Dan Stephans II Ride Report


-Showing up-

 We (Dad and I) rolled in to Columbus on Saturday afternoon at around 1:30 in the afternoon.  All was ready for check in and mileage check followed by an evening of drinking.  This year I had even made sure to get my insurance limits bumped to the BL requirements so as to avoid embarrassment and a call to Progressive.  I checked in without incident, rode the mileage check and was drinking beer before I knew it.

-Rider’s Meeting-

            The most amazing thing happened the day before the rally started – Bryce Ulrich showed up well past the last odometer check and there was much gnashing of teeth as to what to do about it.  The rally masters, in fairness to an unanticipated situation, put the question of whether Bryce would ride the BL2k or not to the riders for vote.  If indeed he was allowed to ride, it was with the stipulation that he would be time-barred at the start (thus not being able to earn any bonus points on the first leg to Baton Rouge) and would have to make a $100 donation to the AMA museum.  Basically the time-bar would nearly ensure that Bryce (a very good rider) would not have any reasonable chance of winning the rally.  The $100 fine (err, donation) was not as bad of course.  Bryce willingly accepted the penalties and the issue was put to the riders.  While I will not disclose the exact numbers of yes and no answers, a number of people voted to not allow Bryce to ride the rally but a significant number more voted with sportsmanship and Bryce was in.  I wish the vote was a show of hands – at least I would know who not to stop and help if they ran out of gas.

           We also got route sheet #1 delivered to us at the end of the dinner.  We all scurried to our rooms and within 15 minutes, most of us had a route through every bonus on the sheet.  To me this was an indication that it wasn’t the best route sheet (not exactly correct) and I decided to not think about it too much and wait for the new route sheets in the morning.  The most interesting and important bonus on #1 was the “recurring” bonus, reminiscent of our friend Timmy from last year.  The bonus was to pick up a coffee cup in Hot Coffee, MS and you would earn 250 points every time you brought it to the table at a checkpoint.  It didn’t seem like much at the time…

-Leg 1-

            I got to bed early and fell asleep pretty quickly.  Unfortunately, Audrey (my stepmother) called my Dad at around 11:30 and I woke up ready to rally.  I didn’t get back to sleep until about 5:00 and was out of bed to get ready at about 6:15.  Not exactly the way I meant to start the rally.

           My goal for the first day was to stop as few times as possible on my way to Baton Rouge.  Once we got the new route sheets I found a nice route with only 3 bonus stops that would score in reasonably (for a first leg).

            The first bonus I pursued was to ride Ohio 555 south out of Zanesville to its intersection with 50.  I usually love riding these “designated routes” and for the first 20 miles, 555 was very interesting.  The road had extreme shifts in sight lines and elevation and curves like crazy.  After about 20 miles, I started feeling a little nauseous and light headed.  Figuring that it was because I hadn’t eaten breakfast (unless you count 2 cups of coffee as breakfast), I stopped along the side of the road to have a granola bar and some water.  I figured I could study my map a little bit as well.

            While I sat there, the wrecking crew of Bubba, Don and Lil Britches rode by looking like they were on canyon carvers rather than big touring bikes.  I smiled and munched on my granola bar as they went by.  After about 20 minutes I felt quite a bit better so I hopped back on the Express and started back into the twisties.  Ten minutes later I was stopped on the side of the rode and just had time to flip my Syncrotec up to throw up.  Five times.  As my uncle once said to me when I told him that rollercoasters make me sick: “Sure they make you sick but you feel much better after you puke.”  I still don’t understand the logic but in this situation it held true.  I felt worlds better but I was sure sick of 555 and the end of it was a welcome sight (after a mere 62 miles or so).  It was time to head to Mayberry for my scheduled lunch stop at the Snappy Lunch Café.

            There was a trick to the Mt. Airy bonus (Mayberry).  You could get your picture taken eating a pork chop sandwich at the Snappy Lunch Café, which I intended to do since I was very hungry, or you could get your picture taken getting a haircut at Floyd’s Barber Shop, which I did not intend to do since I got a haircut the day before the rally.  Funny thing about the Snappy Lunch Café is that it closes really early since the owner shows up really early.  My new improved haircut is much better than my old one.

