My 2010 Mason Dixon Rally

What is a motorcycle rally?

If you already know what a Motorcycle Endurance Rally is.  Maybe because you read my report form last year you can skip this section and go straight to the Ride report.

A motorcycle endurance rally, like the Mason Dixon 2020, is like a big scavenger hunt.  Kinda like a Cannon ball run, only it’s not a race. While each rally is different, they all have the same basic fundamentals.

In a nutshell, you’re given a list of bonus locations, some rally’s give you the list ahead of time, some not until the day of (like the Iron Butt Rally).

The Mason Dixon 2020 give the riders a list of locations about a week before the rally.  Literally just a location and it’s point value in a document.

A text file containing the GPS coordinates and a corresponding PDF that lists the values and the bonus’s general availability.   Availability is generally defined as 24 hours, daylight only, or specific times.   Daylight in this particular rally was considered 05:30 to 20:30



We riders then take that information and attempt to plot out a route.

We use tools like MapSource and Streets and Trips.  I say attempt because it’s always subject to change at the last minute based upon new information we receive at the Rally.

Going into this one we had the above mentioned items, plus the guidelines.

  • Minimum Mileage to be considered a finisher: (800)
  • The Mileage cap (1675)
  • the hours 0530 on Saturday morning, ending at 1400 on Sunday.  (Essentially 32.5 hours), late penalty time from 1401 to 15:30 where by you are losing 10 points per minute or any fraction thereof.  If later than that you get a DNF – Time Barred.
  • Rest bonus requirements, you must during the rally take 2.5 hours of contiguous time to rest, meaning you cannot move, or collect any boni during that period.  This stationary time must be documented with proper receipts.  Failure to do so will result in a DNF – No Rest.
  • This was primarily a photo bonus rally, meaning you had to visit the location and to prove you were there, had to photograph your individually provided rally flag with the item to be photographed.  (note we don’t know what that is yet but we have pretty good ideas).
  • The theme of this rally was Lighthouses, as gleaned by the logo:
    So we could assume that if there was a lighthouse near by the location that would likely be the target.
  • This rally also benefits a charity, the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.  And we as riders provide toys, gift cards, and things for the kids who are in need of their services.

Route Planning

Now, as evidenced by the last 3 rally’s and the results, I am apparently NOT a top tier route planner.  Either that or I haven’t yet been able to cross the sacrificial line of riding hard enough to get top tier points, so when it comes to rally planning my example is simply that, and example.

Essentially we take the locations and color and shape code them based upon value (size) and availability.  In this particular rally there were two set’s of boni.  A’s and B’s.   There were additional points available for getting combinations of A’s and B’s

The initial Boni List looked something like this:

(You should be able to click for a larger version).

We are starting and ending the rally at the point labeled [1], the point labeled [2] is a mandatory location that ALL riders must visit.   Last year I visited but didn’t declare the bonus and got (0) points for it.  It was worth 387 last year, and that little mistake cost me 10 places (from 39th to 28th).

As you stare at these locations the ultimate route should become obvious, but apparently it’s not obvious to us.  (By Us I mean my father and riding buddy Kyle).  While *most* rally’s are individual events, we generally ride together.  There’s nothing to be gained by doing so other than comfort and safety.  Riding together costs us time and I would venture to guess that we’ll likely never break the top 10 riding together, but that’s OK we’re in this for the fun of it.

Now, the Rally is run by a Rally Master, or more commonly called the Rally Bastard for good reason.  1/3rd of the rally is riding skill, 1/3rd is planning a good ride and riding the plan, and adjusting as necessary, the last 3rd is the mental part.  It’s reading comprehension, keeping everything straight, managing fatigue, and putting it all together.

The aptly named Rally Bastard goes out of his way to make this difficult.  Although sometimes he doesn’t have to try that hard, as even the obvious becomes confusing when in a rush and fatigued.

So after taking all of the above into consideration, we planned a route we felt would be *good*.  Not top 10 good, but good enough for us, for our riding skills, and level of comfort.  Our route looked like:


Key components of our route focused on getting from Hagerstown Maryland up to the Lake Champlain area where there were big boni.

and getting up and around into Canada to this Daylight only bonus in  Prescott.:


Our Route had us getting the Prescott Light house at 7:45pm (45 minutes prior to the close of daylight hours) and it was 787 miles into our route.  Which meant anything could happen and we could be unable to get it.  Any significant delay.  A delay at the border, anything that could eat up 45 minutes during the course of 14 hour ride and we were hosed.

Our Route if run properly would have scored us 988 points.  988 with all the combo bonuses for having 5 A’s and 5B’s would give us another 750.

Assuming we had gotten all of the other available bonus points (the rest bonus, the check in bonuses and the wild cards) we figured we’d have a total score around 1868.   I knew darn well if that was the case it would be a 2200 or higher that would win.

But our route was only 1368 miles 307  miles under the cap or (5 hours of riding roughly speaking at a 60 mph average, which can be hard to maintain).

Our route however permitted us 6 or more hours of rest, so that’s where we lost some time.   We were willing to sacrifice some points for good rest.

Trip to the Rally

I left my house at 5:45am on Friday.   The plan to meet up with Kyle and my Dad in Dayton.  We’d then sit there and twist that on over to the rally start in Hagerstown, MD


On the way we stopped at the Flight 93 Memorial.  It was a bonus location but it wasn’t on our route.

This visit was sort of special.  The First Officer of the flight, LeRoy Homer Jr. was in Kyle’s squadron.

It’s a very chilling place.


The passengers on the plane are real hero’s.  No doubt about it.  There’s no telling how many lives they saved.


It’s now a national park and a proper memorial is being built.  Go visit it if given the chance.  No just go visit it.

Rally Day – Rally Report

At the Dinner Friday night there was a brief introduction to the rally, and the general rules were covered.  Rally flags were handed out.  This year I was given rider #38.  (for no particular reason).

