Yep that’s right. I’m 27 today, and rest assured, I didn’t predict that my 27th birthday would be spent wrapping up a client in Italy then flying back home to my little flat in central London on a Friday night. It all feels pretty standard yet sounds oh so glamorous when written on the interwebs. I am, however, happy to be going about my life in uniquely my own way at this point, and I always thought doing that would be cool. I’ll also credit years of rally co-driving to being able to stay calm and focused when you’d rather throw down the pace notes and just enjoy the view (or just as often, unstrap your belts and eject!).
The past 2.5 months have been busy though – with some epic Wales Rally GB spectating at possibly the best spectating spot I’ve ever found, a rally through Grizedale Forest, working back and forth between the UK and Italy, stopping back home in PA for Christmas, and doing a little snowboarding in the Swiss & Austrian Alps after the new year. Not bad for an old man, even if I’m still sore..
(the epic 25 second view from Dyfi at Wales Rally GB - first corner is where Kubica rolled the 2nd time)
The last week of November, Alex and I (also Alex ftw) decided to enter the Grizedale Stages Rally for some fun and a little extra seat time together before the more serious stuff in 2014. It’s a small 1 day event up in the Lakes District, making the most of the legendary Grizedale stages from the classic RAC Rally. Still, Matthew Wilson and Chris Patterson showed up to compete in a Ford Fiesta R5 for a bit of fun as well.
For both of us it had been a while since we had done an event with no recce – and the sheer terror of dealing with seemingly every other corner not being quite right when you’re used to committing 100% all the time, is just a tad..unsettling, and despite good stage times from the start, it took us until the penultimate stage to really get in the groove and feel comfortable. Coupled with Alex’s man-flu (always nice to see your driver with his head down hacking out a lung while flat in 5th gear) and dealing with blinding morning sun up until noon (with blinding evening sun from 2pm onward - thanks latitude), it wasn’t easy day of casual fun and testing. However, the last Grizedale stage, 16.4 miles of proper Lakes District forestry all combined into one treacherous, ditch-lined joy of a stage at least left us feeling good at the end of it. 7th Overall with Matt Wilson’s R5 being the winner, first in 2wd (against some proper non-historic Mk2 Escorts) by over a minute, and not a scratch on the car is more than one can ever hope for, but my god was that little event stressful. I can see why McRae put the car on its roof here, more than once if I recall.
(Neither of us remember this corner - just standard to be on the edge of the ditch/cliff in Grizedale)
(Onboard on the last stage at Grizedale)
Since last time I wrote, it’s already become very busy on this side of pond, but I like it. I feel as though I get a lot more out of the time and effort I spend working, whether it’s for rallying, my job, or merely my personal life. It’s a ton of new rallies, it’s working in new countries, it’s coming to grips with new people from new cultures.. it’s a new attitude, in general. I know I’m somewhat biased in thinking, the choices I made are best (or else why would I make them!?), but I truly believe that living and working in a new country with no definite end in sight yields tremendous personal growth..to the extent it almost frightens me to think of how close I came to NOT deciding to move, or that it’s not something most people seriously consider doing.
On that note, now that it’s the New Year, it’s time for me to put a little extra time into the budgeting for next year, start coming up with a solid ROI for doing more than *just* the British Rally Championship, and putting in a little extra time at work for some brownie points when my all too busy rally schedule becomes borderline unreasonable this Spring. It’s all off-season kind of stuff until April hits, but I’ll keep you all updated along the way!