            The grail of my route sheet was Corky Reed’s place in Perdido Beach, AL.  Corky is in a bad way right now and wouldn’t be at home to great us (bummer) but the bonus was still available as volunteers would be staffing Reed’s Landing.  Only thing between me and Corky’s was a gas receipt from Greenville, SC and a few miles as I chose to forgo the bonuses to the east and in Florida in the interest of conservation.  I was the first rider in to Corky’s at O’dark thirty.  My plan was to stop shortly afterward to pick up the sleep bonus but I felt good enough to push it to Baton Rouge so I ran the remaining miles and shut down for the sleep bonus moments away from the checkpoint.

-Leg 2-

            Hebert’s Cycles is a nice place.  They had a very nice setup for the riders and were some fine friendly folks.  After scoring I was in a respectable 9th place which is almost exactly where I was after the first leg of last year’s rally.  I was not quite into rally mode yet however.  My lower back hurt like hell for some reason and I wasn’t happy about it.

            I was not enamored of the route sheets but picked one that involved a lot of Colorado stops that I figured would again conserve my energy with a minimum of stops and score decent points.  The biggest bonus I had planned to pick up was the Royal Gorge Bridge in Canon City, CO.  The hard part with this bonus is that it was until dusk only, giving a tight window to get a photo.

            While Live Oak Resort tempted me, Houston traffic did not.  I decided to ride north and get the praying hands at the architecturally exciting Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, OK.  I rode as hard as a could to get out of Louisiana, stopped for a meal at Pizza Hut in Texas and made it far fewer miles than I wanted to.  I don’t recall where I stopped but my goal of making Tulsa before stopping was blown and the window in Colorado suddenly looked a little tighter.

            I got the praying hands the next morning – right at the time of day when the sun shines through the gap between the hands.  Pretty cool.  Now it was just a matter of putting miles under the tires to get to the Gorge on time.

           I was sitting in a gas station in eastern Colorado at about 16:00 contemplating what exactly dusk means.  As far as I could remember it was the 30 minutes or so after sunset.  Or maybe it was before.  Or whatever.  No matter what it was, it was approaching me faster than I was approaching the Gorge.  I rode with new determination and at this point is when I shifted into rally mode.  I’m pretty sure I didn’t take the shortest route to the gorge off of I25 (I went all the way down to the intersection with the highway that the gorge is off of instead of taking the shortcut) and I got to the Gorge with the sun disappearing over the towering peaks.  In a panic I asked the gate person if I could still go in to get a picture of the Gorge.  He said “Of course.  But I’m going to have to charge you 5 bucks for admission.”  No big deal of course.  When I asked for a receipt though (which was required for the bonus along with the picture) he gave me a funny look that said I was asking for something he didn’t have.  After some cajoling a ticket stub receipt was produced and I began my attempts at finding how to get to the bridge.  Plenty of riders were milling about and all of them had good advice for me.  Too bad I was too frazzled to listen to any of it and comprehend it as I spent the next 10 minutes riding around in a circle looking to get to the bridge crossing.

            Finally I crossed the bridge.  If you’ve never seen this bridge, it is absolutely phenomenal.  I would have loved to have been there an hour earlier.  Especially since my picture(s) would have turned out immensely better.  As it was, I shot 8 pictures (all that was left in my camera) and while you could see the bridge in about half of them you definitely needed to know what you were looking at.  I was very concerned about my chances of scoring this bonus at the table and was disappointed in myself as I trudged back to the back, chastising myself for the extra 5 minutes on the last gas stop and my missing of the shortcut, and and and.  I almost chastised myself to the point that I left my rally towel behind (1 leg later than I did last year).  After suiting up and getting on the back I had a niggling thought that something wasn’t quite right.  Sure enough my rally towel was still, thankfully firmly, attached to the fence overlooking the Gorge.

