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Old 26th February 2011, 12:52   #1
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Default Desert Storm 2011 – Marshal Law

I’ve wanted to do this since a while. Last year I could be with the rally for just leg one because I didn’t have enough leaves. This time I applied several months is advance. Now, which manager can object to such proactive planning even if it is for a week long leave of absence!

Here I am, in Bikaner already through six stages and gearing up for the next one. After about 3000kms of driving, there is an hour’s break and I can record and share the experience.

The route in brief before I start pouring out the details:
20th Feb – Delhi to Palanpur in Gujarat
21st – Palanpur to Camp Dhordo 80kms ahead of Bhuj
22nd – Rann of Kutch
23rd Kutch to Barmer
24th Barmer to Phalodi
25th Phalodi to Bikaner
The official convoy will now move towards Neem ka Thana, near Jaipur, and set up the last stage and that would be ‘the Sting’.

So far the rally has proven true to its claim to be the ‘ultimate adventure’, and how!
I shall let the pictures do the rest of the talking for now.
Watch this space for more ...
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Official convoy at Camp Dhordo in Rann of Kutch
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Old 26th February 2011, 20:11   #2
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Default Re: Desert Storm 2011 – Marshal Law

I have subscribed I am glued to the updates. Amazing snaps, mind sharing your camera kit.
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Old 28th February 2011, 13:18   #3
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After the last post I didn’t get any time, even for a shuteye. Now we are back home and sufficiently rested. I’ll restart the DS story from the top...

We left from Delhi in the wee hours of Sunday morning – 20th Feb. We had barely slept last night, for us the rally had already started. Finish packing by 0200hrs, start rolling at 0530hrs – as early as possible to beat the dreadful traffic jam at Manesar. We made it to Jaipur in barely 3.5hrs and drove nonstop till Chittorgarh where we caught up with a group of officials who had left Delhi before us. Our bunch was required in Bhuj by 21st morning. Another batch was on its way to Ahemdabad for ceremonial flag-off and would join the rest of the gang just before the start of leg 1 on 22nd.

Most of our group decided to push for Bhuj the same day. But we had to hold back for our friends in Gypsy - Suzy Blu. This wild one is a pain on highways, takes a lot of push to keep going beyond 100. Anyway, we didn’t mind as we were thoroughly enjoying the roads. The stretch of NH76 from Udaipur to Pindwara was the most amazing. With 100kms of smooth tarmac cutting through the hills, that road rivals the best of the tarmacs around the world.

Just as we were enjoying the ride, we got a frantic call from Suzy – they had run out of fuel. We were in an area infamous for Bheel tribals and there were no petrol pumps 30kms in either direction. The only option we had was to tow Suzy till Pindwara.

Picture this, a 3L Tata Safari towing Maruti Gypsy on the slopes for almost 40kms. It was a test of patience and manoeuvring to move with least tugs and pulls. About 10kms before the expected petrol pump the route morphed into a dirt track and then a narrow road through Pindwara. We were now moving through badly bumpy roads, chasing dogs, and enthusiastic natives gesturing right while directing us to go left.

After what seemed like a long haul we decided to take a night halt at Palanpur and left for Bhuj next morning, on 21st.

It was a cruise from Palanpur to Bachau in Gujarat. There are 15-20kms of straight roads cutting through wide spans of land. The only stoppages were toll booths, too many of them. Neither have I seen such roads in India which are so well kept nor so understanding that they make wrong-side traffic acceptable and expected. The roads were lined with signs warning “careful of wrong-side traffic.”

Once in Bhuj the convoy regrouped and headed out to Camp Dhordo about 80kms away and at the edge of White Rann.

The convoy lined up to take in the first glimpses of Rann and listen to ACOC – Sudev’s insights from the recce. Remaining for the day was training where all officials went through the DCOC manual and road book to understand our duties through all stages and agree upon radio-comm decorum.



