again failed (Android phone difficulties) while everyone else had learned of the ways of roadbook navigation on Friday and consolidated their positions.

Sunday was going to be a short day, 110Km up and over the Big Baldy mountain pass before taking the Head Bay road back towards Gold River before heading out on Ucona Main towards Star and Kunlin Lakes and returning to Gold River for the Grand Finish.

But this isn't quite what happened.

Both Jamie Emery and Scott Jutson fell, bringing the proceedings to a close. Jamie Emery's timing phone was smashed in the fall and no scores were recoverable. Scott Jutson's phone also gave no scores and the day's data was called complete at the last checkpoint for which there was a full dataset (the paper-record census point at the end of Head Bay Road).

The Final Result had Colin Beck continuing with his accurate navigation and precise speed control to win the event, followed by Patrick Subarsky and Reuben Brouwer advancing to second and third positions respectively.

The final full set of results.

I would like to offer my congratulations and thanks to all who took part in this, sometimes testing event. I hope we can continue with this enterprise in the autumn.

Jonathan Binnington

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