Show notes for podcast #114
Emily Miller discusses Morocco, Navigation, and Rebelle Rally
Emily Miller sits down with Ashley Giordano and discusses travel through Morocco, understanding land navigation and opens up about the Rebelle Rally.
Emily Miller was the first woman to drive the Vegas to Reno race solo. She also clinched part of a Baja 1000 win and won multiple podium finishes in the motorsports world. In this podcast from the BC Overland Rally, senior editor Ashley Giordano talks with Emily Miller about why she started the Rebelle Rally, how women can gain confidence in their off-road driving skills, and where her daily motivation comes from.
Ashley Giordano completed a 48,800-kilometer overland journey from Canada to Argentina with her husband, Richard, in their well-loved but antiquated Toyota pickup. On the zig-zag route south, she hiked craggy peaks in the Andes, discovered diverse cultures in 15 different countries, and filled her tummy with spicy ceviche, Baja fish tacos, and Argentinian Malbec. You can usually find Ashley buried in a pile of travel books, poring over maps, or researching wild medicinal plants. Ashley is a co-founder of Women Overlanding the World and crew member of Expedition Overland. You’ll find this Canadian-born couple exploring a different continent in 2021, and sharing their trip every step of the way at Desk to Glory. @desktoglory_ash
This episode sponsored in part by:
Emily on IG@emily_offroad
To learn more about the Rebelle Rally:
Ashley Giordano: 0:05 Hello and welcome to the Overland Journal Podcast. I am Senior Editor Ashley Giordano and I’m here in the field at the BCOverland Rally in Merritt, British Columbia, with a very special guest Emily Miller, founder of the Rebelle Rally. Thank you so much for joining me for this podcast! I know we’ve alluded to the Rebelle Rally on some other podcast episodes- Scott interviewed Rochelle Croft and Nina Barlow- and we did another podcast after the most recent Rebelle Rally, but I’m so stoked to have you here to give us a more intimate look at the Rebelle and yourself and why you founded it and what it’s all about, so…
Emily Miller: 0:44 I had fun watching the last one. I think, Matt Scott- you and Matt- had just finished it and we’re talking to Scott. It’s really fun to be on the other side watching it, hearing hearing what you had to say.
Ashley Giordano: 0:53 Oh, nice! That’s awesome.
Scott Brady: 0:55 This content is brought to you by Overland Journal. Our premium quality print publication magazine was founded in 2006 with a goal of providing independent equipment and vehicle reviews along with the most stunning adventures and photography. We care deeply about the countries and cultures we visit and share our experiences freely with our readers. We also have zero advertorial policy and do not accept any advertiser compensation for our reviews. By subscribing to Overland Journal, you’re helping to support our employee owned and veteran owned publication. Your support also provides resources and funding for content like you’re watching or listening to right now. You can subscribe directly on our website at overlandjournal.com.
Emily Miller: 1:37 You want to come back, right?
Ashley Giordano: 1:38 Of course. Yeah, yeah, it’s awesome. It was good because I think Matt and I were both like- there were some questions that we were asking each other on that podcast, and we’re like, it would be nice to have Emily here, too.
Emily Miller: 1:48 I heard that! A couple of times, yeah.
Ashley Giordano: 1:50 So, now we’re here, so it’s great. But maybe we’ll dive first into- for those who don’t know what the Rebelle rally is, maybe you can explain what it is? Where does it take place? What does it involve?
Emily Miller: 2:01 The Rebelle rally is the longest competitive off-road rally in the United States. And it just so happens to be for women. It- actually this year, it’s going to start back in Lake Tahoe. Last year we were at the Hoover Dam. Goes through Nevada, California, we’ve touched Arizona. Takes place on primarily public land. It is 10 days, it’s 8 days of scored competition. It’s no GPS, no cell phones, just maps that we make, you don’t even bring your own maps, you just show up with a compass and you know, some pencils and some patience and a lot of electrolytes. Eight days of literally using traditional navigation skills and then also traditional rally skills, which is using a road book. It is long, it’s hard; It’s hot, it’s cold. It’s high elevations, low elevations, every type of terrain, but interestingly, it’s in a stock manufacturer vehicle. It’s not in a race car. I’ve always said the vehicles in your driveway are more capable than you think and so it’s a team of two: driver and navigator. You can just switch roles and your car, that’s it, you’re on your own.
Ashley Giordano: 3:04 What type of vehicles are usually rallied in?