On rally day (if 4:20 am can be considered daytime).  We are given our rally book and any last instructions.  The rally book details each location.  For example the Prescott Light house, we were instructed to get a photo of the Prescott light house.  Little did we know that there would be (2) Light houses there, and the one you’d think to take a photo of wasn’t the one you needed to take a photo of.  If you didn’t stop, read the instructions and find the plaque on the light house you’d take a photo of the wrong one.  Then you’d get (0) points to show for your 14 hour 787 mile ride and border crossing.  (This is where the Rally Bastard stuff comes in).

In addition to the bonus points listed, there are always a couple *wild card* bonus locations.

1) Was to take photograph of a Diamond.  There was a paragraph explaining that it had to be recognizable as a Diamond.  If they couldn’t tell from the photo that it wasn’t a fake or a Cubic Zirconium you would be awarded (0) points.   The question was then asked could it be ‘any diamond, like a baseball diamond?  The answer was that sometimes the obvious answer is the right answerl  (gee that’s helpful).

2) Take a photograph of a license plate with a light house on it.  We assumed incorrectly of course, that this would be easy.  I know one of the eastern states has (or had) a license plate with a light house on it.  Since the rally hotel was basically at a large mall, we assumed we’d find one just before finishing the rally at the mall.  We assumed (and you should never assume) that it was Maryland, and since the mall was there this would be a no brainer.

When we returned we scoured the Mall parking lot, not a single license plate with a light house anywhere.  So we ended up not getting it.  Turns out the head scoring judged (former US Navy Surgeon General and Rally icon, Don Arthur’s car in the parking lot had a license plate frame with a light house on it.  We just didn’t see it.  (Rally Bastards).

3) The third and final wild card was to take a photo of a home-made road side memorial, but it could not be a cross.   Hrm…   We thought about making one, and that’s what we should have done.  But we didn’t have time.  We didn’t score this bonus either.  The proper thing to do was make your own, after all it simply had to be a memorial and home made.  It didn’t specify what you are memorializing.


So after the briefing we were Off.  The rally was supposed to start at 05:30 but we didn’t roll out of the parking lot until 05:45.  (Remember that 45 minute cushion?   It’s now down to 30 minutes right out of the gate).

First stop, Jim Young’s grave.  A rally rider who died in 2001.  His grave is always a mandatory visit.  Fort Indiantown gap is a very special place.  A large military cemetery.   If you ever get the chance to visit it, I suggest you do so, especially on or around Memorial day.  It will stir emotions in you that you didn’t knew existed.  To see the number of graves from the world wars if just amazing.


Our plan had us here at 06:47 so we were only 10 minutes behind. At this point.  Which means we made up 5 minutes on the 95 mile ride to Jim’s grave.  Not too bad.  You can generally make up time on the interstate just running 5-7 miles over the limit.   I say generally.  I’ll show you why we couldn’t later.

Our next Stop was  supposed to be Bonus 108A, a larger bonus at 88 points. a mere 345 miles from Jims grave.

The problem was, well we were behind, and it had 10-12 miles of gravel road to contend with.  To fit into our plan we had to be at the exit by 11:30.  While every reasonable effort was made to make up time, we actually lost time somehow.  We decided to cross this off the list and march on or we’d blow the larger 96 point bonus in Canada.


Our 4th stop would be in Middleburry, Bonus 155A, a historical marker for John Deere.  Where very first moldboard plow was made.  No it wasn’t easy to find.  The GPS took us down behind the building and we didn’t see it initially.


Picture snapped at 13:50, we were now 8  minutes ahead of schedule, which confirmed we needed to blow off the previous bonus.

On to the next bonus a Light House, 119A.

According to our research and planning we had ‘planned’ to avoid Ferries.  A number of bonus locations required the use of a Ferry or, if not, some creative routing.

While I understood the Iron Butt Rule:  If the rally offers up a ferry, you will more than likely have to take it be a contender, we were determined not to do so.

Streets and Trips, Google Maps, MapQuest and my lovely GPS, all showed there to be a bridge at this location:


But when we arrived, and saw the sign that the bridge was closed we knew this was a Rick Miller/Rally Bastard special!   No doubt in our minds.  Fortunate there was a Ferry running right there.  Who’d a thunk it.  We thought about it for a minute and decided we needed the points.

It actually worked out really, really well.  We literally rolled right onto the ferry, crossed the lake, rode off, took the photo, rode right back on and got on the SAME ferry before it returned.   It maybe cost us 15 minutes total.


We snapped the photo at 14:32, by our schedule we should have been there at 14:21.  We were now 11 minutes behind.

Next stop 111A, a covered bridge.


Photo taken at 15:27 by our schedule we were supposed to be there at 15:13, so we were now 14 minutes behind.


Next stop 158A, the Fort Ste Anne Historical marker.


Photo time 16:43 schedule time 16:09, now 36 minutes behind.  Oy…

On to Bonus number 128A.

Which was a light house that was located on private property.  The task was to take a photo of the menacing sign keeping you off the property.  There was no such sign.  We took photos documenting this fact, and called the Rally Bastard to verify that we  had the right place.  We could actually see the light house, but the instructions were to photograph the sign, not the lighthouse.




Last photo taken at 17:53, schedule time was 17:11, we were now 42 minutes behind.

On to Bonus 215, the Prescott lighthouse in Canada.  Worth a whopping 96 points.  We needed this after blowing off the 88 pointer in the beginning.


Our route had a 45 minute cushion.  We needed to be there by 20:30 to take the photo.  We were not 43 minutes behind and losing time with ever stop.  Not because we were slow collecting the photos, or slacking off riding, we just were losing time.  Sometimes traffic, other times gas stops.

So we had a 2 minute cushion and 130miles to ride, with a border crossing.  We were tight on fuel, and by tight I mean, it was very close, we might have to push our bikes to the light house.  Yet we didn’t have time for that.  We also didn’t have time for a gas stop really.   Maybe a splash and go.

