2012 Mason-Dixon 20-20 Rally Report

If you already know what a Motorcycle Endurance Rally is.  Maybe because you read my report from last year (2011) or (2010) or (2009) you can skip this section and go straight to the Ride report.   Otherwise, the basics are explained in the (2010) report.

This years rally them was the Mountain Doo Doo

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Mason Dixon 20-20 2012

This was hinted at last year and advertised as the antithesis of last years nearly 100% highway riding rally.   It was destined to be in the mountains and only in the mountains.

I was excited, I’d rather ride 1500 miles in the mountains than 800 on the super slab but that’s just me.

We anticipated that being in the mountains at night was gonna suck so last year after the MD2020 I added AUX lights to the bike.  Nothing really sucks worse than two lane West Virginia roads in the dark and you can’t really understand just how dark unless you’ve been there.

OK so with much anticipation, the list of boni (which is plural for bonus) was released last Sunday (one week before the rally).

We get to prepare (read agonize over these for a week) while we try to figure out a good route.

The base boni looked something like this:

2012_MD2020Boni

Now the first thing you might think is that’s a lot of boni, of which a good portion aint in the mountains.  That’s exactly what I thought.   Then the rules indicated that this was an efficiency rally.   Which means the most points per miles wins, and not the most points.   As you can see, the purple (highest value) boni are in the mountains as are most of the red (next highest in value).   But all those green ones, the mediums, they are much closer to the rally HQ, which meant (to me) that an efficient ride was going to include a bunch of those and none of the red/purple which were “in the mountains”.

This didn’t sit well with me.

For one, the MD2020 always awards the most efficient rider with the Jim Young Trophy.  This guy while efficient, usually is outside of the top 5, sometimes even outside the top 10.

So immediately I dismissed the whole efficiency idea.   I played with a few routes but I (we) which includes my riding partner decided, we wanted a mountain rally and would ride the mountains and pick the best route out of those that we could find and ride it.   We just wanted to ride well and score well.   We became much less concerned about finishing well.

And so planning began and this is what we came up with:

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The route included 1266 miles which would be enough to claim the points for exceeding 1250.   It was tight.   In fact it had us getting back at 2:40pm, which was 10 minutes after the Time-Bar time.  Which meant we had to find 10 minutes, something we haven’t been able to do in the past.

But the route was such that at the end the last 8 or so stops, we could bail and jet over to 81 and make a run for it if we were running behind or “on time”.

The Route sheet from which we’d work from looked like this:

TheRoute

I can’t remember the last MD2020 that got started on time but we left the barn at 05:30, and beet feet north to Jim’s grave, a mandatory bonus every year, we arrived 07:02 which meant we were 30 minutes ahead of schedule from getting started 30 minutes early.  This was awesome, now we just needed to maintain that over the next 33 hours.

Stop 2 was actually a bonus that’s not listed on the route but we were following a rider towards Jim’s grave and when he bailed off at the exit I checked to see what he might be going after, and (since we were ahead) we had time to grab it.  It was right by the exit and we would need fuel at this time as well.

So we grabbed the 35 extra points for bagging the community center:

From this spot it was a bit of a ride to get to bonus 114 The population center sign.

At this point we were almost an hour ahead of schedule and starting to think maybe we’ve missed something…

4th stop would be Lost River Church Historical Marker

Followed by the Coots Store sign:

I should point out that the bandana was a new requirement for this rally.  Not only did you have to have your rally flag but about 1/2 the boni required your ‘colorful’ bandana also had to be in the photo.   Thanks Rick!

From the Coots sign we headed to cemetery in Franklin WV.  By now it was north of 90 degrees and steamy hot.

After this bonus I noticed that my windshield wouldn’t go up or down and my turn signals were ‘funky’.

I pulled off the road at a gas station and Kyle mentioned I didn’t have any head lights to go with my other issues.  *CRAP*.   I have a 2006 FJR (Gen II) and no I have not had the wiring harness recall performed.

