This is one of our most extended and complex episodes to date–and for good reason. We have Rebelle Rally founder, Emily Miller, on the podcast for the first time and she has volumes of information to share about navigation, the Rebelle Rally, and driving skills, along with crazy stories about her experiences designing the Rebelle course with the likes of off-road motorcycling legend, Jimmy Lewis.
An expert in navigation, Emily provides our listeners with insight and knowledge gained through study and hard-earned experience in a variety of forms of navigation, from traditional paper-and-compass methods to state-of-the-art GPS. Join the conversation, as Emily explains her holistic philosophy when it comes to navigation and teaches proven, race-winning strategies for reading terrain and using primitive and modern navigation tools to find one’s way across remote landscapes efficiently and effectively.
In this special episode, we also learn all about the Rebelle Rally: Where is it held? Who can participate? What vehicles are allowed to enter the rally? Emily answers these questions and more about the first and only navigation-based rally to be held within the U.S.
Emily also explains the top-secret, “classified” nature of planning the Rebelle Rally and how this has put her and her colleagues into some extreme behind-the-scenes situations. Listen in as she shares some of her best stories, including camping at the epicenter of an earthquake that registered a 7.2 on the Richter scale!😬
And if you’re interested in improving your off-road driving skills, Emily has some pro tips and suggestions. A protege of one of the most famous figures in off-road racing, Rod Hall, Emily has insight and knowledge gained through both study and experience.
This is an episode with one of the world’s most incredible trailblazers creating pathways not only to empower women interested in discovering the joys of off-road driving but also anyone who is interested in challenging themselves in this increasingly popular outdoor pursuit.
Detailed Episode Summary
Part 1 (0:40-2:38) Welcome Emily Miller, Extreme Off-Road Racer and Rebelle Rally Founder: We welcome Emily Miller onto the podcast for the first time! Emily is an accomplished off-road racer who was mentored by one of the greatest, Rod Hall. A former event planner for the likes of Red Bull, Emily has combined her love of off-road driving and navigation with her professional skills to found the Rebelle Rally.
Part 2 (2:39-11:14) Technology vs. Skills: We begin the episode by examining the differences between traditional forms of navigation (map & compass) vs. contemporary navigation devices like apps and GPS-based systems. Emily explains the benefits of beginning to learn about navigation by means of traditional skills and then adding tech savvy to that skill set. Emily further discusses the importance of taking the time necessary to plan a route.
Part 3 (11:15-15:37) The Rebelle Rally and Developing the Skills to Navigate Quickly: As Emily says, it takes time to effectively plan a route and to navigate well, but the Rebelle Rally is a race based upon one’s ability to navigate as quickly and as effectively as possible. Emily takes a look at the process of race-oriented navigation and how this plays out in the Rebelle Rally.
Part 4 (15:38-25:43) What Goes into Planning and Organizing the Rebelle Rally? Our co-host, Leah, a Rebelle Rally competitor herself, wonders what goes into planning and organizing the Rebelle Rally. Emily explains more about what the Rebelle Rally is, exactly, and what it looks like to organize the event and design the course, including weather-related challenges associated with this year’s 2023 Rebelle.
Part 5 (25:44-39:16) Navigation Skill Sets on a Scale of 0-5: Jimmy explains why he gives himself a “3” for his navigation skills on his last overland outing when he compares his own skill sets to those of Emily Miller and some of the Rebelle winners. We discuss why this kind of comparison is important to improve one’s skill sets and Emily shares approaches to developing top-tier navigation skills.
Emily’s Navigation Skills Class Mentioned in this Part of the Episode
Part 6 (39:17-46:25) What is the Rebelle Rally and What is “Rebelle U”? Jimmy wants to know more about the Rebelle Rally per se (Where is it held? What is the theme of the race? Is the rally only for women? How long is it? etc.) and is interested in “Rebelle U.” Emily provides answers by sharing more details about the Rebelle Rally and the education program associated with the rally, “Rebelle U.” Leah talks about her experience racing in the Rebelle.
Part 7 (46:26-50:50) Is the U.S. the Best Place in the World to Stage a Rally? Does the U.S. have the best terrain in the world to host a rally? A world traveler who has rallied in exotic locations around the globe, Emily Miller explains why, in her opinion, the American West has the best terrain in the world to stage a rally.
Part 8 (50:51-58:09) Is the Rebelle Rally a Beautiful Experience? Leah brings up her experience racing the Rebelle Rally, explaining how spectacularly beautiful the course is. Emily explains the intentionality she and moto-legend, Jimmy Lewis, exercise in designing the Rebelle to not only be technically challenging but also aesthetically beautiful. Emily explains her philosophy when it comes to inspiring others.
Part 9 (58:10-1:01:29) Stock Vehicles and the Rebelle Rally: Emily describes the various classes of vehicles racing in the Rebelle Rally and the focus of the rally around stock-level vehicles. Emily and Leah discuss the underrated capabilities of stock 4WD vehicles, share stories of some of their favorites, and explain why a vehicle like a Toyota RAV4 is acceptable for Emily’s Rebelle U courses.
Part 10 (1:01:30-1:13:53) Emily Miller Teaches the Value of Driving Skills and Shares Pro Tips: Emily explains why she values driving skills over vehicle technology, offering a few pro tips for improving one’s driving and sharing resources for skill building in this area. Emily shares a fun story of Rachelle Croft’s experience as a student of Emily’s along with Emily’s own mentorship by off-road racing legend, Rod Hall.
Resources Mentioned in this Part of the Episode
Part 11 (1:13:54-1:18:35) Getting Out There and Enjoying Vehicle-Based Recreation in the Outdoors and Inspiring Others to Do the Same: Emily explains why one doesn’t need to spend a lot of money on expensive trucks and gear to get started enjoying the outdoors in a vehicle. We discuss the value of vehicle-based recreation and how vehicles can be used to both support other forms of outdoor recreation as well as help us explore more places and cultures throughout the world.
Part 12 (1:18:36-1:34:19) If You Didn’t Post it, Did it Really Happen? If it didn’t get posted, did it really happen? While this is a common joke referring to social media, Emily explains why so much of why she does never makes it onto social media and shares how there is a documentary in the works focused on covering the backstory of the Rebelle. She concluded this section with a harrowing story of surviving a 7.2 earthquake camped at ground zero with her partner while in the backcountry designing the course for the Rebelle Rally.
Part 13 (1:34:20-End) Emily Shares Her Love and Appreciation for XOVERLAND Along with Some Final Thoughts and Another Great Story: Emily shares how much she enjoys the work of Clay and Rachelle Croft at Expedition Overland and appreciates XOVERLAND’s role in inspiring others to vehicle-based adventure. Emily finishes the episode by sharing one more wild story about the Rebelle Rally involving a windstorm featuring sustained winds over 70 mph for over 20 hours and offers her gratitude for all of those involved in planning and hosting the Rebelle.