We actually made up 5 minutes so we had an 8 minute cushion about 20 miles away.  But both Kyle and I were running on fumes.  We had to stop and get a splash of gas.

We were very fortunate that there was no line to cross the border, no wait on the bridge and we got through customs/border protection quite easily.

We went straight to the light house, though the GPS led us to think it was a smaller light house out by the docks.  We read the description, found the plaque on the light house and snapped the photo:


Photo time 20:26, 4 minutes to spare.   We could now relax a little bit.  The first half of our route was complete and we had about 800 miles in the books.

We considered stopping to eat in Canada but man the bugs were incredible.  We ended up crossing back over into NY.   Stopped at a Combo gas station-Subway-A&W-LongJohnSilvers.   (No really, they had all that stuff).  Ate dinner, then headed to a hotel for a little shut eye.  We had to take our rest bonus between 6pm and 6am so timing wise we were fine.

Our route also allowed us more time to sleep, but by the time we got to the hotel, checked in, we had about 4 hours to rest.

We got a room with 2 beds and a pull out sofa.  I opted for the sofa.  A room split 3 ways is a deal.  $45 for 4 good hours of sleep, not in a church driveway or on a gas station picnic table was well worth it.

At 0300 we were up and off again.  Next stop 37 miles away.  Collins landing 200B

We had to take a photo of the Welcome Center sign.


In the end this wasn’t the sign they wanted, but the documentation didn’t indicate the other sign, it simply said welcome center sign buy the ‘yard art’ light house.  While not visible in the photo, it was near by in the same (yard).

Our schedule had us here at 04:06 so we were 15 minute ahead at this point.

Early on we figured out that the Wild card bonus to take a photo of a diamond, was meant for us to take a photo of a ‘diamond shaped sign’.  Clearly this is not a Cubic Zirconium or another fake diamond.   Such a sign was handy at this location.


On to 147B YAL (Yet another Lighthouse)

The task to take a photo of a particular sign, and there were a few to choose from but only one ‘right’ one.


Photo time: 04:31 schedule time: 04:37.  What happened to our 15 minute cushion?

On to 192B a marker:


On to 143B, a Daylight only YAL.

We were early but had to wait until 0530 (the start of daylight) to take the photo.


Since we had to wait, we were right back on schedule.   On to 106B the Light house bowling alley.


Photo time 06:15 schedule time 05:12, so we’re 3 minutes behind.  We also took this opportunity for a bio break, grab a cup of joe and a breakfast burrito at McDonalds.  We didn’t really have the time to spare but we did so anyway.

Next stop 221B a fort, but we had to find the marker that showed that this fort was used to house holocaust survivors in 1944-1948.


Photo time 06:40 schedule time 0614, so were about 30 minutes behind our master plan.  According to the plan we had about 1 hour to mess with to get back to Rally HQ before penalties would start.  We now had about half of that.  But only 2 more bonuses to get.

On to 114B the Eaton Post office:


Photo time 0815 schedule time 0745, still 30 minutes behind, but with still 30 minutes to spare.

On to one last bonus, that we considered blowing off as it was only 17 points.  Damn good thing we didn’t.  IF for some reason the sign had actually been at 128A and we just didn’t see it, or we were at the wrong place, then  we wouldn’t have 5 A’s and 5 B’s.  It would have cost us 400 combo points.

It was 200 miles away from the post office so we felt we could make up some time.

The road into 172A was horrible.  Full of traffic and I’m not joking when I say we caught every stinking light.


Photo time 11:55, schedule time: 11:12.   We were now dangerously close to ending up in penalty land.

We saddled up and beat feet for the Rally HQ, all the while looking for a license plate with a light house.  I had my camera in my tank bag.  If I saw one on the highway, I’d take the photo while riding if I had too, but no such luck.

We got back to the hotel with 15 minutes to spare.  I circled around that damn mall for 10 minutes looking for a license plate and finally conceded.

I stopped the rally clock with time to spare.

Checked into our room, took a shower, and organized my paperwork for scoring.   The only deduction I had was 5 points for misplacing my little ziplock baggie for my receipts and camera card.  In the end I finished up with 1769 points.  Good enough for 19th place if I recall properly.

That’s 20 positions better than last year and considering it was a conservative route, well, it worked out well.

Now why were we so pressed for time?   Well our route was plotted in Streets and trips.  S&T has multiple settings, like avoid certain roads.   It also has Driving time speeds which you can adjust.  My setup had them adjusted all the way up.


I *thought* I had it this way in the past, but actually that was a different version.  We generally run about 5-7 miles over the limit, (70-72) in a 65.  Not likely to get a ticket but if you do it won’t be too painful.   More importantly we generally run 1 MPH above the flow.  It’s always better on a bike to keep moving forward through traffic so you don’t end up just hanging out in someone’s blind spot.  At least that’s the theory.

It turns out that All the way faster is 15% faster across the board.  That means to stay on schedule we’d have to ride a 75 in a 65, and maintain that 15% above the average speed for the road (not the speed limit but the average speed).  That’s simply NOT possible on a lot of roads given memorial day traffic.   So next year we’ll have a little more flexibility in our routes.

So at the end of the weekend we rode 2325 miles.  30 hours butt in saddle.  Not a lot of sleep, but a whole lot of fun.

Lastly, I cannot stand people who sit out in the left lane who run the speed limit, or over/under it and just sit there.  Every state has a law, slower traffic keep right.   If you aren’t passing someone get your butt in the right lane.

To help people get the message I put ‘Move’ on my windshield backwards so that it would be right in the jerk’s mirror who’s sitting there in the left lane.


Did it work?  Well yea sometimes it did.  But I used yellow tape and while sitting on the bike in my yellow hi-viz jacked it kind of blended in.  Next year it will be a more contrasting color.   🙂

Until next year!

