Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy LDR Relief

I had resisted putting up a report on this, but enough time has passed.

Firstly, I am not looking to "Attaboys" or "Way to go's".  This is a story of how good motorcycle riders are.  I am not looking to show how cool or helpful I am.  This is a story or ordinary people making things happen.

Sandy hit and hit us Hard, October 29.  My work was without power, as was my home.  Kate and I both spent the entire week at work.  At the time, she worked in a Hotel, so it was OK for her.  They had power and water.  My work and home were without.  I got home twice in the course of the week, just enough time to crash and then return.

There was no power in most of the state and therefore no gas.  I had people coming in from PA to work and they were bringing 5 gallon cans of gas for the generators.  I used one or two to put fuel in my car, so I could work.

By Saturday, work had power, but home had not.  I was cooked and went home, where Kate was waiting for me.  She had made me a bath by boiling water on the stove and pouring it into the bathtub.  This was the first warm shower/bath I had had sine Monday AM.  It is amazing how much better getting clean can make you feel.

Sunday AM, I woke up to power at the house.  It felt great.  About 30 minutes later, I was feeling guilty.  Why should I relax when so many others were having a hard time?  Tailgate Joe announced he was bringing his tailgate machine and TVs to the Staten Island Rescue center to provide free food.  I figured I would bring some deserts for the kids and anyone else who wanted to come.

I grabbed my GS and went to the store.  I picked up batteries and food, as much as I could carry, which is a lot with those piano case panniers I have.  I rode out to Coney Island, where my friend Anna was involved in recovery efforts.  Met her at her rescue location and dropped half of my supplies.  They were all very grateful, and the cops didn't mind that I parked my bike on the sidewalk, since I was delivering food and such.

Stopped by the Cyclone, and it was standing, but turns out there was a bunch of damage to it.

Continued my ride out to Staten Island.  The rescue center was at a huge HS field, which was great, but there was only 1 two lane road in and out.  Stupid choice of location, with people struggling to get in and out.  Given that I had my GS, I rode the sidewalk for a mile or so, to get to the delivery point.

A cop jumped out at me, as I got there, and started yelling about "WTF are you doing", "where do you think you are going", etc.  I opened my top case and showed him the stuff, and it was then "right this way, sir".  Dropped off a bunch of supplies to the Red Cross and then Tailgate Joe.

On my way back to NJ, I asked several cops what they needed.  D cell batteries.  Well, there were no D Cell batteries to be had, but using some dimes and tape, you can make C cells work good enough as D cells.  One more trip for me, and I delivered the batteries to any cop I could find.

At this point, I was out of money, fuel and time.  I had done my best, and made a little impact on some people's lives.

On Monday, a friend on Facebook put up a picture of a ruined house and tagged me in the photo.  I asked him why, and he told me this was a house I had lived in when I lived in Sayreville, NJ.  Unlike most people, I moved about 20 times when I was a kid, so I don't remember a lot of the houses I lived in.  I had no idea Sayreville was hit so hard.

I had to do something.  But I was out of money.  So I reached out to my friends in the Long Distance Rider community.  I asked for donations, so I could buy supplies for Sayreville.  Within hours, donations flowed in from all over the country in all denominations.  We managed to put together almost $750 in that time frame.

I went to Walmart, and bought a large amount of flashlights and clothes.  I asked the store manager if he could help out and he provided me with a $50 gift card, which we used right then and there.

 Paypal Donations from the LD community: $617.49
 Donations to Sayreville Sandy survivors:
208 Flashlights
77 Kids shirts
 $150 cash

Total: $646.12

Text I got from my friend, who was the final delivery point for the stuff and $:

Shirts and flashlights dropped off at OLV. I'm taking the check to the proper steward first thing in the AM. The sight of awe on the faces of the cop that had me drive right up on the sidewalk, and the volunteers who helped unload was a sight to behold! Wow! Oh my God! Whoahh!!! Was all I heard. You have done a fine thing today and it was my pleasure and honor to help you accomplish it. Ill talk to ya tomorrow Bro.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Void 7 Rally Ride report


Since first doing a rally at The Minute Man this year, I have been hooked.  Rallies work for me on several levels.  They are a competition, they involve motorcycling and everyone I have met at a rally  so far is a fun person.  All those points make rallying a perfect activity for me.

The Void was my first "real" rally.  I did the Minute Man, which was 24 hours, but I was in the Saddle Sore portion of the event, which was on a set path and I just deviated and picked up points.  I am very proud of that accomplishment, tempering that pride against the above caveats.

I then did Team Lyle, New England and did quite poorly.  Fun rally and lots of riding, but not a result I was proud of.

The Void is a "Known" Rally.  People in the community know it and it draws a lot of riders.  This year there were 80+ people riding from multiple locations and my location, Allentown, PA had 35 participants.  If I was going to do well, I would need to plan well, perform well and have some luck.

The riders received their rally packs several days before the start of the rally.  In those packs were the Bonus locations with GPS coordinates and the Rally Book which describes the tasks to be performed at a bonus location and a list of combination bonuses.

It Begins:

This is the part of rallying I probably enjoy the most.  The planning.  I probably spent 20 hours working on my route to get the most points possible, in a distance and time that would fall under the rally limits (28 hours and 1400 miles).  Once I was happy with my route, I then went about researching each bonus location to see if there were any "gotchas", which there were.

One of the bonus locations was listed about 2 miles from where it was actually located.  Using the power of Google, I was able to find the real location and plot that into my route.

At another location, Streets and Trips instructed me to stop and I would be at my location.  Problem was, where it wanted me to stop was on a bridge.  Doing some more research I adjusted the coordinates to get me to the pier under the bridge correctly.

At two other locations, I had to do math or use reading comprehension.  I know that under stress, both can be difficult, so I planned on snapping pictures of the bonuses using my cell phone, so I could process the information at a later time, when I was stopped and purely in thinking mode.

Giving myself a clear plan for handling those locations gave me a leg up.  There was some consternation relating to two of these bonuses at scoring.  I was lucky enough to avoid that with research.

