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Season 26: Episode 7 - Back in Business
Posted on Apr 17, 2015 11:00pm

FLAT TIRE DROPS ALY & STEVE TO LAST PLACE I

In the wild of Namibia, teams made grass huts alongside local Bushmen. A daring scramble up a rock led to a narrow win for Matt & Ashley, but Aly & Steve never recovered from a flat tire. They came in last, but were spared by non-elimination.

GROUP TRAVEL
In Monaco, SoCal couple Laura & Tyler had their second Date Night, sipping wine on a veranda with stunning views of the Mediterranean. Tyler said, “We’re getting along better than most of the other teams. We both have a mutual respect for one another, and we genuinely are having a great time.” Medics Hayley & Blair ripped the clue first at 12:35 a.m. It told them to fly down the length of the African continent to Windhoek, Namibia. When they landed, they’d sign up for another flight on one of six bush planes. Running for a taxi, Hayley & Blair said they had confidence from the last leg, and had worked out their communication issues. Hayley added, “That’s just a preview of what’s to come.” Olympians Aly & Steve left second, saying they could improve on communication. Steve said if they do bicker, it’s usually pretty minor. “Or it’s been pretty minor thus far. Who knows what the future will hold?” They read that all teams would travel on the same assigned flight. Truck stop couple Mike & Rochelle left third, followed by engaged hairstylists Matt & Ashley, lawyers Jelani & Jenny, and Laura & Tyler. As everyone checked in at kiosks at the deserted airport, Tyler said there were three blind-dating teams and three pre-existing teams left. “So it’ll be interesting to see who can hang on until the end.” The next morning, everyone took off for Namibia.

A HOT PILOT Surrounded by the deserts and wildlife of southern Africa was the city of Windhoek. The plane touched down, and teams ran for a group of waiting bush plane pilots, each holding a sign for a numbered flight. Aly & Steve snagged the first one, followed by Jelani & Jenny, Matt & Ashley, Laura & Tyler, and Mike & Rochelle. Despite leaving the Pit Stop in first place, Hayley & Blair were last. Blair said, “The saving grace is that Hayley has a big crush on our pilot.” Then appeared a shot of “Hagen, Rugged Bush Pilot,” complete with angelic music and heavenly light. Hayley added, “He’s absolutely gorgeous!” Olympians Aly & Steve got into the first bush plane, the propellers spun, and they took off. Then Jelani & Jenny boarded, their pilot saying there was a five-minute separation between planes. Matt & Ashley left third, then Laura & Tyler. Laura laughed, “This is actually a little scary.” Rochelle seemed to agree. “I’ve never been in a small plane like this. It’s kind of… aagh!”

MIDDLE OF NOWHERE
Back on the ground, Hayley said, “Because there’s the hot pilot taking us in this, it’s like, a hundred thousand times cooler.” She and Blair then took a selfie with the pilot – with a black line scratching out Blair’s face in the finished photo. They then took off in last place. In the air, Matt said, “Look where we are – in the middle of nowhere in Africa!” Flying over vast stretches of brown desert with mountains in the distance, he spotted Laura & Tyler’s plane creeping up on them and shouted: “Faster, faster! Don’t let them pass us!” In first place, Aly & Steve circled for landing, Steve saying, “The guy behind the stick is a whiz.” They touched down on a dirt runway, Aly adding, “This is terrifying!” Next to the runway sat a row of Ford Rangers. The Olympians ripped the clue, and it told them to drive to the Bushman Village and pick up a salt lick along the way. They got in the car and realized they’d be driving on the opposite side of the road. Phil watched them take off, stating that after traveling twenty-four hours from Europe, Aly & Steve were the first team to take on a challenge in Namibia. Jelani & Jenny landed second, followed by Matt & Ashley.

