Rebelle Rally 2021
The Rebelle Rally is the longest competitive off-road navigation rally in the United States, crossing over 2,275 kilometers over eight days. No GPS, cell phones, or other electronic devices are allowed, all navigation is done with a traditional map and compass in an effort to find checkpoints. It is not a race for speed, but a unique and demanding event based on the elements of headings, hidden checkpoints, time, and distance using maps, compass, and roadbook. The 2021 edition of the rally started on the iconic Hoover Dam and worked its way through remote Nevada and California desert terrain. Along the way it passed Lunar Crater National Natural Landmark and even travelled through breathtaking Titus Canyon in Death Valley National Park, a first for any organized competition. After withstanding a sandstorm with gusts up to 100 mph, the rally returned to the shores of the Colorado River before culminating at the Imperial Sand Dunes (aka Glamis).
Oh, and did we mention the Rebelle Rally is only for women? This year 4WP sent two of their own; Driver Tori Bundrant is a Marketing Specialist at 4WP and navigator Kathryn Reinhardt is 4WP’s Director of Retail Marketing. Tori and Kathryn were part of a three-Bronco team that also included Shelby Hall and Penny Dale (last year’s X-Cross Class winners in a Bronco Sport) and Cora Jokinen and Melissa Fischer (who won this year’s X-Cross Class in a Bronco Sport). The two competed in a brand-new Ford Bronco Badlands Edition fitted with 4WP Factory bumpers and fender deletes, Method Race Wheels, Mickey Thompson Baja Boss A/T tires, and a host of other upgrades. We had the opportunity to speak with these two incredibly talented women after the Rebelle Rally to get their firsthand impression of what it was like.
The DIRT- How did you prepare for the rally?
Kathryn Reinhardt- Our preparation consisted of attending the Rebelle University, which honestly is a must. You can’t be competitive in this rally without knowing how to prepare and that university did just that for us. Next, we teamed up with the two other Ford Bronco teams in Glamis and tested the Broncos in the sand, the dirt, and freshened up our navigation skills. Having winning teams on the Ford Bronco team made our learning curve a lot smaller and we are grateful for them to sprinkle just a little of their Rebelle wisdom on us.
Tori Bundrant- Preparing for a rally with little information is a difficult task. We did attend the Rebelle U in May that helped us get familiar with using a map and compass. Beyond that we talked with a handful of women who had previously competed in the rally to help get information on things we would need.
The DIRT- What was your favorite feature on the Ford Bronco?
Kathryn Reinhardt- The Ford Bronco is such a beast of a truck. My favorite is the interior. Its smart, sleek and sophisticated and no one ever says that about trucks. With the 25-year hiatus of the Bronco, the Ford team killed the 6th generation and I think the interior is the real star.
Tori Bundrant- My favorite feature that the Bronco has would be the G.O.A.T Modes. Once we got to Glamis, we really put the sand mode to the test. Sand mode turned off the traction control and allowed more throttle through the soft sand.
The DIRT- What upgrades would you make to the Bronco before the next Rebelle Rally?
Kathryn Reinhardt- You know, our 4WP Factory front and rear bumpers, fender deletes and spare tire relocator were the perfect additions for the rally. They saved us from many ditches, dunes and gave Tori easy tire placement for all the terrains. Our ARB fridge was a huge perk, Tori and I lived off of iced coffee and RedBull. The Method wheels and Mickey Thompson Baja Boss tires were a perfect combination for any trail. On Stage 1 we had to change a tire, but it wasn’t because the tires failed. The tire slipped off the bead on some slippery rocks. Those Method wheels and Mickey tires saved our rally several times. The Rigid lights came in handy on those dark early mornings and the Smittybilt air compressor let us air up/down in a pinch.
Tori Bundrant- If we were to do it again, I would add a roof rack to the Bronco to help us organize our storage a little better. This would give us a different space to put the items that aren’t used every day.
The DIRT- What was the most challenging part of the rally for you?
Kathryn Reinhardt- Honestly, all of it. This one of the hardest things I have ever done. It’s physically exhausting, mentally fatiguing and strategically grueling. Between the 4:45 AM wake up calls, plotting tricky coordinates on paper maps, driving on faint off-road trails, and strategically deciding what you can accomplish in 10 hours, it’s torture. And somehow, I can’t wait to do it all over again.
Tori Bundrant- As rookies, we really had no idea what to expect. There is little information given before the start and we were expected to be prepared. That was the most challenging part for me.
The DIRT- What was the most memorable part of the rally for you?
Kathryn Reinhardt- It’s the women. I met 102 other women from across the nation, hell across the world. These are women from all walks of life, in different places in their careers and everyone came for a different reason and yet the same reason. To explore new places and face a challenge. Leaving the rally the biggest and most memorable thing I take away is all the women I met and the new friendships I have formed. This rally bring women together who wouldn’t meet in any other way possible. Thanks to Emily Miller, she gave this gift to us whether she intended it or not.
Tori Bundrant- The most memorable part for me is that I have new friends that I would have never met, if I hadn’t been on the rally.
The DIRT- If you could go back to the start of the rally, what advice would the current you give to yourself?
Kathryn Reinhardt- My advice to myself would be look up. I spent so much time worrying about the clock and the check points, that I forgot to look up and enjoy the scenery.
Tori Bundrant- I would tell myself that we will have bad days and good days, but that is okay because the good days will overshadow the bad days. You just have to keep moving forward.
The DIRT- Did anything on the Rebelle surprise you?
Kathryn Reinhardt- The staff. They were all so nice, so reassuring and motivating. If you were having a bad day you can count on Lisa for a pep talk, Shelly for a hug, and Drew Deckman for some amazing food to get over your mistakes. That team works so hard to make sure you are safe and giving you confidence that you can do this. They are the real winners.
Tori Bundrant- I was really surprised by the community that the Rebelle creates. It is a competition, but the women really come together to help each other. The Rebelle was such a great experience. It is hard work and takes dedication to continue when you’re exhausted and at your wits end, but the reward is unbelievable when you cross the finish line on the final day.
The DIRT- What is your biggest takeaway of the rally?
Kathryn Reinhardt- You.Can.Do.This. No really, if you are reading this, you can do this rally. It’s hard, it’s tough, its stressful, but damnit, it was one of the best things I have ever done.
Tori Bundrant- My biggest take away is a reminder to help others. We might be on different paths, maybe looking for different checkpoints but we can always make time to help others around us. Without 4WP and our awesome sponsors, we would not have been able to even be out there. They really made it happen for us and we are extremely grateful for that.