Now that we have met the other teams it was time to get going. The day would see us travel from Calgary into the prairies, foothills and then the mountains through Banff and Jasper national parks before ending up in small town central Alberta. Time to see if our decorations hold at highway speed and a good test for the Tercel as this would be the first time we had really driven it out of town since buying it.
Here is the map for the first day with the distance covered projected to be about 500 kms (310 miles).
As in other years the day started with a driver’s meeting where the guidelines were explained and maps handed out. I took advantage of this non-driving time to wear my pig mask. I also wore my special Lada t-shirt which I am encouraged not to wear unless it is a special occasion like this and my wife is not present.
Unfortunately the pig mask was extremely hard to see out of as you have to view the world through the nostrils, so not suitable for driving in. Luckily my mother made us a team set of basic pig noses the night before.
A luck would have it I heard later that there were several teams who had issues right at the start line but our Hamborghini fired right up and we were off.
The first task was to get out of Calgary which meant driving through some congestion and construction (not in the above photo obviously) before hitting Highway 1A to Cochrane. As you would expect, a car with a pig nose and an oversized wooden wing gets a few looks. In fact I would suggest if you crave attention on the road skip the exotic cars and customize a beater. We got mostly thumbs up, laughs, looks of astonishment and the occasional scowl. Once in a while a passenger would take a photo likely making our Tercel the most photographed example in the country. There was a small population that seemed to have no reaction at all and I cannot fathom what one’s life story would have be to get that jaded but I feel sorry for them.
Our out of town first stop was in Cochrane at a local bar which meant my boys could not come in. So I had time for a quick stop to say hi to the owners and we were on our way. While they were not of drinking age two of my boys were of driving age which meant I could relax, spot scavenger hunt items and take more photos myself this time around.
The oldest of the Volvos was troubleshooting a transmission issue already. Something about not getting first gear which is something I suspect I would have just lived with on a mostly highway rally.
Interestingly I found out that the owner of this Mazda B2200 mini truck lives around the block from me and has a daughter in the same school as one of my boys. Small world.
I received a few comments that our Tercel was blowing a bit of smoke and smell under load. I was not sure if the EGR valve was getting clogged again or if we were or burning a bit of oil. Where does one take a sick Hamborghini? Sadly the animal clinic was closed and I did not relish the idea of taking the EGR valve off at the side of the road so I vowed to keep a somewhat close eye on the oil level and continue on. As clearly demonstrated by the rear suspension droop our poor little Tercel had a bit of weight problem with the four of us, tools, snacks and camping supplies.
Soon we headed west along the slower but more scenic Highway 1A towards the Rocky Mountains. The drag created by the nose was quite noticeable and significantly more so than just the wing alone. The sunroof handle had been broken previously by someone who wishes to remain anonymous and with the addition of the decoration securing rope it was rather noisy inside at highway speeds.
Along for the ride we had a couple pig related games to play in case anyone got bored. This one you roll the pigs like dice and get points depending on what positions they land in. The other one involved pressing a plastic pig’s stomach and it will sing a song while you pass it around. Once the singing stops it farted and the player holding it gained a point. Or something like that. Predictably the kids preferred their electronic devices.
One of the more enjoyable aspects of the Great Beater Challenge is meeting the other teams at the sights along the route. While space was tight in our car it had to be much worse for the Austin A40 team with four adults in that car.
Once we hit Canmore and the start of the mountains we decided to stop for gas as it gets harder to find and more expensive the further you go in. The Tercel was getting amazing mileage especially considering the additional weight and aerodynamic drag of the decorations. I checked the oil and it had used very little which was comforting.
We headed toward and past Banff before then heading north towards Jasper.
Unfortunately we heard that the Austin A40 put a rod through the side of the block and the 1975 Toyota Corolla blew up its rear differential.
As we headed north the road got smaller and the mountains bigger.
The road between Jasper and Banff offers some of the best scenery in the Rockies.
Hopefully this station wagon in a sea of SUVs is just doing an oil check.
It started to rain and our sunroof leaked a bit with the decorations mounted through it.
A few nice lakes along the route.
Now at Saskatchewan Crossing, Alberta we came across Peter, the challenge organizer, who is the owner of this Toyota Previa which was intended as a challenge vehicle but over budget as a competitor. It is now lowered and with moon discs unlike most minivans.
We saw a bear!
A bunch of competitors piled up for some last minute checks before heading down the David Thompson Highway which is the focus of part two. To be continued…
Full The Great Beater Challenge 2019 segments: