Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Void 2011 -- Ride report

What a great ride!

I completed The Void yesterday afternoon. I started in Lebanon, PA at 0900 Friday, and finished at about 1330 on Saturday.

A few thoughts:

  • I learned a lot from the MD 20/20, and didn't make those mistakes this time around...I made some new ones, but nothing serious.
  • I still plan too aggressively...I need to give myself more time -- at least 10 minutes. The good news is that my plans always include bail-outs. The bad news is that I usually need them. Fuel stops are under five minutes, and most bonus locations are quick, but they aren't free.
  • I had almost everything I needed. I forgot the road food at home, so needed to stop by the store Thursday evening. Not a big problem, but a distraction anyway. I needed stamps, so needed to stop at a post office on the way...took just a few minutes, but every minute counts.
  • I need to think about traffic light density and construction zones -- these two factors destroy a timeline. U.S. 13 in Delaware comes to mind as a perfect example of a time-robbing route. Just because it says 45 MPH or 55 MPH on a sign, doesn't make it so.
  • I had never done a rest bonus at the host hotel. I learned how to stop the clock quicker than I did last night. This cost me a big double bonus in North Carolina this morning. An extra half hour would have really helped.
  • I made a few wrong turns, based on either my interpretation of really good signage, or signage that just wasn't clear enough. Either way, I was able to recover very quickly, so didn't lose any time.
  • Choices. I went for a 999 multi in Delaware on Friday; that decision slowed me up enough to ensure I couldn't make it back to Lynchburg in enough time to do the difficult "Multi-N" loop in Virginia (which is what the winning rider did).
  • I had fun. I had a lot of fun. I learned a lot about myself, about my motorcycle, and about motorcycle riding.
And now, on to the narrative:

I started in Lebanon, Pennsylvania on Friday morning. The start window ran from 0850 to 0910; I spent a few minutes unsuccessfully riding to the Lebanon Post Office (which I didn't locate), then rode to the Rite Aid downtown (at which I'd seen another rider earlier). One candy bar and a good receipt (to start the clock) later, I was ready to place the telephone call that let the Rally Masters know that I'd started the clock.

Note to self: these large chain drug stores are nearly everywhere (except in small towns where you want to buy sun screen because you're getting baked behind your helmet visor, but that's another story), and they have good receipts (meaning: the city, state, date, and time are on the receipt).

I had planned to pick up a two-bonus multi in PA and DE first, so I was off to find a cemetery in Bristol, PA. It was a beautiful morning, and the road conditions were really good.

Here's what I was searching for in Bristol:

This poor gal was killed in an automobile collision, and had more than a few visitors on Friday to pay their respects.

From Bristol, I was off to Dover, Delaware to visit the Governor's House. Pretty nice place.

As I alluded to earlier, I spent a lot of time navigating the streets and highways of Delaware...nice place, but very time-consuming.

The combination of Bristol, PA and Dover, DE (in any order, and with no other bonii in between) was worth 999 points (333 + 333 + 333 for the combination)

From Dover, I needed to travel just a short distance up the road to Smyrna, Delaware, to take a picture of a water tower. Very conveniently (for me), the water tower was adjacent to a Sheetz (and I needed fuel):

Smyrna was worth 111 points.

From Smyrna, I traveled north to Newark ("New Ark", as opposed to "Nurk", which is some other place, at another exit):

The Peoples Plaza get their own giant advertising sign, in the form of a water tower, which was worth 222 points to me.

Having spent A LOT OF TIME in Delaware, it was time to head north again to Pennsylvania. More time slogging along roads that had some construction and A LOT of traffic lights.

For 999 points, I went to Bernville, Pennsylvania, to visit the Kirkhoff Funeral Home (the site of the former Penn Valley Hotel):

My last stop in Pennsylvania was in Selinsgrove, for 1111 points:

There was a big traffic delay, so I just pulled over to the side of the road, jumped off the bike, and snapped the picture. As you might be able to see, it was getting late in the day when I made this stop. The traffic snarl around Selinsgrove added more delay to the plan. By now, I'm far enough behind on the plan that I abandoned the stop in Gettysburg (Devil's Den) which I'd been looking forward to all day. So, I'm now off to Virginia (via Maryland and West Virginia) to do the required odometer check in Lynchburg. My GPS told me that I'd be there right before midnight, and after a long ride, that's exactly where and when I ended up.

The odometer check was a ~15 mile route around a part of Lynchburg. That took about 30 minutes and was worth 1 point.

I stopped the clock at the rally hotel (the Quality Inn in Lynchburg) to begin the mandatory three-hour rest stop (which was worth 2000 points, plus 2000 points because every bonus after the odometer check was doubled(!)).

I got some good sleep in Lynchburg, then it was time to mount up again and head out. I'd dumped the massive 6672 point bonus (1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 6666 for the combination), so did a quick-replan. I planned to go to Kingsport, TN then Danbury, NC then back to Lynchburg (the fellow who placed second ran that route, but went to Danbury before Kingsport).

This is what (888 x 2) points looks like in Kingsport, TN:

This is one of the places to which I intend to return. I like river towns a lot, and Kingsport has a lot of appeal in that regard. It looks like they have good BBQ, as well, which is another good reason to return.

Next stop was in Abingdon, Virginia, for (111 x 2) points:

Abingdon is another place that I want to visit again.

Further up the road was Crockett, Virginia, where I aroused the attention of the person staffing the post office while I was earning (333 x 2) points:

She was wondering why so many people on motorcycles were running around her post office, taking pictures. By this time, I had been worried enough about getting caught on rural roads, in Virginia, on a beautiful fall Saturday, that I'd abandoned the Danbury, NC bonus (which would have been worth 777 x 2 points), so I chatted with the post office lady for a bit, explaining what we had been doing around her post office.

With Danbury off the plan, I now had enough time to stop for a bite to eat (which I did). Then, just for fun, I stopped off at Hiwassee, Virginia (for a whopping (6 x 2) points:

One of the many high points of this rally was seeing a very large black bear on a very small country road coming out of Hiwassee. The bear saw me about the time I saw it, and stood up on its hind legs. It looked at me for a split second, then went back down on all fours to amble a few paces, then stood up again. I was moving pretty slowly at the time (and as quietly as a motorcycle will allow), but the bear though better of a bear-motorcycle encounter, and ran through the brush downhill.

The road out of Hiwassee was beautiful -- another must-do visit in the future.

Also on a lark, I stopped by Bedford, Virginia, for my last stop (also worth 6 x 2 points).

Bedford is a charming town...on the list for revisits.

I finished 9th out of a field of 23 who started in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, and learned lot. Now, it's off to the Cape Fear 1000 in April, 2012!

Many thanks to Scott LaShier and Gary Stipe (and a lot of others) who planned and executed yet another great The Void!

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