Information on this blog is raw and sometimes unverified reporting straight from the road by teams. The event will issue a media release for any events requiring an official notification.

Note that links in blog entries are not maintained, so while a link may be verified to work on the day of publishing, this is not guaranteed beyond that day.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Soleon: September 26th - Late Night Tennant Creek, Northern Territory

It's hard to believe it was only our second day of racing, it seems like we've been at it much longer. The flies are slowly starting to lessen, but the ones that linger are relentless, much like the heat. While waiting for the solar car to catch up, Garett and I parked the campervan at a place called Attack Creek. It's aptly named as we were brutally attacked by flies on the trek to the restroom. I nearly gave up and turned around despite the fact I only had about 50 meters to walk.

We faced equal challenges with the solar car today as what turned out to be a bad connection caused multiple power failures. The electrical team now believes they have repaired the problem, but only the race tomorrow will tell us for sure. Even with these failures we managed to reach our goal of Tennant Creek, adding another 500km to our distance traveled. We were not able to camp at Devil's Marbles as we had hoped, but for the opposite reason I had anticipated. The picturesque site is actually further south on the race route, just out of our reach for today.

Overall, the team is very happy with our performance. When we are cruising, we are able to run consistently at about 70-80 km/h and if we can maintain our average of 500 km per day we will reach Adelaide with a day to spare.

We are having some very interesting experiences on our travels. Last night our media relations team member, Greg, shared his hotel bathroom with some frogs, while both Ryan and BJ reported meeting up with geckos in their rooms. A moment ago Colby just killed a nice sized cockroach in our room, followed by a healthy sized spider and for a grand finale, a cricket. I have often appreciated that the Canadian winter brings relief from bugs, but never more than right now!

A more novel hazard we've come across in the Outback, more menacing than even the four trailer long semis known as "road trains" we've been passing on the highway, are the mini tornadoes that tear through the Outback. These dirt devils are called "willie willies" by the Aussies. On the drive from Adelaide, BJ and I spotted two, and although most are harmless and appear as no more than wisps of red dust, the second one we encountered was several meters wide and so thick with dirt and debris it was black. Our first instinct was to marvel at it and even slow down to assess it, but as we saw it was on a collision course with our car, we quickly sped off. Garett and I saw two again today, although like most of them, they were small enough to be merely interesting, rather than alarming.

Since we reached the control point at Tennant Creek right at the close of the day, we must endure our mandatory half an hour wait first thing in the morning. This has the benefit of giving us extra time to charge the batteries first thing in the morning. The sun sets so quickly in the evening we only manage to recharge about an eighth of a pack at the end of the day. With any luck, the extra morning top up will give us enough juice to pass the Japanese team we've been trailing.

By this time tomorrow I hope to be writing from at least Alice Springs, the well known half way point of the race! On behalf of the entire team, I also want to mention to all our family and friends with whom we have not been able to communicate, that it's not for lack of trying, but rather a lack of cellular reception and spotty internet service that has to be shared by the whole group. We are thinking of you and we are all doing well!

Aussie phrase of the day: "I'm just here to have a sticky beak" Translation: "I'm just here to have a look." (Said today by a couple who came to check out the solar cars).

--Laurie Heilman Bell Communications Manager/Nutritional Advisor University of Calgary Team Soleon