Night Before

A friend, Bruce, had arranged a dinner at an eatery for some of the Allentown starters.  I got to Allentown early enough to check into my room first.  I pulled up and there, in the parking lot, was this bad ass Orange Tiger 1050.  Coming out of the hotel was a woman in riding gear.  My guess was they belonged to each other and I was right!  I met the famous +Rachael Fuzzygalore , a.k.a. Rachel.  She is quite the pleasant person and her blog is not to be missed.  Tons of fun to read.

Fuzzy and I head over to dinner where we meet another 4 or 5 riders and Bruce joined us shortly thereafter.  Had a good meal and met some more great people.  Lots of BSing and then Bruce, Fuzzy and I headed back to the hotel.

Kate, my better third, had to work late and joined me at the hotel later that evening.  She would be riding to Lynchburg, VA the following day while I was riding my rally.  She was doing the 10 hour rally that would start the day after that.

Friday, Rally Start

I had prepped.  I was mentally ready.  My bike was ready.  It was go time.  Except I needed to go to Walmart and get a flashlight for one of my bonus locations, where I suspected I would need it.  No big deal, this rally kicked off at 8:50 AM, which is late by rally standards.  Perfect for me, since I am not a morning person.  At 8:00 AM I headed off to the Walmart which was 5 miles away.  1 Mile later BOTH of my GPS turned off abruptly.  No power problems, not "Shutting Down" message, just OFF.  The Rally Gods have announced their presence.

I then could not find the Walmart.  Obviously, working GPS are much more important than a flashlight, so I turned around and went back to the hotel to try and figure out my GPS problems.  And then both GPS turned on.  SOB.  Stupid technology.

A group of 5 or 6 of us gathered at a gas station where several of us had checked for good starting receipts.  Kate was there and I had a brilliant plan.  The first stop on my route was at a Cabellas a few miles down 78.  Kate was headed down 78.  I asked her to go ahead and get a flashlight for me, and when I pulled in to take my bonus picture, she could just hand it to me.  I am so smart, S-M-R-T.

8:51 and receipt secured, Start announced to Rally staff and off I go.  Head to Cabellas and pull into the parking lot.  I see my friend Chuck there, and we wave frantically at each other while going about our business.  I have a system for quickly getting in and out of bonus locations.  I am confident in it and it works well.  Too well.  I was on auto pilot and right after snapping my picture and gathering my data, I roared out of the parking lot.  Without the flashlight.  WOW.

Friday Riding

My route took me southwest on 78 and 81 towards several bonuses.  After grabbing those, I headed South East towards DC and the VA shore.  I never really hit traffic, per se, but once n town, it amazed me how long the lights in some of these towns took.  I mean, a red light was costing me 3 or 4 minutes.  UGH.

I was on time, or ahead for the first batch of stops.  As I got more in to the settled areas, I was losing a little time each stop.  Eventually, I was a bit behind, but nothing awful.  I was at one bonus and a nice older gentleman asked what I was doing.  I hate to be rude, so I took the time to try and explain this silly thing we do, while taking pictures and gathering data.  I then saw Bruce coming down the road towards us.  I quickly put my stuff away, and said to the gentleman "I am really a new guy at this stuff, but that guy (Bruce) coming down the road can explain the whole thing to you!" and with that, *poof*, I was gone.

Moved through my bonuses and go to the fishing pier discussed earlier.  Got through that with no problem.  When I arrived, I asked the nice park lady where the rules were.  She told me "I can't tell you."  I asked why not and she told me that someone dressed like me had come by earlier and instructed her to not tell anyone else.  Classy move.  She then sheepishly told me "it is over there, but don't tell him I told you."  Sweet lady.  She was legitimately concerned for having told me.  I assured here it was perfectly OK and others would be coming by.

The Orange County Airport Episode

By the time I got to OCA, I was a bit behind schedule.  I had allotted 10 minutes at OCA, which is a lot for me, as I suspected it would be a bear to find the bonus.  As luck would have it, another rider was there when I pulled up.  Sometimes it works out like that and you get a break.  This was not one of those times.

Turns out he had been scouring for the bonus and it was not there.  We saw a sign pointing us to another building on the other side of the airport and we headed out.  Spent more time there looking to no avail.  This rider called the RM and discussed it and the RM told us to just take a picture of the sign and move on.  Good enough, but I had eaten a bunch of time.  I was about 30 minutes behind at this point.

I headed out to the next location with a plan in mind.

You can't ride a Concours 14 in the woods

I ride a Concours 14.  It is a 650 lbs sport touring motorcycle.  With me and gear on it, we are well over 900 lbs.  Not a dirtbike.

The next bonus was a location "at the end of a half mile trail".  I knew I could not afford the walk and stay on time.  As I rode to the location, I made a decision.  If there was a sign there that said "No motor vehicles past this point" or anything like that, I would drop the bonus.  If no sign, I was going to ride Consuela to the bonus.  Got there, no sign, so away I went.  The C14 has traction control, and an indicator light showing when TC is in use.  That light almost burnt out from overuse.  But I got in and out quickly.  "HA-HA" I said, riding out of the parking lot, right before the Rail Road gates dropped and I sat there for 15 minutes waiting for a freight train to finish passing through.

Friday Ends and my Rest Bonus

The rest of the night involved riding up to Pittsburgh and gathering bonuses.  I had one bonus that was way off the beaten path and would take an hour to go get.  I was 45 minutes behind schedule, so I tossed that one away.  That had been my bail out plan when designing the route, so NBD.

I arrived at a location that had a gas station and hotel right around 2:45, which was when I planned my rest stop, so I was in good shape.  I got my receipt from gas station, went to the hotel and was told "No Vacancy".  Rats.  Iron Butt Hotel, here I come.

I put my bike on its center stand, dropped one of the side bags, pulled out my little stool and went to work on paperwork.  This is where I recorded all my bonuses and information into my rally book.  Took about an hour, in which 3 people came up and asked if I was working on my bike.  Very nice of them, as I assume an offer to help would have followed.  I counted the number of Last Names on a sign, 3 times, marked each down with a Tick mark, and wrote a total.  More at the scoring table.

