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3,500 km / 2,200 mi through the outback in 7 days!

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    Monday, October 29, 2007

    Thank YOU!

    Jane's Blog

    As the Team packs up this morning and flies and drives off in their various directions, our journey through the outback and our participation in the World Solar Challenge would not be complete without a few worthy 'thank you's'

    THANK YOU to all our sponsors (see their links on the right hand side) for their belief in our Team. We mentioned you at all and every opportunity and hope you will stick with us for Team Ethanol 2009. We will be in touch with you when we return to Mackay, Queensland for individual feedback.

    A special thanks to United Nations of Beer (www.theUNOB.com) for their fantastic stubby holders which saw us through the trip. Not only were we the only team in the WSC with team stubby holders, but we discovered they had other uses as well. Both in Darwin and in Adelaide when we had to get emissions testing done on our Saab car, the cost was 4 stubby holders. We started bartering and using the stubby holders as currency and a negotiation tool and it was so great to see other teams using their UNOB Team Ethanol stubby holders at events.

    With great pride, the Team would like to thank McAlear Marketing for their amazing work. Adele McAlear ensured the smooth flow of our website, blog, photos and ensured we were kept up to date with important emails and messages. During our journey through the outback, Adele was usually the only 'outside' contact for the team. With her help, we were able to ensure our friends and family we were doing fine, which was a big relief when we were in the remotest of areas. Cheers to you Adele, may you enjoy your shot glasses obtained for you en route, with our deepest thanks.

    Thanks (deeply) to our friends, family and supporters who clicked onto our Team Ethanol website regularly, read our blogs and viewed our photos. I spent many many hours compressing photos in the most bizarre locations to ensure our web was as current as possible.

    We had a lot of pride in our website, blog and photos and hope you enjoyed them. There are still about 1,000 photos you haven't seen. In the next few weeks, the Team will be putting together a slide show of photos and uploaded onto the Team Ethanol website for your viewing, so please continue to check back with us.

    A final note, should any one of our followers want to become an official sponsor for Team Ethanol 2009, please contact us. We're going to start early for sponsorship so we can show up like the University of Michigan Team back up trailer, resembling a rock star roadie vehicle. They sold solar cells for $50 each and every sponsor was written on the trailer. As our ethanol vehicle doesn't have solar cells, perhaps we should raise funds by 'cups of ethanol'?!! Sounds good to us.

    Once again. Thanks very very much to you all!

    With much appreciation

    Team Ethanol 2007

    Sunday, October 28, 2007

    Cheers to Us!

    So Sunday dawned and the end was in sight. All of the travelling was done, now it’s just the all day display in Adelaide’s Victoria Square and the Awards to look forward to tonight. Still didn’t really get a sleep in, daylight saving started this morning, so we lost an hour of sleep…just can’t win!

    All of the Greenfleet cars spent the night in Victoria Square with security guards in attendance. Team Ethanol was in attendance for the public display from 9am to 3pm with the Bios Fuel team and the Annesley College girls. That was it…none of the other teams bothered to turn up. Well, actually one other team obviously went to “Rent-a-bimbo” and hired a couple of tight t-shirt, spray on jeans, vacuous heads to stand in for their team’s actual presence…pity they didn’t know a damn thing about the car!

    By early afternoon Adelaide’s weather was visibly disintegrating, blowing a gale with intermittent showers. But the crowds braved the elements and we had a pretty good rollup with lots of interest in the Saab, distributing the rest of our promotional material.

    After the display we still had a few things to do so it was a bit of a rush to get to the town hall for the awards which were due to start at 6pm. And you guessed it, the organisers(?) had decided to start half an hour later, but didn’t get around to telling the teams. So we had hundreds of people clustered around the locked town hall doors freezing to death...brilliant!

    Anyway, they finally got their act together and it was a bit like DJ’s Boxing Day sale, security flung open the doors and dived out of the way, while several hundred iceblocks with legs stampeded into the warmth!

    The awards themselves were greeted with unbridled enthusiasm and the highlights were:
    The Dutch Nuon solar team won line honours for the fourth time on the trot and have announced their intention to try for five.
    The Australian Aurora solar teamwas the bridesmaid, also for the fourth time, but won the Team Participation Award.
    The German Bochum solar team won the design award, for their stunning upright-seat solar car, with the most beautiful flowing lines…sort of reminiscent of a Cornish pastie on wheels.

    There were three awards possible for the Greenfleet teams and we certainly didn’t expect to win an award, back to backing in this environment is virtually impossible. The one we took out last time (The Environment Award), was won by the Welsh Gwawr team and they thoroughly deserved it. It was basically a family project and they had to beg, borrow or steel the components to build a solar car from the ground up. The effort to energy ratio was incredibly low so it was environmentally perfect.

    The Greenfleet Award was won by the Biobike, for having the lowest carbon emissions per kilometre. Almost impossible to beat with anything other than another bike. The fact that it belched huge clouds of smoke and didn’t finish the event under it’s own power, didn’t seem to matter.