NOT A LICK
Laura & Tyler landed fourth, and upon ripping the clue, discovered yet another Date Night. Taking off in their Ranger, Laura joked, “We’re going to get sick of Date Night.” Meanwhile, Aly & Steve came upon a pile of what looked like chunks of concrete, but were in fact salt licks. Steve grabbed a huge one and hoisted it into the back of the car. Jelani & Jenny and Matt & Ashley then found the pile and grabbed small ones. But despite actually knowing what salt licks were (“It’s like what they give to horses”), Laura & Tyler missed them. Aly & Steve arrived at the Bushman Village, and found a tribe of native San people dancing among grass huts and cutting meat from an animal carcass. Steve said, “This is going to be wild.” Sitting in a basket were eggshells, upon which was written, “Who’s feeling grassy?” Steve said they’d been switching off Roadblocks, so Aly agreed to do it. She cracked open the egg and read the clue written on a strip of animal hide: “Help the Bushmen build a grass hut to earn your next clue.” Phil explained that teams had to use sticks and dry grass to build a traditional San hut.

THE KEY TO IT
Aly met her two local instructors and, using a sharp animal horn, began digging holes for the base of the hut. But she quickly became frustrated. “I have not a damn clue what I’m doing. Steve would’ve been way better at this.” Jelani & Jenny arrived, and Jelani started the Roadblock. Meanwhile, Aly continued to gripe. “I did the Roadblock when I shouldn’t have. I don’t dig holes very often, and my arms aren’t the strong part of my body.” Matt & Ashley then arrived, and Matt chose the Roadblock. Back on the runway, Mike & Rochelle touched down in fifth place. But as they got into their Ranger, they were dismayed to find a stick shift. They had even more pressing concerns, however, when Matt couldn’t get the car started. Rochelle prodded him, “Is the clutch in? Are you in neutral? Are these the wrong keys?” Meanwhile, Hayley & Blair landed. After Hayley hugged their hot pilot, they effortlessly drove away, leaving Mike & Rochelle behind. Finally Rochelle decided to try starting the car – and after immediately noticing that Mike had been using the wrong key, she got it running. Things weren’t much easier for Aly at the Roadblock, as she continued to harp on Steve for having her do it. Then Laura & Tyler arrived, and Tyler chose the task. Matt and Jelani explained that they’d have to bend branches to form a dome for the top of the hut, and then tie everything together with twine. Then they’d have to cover the sticks with dried grass.

AT HOME WITH THE KIDS
Hayley & Blair arrived next, but had failed to pick up a salt lick. Steve said they were back at the beginning of the road, and the medics returned to their car. Laura & Tyler also realized they never got a salt lick. Meanwhile, as she stabbed at the ground with her stick, Aly told Steve, “I’m picturing you while I’m doing this.” Laura & Tyler decided to postpone the task and run back for the salt. Hayley & Blair found the salt licks and grabbed one, followed by Laura & Tyler. Hayley said, “It’s always nice when we’re back in business due to someone else’s error.” The two teams returned to the Roadblock just ahead of Mike & Rochelle. Rochelle broke the egg clue in last place, and chose the Roadblock. Matt and Jelani had already begun putting their sticks in the ground. Tyler said, “The salt lick set us a little bit behind, but I think we’re going to be fine.” Pediatric nurse Hayley, meanwhile, was charmed by the village children, and even held one of the babies. She said, “I’m used to dealing with sick kids all the time, so to see well kids playing, it just makes me so happy.”

