Whew, it’s over… I’m exhausted.
Heading to York, Friday the 25th at o’dark thirty.
500 miles to York, PA, 1300 miles in the rally, 500 miles home. We could have and should have done more but unfortunate circumstances kept us from executing our planned route. It was very doable and would have scored us in the top 15, which for being noobs at this, would have been very, very good.
Out of 50 riders we finished 30th, which for our first Rally isn’t too shabby, especially after you consider our down fall.
Things started out very, very well. At the riders meeting at 4:30am, the rules were covered as were a couple of the ‘surprise bonuses’. The biggest of which, was to go to a former MD20-20 volunteer’s house. At that location you’d find a white Expedition done up as a cop car, which is painted up to be the Christmas light patrol. This guy apparently puts on a rather large Christmas light display that annoys his neighbors, but that’s not really important). He knows we’re coming. Get the license number of that vehicle.
Upon arrival to the cul-de-sac right out in front was said white vehicle; it was parked in front of the house and driveway. This Excursion was white, had the Sheriff Star on it, and had Iron Butt Rally flags hanging in the windows. All of the riders flocked to this vehicle; after all it was close, and worth 200 points. Point which would not be affected by the quarters you got or didn’t get.
We grabbed the license number, filled out the rally pack and started to ride off, then it dawned on me… That’s an Excursion, he said ‘Expedition’. Sure enough back in the driveway was a white Expedition, also painted up, and included the Santa Sheriff stuff. Hrms.. We I walked up the driveway and the gentleman asked me how I was doing and if I needed anything. I said; “Uh, we’re supposed to get the license plate for that Expedition, not the Excursion???. He just grinned, and said, there are a lot of points being left behind here.
We grabbed that info and headed to the mandatory location, the Indiantown Gap Cemetery, where a former Vietnam vet/rally rider is buried who was killed in 2001 (not in the Mason Dixon 20-20 rally).
We located the info required, and noted it, and took off on our route looking for the real point boni locations, those on our route we had meticulously planned. That was the first time I had ever set foot in a national veterans cemetery.
First stop was Lewistown, PA. I have absolutely no recollection or what was in Lewistown.
Saxton, PA – We rode up a nice gravel road to a monument for some guys that the Indians killed a long, long time ago… Kyle and I were just discussing, we can’t remember diddly. You’re trying to get answers to the questions as asked and get the hell out and on to the next target. There really isn’t time to reminisce about what you learned in history class.
To Punxsutawney, PA – We ended up downtown on the square or park, there was a Vietnam memorial there and we had to find it in the park and get the number of vets that died in 1968. (6) was the answer by the way.
Driftwood, PA – I can’t remember what we did there. Shortly after Driftwood, it started to rain, then the flood gates opened up. Of course we’re cruising through PA on 46 which was a great two lane road, but there wasn’t anywhere to stop and put rain gear on, so we tried to gut it out. Then it just dumped on us. Soaked to the bone we found shelter at a small one pump gas station/convenience store. We jammed our bikes up under their 5 foot awning and waited it out while we put dry clothes on and rain gear, knowing full well that would stop the rain.
Smethport, PA – Another monument for fallen heroes, don’t remember the question, I think this was a WW1 monument. We left a flag at this monument.
Jamestown, NY, a Quarter point. Securing this bonus location meant we got to keep 25% of the points we had and would collect. This is a good thing.
Smethport, PA – also known as Pit Hole City (Seriously), there was this oil boom town back in the day, and there’s nothing there now. This is where we got hosed.
Mr. Garmin pointed us down a road, that wasn’t a road. It probably was a road last paved about 1950. It went from bad to worse. I have and FJR, Kyle’s on a BMW RS. What we needed were dirtbikes. A GS would have certainly helped but even where we ended up, a GS would have had issues with the rutted hill. So our story goes like this.
Mr. Garmin leads us down this deteriorated road and we come to a T, gravel road to the right and left, but Mr. Garmin says go straight, onto another gravel/grass road. Problem is it says ‘private drive’. Now we have a ‘private drive’ next to our house that leads to an old cemetery from the 1800’s, and I thought well, given our experience so far this wouldn’t be out of the ordinary. I look at Kyle, and he say’s let’s do it, look there are motorcycle tracks, others have been here before us. So we press on.
