So to continue on the adventures with our tiny Jetta we signed up for another rally called the Rocky Mountain Rambler 500. It is basically a bunch of similarly stupid people like us taking cheap and ridiculous vehicles offroading on some fairly difficult trails near Cripple Creek, Colorado.
It is a weekend adventure that starts Friday with a car show then heading to the campsite. The next day was basically meant to be rallying from sunrise to sunset. The trail itself had 2 loops, a north and south. To finish them both you had to keep going pretty hard with few slowdowns and nothing has to go wrong. It’s pretty ambitious. Then Sunday is just awards but most people head off by noon.
So, we added a few new special decorations to our car and headed to the car show.
There was definitely some strong talent on the ridiculous car front for sure with things ranging from cars basically pulled out of the junkyard, to stretch limos, to some pretty high effort theme decorations, and well…a car boat.
Overall it was a friendly group of people and everyone was out to have a good time. After the car show, everyone headed to the campsite. Some people fell asleep, some people strapped chains to their vehicles and played tug of war. An average night I’d say.
After barely sleeping because camping is still dumb we woke up around 6:30am, basically prepared nothing, then left. We were on the “road” by 7, choosing to hit up the southern loop first.
We had barely gotten started when we ran into a team that had already rolled their vehicle. Fortunately everyone was, well…alive and in good spirits but it was pretty crushed.
Help was radioed and that was that. We assumed they were done for the day after that and felt bad for them for it all ending so soon. Hint: they weren’t done.
After that the roads got pretty rock and rough for our low clearance Jetta, but it persisted along. We came to what was considered one of the steepest hills along the trail and there was a bit of a queue to wait in as it was 50/50 whether a vehicle would get stuck going up in the loose rocks. Well, as you’ll see in the video at the bottom, we made it just fine with no issues and only a slight smell of burning coming from the car. At the top of the hill there were other teams watching and cheering everyone that made it up. Again, this was a supportive crowd.
After that hill we hit a patch that was a very rocky descent of jagged rocks. It was slow going but not completely for how you would expect. We were behind a team drive a Star Trek themed Passat that was doing well but they had a “support vehicle” (which is usually just friends that wanted to do the rally but not drive in the crappy vehicle.) that was a big Hummer 3. Now you would think this H3 would be handling this trail just fine but low and behold they got unlucky and popped a tired going down this very very narrow path. For some reason they didn’t stop and change the tire I guess because they didn’t want to hold up the cars but I think most people would have understood. Either way they drove those rims into the ground before they got to a pulloff spot where we stopped to admire their work and have a beer.
We found the other half of their team in the Passat a bit ahead and let them know what had happened as there was no service or way to communicate out here. They called them idiots and laughed because the Hummer lost to the Passat and we moved on.
Why then hit Skyline Road which is a beautiful drive on top of a hill overlooking the city. A bit of a breath of fresh air after just getting beat around for a morning. After this we pulled in for a lunch and to plan the north route.
Now, at this stage we figured we had plenty of time to also do the north route but between lunch, hitting up a scenic trail nearby, and checking on our engine that was running rough we ended up not getting on the north trail until like 3pm. At that point we knew finishing was likely off the table and we would see just how far we could get. We ended up caravaning with another team in a Subaru for awhile and didn’t really encounter many teams for a fair amount of time. Besides one team going the other direction and they were definitely lost…hope they made it back OK because we didn’t see them again.
That was until we got to what would be considered one of the harder parts of the trail where it was a ton of steeper inclines and then sandbars back down. It was a trail designed more for those small Suzuki offroad like vehicles and here we were. There was also 4 to 5 other teams struggling in this area. One of them being the boys that rolled their Jeep early in the morning, they had cut off the roof of their car, got new tires, and kept going. They had a van traveling with them now (which a minivan doing these trails is also pretty impressive) that would pull over ever few miles and switch batteries with them because the Jeep was draining them quickly. Overall, it was a damn noble effort they made and I felt lame wondering about our car “running a little rough.”
We nodded approvingly then passed them with our caravan and a couple other teams to do some very solid rally driving for the next hour or so. We go down that hill and back onto some of the more standard trails but sadly the sun was starting to set. Due to our long lunch break we missed what looks like it would have been a river crossing coming up but offroading in the complete dark would have likely made the trip go from enjoyable to grating pretty quickly. So we turned off the trail and headed back to the campsite having completely just about half of the north route.
We were overall quite pleased with this Jettas performance and want to continue to use it for rallying around. It hasn’t let us down in any way other than being incredibly loud without a muffler, which fell off completely at some point in the final hours.
When we got back to the campsite it was pretty dark and we crashed fairly early but the morning we got to see the aftermath. So overall, our damage was pretty standard for our clearance, lots of rock dents, lost muffler, some solid wear and tear. A couple cars had pieces ripped off. One punctured their oil can which knocked them out fairly early in the day which you hate to see. The stretch limo handled itself just fine apparently but had to get winched out of some high centers obviously. The car boat made it about the same distance we did. Overall, a good showing all around. We plan to do this again next year and are looking at a number of similar rallies like it. We will be driving this Jetta into the ground.
Here is a video compilation of the event that Google Photos generated for me and I won’t edit. So granted the Rimrocker one was much better edited but both were quite fun.