    The Production Class Award is the one that I really have a problem with. It should have been won by the Swiss Twike Team and instead was won by the Smart ForTwo Car. According to the WSC convenor it won because, and I quote, “every time it makes an appearance it makes a statement”. Good grief, is that the most technical judging criterion you’ve ever heard, or what! This was also the only Greenfleet car to be non-compliant with the compulsory WSC signage and rarely even bothered to turn up at the compulsory community events. You've probably seen these cars around, tiny and very upright with a flat back. And by the way in my opinion, the statement it makes is, “God I’m ugly and my bum fell off”.

    Anyway it’s all done and dusted and we can’t wait to get home. The saddest part of the whole event was the tearful farewell to newfound friends from around Australia and the world.

    Keep checking the website as we will be publishing our fuel economy, performance and emission testing results in the near future.

    A massive thank you as well to those who followed us daily including our family, friends and new followers.

    Saturday, October 27, 2007

    Mad Dash to Adelaide

    DAY 7: PORT AUGUSTA - ADELAIDE (298 km / 185 mi)

    I’d just got out of bed at 6am, thinking that at least I didn’t have to worry about a live interview today, because my next scheduled one wasn’t until Monday. Then the phone rang…it’s the ABC radio Saturday Sports Show, would I mind having a chat about the World Solar Challenge live on air. Just perfect…nothing prepared, still half asleep and trying to remember what the hell happened yesterday that might be interesting. Anyway I managed to get through it, but that used up the extra time we needed to get packed, so it was a mad panic to get to the check in point on time.

    We still needed to get an exhaust emission test done, so Heather, our team leader (and my wife!) figured out how to use the Yellow Pages function on the Telstra Next G phone and found some possibilities north of Adelaide. So during the drive, Syd was ringing around to organise something. We found an Ultratune on Main North Road and the GPS led us right to it…oops, there’s now a supermarket there instead! Finally discovered that the Ultratune had relocated down a block and finally got there after rounding up the rest of our team vehicles which had become scattered hither and yon in the confusion.

    Anyway it was all worth it, because the emission figures blew the machine operator away. He reckons they are the lowest emission figures he’s ever seen. And that’s on straight ULP. It should be even better on E85, but anyway even this still makes us easily the most eco friendly Greenfleet car in the event. We’ll be publishing the results soon.

    Arrived at the Torrens Parade Ground checkpoint at in Adelaide about midday, ahead of the other teams (surprise, surprise) and decided to go over to the Entertainment Centre for lunch.

    We lined up at one of the eateries to order and noticed that a couple of people from one of the Asian teams were behind us. Since there were eleven of us we politely suggested that they could go ahead of us. There’s an old saying “no good deed goes unpunished” and this certainly proves it. What we didn’t know and they didn’t tell us, was that they were ordering lunch for two teams (23 people). Not only did it take forever, but they cleaned out most of the good stuff. What can you do except laugh!

    The ceremonial parade finish was a total schemozzle. It was supposed to be all the cars under police escort arriving at the finish line together. But of course nobody had bothered to check that this was possible…it wasn’t! The police only allow a maximum of five cars under escort at any one time…and the Greenfleeters numbered 17! So they arrived in batches of five at half hour intervals and nobody seemed to know which car was in which batch until they arrived. So I guess you could say the event finished the way it started, in total chaos! Still we managed to get some great shots of the Saab arriving.

    The people I feel the most sorry for were with Ecowash, not a Greenfleet entrant, but a local company whose employees came in to demonstrate waterless car washing. They used this labour intensive method to wash all of the assembled Greenfleet cars, leaving them gleaming like new pins…for 30 minutes. Then it rained…mud! I’m not kidding, it’s the dirtiest rain I’ve ever seen and the cars are now filthy. They’ll stay on public display, under 24 hour security, until late Sunday, and we hope to distribute the rest of our promotional gear by then too.

    After the stuttering parade finish we all went back to the Country Comfort Inn for a quick shower, changed into our team uniforms and headed off to the Civic Reception. We were warmly greeted by Adelaide’s Lord Mayor and the legendary Hans Tholstrup and most importantly, free food and booze!

    We spent the next few convivial hours catching up with our newfound mates in some of the other teams, last minute lobbying with the event officials and laughing at the few “oh so serious” teams. They spent so much effort and discomfort getting extraordinary (but unrealistic) fuel consumption, only to be blown away by the Saab’s incredibly low exhaust emissions. Great night all round.

    Tomorrow the team members man the public display in 90 minute rotations and then we all go to the Awards ceremony tomorrow night.

    Friday, October 26, 2007

    Long Desert Drive South

    DAY 6: COOBER PEDY - PORT AUGUSTA (550 km / 342 mi)
    Team Ethanol greeted the dawn of yet another gleaming desert day in Coober Pedy. We’ve been incredibly lucky with the weather this trip. Sure it’s been quite hot in some parts, but no storms and just a few spots of rain. Despite this the Telstra Next G phone has been very handy for weather updates. You can find current weather and four day forecasts for any town in Australia, just by keying in the name or postcode. So we always knew what sort of weather we were driving into…a must for this type of trip.

