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.  

Mason Dixon 20-20 for 2011

What is a motorcycle rally?

If you already know what a Motorcycle Endurance Rally is.  Maybe because you read my report form last year (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 year’s rally them was the 500.

A Racing theme, no the rally still isn’t a race but the bonus location were race related.  Race tracks, and race teams, race horses, and race things in general.

We were given the bonus locations a week a head of time.  There’s software we use to sort and organize the bonus locations and place them on a map for route figuring.   We color code them based up on value.  This year the values were *special*, in that most were worth less than (1) point.  Like .66 or 1.05 or something silly.  Why is this important?  For one it breaks the excel macro’s for color coding and it just sucks to ride a bunch of miles for like 18 points.

Once the bonuses were fixed and plotted the looked like so:


(Click for larger image)

Rally HQ was Hagerstown MD.

Essentially, to be a finisher you had to score 3 numbered bonus locations plus the mandatory visit to Fort Indiantown Gap cemetery to visit Jim.

As mentioned all the bonus points were sub 5 points, with the exception of 6.

Flight 93, Battery Park (Manhattan, NY) and Arlington Cemetary, DC were worth 11 points each.   There was a bonus of 467 points if you got all 3 (for a total of 500).   So that pretty much made these mandatory.

Then there was Indianapolis for 100 points,  Randleman, NC for 42 points and some crazy location in Wyoming for 751 points.  (The Sucker Bonus).

So after review:



It was clear to score well you’d have to get the big 3.  If you wanted a shot at winning you’d also have to get Indy and possibly Randleman.

To complicate things, NY, DC, and Indy were daylight only bonuses.  You had to get them between 5:30am and 8:30pm.   Pretty crappy, since you only had from 5:30am to 2pm on Sunday.

There was one other wild card, at the rally hotel in Haggerstown, there was a bonus location available from 5pm-8pm Saturday.  Some skill challenges where you could score between –30 and 30 points.  The races/skill test was undefined, and since this is the Mason Dixon rally we had no ideal what type of shenanigans Rick would pull. 30 points would be a LOT in this rally, but with the chance to also lose, we decided we’d pass on those.

I won’t bore you with the 72 iterations that I went through to figure out where we’d go.  If you just got the big 3 you were in a for a nice 800ish mile ride.

But we weren’t in this for a nice ride, we wanted to score well for a change.  It was clear to me we needed Indy.  On Memorial weekend, yeah, race weekend, thanks Rick.

In the end we settled on this route:


From the barn, straight to flight 93, then beat feet to Indy.  Getting there around 1-2pm.  I did my homework, there was a parade at noon, and generally speaking the area around the bonus would be off-limits.  (Streets closed) but I figured that’d be cleared up by the time we got there.   There was no way I was going to try and go there on Race day, but some folks did at 5:30, about the only time you could *maybe* get it.

From Indy we’d pick up the low hanging fruit along I-70 that was close on our ride back to the hotel for our rest bonus.

We planned to sleep for 4 hours (1 more than the 3 hour minimum rest).  Then get up and run down to Arlington and be there at 5:30am, snap the picture of the memorial and get out of dodge before Rolling Blunder, with special guest Sarah Palin who would be in town (again, thanks Rick)

From Arlington, beat feet to Manhattan, get there around 9:30am, hopefully before to many tourists would hit Ground Zero.

Then to Jim’s grave, again picking up low hanging fruit on the way back to the barn.  That was the plan.  1620 or so miles in total.

And so it began.

With a LeMans start.  Rally riders 50 yards from their bikes with the helmets between us and our bikes.  (nice touch Rick).

Unlike 2010 we got started on time.

And we beat feat to Flight 93


From there it was a long ride to Indy.  We didn’t stop for anything other than fuel.

We made it to Indy, we had budgeted 1.5 hours to get this bonus.   We rolled right in like we owned the place.


Now technically this is NOT the item we were supposed to take a photo of.  But it met the definition.  “Take a photo of the 100 Year Anniversary Logo on the Museum” or something like that.  Hard to see in the photo but that white sign says “Museum Entrance”.   We were also parked right next to a vendor and bought our ‘wild-card checkered flag bonus’.   3 additional points were available if you crossed the finish line displaying a checkered flag.  At the pre-dinner, desert was cup-cakes that had little checkered flags in them.  I knew we needed that damn flag, but neither Kyle or myself had cupcakes and neither of us grabbed one.

From Indy we actually ran out west of Indy go John Force’s place to take a photo of Eric Medlen’s statue, a driver killed during a test run of one the Force Chassis.


We headed back to Haggerstown.  I –70 would be just as exciting the 2nd time around (not).

On the way back we grabbed the bonus at the John and Annie Glen Historic site:


From there some dilapidated old dirt track.


