August 23, 2000: Advice
Last night I had the pleasure of meeting Jed Duncan. Mr. Duncan, soon to be known as Rider 203, joined our ranks two weeks ago, when he assumed the place of another rider who withdrew from the event. Though he has plenty of motorcycling experience, Jed has decided that the BL2 will be his debut event in the world of LD Rallying. I can therefore forgive him the mistake of asking me for advice on what a rookie rider might expect or avoid. In the interest of keeping a level playing field, I will share with you the substance of our conversation.
Through his excitement, Jed seemed a bit nervous. He worried that his lack of rally experience would put him at a competitive disadvantage. I was a bit worried too, until I found out our Mr. Duncan has a Math Background.
I decided to allay Jed’s fears by telling him about a rookie rider in the BL5K by the name of Mark Kiecker. Kiecker didn’t even own a rain suit until just hours before the start of the rally. His choice of rally bike—a Seca II—was hardly inspiring. Yet he had a secret weapon: a Math Background. In other words, he could think, and he liked to ride. Kiecker did plenty of both, and in fact was poised to win the rally before he and his paperwork parted company somewhere in Toronto.
The whole “Big Dog” concept is egotistical foolishness. A rider who has ridden in 20 rallies may have 20 rallies worth of experience, or just one rally's worth of experience 20 times. Mark Kiecker proves the point perfectly. Anyone who underestimates a rookie does so at their own peril.
Jed seemed encouraged by my story, but wondered whether his lack of fuel cell, GPS, laptop computer, satellite uplink, and portable Wurlitzer Jukebox might prove fatal to his quest for glory. I had to admit that I have used some of these items on competitive rallies, and found them quite helpful. Other items seem, to me, too much like the expensive graphite driver carried by novice golfers: a cry for help from the innocent that know not what to do.
Yet, in the end these things are all tools, like a map or a motorcycle. Ours is a mental game, and sometimes these tools just get in the way. Ultimately, the rally boils down to the riders. All the electronics and fuel in the world won’t help a rider who does not plan well, or fails to adapt to surprises. Failure to adapt to changing circumstances—be they road or route—will do you in.
Too, on occasion, riders will mistakenly believe that they can beat the Rallymasters, whether through pride, some supposed pre-rally “intelligence” about bonus locations, or outright cheating. This never works. Any successful rider will confirm that you can’t beat the Rallymasters. The Zen approach works better: find the rhythm and follow it. Cheating is also a dead end, principally because we always find out about it. Always.
On ButtLite II, the path to glory is deceptively simple. Any rider who combines intelligence, guts, a bit of luck and solid saddle time has a chance to win this event.
Of course a Math Background doesn’t hurt, either.
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