Day 12 – Grand Forks to Bismarck

The morning started wet and cold, much colder then last night and we had a 125 km cross-country and mostly gravel roads to reach the first and only regularity of the day.

A 15 km gravel track, average speed 64 km an hour with two intermediate time controls, which means you stop get time stamped and continue to try and maintain the overall average of 64 km over the entire section.

Grace has a time chart that tells her at every hundred meters what time we should be for this speed. She will tell me every 30 seconds if I am over or less than 64 km an hour for the entire route. At the same time the route has a few turns and T-junctions, which we both have to see in time because if you miss a turn you will have to come back and it messes up your average speed entirely.

We use a trip meter, a stopwatch and a GPS speedo.

It is a lot of work between navigator and driver but we are getting better and better at it. In addition to all this there is the little matter of keeping the Benz on the road, which has bends and slippery gravel or sand. Fun if you make no mistakes, frustrating if you mess it up.

Today went well and we got a total of only 9 penalty seconds over the entire 15 km section. After the trial finished we headed to our midday stop location Frontier Village near Jamestown.

This replica western village was the MTC (main time control) of todays rally activities. We could explore the village and the nearby Buffalo museum and we even spotted a Buffalo in the field near the museum. Then we were free to head along the highway to Bismarck our destination for the night.

It was a 150 km run on an almost dead straight highway trough wide and flat farmland. Not very inspiring but at least the speed limit was 75 miles an hour so we had no more Smokey’s on our tail today.

Our hotel is on the outskirts of Bismarck near the airport. Bismarck looks quite an industrial town so we are just passing by but as we arrived quite early today we crossed the road to a Mc Donald’s and had a burger for the first time this trip. Good! For this one time.

Tonight the rally organisers had organised a boat trip on a Paddle Steamer along the Missouri river. Nice change from the daily routine of the rally. It a good opportunity to get to know some of the other competitor from other countries. There are some really nice new friends on this rally all with their own story and experiences. Some are fanatic classic rally drivers other are really there for the trip and then there are some special ones such as our friend from New Zealand, Steven Partridge and Corgi La Grouw.

Anty and I lived with them for six weeks in P2P 2013 and now Grace and Sonja get to know the extrovert beach boy Steven and his originally Dutch navigator.

More of that later.

Tomorrow one more day rallying and then a rest day in Rapid City. After six tough rally days our little red Benz and we need a rest and a wash.

Good night,

Mick and Grace.

PS: Grace has promised to write a story on Saturday.