Mercedes and Elise completed their first Rebelle Rally with impressive results. We follow up with these two bad-ass women after first talking with them in June as they were planning for the event. They share stories of sheep blocking the roads, flying "just a little bit", and all the good stories from such an amazing event.
These are two strong women that should inspire all women to tackle off-road adventure in ways that will challenge you and teach you some of the finer skills in overlanding.
Tied 20th overall in the 4x4 class
Top 1/3rd of the 4x4 rookie teams
Distance: Nearly 4,000 miles traveled on tarmac, dirt, gravel. 1,600 miles completed using only maps, road books, and a compass.
We had the privilege of catching up with Team Free Range Dames at the NW Overland Rally in Plain, WA. After a short conversation with Elise, seeing her passion along with her genuine persona, we knew having her and her partner Mercedes on the podcast was something you would find great value in. Enjoy this live interview from our booth at the rally as we learn about their story and the importance of their message.
Elise and Mercedes are two women competing in the 2018 Rebelle Rally, the first offroad navigational challenge of its kind in the United States. The course spans over 2,000 km (1,243 miles) from Lake Tahoe to San Diego. Elise will be navigating while Mercedes commands the driving portion in their 2012 Toyota Tacoma (provided by Bomber Products) during this ten day overlanding challenge. Adding to the complexity of the rally, the Rebelle Rally prohibits the use of GPS! Relying 100% on old-school map and compass skills along with dead-reckoning. Keeping with these “back to basics” skills, there will also be no Binoculars, Zoom lenses greater than 200mm or 12x zoom lens capabilities, Personal maps with a scale less than 1:500000, Any Internet enabled device (including iPhones, iPods, etc.), Any two-way radios, Any rally computer that has a TSD mode that corrects or provides information for course corrections, deviations, calculation corrections including: Alfa Elite, Timewise, Rally GDP, TSD Rally Runner, RallyCore XSI, etc.. (we’re unclear if they can stop at the gas station and ask for directions :) we do believe having fun is encouraged.
This isn’t a race for speed, but a vehicle-based event that uses navigation skills and driving wits to find hidden checkpoints across the Nevada and California desert (as well as Glamis sand dunes). Rally teams need to find each checkpoint at the right time, in the right distance, while only using maps, compass, and a road book.
Our interview with Elise and Mercedes was full of passion, along with an impressive message we feel strongly about supporting. Empowering women and women leaders within the overlanding industry, much like any industry is an equal balance. We welcome and encourage the leadership of women like Elise and Mercedes, along with everyone else as equals.
A little about these two awesome women:
Elise is a passionate explorer who strongly believes in “making it happen” with a combination of grit and simply taking the first step. Elise is a freelancer specializing in geospatial applications, web development who also helps her husband Josh with his business, Bomber Products. Recently, Elise co-founded Big Sky Overland Rally, the first overlanding event of its kind in Montana.
You can follow her travels and adventures on Instagram at @elise.bent
Mercedes is a Portland Oregon-based freelancer and adventurer who specializes in all things related to vehicular adventure travel. She, along with her husband Andy, run Crankshaft Culture, an automotive website dedicated to “getting out there” (no matter what type of vehicle you own). Mercedes, a dual citizen of the United States and Germany, loves to travel. Her most recent trips include exploring New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and many of the western states.
Getting these ladies some gas money for the Rebelle Rally will support them with fuel costs, equipment costs like helmets and a terratrip rally computer, along with parts of the entry fee for the overland rally.
GoFundMe Page: Team Free Range Dames
Facebook Page: @teamfreerangedames