Grabbed 2 hours sleep behind a KFC and off into the wild black yonder at 6:00 AM, right on time with an extra 10 minutes of rest thrown in to boot!

Saturday Morning

I head out and get on some twisty road section in WV.  This road would be AWESOME in the daylight.  For starters it was quite dark.  But I have pretty good lights, so was not that big of a deal.  Then the rain started.  So I dial it back a little.  Wet, unfamiliar roads in the dark are no good.  Especially when the leaves start falling from the trees and turn the wet, dark, unfamiliar roads into wet, dark, unfamiliar, leaf covered roads.  That then became off camber.  "What could be worse?" I said out loud.  And the Rally Gods responded "FOG!", which they promptly delivered.  I thought it was awful nice of them.

Once the sun came out, fog burnt off and the roads pretty much dried out, I was moving fairly well again and gathering bonuses.  I  came into several locations where it became clear that those following would have a crappy time.  A Parade was being set up and a College Homecoming was kicking off.  Luckily, I got through both before the real stop ups started.

Final Leg

It was becoming clear that finishing at 1:30 and allowing myself 30 minutes to fill in my rally book was not gonna happen.  All indicators pointed to 1:45.  I dropped a bonus, which only netted me 2 minutes.  I looked at my second GPS to see why, and it was because the bonus was right off the highway.  Bonus went back in.  Worst case scenario, I would lose 7 points for submitting late, but picked up 14 for the bonus, so a net of 7 positive.  Easy decision.

I ended up at DIN, which is a girl riding a dinosaur.  Don't ask, but it is not unusual in Rallies to see these things.  Briefly spoke to another rider re: OCA and he indicated he had found the stamp.  Rally rules state that if you take an alternate picture of a location, but then someone does the location correctly, you lose that location.  I was MAD.  I mean riding down the road, screaming obscenities mad.  Now, have I mentioned I had my helmet flipped up so it was effectively an open faced helmet?  And that I have a particularly loud voice that projects very well?  All I can say is "you're welcome" to the children of that town I rode through for giving them some creative new curse words involving donkeys, goats and mother fornication.

My next concern was getting to rally HQ.  I still had a hope of getting there in time to complete my rally book and submit before 2:00.  But only if I did not stop for fuel or any other reason.  My GPS showed 60 miles to go.  My fuel gauge showed no bars.  From that point, the next step is for my "Low Fuel" light to come on.  From there I have 40 miles of range.

So there I am, hyper miling a 650 lb motorcycle.  Doing all I can to keep up a decent speed, but save as much gas as possible.  I just needed the computer to show me less than 40 miles before my Low Fuel light came on.  AS the miles ticked away, I became more and more optimistic.  Once I crossed to 40 mile barrier, I felt pretty good.  Low Fuel light came on at 37 miles to go.  Gonna be close.  When I filled up my tank the next day, it took 5.65 gallons.  Publish capacity is 5.8.

As I rode into the hotel parking lot and got my scoring sheet, I told myself "accept the 7 point penalty and make sure your book is filled in correctly."  I am glad I did.  I caught an error that would have cost me 21 points and the rally.  Corrected that, went over all my answers one more time, dropped the memory card, rally book, etc into the envelope and submitted at 2:10. 


I sat down to score and was all ready.  I was as nervous as I could be.  I had planned an aggressive route and made it.  I only had to drop one bonus.  I was sure I had filled in all my bonuses correctly.  Here we go.  The scorer went through my book and kept making positive notes.  Check mark after check mark appeared, then when he got to the bonus of the last names (LIN) he had a confused look on his face.  He checked and said "you have the wrong answer".  How could that be?  I asked for the correct answer.  43.  I had written 23.  I then called up the piece of paper I had written the tick marks down on  in my minds eye, and counted again.  43.  How did I do that?  Stupid mistake and 21 points gone.

Got done with my scoring and I had 693.  No idea if that was good or not.  Got on the next line for "final" scoring and there stood Wallace French.  Wallace is an EXCELLENT rally rider.  As a matter of fact, he would earn the "Rally Rider of the Year" award at dinner that night, as given by all the east coast rally masters.  Yeah, he is that good.  He is the guy, who when I saw he was starting in Allentown, I basically said to myself "well, hope I can come in second."  I asked his score.  616.  I was floored.  Maybe I have a chance after all.

I sat down for final scoring and the man behind the screen said "looks like you had a good ride", I replied I thought and hoped so.  He said, "well you can go, I have a lot of people to get to."  I took that as a positive, since there was an announcement that top scorers would be reviewed before final results.

End of days

I then went to my room, stripped down to something reasonable, and went downstairs for a beer.  Waited for Kate to finish her ride, and in she came, safe and sound. (whew).  She is a good rider, but I worry about the idiots on the road.  It is the Mom in me, which is a frightening thought given my dimensions and amount of hair on my person.

Kate got scored, we napped a bit, and went down to the awards.

Lots of hilarity ensued and Scores were announced.  I was very nervous and not sure where I stood.  I was confident I was either 1st or 2nd.  Wallace came in third with 616.  Second place was announced with a score of 679.  It then hit me like a wave that I had won.  I had entered a established rally, rode against real competition and had managed to come out on top.  I was elated.  I can not wait for my next rally.

Misc Notes

Great meeting all of the riders.

THANK YOU to C-Dog for finding and bringing my heated gear cord back to Rally HQ.  The ride home would have been miserable without it.

Kate and I left the hotel at 10:00 AM.  We rode into Newark, NJ and the NJ Performing Arts Center at 7:20.  In our seats for a Jethro Tull concert at 7:30.  Music started as we sat down.

Both of us were a bit dragged down the next day, but managed to get to work.

Friday, July 20, 2012

July 2012 Bun Burner Gold ride

My initial plan was to ride from Jersey City, NJ to Chicago and back.  Looking at the weather maps showed that I would be riding right into the meat of a nasty heat wave.  I am no fan of extreme heat, so I looked for an alternative.

My new plan involved leaving Jersey City, riding all the way up NY State to Champlain, NY, then over to Syracuse, Buffalo and finally over to Toledo, OH before heading back to Jersey City.

