TORR '99 Trip Report
August 22, 1999
By Bill Soo
TORR is a bi-annual event hosted by the Lionsgaters Off road club. It is a Time Speed Distance (TSD) event that rewards careful driving and accurate navigation, rather than speed. This years event took place near Squamish on August 22.
I had been anticipating this year's TORR for 2 years. Ever since the last one in which Lars (driver), Jonathan (spotter) and myself (navigator) placed somewhere near the bottom of the list. This year would be different!
I expected that Larry and I would drive/navigate and our spouses would spot. Unfortunately, Larry and Sue had already booked a houseboat that weekend so they would be unable to attend. And since Carolyn was not feeling too keen on bouncing around on trails all day (pregnancy will dampen most females passion for off roading), I had to gather an alternate crew. At least I could borrow Larry's Jeep.
Since TORR is supposed to be accessable to stock vehicles, I decided that it would be a good opportunity to introduce some of my non-off road friends to the back country. So I asked Stephanie to be my navigator. Since she is an accountant, I figured she could handle the calculation duties. I also asked Vaughn and Connie since they are both keen campers and had good eyesight (for spotting pie plates).
So we made arrangements to meet at 6:00AM since we had to be in Squamish for registration between 7:30 and 8:30.
On Saturday, the day before the event, Rob (Rye Guy) Bryce and Steve J. came over from Vancouver Island and stayed at our house since they were also going to TORR.
Sunday, August 22. Warm summer day, cloudless sky.
At 6:30 AM, Rob knocks on our door. Carolyn wakes me up. Apparently I had set the alarm clock for 5:30PM, not AM. Doh!!
While I'm scrambling out of bed, Carolyn gets my snacks ready, finds my clothes, phones my passengers and sends us off. OK, we are 45min behind schedule.
Driving up the Sea to Sky highway in Lars' Jeep is not terribly pleasant. Lars claims that it rides smoother with the new suspension and that may be so, but it steers like a pig. Anyways, we arrive at the site at 8:00AM, just 30min behind schedule.
I had preregistered so sign in was pretty straightforward. I was assigned #5 on the list. After signing our liability waivers, we prepped the Jeep by disconnecting the sway bar, lowering the tire pressure etc. After a speech by John Edgar explaining the rules and regulations (no drinking, no speeding, no idiocy in general. Tread Lightly!) we were off.
Our first run was Stage #2. We hadn't had a chance to calibrate our speedometer beforehand so we were somewhat concerned but fortunately, there was a long section between easily recognizable landmarks. With that information, we could figure out our correction factor as 0.687. In other words, when I thought I was cruising along the sea to sky highway at 70kph, I was really doing over 100kph. Hmm....no wonder it was a bit squirrely.
On this section, the landmarks were clearly visible and we eventually started spotting pie plates. The first one was a "T" and the second was an "R". Connie wondered if we had missed an "O" in there (to spell TORR). Stephanie thought that the next letter would be "A" (for trail) but I guessed that it would be "E" (for Tread Lightly). As it happened, it was an "E".
Since a line up was expected at this obstacle, the time we arrived and the time we left was marked down. That way we wouldn't lose points for waiting. The mud pit was a deep pile of goo right in a narrow portion of the trail. There was hardly any maneuvering room to the left or right and down the middle was a guaranteed stuck. So following the official spotters recommendation, we took the right line and almost immediately fell into a rut. We spooled out our cable (so the Lionsgaters could cool their winches) and pulled through with no trouble (except that I almost ran over my winch controller). So we passed the checkpoint and came back to the river. We forded it before I realized that the directions no longer made sense. So we drove back and checked out the instructions again. Vaughn spotted the problem and we were back on track. At least the mud was washed off the Jeep. We drove the rest of the route with no problem except that we had to increase our speed a bit to make up for lost time. A couple of kilometres I said, "that's a bear." And so it was. It was a fairly young bear, probably 2 years old or so, and took off into the woods as we came up. My passengers were pretty excited since they had not seen a bear in the wild like that before.
Back at camp we handed in our sheets and stopped for lunch. We had been given a copy of stage #3 along with 2 copies of stage #2, so Stephanie started working out the time/distance calculations. It looked like a long trail judging by the number of pages. I took a few pictures and we relaxed for a bit.