EOM 2009

On somewhat short notice, I got to attend the 2009 FJR Eastern Owners meet.  (EOM).

Originally planned for Thursday->Monday in Johnson City, TN.  I was only able to attend Fri->Sun.

The weather for this event looked to be somewhat miserable but knowing the great group of folks that attend it was worth going to regardless of how crappy the weather was.

I left Friday morning alone and planned to ride a fairly twisty route down there after hitting the highway to Lexington.


It was in Lexington that the sky opened up and all hell broke loose.  I usually don’t mind riding in the rain, but 4+ hours in the rain is pretty miserable.

I’m sure the mountain parkway is nice and beautiful, but I didn’t get to see any of it.  Only water spray from the cars/trucks in front of me.

I didn’t get _that_ wet though.  My Frog Togs [TM] kept me dry.  My boots let me down, as did my Aerostitch Triple Digits, they didn’t leak as much as water ran down my arm into the Gauntlet, where they held water like a plastic bag with a gold fish in it.

I stopped around Hazzard Ky to dry off a bit and swap out gloves.  No sign that the weather was going to let up so I soldiered on.   From there down Route 23 was probably the worst rain I have ever been in and I’ve been in some frog stranglers before.  Water running across the road a few inches deep in places.   There was a brief window of sunlight and I pulled into a Wendy’s to again change gloves.  As I literally dumped water out of my glove covers, a guy was getting out of his truck.  He laughed and said.  “Well, good thing you’re headed North, cause south of here it’s horrible”…   Uhm…  I’m heading south, that’s not good.

The rains caught up with me before I could do much else so I saddled up and soldiered on.

The rain didn’t stop until just about 30 miles from my destination.  I was able to stop, grab a quick burger and ditch the rain gear.

I arrived around 5:30 pm.  Joe rode down on Thursday and had just returned from a short ride and apparently caught some of the same rain.

We BS’d with a bunch of other riders and waited for dinner to start.

As always EOM is a first class production.  Again, thanks to JWilly and the others that put this together.   We ate a delicious meal and commenced to doing what we do 2nd best.  Drink Beer/Bourbon and smoke cigars.  There was a comedy club in the hotel, and it was cheap ($5 if you could show your room key), which might explain the talent they had, or lack there of.  Still some laughs were had.

We made plans for Saturday’s ride.  Meet in the lobby at 8am, look at the weather and go where the rain wasn’t.   Sounded like a good plan.

At approx 8:45am, myself, Joe, JWilly, TriggerT, Duane (form Premier Cycle Accessories), and Sully headed north.

A quick fuel stop…


It was quite foggy when we set out.


And we were off.  Two lights after the gas station TriggerT was checking his rear view mirror to see if we would all make a light that had just turned yellow.  At the same time, JWilly decided we all wouldn’t make it so he stopped.  Trigger looked up at the last second, swerved and almost missed JWilly.  Their bags hit.  It wasn’t a good start to the day and I was beginning to second guess my choice of riding partners.  I have ridden with Sully (who’s fast, yet responsible) and Duane, also a very good rider.  I know JWilly can be fast, and of course I’ve ridden with Joe before.  Trigger was the unknown and it wasn’t looking good.

We ran out to the ‘The Snake’, for an early run.  There was going to be a Harley fest there and we needed to beat those yahoo’s.  Worked out perfectly.  We got there before the Harleys and the local law enforcement who was setting up their revenue enhancement opportunities at the Snake.

We had breakfast at racers restaurant in Shady Valley.  Wasn’t fast by any stretch but was good.

IMG_2200[1] IMG_2206[1] 

The rest of the day was pretty awesome.  We really lucked out weather wise.



Everyone rode responsibly…

We finally stopped for lunch in Burnsville.  Great little bistro.



Then attempted to beat the rain across 80 and part of the Blue Ridge.  That didn’t turn out so good.

The rains came, we dawned our gear and headed back to the barn.  But not before JWilly took us off 80 via a 12 mile down the mountain gravel road.

Sully was not pleased.

In the end a great day of riding.

Saturday evening brought the banquet.  Which included a few announcements, an expression of gratitude by Extreme Marine and his wife for the help the received from the community after their crash last year.  It was pretty significant.  Both were injured pretty badly, but both were wearing proper gear and both were in attendance this year.

Dinner was superb for a banquet style dinner.

As usual, EOM has a great collection of door prizes donated by vendors.  One vendor Clear Water Lights, donated a set of riding lights for a special charity auction to raise funds for Tyler.  She’s an FJR rider that was in a really bad accident and was run over by a truck.  She’s recuperating, but it will be a long road for her.

Other patrons donated their door prizes to the charity raffle as well which really helped out.  All in all over $2000 was raised for the Tyler fund.

The Charity raffle was to be held at 10:30pm that evening and you didn’t have to be present to win.  Which was good cause we were busy drinking.   After the raffle, Mike told me that all winners were present except for the lights.  I pulled out my tickets and read off my numbers.  He said, “By golly I think you won”.  I handed him my ticket as Joe had given me a nice $25 cigar that I was only 1/2 way through and wasn’t going to waste it.  A few minutes later he came back with my new lights.

Which was sweet!

I needed to ride back Sunday, and Joe decided to do the same.  We looked at the radar and there was a ‘whole’ in the rain that we though we’d exploit.

We dodged the rain all the way through TN/VA and KY up to I75.   No sooner had we gotten on I-75 the high way was at a stand still.  Turns out there was 4 car accident about 7 miles up the road.  No where to turn around, not way to cross over to the south bound side.   We sat in traffic for almost 2 hours.  About 30 minutes in the rains caught up with us.  It wasn’t totally horrible, but it wasn’t much fun either.

We finally got to the accident, and exited the highway, ran up 25 north where through the Detour.  We skipped our first opportunity to get back on I75 and rode up to 36 just south of Dry Ridge.  After a quick stop we were geared up to just run home.  Then Joe’s bike wouldn’t start.  2 plus hours of stop and go traffic with his PIAA’s on had depleted his battery.  Luckily, he was able to bump start it.