I have had 2 Brodie harnesses in my hands but gave them both up to guys who needed them for the Iron Butt Rally in 2009 and 2011 and never installed it.

I was fearful that my harness was melting and I’d be stranded in the middle of nowhere-WV.

In top of that starting was also problematic.  It wouldn’t start in neutral, only in gear after ‘cycling’ the kickstand.  I feared we were hosed at this point, and we were a full 1 hour ahead by now.

Kyle and I discussed and decided to carry on.  If I was going to get ‘stuck’ in WV I guess it didn’t really matter where. (We’ll revisit that thought later).

The way the spider problem often works is you shut your bike off and it just won’t start back up.  So I got it started and I’d just leave it running until the rest bonus.  We knew then we’d be in a more major metropolitan area.

The next stop was in Seneca Rocks:

Then Rich mountain.

Followed by Pickens WV the highest point bonus of the rally at 777 points.

Now here’s the deal with this.  Pickens is paved.  But there are 3 ways into Pickens, and Garmin didn’t route us in or out on a paved road.  No rather it was 20+ miles in and 20+ miles out on gravel, gravel that the FJR had no business being on.   We were passed by dirt bikes, trucks and 4-wheelers.

It was a great fire road, and lucky for us it was graded recently.  It wasn’t too rutted, buy still, we had no business there on 650lb street bikes.

Yea, there was a reason it was 777 points.

(Rick you suck)

From Pickens we headed to Hacker Valley.

Then on to the Walter Cool Historical Marker.

then an over look:

Of course you had to read the damn thing, cause they wanted the bend in the river and not the sign.

Then off to Zela

Extra special thanks to Bill Dunlop who was just leaving and pointed us to the sign, which was covered up…

From Zela to the Glen Ferris Inn near Gauley, WV

Then the Coal Marker

Then the Hatfield Cemetery

It’s starting to get dark and I don’t have any headlights.  Sad smile

I do have aux lights which will help but people don’t really like those even though they are aimed away from oncoming traffic.

Next stop is Gilbert, WV to shoot Marilyn

Then Grundy, WV

Brilliant, Kyles headlight is out too.  IT’s been fickle all day, he can usually get it started by wrapping on the relay with a screw driver…

This sucks…


(yes the FJR is running)

2 more stops before our rest bonus.

 

We found a reasonable gas station with good lighting, and an ATM.

We grabbed our rest start bonus at 00:16 and I tore into the FJR.  I was hopeful that maybe just maybe the wiring for my aux lights was causing my issue.  I disconnected the high beam relay (leaving the manual on feed) but that didn’t make a difference.   That cost me about 40 mins rest.

We slept in the nearby Burger King parking lot away from the hustle and bustle of the gas station.   The provided us with 2 good hours of sleep on our luxury thermo-rests.

The alarm went off at 02:50 and we saddled up and rode over to the gas station.   I got a crappy cup of coffee and some pop-tarts.

We got our ending receipts at 03:18 and off we went into the night.

Smithfield WV.

Then Burkes Garden to snap the old post office.  The road in and out of Burkes Garden was awesome.  Only wish it hadn’t been in the middle of the night.

This was a daylight only bonus and daylight started at 05:30 regardless of the amount of light available, which was pretty much no light.

Then Peterstown, WV for a big Chicken

Then the Deer Restaurant

Then the Cow at the Paint Bank General store.

Which was perfect cause both of us were running on fumes and probably couldn’t have made it another 5 miles to the next gas station.

At this point we realize that getting back by 1pm is a possibility.  The Garman is telling us we have a 10 minute cushion.  (which is an hour and a half better than our planned arrival time of 02:38).

Just 3 more stops.

The hump back bridge

Then the lookout at Longdale Furnace.   Another Rick Miller special.  10 miles of Gravel up the mountain in, and 10 miles out.

Just to get a picture of a pile of rocks.

Oh look, a Magical Coyote.

