Friday, July 6, 2012

2012 Minuteman 1000 Ride Report

This is my belated ride report for this year's Minuteman 1000 -- I'm later than usual in getting this ride report put together, but needed to get a few notes scribbled as I prepare for Butt Lite 6IX.

I registered to ride shortly after registration opened -- at the time I registered, I knew I couldn't ride the Mason Dixon 20-20 this year, but needed to have another rally before Butt Lite 6IX (and the ride to and from Minnesota for the MN1K was a bit more than I could fit into the schedule). This was my first Minuteman 1000 so I wasn't sure what I'd find, but I suspected it would be a lot of fun (and it was).

The Minuteman 1000 is actually two events in one: a planned Saddlesore 1000 (for those who want to complete that ride to gain admission to the Iron Butt Association) and a 24-hour rally, starting at 0600 on Saturday and finishing a scant 24 hours later at 0600 on Sunday. I was riding the rally.


The bonii listing showed up in my email inbox on Wednesday, 6 June at about 1730 -- it contained the latitude, longitude, and point value for all of the pre-planned bonii. That list went directly into the planning spreadsheet and Mapsource, so I could do some initial route planning. Because I didn't know any of the other critical details (mandatory check-points, wildcard bonii, combination bonii, check-in time limits, and so on), there wasn't much I could do other than work out a few combinations. As it turned out, I wound up riding a modification of two of the early routes I'd planned.

The ride north

I headed north to Northampton, MA on Friday -- I knew I had to be at the rally hotel not later than 1800, so I planned my departure with plenty of time margin in mind. I was a bit delayed in getting the cats squared away, and traffic was MUCH worse than my worst-case expectations. A full-face, modular helmet kept me from gnawing fingernails to the bone, while I baked in stop and go (but mostly stop) traffic on my way north. I ended up getting to the hotel about 1840, certain that I had likely turned my adventure into a DNS (Did Not Start). The rally staff was very kind (which is true of rally staffs generally, and the Minuteman 1000 staff particularly), and let me do the odometer check and the rest of the check-in procedure right after dinner (at which the rally packs are distributed).

This is my check-in picture (which makes sure the camera works, and the rally staff can read the card in the camera). I don't look much worse for the wear on the ride from Northern Virginia. At least I wasn't sunburned....

I skimmed the rally pack while at the banquet table, looking for the kinds of things that sometimes trip me up in planning (the usual reading comprehension problems). There were more than a few twists included -- the biggest was a time-limited bonus location that caused the rally to be essentially split into two rallies. You didn't need to do that bonus, but you had to ride a lot of miles to make up the HUGE points allocated to that bonus, which was located just about the half-way point in the rally time-wise.

All the riders showed up for the pre-start meeting about 0530 to get last-minute changes (one of which changed the back half of the rally in a big way for me), and we were off around 0600 (my start was about 0608).

My route out of the hotel had me heading north, to Vermont. There was a lot of intermittent patches of heavy fog early in the morning, but the traffic was very light and the roads were in great shape. Riding up the Connecticut River was gorgeous.

The theme for the Minuteman 1000 this year was bells. Lots and lots of bells.

One of the "treats" included in this rally was the opportunity to visit Taco Bell restaurants along the way. This fact was revealed in the rally pack each rider received at the end of the banquet on Friday. I did a quick search on my way north on Saturday, and found that there was a restaurant not far off my planned route. What I didn't realize was that it is a Taco Bell restaurant in a mall food court. I spent too much time hiking through the mall to find the "goods", then hiking back to the bike only to have to find a willing accomplice to take the picture. I'm sure the lady I lassoed into the job thought I was nuts.

Taco Bell feast at the Mall in Burlington, VT
Well, there's a story and a lesson-learned concerning Paul's Cow Wash.

Two bonii involved real maple syrup -- I bought two containers for the rally here, and two for gifts. One of my rally mates was dealing with an electrical failure here, but he was able to complete his Saddlesore 1000 with a little ingenuity and persistence.

This nice lady sold me the maple syrup that I needed to complete two of the bonii. She couldn't provide a computer-generated sales receipt, so I had to snag her picture.

