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The 2024 SoCal Roadbook Rally just finished, and it was a great first rally for me. As I will explain here, it's perfect for rally newbies.


There were all kind of rally bikes, ranging from as simple as putting a tablet on a KTM 500 EXC to full rally spec monsters. There were quite a few Koves as well. It's gaining tremendous popularity with the rally crowd. From what I hear, the rally pro model is really ready to race in all aspects. From about 80 participants, only 2 "big bikes", mine and a T7.



I arrived at the bivouac on Wednesday, just a few miles outside the 395, about 20 miles north of Kramer Junction. After unloading everything from the truck and setting up my tent, I went out to ride the "calibration" loop. A short 50 Km (yeah, rally is all in metric and French) loop designed to give you an intro for the days to come and make sure your equipment is working fine.

The really nice thing about the SoCal Roadbook Rally is its non competitive nature, so the organizers provide you not only with the roadbook, but also with a GPX file of the course. I mounted a rugged Android tablet to the DesertX, so by just clicking a button, I could switch between TerraPirata, the roadbook navigation software, and DMD2, my favorite mapping application.


From the 50 km in the calibration loop, I was lost almost half of the time and had to "cheat" and follow the GPX track...


The next day I left the bivouac pretty early to take the South West loop, also called the Edwards AFB loop, going all the way to California City and totaling about 220 KM. I didn't get lost as often and had to cheat 5 or 6 times. The desert after all these rains and with spring fast approaching is absolutely stunning!



The next day I took the Helendale loop, another 200 KM loop, and I was a lot more comfortable with reading the roadbook and navigation controls. I really started understanding the meaning of "chasing waypoints". For every "tulip" (one row in the nav book), you get a jolt of dopamine - "I got this one!". During navigation, you are under constant self-doubt, and when a road, intersection, or landmark appears at the right (or near) odometer reading, it's a great feeling.

I've also made great friends at the bivouac. Our community is great no matter what modality you're participating. "Allegedly", Mason Klein (Dakar stage winner, champion of Rally dos Sertoes, Honda factory rider) wanted to try my DDX and in exchange let me ride on his rally honda. Those machines are real beasts!



All in all, this was a perfect introduction to navigation rally. It's a completely new dimension lay on top of off-road riding. I noticed I looked and appreciated the environment a lot more than if I was just following a blue track on my GPS. I'm definitely hooked on it now.

I'm energized to create a San Diego Rally Club. I think anybody who tries this will get hooked as I am. It's so freaking cool!


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I've been excited to hear your thoughts and experience with this event.  Thank Padu for posting up on this.  It's getting harder and harder for me to hold back from buying a 500.

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