Here is my SpotWalla

I am a night person, and Sunday's temps were supposed to be more mild that Saturday's, so my leave time was set for Saturday evening.  I stayed up late Friday night and slept in Saturday.  I then took a nap Saturday afternoon, woke up at 4PM and was all set up and kickstand up at 5PM.

Got gas and my time stamp at 5:12 PM.  Clock started to tick and off I went.  First part of the ride up to Champlain was unremarkable.  Putting down some miles.  One of the points that many LD riders make was very much driven home during my first fuel stop.  I knew I had to keep a 63MPH average speed to make the run I had planned.  At my first stop, I was near 72 MPH, as it had been all highway riding up to that point.  As I was fueling, I watched the average dropping at an alarming rate.  Really drove home the point about managing your stopped time.

Once in Champlain, I relearned a lesson I learned and apparently forgot from the SS event.  LOOK at the roads you plan on riding.  Apparently different states have different definitions of "Highway".  My route took me down Highway 11.  Apparently in NY, a highway can have 2 lanes and 30 MPH zones.  A lot of them.  On the interstate system, I ride about 8-9 over, and all good.  In slow zones, I ride at the limit.  No need to have a chat with LEO at 1 AM over 34 in a 30.

I actually had some concern over losing time, but my ETA to final destination did not change by more than a minute or so during this run, so I just gritted through it and assumed Ms Garmin was right, and ultimately she was, down to within 3 minutes.

Nothing terribly interesting until about Buffalo.  It was now 03:00 and I was a bit sleepy.  Not hitting the wall, but just a bit.  I also know me and there would be no chance for sleeping after sunrise, which would be at 05:45.  Looking at my ETA, I had ~2 hours of slack time left.  Figured on 30 minutes of fuel stops, so a 30 minute rest would be fine.  Took a 30 minute nap at the Iron Butt Hotel.

on the road and traveling.  About 2 hours later, my Zumo 665 squawks at me to let me know rain is coming.  I look at the rain map and up ahead looks like there might be frogs and locusts falling from teh heavens.  I pull over to wrestle on my rain gear.  Then I need gas about 5 miles after that.  Stupid waste of 5 minutes, but lesson learned.

Of course, not a drop of rain hit me on the entire trip and I sweltered in that rain suit until Toledo.  But better safe than sorry.

Up to this point, my 2 GPS has disagreed about total mileage by 4 miles and it had not changed.  When I got to Cleveland, I saw why.  My Automobile GPS wanted me to go through Cleveland and the Zumo 665 routed me south a bit.  Trusting in the 665, I went South and the 2 units then linked up mileage, arrival time, etc.

I was on 480 and where it met 80 was the hardest part of this trip for me mentally.  I had been riding for about 13.5 hours at this time.  I was 800+ miles in.  I knew I had to ride to Toledo and back on the same road and saw the signpost up ahead (Toledo 105 miles).  Mentally, that was tough on me to know I had to ride 210 miles to get back to where I was at right then.

Once in the Toledo area, I looked at my ETA, route miles, etc and thought I should get a few more miles.  My route was at ~1530 miles.  Should be enough, but another 10 or 20 would be better.  My GPS showed me back with 1:12 to spare, so I calculated that the 15 minutes of extra riding were worth the safety net.

Now I am turned around and jet have to get home.  I am putting the miles down in OH and into PA.  At around 12:00 I know I am getting tired.  I am familiar with combat sleep.  I know that 15 minutes of sleep when I am exhausted takes care of my needs for several hours.  So I pushed for 2 more rest areas, and was up against the wall when I parked.

I knew every minute counted, so I set my alarm for 20 minutes of sleep as I was pulling off the highway.  Kickstand down, I literally grab my bedroll and dash for the nearest shade tree.  Promptly conk out.  20 minutes later, the alarm goes off, I jump up like a cat on fire, ran over to bike, stowed the bedroll and rolling.  I saw several people looking at me with abject confusion.  It was funny.

Now I am rested, am in the real home stretch and GPS agree I will make it with 45 minutes to spare.  Until I hit major traffic on route 80.  I had checked my 665 before to make sure there wasn't any traffic.  Guess no one told Garmin or Sirius about the 10 mile jam up ahead.

I made it through that and pushed on.  Now I was due to arrive with 20 minutes to spare.  Not liking that at all.  But as I got closer, I knew I would make it.  I was now on home turf and if traffic popped up, I know all sorts of back ways to get where I am going.

I decided to use the same gas station as my start and end point.  As I was pulling into the gas station to get my end receipt, I was very narrowly missed by a car hitting me.  I mean, tires screeching, horn blowing, up on the sidewalk kind of close.  Apparently, no one told this person that when using an onramp, you should also look ahead, not just back to make sure you can accelerate into traffic at 20 above the speed limit.

I had seen this car, and knew it was far enough back for me to quite safely pull into the gas station, which is at the end of the on ramp, before there was any chance of an impromptu meeting.  Well, silly me, I failed to anticipate this person, speeding, not looking and not caring.  I am fairly sure that if she had hit me, I would have dragged my tank over to the pumps to get my end time.

So besides the fox I almost hit, the 3" deep grooved road for 10 miles and this woman, my ride was uneventful, tiring, and rewarding.  I have found my current limits for riding.

I punched in with 1,545 GPS miles in 23:40 hours.  Time to send in my paperwork.

2012 Minute Man 1000 Saddlesore

I have always admired those who have done the Iron Butt.  Even as a younger man, I fondly thought of doing the IB, even while riding my crotch rockets and racing in CCS and WERA.  Having switched from crotch rockets to a sport touring motorcycle, Concours 14, last year, the idea of doing endurance riding become something of a more realistic possibility.  I am surely in no way in the region of an Iron Butt rider, but that Saddle Sore thing seems doable.  Hmmmmmmm…….

May 31, 2012

My Girlfriend, Kate, took up riding last year.  She had a rebel 250 for about 5 minutes, and then moved on to a BMW F800ST, whom she calls Snot Rag.  Don’t ask.  We bought this bike from Max BMW in CT,, last Memorial Day weekend.  Kate put nearly 8,000 miles on Snot Rag between Memorial Day and November, when she had an encounter with a ditch outside of a corner.  Terrifying experience for both of us, and she broke 4 ribs.  While she was in the hospital for the second time, yes second, I offered that if she wanted to give up riding, I was OK.  Her response?  “Get my bike fixed, I wanna ride”.  THAT is the definition of a keeper.