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Officials at White Rann


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Sunrise over White Rann - pullup your socks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by droolingvoyager View Post
I have subscribed I am glued to the updates. Amazing snaps, mind sharing your camera kit.
I use a Canon 7D & 50D and an assortment of lenses

Last edited by trance_nut : 28th February 2011 at 13:29. Reason: reply to quoted question
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Old 28th February 2011, 13:47   #4
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Default Re: Desert Storm 2011 – Marshal Law

Awesome pictures. Awaiting more of the adventure updates.

BTW what camera do you use?

Cheers
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Old 28th February 2011, 14:06   #5
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Default Re: Desert Storm 2011 – Marshal Law

Great account.
That was quite a run.
Good tip about the absence of facilities on the Udaipur-Pindwara sector.
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Old 28th February 2011, 14:16   #6
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Default Re: Desert Storm 2011 – Marshal Law

I have been waiting for this report ever since Sudev put up his recce experiences. Great pictures there Nitin.
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Old 28th February 2011, 14:35   #7
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Default Re: Desert Storm 2011 – Marshal Law

Brilliant start with the report nitin. Was hoping that someone would come up with a full blown report of the Desert storm.
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Old 28th February 2011, 19:23   #8
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Arrow Re: Desert Storm 2011 – Marshal Law

Hai Trance Nut,

Great report and awesome pictures.

Was there myself with a friend for the Gujarat leg till 24th at S&G and TC 37 but had to come back. Just adding a couple of pictures.... not hijacking your thread Awaiting more of your lovely pictures..

On duty at Sunrise, Khavda Road
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The Rann round..... way to dusty glory.
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Getting off duty.... sunset.
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--Ramky
=====

Last edited by ramkya1 : 28th February 2011 at 19:27.
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Old 1st March 2011, 15:02   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ramkya1 View Post
Just adding a couple of pictures.... not hijacking your thread
Most welcome to add to the story I remember hearing you on radio, we were H39. If I am not wrong then Sudev replaced your hop later.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MileCruncher View Post
BTW what camera do you use?
I've used a Canon 7D & 50D for the photographs in this log.

Alright, taking the story forward..

Leg 1 – Twilight Rann
The day began with a mesmerizing sunrise over White Rann. Most of us rushed out before light. Last night’s spectacular moonrise had hinted at what is not to be missed. All vehicles going in were stopped at a BSF post. They advised everyone against taking vehicles off the track and into the salt bed. It was still very wet and as bad as a quicksand, besides the track itself was tricky enough to test off road skills. Going further off was a suicidal attempt. I personally wouldn’t want to do such a thing and spoil the pristine beauty with dirty tread marks. We left our vehicle at the end of the track and paid respect to nature’s magnanimity by stepping down. Soon we were rewarded by the most beautiful sunrise we had seen till date. While an over-enthusiastic driver was too preoccupied with his wheels sinking deeper– donuts being garnished with salt.

The convoy checked out of the camp to go through the first stage. The objective was to familiarize everyone with their locations for the evening so that all hops can be placed quickly during setup. This proved to be a warm-up for everyone. The following can best narrate the journey through Great Rann:


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Competitors flagged off from Ahemdabad were scheduled to enter SS1 – Twilight Rann at 0730hrs. All officials were in place about an hour earlier as per the practice. Our TC was close to village Udai hence it was our responsibility to warn the villagers about the upcoming storm. A stage marshall is responsible for minimizing security breaches for competitors, spectators, as well as themselves.

All villagers soon packed off for the night behind the safety of fencing made out of thorny bushes to prevent wild animals from coming into their houses. We were the only ones left in the open with jackals and foxes, who vociferously made their presence clear.

There we were under the star-studded sky hearing the Canidae opera, until the roaring extremes silenced the rest.

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They kept coming out of the bushy labyrinth, which lead suddenly to a wide open stretch where we were place. Many of them will get lost in various narrow tracks within and will emerge out like misguided missiles headed directly at us. In night stages most competitors tend to cut a beeline to the flashing lights of TC.

