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First, I have to thank Mapbox for sending me out to the Rebelle Rally. I enjoyed getting a real behind-the-scenes look at the event and was able to run at trucks and SUVs like a spider monkey set free in the jungle for the first time. But I did more than play at the Rebelle Rally. I missed lunch twice due to spending time observing competitors and learning new skills. There was a lot of learning to do. If you’re new to this women-only race, buckle up for the facts. 

11 Things you didn’t know about the Rebelle Rally 

Jeep Gladiator in the Rebelle Rally
Jeep Gladiator in the Rebelle Rally | Rebelle Rally

For a little background information, the Rebelle Rally is an eight-day race that covers over 1,500 miles of rough terrain. It starts in Nevada and ends in the Glamis Dunes in Southern California. Each team has a navigator and driver, but no tech is allowed. You don’t even have your phone. 

You get a road book, compass, and map to scout out certain checkpoints that must be found within a specific time limit. Each team gets a new set of coordinates in the morning with about an hour to map them out. 

Plus, you are put in the elements. You have a tent to sleep in each night. However, the base camp does feed the competitors each day. 

Before we really dive into the details, here is a list of my favorite activities from the desert: 

Rebelle Rally Coffee and Cars
Rebelle Rally Coffee and Cars | Allison Barfield, MotorBiscuit
  • I learned how to do donuts in a Rivian R1S. 
  • I watched a Rebelle change a tire like a pro. I’ve never seen anyone change a tire so quickly. 
  • I got some basic off-roading training and tips in the sand dunes. 
  • I got to ride in a Jeep Wrangler 4xe that jumped dunes. 
  • One night, coyotes ran through the camp, and they sounded majestic. They weren’t yippie and annoying like the ones in South Carolina. 
  • Each morning had fresh Cafe Motor coffee, which is the best coffee I’ve ever had. 
  • During Coffee and Cars, teams let us check out their vehicles. They loved answering questions and letting us touch all sorts of buttons. 
  • Now I know that UV hats, shirts, and pants really protect fradgile pale skin.
  • I got an up-close experience with the Rivian R1T and learned how to open the gear tunnel. 
  • I rode in a Ford Ranger outfitted with a Total Choas suspension, which was incredibly smooth. 
  • An experienced racer gave me a wild ride in his rail buggy. Sand went everywhere. 
  • I was accepted into the group like a family member and danced at the gala. 
  • I received an inside look at how the team is able to put on such a massive event with the planning, mapping, tech, safety, scoring system, logistics, meal planning, and more. 

1. Rebelle Rally is the ultimate proving ground 

The trucks and SUVs that compete in the Rebelle Rally are stock vehicles. They aren’t customized with off-roading upgrades. You can upgrade your tires, but that’s about it. This allows manufacturers to test how capable the vehicles are. 

For example, the new Kia Sportage X-Pro, Hyundai Santa Cruz, and Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition each made an appearance this year and completed the race. You get a bonus for having a bone stock vehicle too. 

Some of these vehicles aren’t designed to tackle the challenges across various altitudes, changing terrain, and fluctuating temperatures. But it proves that millions of vehicles just sitting in driveways are more capable than you think. 

Also, on the competition side, the Ford Bronco hasn’t been able to defeat the Jeep Wrangler. But the Ford Bronco Sport dominates the X-Cross class. 

2. Electric vehicles can compete 

2022 Rivian R1S getting its tire changed
2022 Rivian R1S getting its tire changed | Allison Barfield, MotorBiscuit

There are plug-in hybrid vehicles and fully electric vehicles in the race. For example, the Jeep Wrangler 4xe, Rivian R1T, and Rivian R1S served up some fierce competition. But keeping up with your charge could be challenging. 

Hydrogen-powered trucks were providing sustainable energy for the electrified teams. If you needed to charge your vehicle, you could stop at the truck for an hour. But the teams are separated during the charging time. 

This prevents them from getting an extra hour of route planning. Also, they get extra time to check in to green points to make up for the time spent charging. 

3. You might not have much privacy 

Rebelle Rally check point
Media stalking the Rebelle Rally participants at a checkpoint | Allison Barfield, MotorBiscuit

During the 10-day event, you are with your partner. The two of you are in the car together for 12 hours or more each day. Then you get to share a tiny tent each night. You might be able to sneak away to use a porta-potty or take a quick shower alone, though. 

Also, the media team is watching. There are drones flying around the course. Plus, media teams set up near checkpoints to take photos and videos. 

Media vehicles follow competitors sometimes to watch their performance. I participated in ride-along trips to watch Rebelles in action. Some teams drove too quickly to keep up with, while others sat still to plot their routes.  This is all done very carefully to avoid giving checkpoint locations away.