Emily Miller: 3:06 Well, we have two classes, we have four by four and what we call x cross because the word crossover I don’t think sounds cool enough for some of these cars because they’re great cars. And so, what’s typical are let’s say Jeep-like, Jeep Rubicons, Toyota Tacomas, Four Runners, Gladiators, Land Rovers… We have, in the X Cross, class, we have everything from Porsches, Subarus, Mitsubishi, Kias; pretty wide variety of cars, but they’re really unmodified vehicles or just minimally modified vehicles. And then we also have electric vehicles, so we started that three years ago now and we launched it with the Rivian, the R1-T, which was really cool. Last year we had- and also the Volkswagen ID4, and then this year, we have two Rivians returning and possibly some surprise AV’s.
Ashley Giordano: 3:56 Why was it important to you to highlight the stock vehicle in the rally?
Emily Miller: 4:01 I raced cars for a guy named Rod Hall, who’s just a legend in off road racing and also in four by fours, and he really promoted stock manufacture vehicles. He was really a champion of the stable platforms, that all this research has been done on them, all this great engineering has gone into them. He’s always said, you know, the mark of a great driver is that you can pilot a stock manufacturer vehicle without breaking it, and you need to do that first. And so I really felt that that’s important. Also, not everybody wants to- or even can afford to -support a race track. Race tracks are really expensive. They’re really temperamental, it’s constant work in progress. The vehicles that we have are already so great so I really wanted it to be for stock manufacture vehicles. I also wanted women to feel like they could participate- that they didn’t have to you know, they could do this incredible journey and they could be part of it but not feel like they had to go spend you know, 100+ thousand dollars on the racetrack, you know, people drive the vehicle that, you know, they drive to work every day in the rally. And then they drive it home, hopefully- if they drive it well. But yeah, I think it’s really important, because they’re so good, you know, and they’re so capable.
Ashley Giordano: 5:14 Yeah and you know that really well, because of your background as a racer, and a rallier, and you were the first solo woman to complete the Vegas Torino race.
Emily Miller: 5:23 Yeah, I was the first woman to solo that race and then I did it again when it was a three day rally and that was awesome. I really like longer competitions. You know, short ones are great but really like pushing yourself over day after day is really, I think, kind of what I was made for. And it also it’s like a strategy. Rod had a statement, he said, you know, you want to win as slowly as you can. You still want to win, but as slowly as you can, and it’s true. So it’s kind of like this chess game of strategy, you know, over long distance races,
Ashley Giordano: 5:54 Right. (Inaudible) saw that in Baja1000 wins and multiple podium finishes and you participated in some rallies in Morocco as well. What is it on those long distance rallies, or races, like, where do you get the motivation to push beyond what you think you’re capable of? Because I see that with you in different forms, like on the rally, or racing or rallying, like, where does that come from? How do you beat the fatigue and go into that, like, next phase of push?
Emily Miller: 6:25 You know, I think it’s because you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, you know? You know that there’s a stopping point. So I say, like, you can do anything for 10 days, you know, you can do anything for 14 days, you know, I know it’s not gonna last forever. Now, it might be different if somebody said, Okay, well, your rally is gonna last like two years! You know, but I do- I think you can do anything that you set your mind to. I also- I’m a pretty competitive person. But I’m competitive with myself, I really like to dig down deep examine the task at hand. And I always feel like that competition is with within myself, I need to do the best job I can until the very last second. You know, I don’t know where it comes from. Maybe from my mom. You know, when I was a kid, she taught me how to play cards when I was about four so she’d had somebody to play against, and she’d never let me win. And she just made me keep playing. Yeah, I think it’s just determination. You know, I hate to quit. I really hate. So I don’t know if that really (inaudible)…
Ashley Giordano: 7:16 Yeah, it definitely does.
Emily Miller: 7:18 Yeah, you do. You have to dig down deep. I mean, the days are long. And- but I think when you have a challenge, and you have a competition, if you’re a competitive person, you see the task at hand, so you don’t give up or you don’t stop until it’s cleared.
Ashley Giordano: 7:32 Right. Yeah, I was going to ask you about your childhood, if there were any indications- or your teenage years- as to what was going to happen next, or in your future or this- the Rebelle rally, or teaching women to drive and all those things
Emily Miller: 7:45 I think there are just a number of things in my life that led me on the path. And also I always feel like wherever a door has closed, a window has opened and I’ve gone through the window. I’m more afraid to say no, than to say yes to something. I think that’s something about the Rebelle. I think the women that you see who do the Rebelle are more afraid. They’re kind of nervous to do it but they’re more afraid to not do it than to do it.
Ashley Giordano: 8:11 When you initially were going to start the Rebelle rally, what were some examples of people saying no to you, and you jumping through that window? I’m sure there are quite a few.
Emily Miller: 8:21 Yeah, there were a lot. First I called a race director that I’ve known for a long time, I used to race in his series, asked him to get involved- to be involved in the competition. And he said no way, because you’ll never pull it off. You will never hold a long distance rally in America.
Ashley Giordano: 8:35 Why?
Emily Miller: 8:35 Permitting.
Ashley Giordano: 8:36 Ah.
