August 30, 2000: BL2, BBQ and Baton Rouge
When we last left off, your Rallymasters hoped to both find Baton Rouge and score some fine Sonny’s BBQ. Happily, we were successful on both counts, though not without the expected bit of difficulty.
Things actually got off to a good start. Keith Collins, our rally chauffeur, piloted the Buick 2.5 miles from the first bonus at the AMA Museum to Ed’s house, and then promptly crawled into the back seat to begin working on our sleep bonus. Eddie and I calculated our route to the first checkpoint at Hebert Cycles and settled into work mode. While Eddie drove, I fired up the laptop. Fortunately, we were able to complete these tasks without waking Keith. Our teamwork began to pay off: had the route sheet allowed, Keith could have earned several consecutive sleep bonuses. Last year I bemoaned the fact that many of our riders got more sleep on Leg One than I did. One year later, I can tell you two things. History repeats itself, and Keith is worth every cent we’re paying him.
Our quest for Sonny’s was not as easy. Using advanced wireless technology, we accessed the restaurant’s web site, and plotted a course to the closest available source of hickory-smoked heaven. A short time later, we found what was once our chosen Sonny’s now comprised a vacant building with a big CLOSED sign out front. Our spirits sank. We had already passed on several other BBQ options (including one place Eddie only remembered for how crappy it was), pinning our porcine hopes on the Big S. In other words, the BBQ bug had bit bad. We were not leaving town without our pig.
In search of local intel, Eddie pulled the Buick into a gas station around the corner from the former site of our desires. “Know of any good BBQ around here?” I asked the local manning the counter. “Sonny’s is right around the corner,” he offered. Only a feeling of pity for future pilgrims compelled me to take the time to convince this fellow of Sonny’s demise. Ultimately, we settled for pleasurable, but by no means perfect forms of pork at The Other Available Alternative, and continued south.
We arrived at Hebert and found TeamStrange staffers Chuck and Carol Banks had the place hopping. The parking lot was cordoned off, food and beverages were set out for the riders, tables for route planning were in place, and a scoring area had been laid out. We set up shop and waited for some action.
We did not have long to wait. Bill Davis, riding the mongrel Harley, rumbled in to cheers from the waiting crowd. He seemed surprised when we told him that many handicappers had predicted his bike’s early demise. “The bike has already been to Daytona and Sturgis this year,” he told me. “Don’t worry about the bike. It’ll make it if the rider does.” We’re not the only ones pulling for both.
A line of riders soon stood before the scoring table, ready to face our inquisition. Many riders were again reminded of the importance TeamStrange places on reading comprehension. One bonus sent riders to Hamilton, Ohio, site of the memorial to Captain John Simms, proponent of the hollow earth theory. Riders were to photograph the monument, and also identify the state from which Simms came. Rider after rider took the photo but failed to answer the question contained in the bonus. We again fearlessly predict that the winner of this event will come from that pool of riders who have chosen to read the route sheets.
(In case you are wondering, Captain Simms hailed from New Jersey. One can hardly blame the local residents for advising visitors that Simms wasn’t a local boy, though this act certainly begs the question of why the monument was ever placed.)
Other riders fell victim to their lack of paperwork. The most amusing example is illustrated by the bonus at Mount Airy, North Carolina, which formed the basis for Andy Griffith’s Mayberry RFD. To earn the bonus, riders had to present a photograph of themselves eating a pork sandwich at the Snappy Lunch or getting their hair cut at Floyd’s Barbershop, along with a receipt. Many riders, including veterans Ron Ayres, Gary Eagan and Bill Newton enjoyed their visit to Mayberry, but forgot their receipts. Kerry Church apparently decided he was neither hungry nor in need of a haircut, and opted instead for a gas receipt and no points. Bob Corio was so focused on insuring that Nels Gebben and Mark Kiecker remembered their sandwich receipts that he forgot his own.
Occasionally bonuses matched well with the riders that chose them. Doug Stout and his 250 Ninja seem to us to go well with the giant statue of Superman in Metropolis, Illinois. As Eddie observed, “Sometimes you’ve got to go there to be there.”
One rider was time barred, due to a peculiar combination of mechanical difficulty and unconventional navigation. Brian Burdette’s K75 experienced battery difficulties that delayed his arrival at the Checkpoint. Brian’s difficulties were compounded by the fact that he had significant trouble locating Hebert Cycles. Much valuable time was wasted while Brian motored around Baton Rouge, searching for his fellow competitors. Brian’s task was made substantially more difficult by his decision to store the provided directions to the Checkpoint in his bike’s trunk, leaving valuable space in the tankbag’s map pocket for other items. At least Brian will have some time on the next leg to refine these logistical issues.
