By Blake Herzog
Raelynn Roderick of Prescott Valley picked up a love of the outdoors and camping from her family when she was a kid, along with some mad pre-GPS navigational skills from her dad during road trips.
In hindsight, she thinks that might have been to shut down her frequent “Are we there yets?”
She still loves driving and the outdoors and is reading maps again for her second Rebelle Rally, which started Oct. 12 and runs through Oct. 21. In what is the first U.S. women’s off-road navigation rally raid, participating teams must rely on old-school maps, compasses and other analog tools as they drive from the Lake Tahoe area through the California deserts to the Imperial Sand Dunes on the Mexican border.
“The way the format is set up, they send us down trails for a reason, and a lot of time it’s to teach us a lesson,” Roderick says. “And they also want to take you through some pretty incredible terrain, with some pretty incredible views, so this course is taking us to places we would never go on our own.”
Roderick teamed up again with Sheila Long of Smithville, Texas, after they found each other last year through the rally’s database, a.k.a. “Tinder for Rebelle.” She first heard about it at a booth at the Overland Expo in Flagstaff, and it “sounded like it was a little bit out of my comfort zone, which it is because it pushes your comfort zone in every way that you can think, but I enjoy things that I can see as a challenge,” she says.
The competition is scored on accuracy rather than speed, with teams clicking in via satellite phones when they reach specific points and camping together in a different location every night.
Roderick and Long finished eighth out of the rookies in last year’s standings and in the middle of the pack overall, finishes they’re hoping to improve on this fall. In August Roderick took third place in the Nomad Overland Virtual Adventure Rally, a 10-week self-paced competition with 37 contestants or teams from around
Roderick has lived in Arizona for more than 20 years, and she and her husband Dennis explore the trails and campgrounds of Greater Prescott and Central Arizona in their spare time.
“There’s a lot of trails, even more trails than I know about, around here,” she says.
Camp Wood by Williamson Valley is one place she always returns to for driving practice, and she says maps from the Forest Service and stores like the Hike Shack in downtown Prescott make it easy to find new spots to explore. They often go out with the Summit 4×4 Girls Tribe club locally or camp in the Williams area.
“My main thing is to just get out and explore,” she says. “And as long as you’re following the laws and don’t get into any trouble, it’s just taking that first step and getting out to explore.”
To learn more about the Rebelle Rally visit www.rebellerally.com.