Searching for a victory

One of the true tests of a marriage is perhaps whether you can have your wife sit in the co-driver's seat of your 300 h.p. rally car with trees whizzing by at 200 km/h on a forest road and still be friends at the end of the race.

For certain, a healthy dose of insanity goes a long way in this type of environment, as does a reasonable level of self-preservation.

Regardless, Jackie has agreed to co-drive for me this year and I am thrilled. 

Rally is without a doubt my favourite sport to participate in and Jackie is about to find out why.

For the last several years, I have been busy doing advanced driver training and precision driving.

It is good to keep my hand in, but there is nothing like the adrenaline-fuelled anticipation as you sit on the start line of an event with the co-driver counting down those last few seconds and then you drop the clutch.

Like everything in life, I find the surge of adrenaline is very temporary. It is often precipitated by the tension of getting to the start line. The logistics, technical inspections, hotel arrangements and a busy few days prior to the actual rally.

Once the lights go green, my heart rate settles down and my brain engages with a cacophony of notes being read to me by Jackie.

Jackie, on the other hand, is probably petrified. A lot falls in to the co-driver's lap prior to and during the event and for a newbie rally co-driver, the fear of making a simple math error is paramount.

As drivers, we can be fighting for seconds on each stage or event tenths of seconds and yet a simple math error on a time card by the co-driver can lead to a penalty of a minute. 

To try and avoid the challenge, Jackie spent last week being coached by a Canadian champion co-driver, Nathalie Richard.

Nathalie, very kindly, spent a few hours online with Jackie coaching her about a number of management responsibilities both in the car and at the event (including managing the drivers desire to drive too quickly or too slowly).

Obviously, a two- or three-hour session online is not going to create a top quality co-driver, but if Jackie is less nervous at the first event we will have a fun time in the process of getting our feet wet again.

My goal is to have her stand on the hood of the car this year and celebrate a hard-earned victory — because victories always are hard. Nothing comes easy, but I have a suspicion Jackie has a knack for co-driving that is not completely natural.

In a test event several years ago, Jackie jumped in the passenger seat, picked up a set of notes for the stage we were running and announced she was going to read them.

Aside from the fact she had never seen a co-drivers short hand before, I had very little confidence that she could figure out how to pace the delivery of the notes. 

Well, she proved me wrong (which is not an uncommon occurrence in our 33 years of marriage). She kept her head down, delivered the notes almost perfectly and at the end exclaimed she had a problem. She had run out of notes! It was the fastest run through the stage we had done that day. Happy Valentine's Day honey, welcome to the team.

Massive thanks to Valley Mitsubishi, Big O Tires, Motorsports Fuel and Equipment Inc., Bell Helmets, Stroma Sign Group and Team Dynamics for their support in 2018. 


He paddled for the planet

The first time I met Bob was in the middle the Okanagan Lake arm heading in to Vernon. 

It was my second day attempting to paddle around the circumference of the lake on a paddleboard.

As I paddled in toward Vernon, a distant paddler calmly made his way steadily over to us. 

Bob Purdy had heard about our attempt and, after having paddled the length of the lake a year earlier, was eager to support us in our attempt. He had agreed to meet us in the Vernon area.

Bob introduced himself and the tall frame of a man inquisitively asked why I was paddling around the lake.

Oddly, as we were talking, Bob would wander away from my paddleboard, seemingly with another plan in mind. As someone who had only 24 hours experience on a paddleboard, I was more inclined to keep heading in the same direction I was on at that time.

A few minutes later Bob would return to our conversation and geographic location, but with some extra luggage:

  • a plastic bag
  • tin can
  • bottle.

Any trash would divert Bob from his course in an attempt to make the world a better place.

I had taken the time to read about Bob. He was in the midst of a committed program to paddle every day for an hour to show his support for changing the way we live to positively impact the planet.

In truth he really was interested in inspiring people to get committed to a cause. His was “Paddle For The Planet."

Bob was a friendly giant and from that day, we connected as friends. We were a most unlikely match, the capitalist and the environmentalist. We joked about my views of environmentalists, but one thing we were agreed upon is what a mess we have made of our planet. 

Over the years, we had several 5 a.m. paddles on Okanagan Lake, chatting, listening and watching the sunrise on a new day. Then, Bob moved to Tofino with his lovely wife, Sharon.

He was the focus of a locally produced movie, the Paddler. He would never have considered himself the star of the show and that attitude really epitomized Bob. The only thing he saw himself as was an “Elder In Training” and that perhaps is the takeaway for all of us.

You see, Bob understood that at the point where he felt he had arrived, he would have just failed his mission. He would have failed because he would have stopped influencing the world. 

To be an elder in training implies that we have more to learn, yet we are in a position of influence. That, to me, means that people are watching for our example.

Bob had nothing to hide in his life; he wore his morals and values on his shirtsleeve and he would defend them passionately. His goal was that you would believe in something so much that you would defend it passionately. 

I only have a couple for regrets in life and one of them was not being able to accompany Bob on a paddle board trip in to the Great Bear Rainforest after receiving such a special invitation from him.

He shaped my thinking at an important point in my life. He stood for something, something important and he left this world as a “world changer."

RIP Bob Purdy. 

S&R plays vital role

Recently, the Kootenay Search and Rescue region was inundated with one of the biggest volume of calls it has ever received over a 12-hour period.

Most SAR teams were scheduled to be on duty at Avalanche Awareness days at the ski resort in Nelson on the Sunday. My colleague and I packed gear on Saturday and agreed to make an early start.

Our plan was to set up rope rescue equipment and take a rescue dog with us to show to the public.

