23 Sep Outback
Welcome to the Outback! Currently, our team is here in Port Augusta doing pre-race preparations.
We’re looking to confirm and improve upon the models that we developed in California. There are a few things in the Outback that are different from the Central Valley: First, the road surface on the Stuart Highway is rougher than the roads we drove on in California. Second, the solar insolation varies with geographic location. Today, we woke up to find our tents deflating from 40kph winds, gusting to 66kph. Since aerodynamic losses are the single largest factor in power consumption, we realized that we needed to better integrate wind data in our model.
Race team drills provided a nice break from the monotony of data collecting. Apart from the usual pull-over-and-change-tire-drills, we also did some convoy passing testing — in another language. At one point, our intrepid chase radio operator Rachel was speaking in Spanish to the “Spanish convoy,” English to our convoy, while also communicating with a road train on a different radio attempting to pass both convoys. Needless to say, it was quite an authentic experience.
Nights in the outback are a welcome break from the heat and the flies during the day. One sign in front of Glendambo, a small town in the Outback, reads “Population: People – 50, Sheep – 2,000, Flies – 2,000,000.” I would say that it is not far off. Because our team is sustained by cereal and PB&J during the day, dinner is a definite highlight; we all pitch in and prepare the most tasty dinner possible with far too few pots and pans. We’re getting better at it!