Welcome back to AutoGuide’s exploits at the Mazda Adventure Rally. We rejoin team Eunos Cosmo (Sami and Mike) after they’ve completed the half-way point on the first day of driving.
We made a bee-line out of boulder Colorado and as per our challenge had our eyes on six landmarks, a risky move, as we were warned that five is the average, but Mike and I certainly don’t consider ourselves the average rally team. To help put us in the lead, we targeted the most landmarks that are on the continental divide, netting us bonus points.
Like many of the other landmarks on our journey, our first two landmarks were in a very scenic section of Colorado. The summit of Warrior mountain will be our first target, and the second, the Juniper pass. And proof with a photo is required.
We made excellent time out of boulder and into the rural mountain area, hitting every single traffic light, like the rally gods were smiling on us, and ushering us to victory. But then, in the mountain range, we were handed a major setback. A major portion of Sqaw road, where both the summit of Warrior Mountain, and Juniper pass are located, was under construction, leaving us to take a detour through a mountain road full of slow switchbacks.
The detour took us off our route by almost 15 minutes, something that left me, and more importantly Mike, a bit nervous. We pressed on, and fortunately found that the two landmarks were not caught in the crosshairs of the local construction. We grabbed our pics of the two locations and blasted off, back to the freeway. Mike reassured me that we can make up time “in the corners.” I held on and tried not to look over the cliffs.
Fortunately, our CX-9 was plenty capable, and aside from some squealing from the tires, the big crossover wasn’t trying to be dramatic on us.
We set off to our next landmark, the gorgeous Loveland pass, which gives a wonderful view of the roads below. On our way up to get to Loveland, we were sadly caught behind an 18-wheeler, and our CX-9’s V6 engine was pressed for power in the high altitude. We saw a passing opportunity and took it, barreling all the way up to the scenic point. We snapped our photos of the Loveland pass along with the indication of the continental divide, getting us our much deserved bonus points.
On the way back down to the interstate, we spotted a rival stuck behind the same 18 wheeler, but couldn’t pass him. Thank you rally gods!
Our next spot was the Eisenhower tunnel, and we’ll cross the continental divide while going through there. Staying close to the speed-limits, we were actually finding ourselves getting close to our original scheduled time. Maybe Mike was on to something, and the corners and on-ramps is where we’d find additional time.
There’s no spot to stop and take a picture of the continental divide in the Eisenhower tunnel, so Mazda will have to be happy with a blurry picture, and trust us that’s the sign.
Our next two passes were uneventful. We went through a street called Park St. South, which was happy with the fame from the South Park TV show. Our final two passes were tourist hotspots, meaning there was significant traffic in the area, but we were still on time, getting all our photos and ending up at the end of the section with time to spare. Fortunately, Mazda wasn’t penalizing teams for arriving early, just for taking longer than 4 hours and 15 minutes.
We were happy with our outcome in the first section, and found that we were the first group to arrive at the checkpoint, and as we chatted with other teams who came in, we may have been the only group that got six landmarks. Mike’s driving skill and my ability to help him prepare for the next turn, landmark and obstacle were confirmed as we got ready to set off for our next challenge of the day.
For section two of the rally, we have to get to the highest and lowest elevation in a defined location. We have two routes planned, one safe one, which offers up about a 10 minute margin of time, and another one that would be much more difficult in terms of both terrain and timing, but would net us the maximum amount of points. Which will we chose? Check back soon to find out!
Follow our progress on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Sami_HA and www.twitter.com/mikeschlee. Don’t forget to check out the main AutoGuide.com twitter account. Mazda also provided an excellent tracker for our readers to follow us in real time.