No sooner had we gotten on I75 and all we could see were break lights again.  Another significant accident with a truck on it’s side.  Luckily we were less than a 1/2 mile from it and it wasn’t blocking all 3 lanes.  We escaped and headed north.

Just as we got to Florence it really started raining, and it rained until we got home.   It took us almost 4 1/2 hours to go 90 miles.  Not fun.  

Good times were had and winning new lights definitely made it worth while.

Really looking forward to next year.

BB Run Results

Friday I posted about the Bun Burner run I was going to make this weekend.

There were just a few problems with this run.

  1. Thursday night I slept a total of 3 hours.  Bad night of Insomnia, not in any way related to this run, just couldn’t sleep.  This made for a long day Friday, and I didn’t really get to bed early enough because of #2
  2. The weather for this weekend was predicted to be bad across the whole eastern part of the US.   I couldn’t find anyone willing to say it wouldn’t rain, and I wasn’t up to riding more than a few hundred in the rain.

I got up at 3:30am and checked the weather, it was raining and the most of my chosen route(s) were also getting wet, so I went back to bed.

Claudine woke me at 10am and said, it’s beautiful outside you should go on your ride.

So I got up, checked the weather, there was still rain to the south, so I reversed my route and figured I’d hit northern Ohio first and go clockwise instead of counter-clockwise.

The bike was basically packed so I just needed to gear up and go, and since I had slept in, I was technically caught up on sleep and felt good.

Awe heck, let’s go.

My plan was to start the clock around noon but it didn’t take me that long to get ready and out the door, though I did forget a few things like a camera and a pair of Jeans.  (I just had my LD Comforts under my mesh pants).

The guy at Speedway was more than willing to be my start witness so that was out of the way.

I filled up, time on the initial receipt was  11:39am and I was off.

That meant I had until 11:39pm Sunday to clock in 1500 miles or 11:39am to get the Bun Burner Gold.

I was pretty sure that without a fuel cell a Gold run (1500 in 24) on the east coast wasn’t likely, not impossible, just not likely.

My non-fuel cell equipped bike can go 200ish on a tank.  (Really like 240 but it thinks it’s empty at 200.

My plan was fast, efficient fuel stops.  No screwing around, I have a method and can get in and out pretty quick.  I also planned to stop often, about every 100 miles, just to stretch for 5 mins.   Some of the locations would require me to get a receipt to prove I was there and didn’t short cut the route, and those stops wouldn’t really be on a fuel stop anyway.   Stopping more often make the ride a little more comfortable.    I was very aware that we stopped way too often on my very first  1000 mile ride, and when we stopped we took far too long.   (we barely, like by 3 minutes made the 24hour window and we had to ride like the wind the last 200 miles to make that happen).

So my first stop was in Lima Ohio.   Didn’t need fuel yet, but hadn’t had any breakfast.   So I grabbed two ‘Tornado’s’ at speedway and a Vitamin water.  I didn’t need a receipt here, but the more the merrier.

I was in an out in about 8 mins, a little long, but not too bad.  Up north to Toledo, I got on the turnpike and was starting to _need_ fuel.  I knew there were service stations on the Turnpike, but wasn’t sure how often.  Lucky for me, it wasn’t that far out.  In Genoa, which would prove that I actually got on the Turnpike at I-75.

I made good time across I-80, my initial route had me taking 90 up to Erie, but I missed I-90.  My radar detector had squelched out the GPS directions, so I took the 480 exit.  I then became a bit worried that I just cut 10 miles off my route which was only 1523 to begin with.  The exit receipt from the turnpike would establish my exit point so I’d have to keep that in mind for later.

See the way this works is the Iron Butt Ride verification guys simply map your ride from receipt to receipt, the shortest possible path.   If you went from Cincinnati to Cleveland via Toledo like I just did, you need receipts to show that you traveled up I-75, and hopped on the turnpike.   Else they’d put in Cincy/Cleveland and the route up I71 would be chosen which is a lot shorter.

A valid receipt is identifiable, has date/timestamp and location.   From this they can validate your timing, your fuel usage and disqualify you if you’re speeding (too much) or cheating by using too much fuel or not enough fuel.

OK, on up 480 to 71 to 90 Erie.   Erie was a planned stop.  This is a mandatory bonus location in the MD2020 and I wanted to pre-scout that.    I rode to the coordinates, identified the one block park and know the bonus question will be there in that park.  Fair enough, now I need to get a receipt to verify that I was there.   I also needed fuel and was hungry.   So I stopped at Wendy’s, grabbed a quick sandwich and filled up.  (2 receipts).

On to Binghamton, NY Across I-86, a very beautiful highway.  Parts of the road were pretty crappy, and there was some construction but no congestion.  I was taking the most direct route to Binghamton and didn’t really need any supporting documentation, but I couldn’t make it to Binghamton on one tank.

By now though I was freezing my butt off.   It was 60 degrees, almost perfect bike weather, but it was the coldest 60 degrees I’ve ever ridden in.   Planning for perfect weather, I was wearing all mesh gear.  I had the liner in my jacket but not in my pants.  In fact I didn’t bring it.  The only other option I had was a pair of underarmor like tights as a base layer.  I stopped at a rest area along I-86 and put them on, and added the heated jacket liner.   Under mesh it’s not nearly as affective as it normally is.

I stopped in Painted Post for fuel, and noted to myself that I was making very, very good time.  Even with the stop to change clothes.

Then straight to Binghamton, NY, another MD2020 bonus location.   I scouted out the building/chruch/hotel that were on the block at the coordinates.  As I prepared to get on I81 South I realized that I needed a receipt to prove i was here.  Again, I didn’t need fuel, but needed a valid receipt.   This was almost the 1/2 point, well about 641 miles into the ride.  I found what looked like a decent gas station, it was already 9pm and dark.   It was also time to call C to let her know I was still alive.

