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Beginner's Meeting
By Larry Scholnick, SMSCC

Welcome to the rally.  Since you missed the live beginner's meeting, I've tried to come up with a printed version that works as well as (or better than) the live version does.  This document should be helpful but it is unofficial.

WHAT IS THIS EVENT?

It's a Time-Speed-Distance (TSD) rally, also called a Navigational rally.

WHAT IS THE OBJECT OF THE RALLY?

The object of a TSD rally is to arrive at each checkpoint ON TIME, Not EARLY and Not LATE.  There is a penalty for being Late or Early – the penalty is 100 points per minute, and it's pro‑rated.  So, if you're ½ minute late on one leg, it costs you 50 points; if you're ½ minute early on the next leg, it costs you another 50 points.  That doesn't fix it; it makes it worse!  On a rally, points are bad (as in golf); lowest score wins!  Unlike golf, it is theoretically possible to get a score of Zero on a leg (although this is unlikely for beginners).

Before you leave the start, make sure that you have at least one watch or clock that matches the official time; if you don't know how to set your watch, at least know how far it is off and in which direction.

HOW IS 'ON TIME' DETERMINED?

Once you finish the Odometer Check (sometimes called the Odo Check or the Odometer Calibration), we will always tell you how fast to go.  The way we do that is primarily with the defined term CAST (which stands for Change Average Speed To).  When we tell you to CAST 30, it means that you should begin traveling at an average speed of 30 Miles Per Hour and keep doing so until we tell you otherwise.  When we refer to an average speed of 30, we mean that it should take you 2 minutes to travel each mile.  If the road is straight and has no stop signs, you can simply drive 30 MPH.  If the road has one or more stop signs, you have to stop for each one and then make up for the time you lost by traveling at a higher speed until you catch up.  If the road has sharp curves, you may have to slow down for the curves and then make up for the time you lose by going faster later in the straight-aways.

Another way to understand an average speed is to imagine that a blimp is floating above the road, traveling at the exact speed that you're assigned to go; but it is never delayed by traffic, curves, or Stop signs.  When you get delayed, you have to speed up until you catch up with the blimp.

WHAT ABOUT TRAFFIC LIGHTS?

We usually give you an assigned PAUSE to make up for the time you lose at Signals and some Stop signs.  Sometimes, we will give you a large Pause to make up for a group of Signals.  For example, if you go through 6 signals (some red, some green), and you lose a total of 3 minutes, and then we tell you to pause 3½ minutes, you would wait only the extra ½ minute at that point; not 3½ additional minutes!  If we only tell you to pause 3 minutes there, just keep going because now you're back on time.

 

WHAT'S THE ODOMETER CHECK?

There are differences between the odometers and speedometers of different cars.  If you know how the car that measured the rally compares to your car, you can adjust accordingly.  During the Odometer Check, just drive at a safe and legal speed, note your mileage at each sign or landmark where a mileage is given, and be prepared to do a little math with the 5 minutes you should have at the end of the Odometer Check. 

·        Figure out whether your odometer gives a higher or lower reading.

·        Figure out the difference between your reading and ours.

·        Figure out what percentage (of our mileage) the difference represents.

For example, if the odometer check is 30 miles long and your odometer shows 33 miles, yours reads higher, the difference is 3, which is 10% (3/30 = 10%).  Use the saying "If you're Low, Go Slow; if you're High, Fly".  Since your odometer reading was higher than ours, you should go faster by the percentage difference.  So, if we assign you to go 40 MPH, you should travel at a speed of 44 (10% faster than 40).  If your difference is less than 1%, the difference is too small to worry about in Beginner Class.

If we measured the rally in kilometers, you would find that on a 28 KM odometer check, your odometer would show 17.4 miles, a difference of 38% (under).  Thus, when we direct you to travel at a speed of 95 (Km/H), you would go 59 MPH.

HOW DO I DO THE ROUTE INSTRUCTIONS?

The numbered instructions are to be done once only, in numerical order; never skip an instruction (unless directed to do so at a checkpoint); never do a numbered instruction more than once.  Complete each numbered instruction before you start the next one.

