Day 8: Muran to Telmen

Day 8

Warmer today at the campsite but once agin at 4:00am we had gale force winds. This time we were prepared and Tony had staked the tent really well. The tent flapped and certainly kept us awake but we were toasty inside and after 45 minutes the winds subsided and we were able to fall back asleep.

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The tents all had a fine layer of sand when we got up this morning, we are inundated again. We rise I deflate the mattresses and roll them into tiny balls, these are quite amazing these days. Tony heads for the breakfast tent to get our standings.


 We are 6th in class bit 11th overall, we have lost a spot. I guess we are lucky, so many aren't. We slept well, others didn't. On my way to breakfast I meet a very upset Jenny. They have arrived 10 minutes ago at camp. No sleep, the tow company wouldn't tow them to camp and the mechanics are clearing up to move on to the next camp. They can't stay and help. Phillip has been firm they should not continue with so many problems and the resources of the rally people cannot just take care of them. He puts their Car on a tow truck. We didn't hear where as our start was 8:13am. I was able to giveJenny the number of the satellite phone company in Canada too see if they could trouble shut their phone but we needed our phone to race so couldn't leave her with ours. We are in the wilderness and we can't travel without a phone.


Today was hard again, the organizers said harder than yesterday, not sure that was possible. However, we set off directly from the campsite this time no Tarmac roads only dirt rutted and Stoney roads with gullies and riverbeds some with rivers some just washed out . Taking a rickety bridge takes your life in your hands. Boards are missing and their are no supports. We found out quickly as we decided to try one and the wood creaked and groaned and moved as we crossed. It held for  us but not so  sure how many more it would work for. Most people chose to cross the small stream and take their chances. Race two was cancelled due to dangerous conditions on a hill climb. The road had been washed away. We drove it but certainly not at break neck speed. We had precipices and ridges so going fast was not an option.


It took us 3 hours to cover 120km. So you get an idea of the problems. We are going as fast as we can. On the highway we can go comfortably at 70MPH or 120km. So it gives you an idea of how slow our progress is through the sand, we need to protect the car but maintain a chance at getting to Paris in a reasonable place.


Today's race was 40km from the end of the days travel. We arrived a little early and took off 1 minute behind number 10 one of our rivals. There were some minor navigational issues and we have to skip a waypoint which isn't easy on the fly. We headed out and kept a steady pace.


 It was smoother than  the previous start although we were warned of two gullies and sand. We quickly could see our competitor and headed straight for them. Suddenly a Datsun went flying by, a newer car.not in our class and decked out to do this race at race car pace. We keep our eyes set on number 10 and slowly gained. tracks are hard to find, but changing out of them can be even more difficult.


 Through sand we skid and slide By the last turn we can see him and know we can catch him. The car lurches and we arrive right on his tail. Good race. We notice the Datsun sitting at the side of the road, with two flat tires. He had flown but I guess he caught something and that was it. They were able to change tires quickly and head like us to our camp. A salt lake called Telmen lake. 


The tanker trucks are here to give us much needed fuel and we set up tent. The clouds look ominous but this is desert and the rain doesn't seem to make it to the ground other than a few drops.

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 The wind is strong and cool but pleasant. I decide to go down to the lake and go in but it is very shallow and after just a short walk I turn around and head back out. Our showers aren't ready so I had used the salty lake water to remove the soot off my face and hands. It doesn't do that good of a job. 


Tony checks the car after is cools. I go buy two beers from the tent and we sit and watch as everyone comes in. We are 19th in today of the 100. Will have to wait to see how we fared in our class and in the Vintage section. We maintained our Gold Status something that is getting rarer and harder to do among the group.

© Anthony Strelzow 2013