Emily Miller: 8:36 Yeah. And I tried to explain it’s not a race for speed and he said, I don’t care, if you use the word rally, you will never pull this off. So I knew that we needed to educate land management agencies about what rally is because rally, in other parts of the world, is really popular, but not in America, really. They only think race for speed, you know, tearing up the landscape. You know, I knew that that wasn’t the way it is. Another one, my course director- Jimmy Lewis. You know, Jimmy’s a legend and- a legend in the Moto world and in the rally world. You know, Rod had gotten Parkinson’s disease and he was helping me with the course and I knew that I needed somebody who was like Rod who, you know, knew these trails and knew the backcountry because I couldn’t do it by myself. So I approached Jimmy, and I thought there’s no way he’s gonna say yes, no way. And we had worked together on different events like King of the Motos and he said, Emily, there’s no way you’re going to be able to do this. But if you are able to do it, I want to be involved. I said, Well, I’ll give you a call. And so I gave him a call and said, Okay, we can do it! But yeah, that happened a lot. Doesn’t happen, really, anymore, but it really did happen a lot. And the good thing is I knew I own a sports marketing company, and I’ve produced a lot of really tough to pull off events. You know, I worked a lot with Red Bull too, and they always do these crazy, great productions that, you know- they come up with a crazy idea, and then they make it happen and that was so fun to be a part of. I knew that it wasn’t illegal to do what we were doing, it was just gonna be a lot of hard work. For anybody who knows me, I’m not afraid of working hard and so yeah, so we overcame that.
Ashley Giordano: 10:10 How did you approach the land management crew to get this going?
Emily Miller: 10:15 What we did the first year is we said, let’s get routes that we know have been raced on before, have had events on before and we can string them together into a long distance route. Because, you know, our routes are usually about 2500 kilometers, you know, they’re long distances. What I did is I started about three years early, putting together the plan. And then I started 15 to 18 months prior to going and sitting down with land managers for the Bureau of Land Management, US Forest Service, National Parks, and educating them about what this is, but also what it isn’t. And we walked in with an op- you know, like a 18 page operations plan and we hadn’t even planned the course and saying, here’s what we’re going to do, here’s what it is, here’s our safety, here’s our communications, here is how we’re going to manage it. And every time they said, Well, what about this, we had an answer. So fortunately, from doing- producing big events, I knew what all the sticking points are. So I could go in early- we pre-anticipated. So what we did is we did a lot of legwork. I think that, a lot of times, land managers -or land management agencies- get a bad rap, but they have a lot of constituents to answer to. And not everybody wants vehicle recreations out on our trails, which is unfortunate. By doing that work early, and we- getting to know the land managers, we were able to build really good relationships and so I feel really fortunate that- a lot of the people in the land management agencies, that’s how they get out and check the trails, are in vehicles. You know, they have to get out into these remote areas. We help them, we will call and say hey, there are signs down, we’ll drop pins. Here’s a problem area that they might not know about, because they have so many miles, you know, so many kilometers of trail and track to keep up with. We just see ourselves as a good steward. We need to be a good steward and a good partner to the agencies. But it took a long time. We tried the first year to go down a really famous trail in Death Valley and Death Valley said no way, because the last rally that had been there made a lot of promises and didn’t keep them and caused a lot of damage. And so we had to prove ourselves. So we took four years till we could go into Death Valley. And then last year, on our sixth year, we were able to do this trail, it takes patience.
Ashley Giordano: 12:33 Yeah, that trust relationship is over time. Working with them for multiple years and proving yourselves and committing to try to tread lightly- principles, which I know that you’re really passionate about on the rally and off the rally as well.
Emily Miller: 12:47 We have a responsibility that we also can never let up, we can never take it for granted. You know, we always have to stay in front of them. And people turn over as well.
Ashley Giordano: 12:56 Right.
Emily Miller: 12:56 And so we constantly have to go back to the agencies and kind of sometimes reintroduce ourselves.
Ashley Giordano: 13:01 So this event takes place in the southwest, which is the perfect place for it. Scenery, roads, everything. It’s beautiful. And the inspiration from it came from your rally experience in Morocco. Can you speak to that a little bit?
