2013 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 (2012), or (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 theme was the Battle for Lexington.

Mason Dixon 20-20 2013 Info

Unlike previous years, this rally would not be a Photo-Bonus Rally.   Meaning you don’t go somewhere, with a flag, and get a picture.  Instead you’ll be answering questions about what’s at the location.   The very first Mason-Dixon I did was mostly this.   You show up at a place, read, for instance the historical marker, and answer a fill in the blank question about the content.

This year however it was worse, way worse and we’ll get into that in a minute.

Also unlike previous years, there were very few boni compared to previous years.

48 to be exact.


Starting in Martinsburg, WV

We had the opportunity to visit lots of great places.   In order of importance, the Purple values are the highest, followed by Red, then Blue, then Green.

On the map the circles are available 24 hours, the Squares are defined as daylight ONLY bonuses, and the 3rd type as some sort of time availability.  There were few of these, but they are something like only available Sunday from 10am to 12pm.

Almost all of them have some sort of ‘”Lexington” Tie in.   Maybe they all do but it seemed to me only about half did.

This was the fewest number of boni that I can remember.   After reviewing the data, it became pretty clear, there’s really only one route:


Now one of the things that’s always amazed me about rallying is the different approaches, and different views, and the different ways people get things done.   What I feel is the best route usually isn’t that far off from (quote)The Best Route(unquote).   I said usually.  There have been rallies where we completely missed the obvious, or didn’t think something was possible, yet it got done.

This year the ‘Clear Route’ is what you see above.   You could choose to run it clockwise or counter clockwise.  Each had it’s advantages and disadvantages.   We ran it clockwise.

*Disclaimer:  Clear route to me, is the highest points I could obtain within my riding parameters.  Including MPH average over roads and with the knowledge of the areas we’ll be riding in that I have.  That might not be the same for you, or anyone else.  If you chose a different route because this one wasn’t obvious to you, that’s perfectly acceptable   I’m not saying or trying to say that everyone should have chosen this but cause that’s never the case.

The obvious “wild cards” in my mind off the base route are highlighted.  The winning route got two of them, the upper two.  Because we ran the route the direction we did, the highlighted red Square (Daylight Only) bonus wasn’t available to us as it was the middle of the night when we were riding by.

We ran the route the direction we did for a couple reasons.

1) Riding good twisty roads, the kind we we like, is best done in the daylight hours.   Certainly traffic might slow you down but even with big ass lights, we prefer to ride these in the daylight.

2) We double-stacked the bonus at Jim’s grave.  The winner went there 2nd, then did the loop, then went back to get the second opportunity at the same location.   He rode 1640 miles in 29 hours, we rode 1440.

We both slept for about 3:20 so really we had 28.67 hours available to us.

Now it may not be the right approach, but that’s how I’ve learned to do this.   Take the available riding hours, in this case the rally is a 32 hour rally, minus the mandatory 3 hour rest and you get 29 hours to work with.

Take an average that you’re comfortable riding, knowing the roads, and locations, traffic, times of day, all that stuff, and you get something like this:


For us, that 50MPH average, that’s TOTAL average, including stops, not just riding average.   For us (me) 50 is a good number.   It represents driving at or about ~5MPH over the limit in the ‘safe zone’.  It’s not crazy.  We know we’ll spend 3-7 minutes per stop.

The Top rally rides don’t spend that much time.  If it’s a photo bonus, they may not even get off the bike.

So we built our route based upon that number 1450 miles was in our “Wheelhouse”.

The winner rode 1640  miles, while we rode that many miles in 2011, it was 97% highway miles.

Given that this was a non-photo bonus rally, meaning you had to read, interpret, think, and write, we expected each stop to take longer, and take longer it did.

The other monkey wrench, is “usually”, when you complete the rally, you have a few hours to get your ‘crap together’ and organize your paperwork.

Not so this year. The rally ended at 2pm, if you got back at 2:01 you were DNF (Did Not Finish), you had to be in line, with paperwork ready to be scored by 3pm.    Ugh, this meant that your paperwork had to be pristine throughout the rally.  Some guys jumped off their bikes and took photos of the stuff to figure out the Q and A later.   I didn’t feel that was the right way to go, given the small paperwork window we had.   Our route was tight enough (for us).  But that’s exactly what the winner did.