The road goes from gravel/grass to mud goat trail. Not exactly what we had in mind. We keep moving forward until we come to some mud holes. Again, had I been on a YZ, I’d have been tearing it up and having some fun. But with a 650 lb street bike covered in expensive plastic, it wasn’t what I had in mind.
I tell Kyle, I’ll go through this mud hole but if it gets any worse we need to turn back, to which he agrees.
About another ¼ mile later, we come to a muddy stretch that’s just too wide, and deep to even consider crossing. We get off the bikes, perplexed. The GPS says it’s only .4 miles down the road (or so we thought). We decide to hoof it.
We hoof it on back further into the woods and we’re standing at this top of this decent hill if you have a dirt bike and we can see a street at the bottom. We ‘assume’ that the marker is down there and walk on down. We find no such marker. At that point we realize the GPS was telling us .4 miles to the next turn, the marker is now .7 miles away, or to the next turn, we’re not sure. We’re not willing to leave our bikes in the woods un-attended and walk what would be more than a mile away from them so we turn back.
After realizing we just wasted about an hour and a half, we’re not thrilled. We turn the bikes around and head out. On the way out we pass two kids on dirtbikes, I grinned as I could only imagine the expression they had under their helmets. Deep in the woods, they pass two guys on ‘sport bikes’ lol.
We get to the end of the trail to find that we’ve now been ‘locked into said private drive. The gate is down, closed and locked. Neither of us brought lock picking paraphernalia, so we’re hosed. We have no cell phone coverage and there is no physical way to get our bikes around this thing.
We consider our options and start looking for a way to make a trail, but even that doesn’t look good
The kids on the dirt bike show up and proceed to show us how we should take our bikes, the trail isn’t good, and there are trees down that are over 10 inches in diameter. Again, on a dirt bike no problem, but an FJR, no, not going to happen. Had we gotten past that, we still had other obstacles like an over grown drainage ditch. It wasn’t looking good. Then finally one of the kids says ‘Well, I guess I could go get a key’ @%%@#^ Well yeah, why don’t you do that.
So we wait, about 15 minutes later the kids return with their dad in a golf/Utility cart. We explain our situation, about the same time another rider comes down the road, also following Mr. Garmins recommendations. We warn him that he needs to go around.
So about 2 to 2.5 hours were wasted, lost, gone. Our MPH average is shot. There’s no way at this point we can keep our route. We’re going to have to adjust. Since one of the goals for this rally was to get at least a Saddle Sore 1000 (1000 miles in 24 hours) for Kyle, I was pretty bummed. While riding to the next point I was doing the math in my head. We could still get 1000 miles in, but we’d have to stop collecting boni and start some serious work on the slab to get that done. I gave Kyle the option. He decided we should forge on and get as many points as we could.
Pittsburgh, PA – downtown at the top of the hill there was a marker in the middle of nowhere, actually between a couple restaurants (nice ones it looked like), we pulled up into the Valet parking area and the valet wasn’t too happy. We told him we’d only be there for a minute, he said other bikers were stopping and going to that monument over there. We ran up there and got the answer we needed (which VFW post was responsible for the monument). We chit-chatted a bit with the valet then left for Hundred, WV opting to drop off one of the bonus points prior to that.
Hundred, WV – This GPS point didn’t put us very close. We were in Hundred in the pitch black of darkness. Looking all around for a historical marker. Dogs were barking lights were coming on, and the police seemed to be very interested in what we were up to. Finally a lady came out of one of the buildings. I asked here where the historical marker was for hundred. She said ‘What?’. We’re on like a scavenger hunt, we are in Hundred aren’t we? “Yes???. We’re trying to find the historical marker that tells us how hundred got it’s name. She said; “I have no idea what your talking about, but there’s a sign down there on the corner that’s about some guy???. Thanks, that’s what we need. Seems some old guy lived to be 109, and they called him hundred, so it only makes sense they named the town after him.
Just in case you wondered, there is no night life in Hundred, WV. Absolutely nothing except, I expect the occasional domestic violence.