            There were two more daylight hours only bonuses in the Colorado Springs area that I had wanted to pick up but they were out of the question at this point as I had no intention on overnighting in Colorado Springs since one of my favorite bonuses opened at 0700 in Golden, CO the following morning.  I decided to bag both of them and head to Denver to pick up an earth shattering 24 points for getting gas there.

            As I was rolling in to the gas station in Denver, I saw a familiar Harley riding aimlessly in circles in the parking lot.  Turned out to be my Dad, obviously trying to add miles so he could get his SS5k.  He was tired and I was ready to shut down so we rode to Golden to get a room.  The night auditor at the Day’s Inn in Golden needs a good ass kicking.  We didn’t stay at the Day’s Inn but opted, after being rudely treated, to go to the Hampton Inn right around the corner from the fabled Mother Cabrini Shrine.  Dad wasn’t really planning to hit the shrine but it wasn’t a hard sell since we were so close.  It was also a very good idea to have a partner for this bonus since it required you to have your picture taken and it was a crapshoot in my mind as to whether one could find someone at the top of a mountain shrine shortly after 7 in the morning.

            It turned out to be a non-issue as there were a whole bunch of motorcyclists at the top of the shrine shortly after open.  In a strange bit of déjà vu, Nels Gebben and I ended up there at the same time, much as we had the year before.  Steve Strickstein made a valiant climb to the top of the shrine with his injured foot – complaining all the way about there not being anything for Jews on this God bonus sheet.  Back at the bottom, Dad and I decided to ride with Bryce (who was also there at the open) and Nels to pick up the “Oh My God Road” (no longer called that, probably thanks to the dour nuns at the shrine right down the road).  This road is pretty much a logging trail up the side of the mountain that leads to Crystal City.  I found out later that you can get to Crystal City on modern paved roads.  I think we had more fun.  We did lose my Dad somewhere on the mountain and it was down to the three of us to run to Salt Lake City.

            In Salt Lake, we took a picture of the hokiest shrine I have ever seen: the Virgin Mary in a stump.  I guess the locals take it seriously because I heard from some other riders that they were a bit pissed that we were just taking pictures and not leaving a donation or tithe.  Silly rabbits.

            After checking in I was in 8th place, but I had some problems.  Coming across Kansas the night before and electrical gremlin that I thought I had solved was back.  At speeds above 60mph my headlight (indeed the entire lighting system) flashed like a strobe.  This problem had cooked my headlight relay on the MN2k and was sure to do the same or worse if left untended on this rally.  The worst problem it presented in this case was that we had two nights worth of riding to concern ourselves with and without a good lighting system, I was screwed.

            My second problem was my tire.  I normally run Dunlop K491 Elite II touring tires.  I consistently get 15k+ miles out of them and they are a damn fine tire.  Metzeler ME88 Marathon’s are not a damn fine tire.  In fact, the one on my bike was just above the wear bars when I rolled into Salt Lake with a mere 9k miles on it.  The fine folks at the checkpoint tried in vain to locate a tire for me but nobody in Salt Lake City had one for me.  Needless to say I was now discouraged and ticked off that I didn’t replace the tire before the rally – even though I just knew it could do as many miles as a 491.

            I decided that I was going to solve the one problem that was in my control and started ripping the Express down to put my electrical gremlin to bed once and for all.  I took the tank off and checked all the connections in the relay box and all the grounds that connect to the frame under the tank.  I pulled the alternator out and checked all the connections.  I pulled the cap off the starter ground wire.  I cheered wildly when I saw that it was quite loose.  When I settled down and Will Outlaw stopped scowling at me (he was sleeping nearby – keyword is was) I tightened it down and was quite smug about the whole thing.  That is until I remembered my tire.

-Leg 3-

            The beginning of leg 3 was problematic.  Shortly before sending us off we were given the news of Pauline’s death earlier in the day.  Words cannot describe my emotions at that time given that last year I brushed with death twice.  The mood was decidedly grim and many a tear was being shed as we went our ways to plan our routes.

