Monday, April 29, 2013

Nutmeg 400 is in the books!

This year was the inaugural running of the Nutmeg 400.   The Nutmeg is put on by the same people who put on the Minute Man 1000, one of the premier 24 hour rallies in the country.

This year, the Nutmeg was 10 hours, and no photo bonuses.  Files were put into the wild 2 days prior to the event.  After looking at the points, etc, I came up with several routes in the 400 mile, 10 hour area and all were in the 100K point range.  I knew that was not going to be enough, so I worked hard on coming up with something with more points.

After some work, I ended up with a route that was 126K points, which I was pretty sure would be good enough for a win.  Problem with my route was it came in at 10:45, 45 minutes over the limit.  Given that, I put in 3 go/no go decision points in the route.  I figured this would be good practice for future events, using my logic and historical knowledge of New England driving habits (read, NE drivers drive at or below the speed limit.  Usually well below, which drives an NJ rider NUTS)

Happy with my route (foolishly), I had everything ready to go by Thursday night, for a Saturday rally.  This is unusual for me, as I normally pound on routes until the last minute to try and eek out as many points as possible.  I had taken Friday off to go up to Max BMW and have them install some Alt Rider bars on my GS.  I had decided to do this rally on my GS since Captain USA does not get ridden enough, plus I have had the crash bars for several months.

First challenge was getting the bars up to CT from NJ on the bike.  So I turned my brand new GS into the Sanford and Son Truck.  Bwan na bwa na, bwa na na na na na na nahh.



Here are the results, I think they look great.  I am even more glad I had them put on by Max's guys, since apparently Alt Rider bars are a smidge difficult to get on.  A smidge being defined as 3 burly techs and 2 hours of work.  Had I attempted the work, it would have ended with thrown parts and a kicked over motorcycle.

I helped the rally staff set up, and introduced myself to some new riders.  Met a bunch of friends I had not see since last year and ate some pizza.  

Kate has a new job, so she had to work on Friday.  She got home, packed, got ready and rode up, arriving around 10 PM.  She put the finishing touches on her route plan and off to bed.

Get up at 600 to be able to shower, eat, get gas and go to Rally HQ by 700.  I, of course, had my Captain USA outfit on.  Red, White and Blue pants, jersey, boots and gloves.  The helmet stayed home, because I need a flip up for rallies.

Rider's meeting commenced at 730 and we were told we could leave as soon as we got checked out.  Wahoo!  Extra 20 minutes!  EXACTLY what I needed to possibly pull off my ride (I figured I could pick up a few minutes on the back roads and by making 1 gas stop instead of two, and making sure I had ULTRA fast bonus stops.

So Kate and I head off on our routes.  Hers was more conservative, but basically followed the same loop, with me taking about 5 more stops.

Here is the Spotwalla for the route

My (flawed) route was as follows:
PVT and BVH (same location, Wallace!)


This was my first go/no go point, if I left BVR before 11:05, I was going to BBG, it was, so I did.


MAXN was the rest bonus.  Free food, 30 minutes to chill out (yeah right) and get back out on the road again.  I used this time to fill out my route claim sheet.  For about 10 minutes, my camera went missing.  Not sure what happened, you know who you are, but it magically re-appeared.  This was a non photo rally, but I used my camera to capture answers, so I would be sure not to misspell, and could make very fast stops.

Back on the route and off to
MSM (Note 1967)



(Had a great plan for SEU.  I knew where the statue was and found a back entrance to get right up to it.  That was brilliant up to when I showed up and the police had that entrance closed off.  Grrrrrr.)

Here is my next go/no go.  This was a tough one.  If it was 3:55 or later, I had to drop NYD.  Since the police interfered with my brilliant plan, I left SEU at 3:57.  2 minutes, but this is a game of minutes.  I hated to do it, but I dropped NYD.

Continuing on to GRP.

Next go/no go involved my last 3 stops.  At a certain point, I had a time frame and had 3 choices of what to execute based on the time.  
If I got there at: 
4:44, I could grab FSC, TMX and WTR.  
4:59, TMX and WTR
5:05 Just WTR
5:14 Just TMX

Managed to get there at 5:00, and I knew I had 3 minutes slack, so I went for it and grabbed TMX and WTR.