For instructions marked WOF (Whichever Occurs First), do whichever portion (separated by the word OR) that you can begin working on first, and skip the rest.  Otherwise, complete the parts of an instruction in order.

Parts of instructions that are in parentheses are helpful only; the part in parentheses will be both helpful and correct.

When we put something in quotation marks, we are referring to the text of a sign; otherwise, we are referring to something else (such as a road or a term defined in the Definitions and Abbreviations).  Unless the quotation is marked SOL (Sign OnLeft) or SA (Sign Anywhere), quoted signs must be on your right or overhead.  Signs may be facing you or off to the side, but you'll never have to look back to see them.

The following applies both to quoted signs and road identification:  We may refer to the full text or any continuous portion.  West Topanga Canyon Blvd can be referred to as Topanga, or as Canyon, or as West Topanga, but not as Topanga Cyn. (an abbreviation is not the same as the spelled out word), nor as West Canyon (not a continuous portion since Topanga was omitted).

Some instructions don't direct a specific action; they just mention a Sign or a Landmark; such instructions are considered completed as soon as you reach the indicated Sign or Landmark.

Lettered instructions work differently than the numbered instructions.  Once you have completed the numbered instruction before a lettered instruction, you have 2 things to do.  You begin looking for a chance to do the lettered instruction and you begin looking for a chance to do the next numbered instruction.  You keep looking for chances to do the lettered instruction until it is cancelled.  A lettered instruction might be done once, more than once, or never.  A lettered instruction can be cancelled by an instruction that directs you to cancel the lettered instruction or by a checkpoint handout.  One lettered instruction does not automatically cancel the previous lettered instruction; there may be more than one lettered instruction active at the same time.  A multi-part lettered instruction must be executed in full before you can execute it again.

If you come to a place where both a numbered instruction and a lettered instruction conflict or direct the same course action, do the numbered instruction there.

CHECKPOINTS:

At a manned checkpoint (marked by a sign with a Check mark and a Point), there will be a hose across the road, similar to a service station of yesteryear.  Don't stop at the timing line; instead, slow down and stop when you get to the checkpoint workers.  It's a good idea to note the time you crossed the timing line (but not on the Control Card).

Hand your Control Card (detached from your rally materials, and filled out with your names, addresses, etc.) to the worker.  The worker will mark the time you arrived in Hours, Minutes, and Hundredths of a Minute (not in Seconds).  When you get your Control Card back, double-check your arrival time with the time you crossed the line (converting your seconds into hundredths of a minute using the conversion chart).  If it's close, great; if not, let the worker know.  It's possible they lost track of which time belonged to which car and gave you the time of the car before/after you.

The Start Time for the next leg will be marked on your Control Card.  You will get a checkpoint handout that includes the speed to begin the next leg, the active instructions, and any special instructions or official information.  Previous lettered instructions are cancelled if they are not listed as active.  Any numbered instructions skipped are cancelled.

A few items of rally etiquette: Once you cross the timing line, you are no longer in any hurry!  Don't pass other rally cars between the timing line and the checkpoint; stay in the order in which you crossed the timing line.  At the Out Marker (where you start the next leg), bear in mind that cars are assigned to leave at one minute intervals; don't block the sign until there is less than one minute until your Start Time.  While you are on the rally be sure to let other cars pass (both rally cars and non-rally cars).

WHAT'S A DO IT YOURSELF CHECKPOINT (DIYC)?

When you are instructed to DIYC at a specific point, note the time you arrive at the specified Sign or Landmark.  Write that time, in Hours, Minutes, and Hundredths of a Minute (NOT Seconds – use the conversion chart) in the first available Finish Time box on your Control Card.  Write a time that is exactly 1 minute later in the first available Start Time box.  Note that the times you write will not be in the same column; one will be the Finish Time for one leg and the other will be the Start Time for the next leg.  For example, if leg 2 ends with a DIYC, you write your Finish Time in the Leg 2 column and your Start Time in the Leg 3 column.

Be sure to leave the DIYC when your Start Time for the next leg occurs.

A DIYC can be your chance to adjust if you are slightly late.  If you are ½ minute late when you get to a DIYC, adjust your arrival time down by ½ minute, and leave 1 minute after you should have arrived.  If you are exactly a minute late, adjust your time down by 1 minute and don’t stop.