We got Holeshot motorsports in MD


Did I mention yet that riding the slab for 30 hours sucks?  Yeah, all interstate, who’s Idea was this?

At some airport that had been used for a makeshift race track a few times we were supposed to get a photo of ourselves on some playground equipment, but that playground no longer existed.  We called the Rallymaster and were instructed to get a photo of ourselves at the terminal so we did.


From there it was back to the hotel for the rest bonus.  Which is best documented by using an ATM receipt.  We each got them, then the ATM ate Kyle’s card.  Doh!

The idea given to me by the Void rally master when I had an issue getting a good ending receipt from the hotel last fall.  He said go to an ATM check your balance and use that for the start and ending receipts.  So that was the plan.

We discussed what we’d do to get him a stop receipt.  If you’re staying at the Ironbutt Hotel (sleeping on your bike or on the ground you’ll often just go to a gas station and buy something.   We did this the year prior.  Used a gas receipt, then slept on the ground for 3 hours and bought a cup of coffee from the same joint in the morning.

We decided that I’d just pull two receipts.   What was important was that the receipt came from the same location, same machine, not who’s card was used.  We reasoned that if I had paid for his coffee the year prior, it wouldn’t have mattered, so using my card wouldn’t matter.

We slept for 3.5 glorious hours.

We left a little early to get into DC with the least amount of fuss.

While we had budgeted an hour and a half to get the Indy bonus, it only took us about 20 minutes.  However that extra time we booked vanished over the next few hours.   We were concerned that we wouldn’t close the loop in time.  We had 600 miles to do and figured we’d probable loose ~30 minutes over that time.  Which meant we’d get the big ones and drop all the extras.

We ran to Arlington and go there about 5:15 and had to wait for 5:30 to roll around to take the photo.


We had to take a photo of the memorial and have the Washington memorial visible in the background.  (note there isn’t a time/datestamp on this photo because I switched to ‘night’ mode to get the monument to show up.

Then we ran straight to NY, dropping two bonuses along the way.

The trip inbound was pretty uneventful for NY.  We rolled up the the target, hopped off our bikes, and snapped the picture.  Kyle got some random tourist to hold his flag.


The target was the globe in the background.   The guys directing the bus traffic weren’t real happy with us but we were in and out in less than a minute.

From NY it was all down hill.   We had one more mandatory stop at Jim’s grave.


We blew off a couple other bonuses and just headed to the barn.


In the end we clocked in with 1640 miles (or there abouts, I don’t know what the final corrected value was).   783.28 points with all wildcard and check in bonuses.  A good ride.

(IF) we’d a picked up just one or maybe two of the other planned bonuses of which we probably had time to get since we were back 15 minutes before penalty time, we coulda maybe won.  But then again, (IF) my aunt had balls she’d be my Uncle.

Good enough for 4th and 5th.


I’m happy with this finish all things considered.  We planned our ride and rode our plan.  We rode safely, and slept well.  Or at least well enough.

But the story doesn’t end there.  After scoring I went out to put the cover on my bike and was greeted with this:


Ouch, with 500 miles to ride to get home, that wasn’t going to work.   At the banquet I asked about tires and tried to find a solution.  Most motorcycle shops aren’t opened on Monday’s let alone memorial day Monday.   It was looking like I’d have to spend an extra night and buy a tire on Tuesday.

Then Ron Moser came to my rescue, he was quite sure he had a ‘take off tire’ that would get me home.  His place was on the way.  150 miles on the way but on the way no-less.  He also had tire changing equipment.   Now I just had to get there.   150 miles was doable with the aid of… wait for it …


Gorilla tape.


Stop laughing now.

It actually worked out fairly well.  We taped it up, rode 10 miles checked it, it was good.  We stopped about every 20 miles, checked it, re-taped if necessary and eventually got to Ron’s

Things learned: this works.

It works best when you keep the speed down, like under 60, more like 50-55.   Yeah it was hard being passed by trucks, and Harley’s for 150 miles.  But I swallowed my pride in the name of safety and we made it.   150 miles is pretty much the max though.  That tire was way beyond done by the time we got to Ron’s place.




But with my newly mounted new to me Pilot Road, I was good to go.

For what it’s worth, the tire was a Pirelli Angel.  It had 5500 miles on it prior to the rally and looked really goo, good enough for me to take to a rally and expect to be able to put 2500 miles on.  I really though it had another 2500 in it or I would not have ridden the rally with it.   While these tires were ‘good’ they weren’t great, and obviously give up rather quickly toward the end, which isn’t good for me.

At the end of the weekend I piled 2599.2 miles on the FJR, now affectionately named ‘Trigger’.   I need personalized plates.


The end…

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”