It’s right there under the bush, can you see it?

Lastly a quick photo of Foam Henge 🙂 I have always wanted to stop here.

We still had 180 miles to go and one fuel stop.

And we made it pulling in at 12:50pm

Total Rally miles 1264 (corrected)

Plus 450 miles to the rally and 450 miles home meant a wonderful 2164 for the weekend.

Good riding, good times.

We ended up with an 8.5 something points per mile.  Good enough for 13th/14th place.  But we didn’t really go for high points per mile so we’re really happy with that.

This was for us, the best rally we’ve ridden.  We planned then rode our plan.  We made time instead of losing it.   Outside of some potential mechanical problems that didn’t really hurt us, we didn’t have any issues.   We rode for a solid 30 hours and couldn’t have done any better.

We are happy with the ride and the results and are looking forward to next year.

The entire photo library is visible here:

https://picasaweb.google.com/105269375688822016029/2012_MD2020#

I don’t have a spot tracker and used Google Latitude on my iPhone so family and friends could track me.  That data is available here:

https://www.dishers.com/FJR/2012_MD2020_Latitude_RallyData.kml

Best viewed in google earth, it’s not super accurate though.  Apparently the Garmin can’t keep 3 days worth of Rally data so I lost all tracks prior to the rest bonus :/

Clarification: I wasn’t disappointed with the MD2020, it’s theme or the they way it was run.  Bummed that it wasn’t a pure mountain rally, and bummed that it wasn’t traditional rally scoring yes, but I wouldn’t say I was disappointed.  The rally was awesome, and well run as the MD2020 always is.  It just turned out to be a different rally than we expected so in that aspect I guess you could say we were disappointed.   Anyway, we made the best of it.  We planned a rally route that we wanted to ride and executed it to the best of our abilities.   It was probably my best ride to-date, in that we were able to execute our plan, added points and finished earlier than we expected.   We were never rushed, it was a beautiful thing.   Had this been a ‘regular’ rally we would have finished well, but we knew we wouldn’t from the get-go so we’re good with it.  

Ride with me for 15 minutes…

Last weekend I participated in the Void in Lynchburg, VA. (see prior post).

For the ride home we picked the scenic (read twisty) route where possible, avoiding the slab (highway).

The video below includes 15 minutes of footage along US Route 311 in Virginia headed towards West Virginia.

Footage shot with a ContourHD camera.

Yeah, I know the sound is out of sync (thanks iMovie).   But it gives you a good idea of why we do this (or maybe why some people don’t).  I don’t claim to be any good at this video editing thing.

Enjoy…

Best viewed in 720p

Avon Storms

At the last tire change I put on a pair of Avon Storms.

I decided to try the Storms because many folks claim the are “the @#$@$”. Outstanding handling and performance as well as reasonable life.

I had to replace the first rear right at 6k, which considering I got a good 7k out of the previous Metzlers wasn’t what I had in mind. The front still looked ‘great’ although the handling was starting to deteriorate. I mounted a new rear and marched on.

We’ll 5000 miles later I was very sorry. The front went to hell at about 8000 miles total, but we were on our way to the Void Rally and didn’t have time. The tread still looked good but it had started to wear really lopsided.

After the rally I ordered up a new set of Pilot Road 2’s. Now weather and other factors meant it would be about 3 months before I’d get those mounted.

The following are photos of the Storms:

2nd Rear after 5k miles. Well into the wear bars but probably has another 2k left in it. Somewhat flat spotted in the middle but I’d venture out of those 5k miles, only 1200 are slab, so I’m not impressed.

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The front:

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I didn’t like the Storms and won’t buy them again.

  1. They took a crap load of weight to balance.
  2. I didn’t like them on tar snakes and painted lines. Very, very slippery.
  3. I felt their wet weather performance was only mediocre, not outstanding.
  4. Life is poor in my opinion. To me there were a step backwards from the Metz Z6’s

My FJR thinks it’s a Harley…

Ugh… My final drive has been weeping, and it appears to be getting worse.