I went into the store grabbed a medium coffee (I could tell 9pm coffee wasn’t going to be good) and slice of gas station pizza (also not good).

As I called Claudine, I could see that I was in da-hood, and I didn’t want to stick around very long.  Lots of shiny rides in the parking lot, and there seemed to be a ‘who’s got the loudest subwoofer competition among friends.

As I was gearing up a van pulled up along side me, like a 9 passenger church van.   About a late 20’s early 30’s man got out, nodded to me and walked in the store.   He was out in a flash, carrying a bag of ice, and he had something in his mouth that he was fiddling with.

He asked me where I was headed, and I told him ‘south’.  He said; “have a good ride”.  Then I recognized what he had in his mouth.    A Pacifier and he was playing with it just like my 1 and a half year old.   I wanted to ask him, but I really didn’t want to die right then and there.   So I just laughed to myself and took off.

Down I-81 South.  I would need fuel in a hundred or so miles.  I found a fast running Town car and followed him about a 1/4 mile behind.   I was making good time, and I still felt great.   My buns were a little sore but I wasn’t tired at all.

Stopped for fuel near Hazleton, Pennsylvania on Airport road.  This was a quick pit-stop.  Get fuel, document receipt and hit the road.

Temps were now in the lower 40’s, in some valley’s dipping to 38-39 and I was ill equipped.  The Gerbings was cranked on high, heated grips on high and I was just barely making it.

I make it to Winchester (another Bonus Location), but need fuel so I stop at the first gas station, fill up, do my business, and grab a couple breakfast bars.  It’s now 3:18am and I’m 1000 miles into my 1500 mile run.

I check the GPS and am giddy with anticipation, it looks like this:


The moving average and overall average are right where they need to be.  (Actually it takes an overall of 62.5 to make 1500 in 24) but that was a blessing if I could make that.   If I hadn’t fiddle farted around at this gas station It might still be above 62.

But, and here’s the big but…

It is now dark as hell in Va and WV.   The next two planned stops are NOT off Interstate, nope, they are off of route 50, a great fun, twisty road.  Albeit in the day time.   When I originally planned the route I expected that I’d be hitting this stretch in daylight and that was not the case.

I can’t make great time on this road, especially at night but I’m willing to see how it goes.

About 10 miles up route 50, it starts to rain.  Ack…

See this stretch or Route 50?


It’s all squiggly for a reason.  It has numerous switchbacks and peak crossings at 9 degree grade.

It’s dark as hell, I can hear banjos playing and now it’s raining.  Not good.  Not good at all.    I stop and throw my rain gear on.   First time this trip.

It’s now raining hard, and I’m quickly figuring out that I am simply not going to make time doing this.  It’s now 4:30am and I’ve maybe gone 20 miles since I took off around an hour ago and I have 160 miles of this.   It’s stressful, and very fatiguing to to be fighting the darkness, the road and the wet conditions.   So I concede the 1500 in 24 hours.   Should have stayed on the Interstate.  But there was a bonus location I wanted to check out and there isn’t any interstate near that.   So be it.

I decide to start looking for a place to crash for an hour or two, maybe this will  blow over.  At the very least it will be light around 6am.

The only thing remotely decent is an elementary school in Union?  I don’t know some school at the top of a mountain.   I’m having a hard time finding cover, but the doorway to part of the school is set back about 4 feet, enough to get the front half of the bike under cover and me too.   I pull up to the door, and decide to take a power nap.   I wake up around 6:15 am, about half frozen from laying on the concrete, even though I was insulated via the gear I was wearing, and it’s still raining and quite chilly, like 45 degrees.

I gear up, and take off.   I’m about 5 miles down the road when I realize my waterproof boots aren’t.   I can now wiggle my toes and feel the COLD water squishing in them.   This is bad, real bad, and except for my hands, everything else is dry.

I stop after 40 miles of this madness again not making time, to assess just how miserable I am.   My tail is sore, my feet are miserable, and even a straight shot from here still means 100 more miles of this no matter what I do.

I try to make the best of it, drying off what I can, changing gloves.  But nothing I can do for my feet.  I can’t dry out these boots or keep them dry.   So I just soldier on.

I’m supposed to break of of route 50 up route 18 to St Mary’s.  That’s the bonus location.  From there I would actually turn south, to catch 64, then over to Lexington then home to get the required mileage.   I look at 18 on the GPS.  The trouble I’m having with the rain, and my conditions do not warrant me crossing over an even more aggressive road.   So I punt that plan.  Tell the GPS to take me home.  As wet as I am (or my feet are) I don’t even want to run the interstate for another 450 miles (8 hours).  Just not going to happen.

Oh goody, all route 50, that’s the quickest shot.

I finally get to Athens Ohio and the rain is letting up.  It’s still cold and spitting but it isn’t raining anymore.  It’s about noon, but I’ve been freezing and wet since 6am and I’m worn out from it.

I decide I need a real meal.   I make it to Chillicothe and stop at Bob Evans.  The meal refreshes me, and I’m now starting to think about how I’m going to get the required mileage.   My hamstrings/glut’s are actually bruised from the edge of the seat.  This is the same seat I used to go out west, so it must have been the tense riding in the mountains in the rain.  I don’t know.   But it’s hard to find a comfy position, even with the AirHawk.

I finally make it out Rt 50, up Rt 35 to Jeffersonville, 50 miles from home.  I need 200, and probably like 240 to have a good cushion, to make up for my I90 mistake on the turnpike.

I sat at the Shell station for 30 minutes trying to find a decent route that was 240 miles long to get me home and couldn’t find one.   I couldn’t just go north 140 miles and turn around.  I knew the way my feet felt and the way my a$$ felt that just wasn’t going to happen.