The next stop was to be Clay WV, another quarter location. IT was late 11pm and it was well over two hours away. It was very dark, deer were out in full force. We were also drained from the day’s activities. We needed to find a place to take our two hour rest bonus, but even that has complications. Like you need to be able to produce ‘perfect’ receipts that show you didn’t o anywhere for 2+ hours.
I don’t think anyone in Hundred could even spell receipt let alone use anything computer related to make one so we decided to head towards Clay and stop in Fairmont which looked like a larger town.
Bingo, we found what looked like a 24 hour gas station, just a bit down the road was a nice Church parking lot that was fairly dark. We decided we’d crash there for two hours. We went back to the gas station (receipt number 1) filled up and headed to the church. We attempted to sack out in the grass in our gear. It wasn’t so bad, wasn’t perfect, and could have been worse. 2 hours later we arise, somewhat rested and head back to the gas station to get receipt number 2. They are open but you can’t get in. All transactions now happen through a bank teller like window. I buy a small cup of coffee, and Kyle got some gum or something to get our needed receipts. Rest bonus is now secure, 2007 points, well worth taking a rest, on to Clay.
Man there are some great two lane roads in WV. But when you’re running on next to nothing, in the middle of the night, in the dark, watching for deer, it’s not all that fun. We made the best out of it though and collected our quarter in Clay. Again Mr. Garmin picks the shortest route for us, through a residential one-lane road through the mountain. Full of gravel and it’s still dark. Thanks.
On our way back we find a sign that takes us back to the highway which avoided that crappy gravel filled road, it was probably shorter too.
On to Elkins, WV – the dew has settled, and it’s friggin cold in the mountains, we stop and put on our electric/heated gear and carry on. We survive and get our required data. We then head out to Romney, WV, 30 miles as the crow flies but since we can’t do that, it’s almost a 100 miles to get there.
Romney, WV. The sun is coming up and we’re on some pretty great roads. Wow, this is pretty spectacular.
We look at the time, we *could* maybe go for one more location but it’s going to take us out of the way. By now my rear end is starting to get a little sore. Not monkey butt sore, and not really saddle sore-sore, this is new and different. I’ve done this many miles on the FJR before but not experienced this kind of pain. We take a breather, and confirm we’re just going to beat feat back, and that’s a good thing. We were *thinking* we didn’t need to be back until 2pm but that was in fact the drop dead time, or you’re going to start losing points and fast for being after that.
Back to the soreness. The ride back from Romney for me was just about the worst experience of my life. My legs ached, I couldn’t find a comfortable spot. Regular pegs, passenger pegs, highway pegs. I’d stand for a bit, sit sideways the best I could. I was pinching a nerve or something. I could feel it running down both legs. My feet were even throbbing, and that wasn’t good. We had to stop so I could get off and walk around and/or stretch. I just couldn’t sit on the bike. That last 200 miles completely sucked, but we got back to York with time to spare much less than we thought however.
We checked in then got to the business of getting our paperwork in order. Filling out our pre-score sheet and what not, we had to make sure ever I was dotted and every T was crossed. This is much harder than you think when you’re fatigued.
Fortunately we did everything right and didn’t lose any points at the scoring table. Others weren’t so fortunate. In the end we scored 30th. This again given our mistake and off-road excursion and considering the competition wasn’t too bad. We were happy.
We then sat in the bar and licked our wounds with the others waiting for diner. We listened to a number of war stories and we felt much better about what we had accomplished.
Next year, we’ll do even better, and we’re already looking forward to it.
In the end we finished with 4124 points…
Regular Boni/Special Boni Total: 2627, this included the rest bonus, fuel log, etc.
Boni, boni, that was subject to the quarter multiplier was 2994 multiplied by .5 because we only got two quarters = 1497.
Woulda, shoulda, coulda:
Had we not gotten lost/side tracked/ locked in, our route was set up to give us.
Our planned route had us scoring about 5200 in boni, vs the 2994 we scored, half of that would have been 2600 which would have put our total around 5227. While that wouldn’t have made the top 5 it would have put us right up there in the top 15 I think. But that’s the way the rally ball bounces. ? We still had a ton of fun.
Until next year.