MAKING FRIENDS
The Bushmen cut pieces of twine by hammering them with stones, and bent branches to form the necessary dome shape. Tyler seemed to get along well with his Bushman partner, saying, “I love this guy!” Laura added, “Tyler, you’re having a great time, making friends!” As the other teams continued bending and tying their sticks, Tyler and his new friend moved on to laying the grass. Laura said, “I guess he has good skills with building houses,” and while Aly complained about getting stuck with thorns, Tyler finished his hut. After taking a selfie with the Bushman, he and Laura ripped the clue in first place. It told them to drive to ranger headquarters and look for the head ranger. They high-fived the Bushman and ran off. Matt, Jelani, and Aly finished in quick succession. In the car, Laura said, “Even after forgetting the salt lick, we made it out of there first because Tyler is a rock star.” They pulled up at ranger headquarters with Matt & Ashley just behind them. The teams turned in their salt licks to the head ranger, and were given the clue. It was a Detour: Track or Pack. In Track, teams had to use telemetric technology to locate an elephant. In Pack, they had to cut up a bucket of wildebeest meat, and then ride out and feed it to a pack of African painted dogs. Both teams chose Pack.

WELCOME TO AFRICA!
Laura & Tyler and Matt & Ashley ran to a nearby tent, where there hung three wildebeest carcasses. The ranger said the main concern was not getting any bones in the meat. Jelani & Jenny then turned over their salt lick, ripped the clue, and chose Pack as well. Running to the Detour, Jelani said it occurred to him to use the Express Pass, but he figured they were in good position and should knock out the task. Tyler, Matt and Jelani began hacking away at the carcasses, while the women cut the slabs of meat into smaller pieces. Tyler said, “Welcome to Africa – aaah!” as he maniacally sawed at his carcass. Aly & Steve arrived, Aly laughing that their salt lick was five times the size of everyone else’s. They learned that Pack wasn’t available, since there were only three stations, so they headed to Track. The ranger brought out a tracking device and antennae. He explained that the antennae had to always be open, and as they pointed it in different directions, they’d see bars appear on the tracking device. The more bars, the closer the elephant. The Olympians then got into an open safari vehicle, and the ranger drove them into the bush.

A LITTLE QUEASY
Back at the Roadblock, Blair hurriedly tied his sticks together. But Rochelle seemed to be stuck in slow motion, saying, “I don’t really know how to communicate.” As Blair piled on his grass, Rochelle began digging more holes. “My fingernails are going to fall off.” Blair finished, and as the medics left Mike said, “Blair and Hayley passed us again.” Rochelle finally began putting on her grass. Mike said, “Definitely a tedious task. I’d have probably already ripped up the sticks, I’d have been so frustrated.” At Pack, Matt & Ashley, Laura & Tyler and Jelani & Jenny raced to fill their buckets. But suddenly Ashley started gagging. She had an especially bloody slab of meat on her table, and Matt had to finish cutting it for her. Hayley & Blair then arrived, and learned that only Track was available. Preparing to take off in the safari vehicle, Hayley asked Blair three times in a row if he was okay with using the tracking device. He answered, “Hayley, I’ve said that a few times.” Hayley bristled. “You don’t have to take an attitude about it, I’m serious. We’re really far behind.” Out in the bush, Aly said, “I hope we find [the elephant] fast because I just want to see it.” They stopped driving to scan with the antennae (spotting a giraffe in the process), and the bars on the transmitter jumped from one to three. But Aly’s mood had hardly improved; when Steve asked her to take the transmitter so he could sit down, she snapped, “Well, you didn’t tell me that.”

A SYMPATHY CHEER
Back at Pack, Laura & Tyler finished cutting their meat. They jumped into the back of an open truck and started out to find the dogs. Matt & Ashley finished and got into a second truck, followed by Jelani & Jenny in a third. Meanwhile, Rochelle was still piling grass onto her hut at the Roadblock. Suddenly the rest of the Bushmen gathered around, dancing and encouraging her. Rochelle said, “I almost felt like it was a sympathy cheer, because I was the last one there…. It’s really cool to see all these tribes still….” Mike added, “Existing.” They finally got the clue. Out in the bush, Hayley & Blair paused to scan with their antennae, and a number of bars appeared. Passing a galloping oryx, Hayley said, “There’s an animal. Not an elephant, though.” Off on another path, a herd of zebras galloped up on the Olympians, crossing the road directly in front of them. But when Steve asked which way they should go, Aly said, “I’m watching the zebras! I don’t know which way you’re pointing that.” Steve said to just tell him when the signal was strong.