Promptly at 1300, route sheets were distributed and riders quickly retired to consider their options. We used the time to upload rally results, answer last minute questions and secure the all-important directions to the Baton Rouge branch of Sonny’s. There was no way we were leaving the south without our fix. Fortunately, Leon and Mike’s directions were as perfect as their hospitality to our riders. If you haven’t had the opportunity to become familiar with this top-notch BMW-Ducati shop, you are missing something special.
The rest of the riders will be busy choosing between many intriguing bonus possibilities. The most devilish of these allows riders to photograph as many of the mile markers along I-10 in Texas as they can stomach, for a cool five points per photo. Imagine the possibilities for psychological warfare: the first rider that encounters another competitor actively engaged in documenting mile markers will certainly begin to doubt their plan to chalk this bonus up to the Rallymasters’ twisted sense of humor. We have already heard reports of Wal-Mart drop shipping extra film to its Texas stores. With over 800 mile markers to choose from, dedicated riders will certainly be adding film to the shopping list.
The “Oh My God” route offers a religious theme including several of the world’s tiniest churches, a visit with the tolerant, GLBT friendly folks at the Focus on the Family rest stop, and a trip up “Oh My God Road.” Riders wishing to make a statement might choose a more westerly path and visit the Golden State, where Pat Widder and a visit to Point Reyes Station await. This route also features the opportunity to traverse Los Angeles during prime time, and is not for the faint of heart.
A BL5K favorite bonus reappeared on this leg thanks to the generosity of Jennifer and Larry Hilderbrand, owners of the Live Oak Resort. The Live Oak, a family-friendly, clothing optional paradise located near Navasota, Texas, is well known for its motorcycle-friendly attitude. In exchange for a minimum one-hour stay, riders would receive 675 points. Many riders opted to stay longer, in order to better avail themselves of Jennifer and Larry’s legendary hospitality. Riders were offered tasty meals, cabins for showers or sleep, and full run of the facilities. After visiting this bonus on the way to Salt Lake, I am convinced we may never get some of our riders to leave. While on a tour of the resort, Eddie and I found Doug Stout had discarded his now-optional clothing, and was relaxing in the pool discussing issues of the day with some of Live Oak’s more attractive female guests. We can only hope Doug doesn’t take this Superman thing too seriously. TeamStrange will certainly be back to Live Oak, if only to check on the riders that decided to give up on the rally and move into heaven on earth forever.
If you haven’t yet done so, please take a look at the Rally Results to date. Don Sills, the quiet Kentucky gentleman riding a Venture, currently holds down first place thanks to a masterful run through the difficult “D” route. Todd “Harley Trash” Witte and MN2K winner Nels Gebben round out the top three. Gebben is apparently again teaming with Mark Kiecker, a BL5K favorite who won MN2K Expert class this year. The pair was allegedly planning a big ride for leg two.
A number of riders may be poised for a jump in the standings. Ron Ayres is again exhibiting his familiar methodical approach to rallying. Gary Eagan and his ST2 appear to be adapting well to less familiar eastern conditions, and turned in a good ride while battling the flu. Bubba Kolb, who stormed through the MN2K from start to trophy time, is biding his time in 10th place. Bubba hasn’t called to harass us on the voicemail, which can only mean he’s turned his attention from Eddie to more worthy pursuits. I’d also keep an eye on Family Stephans. The Younger has something to prove after an early departure from BL5K, while the Elder isn’t afraid of pure saddle time, a key ingredient to BL2 success. Howard Stueber looked tired at the checkpoint, but planned on resting up at Live Oak. Howie is a fierce competitor and remains a threat.
If you are looking for predictions from us, forget it. Though we moved the dates of the rally to avoid the July heat, riders are currently facing temperatures in the high nineties. Some riders battle mechanical problems. Flat tires have temporarily sidelined Rob Nye and Ahmet Buharali. BL5K winner Eric Jewell’s rented BMW no longer has an operating odometer. Repair efforts are reportedly underway, but the impact of the breakdown cannot yet be determined.
As for your Rallymasters, we remain mostly on course for Salt Lake. Eddie and I finally talked Keith into taking the wheel, after which we promptly fell asleep. Working without adequate supervision, Keith soon took a shine to the Kansas Turnpike. If Eddie hadn’t woken up after we nearly missed that guardrail, we’d probably be back in Minneapolis by now.
Questions fill the staff car. Can Don Sills hold the lead? Will local knowledge benefit Texas riders like Allen Dye and Ron Ayers? Can the Kiecker/Gebben partnership endure blistering heat and long miles? Did Doug Stout ever put his clothes back on? As it sits, we’ll hit Perry Motorsports sometime early tomorrow morning, with plenty of time to prepare for the 1700 checkpoint. Until then, the Buick rolls west, and we wait and wonder with the rest of you.
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