Emily Miller: 13:15 Yeah, I would say it’s like a combination of all my experiences, because I love the West. I competed in the Rally Dig Gazelle in Morocco. And it was really interesting because we were the, you know, the only American team when we went over. It was conducted in French. It was really a cool experience. And I had been wanting to compete in the FIA World Championships across country rally, but that’s a really big undertaking. I had family members who live in Africa- who lived in Africa- and they had seen the end of the rally and they said, hey, you need to know about this, you should go do this. And it was at the time I was racing for Rod and so he said, Yeah, you should do it and that’ll be a great experience for what you want to accomplish over there. Went and did it. It was similar in length, which are- what you’ll find is… the cross country rallies are usually 7-8-9-10 day events, so that’s pretty typical. But it was really interesting- it was shortest distance. Literally, you had to draw a straight line over everything in your path. If there’s a big rock, you have to just go just around it or go right over it. It was really different. We worked- I thought it was a really great experience and you didn’t have to be a racer, you didn’t have to have a race car and it’s very slow. You didn’t need to know how to drive fast. We weren’t to bring a lot of American teams over there and then help them with their marketing. Really, it was pretty cool because we took a lot of teams that didn’t come from a racing background, and they did really well. Like Michelle Croft, Rebecca Donaghy, the (inaudible). You know, a lot of great people in the industry but not necessarily from racing, and some people not from the industry at all. Because driving and navigating your skills anyone, you know, they just need to take the time and learn like the really- the great foundation of great skills. And then we started the Rebelle and we actually put it six months off the Gazelle. So if you wanted to compete in both- the Gazelle is a big undertaking, it’s expensive, it’s a long period of time. So we put our rally in the fall and- but I wanted to do something in the United States because it’s a big stretch to go from never having competed. It’s expensive, it’s long, you’re in a foreign place, it’s really cool-
Ashley Giordano: 15:26 (inaudible).
Emily Miller: 15:27 You can rent.
Ashley Giordano: 15:28 You can rent.
Emily Miller: 15:29 You can rent or you can ship your truck over, which means being without your truck for about four months. That’s why renting is great. I wanted people also to have a rally in the US because honestly, our terrain is the greatest. You know, I’ve been to a lot of countries, I’ve seen so much terrain, but our terrain in the West is off the hook. To think that you can go from Death Valley to you know, Mount Whitney within such a short distance as the crow flies, and the variety of terrain is out of this world. And I wanted a different format. I wanted to make a really interesting competition but really fun driving, you know, not just just driving straight, it was a- it’s a cool challenge to do that but I really wanted it to be more like fun rally driving. And I also just think the Rebelle- we call it a triathlon of rally, so there are multiple formats, because I want people who do the Rebelle to come out of that rally and have like really good skills and feel like they can go take on whatever challenge they want to take on.
Ashley Giordano: 16:28 Like in life. Like, yeah.
Emily Miller: 16:30 Yeah, or other rallies, or in life, or in work, you know, or they want to go do the Gazelle or they want to go do the Rally Jameel or they want to, you know, go do the Carta Rally- that they have that foundation. And it’s fun to listen to the competitors who’ve done that and see them get that experience.
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Ashley Giordano: 17:32 So for our podcast listeners, what are some tips and tricks that they can implement right away to improve their driving skills?
Emily Miller: 17:39 Turn off your phone, put your eyes down the road, look through your corners, think about the line you’re picking, and manage your throttle, you know, really work on being smooth on your throttle and your brake. Stop driving and drive. Put it into manual, you know, unless you’re driving a manual, put it in a manual mode, use your gears, feel your car. Check every button on your car and every light on your dashboard and make sure you understand what it means, you know, get to know your own vehicle. I think that there’s a lot people can do- even to train for driving off road better- they can do on the pavement, because throttle control, line choice, and eye placement is a fundamental skill whether you’re on pavement or whether you have a lower traction situation. Also, you know classes- there are a lot of great classes, there are a lot of great instructors. People can go on our website and go right to Rebelle U, to our training page, and we have a list of trainers that we know that have great programs all across the country, from the Northeast, Pacific northwest, Arizona, DC and California. So join affordable draft clubs, start by the simple things, you know, you don’t have to take a class to become more present with your vehicle. I always say, too, you’re either reinforcing good or you’re reinforcing bad, not anywhere in between, really, so be really present when you’re driving.
Ashley Giordano: 18:58 I have found throttle control to be one of the most effective means of improving my driving and I learned that from Michelle Croft, which she probably learned it from you. I think she did, she said she did. Yeah, it made a huge difference. Treating your vehicle like you’re dancing and you want to be nice and smooth instead of, kind of, blasting over everything. It makes a big difference.
Emily Miller: 19:19 It does. I do say that it should be like a dance and you can also really calm your nerves and- by literally a smooth throttle. You get into a tense situation in sand dunes, if you just smooth out your throttle, you’ll find like, oh, I need to calm down and it’ll calm my throttle down. Like, if you just calm your throttle down, it’ll calm your emotions down. It’s really an important skill.