I'd wanted to visit Lake Champlain for a long time -- this was a great opportunity for a "survey trip", which was sufficient encouragement to come back when I'm not "on the clock" to see more. This is a statue of the lake's namesake, Sam, and one of his associates.

...and then, more bells....

Max's BMW was one of the sponsors of the rally (and they're great sponsors). They have three retail locations -- this is one of them.

This was the big-point, more-or-less mandatory stop in the middle of the rally. I stopped by to get my photograph next to the bell hanging from the door.

All of those bells made me a big hungry for a real, non-tank-bag meal. As usual, I stopped for FAR too long.

My second "fine dining" experience of this rally.
Not the best photo of the rally, but good enough. I learned A LOT about night photography on this rally (including the fact that I need a lot more practice doing night shots).

After taking a LOT of shots of this bell, I wound up with this one that more or less met the requirements for scoring.

Every once in a while, the shrubbery cooperates....

This was the most difficult bonus to find on this rally. The USS Hartford bell is located in a pedestrian "mall", located quite a ways above the road level. Finding the access point to the "mall" was interesting, then there were three of us hunting for the bell. One rider asked a local if there was a bell monument around, and we were quickly directed to a small lighted area. And there it was.


 I carry a floodlight that plugs into the bike, to make this kind of shot possible. The bell tower was completely dark; the rally book called for a photograph of the bell, so out came the light. One of the other riders came up as I was making the shot, so he was able to get the bell shot as well.

I ended up riding along with one of the other riders for a bit; we scored a couple of Taco Bell restaurants as we headed south. We arrived at this restaurant as they were closing.

Enjoying my third Taco Bell visit

Who knew it wasn't called an "apple pie"?

 My last "apple pie" of the rally.

My fourth (and LAST) Taco Bell visit of the rally, in Waterbury, CT

There were a lot of difficult photographs during this rally. It helped to have an extra pair of hands to take the shot while I held the flag. That spared the use of duct tape (which I carry for just this kind of purpose).

I overnighted in Connecticut, then got up early to make the run north to Northampton, MA for a 0600 arrival. I snagged three bonii along the way.

I finished 7th out of the rally riders -- not too bad. I rode 849 corrected miles, for 254500 points.

Epilog and lessons-learned

A historical note -- I've been riding motorcycles since the mid-70's, and have been slow to add states to the list of states in which I've ridden. I was able to add Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire to the list of this trip. I'll be adding a lot more in August.

I'd left Northern Virginia with a turn signal switch intermittent failure – temperature sensitive – which was very annoying. When I got home, I took the bike in to Bob's to have the entire left switch assembly replaced.

I finally wound up with the notorious failed fuel tank level sensor – failed before the 32300 mile mark, somewhere in CT. Another annoyance that got fixed at Bob's after the rally.

Hydration was much better, but still not good. That's something that needs a lot of attention before Butt Lite 6IX. Parts are on order.

Most stops were good, and some were very good – left flag at Paul's Cow Wash, which was extremely expensive in terms of time (I lost about 30 minutes on that mistake, which is huge).

The New York bonii were nice, but they were very expensive in terms of points / mile. I rode a pretty efficient route, but I could have been much more efficient if I had ridden more on the east side of Lake Champlain, and skipped the big-points-lots-of-miles bonii in New York state.

I need to think through the process of adding bonus locations enroute -- I didn't have a real issue on this rally, but it's a problem that may crop up in the future. I made a transcription error when copying a route from the computer to the GPS (I only transferred waypoints, and not routes -- that's a mistake I won't be making again). I ended up adding a waypoint into my GPS receiver's route that was in my Mapsource route, and it caused a little confusion. It would have been a good idea to break out the computer to recompute a route with a real map – I would have spent a lot less time doing that. Need to figure out how to get the computer to sleep, and to get it out of the sleeve and back up in time to do a little routing before putting it away.

Riding home on Sunday was tough…should think about staying over that night and heading home on Monday. Would have been nice to have the day to goof off around Northampton. Would also have been nice to avoid weekend traffic on the return trip.

I need to check traffic on the phone before heading anywhere! There was a huge delay on I-84 West that showed up just fine on the phone, but didn’t show up at all on the SiriusXM Radio traffic service.