Also, bodily functions happen. When nature calls, answer the phone, even though there might not be a place to go.

You might find a bush to hide behind. Some teams drape a sheet across the vehicle doors to make a privacy screen. Others go in the wild, and at least one rear end was accidentally caught on camera during my stay. 

4. The Rebelle Rally is supportive 

Women from all walks of life compete in the Rebelle Rally. Some are tv producers, some are retired grandparents, and a few have never driven off the pavement before. But that doesn’t matter. This group of women comes together unlike any other. 

More experienced teams often help teach rookies about the challenges ahead and even help them get out of sticky situations. Teams are more than willing to help pull each other out of the sand and to suggest helpful routes. 

Some teams even form alliances and work together. One Ford Bronco Sport and a Subaru Outback had a sand pact to navigate the most challenging areas of the course together. Medical teams are always watching to help in the event of emergencies too. 

Also, the Rebelles are so friendly. There are plenty of smiles and inviting conversations. After talking with a team for about five minutes, you feel like friends. I saw plenty of hugs and tears of joy. 

Each base camp is designed to feel like home with soothing decor and delicious meals prepared by a Michelin Starred Chef. These ladies are well-fed and taken care of each day. It’s a judgment-free zone. 

A large portion of the staff members are former competitors. You can ask any of them questions and for help at any time. 

You can attend Rebelle Rally U with dedicated trainers that teach teams how to navigate and traverse challenging terrains. They will prepare rookies with varying skill levels to compete. 

Mechanics are available to provide work as needed. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re out if you accidentally break something. 

The goal is to unlock your inner strength by supporting you to rise up to new challenges. Rebelle Rally participants meet new challenges and discover unique strengths they can apply to everyday life or personal goals. It’s life-changing. 

5. You get disconnected 

You get to relax off the grid when you spend time off-roading in remote locations without your phone or Wi-Fi-enabled devices. There are no emails, buzzes, or spam calls to distract you from nature. 

But there is a cattle bell that rings every morning at 4:00 AM to wake competitors up!

It’s part of the Rebelle Rally’s plan to help you be present more often in a society where being present takes a little effort. I gave up on trying to keep my Apple Watch, laptop, and GoPro cameras charged and don’t really want to jump back into all my tech yet. I was free! 

The ladies get their phones back after crossing the finish line on the final race stage. Some ladies reconnect to society immediately, and some wait until after the gala to spend more time in such a unique environment. 

One lady said she needed to turn her phone on because her first grandchild was born during the race. Another said she didn’t want to turn her phone on because last year, the first message she received was from her husband saying they got cats. But they’re dog people, so it was weird! 

I saw one of the participants blushing as her gala guest demanded a kiss after not seeing or hearing from her in 10 days. 

6. The Rebelle Rally gets technical 

We got to attend a mapping simulation to explain the navigation part of the Rebelle Rally. Ladies get a map each morning with coordinates that correspond to checkpoints on the map. Then they have 45 minutes to an hour to plan their route. 

They say things like minutes per mile, have rulers, use compasses, and pencils to mark their plans. They pick features on the maps to help avoid getting mixed up and turned around, which can happen in miles and miles of desert. More math than expected is involved. 

Each team needs to check in to green points before the time runs out. They have the option of going for blue and black checkpoints for extra points. However, they’re harder to find, and this presents a risk. 

If you go for a blue flag, you could get stuck and end up missing a green point because your time runs out. Missing the greens result in a penalty. Also, you have to be near the checkpoint with your tracker to check-in. If you wildly click around it, you could get a wide-miss penalty. 

Mapbox is the official mapping partner of Rebelle Rally that brings it all together. It develops and designs custom maps for the teams with Rebelle Rally colors. The 3D maps show the most prominent challenges around each flag to help ladies make a safe and efficient plan. 

Each year, the course changes, and Mapbox is extremely helpful by providing digital navigation and access to real-time intelligence location platforms. The vehicle testing system allows manufacturers to monitor internal and external vehicle data.  

OnX comes in with an elite 3D mapping service that displays a variety of off-roading trails and private land boundaries. It encourages you to spend more time outdoors with access to public land and protection services. 

YB Tracking is connected to apps so you can watch each team in action and keep track of all participants. The app shows the team name, how long someone has been sitting in one spot in case they need help, and when a vehicle requests assistance. 

Iridium is a global satellite communications leader that provides voice access and data in the most remote corners of the Earth, like the desert. It helps protect competitors and staff while being essential to the scoring process. 

7. The Rebelle Rally is green 

The Rebelle Rally puts a significant focus on sustainability and land conservation, allowing more people to enjoy public lands while minimizing their carbon footprint. If you have any food restrictions, that’s fine. Each meal has vegan-friendly options. 