We started out on route #3 fairly confidently. This time we had a bit of experience and Stephanie had done a lot of precalculation so she could enjoy the scenery. We drove back down the road to Squamish for about 4km before turning off to go up the hill. This is where we encountered the "water bars" marked on the instructions. I didn't know what they were called (I always refered to them as erosion ditches) but I recognized them when I saw them. They are medium sized ditches dug across the roadway with the spoil piled up on the downhill side. Their purpose is to divert water running down the middle of the road to the sides so the road bed is not eroded. Whatever they are called, they make for a bumpy ride. Not that the Jeep had problems with them or anything but my passengers were groaning everytime we went over one.
This route was a lot more scenic than the last since we climbed quite a ways up the hill. We eventually reached snow and collected a snowball (a measily 6" is all we could fit inside our cooler whereas the winner was 42"!). Again, we were passed by a number of trucks along the way.
We were just cruising along, hitting our mileage points perfectly when I noticed, as Stephanie turned the page, that instruction #34 (or so) suddenly jumped up to #58 (or so). I suddenly remembered that the same thing happened at the last TORR (I guess that's why they are 2 years apart; so we have time to forget) so I pointed the problem out and told her that she'd have to recalculate. There was a certain amount of cursing as she realized that most of her calculations were obsolete. She quickly got down to work though, helped by Vaughn. Fortunately, she had written down a lot of intermediate calculations that were still valid so she quickly got a few working calculations off for me.
The route back was uneventful. We did spot the answers to some of the quizzes that we missed on the way up (Alex is under Lark).
Back at camp we handed in our timesheets and took a break.
After a bit we were ready for stage #1 which would be the last of the day. But we realized that we didn't have any instructions. A TORR member confirmed that it should have been with our other instructions. Hmmm....maybe that's why we had 2 copies of stage #2 and 1 of #3; they had given us a copy of #2 instead of #1. After sorting this out, Stephanie took the new instructions and worked them out, this time checking for tricks.
This section was a lot shorter than the others. There weren't that many instructions and the distances were very short. The whole course added up to a bit over 5km.
Right off the bat we ran into trouble. We had just passed the first landmark and I got the distance for the next. It was only 0.05km away. I hit the brakes and looked off to the left and there was the road. We turned and proceeded down a tight forest trail. The next marker didn't appear as expected and I began to suspect we had taken a wrong turn when I spotted a car wreck up ahead. There was a reference to a Nissan in the instructions so I guessed that this was it. We turned at the intersection there and followed another Jeep out. Following the instructions though, would take us back to camp. Hmmm.... I guessed that we had taken the wrong road in and that the way we came out was supposed to be the way in. So we drove back and did it again. This time the directions made more sense and we made more progress. But we still wound up heading back to camp. Hmmm.... OK we went back to camp, reset our odometer and tried again from scratch. This time I figured out where I had made my wrong turn and we were on track. 20min behind but on track.
This part of the course was very tight and twisty through boulder strewn courses. Despite the bouncing around, my passengers loved it. Eventually we passed a checkpoint where we had to give the answers to the questions. One of the questions was "what is the first number on the tree". I said "802" but he wanted "8". I figured that it should be "numeral" then. Or "digit". Oh well...
While we were waiting, the Olsons entertained us by driving over a boulder about half the size of their Suzuki. My passenger, Vaughn, was particularily impressed with the airbag suspension. There was also a teeter totter for those that wanted to try it. While I saw a number of trucks try, and I tried myself, nobody was able to balance for very long.
After quite awhile, the awards got underway. There was quite a bit of loot with the top prize being $1000 worth of ARB accessories. As it happened, we came in near the bottom (again) and got an automatic transmission cooler. I'm not sure how it was possible to place so bad, even allowing for getting lost on the last stage. I suspect that the times being used for calculation are based on the route being driven by a particular driver (John Edgar maybe?) rather than strictly a calculation of distance/speed.
Anyways, the event was a good way to introduce some newbies to 4 wheeling and a good time was had by all. Now all I had to do was drive home with the sun in my eyes, drop off my passengers, go to White Rock to return the Jeep....
-- Bill Soo
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