After the ride today, it only took 15 minutes to create this:

This after just 380 or so miles. That rear wheel was just cleaned, so clean you could eat off of it.

I’m sure this would fall under warranty, but I don’t have a clue as to who I’d trust with the bike for what will amount to a $12 seal?

UPDATE:

By the looks of things externally, based upon where the leak appears to be… I need one or more of the following seals (in the red Circles)

partimage-2

Of course none of the local dealers have these parts so I’m giving University Motors in Fargo North Dakota a shot at them. If I have to wait, might as well get decent pricing on the parts. How bad could this repair be? We shall soon find out.

Update:

I’ve recently learned that…  I’m probably over filling this thing.   Now at my first ever fluid change I was careful to put in just the required amount.  It seems to me that that volume of fluid filled it to the bottom of the threads for the fill plug.  But allegedly that’s not right.  If you have that much in it, it’s too full and has no where to go but to get pushed past the seals.

So, I’m going to do my 20k maintenance soon.  Install 2 new tires, plugs, and change all the fluids.  When I do that I’ll clean everything up and make sure I have just the 8 ounces or what’s required and see if it still leaks.

Prior to the void rally, I topped it off (to the bottom of the threads).  It leaked/weeped like a SOB the entire time but when I checked it.  It’s still full, so I must be over filling it.  Or at least that’s the current logic.

Are the current seals ruined?  Not sure.  I still have them on order and will replace them if necessary.

Garmin Zumo is the shizzle.

Wow,

As indicated, I’m participating in a rally this weekend. Because my right hand man at work will also be unavailable (out of town) this causes a small dilemma. We need to be reachable, because it seems that Murphy always shows up when we go somewhere together.

Previously I had the Scala-Rider Bluetooth headset that I used so that I could be reachable. I don’t like to ride and talk on the cell phone, there’s already enough going on that I just don’t like it, but it is hands free so that’s a plus.

Last fall I migrated/upgraded my onboard entertainment to a StarCom1 intercom with iPod music input, as well as Radar (when needed) and the GPS audio. This system just rocks. For the rally my GPS was getting a bit dated. The Garmin Quest 1 is fine, except that it’s internal storage for maps isn’t all that large. I couldn’t load enough maps to potentially cover the rally area. I lucked into a Quest2 which holds all the maps for the US, but man is it slow.

That brings me to the Zumo. This brilliant GPS is designed for bikers. It’s designed for gloved touch screen use, can interface with XM, and has bluetooth.

After reading a few reviews on the FJR board, and doing a little digging it became apparent that this was the way to go. This baby puts me back into a situation to be reachable on the bike as well as upgrades my GPS considerably.

The unit is mounted on a Tech Mount Stem Mount, audio and mic cables are plugged in to the StarCom1. Audio isn’t ‘perfect’ but similar to most of the bluetooth head sets I’ve used with the Treo 700p which has a crappy bluetooth implementation anyway.

With this I have crazy fast and accurate GPS, 2gb of mp3s for it to play (as well as my iPod pumped into the StarCom1), and now bluetooth connectivity for my phone. I mounted everything tonight (had to wait on cables for the StarCom1) and it works great!.

Photos:

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One other thing, the Zumo motorcycle mount is brilliant. It’s water tight, and has this crazy magnetic cover to cover the contacts with the Zumo is out of the mount.

To keep your Zumo, there’s a ‘security’ screw that you screw in. The basically keeps the mount from releasing your Zumo from the bike. It’s just a funky screw with a funky screw driver. You’re supposed to mount this on your key ring, but the brilliant minds at Garmin didn’t realize that they put the hole on the wrong end. Basically the screw driver stayed attached to your keys which made it darn near impossible to use. (It’s a really tiny screw).

I fixed that by drilling an identical hole in the cap and attaching that to the key chain. We’re good now.

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