Ashley Giordano: 19:42 Do you find that a lot of women say I really want to do the Rebelle but I’m intimidated by the vehicle or the driving or navigating. What do you say? What do you say to that? Because I kind of feel that way. I’m like I don’t think my driving is good enough to be able to compete or the mornings are super early and I’m afraid that I’m not a morning and I’ll be, like, sleeping, and…
Emily Miller: 20:02 We have quite a few women who say, I’m not ready, I need to be better at this, oh, I want to train longer. Sometimes you don’t really even know what you’re training for. I just say like, go to the website, read those skills, rate yourself on a scale of one to five. You know, if you’re a three, you know, dive in, you know, or if you’re not a three, go learn those skills and dive in anyway. Rochelle Croft has a great statement that I always use: Start somewhere. You are probably better than you think. What I hear a lot from women is they really doubt themselves- their skills. Or they don’t think their skills are as good as I think they are, you know?
Ashley Giordano: 20:36 Yeah.
Emily Miller: 20:36 You know, I see men who have a lot more confidence in their skills- they also don’t see a mistake as a failure. And I see women- and this is not all women, it’s just I’ve gotten to coach 1000s of people to drive off road, I stopped counting at about 5000 people- and so I’ve seen the differences between men and women, when I coach them. Really, it’s very interesting to see women make a mistake and they they dwell on it because they feel like it was a failure but it’s really just a chance to learn. You know, we’re not supposed to be perfect at something we’ve never done before or we’ve only done a little bit. I know crazy, huh? If I could get women to just have a little bit more confidence in the skills that they already have, you’re just self taught, I mean, you know? Tell yourself that you know, you have the skill or you can learn the skill. But I do find that women tend to be better than they give themselves credit, for- fact, often a lot better. In class, you know, I coached for a lot of years with Rod and we would run about 50 people a week through class. Women- if we had women even show up for class- we’d have 24 people per class, almost always all male, and it’s open to men and women- but very few people signed up, even though they had an opportunity through their work to come to class. But the women who did come to class, they’d stand kind of in the back the first day and just listen, not saying much, really intimidated, often. But then they listen really well. And so the second day, their driving skills were great. Everybody in class always loved it when women were in class because they listened well and they followed instructions well, and they just wanted to follow the rules, you know. But that’s one reason why I wanted to start the Rebelle, is because I knew that if we opened up class, or we opened up Rebelle to anyone, we would have a lot of men sign up. I know that because I have usually at least you know, a couple of men each week call and say, Hey, when are you going to let them compete? Or when are you going to do a Rebelle format for men? And then I knew that maybe one or two teams of women would sign up, just like it is and a lot of motorsport type events, and we wouldn’t get anywhere. And so yeah, women are great drivers and navigators better than they give themselves credit for.
Ashley Giordano 22:44 How do you think you switch that in your brain? Because you were talking about positive self talk or reinforcing that, like, what goes on in your brain? Because mine, it’s always been this way, where if I make a mistake, I’m like, Oh, this is an utter failure. On the first try, it’s something I’ve never done, why is this- Why isn’t it perfect? Like how do you break that cycle?
Emily Miller: 23:03 I think I break the cycle by- I love to be coached. I don’t expect to be perfect at something right out the gate, I really like to learn. I think if you can break it down and just say like, I’m not supposed to be perfect at this- tell yourself that I’m going to learn more by making some mistakes early. I also find that the ones who make mistakes early are the ones who tend to learn more. If you do it right, and you do it perfectly right out of the gates, you think you’re really good, but you’re going to eventually make that mistake and sometimes it’s a little more devastating when you make it later, so make it early. But I also think that it’s really good to go get coaching, and get coaching from someone who’s great. I always say if you want to be okay, learn from okay, you want to be good, learn from good, you want to be great, learn from great. And then ask really honest questions of your performance. Be really honest with your coach about how you learn best and then work through it with a coach. A great coach to will give you positive reinforcement and really- when you do something well and clear direction when you don’t and I think that that can help.
Ashley Giordano: 24:06 That’s good advice. Yeah, that’s really good advice. I’m gonna go implement that. I wanted to jump back to Morocco just for a minute. What was your experience in Morocco when you were off of the rally because you’ve spent some time doing various things there. What were the highlights?
Emily Miller: 24:21 Highlights… Highlights about Morocco- I love Morocco. The people are great. The driving- there’s some really fun trails and terrain. But it’s really similar to the southwest, very similar. But what I love is the culture. I love the colors, it’s very colorful. I love the hospitality. But what I really love is people remember you. So I go back, and I can go into the middle of nowhere, and people remember you- and also everyone is on like Facebook or WhatsApp so I’ll get- you’re in the middle of nowhere and someone is like hey, you know like you’re my friend on Facebook, you know, like, did you get my message? But it’s that going into the middle of nowhere and running into people that have become friends along the way, all across the country. When I go to Morocco, I feel like I’m going home. That’s how I would describe it. The other thing is the local people get really excited to see you. They really love America. And they always are the first to say that Morocco was the first country to recognize America’s independence. And they’re very proud of that. So they love Americans.