It was 1:30 pm and I had until 11:38pm to find 240 miles and I couldn’t do it.   I woosed out, I hit the button to take me home.    While traveling down I-71 I started wondering just how far south I’d have to go to get the required mileage.   I blew off the first two exits the GPS wanted me to take to go home, but after that I was just plain uncomfortable and I gave in.

I made it home, and sat there 180-200 miles short.   I took a hot shower hoping that would revive me enough to make me go back out, but it didn’t.   Looking at the grass that needed cut before I left, that’s what I decided to do.

But, I’ll do it again, better prepared and won’t need to make any crazy runs through WV in the dark or in the rain.

I don’t get paid to do this,  It’s supposed to be fun and it was up-till the rain and soaked feet 🙂

End results:

Rally The Void

Rally the Void

Back in May I did the Mason-Dixon 20-20 Motorcycle Rally. Despite being run off-route and into the wilderness by Mr. Garmin, Kyle and I still scored respectably for first-timers.

The Void Rally is run in October. It’s essentially the last rally of the year for the east coast. I was looking forward to giving this rally thing a go again and hopefully scoring better.

It’s not easy to explain this rally thing in just a few words. But essentially, about a week before the rally you’re given the bonus locations and point values. By locations it’s simply something like this:

Bonus ID: 69 Latitude: 38.7928 Longitude: -77.0475 Point Value: 150
Availability and Notes: 24 hours

What you don’t know is what you actually have to do at that particular spot in order to get the points. You might have a clue, maybe you’re familiar with the area or have seen this bonus location on another rally.
Now if you’re smart you’ll at least look at a satellite photo or something:


As you can see, the photo, and probably your Garmin will stop you around the green arrow. I’ve circled the most likely target for this bonus, the light house. A mere ½ mile hike to get to it. In this case the bonus was actually the first boundary stone for the District of Columbia placed in the 1700’s.

You don’t know the details of the bonus locations until the night before when you get your rally book.

The Void has 2 formats, a 24 hour format similar to the MD-2020, with the exception that it starts in 3 different locations all ending up in Lynchburg VA. The other mode is a 10 hour rally that starts and ends in Lynchburg.

Dad traveled with us to the MD-2020 but didn’t participate. He’s done 24 hour rides but isn’t too keen on riding Virginia or West Virginia roads in the dark if he doesn’t have too. Something about your night vision going as you get older. So I elected to run the 10 hour format with him.

I mean how hard can this be? 10 hours? 500 miles tops?

Well, if it can go wrong it did. We (or I) broke a number of the cardinal rules for rallying and routing.

  1. Your route, if you can help it, should be circular, or at least have a couple bail-out points just in case you can’t get all the way through it. Our route was more an out-and-back, route, with the out part being too far for the conditions at hand.
  2. Know where you’re going if possible. Neither of us had ridden in any of these areas, but we’ll know what to expect next time.
  3. Avoid Big Cities, during daylight hours, and completely if possible. (We hit D.C. in the middle of a Saturday afternoon and traffic was crazy, I can’t imagine what it would be like on a weekday).
  4. Stay on big roads. (We didn’t do too badly at this, but we still ran into a lot of traffic on 2 lane roads through Fredericksburg and other towns).

It started to go bad with Bonus location number one on our stop. Take a photo of a sign at a historic tavern and mill.

We got there no problem, but we couldn’t find the sign. We had suspicions that it no longer existed. I didn’t get a chance to see any of the photos that other ralliers took so I didn’t get to confirm that. We did find the wording on the building itself in a glass case, and we found a sign post that was missing it’s sign. We documented both just in case.

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We screwed around at this location for far too long. What should take 5-10 minutes tops took us almost 40 minutes? Minutes we simply didn’t have. Time wasted looking for the sign, deciding to take the photo of other things, screwing around with cameras that weren’t working properly, etc.

We also needed fuel; we didn’t start with a full tank and should have. We then beet feet for a gas station and the next bonus location, only to arrive at said location at 7:45 am to realize that the bonus location wasn’t open or available until 9am. Ugh! This wasn’t all that wasteful; it didn’t really take us out of the way and was only a mere 25 point location. We made the executive decision to skip it. It wasn’t in the cards to come back.

Along the way we spotted a John Deere dealership. Since this was the Blue Collar Rally (aka the Red Neck Rally) it only made sense that we’d have bonuses like:

Find a John Deere Dealership: Get a photo of the dealership that showed the sign and a piece of equipment. For additional points get a photo of you in a piece of JD equipment.

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We’d like to take this opportunity to thank the fine folks at Virginia Tractor. They were more than gracious about our silly request and even gave us John Deere hats!

Other bonuses included: Purchasing moon-pies and beef jerkey. Getting your photo taken in front of a laundry mat with a just married sign attached to your bike.

At the next location we found the gate to the bonus location was locked, however, the rally masters knew this was a possibility and the book instructed us that a parking permit from the visitor’s center would suffice. The only problem with that was it was another 8 miles down the road out of the way, and took a conversation with park officials to get.

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After obtaining said permit we marched onward.

Our next location was the ballpark for the Potomac Nationals. We needed to get a photo of their team store sign. Simple enough right? Well, no! Prince William Parkway is 3-5 lanes wide and total chaos around 11am and goes through a shopping district. It was insane. The longest traffic lights in the world are located along this road. We also needed to hit a Famous Dave’s BBQ in this area to get a take-out menu. Of course when we realized this, it was on the other side of said 6 lane divided thru-way.

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By then we pretty much figured we were sunk. Just prior to this series of stops we hit a McDonalds to check on our progress and it wasn’t good. We were going to have to bail early, we were running over an hour and a half behind and this last series didn’t help at all.

We decided to throw caution into the wind and head for D.C. anyway. Why not right? I’d never been there before. Holy smokes traffic on I-95 heading into the city, in fact 30 miles outside of the city it was getting bad. Traffic that very much reminded me of Atlanta. 12:00 on a Saturday afternoon and it was slow and congested. Trying to get to the lighthouse was an adventure.