            Hindsight has always been kind to me.  For leg 3, hindsight shows I blew it.  My goal, given the condition of my tire, was to run as few miles as possible on as good of roads as possible so I could get to Fargo, where Ma’s had a K491 waiting for me.  When we got the route sheets, I got tunnel vision and was only looking at running to I94 and getting to Fargo.  This is a less than optimal route and as it turns out I ran over 1400 miles.  Others who ran the Wyoming route, picking up the windmills in Medicine Bow and the Mother Featherlegs monument in Lusk scored more on those two bonuses than I did on the entire leg and ran less miles.  This error in routing would prove to be costly later.

            I did manage to pick up Thiokol, UT at the urging of Nels and went on my way toward Helena to join the AMA for a cool 960 points and 8 hours of riding in the rain.  Stopping in Billings for gas got me 344 more.  Umm, err, uh, that’s about it.  I did get some sleep in Fargo at the Super 8 right next to Ma’s and after checking in and dropping my bike in the shop for a new tire I got another 2 hours.  I showed up back at Ma’s just as rally sheets were being handed out.

            I checked my score before returning to the hotel to plan the last leg and noticed that I had fallen all the way to 21st place on the demerits of the terrible leg I had run.  Only 2 riders that finished the rally in the top 25 had less points on the third leg.  I figured at this point that finishing the rally would be a good goal rather than worrying about winning.

            I spent an hour trying to pay for my tire, which turned out to be the most expensive $90 tire I’ve ever bought.  While I certainly appreciate all the work Ma’s Cycle went through for us riders, they made some serious cash on us.  That $90 tire cost me $208 and change to install.  At least I had a tire!

-Leg 4-

            I opened the packet in the hotel room and was overjoyed to find a single route sheet.  Picking between route sheets has always bothered me, mainly because it requires running numbers and routes for all of the sheets to figure out what’s going to work.  A single route sheet requires a single plan and I can wrap my mind around the whole picture.  As I sat in the room looking at the sheets, the route I was going to run just popped right out and said “RIDE ME.”  Well, I’m not one to argue with talking route sheets and I had a 1500 appointment at the State Fair with a certain animal psychiatrist and his favorite food.

            To hit the bonus in St. Paul at exactly 3 looked to be tough until I nearly got blown over by a passing Cadillac Deville from Alberta on I94.  Never one to turn down a good front door, and since my radar detector had blown up in Montana in the rain, I dialed in the Express ½ mile behind the rolling black Canadian Caddy and made amazing time to Monticello where my Elsinore drinking guide decided to gas up.  Nevertheless I was able to get my bike parked in the very nice free motorcycle parking lot at the Minnesota State Fair (sponsored by the motorcycle safety foundation), assist some poor soul who dropped their bike in the parking lot in putting it back on two wheels, and get to the cheese on a stick stand by 14:58.  By 15:10 I was back on the back with my picture in hand and no cheese in my belly.  I had something better planned for lunch – a tasty Mexican treat from Zanz in Mankato was what I had a hankerin’ for.

            A chilito from Zanz is a special thing.  It is very tasty for many days.  Today is the sixth of September and that chilito is still affecting my digestive system.  They sure do taste good though!  Last year Zanz was my stop after losing my rally flag and really the point where my rally really started going downhill.  Shortly after leaving Zanz on the BL5k I went under a tractor trailer and two days later I wrecked poor Krocket (now known as Krash).  I didn’t think I could top that so I decided to ride and finish the rally this year instead.  Right down 169 more food awaited at Lori Schmidt’s parent’s house, served up with 1116 points.

            At the Schmidt’s (who are some very nice people, for Iowans anyway) I ran into Nels again and he was looking for a plan.  He was also sporting a new pack of oil on the back of his bike thanks to knocking his oil pan off center in Wyoming.  His K bike was marking its territory like a Harley but Nels figured a case of Mobil 1 would see him clear to Columbus.