Ashley Giordano: 25:30 You have a big team on the Rebelle rally, you were saying-
Emily Miller: 25:35 (inaudible)… one of them!
Ashley Giordano: 25:36 Yay, I’m proud to be one! It’s awesome. How many staff now?
Emily Miller: 25:40 113, last year.
Ashley Giordano: 25:41 Right. And then you have a very supportive husband as well.
Emily Miller: 25:45 I was really independent. I met my husband- he has a water safety team when I was running a big production for Redbull. And, you know, I met him later in life, which is probably good, because I really was extremely independent.
Ashley Giordano: 25:58 Right.
Emily Miller: 25:58 You know, probably good that I didn’t get married earlier in life because I was so independent. Never wanted to, you know, miss any trip or opportunity, which is tough, you know, in a marriage. And- but I met (inaudible) and he is incredible. And he’s extremely supportive. So he was the one who really encouraged me to start the Rebelle.
Ashley Giordano: 26:20 I love that.
Emily Miller: 26:21 Yeah, he’s very patient.
Ashley Giordano: 26:23 How much time does he spend on the Rebelle rally or Rebelle rally related things?
Emily Miller: 26:28 He just retired. And he was really fortunate, he got to retire, I think at 53 years old. He’s the Marine Safety captain in Encinitas, California. And he did that for 34 years. And you know, worked super hard, extremely good at what he does. He travels a lot, fortunately, you know, he’s a great surfer, is into spear fishing and riding his dirt bike, I think we have a good balance. You know, it’s not too much Rebelle. And we also work to take time away from it.
Ashley Giordano: 26:58 Do you do in your spare time? Do you have spare time?
Emily Miller: 27:02 We don’t have a lot of spare time. We do travel and we surf. What I’m finding is is I’m having to book it.
Ashley Giordano: 27:09 Yes.
Emily Miller: 27:10 Like, okay, book that time and nothing comes in the way of that, so.
Ashley Giordano: 27:14 So you have he’s a big support for you. They always say behind every man is great woman, which is true, but behind every great woman is another great man, I think. Tell me about the rest of the team and the importance of being a leader and having a big team like that, like, how do you do that?
Emily Miller: 27:34 I think when people ask me what my favorite part of the rally is, I say it’s getting to work with the staff. I really wanted to start the Rebelle because I had project managed a lot of big events and productions. Always great, always had great teams, but I’d always have people on the team that I couldn’t let go of because they were best friends with the CEO or, you know, something where it was maybe a toxic person and I could not let them go. I started the Rebelle and I said, okay, I really want to develop a great team that really is super positive, and also is going to- they’re going to support these women, that it’s not about them. I want world class people, I want a world class team, but it can’t be about them, it has to be about the competitors. And I believe we have that. The other thing that I’ve learned in the process is I started doing some of the same things I had, when I was younger. I would bring in someone say, hey, this is, you know, this person is going to work on your team. Because the Rebelle is divided into multiple teams with leads, and then points of contact within a team and then I would say, hey, this person is going to work with you. And what I learned in the process is, wow, I’m doing the same thing that happened to me. I can vet people, but then that lead has to make that decision for who is the right person for their sub team. And in the process, I think we’ve gotten to a really great place. The interesting thing about our team is there are a lot of really strong personalities, especially in our leads, that have different opinions, they have different needs. Like let’s say (inaudible) management may be different from scoring, may be different from safety, and some things that they need to accomplish, but they all have to work together. Working over these years, they’ve worked through things, and how to make it all work and remain this really strong, cohesive team even when they disagree. And that has been really rewarding. And that has really pushed me as a leader. I have definitely grown in the process of really figuring out what is my role, what’s my most important role.
Ashley Giordano: 29:39 Because you can get caught up in the minutiae when you have over 100 people doing the thing, yeah. So what did you figure out?
Emily Miller: 29:48 My job is to make it very clear what roles are and what the goals and the expectations are and the mission and then making sure that the leads. And everyone is empowered to do their job. And that we have the right people, and that they are truly empowered to do their job. And that is the number one goal. You know, I also have to make sure that everything is legal and safe and funded. But if I do that, then I know that this team will get the job done. And they do.
Ashley Giordano: 30:17 What are you most looking forward to for this year’s Rebelle rally.
Emily Miller: 30:21 This year- I’m really excited about this year, which is great, because it’s year seven and I think it’s really great to be on year seven and I’m this excited going into the rally. What I’m looking forward to right now is I go out and set the course. So I’ve been working on the course, it takes me about 40 days to lay out the course and most people don’t realize that. And that’s not on computers, that’s out on the ground. That is a lot of time. It’s because we made this crazy format and it’s really hard to make it happen. So laying out the course is my favorite part cause it’s so fun, I get to drive in all these beautiful places. I’m excited for some very special places. So every year we try to have- we think about that course in terms of like, what is that view going to be when they come around the corner? What thing are they going to see that other people don’t get to see? What are they going to remember the most? What is that place that’s going to be the place that I can’t believe we’re here? And so we’ve got several of those this year. Our X checkpoints- we have some tough driving challenges this year.