When we finally arrived it became clear we were hosed. We had a 3/12 hour ride back to Rally HQ, but only 3 hours to do it. You can make up 10 minutes on the interstate, but not necessarily 30 but we decided to give it a go.

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The Boundary Stone.

By the time we were at Fredericksburg again, we had shaved our deficit to just 15 minutes. We weren’t riding all that hard, in fact we were mostly trying not to get run over on I-95. There was still a problem though, we needed fuel again. After some stop and go traffic in Fredericksburg we decided, it’s just a game, it is what it is. We’re going to DNF, so let’s take it easy, get something to eat, all the Rally bubba’s and let them know we won’t be back in time.

We stopped at an Arby’s to make the phone call. Dad parked his bike but somehow didn’t have it just right. I was just about to dial the phone when I heard this horrendous ‘crash’ and the sound of plastic breaking, no, shattering. Dad had somehow managed to park his RT in such a way that after he dismounted and went to open a side case it just tipped over. The sound of a 600 lb motorcycle crashing down on top of his helmet pretty much marked the end of what was otherwise a great ride.
We picked up the pieces, and grabbed some grub.

It just wasn’t meant to be.

We still had a blast, saw some spectacularly beautify country and rode some great roads.

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For what it’s worth:
Route 311 is in WV, is awesome. So is 611/606 Grove Hill Road. Well worth the ride if you’re in that part of the country.

Until next year!

EOM Days 3 & 4

Saturday, The rain had stopped sometime in the middle of the night. There was still a little wetness out and about. We were up and ready to roll by 7:30, in time for the ‘Riders Meeting’:

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There were two roads that focused on twisties, puckered sphincter, and puckered sphincter south. We elected to take the latter. A lot of folks were looking for a more leisure ride, so the three of us took off as a group.

Unfortunately my eye flared up pretty badly. I still suffer from recurrent erosions, from a dirt bike incident over 6 years ago. Usually I just need to lay down horizontally and keep that eye closed for 5 to 10 minutes but I couldn’t get it to stop hurting or watering. We took off anyway. It had acted up a little bit on Friday, but by the time we got down the highway to the good roads it had stopped. I figured the same would happen today. It didn’t, so we had to stop for a while near this dam.

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Did I mention it was cold? Friggin cold. But unlike some folks, I didn’t leave my electric gear at home, so I was ok for the most part.

After the stop at the dam we continued south on 20 through Pipestem through Rocky Gap

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and west on 61. We took a side road up and over a mountain (623), I highly recommend this road. It’s as good as ‘the gap’ just as twisty and freshly paved. In the middle of Burkes Garden you’ll find a nice country store. The lady running it won’t win any prices for hospitality though.

We showed up there at 10:30am. Inside there was a sign that said ask about sandwiches…

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So I asked “What kind of sandwiches do you have?”, her response was “Nothing until 11am”. Well crap…

About 8 bikes passed us when we were dealing with my eye at the dam. We caught up with them at the store. Most of them bought something there, either a drink or a snack or something. She seriously looked and acted like we were messing up her whole day by visiting the store.

I asked Dad and Joe what they wanted to do? We could get something to eat down the road in the next town. When she heard this she said she could fix us a sandwich, if we wanted cold cuts.

Turned out the chicken salad was really good.

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It was still a bit chilly but the views were absolutely stunning.

From there we headed back out 623, and again west on 61 to 16 through Hungry Mother State Park, then east on 11 to 52.

52 was absolutely amazing. It followed a creek, most of the road was covered and some of the trees had already started to turn.

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While it wasn’t a highly technical road, it was an excellent ride! From there back through Rocky Gap, out 420 to 219 and back to Lynchburg. A nice 320 mile day.

The EOM Dinner was Saturday evening. The food was outstanding for a buffet, and as always there was a plethora of door prizes.

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Sunday started out much the same except the fog was thick and seemed to be hanging around. Sundays ride would the ‘puckered north route’ which was really the ‘west’ route, but I digress.

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We started off with breakfast at Bob Evans to give the fog some time to burn off. This time we picked up a 4th rider, Duane from Cleveland. He thought for sure the Bengals would beat up the Browns but I kept explaining to him that this is exactly the kind of the game that the Bengals will blow. And apparently that’s exactly what they did.

Again we headed out 64 West to Sandstone, south on 20, but West on 3 to 19. Then 19 to 16 North.

We stopped in ‘War, WV” for lunch at this little hole in the wall called The Lunch Box Cafe. Calling it a hole in the wall is being kind.

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We were sent there by a couple riders who had eaten there the day before and recommend it for the ambiance.

They were lucky, they got to sit in the main dinning area at the bar. (Which only sat 4 people) Since those spots were taken the ‘cleared a booth for us in the dining room’ aka storage/closet.

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The menu was literally scribbled on paper.

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Apparently they didn’t know much about them com-pute-tors.

The food wasn’t bad for what it was. Joe wasn’t impressed at all. That’s because he didn’t get bacon 🙂

It’s worth a trip if you’re in the area for the humor alone.

The front area was this big:

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Literally 4 seats and that’s it. I’m standing in the corner to get a photo of the whole thing.

Out of War we continued north on 19 to 99, then east on 64 back to the hotel. Another 300 mile day of riding really good roads.

At the end of the day the EOM crew were doing Throttle body syncs. For the most part it looked like the blind leading the blind. There was a lot of confusion happening. I know one guy’s AE didn’t run so well after being ‘tinkered’ with. I’m not saying doing a TBS is a bad thing, but doing it in a parking lot with 82 other folks some of who may not actually know what they are doing isn’t a good thing.

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The ride back on Monday was fairly uneventful. We took the shortest route this time which included mostly highway.

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It was another near perfect day and the perfect ending to a near perfect trip. (Had it not rained Friday it would have been perfect).

Till next year…