NOT YOUR AVERAGE DOGS
Laura & Tyler came upon the wild dogs, who gathered around as the truck approached. Rolling up second, Matt asked what the dogs would do if he got out of the truck. The guide said, “They’ll eat you up.” The two teams threw out their meat, and the dogs began snatching it. Tyler said, “These aren’t your average yard dogs.” As Jelani & Jenny arrived and began tossing their meat, the first two teams got the clue. It told them to make their way to the next Pit Stop – the gold granite mountains of Spitzkoppe. They started back to the ranger camp, followed by Jelani & Jenny. Jenny noticed a streak of blood on her hand and joked, “I want to smear it on my face right now.” At headquarters, Mike & Rochelle chose Pack, which by then was available. The rangers brought out a fresh carcass, and the truck stop couple began cutting it up. Vegetarian Rochelle cringed, saying, “I wanted to see some animals, but I don’t know if this was the kind I was talking about.” Meanwhile, Matt & Ashley jumped in their car and took off for the Pit Stop, followed closely by Laura & Tyler. Matt said, “If we don’t get lost, we win this leg.” Jelani & Jenny left in third place.

WE’D SCREAM IF WE COULD
Back at Track, Aly noticed a lot of bars on the transmitter – but being in the front seat, she couldn’t see where Steve was pointing the antennae. He said, “We need to really work together on this,” and Aly snapped, “What do you think I’m doing?” Meanwhile, Mike & Rochelle continued cutting their meat. Rochelle said, “I grew up with my dad skinning deer in the garage, so this is like, why I’m vegetarian.” They finished and climbed into the back of the truck. As Hayley & Blair rolled along looking for their elephant, Hayley repeatedly asked from the back seat what was going on, since Blair was holding both the tracker and the antennae. For a while he declined to respond, but then finally said she could look. Instead she took the transmitter, saying, “Let me do something.” Caravanning to the Pit Stop, teams passed a sign that said Spitzkoppe was 215 kilometers away. Laura said they wanted number one, while Tyler said, “This could be a race to the mat.” At Pack, Mike & Rochelle threw their meat to the dogs and ripped the clue in fourth place. Out in the bush, Aly & Steve got a strong signal on their tracker – and came upon their elephant. They were rewarded with the clue, Steve saying, “We’d scream if we could.” Heading back to camp, he added, “This is my first elephant in the wild, and it’s pretty awesome that we actually tracked him.”

SECOND GUESSING
Mike & Rochelle noticed the two remaining team cars at the ranger station as they took off for Spitzkoppe. Back in the bush, Hayley & Blair suddenly received five bars on their tracker. “That’s the most we’ve ever seen – it looked like all of them.” They then spotted their elephant under a tree. Hayley said, “I know elephants are big, but I didn’t realize how big they were out in their natural habitat.” They ripped the clue in last place. Meanwhile, Aly & Steve jumped in their car and started for the Pit Stop. En route to Spitzkoppe, Laura & Tyler rolled along directly behind Matt & Ashley. But the SoCal couple then decided to stop and check their map. Stuck behind them on the dirt road, Jelani & Jenny waited impatiently for them to get moving again. Up front, however, Matt said, “Did we miss something? Why did everybody stop?!” He reversed and then jumped out of the car, shouting, “What’s going on?!” Laura & Tyler, however, stayed put and had a good laugh (“Look at him, look at him!”) as he scurried around in the road in utter confusion. Finally he and Ashley jumped back in the car, Matt saying, “This is not cool!” Driving off, he kicked himself for second-guessing. “We should never have stopped.”