Ashley Giordano: 31:21 Yeah, you’re really thinking about the driver experience, every single route that you lay down. And also, from a background perspective- like the photography perspective of what those shots are going to look like with the trucks in with the women, too.
Emily Miller: 31:35 We do.
Ashley Giordano: 31:35 Very cool.
Emily Miller: 31:36 We do, we think about that. And Jimmy’s great at that, too. So when we’re out laying out the course, we’ll come around the corner and be like, ah, you know, this is insane, we have to put a drone right there!
Ashley Giordano: 31:47 Yeah.
Emily Mille:r 31:48 And then we mark it, I mean, it’s- we really do try to think about the whole thing. And I think that’s why it takes so many people. To have a world class rally, which is our goal, you can’t do that on 10 or 20 people. And it also doesn’t really happen on volunteers. We have some great volunteers, but there are very few volunteers on the rally. That’s because the rally is long and hard for the staff. I mean, it’s long and hard for the competitors. But the competitors sorry, competitors, kind of have it easy. The staff- we work all day, we work all night and we’re you know, we’re having to move we’re having to get down the road. We say we’re having our own rally. You’ve heard that.
Ashley Giordano: 32:24 Yes, yeah.
Emily Miller: 32:25 And we are. It is really thought out, every single step of it. In terms of the experience.
Ashley Giordano: 32:31 So let’s talk a little bit about the importance of the electrified designation. So that’s the newest designation, right? And how does it all work with electric vehicles and charging? And what do you think the future is? What does the future look like?
Emily Miller: 32:47 The Rebelle rally, we’ve always said, is a proving ground for people, products, and stock manufactured vehicles. And it doesn’t matter how they’re powered, you know, whether it’s a petrol vehicle, diesel vehicle, or it’s an electrified vehicle. I really wanted to start the electrified program. And in fact, we were ready to start it but the manufacturers weren’t quite ready. So it launched in 2020. We’re going into our third year, we launched with the Rivian R1-t and the Mitsubishi plug-in hybrid. So we had a fully electric and hybrid. This year, we’re going to have quite a few vehicles. I think last year we had seven electrified vehicles. The single biggest challenge is not in the vehicle, it’s how to power them in the middle of nowhere. What happened was, is when we decided to do the electrified program, I started contacting companies to be able to provide the remote power. And there were a number of startup companies, you saw a lot in Silicon Valley, a lot that had just gotten funding, and everybody was telling me- you know, we probably met with like seven different companies that they could do it, they can provide, you know, this solution, honestly, when it came down to it, people would just vaporize, because they couldn’t. And what most people don’t realize is that remote rapid power is extremely hard to do. Because if you plug in, you know, level two, charging overnight, it’s a slower charge, not that hard to do. But we have to rapid power cars out on course, so they can keep going, because some of their days are really long. To do that. It takes a tremendous amount of power, we produce about enough power to power about 100 homes just to power the few electric vehicles we have to get down the course. We ended up with an incredible company- renewable innovations- and Bob Mountain, CEO of that company, is just a legend in creating remote rapid power and silent power, whether it’s for Department of Defense, Department of Energy- he’s also a hydrogen expert. The way to produce power rapidly is through hydrogen, but also it’s not that easy to get hydrogen because it’s not that easy to transport hydrogen, although it’s getting better. They came on board and what was great is they had solution A, B, C and D. You can imagine if you can’t get power to those cars, what are you going to do? What if your solution A fails? And so we didn’t have companies that had multiple solutions. And to tell you the truth, it’s getting better but we’re still in a state of that same situation. So what do I think is going to happen? Legislation is pushing us toward electrified vehicles quickly, I love driving an electric vehicle. They’re fun to drive. Driving, you know, that Rivian is amazing. I’m fortunate I get to drive a lot of electric vehicles and test them out. You know that Audi E-Tron, it’s just so fun to drive. Until the infrastructure is there, it’s really challenging. Hybrid electric vehicles are great, we’ve got the Jeep 4xE here. It’s so fun to drive when it’s in just all electric mode, you know, the torque is incredible, it’s quiet, they’re great. Having the hybrid is really helpful, right now. We need a lot more infrastructure.
Ashley Giordano: 35:55 I think that extends to overlanding as well. We’ve talked about this before, how the rebel rally is like a proving ground, potentially for EVs and that transferring over to longer term trips. And yeah, the infrastructure is needed for both for sure. So it should be interesting to see how that develops over the next five years and 10 years down the road, for sure. And we’ll watch the Rebelle rally to see you know, how that’s evolving.