Since Max BMW puts out a great e-flyer every week or two, we became aware of the Minute Man 1000, a combination rally and Saddle Sore event.  Perfect!  An organized event, with a laid out route, built in witnesses and time keepers.  It doesn’t seem like there is an easier way to do this, if you can use the word easy in relation to this type of activity.  That is, until Procrastinator Man (queue theme music, maybe Low Rider by WAR) enters the picture.  Procrastinator Man is my arch nemesis, and he looks suspiciously like me.  I think I have a doppelganger.

Anyway, registration for the even closed on May 22.  On May 31, I decided I wanted to register, went to the site, and saw the deadline was well past.  Since Kate and I were not in it for the Rally, just the Saddle Sore, I thought I would take a shot and ask the Rally Master if we could somehow be allowed in, just for the witnesses and course, basically.  Here is a summary of our email conversation:

Me: Is there any way my GF and I can sneak in for the SS?
Rally Master (RM): Registration is closed.  No.
Me: Cool, hope it rains.
RM: WTF?  You suck, Procrastinator Master is an SOB.  I put these things on all the time.  You can’t even register on time, but want special treatment.  I hate you, your family….it went on for about 400 words, but you get the drift.
Me: And you get a flat tire.
RM: GAAAHHHHH!!!!! I hate you even more now.

(Some time passes)

RM: I changed my mind.  You can register.  I don’t think you can do it.
Me: You are just messing with me, in the hopes I will come up there and you can laugh, or punch me in the nose.
RM: Damn.  You are on to me.  OK, you really can register.
Me: Sweet.  Take that Procrastinator Man! Biff, Pow, Socko!

So, Kate and I end up registered for the event and we are good to go.

June 6, 2012
At some point in time after we registered, it became clear that Saddle Sore riders could and would be participating in their own rally within a rally.  This was for SS riders only, but used the same bonus point locations as the regular rally guys.  Bad news.  Besides my doppelganger, Procrastinator Man, I also have an alter ego, Mr. Competition Guy (Journey’s “Don’t stop believing” theme song, not sure why).  Mr. Competition Guy cannot just enjoy an activity.  He has to turn any activity into a competition, even with himself.  And God help the weak and timid of this earth if there is an actual competition going on that he is part of.

Mr. Competition Guy used to make much more frequent and intense appearances.  I have managed to rein him in, like Bruce Banner and the Hulk.  You know, the Hulk still appears, but sometimes he is in full rage mode, and sometimes Bruce is in charge.  I am at the stage where Anthony is in charge or Mr. Competition Guy, but only somewhat. 

So with the perfect combination of Procrastinator Man aggravating the Rally Master, and Mr. Competition Guy seeing an opportunity to flex his muscles, a path of destiny began to appear.  Win the Saddle Sore class in the Rally.  It had to be.  It was the only way to redeem myself, I mean Procrastinator Guy, in the eyes of the Rally Master, as I saw it.

So, I got my geek on and researched everything I could about the art and science of doing an efficient rally.  The first, and most important part, was the Saddle Sore.  It is 1,000 miles in 24 hours.  I knew I could do that.  That is just a question of mental toughness.  Mr. Competition Guy helps me in that area.

There were several very useful articles on how to plan an efficient route, how to make good stops, outfitting you and your bikes, etc.  If I were a better person I would have bookmarked those and provided them here, but Procrastinator Man has other flaws, and bad record keeping is one of them.

On Wednesday, June 6, we were emailed the rally bonus point locations.  Using a combination of Streets and Trips, Excel and Basecamp, I spent several hours laying out routes that were as efficient as I could make them, with the most bonus points.  There were several bonuses along the route that I skipped as they were not worth the points to time ratio.  For instance, a bonus can take you x minutes off your intended route; you need to take a picture, or do an activity, then record it in your rally book, and be on your way.  Well, a bonus worth 2,000 points that will take 10 minutes total (200 points per minute), is not as valuable as a bonus worth 6,000 points that will take 15 minutes (400 points per minute).

So I came up with several routes, each encompassing between 1050 and 1150 miles.  All coming in at 18 hours of riding, give or take, which allowed for 6 hours of fuel stops, rest bonus (major points for staying in one place for 2 hours) and riding breaks.  The routes came up to 100-120K in points, before any extra bonuses.
I modified all my stops in Streets and Trips to allow for bonus execution, fuel stops and the 2 hour rest period.  When I redid my calculations, it was close.  I was at 23.5 hours total travel time.  Any mess ups or delays, and I would have to bail on certain bonuses.  So I built in go/no go decision points into my routes.  So if I was at a certain point and it was later than X, I knew what I had to skip in the future to make up the time, to get back on schedule.

Kate put in her route in about 15 minutes with some bonus stops along the way.  Silly girl. (More on this later)

OK, Me, Kate, Procrastinator Man and Mr. Competition Guy are all ready to go.

The Trip Up
June 8, 2012
We both take Friday, June 8 off, to ride up, get checked in, do the odometer check, etc.  We posted on the MM1K forums and picked up another first time rider from NJ, Chuck Quintero.  Chuck is an MIT educated rocket scientist.  Literally.  Despite that, he is going to do the SS on a ZX10.  One of the new ones.  You know, a unicycle with 170 HP.

We stopped at Max’s CT store on the ride up, as it was about halfway, Kate wanted to look at some tank bags, and we just wanted to say hi to the staff.  On a side note, Max BMW is the best dealership of any kind I have ever set foot in.  The guys should bottle their plan and sell it to other dealers.  To say that professionalism and customer service are the keys to their success is an understatement.

June 8, 2012
We arrive at the Rally start point and go in for our odometer check.  This is basically a route that the staff has outlined.  They check your odometer when you start, you then ride the route, and they check your odometer when you get back.  I am assuming this is to confirm a working odometer and get an idea of the error rate.  We got our checks done with minimal fuss, and head in to registration.  And the fun begins.

