July, 2011 Archives

Once we finally saw Bam Bam on the course we packed up and made our way to try and catch them at the final stage in Poland, a water crossing. We got there moments after unfortunately so we made our way to the final camp, Dresden, Germany. All seemed well as we crossed the border with the sun setting. (Keep in mind the sun sets around 10:30pm) Then in the span of 3 minutes I received 2 calls. 1)Alois and Denise’s ride to Germany had broken down and they were stranded back at the water crossing, hundreds of kilometers back, and 2)Jay wasn’t able to shift gears as the clutch had gone out. Momentarily, chaos seemed to resume.

Our lost teammates found another ride and Brandon, Josh and I caught up with Jay and got his clutch fixed up enough to run the final stage of the day, the man made course there at camp in the outskirts of Dresden.

The next day the race was cut short with several accidents and we all converged on Dresden town center to watch Jay cross the finish line on Augustusbroker. Ironically the celebration coincided with a spectacular Gay Pride Festival and a couple boys selling balloons to fund a bachelor party.

7 days of racing through the dirt, sand, swamps, rivers and quaint Polish villages had come to an end. Broken relationships and unimog parts, miles and miles of miscalculated routes and navigation missteps, a few rental vehicle mishaps and hours and hours of lost sleep had brought us to this finish. The first American team racing in the Breslau-Dresden Adventure Rallye had finished and placed #11 out of 23 trucks in our category that finished. 36 had started. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into and only by sheer force of will were we able to finish what we had started. Jay Couch and his team built and delivered a truck and one way or another made it to the finish line. Magpul Industries took a gigantic risk in funding such an endeavor with a whole lot of trust put in only a couple peoples hands. With out that trust, it never would have happened.  The Breslau-Dresden Rallye was without question one of the most difficult and incredible things I have ever been part of. Thank you Magpul and Jay Couch Off Road Engineering, I can’t wait to try it again.

After we finally got the axle fixed and Jay and Tobi on their way we had to pack up and drive 500 km back south to Zagon. But first we had to try and locate the FedEx package that had been following me around Poland. With only a couple days left the custom made tshirts & stickers would need to be distributed straight away. My car packed to the gills with people and luggage we found our way to a small hotel in a small town with no English speaking residents to be found. Also no FedEX. Alas..I’d have to abandon.  Remarkably, as I was writing down my name and Polish phone number with absolutely no confidence I would ever hear from the lovely ladies, the box arrived!! We celebrated by purchasing a freshly cooked, multi-course Polish meal in the banquet hall. With our belly’s full we hit the road and thankfully Denise took the wheel as the other 3 of us had been up all the night before.

Our one night camp in Zagon was just outside the city limits and we quickly set up our tents in the light rain at the edge of the forest next to some abandoned train tracks that stopped at a tall concrete platform. My ventures into the woods to investigate were met with a terrible eerie feeling as I found old abandoned buildings. ( I later found out we were camping at Stalag Luft III a POW camp that was featured in the movie The Great Escape. There was also a mass burial site with 20k people buried within yards of our camp) The next morning we did a quick photo shoot, Bill, Brandon and I packed up and set off trying to capture Bam Bam in the race. I had still yet to see our truck anywhere but the start line or camp. Following shared coordinates we narrowly escaped getting stuck in the sand, driving onto the race course and at one point found ourselves on a live fire military base where we were escorted into a small building to view the race on a surveillance screen. But all that is story for drinks some time. Regardless…I finally, finally saw our truck racing.

*Don’t forget you can click to enlarge to see the full image.

We had our share of challenges at this race. First getting the truck ready in 4 months or less, next getting the truck to Germany in time for the race, then preparing the final fixes at camp before the start, logistical and team communication and interpersonal challenges, misc. mechanical challenges, navigation challenges, language challenges..we had no shortage. But what could have been the final blow for this team was on day 4 when the $23,000 axle was bent during a long 15 hour day. After much deliberation and logistical problem solving we had a refurbished axle freighted in from Germany. We spent the entire day handling the logistics of finding the axle and arranging for delivery, the entire night was removing the old axle, discovering other problems to be fixed and waiting for the new axle to be delivered. We had come this far, we were determined to finish. Super props to team mechanics Josh Valentine and Alois Schleibinger who not only completed the task at hand, but did it with determination to get Bam Bam fixed up on on the road to a strong finish.

So I was lucky enough to have an incredible experience of representing Team Magpul/Couch at the Breslau Adventure Rallye in Poland & Germany a couple weeks ago.  Jay Couch and team created the now infamous BamBam the Magpul / Couch mog that was the first American entry in this extremely difficult rally race through the back woods, sandpits, rivers, and swamps of Poland. I learned a ton, but mostly I learned that I really want to go back. And drive it.

Don’t forget to click to enlarge on the thumbnails. Someday (soon hopefully) there will be a gallery feature here instead. For now, pretend like you are in 1990.


Gorgeous. Joni Sternbach

Joni Sternbach

Digging this womans work. Robin Schwartz

Robin Schwartz