Emily Miller: 36:21 It’s pretty cool, because I’ve seen the vehicles get more out of the battery. So from the time we started, our need to remote power has lessened. We don’t have to provide remote power every day, because the cars can go farther. So that’s encouraging. And I think we’re gonna see more obviously, we’re gonna see more of that and have to see more of that. But it’s fine to be at that level, you know, early on- to have to research it and learn. It’s going to be a very interesting decade, though, because of the mandates. It’s 2022 and people are mandating things at 2030 and that’s not that far away.
Ashley Giordano: 36:54 It’s coming.
Emily Miller: 36:56 Really fast.
Ashley Giordano: 36:57 So we’re here, as I said, at the BC Overland rally, as you can probably tell, this is a podcast in the field. But I wanted to ask you, you’re doing a whole bunch of classes here on all sorts of different things like what are some of the classes like?
Emily Miller: 37:12 Navigation classes. So we’re doing two mapping classes. One is like basic mapping. The second one is advanced mapping and plotting, which is really interesting, compass and map skills. We’re doing a GPS app class, which is super popular. We’re doing a driving course. So we do our chalk talk and then we to do the technical driving course, that’s a ladies only class, which is really fun. Gear selection. And that’s not gears of your vehicle it’s the gear you choose, including your vehicle. Knowing your vehicle, we do some really great kind of in depth walkthroughs on people’s vehicles. So yeah, we’re busy. And it’s too bad, because there’s so many great classes. (inaudible)
Ashley Giordano: 37:52 Yes, exactly. What is it that you love about events, like the BC or northwest overland rallies?
Emily Miller: 37:57 Love them. It was so great to be back at Northwest because the vibe was so great. What I like about them- they’re not sales events. They’re really events where people connect, learn about product, talk to experts, taking all these classes, but the vibe is so good. You know, everybody is excited, people aren’t on their phones, it’s not all about your next Instagram photo. I would say that the best thing is the vibe, and you can’t replace that. And it has always been the case in the northwest and the BC and the rocky mountain (inaudible). So that’s why we choose to come here. Because the connections we make here literally last forever. I mean, I’ve made truly lifelong friends at these rallies. I think the motto is learn something, have fun, make friends, not necessarily in that order. It is a book. It’s about eight maps that define the world. And it’s so good, because it’s actually really explaining a lot about what’s going on with Russia and Ukraine. And it’s about how our geography defines our history and our geopolitical situation, you know, whether you have oceans around you, or mountains to protect you, or big plains, you know, like Russia, you know, that’s open. It’s how it’s literally led to wars or countries prospering. It is the most fascinating book that was really a great one. And then the other one is called The Coddling of the American mind. It’s really about that we need to toughen up. I’ll just leave it at that. But it’s worth reading. It’s very relevant.
Ashley Giordano: 39:29 Well, do you have anything else you’d like to add, anything we haven’t touched on? You’d like to share?
Emily Miller: 39:34 Just thanks for being a part of Rebelle, and you know, thanks too to Overland Journal and Expedition Portal. They have literally supported us since the beginning. You know, Scott Brady, (inaudible). The whole team has really been supportive of us. And, you know, it’s that kind of encouragement that, you know, keeps you going when people say no, you can’t do this. So you know, just think that it’s really important that we get out and push ourselves you know, and get out and travel. It’s been a tough couple of years and I’ve been really thankful that the Rebelle has been able to happen, you know, it’s not a spectator event, you know, so it’s been able to happen and I think that that was really important. It was really a bright spot you know, in a in a really interesting- sometimes dark time, yeah.
Ashley Giordano: 40:17 Awesome. Well, if anybody is interested in you or the Rebelle rally, where can they find you online?
Emily Miller: 40:23 Rebellerally.com. R E B E L L E. So to rebel means to defy convention and belle is a beautiful woman so that’s where the name comes from. It’s not rebel, it’s Rebelle. So Rebellerally.com, everything is there. Information about Rebelle impact, we’re not a nonprofit, but we do a lot of giving. Our training programs, everything about the Rebelle, the Rebelle rally, and our blog.
Ashley Giordano: 40:47 Oh, the final point, this is important. It’s not a race. It’s a rally.
Emily Miller: 40:52 It’s not a race! Do not call it a race. Yeah, it’s not a race for speed. But it is a- I’d say it’s like a moving chess game. But it’s about pace and efficiency.
Ashley Giordano: 41:02 Yes. And strategy. Because of the chess part. Yes. That’s awesome. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview with me, Emily, super appreciate it and I know that the listeners will be really excited to have you on. Thank you so much to the Overland Journal podcast listeners. I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode, and we will see you next time. Thanks for tuning in!