    Had to wash the filthy Saab first thing, because there was a public display and community breakfast organised for this morning. The breakfast of course featured the inevitable sausage sizzle…after this none of us will be able to look a sausage in the eye for at least 12 months! This was by far the best public attendance we’ve had on the whole trip, in numbers, enthusiasm and intelligent questions. We handed out lots of promotional material about the car, ethanol and the Mackay region. And aside from doing my daily cross for ABC Radio, I also did interviews for both the Coober Pedy newspapers…I didn’t know this tiny town even had one newspaper, let alone two!

    When the display finished some of the team went on an underground mine tour and were fascinated by the diversity of opals mined and the equipment used. It was pointed out that less than 20% of miners scratch out a living from the opals they find and less than 2% actually strike it rich. Most of it is back and heart breaking toil for nothing.

    When we arrived at the official refuel point, we had a chat to the event officials. I had to chuckle when they told us that some of the other teams had been served written warnings about driving too slowly and creating a traffic hazard on the highway. One more breach and they’re disqualified. It’s just a pity that they got away with it for so long.

    Today’s trip was just a medium 300 mile drive to Port Augusta, so we stopped for lunch at Glendambo, the midway point. We came across a busload of German tourists at a stop before Glendambo, did a sales job on them for the Saab, ethanol and Mackay and unloaded some more promotional material.

    After lunch we took the Saab into Woomera for some photos at Rocket Park, which has a permanent display of jet aircraft and rockets from Korean War vintage onwards.

    Now that we’re into the final couple of days we needed to organise Dyno and emission testing for ULP in Adelaide. It could only be done Saturday morning so we had to get special permission to refuel early tomorrow morning before the official time. We really need emission tests fhttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifor both fuel mixes (ULP & E85) to give us a good standing in the final results.

    Craig at CSR Ethanol has really come through with the goods as far as giving us incredibly detailed carbon footprint data for both fuels and now we need to correlate that with the car emissions. No praise is too high for CSR Ethanol, because apart from this the company is also a major financial sponsor of the team and they also supplied the E85 fuel. This is just the sort of corporate support that enthusiastic community groups like us desperately need, but so rarely find…thanks heaps guys!

    Early night tonight for an early start tomorrow, again! Last leg into Adelaide for the ceremonial finish tomorrow afternoon.

    Thursday, October 25, 2007

    Getting Sirty in SA

    DAY 5: YULARA (near Ayers Rock/Uluru) - COOBER PEDY
    (700 km / 435 mi)

    Finally got going at 7.30 am for the big run down to Coober Pedy. Getting 11 people and four vehicles moving is no mean feat and now I know why drovers have dogs. From Ayers Rock we had to backtrack to Erldunda to get back onto the main highway south. One of our companion vehicles is a huge campervan in the Winnebago style. During that leg it had what is called an unsavoury incident with the on-board chemical toilet…suffice to say it’s the sort that wrinkles the nose, waters the eyes and creates an automatic gag reflex. Is that close to too much information? When this was reported to the rest of the team it prompted a whole raft of shall we say “crappy” jokes, which filled the CB radio airwaves between the other team vehicles. I thought I had the prize won when I suggested that we rename the campervan “The Grand Poobah”, but I was well and truly trumped when Megan, our youngest team member, christened it “Winnie the Pooh”. This was now getting kinda dangerous, because I was laughing so hard by this time, I nearly ran off the road.

    The team had a “wee” break at Erldunda and then headed down to Kulgera for the official refuel stop and lunch. We started to catch up to some of the slower solar cars. They had a day off in Alice Springs when the Greenfleeters went to Ayers Rock yesterday. We passed the dog fence just out of Coober Pedy. This is the longest fence in the world at well over 4,000 miles and was erected many years ago, to keep dingos out of sheep farming country.

    Coober Pedy is the home of the famous black opal and opal mining has been called the most heartbreaking job in the world, mainly because opals form in clumps, rather than seams and there appears to be no rhyme or reason as to where they can be found. You can see ample evidence of this, as the surrounding landscape is littered with a haphazard conglomerate of huge conical piles of dug and discarded dirt, as far as the eye can see. They leave the resultant deep holes uncovered as well. A rough life attracts a tough breed…this is a place where men are men and women wish they were somewhere else. There’s an old Coober Pedy saying “don’t walk alone at night and don’t walk backwards”. Sound advice on both counts.

    Took the Saab out several miles to the Breakaways and got it absolutely filthy, but it was worth every speck of dust. This naturally sculptured work of art by mother nature is the result of the sedimentary crust eroding over many millennia, leaving huge outcrops of harder silcrete looming out of the dusty floor like long forgotten sentinels with multi-layered uniforms. Great backdrop for some publicity photos with the Saab.

    Still waiting for the Dyno and emission test results but in the meantime we had a quick look at the fuel economy figures. We’ll need to check this properly, but it would seem that the best we did on E85 was about 10.4 litres per 100k and so far on ULP 8.6 litres per 100 km.

    Tomorrow we’re off to Port Augusta, which is the penultimate leg before Adelaide.