This year there were two wild card bonuses. 1) Get a package of un-opened, Pepperidge Farm Lexington Cookies.   2) Get a business card that had the word ‘Lexington’ on it somewhere.

We killed both of those in one stop at Target in Lexington, both the cookies and the card.

So how was this rally different?

As I mentioned earlier, in previous rallies you might roll up to a Highway historical marker something like this:

In a Question/Answer rally, the book might say something like:

How far away and in what direction is the home of William Gause Jr.?     And you would write in “four miles south”.

This year, our chief rally bastard did us one better.

Instead of giving us the question, we had a double sided sheet of paper with 48 questions.   So we’d show up, check the rally book, find out that we were at a historical marker, hopefully the right one, read it, then scan the page for the question that fit.  The Question for Bonus location X01 was not Q01, they were all scrambled.


Then scan another page, double sided, with 48 answers and put the two together.

That was bad enough, but some of these bonus locations were simply jacked.  One had us looking for a ‘Sign’, but it turned out we needed to be looking for a Fire Hydrant.

Another was a block away from where the way point that we were provided was.  Yeah, the address was there, but we weren’t provided with a list of addresses to put in our GPS, we were given Lat/Long Info.

Some of the questions and answers weren’t right.  They were close but not right.

I’m not trying to sound bitter, or angry, I’m tired. I recognize the work that goes into this and other rallies and nobody is perfect.  But when we (as riders) are held to a high standard for ‘attention to detail’ and rider comprehension, it’s very frustrating when things that are supposed to line up don’t.

Of course we had the normal Rally bastard Chesedickery, where you’d roll up and there were (4) historical markers you had to read and process at one location, and some of the signs are double-sidded. 🙂   And I know Cheesedickery when I see it because I now have a Masters in Cheesedickery.


And the best part, we were given this awesome Mug as SWAG:


A big ass heavy ceramic mug, a mug that you had to carry with you to get signed at a couple of the locations.  Brilliant! Smile

I don’t know how many folks didn’t get their mug signed because the just left it at the Rally hotel but I’m sure there were a few.

Lastly, the wild-cards.

If you obtained the wild cards, you could use them in place of a question or an answer.  If you obtained both, you could plop those in as a Question and an Answer for a bonus that you didn’t ride too.

The highest point bonus was in Toluca, IL.   Too far to ride for 1414 points because you’d sacrifice so many others.   But, getting those two wild cards (as most people did) they were able to claim that bonus (and most riders did).

We took a little different approach.  We scanned the questions and found a question that mentioned the Toluca railroad or mine or something.   So we used that Question and use a wild card for the answer, then we went down the list, and eventually found another ~800 pointer that we felt fairly confident we had the right Question/Answer.   So we used that and rolled the dice.  It worked, mostly.

My failure was that I knew the answer, it was actually a Pancake house who’d been serving food since 1937.   That answer was A20, but A21 was what I wrote down.   That mistake alone coast me 66% of those points and 2 or 3 finishing places.

Kyle didn’t drop any points at scoring, and was awarded with the Jim Young Memorial Rider Efficiency trophy which was pretty sweet.

It was another fun rally, the new hotel location worked out well.  Staff was friendly as always.  Next year’s theme is ‘Get Crabby’ or something like that, which means probably a whole lot of east coast stuff.   But then again, I thought the Mountain Doo-Doo was going to be all mountain roads ;0

I continued to be amazed at what people can “Pull-Off”.   Josh (the winner) is a machine, most of the guys that do win this are machines.   They can sit there and twist that.  They  must have huge bladders or a much better strategy for dealing with waste than we do.

We had a great ride.   We planned our ride and rode our plan, minus my paperwork snafu, we got the results we expected.

So until next year…

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

20-20_Mountain Do Do Patch_C1_FR1101 Ab

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:


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:


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:


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:


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:


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.  

The MD2020 Recap

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.

Continue reading “The MD2020 Recap”