Rode into rally HQ with 17 minutes to spare.  Could have grabbed one of the two bonuses I dropped, but wanted to be safe.

Did my paperwork, got into line and said to myself "check your answers one more time" and promptly got into a conversation with some people and forgot to double check.  Turns out that 1767 and 1967 are NOT the same year.  Who knew?  Apparently the Rally Master and staff.  That oopsie cost me MSM, which was 6200 points.  DUH.

So the award ceremony started and I ended up in 6th place with 114,150.  

Wallace French, a rider I very much look up to, managed to score 138,150!  My route was only good for a total of 127,250, without mistakes.  That is a stomping!  He, and several others, had clearly better routes for this one.  Will use it as a learning experience and get better.

Special congratulations to two of my favorite riders, Bruce who out-rode, out routed and outscored me, and of course Kate, who's bike fell of its kickstand at the first bonus location, broke off her shifter knob, and rode another 380 miles shifting with her toe on the nubbin of a shift lever on her bike!

Thanks to Max and all the rally staff for a great event!

See you at The Minute Man!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Cape Fear, April 19-20 2013 "A Tale of Twos"

Who are you?

As about 10 people know, I got into rallying last year with the Minute Man 1000.  I wrote it up here.

Since then, I have done two other rallies, The Team Lyle New England and The Void 7, and wrote up my Void ride here.

I also am the RM (rookie) for Team Lyle Garden State.

Needless to say, I am addicted to LD riding and Rallying.  I really love all aspects, the people, the rides, the challenges and of course the esteemed Rally Masters.

This is the bike I didn't Ride

This year, I plan on doing all the East Coast Rallies that I can.  Cape Fear, MD 20/20, Minute Man, Nutmeg 400, Hammy's Trouble with Triples, Rendezvous, The Void and maybe Minnesota.

Here is the Spotwalla for my ride:

It Begins!

This past weekend was the Cape Fear.  My start location was Batavia, NY, Rider #222.  I live in NJ.  When I signed up for the rally, I said to myself "Sweet!  A NY start!  How far could it be?"  400 miles, that's how far.  OOFA.

Rally packs were distributed Wednesday night.  And to my chagrin, there wasn't a data file in the pack.  Had to convert all the points over to a usable format.  That took about 2 hours, not so bad.  I read through the first pages of the Rally Book and looked at the Wild Card bonii.

I knew the Cape Fear sticker was going to be part of those, so I had not yet affixed it to my bike.  I was waiting on an RM declaration of "The sticker must be on your left front windscreen" or something of that nature.  Turns out I was just paranoid, and the sticker had to be on your bike.  No Problem.  Now, let me go get the sticker.  I had said to myself, several days earlier, that I needed to keep said sticker in an obvious place, where I would not forget it.  2 hours later, after literally tearing my condo apart and going through every saddle bag of the 4 bikes we have, I had no sticker.  DAMN IT!  WHERE IS THIS THING?  I then looked at the side of my bed, saw a book I had been reading, opened the book, and VIOLA!  Sticker.

I spent the rest of the evening, until 2AM, working on a route.  I came up with a workable solution, but nothing I was really happy with.  I had another day or so, so save everything and go to work in the AM.


Thursday morning, bike packed, everything in hand, I head off to the grind.  I had planned on leaving at noon to head up to Batavia.  Guess when I left?  If you guessed 2PM, you were right!

The ride up to Batavia was 100 miles of rain, followed by 300 miles of serious side winds.  Nothing awful, but FLEH.

Once in Batavia, I met up with my rallying Buddy, Bruce Jansen.  Bruce and I both ride 2010 Concours 14s.  My bike looks like the before and his bike looks like the after picture.  My bike is filthy, lots of jury rigged stuff, and the windscreen is held on with zip ties.  Bruce's, on the other hand, has nothing but the best and is actually clean.  I don't know how he does it.