As always many competitors were lost somewhere or the other in the stage and had to be hunted out. It was 0300hrs by the time we were swept out and reached Bhuj. Only to start rolling at 0500 to setup the next stage – Great Rann.



PS: Please bear with the periodic updates. Gotto fulfill a job that sponsors all this action! Be back in the evening with the next stage!
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Old 1st March 2011, 15:28   #10
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Default Re: Desert Storm 2011 – Marshal Law

Trancenut - You are getting us in a trance with your pictures. Two threads from officials. Wow where are the participants?
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Old 1st March 2011, 16:53   #11
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I didn't have a radio so Sudev was there most of the time to do the Hop. Later I was there for the TC with Ratnam Desai (his car had a radio and he did the hop), so it was a dawn to dusk affair though we were on tarmac.

Carry on...... your photos are a sight for sore eyes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by trance_nut View Post
Most welcome to add to the story I remember hearing you on radio, we were H39. If I am not wrong then Sudev replaced your hop later.


........................Be back in the evening with the next stage!
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Old 1st March 2011, 17:47   #12
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Default Re: Desert Storm 2011 – Marshal Law

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Trancenut - You are getting us in a trance with your pictures. Two threads from officials. Wow where are the participants?
Well said Sudev Sir,

Some participants should also share their experience.

But I think "A man behind everything" should also write. A new thread with organizer's views will show hidden things.

I have read your Moghul Road Rally experience, so no excuse please.
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Old 1st March 2011, 23:40   #13
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Leg 2, SS2 – The Great Rann


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It was a long day. We were in position for another Rann sunrise and another run. The track looped through Great Rann 1.5 times and crossed the Tropic of Cancer. It was meant for all four categories of vehicles – Extreme, Moto/Quad, Endure, and Explore.

We were placed towards the end of first loop covering about 300kms. This area is heavily patrolled by BSF. Soon they started their daily firing practice. For hours shockwaves from cannons kept shaking our car. When they were done, the extremes started roaring.



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The section under our watch was an expressway of sorts, with wide stretch of land visible till several kilometres. The vehicles would appear as a mirage on the horizon and would seem to solidify as they get closer.



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The stage had its on hurdles. As is customary with all DS stages, a few cars toppled. A car toppled after crossing the second last TC. With help from marshals the wheels were brought back onto ground and within 15mins the participants had resumed.

Another one overheated and stalled a few kms short of our TC. Somehow they managed to get it going, although at a snail’s pace, and reached the TC. The driver was fuming, as hot as the radiator, while the co-driver was cool enough to socialize with the lady manning the TC. They borrowed water from us, (precious Bisleri, spared generously) poured it into radiator and thoughtlessly turned the ignition, spouting coolant on my car! The driver kept on the disgusted expression and the co-driver continued with his civil enquiries.

Nonetheless they too didn’t give up – moved on, stalled again, moved on again and reached the finish.



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From SS2 onwards the officials were split into two groups. We were in the group which was to be relieved from the stage earlier because we had to advance to Barmer for SS4, while the other group stayed back for SS3 – Rann Déjŕ vu.

The first loop was over by 0130 and we swept out of the track. But we couldn’t be spared to be on the way to Barmer till 0530hrs. We had slept for barely an hour the previous night and had 600kms ahead of us.

We decided to drive nonstop to earn a few hours of sleep later. We made it in 8hrs with a little push, an attempt to find optimum routes, some offroad adventure and a lot of help from the excellent GPS system that we were armed with.

PS: the GPS system deserves a dedicated post, may be later
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Old 3rd March 2011, 02:43   #14
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Default Re: Desert Storm 2011 – Marshal Law

Wow. This is like a treat for a small kiddo. 2 logs by marshals. Awesome pictures and great story there. You surely know how to keep people waiting. Take your time but i wanna know everything too
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Old 3rd March 2011, 16:55   #15
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Awesome Awesome Awesome pictures. I am glued to this thread.
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