It turns out that the Rally Master that Mr. Procrastinator Guy messed with is Rob Nye, one of the luminaries in the Rally community.  The man writes a column for Iron Butt magazine.  Way to go Mr. Procrastinator Guy. 

To his credit, Rob busted my chops, made fun of me, scared me a bit about points and  scoring and made Kate laugh so hard at me she pooped a little (everybody poops),  but he was very fair and professional.  Despite his warnings about how tough he was going to be on me and how my favor bank was empty, he was a great guy.  Thanks Rob.

So we are now registered, fueled up, have some road food (cliff bars and water), checked into the hotel and are ready to rock and roll.
Next step was the dinner, where official rally books would be distributed.  Dinner was provided by Max BMW and was amazing.  It was buffet style, but the food was great and plentiful.  Rob got up and announced that the buffet was open.  People casually sauntered over to the line and ate, drank (nonalcoholic beverages, mostly) and were merry.

Rob then went through the rules, clarified time limits on certain bonuses and spent extra time with the Saddle Sore group (28 people!) giving us guidance, etc.  Off to the room for final route prep, check out to make sure my bonuses are good and I can make my ride and plan for the extra bonuses from the rally book!  My route prep included listing my way points, times of arrival, times of departure, what needs to be done and point value.  I also make sure my go/no go points are correct.  If all goes according to plan, I am looking at about 200,000 points (rest bonus was 50,000 of that).  Should be good enough for my goal.

All done and now off to bed by 10 PM! And lie awake in bed until 2!  Really Mr. Competition Guy?  You can’t let me sleep?  I have to ride like 1,200 miles tomorrow.  I hate him sometimes.

The Rally Starts!
June 9, 2012

Alarms go off at 4:30.  Why god?  Why?

Kate and I get prepped, go downstairs and get our bike’s odometers checked in for the start.  Riders meeting is held, and we are ready to go.  Rob takes one more opportunity to bust my chops and make Kate laugh.  We are launched out of the gate 3 by 3.  Kate goes out at 6:03, I am in the group behind her at 6:04.

First Leg
6:04 AM to 10:45 AM, June 9, 2012, 250 miles

Our first stop is about 100 miles away.  Two bonuses, easy to get to.  What was not in my plans was the pea soup fog we had to ride through for the first 50+ miles.  Did I mention we were wearing our vented gear?  Despite these conditions, both Kate and I bagged the bonuses, along with several other riders.  Next stop, our first fuel up at about 133 miles, a little early, but OK.

When we get to the fuel stop, I realize there is a maple syrup bonus and there is a shop there selling maple syrup!  Sweet, 2 birds, meet one stone.  Now we discover Kate’s GPS is acting up, and we are about to part ways for a few hours, she taking the more direct route to Saddle Sore Point 1, and me taking back roads to bonus hunt.  We decide on a plan, she will use her phone GPS and call me from SS1.  I should be 45 minutes behind her.

Kate heads of up the highway and I peel off to go hunt down some points.  This part of the rally was probably the most fun for me.  The route that these bonus points dictated was a back road dream, twists and turns going up and down mountains.  I am a rider who enjoys the twisties, so I was able to keep up a good pace, while expending little energy and making my times.  I could see how a less aggressive rider could have lost a lot of time on this leg.  As it was, I had planned on it taking me an extra 45 minutes, which it did, almost to the minute.

After gathering my bonuses, I was heading up the highway to SS1.  Kate calls, she is there, has met Chuck (from our ride up) and is going to ride with him.  I am happy she has company and a plan, and we pass each other in opposite directions on the highway, me on my way to SS1, she coming from it.

I get to SS1, gather the bonus, chat for a few minutes with another rider, and head off.

Second Leg
10:55 AM to 5:10 PM, June 9, 2012, 257 miles

My route to SS2 was the longest leg, relative to time, for me, but also bonus rich.  When I was laying out my route, I had excluded several points along the way, as they did not seem to be worth the time expended.  I saw I would be riding along route 2, which looked like a highway  on the map, and decided that exiting a highway, getting the bonus, and getting back on the highway was not worth it.  Route 2 is a 2 lane road.  Had I known that, I would have been more aggressive with my bonuses.

As I was going along on my route, I realized that I could easily pick up some extra points along the way and I added two stops.  Those two stops would end up being very important.

Kate called me from about halfway through this route, at one of the bonus points I was going to be stopping at.  Those guys were still about 45 minutes ahead of me, which was great.  That meant that at the spot where I was going to rest for 2 hours, Kate would be able to rest closer to 3.  I ask her to call me from SS2, we agree, all is well.

I get through the second leg and start riding up the highway to SS2.  I am about 45 minutes away and realize I have not gotten a call yet.  No big deal, maybe they took a break or something.  I get to SS2 and still no call.  Huh.  I get my receipt, grab water for my camel pack, and talk to a group of guys who are in the rally.  Something like this:

Me: How’s it going?  You guys having fun?
Guys: Yeah, we are.  We stopped and got 3 bonuses!  Are you doing the bonuses?
Me: Yep.
Guys: How many do you have so far?
Mr. Competition Guy (remember him?): 13.
Guys: You have competition issues, don’t you?

We all hug, and I check my time.  I am literally within 4 minutes of my go/no go for the next set of bonuses.

Third Leg
5:25 PM to 8:00 PM, June 9, 2012, 196 miles

This portion of the rally was important to me.  I planned on resting at MAX3, the NH Max’s BMW store.  That is worth 50,000 points.  The check in at MAX3 was worth 3,500 points and if you bought something, that was another 15,000 points.  Key thing is, the MAX3 bonus was only open until 8 PM.  I had 3 bonus locations in my GPS between me and MAX3, and they would take me about 45 minutes and were worth 10,400 points.  So clearly, making it to MAX3 by 8 was more valuable than taking those 3, but as it stood, I would make all bonuses.