Had dinner with some other riders, and went back to the hotel, where I played with some last minute tidying up on my bike (read, zip ties, bubble gum, string and hope).  Went for a walk in the parking lot and looked at some of the plate backers on the bikes.  Out of the 10 or so bikes there, I saw 6 IBR backers.  Uh Oh.  What did I get myself into?  These guys have done the big one.  Not good, Mav.

I then went back into the hotel and worked on my route some more.  I knew what I had was not a winning route.  I played around some more, and come 2AM, I did have what I thought COULD be a winning route.  Of course my route had me headed towards some pretty damn snotty weather.  Looking at some futurecast type things, I figured I would be riding into the heart of the storm, but after I got on the western side, I would be OK.  Turns out this was true.

Rally Start!

Everything loaded, bike ready to go, at the gas station.  Get my starting receipt, send off my starting text and awaaaayyyyy we go.  My bike has stock fuel capacity.  So I am good for 190-210 miles, depending on riding speeds, winds, etc.  My first bonus, HCB was 185 miles away with a gas station right there.  PERFECT!  Except the 40 MPH headwinds had me nearly dry at 180 miles. RATS.

The rain was really pounding me, and the wind was whipping.  I, of course, had my rain gear.  Strapped to the back of the bike.  My route didn't have time in it for putting on rain gear, so I just lived with getting soaked and had the added bonus of fighting to keep the rain gear on the bike, as the cross winds whipped at me.  There I go, down the road, getting poured on, reaching behind me to hold my rain gear on the bike.  Picture of an idiot in action.

2 other bikes, one a Concours 14, followed me to the first bonus, and then I did not see another rider until the next day.

What is he doing here?

I was not really enjoying the ride so much, and really started to doubt myself once I hit Ohio.  Off to the west were BLACK clouds.  I pulled into the toll plaza and guess what the vehicle in front of me was?  A STORM CHASER van.  Blacked out, 50 antennae, wind-speed indicator, tire guards, the whole nine yards.  I thought to myself, "He and I should not be headed in the same direction, EVER.  Yet, there we went!

The storm actually, was north of my route and the rain eventually cut out, but the wind was with me for about 500 miles, really eating into my mileage.

Burned another tank of gas, and the next stop was CEN, the Center of Ohio.  Grabbed it, and on my way.

Burned another tank of gas and grabbed GVZ, a 10 year old who fought in the Civil War.

Grabbed another bonus, MTW, which is a statue of a child reading a book, which somehow memorializes another war.

Got to OKC and grabbed that one.  It was a 10 mile detour off the highway, but quick in and out.  There were two boulders there.  Had to take a minute and make sure I got the right one.  When I headed out from the bonus, I was to make a u turn 4 miles down the road.  Got there to a big "ROAD CLOSED" sign.  Luckily, that was not the road for the u-turn.  Back at it.

Next stop was FCG, William Floyd Collins head stone.  Very interesting story and the ride in was sweet.  1.5 lane road, twisting and turning, in the pitch black.  Did I mention all the downed limbs in the road, which was wet, and the locals who seemed to be coming at me non stop?  At least the coordinates were spot on, and the grave was easy to see with all the flowers, etc on it.

How am I supposed to do that?

My next stop was BOC, the Bank of Centerville.  Had to take a picture of the sign, so it could be read.  That was the key part of this bonus.  I have my bonus grabbing system down to about 2 minutes.  I knew this was right on the route and would be an easy grab, and it would have been, in the daylight.  I got there at around 11PM.  The sign is a concrete affair, with all the paint washed out of it.  So at night, there is no relief, and all I was getting were picture of my rally flag with a white blob in the background.  It took 10 minutes of repositioning my bike, re-aiming my aux lights, fiddling with exposure settings on the camera, etc, before I got a good photo.  YUCK.

Hey, a Break!

My route worked out to be quite fortunate for this next bit.  SBC was the bonus to be grabbed, a library (Libraries were worth 250 points each), a 24 hour gas station and my hotel were all right there, within spitting distance of each other.  Everything came together on this one.  I started my rest bonus at 1:02, 4 minutes off of then I expected to.  These are 4 VERY IMPORTANT minutes. (4 more minutes of rest was worth 200 points, keep reading for the fun results)

I knew my end route was quite aggressive and knew I would need to drop a few bonii to finish on time.  So I played with my route a bit, dropped 2 bonii and went to sleep at?  You guessed it, 2AM.

