Rori Lewis is known by many as the woman who’s always ready for a major challenge and always searching for her next big adventure.
The 33-year-old from Hesperia is preparing for this year’s annual Rebelle Rally, the first women’s off-road navigation rally raid in the U.S. that includes navigating nearly 2,000 kilometers of desert via dirt roads, double tracks, trails and sand dunes.
Over the eight-day competition, Lewis will navigate as her teammate, driver Tiffany Walker from Colorado Springs, will maneuver the duo across the Nevada and California desert in Walker’s Toyota FJ Cruiser, Lewis told the Daily Press.
Known as Team No. 154 or “Team Roads Less Traveled,” the duo will be one of several teams that will navigate through iconic locations and off-road recreational vehicle venues as they try to find hidden checkpoints along the way, using only maps, a compass, a roadbook and no GPS, cell phone or other electronic devices.
Blending the love of driving with the ultimate challenge of precise navigation, the competition is “not a race for speed,” but all about “driving accuracy,” Lewis told the Daily Press.
“Not only is the Rebelle Rally mentally challenging, but at times it will definitely be physical,” Lewis said. “We have to be prepared for anything such as sandstorms, digging out our vehicle, climbing hills to search for lines, changing tires and who knows what else.”
Admitting she’s no professional navigator, Lewis said she’ll make mistakes, but is prepared for the challenge of overcoming and conquering all that the Rebelle has to offer.
“We competed in the Rebelle last year as rookies and we finished in seventh place out of 35 teams,” Lewis said. “We’re hoping to place higher, but even if we don’t it will be a whole lot of fun.”
The start of this year’s rally begins with a technical inspection and welcome event on Oct. 11 in Lake Tahoe and a transfer to base camp the following day. The completion of the competition is scheduled for Oct. 19 somewhere in Southern California followed by an Awards Gala the following day in San Diego.
“My husband, Erik, is definitely my biggest supporter,” Lewis said. “He ended up taking a day last year to watch the race on the live tracking website.”
A native of Upland, Lewis moved to Hesperia with her family over 30 years ago because her parents wanted more open space for horses and other outdoor adventures.
“I started playing softball at 5 years old and played until I was 18,” said Lewis, who works at Total Chaos Fabrication in Corona. “Since I was a kid, I was always active, whether it was playing softball, going to the river in the summer or hitting the snow in winter.”
When she’s not navigating, Lewis enjoys indoor rock climbing, wakeboarding, hiking, cooking, music and exploring with her Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Irie.
“This Rebelle Rally is like an exhilarating scavenger hunt that is filled with mystery and adventure,” Lewis said. “It really brings out your inner child.”