Then, the rally gods kicked in.  Kate calls me and informs me she is about 10 miles farther along the route she had planned than when we had spoken 4 hours earlier.  It turns out that she and Chuck had some misadventures in navigating.  They had gathered some bonuses, but made almost no progress on the course.  I did some quick math and realized she would not hit SS2 until about 7 PM, which is 13 hours in and only half the miles done.  I am starting to worry for her, but she says she is fine, so we agree she presses on and we meet at MAX3 to rest.

This is where I make mistake #2.  I realize that if I push I can make all 3 of my bonuses and get to MAX3 just in time.  But then I would have to wait at least 90 minutes for Kate to catch up, which would put my down time at nearly 3.5 hours, if Kate would take her rest, which was important.  So I varied from my route plan.  I did a quick look up on my GPS for any bonus points I did not have on my route, and lo and behold there is a 6,200 point bonus a little out of the way, but on the route.  I figure I am losing my 15,000 and 3,500 from MAX3, so why not make it up with 6,200 free points?  It would take the sting out of it.  Except I had grabbed this bonus already, on my way to SS2.  30 minutes wasted.

So now I know I am not making MAX3 on time.  No big deal, I will grab my 3 bonuses on the way down.  I do that and one of them was at the end of a ¼ mile of boulder and rick strewn dirt road.  Not the best type of surface for the C14, but she handled it perfectly.

I get to MAX3 and it is closed, as to be expected, since it is around 9:30 PM.  I have spoken to Kate and she is at least 45 minutes behind still.  Kate is a great person, and a good rider, but she has only been riding for 1 year, it is getting late, and she rode an extra 200 miles or so.  I am not comfortable with her riding the rest on her own, so I know I am going to wait.  I still want to gather points though, so I come up with a plan.  There is another bonus about 5 miles down the road from MAX3.  I decide I will bag that bonus, jump up to 95S and meet Kate enroute, instead of her meeting me at MAX3.

I go, grab that bonus and make mistake #3.  I forgot to put down the time and mileage for the bonus, as I was distracted from all that was going on and a bit flustered.  Stupid mistake.  Time to get on 95 and wait for Kate.

Fourth Leg
11:00PM ish to 1:00 AM, June 9 to June 10, 2012, 120 miles

This is where my protective instincts and caring took over and Mr. Competition Guy went back to his cave, shredded purple pants and all.

Kate was diligently making her way down 95.  We were talking on our cell phones (via our helmet communicators) and it went something like this:

Me: What mile marker are you at?
Kate: I am at 16.
Me: OK, I am at 14, I will start down the road and turn on my hazards.  Look for me in the right lane.
Me: Where are you now?
Kate: I am at 13.
Me: OK, I am at 12, you should start seeing me
Kate:  Nope.  (Time passes) I am now at 10.
Me: I am at 11.  How did you pass me and not see me?

Time passes and this goes back and forth.

Kate: I am coming up on a toll plaza.
Me: I am at the toll plaza, get in the right lane.
Kate: I am in the right lane, I don’t see you.
Me: OK, go through, what does the next sign say?
Kate: Welcome to New Hampshire
Me: Well mine says Welcome to Massachusetts

DAHHHHHHH!!!!! We were both on 95, both going south, both at the same mile markers but a state apart.  Now I know we are seriously behind schedule.  I estimate that we MIGHT be able to get the rest bonus, but that was a serious maybe.  I decide to wait on the side of the road for Kate and she comes along in about 30 minutes.

So we are together again, finally.  We separated at mile 133.  We were now at mile 798.  Kate had done an easy additional 150-200 miles by now.  It is about midnight.  18 hours in.  We have 325 miles to go and about 6 hours to cover that mileage.  I wanted us both to get a little sleep and hopefully get the rest bonus.  I was unsure of Kate’s state, so we planned on stopping near SS3.

I still had 2 bonuses to get in Boston, which is on the way.  Mr. Competition Guy made a reappearance and I thought I could slide in there, send Kate down to SS3, grab my bonuses, get the sleep bonus and be back on track.  Looking at my go/no go, it would be super tight.  I also did not want to leave Kate again, so I could keep an eye on her.  I am familiar with short, hard sleep on road trips.  I knew it was better to push her a little bit, so she could knock out when we stopped, rather than stop and get fitful sleep.  So Boston stops were a no go. 

With all this in mind, we pushed on to near SS3, but Kate actually needed gas before then.  We found a gas station, fueled up, got our receipt for rest bonus, pulled into a parking lot nearby and Kate promptly passed out.  While she was sleeping I had a powwow with Mr. Competition Guy to decide our plan.  I knew we could make the rest of the ride and get back to starting point within the 24 hour window.  Question was, could we take the full 2 hours and make it.

My route plan and Garmin showed me that it was almost 1 AM exactly.  We had about 225 miles to go.  We had to make 2 more fuel stops, SS3 and SS4.  I wanted Kate to sleep.  The full rest bonus put us at 3:05 AM.  2 Fuel stops, at 5 minutes each put us at 3:15.  We could cover the 225 miles in a little less than 3 hours, putting us back at the start point with 4 minutes to spare.

Way to close. 

I decided to forgo winning my class and just to make sure we finished and got our certificates.  There was no way I was letting Kate go through all this and not get her certificate.  There was no way I was not gonna make it either.  If I lose the overall, so be it.

Fifth Leg
2:30 AM to 4:15 AM, June 10, 2012, 100 ish miles

Knowing I could not get the full rest bonus and be sure of a finish, I decided to wake Kate up 30 minute early.  So we roust at 2:30 and are rolling by 2:40.  We go a grand total of about 10 miles to get to SS3.  The requirement is to get a gas receipt from Wyoming.  The GPS point is the center of town.  So we follow the GPS, end up in the center of town, where there is no gas station.  Back track and stop at a gas station and get our receipt.  Lost a few minutes.  Receipt does not say “Wyoming”.  Grr.  Too late, gotta push on.

We get on the road and head towards SS4.  I have a bonus on the way, but not gonna make it.  Ah well.  We discuss the plan for SS4.  We are gonna pull in to the gas station, get gas.  I am going to shoot off to a nearby bonus, come back, grab Kate and fly like the wind to our last stop.  Then the engine error light comes on.  I look at it in disbelief.  No way is my Connie going to let me down this close to my goal.  Mr. Competition Guy makes a quick appearance.  He says to Connie “If you die now, I will kick you over and throw a match in your gas tank.”  Connie, thinking better of it, decided to turn off the check engine light.