A limited amount of water is brought in each day, allowing the Rebelle Rally competitors to shower. But it’s difficult to stay clean in the heat and endless amount of sand, so you need to accept being a little grimy. The water supply for showering also has a daily limit. 

Renewable Innovations used a massive solar panel to power the camp with clean energy. How else would you provide the camp with light, hot food, communications, tracking, WiFi, live casting equipment, and music? However, there is no heat or air conditioning. Only a few fans are set up around the main base camp. 

It also provided hydrogen-powered EV charging stations to give the electric vehicles their juice. This helped EV competitors go anywhere at any time. 

8. The Rally is expensive 

It can cost anywhere between $16,000 to $22,000 for a team to compete in the Rebelle Rally. But some teams have sponsors to help with the costs. 

There are tons of factors to consider, such as camping gear, fuel costs, travel to and from the event, access to live tracking for your family and friends, safety equipment, introductory courses, training, safety teams, mechanics, food, beverages, access to showers, and comfortable bathrooms. 

This event is huge, with a dedicated staff that moves a massive camp around Nevada and California. The most surprising thing to learn about the Rebelel Rally was how much planning and resources it takes to put on. 

9. There are prizes 

The Ford Bronco Sport in the Rebelle Rally
The Ford Bronco Sport in the Rebelle Rally | Rebelle Rally

If you win the Rebelle Rally, you don’t go home empty-handed. 

  • The first-place teams from both classes (4×4 and X-Cross) win trophies and a $5,000 discount on next year’s entry fee. Each individual gets the $5,000 discount, or if you return with the same team, it’s combined for $10,000 off. 
  • The winner of the International Cup gets a $2,500 donation to the charity of their choice. 
  • The team that wins the Team Spirit award gets a $5,000 donation to the charity of their choice. 
  • The Rookie of the Year gets trophies and a gear prize, such as a set of off-roading tires. 
  • Daily Stage Winners get trophies. 
  • The Bone Stock award goes to the winning team and the manufacturer. 
  • The Electrified Designation goes to the best competing PHEVs and EVs. 

10. Things get emotional 

As I watched Rebelle Rally competitors come in at the end of each day, some teams were bawling, and others were dancing. Off-roading for 12 hours a day isn’t easy, especially in changing environments. The race starts with cold weather and ends in extreme heat. 

Teams can have a bad day, they can get stuck, can miss a checkpoint, can feel hangry, may feel dehydrated, and can feel excited. This is where support and acceptance make a significant impact. 

There are long supportive hugs, happy hugs, and hugs because someone makes a sarcastic comment, and you want to squeeze them. Emily Miller, the founder of the rally, is there daily to help. She provides insight, understanding, and support. She’s very uplifting! 

The success and spirit can cause tears of joy. It’s pretty incredible to see these majestic landscapes, teams helping each other, and women overcoming new obstacles that they never imagined. 

11. The Rebelles are badass 

Each Rebelle Rally participant is brave, confident, and filled with the courage to take on such an adventure. Rivian teams are actual employees who were trained in the Rebelle Rally U for the event. Some teams have never even left the pavement but decide to jump right in.

The teams know their vehicles inside and out and can change a tire in under five minutes. They gain true off-roading and mapping experience without relying on technology. It’s an endurance competition. 

These chicks are tough. They become immersed in the desert, use sand as their bathroom, sleep on the ground, and traverse rocky trails and sand dunes. Some are engineers, some are in media relations, and some teams include mothers and daughters or sisters. 

Ladies aren’t afraid to get dirty. Sometimes they face days without showers and use wipes instead. Some ladies washed their hair in sinks. Dirt, mud, and sand are just part of it! 

They are willing to give up their phones, even if it means missing the birth of their first grandchild. Pets and children are left in their spouse’s care. This competition pushes women and vehicles to extreme limits. 

I’ve always loved following the Rebelle Rally to keep up with where the Jeep Wrangler places and to keep an eye out for upsets. This year, I enjoyed seeing new vehicles attempt to tackle the course, like the Kia Sportage X-Pro and Hyundai Santa Cruz. 

But I never knew how much work it took to make the Rebelle Rally possible. I didn’t know the grit, strength, and mental preparation necessary to complete the rally. A lot of tech, spirit, and sheer determination are crucial for success. 

It’s not necessarily about winning the Rebelle Rally, simply finishing the event is enormous. It’s about relying on your team and yourself to leave your comfort zone behind. 

The Rebelle Rally opens the door to nature, new experiences, education, and confidence to make women stronger while putting vehicles through grueling tests. I already miss the desert and the ladies. Hopefully, I’ll be there again next year. 


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