Sunday, February 14, 2016

Iron Butt Rally 2017

Well, I posted my application for the 2017 IBR this evening...the draw is soon, so I'll know in just a few weeks if I made the cut.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

2015 Iron Butt Rally -- Day -1

The three day ride from Virginia to Albuquerque was a good shakedown ride. I ran at about a rally pace, and picked up Tour of Honor, Whispering Giants, and Virtual Cache "bonuses" along the way, which are reasonably good substitutes for rally bonus locations.

More importantly, I settled in to where things should be stored on the bike so I can find them quickly, and convinced myself that I hadn't left anything essential at home. I haven't used everything I packed, yet, but I'm convinced I will.

This morning is a bit of last-minute adjustments, and a little quiet time before the planning begins for leg one. The last thing I will do before the rider's meeting is refuel the bike -- I'll do that when it's warm so the fuel doesn't overflow while the bike is sitting in the sun this afternoon.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Headlights

The intermittent headlight problem that appeared on the ride west turned out to be a short -- the hot wire is discolored, and there is some bare conductor. The tech at Sandia BMW is going to insulate the hot wire spade connector to see if that fixes the problem, enough to get me back on the road.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

2015 Iron Butt Rally

As it so often goes, the plans I have (in this case, blogging about my preparations for the 2015 Iron Butt Rally) go unexecuted. It's not that I haven't thought, oh so many times, that I had a nice thought to share -- it's been more a choice to spend time doing other things (in many cases, working on preparing for the Big Dance).

The weather was poor again this winter -- cold and windy -- and with two big proposals to get out the door, the time got away from me. I did get in a few very nice rides, between the Big Money Rally, Cape Fear (which turned out to be a DNF because of a universal joint failure), one of Hammy's rallies, and the Mason Dixon 20-20. I also had several very enjoyable weekend "fun run" rides that served double-duty as practice rides.

In addition to the universal joint failure near State College, PA, I had a final drive replacement, and a main shock replacement. The repair to the universal joint involved a new drive shaft, so the entire drive train aft of the engine has been replaced in the past 12 months or so.

Tomorrow, I head to Albuquerque to ride my first Iron Butt Rally. My goal: to finish safely, earning a three-digit Iron Butt Association number.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

A new year

Another year is upon us...a year in which all kinds of good things can happen. 

One of the several highlights ahead is the 2015 Iron Butt Rally, which will involve significant preparation. While that preparation started a few months ago, it will get an ever increasing amount of attention to ensure I meet the goal: safely finish.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Butt Lite 7 – Leg 2

The rally masters distributed the rally books at about 0900. The good folks at Lone Star had tables out for us, so those who were interested could plan their Leg 2 route (which I did).

As it turned out, the first Leg 2 bonus was purchasing something from Lone Star BMW, so I purchased a package of foam hearing protectors to add to the purchases I made before the rally book was distributed.

I spent two hours processing the rally book data (getting it into a form that let me do route comparison), buying the hearing protectors, and packing the bike. When all of that was done, I was underway about 1100.

Though I couldn’t know it when I started out on that Wednesday morning, this was my track for Leg 2:

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Needless to say, I wasn’t seduced by the Key West bonus, or any of the other bonuses on or near the Atlantic Ocean. I did, however, succumb to the siren song of Atlanta. I should have known better.

My first stop was Mount Carmel Center in Waco, Texas, where I was to take a photograph of the sign just inside of the fence for 555 points.

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The theme for Butt Lite 7 was bowling, so there was a giant bonus (2500 points) at the International Bowling Museum & Hall of Fame in Arlington, Texas. We had to get a time-stamped ticket and, if we were there before 1500, we were to bowl for score (which was added to the 2500 points for this bonus).

There was quite a thunderstorm rolling through Arlington when I arrived. One of my friends arrived at the same time, so we navigated the slippery streets (and rain) to get to the museum.

I stopped at the museum to refine my route – I had managed to develop a very ambitious route, that I would be paring down over the next few days. This caused me to leave the museum much later than I had planned.

My next stop was the site of the Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow shoot-out in 1934 for 476 points. The road to the site was blocked by a train, so I took a detour around to a bridge over the tracks – lo and behold, there was a nice patch of gravel on the way to the bridge. Ugh.

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By the time I got back to the railroad tracks, the train had cleared, so I had smooth sailing back to the freeway.