We get to SS4 and the GPS point is just like SS3.  Middle of town.  No gas station.  GRRRRRRRRRRR.  But, my bonus is right there, so I go grab it.  Fill out my form and we ride back to the gas station. 

Fill up and who shows up but Chuck?  He has been riding this entire time with no sleep.   Remember he is on a ZX10?  One other rider shows up and he fills up and we all head out about the same time.

Sixth and final Leg, the Magical Leg
4:30 AM to 5:40 AM, June 10, 2012, 90 miles

So now we are scheduled to arrive with 20 minutes to spare.  Nothing to do but put down the miles.  This is going to be the boring part, right?  Wrong.  This was probably the most special time of the ride.

As we are riding along, we pick up the rider from the gas station.  Now there are 4.  We go along a little further and 4 more riders show up.  These are the same guys I was talking to at SS2 about bonuses.  One of them is riding a Mike Hailwood Ducati.  Yes, I did not make a mistake.  We are now 8.  I am sitting there thinking of how proud I am of myself for completing the Saddle Sore, if not winning the division. 

I am looking at Kate riding in front of me, realizing how much extra she had gone through to get here, and she was now going to complete her Saddle Sore, with just over a year under her belt. 

I looked up the road at Chuck, he had sped off, I am sure he just wanted to get out of the saddle, and was proud of him for pushing through and riding nearly 24 hours straight to complete his Saddle Sore.

The odd thing was, I was then looking at the other 4 or 5 riders in our little pack and I felt proud of them.  We had all shared an adventure, albeit separately.  We had all faced our own set of challenges.  We each had preconceived notions of what we could do and would do and we all accomplished our main goals.  We rode over 1,000 miles, in less than a day, and in the final stretch, we came together as a pack.  Each small group their own, but together, as a whole, we were one.  We all fell into formation and took turns leading.  We all knew the adventure was soon to be over and we would all be better people for having made the trip.  As we rolled along, with less than 30 minutes to go, the sun rose in the east, with a beautiful red hue.  Red at night, sailor’s delight, red in the morning sailors take warning, but in this case these road sailors were joyous and free and basking in the warm red light

At 5:50, we rolled in as one.  The clock stopped, and we each had earned our Saddle Sore.  Silent smiles and nods were shared.  There were a few handshakes, but no overzealous celebrations. 

Next stop, check in.

Check in
6:15AM, June 10, 2012

So at check in, you are to bring your rally towel, your photo card, receipts, items purchased and your completed rally book.  Here is where the fun starts and rubber meets the road.  This being my first experience, I was a bit concerned about doing it all right.  There are no do-overs so get it right first time.

The man checking me in asked which bonuses I was claiming.  I claimed all 4 of the saddle sore bonuses, then 18 Bonus stops and a couple extra bonuses.  Time to provide the proof. 

SS1, good.

SS2, Good.

SS3, Good.

SS4, forgot to fill in my sheet.  Rushing at the end.  Cost me 1,500 points.

Of my next 18 Bonus stops, I only lost 1 for not filling out my book.  It was the one where I rushed to after MAX3 waiting for Kate.  I had a ton of time to fill it in.  Dummy.  3,600 points gone.

Only other bonus I applied for that I missed was my Fuel Log.  I kept it, but you are supposed to write your ending mileage and time in the Rally Book to claim it.  No one told me.  Their answer?  “Some things are just assumed”.  Damn.  Ah well, that one gone too.  7,500 points. (apparently I didn't listen well enough in the riders meeting.  These missed points are all on me.)

In the end my total was 98,100.  Had things not gone crazy with Kate, I would have picked up about another 80,000 points and been near 180,000.  I told Kate I better lose by more than 80,000 points or she would never hear the end of it.

Off to the room for a little nap before the brunch and awards.

Call comes into the Room, it is Andy from the staff.
Andy:  Is this Andy Mills?
Me: This is Anthony Mills
Andy: Can you ask Kate to come down to scoring  to clarify a bonus point she went to?
Me: Sure
Andy: Thanks Andy
Me: I am still Anthony

Awards banquet

We get to the Brunch.  Everyone is sitting around their tables, we all got our shirts, and everyone is all smiles.  Rob comes to the mic and says, “I am not gonna call” and before he could get “tables” out, there was a mad rush for the buffet.  It was quite the stark contrast to the orderly procession from the previous evening.  Brunch was again, amazing.
Rob then announced that everyone made it back, to loud applause.  He also singled out one of my pack, a guy on a BMW, who had lost his headlight, but finished because he had Aux lighting and fought through it.

Rob then announced the scores for the Saddle Sore Rally.  Starting at position 28, with about 20,000 points, he starts going up the rankings.  Chuck had 35,000 points or so, Kate had 42,000 or so.  When he got to 10th place, we had yet to cross the 30,000 point level.  We all perked up.  Chuck was the first of our tribe called, in 7th.  Kate was getting excited.  Then the numbers got into the 40,000 range.  Kat eventually was announced in 4th place, despite having “unbelievable baggage” meaning me.  When Third was announced, it was another member of the pack.  The man on the Mike Hailwood.  AMAZING.

So I now know I am either #1 or #2.  Mr. Competition Guy says, “Second is worse than last.  When you come in second, you could have worked a little harder and come in first.  When you come in last, at least you were totally out of it.”  This was exceptionally stressful for me.  Then Rob made the following announcement, “and in second place, with 91,000 points” I knew I had won.  All the hard work, the planning, putting Kate before my stupid personal goals, it had all paid off.
Rob then relayed the story of our initial email exchange to roars of laughter.  He announced me something like this, “And in first place, putting in a hell of a ride (my favorite part), is Anthony Mills with 98,100 points.”  I got to go up, get my plaque and shake hands with Rob, thanking him profusely. 

And thusly ended my Saddle Sore and first rally competition. 

I am now addicted. 

Kate is addicted. 

We will be back.