BLOWOUT
Back in fifth place, Aly warned Steve that he was driving too far to the left side of the road. He muttered, “You can drive if you want.” But almost on cue, they hit a piece of rebar… and then came a distinct flopping noise. Pulling over, they found a sizeable gash in their tire. Aly became emotional, saying that she’d seen it coming, but she didn’t want Steve to “yell” at her again. Suddenly Blair & Hayley appeared, and drove right past the Olympians. Aly said, “I thought we were last before, but now I know for sure.” En route to the Pit Stop, Matt & Ashley stopped for directions and Laura & Tyler veered around them to take the lead. Jelani & Jenny, meanwhile, turned in a different direction, believing they didn’t need to follow the other teams. Off on another road, Mike & Rochelle were completely lost. Aly hoisted the spare tire out of the car, saying, “We added another challenge to this leg…. I had to build the hut, so it’s only fair that he gets to change the tire.” They finally finished and got back on the road. Hayley & Blair rolled along comfortably, Hayley saying, “Maybe some others aren’t as good at navigating as we are.” Indeed, Jelani & Jenny were beginning to believe they’d missed their turn. Jenny said, “I’m freaking out a little bit.”

MAKING THE CLIMB
Laura & Tyler headed directly towards Spitzkoppe, followed by Matt & Ashley. Matt said, “It’s going to be a foot race right here.” They approached the towering peaks, Laura saying, “I feel like I’m in the Lion King.” She then spotted Phil standing atop a nearby rock, but wondered how they’d get up there. As Matt & Ashley approached, the SoCal couple ran for the rocks. Tyler said, “We’re going to have to climb a little, but we can make it.” But Laura refused to take the vertical route Tyler proposed. They instead headed behind the rock, looking for another way up. Meanwhile, Matt found the same vertical path, and climbed it. Ashley struggled up behind him… and the hairstylists hit the mat first. Laura & Tyler then arrived from the opposite side of the rock, Tyler saying that Laura “was looking for the stairs.” Phil told Matt & Ashley that they were team number one, and that they’d each won five thousand dollars. Ashley said, “There’s nothing we can’t handle together.”

THE REAL COMPETITOR COMING OUT
As Hayley & Blair made the correct turn towards Spitzkoppe, Jenny said, “I’m very uncomfortable right now.” She and Jelani pulled over, and after an unsuccessful attempt to flag down a car, decided to U-turn. Hayley & Blair arrived at the Pit Stop third, and Phil asked how Blair felt about Hayley’s crush on their hot pilot. Blair said, “Awesome. Any time there can be something else to take the focus off of screaming at me.” Jelani & Jenny finally found the correct turn to Spitzkoppe and hit the mat fourth. That left Mike & Rochelle and Aly & Steve. Both teams approached the mountains… but the truck stop couple arrived first. Finally Aly & Steve stepped on the mat, and Phil told them they were last. Steve said, “That’s the way it goes – you can go from first to last, and last to first like that.” Aly complained, “He’s just way too calm about it all,” and said that it made her feel silly, being the only one to ever freak out. Phil then told them that it was non-elimination, but they’d have a Speed Bump on the next leg. Aly said, “The feelings that I have right now are similar to when I’m on the ice…. This is like, the real competitor in me coming out now. Teams better watch out.”

2607 ROUTE MARKERS Roadblock: In this Roadblock, teams worked with local Bushmen to build a traditional San hut out of sticks and dried grass.
Performed Roadblock: Tyler, Matt, Jelani, Aly, Blair, Rochelle
Detour: This Detour was a choice between Track and Pack. In Track, teams had to use telemetric technology to locate an elephant. In Pack, they had to cut up a bucket of wildebeest meat, and feed it to a pack of African painted dogs. Track: Aly/Steve, Hayley/Blair Pack: Laura/Tyler, Matt/Ashley, Jelani/Jenny, Mike/Rochelle

Order of Finish: 1. Matt & Ashley 2. Laura & Tyler 3. Hayley & Blair 4. Jelani & Jenny 5. Mike & Rochelle 6. Aly & Steve