Saturday night started early with a call around 3 p.m. North of Kaslo, a film crew and skier got into some trouble when a jump went wrong. Leaving families abandoned at the dining room table, volunteers headed out to attempt to find the party and deal with an injured skier. 

At a similar time, more calls came in for missing snow boarders, skiers and sledders. 

My colleague called me and said pack for a day of backcountry skiing, we are on an active search first thing in the morning.

The day for us was spent being in a reserve position, ready to jump on a helicopter and assist with an evacuation. Two separate incidents kept us busy for the day, but the region as a whole had received 15 calls in 12 hours. 

The role that volunteer SAR teams play in B.C. is vital to assist wounded, lost and victims of incidents such as avalanches. Some teams, such as ours in Kaslo, are also first responders to motor vehicle accidents.

It is encouraging to see a group that willingly gives up their personal recreational time, family time or even work time to ensure many people remain safe, survive or are extracted from a very challenging circumstance.

More importantly, thousands of hours of volunteer time are used for training purposes to ensure familiarity with equipment and processes. 

It is extremely rare that we only have a couple of people respond to a call in Kaslo and certainly across the province there is a high level of co-operation between teams, which certainly was the case that weekend.

Knowing that the teams are funded through grants and donations, make sure you at least shake the hand of a SAR team member and thank them for the work they do.

You never know when you might meet them again. 

Don’t forget to get some training on how to safely travel in back country, no matter what the season or weather, and be prepared to be out there for longer than you planned.


Be careful out there

Winter Roads Need To Be Treated With Caution

When we lived in Canmore, I was always surprised at how many accidents occurred in Calgary during the first snow day. It would typically number in the hundreds.

I was surprised because Canada has well defined seasons and (global climate change aside) each is pretty predictable.

My grandmother would visit from the U.K. and sit in our dining room for hours. The mountains sure were beautiful, but when we questioned what she was looking at, she mentioned the number of cars spinning off the highway.

It was odd because it was a straight section of highway. As we joined her, we realized she was correct. Cars would be heading along a straight section of the highway and then suddenly spin off in to the ditch.

Frankly, there is no reason for this.

Tire technology is such that we can select tires that make sense. My friends over at Big O Tires can tell you that there are tires available for all kinds of weather. The challenge is that there is not a tire suitable for many types of weather.

Last night, my wife came close to losing her life in a head-on car accident on a mountain pass close to us.

She had (thankfully) a safe car and a new set of winter tires. Regardless of what the government suggests, the only tires you should drive on in winter in mountain passes are winter tires.

Forget all weather, all seasons with snowflakes. They don’t add up to much when you really need them.

She was heading uphill on her side of the road about 50 feet away from a blind left hand corner. I was about 500 metres ahead and a Toyota SUV passed me with the driver looking decidedly insecure judging by his line on the road and his driving posture. 

The good news, so I thought, was that he was driving slowly. I continued, assuming nothing of it. I could see some headlights behind me in the distance and carried on cautiously checking my rear-view mirror. After passing a lake and rounding a corner, no more than a minute later, I realized Jackie was not following.

I turned around looking for tracks of a car going over the edge and down a ravine.

As I approached the blind left hand corner that I referenced, a person was madly waving a flashlight. My heart sank when I realized it wasn’t Jackie.

All those bad thoughts came into my head, including she had driven off down a ravine.

The guy explained there had been a head on collision and a lady was in one of the cars.

“Yes, that is my wife,” I said and he quickly replied that she was OK.

As I approached, it was clear that the Toyota had no chance of making the corner. The tire tracks indicated a big slide even before the apex and a subsequent head on in Jackie’s lane. All airbags had deployed and a quick first aid check revealed no serious injuries. 

With no cell service in the area and no repeater for my Search and Rescue radio to alert anyone, we drove down the pass and made a 911 call as soon as possible.

While waiting for the police, I got to know the driver and passenger in the other truck. They were incredibly apologetic and admitted that they had lost control in the corner and hit Jackie in her lane.

I looked at their tires — below legal all terrain tires that were completely inappropriate for the mountain pass on that day.

The unfortunate thing is that they were from California and probably had no idea that they were supposed to have winter rated tires for mountain passes here.

So here are my take aways.

  • Don’t forget to let people know you love them. You never know when something like this could happen
  • Get winter tires on your car; there is still plenty of winter left.
  • Do an advanced driving course. Several hundred bucks will likely save your life.
  • Drive defensively. Thankfully, because both drivers were going slowly in the conditions, everybody walked away even though the photo looks ugly.
  • If you have guests in from out of town in the winter, or you meet someone from out of town, explain how we approach winter driving and don’t let them go over a mountain pass without the right tires.
  • If you are travelling in bad weather in a high pass, convoy with another vehicle or worse case scenario let someone know when you expect to be home. Without me there, everyone would have waited for four hours for a snowplow to pass. If someone is critically injured, that is the wrong amount of time to be waiting for help.

That way you might end up saving their life with a simple conversation. 

Stay safe.

More It's All About . . . articles

About the Author

Mark has been an entrepreneur for over forty years. His experience spans many commercial sectors and aspects of business. He was one of the youngest people to be appointed as a Fellow of the prestigious Institute of Sales and Marketing Management before he left the UK in 1988.

His column focuses on ways we can improve on success in our lives. Whether it is business, relationships, or health, Mark has a well-rounded perspective on how to stay focused for growth and development.

His influences come from the various travels he undertakes as an adventurer, philanthropist and keynote speaker. More information can be found on Mark at his website www.markjenningsbates.com

He is a Venture Partner with www.DutchOracle.com a global Alternative Investment company.

Mark Jennings-Bates:
[email protected]

Photo credit: www.SteveAustin.ca 

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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