The Rebelle Rally is an annual off-road navigational competition that traverses roughly 1500 miles across some of the most stunning scenery the western United States has to offer. One hundred percent of the competitors also just happen to be women.
The 2023 event will be taking place in October of this year, with team #101, calling themselves “Team Pony Express”, among the field of other talented rally competitors. Team #101 is comprised of Kristen Harbert and Avis Cook. This will be Avis’s second year competing in the rally as a navigator while Kristen is coming in as a first year rookie driver looking forward to showing she has the skills to be a serious contender for a podium spot.
A core rule and primary focus of the Rebelle Rally is that all navigation is done using map and compass skills without the aid of any electronic GPS devices to help the teams find their way throughout the 8 days of competition. Before teams are allowed to compete, GPS is disabled in their rally vehicle as well as any personal GPS enabled devices such as phones are taken away.
It is no small effort for a team to prepare for the rally. There are hefty entry fees and other related – expenses to be paid, driving and navigation skills to be honed, and vehicle preparations to complete. During the rally competition this October what you will observe from the outside is a team consisting of a driver, a navigator and their rally vehicle. The reality is there is a team behind the team consisting of many to get the driver, the navigator and their vehicle to the all-important point of toeing the starting line on day one of the competition.
During the rally teams typically navigate a wide variety of terrain that ranges from fast desert or forest roads to slower rocky, sandy, or muddy trails and washes, and even the huge sand dunes of Glamis, CA. To carry them through all the challenges they may encounter during competition, team #101 has chosen to compete in a 2022 Ford Bronco Badlands Sasquatch for the 2023 rally.
In preparing for the rally Avis and Kristen try to get together and practice their skills as often as possible, which usually ends up being at least monthly with increasing frequency at the event draws ever closer. In order to make the practice sessions as meaningful and realistic as possible, that means traveling to the same types of remote and lesser traveled routes that the rally itself passes through far from creature comforts.
Thankfully, the team can bring some creature comforts with them into remote areas in which they practice. Avis is married to Rob of @overland_V1.0 on Instagram and YouTube which gives her and her teammate access to his 2021 RAM 3500 flatbed build hauling a 2021 Four Wheel Camper Hawk on its back that was purpose built to reach destinations considered remote and serves well as a supporting member of the team behind the team.
In its support role the camper typically follows the team as deep into a practice area as it can in order to be used as a temporary and easily movable basecamp. With its top popped it affords the members of Team Pony Express a place to take a break from the sun and wind, put some sustenance in their bellies, and plot their next moves on the map.
The Hawk popup camper is well equipped for rest with not only sizeable comfortable sleeping and dining areas, but also fans to help keep air moving when it is warm, a propane heater if it happens to be chilly, a small kitchen with a sizeable refrigerator to keep plenty of fresh food and drinks on hand, and even the ability to heat hot water from its water storage tank to wash dishes or even take a quick shower. Powering all those features is a 300ah lithium battery system that charges itself while parked in the sun using the 320 watts of solar on the roof, or the truck alternator while on the move. In a recent addition to the build, a Starlink satellite dish was flat mounted to roof allowing for highspeed connectivity to stay in touch just about anywhere, even when cell service is a distant dream as it often is in the areas in which rally practice takes place.
If you would like to learn more about the Rebelle Rally check out their website (https://www.rebellerally.com/) and if you happen to see the members of team #101 out preparing this summer be sure to say hello and wish them the all best as they aim for a top spot among a field of other tough competitors.
You can follow the women of Team #101 on Instagram at @mrs.optoffroad for Kristen, or at @overland_wife for Avis.