I was running late because of the delay in Austin and at the museum, so I passed up a small (125 point) bonus. I also missed a 555 time-limited bonus because I passed through Vicksburg too late (a little over two hours which, if I hadn’t dawdled would have been easy to get – lessons learned for next year).

There were two bonuses north of Vicksburg – one time-limited (we had to be there before the store closed at 2200 so we could purchase a stuffed bear for 509 points), and the other was available 24 hours for 166 points.It turned out that the store wasn’t open when I arrived (another rider was also there), so I got a picture of the store.

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This was the 166 point bonus.

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I spent my rest stop at the Econolodge in Hattiesburg, Mississippi…clean and serviceable.

This wooden pole in Lucedale, Mississippi was worth 124 points. There’s a claim that Ronald Reagan scratched his back on this pole. I didn’t; I got my photograph, and headed down the road.

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There were two bonuses in Monroeville, the literary capital of Alabama. My first was a fountain on the grounds of Alabama Southern Community College, for 101 points. My task was to take a photo of the fountain with the names Harper Lee and Truman Capote visible.

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This monument to the character Atticus Finch was worth 102 points.

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This obelisk monument to Fort Toulouse in Wetumpka, Alabama required a short walk to earn the 128 points.

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From Wetumpka, my route took me north to the shores of Lake Martin, Alabama, where I was to earn 132 points for taking a photograph of this historic highway marker.

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I should be obvious, by this point, that I’m spending a lot of time riding to get some pretty small bonuses. That was the plan of our illustrious rally masters – provide a lot of relatively small bonuses, and get riders like me to bite. And bite, I did. In the cold, hard light of hindsight, I can easily build a shorter route with more bonuses. Hindsight is, however, simply something that is unavailable when the rally book is thrust into one’s hands.

My next stop was little Rosalind Nadine Earlesgrave (more here) in Lanett, Alabama for 156 points. It is just a little creepy, but very well tended. The Christmas lights were a nice touch.

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Then, I was off to Turin, Georgia to take a picture of Barbie Beach for 127 points. Barbie Beach is surely the only clothing-optional sunbathing location in Coweta County, Georgia.

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I dropped a 116 point stop in Atlanta based on a little delay getting past the airport. That I even considered going through Atlanta to get to Emory University to earn a paltry 116 points was ridiculous.

I did stop in Atlanta to visit a BP station / convenience store. The visit was worth 444 points for purchasing a pack of gum, and delivering the gum and the receipt to the scoring table.

Butt Lite 6ix had several legal-themed bonuses; Butt Lite 7 continued the tradition. My next stop was a historic highway marker placed to remember the site where Leo M. Frank was murdered on 17 August 1915 by a mob. Leo Frank is buried in Queens County, New York – a future bonus stop perhaps.

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My next stop was McCaysville, Georgia and Copperhill, Tennessee to take a photograph of a state line marker outside Patrick’s Pub and Grill for 109 points. Patrick’s has the distinction of being partially in Georgia and partially in Tennessee, which took advantage of the differences in alcohol control laws between the two states (Fannin County, Georgia was formerly “dry” for liquor sales in restaurants).

While I’m walking back to my bike, another long distance bike pulls up, with a rider wearing the typical “uniform” of long distance riders. I yell out that it’s so nice to see another rider, and he replies that he’s not riding this rally! He was up from Florida to ride the same route through Tennessee that I was on.

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The World’s Largest Ten Commandments at the Fields of the Wood Bible Park was worth 515 points. The speck near the center of the photograph is my R1200RT.

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Next, I was off to visit a memorial (of sorts) to Wash and Wear in Tellico Plains, Tennessee for 245 points. The maps in my GPS receivers have bum gouge on at least two streets in Tellico Plains, so I got to take the longer way into town. With the routing and a fuel stop, this stop was about 14 minutes. Ugh.

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My next bonus was the grave of Sgt Alvin C. York in Pall Mall, Tennessee for 488 points. The rally book mentioned gravel in the cemetery, so I parked the bike near the road and walked in. There’s a streetlight that illuminates the area around the grave, but it was nice to have the big flashlight for this bonus.

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My next stop was to visit the memorial to SP4 James T. Davis in Livingston, Tennessee. SP4 Davis died on 22 December 1961 in the Republic of Vietnam. The bonus was worth 487 points.

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As I was walking back to my bike, I spied this in a storefront window. Thankfully, you don’t see these any more (except as random display items in storefront windows!).