WHAT IF I GET LOST?

If you figure out where you went wrong, go the right way; however, there is a maximum penalty of 5 minutes per leg.  So, if you are 10 minutes late, you won't have to drive unsafely to catch up.  A manned checkpoint should still be open unless you are more than 20 minutes late.

Sometimes, if you are lost and you see 2 consecutive route instructions that specify road names, such as RI 21 – R on Smith, RI 22 – L on Jones, it's a fair bet that RI 22 is a turn from Smith to Jones (so go to the corner of Smith & Jones and turn left on Jones for RI 22).

If you quit the rally for any reason (got lost, car sick, car trouble, paged to go to work, whatever), be sure to call a rally official's cell phone number (usually listed at the top of the first page of route instructions) or the finish location (usually listed in the final route instruction).

SPECIAL STUFF

There are special rules that apply when you are directed ONTO a road by name/number (using the word ONTO), and when you are directed to FLR (Follow the Lined Road).

Two things happen once you've done such an instruction:

1)     You must follow that road.  For ONTO, this means continuing to follow the road by name or number; for FLR, this means continuing to follow the Lined Road.

2)     The next R/L/TURN you do must cause you to travel a different course than the active ONTO/FLR.

Imagine the following scenario:

You're instructed ONTO Smith.  The next route instruction is R at 1st OPP (Opportunity).  The first Intersection is a T where Smith goes right and another road goes left.  You would go right there because of ONTO, not because of the route instruction.  The next Intersection (to the right of the first one) is a T where Smith goes left and another road goes right.  You would go right there because you can turn right there so as to travel a different course than ONTO (which was to the left).

I'VE FALLEN BEHIND; HOW DO I CATCH UP?

The easiest way to catch up is to skip a pause.  If you are 3 minutes late and you are instructed to pause 2 minutes, you are now only 1 minute late.

Maintain a continuous log of how early or late you are.  Each time you are delayed, subtract the delay time from the running total; each time you gain some time, add that time.  Use hundredths of a minute in your log.

Example of a log: (you would write only the numbers, not the comments)

–50    (Stopped ½ minute at a Signal)
–150  (Stopped 1½ minute at the next Signal)
–200  (Take a subtotal every chance you get)
+300  (Instructed to pause 3 minutes)
+100  (Now you're a minute early!  Always include a '+' or a '–' )
–25    (Stopped at a Stop sign)
+75    (Still early)

Note the strategy that was used; the contestant did not pull over for the assigned 3 minute pause; instead, 2 minutes of the pause were used to compensate for previous Signals and the extra minute was saved for subsequent use.  If there's a checkpoint at this point, this contestant would arrive 0.75 minutes early.

To approximate the time you lose at a Stop sign or Signal, start a stopwatch at the point where you get down to half the assigned speed, and then stop the stopwatch at the point where you get back to half the assigned speed.  This even works if there is a speed change at a Stop sign.  If the assigned speed as you approach the Stop sign is 30, start the stopwatch when your speedometer is down to 15; if the new speed change at the Stop sign is 40, stop the stopwatch when your speedometer is up to 20.

This approximation technique also applies when you are instructed to pause.  If you get all the Signals green and you are instructed to pause 3 minutes, (and your assigned speed is 50), you would start and stop your stopwatch as your speedometer crosses 25.

Here's a technique for gaining time along the course.  If you travel X% faster than the assigned speed for 1 minute, you will gain X% of a minute.  For example, if you travel 25% faster than the assigned speed, you will gain 25% of a minute (¼ minute=15 seconds) per minute; do that for 4 minutes and you will have gained 1 minute.

Let's try this on a 10‑mile stretch of road where the assigned speed is 40 MPH.  At 40 MPH, 10 miles takes 15 minutes since each mile takes (60/40=) 1.5 minutes.  At 50 MPH, 10 miles takes (60/50 x 10=) 12 minutes.  During the 12 minutes that you drove, you gained (12 x 25 %=) 3 minutes, arriving (15‑12=) 3 minutes earlier than someone going 40.