My alarm went off at 4:45.  I then snoozed it 2 times, before remembering I AM ON A RALLY. Holy crap, it's 5:40!  Jumped out of bed, grabbed some grub, got my rest end receipt and off I go!

That's a long way with no points

My next bonus was POT.  I had to cover a bunch of miles and it took 5 hours to get to it.  That is a long time to ride with no points getting gathered, but it worked out in my plan, so that is what I did.  On my second tank of this leg, I was coming down from the TN hills and had a tail wind.  Got nearly 200 miles out of that tank!

First Mistake

Got to POT.  The bonus required a picture of the store front and the Coke sign.  Got to the store, saw the sign, and could not find the Coke sign.  Then, way in the distance, I saw a Coke sign.  I thought to myself, "Those sneaky SOB Rally Bastards."  So I managed to take a picture of the sign with the Coke waaay in the background.  Did I mention this was the wrong store sign, and the Coke sign was on the correct storefront I was supposed to take a picture of?  Oops.  Those points down the drain.

Next stop was SNC, with a cool train and tender in a glass display.

Dumbest mistake EVER

I have 2 GPS on my bike.  I use one as my primary, pristine route.  It is never to be messed with unless I have made a permanent change to the route.  I use the 2nd GPS as my "test case scenario" GPS, where I play with dropping bonii, etc, to see if I pick up time.

I am on my way to RCK, Rockingham Speedway, and I PLAY WITH THE ROUTE ON MY PRIMARY GPS.  I repeat, I played with the "pristine" route.

So on my way to Rockingham, which has 2 rocks to be photographed, I am thinking to myself, "how does this town deal with race traffic?  There are way too many small roads."  That is when I end up at SLB, which is AFTER Rockingham.  Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?  I look on my GPS and see my path took me 2 Block south of RKC, parallel the whole way.  I said to myself "there went the rally", turns out I was right.

The end ride was easy enough, JBQ, quick in and out, and where I saw my first riders of the whole rally, since the first bonus location.

Then, SFD, 2 cute firedog statues with red hats.  Except on had a red hat and one had a brownish hat.  Hope I picked the correct one.

Got to Tar Heel, NC (real place) and grabbed the bonus.

Last stop, Whistler's Mother HHM and off to rally HQ.

Hey, let's make another mistake, just for fun!

I had a note to myself "Grab a 6 pack", for one of the wildcard bonii.  On my route was a liquor store.  Easy Peasy.  Grabbed my six pack, grabbed the receipt, and  


Any experienced rally people will be smacking their foreheads right now.  For those not in the know, you must keep and turn in all receipts for scoring.  Oops.


Go to rally HQ with 7 minutes to spare!  Almost perfect.  And I handed over my bag containing the 6 pack.  And the receipt.  grrrrrr........

Went back to the room with Bruce, we were finishing our rally packs and I brought up how sneaky they were with POT (the Coke thing), that is when Bruce brought it to my attention that I was an idiot.  He had grabbed the bonus correctly.  Oops.

I calculated my score, both with POT and without.

Went to scoring, and everything went as expected, up until the 6 pack bonus, where I learned my mistake.  GRRRRRRRR.  Lost that bonus and lost POT (as I expected I would), for 2 dropped bonii at the scoring table (where it really matters).

Dinner was some amazing BBQ.  'nuff said.

Awards time!

I was not sure where I would finish.  I was confident I did well, but was sure that RCK and the other 2 mistakes were my undoing for finishing on the podium.

Many people told me I had done well, but I was not confident of that.  As the top 10 finishers were announced, I waited for my name.  Only names were announced for places 4-10.  Once the RM got the 4th place and it wasn't me, I knew I had done OK.  He announced the score for third place and that one was about 200 Points behind mine (if I remember correctly).  I knew I didn't win at that point, and sure enough, I came in 2nd!  And for the last 2 of this story, Bob Lilley, came in a well deserved first about 92 points ahead.  THAT is a close top 3!

I learned a lot, had a great time, and can't wait to ride again next year!