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I rested at the sad Budget Inn in Lafayette, Tennessee. I started a six hour rest bonus at the McDonalds on the main drag, and stopped the rest bonus (3600 points) at the same location. The motel was entirely forgettable (which means I won’t be forgetting it anytime soon).

333 points attracted me to the graves of William Alexander Gregory, late of the C.S.A., and Dance and Keziah Brown in the Williams – Brown – Gregory Cemetary [sic].

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Here’s the grave of Dance and Keziah Brown, in the same cemetery.

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Kentucky’s Stonehenge is located in Munfordville, and was worth 301 points.

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There were two “graves in the road” on this rally – I visited the one in Franklin, Indiana for 289 points.

While I was packing up, a nice farmer came by to chat a bit. He had a farm nearby, and was fascinated by the rally. He mentioned that my next stop, Nyesville, Indiana, was just down the road (though it didn’t seem like it when I was riding it on a hot summer day).

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My next stop was worth 489 points, at the monument to Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown.

There was a rider on a Harley at this bonus when I arrived. I must have had too much “game face” on – he asked if I was doing okay when I was heading back to my bike. I assured him I was, and wished him well.

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My next stop was the Council Grove Minute Men marker, for 113 points, where I was to get the names of the three counties listed on the marker.

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I stopped for what I believe are the two most refreshing hot dogs I’ve ever had on a motorcycle trip. I needed fuel while on U.S. 41 just north of Morocco, Indiana, and needed to get off the bike for a few minutes. There was a local law enforcement convention at the convenience store, so I sat down next to a couple who were helping with the story-telling. I ate two hot dogs and drank a soda, and I was all set for the rest of the day.

My next stop was to earn 98 points for taking a picture of the character Flick, whose tongue became affixed to a cold, metal flagpole in the cinematic classic A Christmas Story.

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The [former] Santa Fe Speedway in Willow Springs, Illinois was worth 125 points. The location is now a nice-looking housing development.

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By this time, I had a lot of margin to visit Rochelle, Illinois, get a nice rest in, and cross the finish line in Minnetonka. I pulled in to the bonus location in Rochelle, and was visited by volunteers who were staffing the park. As I was resting the bike on the side stand, a volunteer urged me to hurry, since a train was approaching. We were to take a photograph of an approaching train for 455 points, and I had arrived just in time! I had enough time to take a leisurely walk to the viewing deck, where I joined several other riders on the same mission.

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After I got my photograph, I headed back to my bike. The volunteers were up for a chat, and asked me where I was headed next. They offered that at least one previous rider was headed to Milwaukee (which was not my next destination), and they asked if I was headed there as well. I wasn’t, but said that I would think about it on the way out of town. They then told the several of us, who had just gotten the required photograph, the fastest way north. I saddled up and hit the road, and punched the Milwaukee bonus in to my zumo 665. Lo and behold, I had enough time to go to Milwaukee if I sacrificed some of my rest margin. I felt great (the salutary effects of the two hot dogs were still with me), so off I went.

This photograph of the Holler House tavern was worth 455 points. The tavern was closed, so I didn’t get to see the bowling alley or the brassiere collection. Wikipedia lists Joe Walsh, Traci Lords, and Frank Deford as notable bowlers and visitors.

There was an unnatural amount of construction getting to and leaving Holler House. Wow.

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There were a few other rally riders on I-94 from Milwaukee heading to Minneapolis. I recognized at least one of the riders, and we rode more or less together until I left the freeway to head north.

From Milwaukee, there was only one bonus left – the historic highway marker for the New Richmond Cyclone in New Richmond, Wisconsin. The marker was worth 56 points. There was another rider there, so we exchanged a few words before heading west.

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All that was left now, was a nice ride west from New Richmond to Minnetonka, Minnesota. I arrived at the finish line about 0518 CDT, well before the 0600 – 0800 window for finishers.

I got all of my paperwork together, and headed for the scoring table. As with the Austin checkpoint scoring, I didn’t leave any points “one the table”.

After all of that riding around this great and beautiful country of ours, I finished 9th out of 49 finishers. I was delighted. Finishing in the top 10 qualified me for a “no draw” entry into the 2015 Iron Butt Rally.

Maryland Renaissance Festival

Today marked my fourth visit to the Maryland Renaissance Festival in Annapolis, Maryland. Connie, Britt, and Casey and I enjoyed the food, festivities, and people-watching in the 90+ degree F, very high relative humidity. We missed seeing Bob Garman, the hypnotist, who must be doing some other gig this summer. We did get to see Grant Murray and his "Wheel of Death", which was amazing.