Well, I have had a little time to reflect on the Buttlite and what my personal experience was like. Before I get too far, I want to recognize Eddie James and Adam Wolkoff, their group of volunteers, and the establishments that hosted checkpoints. This was obviously an enormous undertaking, the likes of which few of us will ever truly understand. Very well done!!! Hell. That sums up what the BL5K was like. Not like being thrown onto the brimstone immediately, but more like being placed in an oven and having the temperature slowly increased as the event progressed.
The rallymasters increased the degree of difficulty as the days progressed; Day one, fairly straight shot (with a few ridiculous exceptions) to Denver. Within reason, most riders could nab the majority of the bonus locations on the different route sheets. Bear in mind, young lads, that this is a five day event. Leg two would be two days long with lots of rope with which to make a nice noose. I was laying 21 first after leg one with a full 3 hours sleep. This would later seem like a week's worth of rest. Route? South and West, picking up John Wayne's birthplace, Kawasaki plant, fuel receipts in Scottsbluff, Neb, and Cheyenne, WY., a nap, and on to Denver.
Day two. Have you ever run in a 48-hour event? Hang on Junior, here is your chance. North route or South to Marietta? 100 degree temperatures and nudist resort or precious moments? Or both? I chose South and Texas. It's hot. Geography lesson 101. Look at the scale of the map. My plan was simple. Run South until I hit the "wall", nap, and grab bonuses quickly and efficiently. READ THE BONUS SHEETS CAREFULLY!! A bonus stop in Hot Coffee MS allowed riders to call ahead to obtain this bonus. Anyone got a quarter? Route?; Denver to Wichita Falls, TX, Waco, Navasota, Gillsby, LA, Hot Coffee MS, 110 temps, rain that would shock Noah, total of 3 hours sleep in 48 hours, HAUL ASS to Marrietta. Move to 3rd place.
Leg 3. Why does one have so much time to cover so few miles? I figured riders would look at the bonus sheets, see big points, bite off too much, time bar.....Instead it was me that was dangerously close to time barring. I initially chose the eventual winning route to Springfield but made two critical errors en route; 1)Stopping for a low point paying, precious time consuming bonus, thus negating a 1092 point bonus due to time constraints; 2) Panicing and changing my plan to gain more points in less time which back fired. I sat in a traffic jam in Pidgeon Forge, Tennessee. I was physically overheating and had to stop and dismount, fearing I may pass out. At this point, I chose to alter my course that would send me due West from Knoxville to Nashville on all interstate and then north to Springfield. This proved very costly with a route that paid only 3300 points, 375 which where lost to a tardy arrival. Place 8.
Last leg. Hero or Zero? Got any left? How bad do you want it? Possibilities. Who among us had the courage to bite off big miles with no way to alter routes if time grew short? We would soon know. I listened to suggestions of friends in Springfield, but elected a route that was conservative, if 1400 miles in 27 hours (minus 3 hours for sleep bonus) is conservative. This strategy seemed sound because it allowed some bailout opportunities and some big points. Gary Parece had the same idea, and later we both joked that we could at least keep and eye on each other. The route took us south to Fort Knox, and then north through St. Louis, Kansas City, and back north to St.Paul. I hit the wall just north of Des Moines, but Gary continued to push to a remaining bonus location. I was excited to hear on my arrival at HQ that a straw pole revealed a solid run when compared to the leaders. Then I ran into Eric Jewel.
Eric and I shared a pizza one afternoon before the event. Eric is a quiet and reserved fellow with a distinct and refreshing absence of aggressiveness found in many long distance riders. I like him. I knew he was good, but did he have what it takes to go the five days?
Eric turned in a heroic run that rewarded him 76xx points. At first I though he was joking and then realized that this was not in his demeanor. Eric BLITZED the field and flat ran away with the points, charging from 6th place. I was very excited for him and his brilliant finish. I garnered a 5 place finish, and was very pleased with my ride. I rode my own ride, made no mistakes as far as paperwork or failure to get a bonus location due to not reading the sheets. I am pleased....And still buzzed!!
If you ride a rally of this length, be advised that you will know yourself better. You will know how much you like your wife/girlfriend. How much you like your job or your friends or your house. You will also learn if you like yourself. Its damn good therapy. Thanks Eddie and Adam. Reserve rider number 29 for me in the '00 BL5K.
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