            I started talking about my route with folks there and I started to get the feeling that maybe it was a good thing I listened to the sheets.  Nels and I decided to ride out of there together and waved goodbye to the Schmidts.

            Between Nels’ GPS and my keen direction sense (*cough*) we made our way to highway 36 with the ultimate destination of Audubon.  We accidentally passed Fenton Iowa and yet another worlds smallest church on our way.  That stop wasn’t actually on my list but I recognized the town name as we passed but couldn’t remember if it was worth stopping.  It probably was.

            We stopped for fuel at the intersection of 71 and 36 (or somewhere near there).  Nels decided that he was way too tired to continue for the night so he planned to go get a hotel room.  I gave him all the stops I planned to make and told him I’d see him in Memphis if I didn’t make the 11am window there.

            Alone again, I made Audubon as the skies became ominously beautiful.  Huge sheets of lightning covered the skies and arced to the ground to the east, near Des Moines – where I was to pass through very shortly.  In Audubon, riders needed to photograph Albert the Bull and “press the button” and record Albert’s last three words.  Albert’s claim to fame is that he’s the worlds largest bull (plaster).  After easily getting my picture, I started looking all around the statue for “the button.”  I searched the statue itself for “the button” and I must say they gave Albert an impressive package.  No button on Albert though.  I wrote down “cannot find the button” and walked back to the bike.  While putting stuff away, I spied a small outbuilding near the parking lot and decided to check it out to make sure there wasn’t a button there.  Sure enough, the building housed the pictorial history of the creation of Albert the Bull and had a shiny button to press to hear Albert talk.  Pressing the button resulted in a less than optimal result.  Albert was silent, no story to be told, no three words to end with.  I noted this on my bonus sheet (after crossing out my previous answer) and went back to the bike.  I decided that the skies looked clear enough so I hopped back on and continued on my way to Albia.  Well, I continue for about 5 miles before I decided to turn back and find out why Albert wasn’t talking.

            Back in the alcove, I opened the top of the cabinet that the button was on (it was unlocked).  Inside, the wires connecting the button to the talking apparatus were curiously disconnected.  Sabotage?!  I took a picture to document this state of affairs and tried to hook them up and coax Albert to speak.  After 20 minutes I decided that I really didn’t want to hear Albert speak after all and once again hit the road.

            I rode through the thunderstorm that was centered around Des Moines with no ill effects other than a general uneasy feeling about riding through so much lightning.  Albia itself was a quick in and out.  All that was necessary was a picture proving you were in Albia or a receipt.  I picked up a cup of coffee at the local gas station and was rolling toward Burlington in 10 minutes.

            One thing good you can say about driving in Iowa is … uh, never mind.  Burlington is on the Illinois border and is home of Snake Alley, the world’s most twisty city street.  It was also home of another place my Polaroid camera doesn’t take very good pictures because it’s dark.  Snake Alley is very cool.  It was designed in the mid 1800’s by two German immigrants who just happened to be pretty good engineers.  There was a need for a road to get heavy cargo from the top of the hill in Burlington to the bottom of the hill and because of the grade no existing roads were sufficient.  Thus was born Snake Alley.  A series of approximately 20 switchback turns to the bottom of the hill using bricks as the layment gives Snake Alley the unmistakable look of a twisty snake.  My camera refused to clearly document this splendor from the required position (take a picture of the road from the sign) so for backup documentation I snapped a picture of the Snake Alley sign as well.  I don’t know why I didn’t ride down Snake Alley to the bottom of the hill but in retrospect I wish I would have.  Instead I retraced my route and got back on 36 heading east toward Galesburg.

            Illinois was a welcome change of pace from Iowa if only for the psychological bonus of changing the state.  Galesburg Illinois is the home of Carl Sandberg, famed writer.  It’s also the home of a big prison and a significant number of very busy police officers.  Shortly after getting my required picture of Sandberg’s boyhood home marker and researching where his ashes were to be found, I was getting very concerned by the large number of squads running to and fro with armed officers leaping from them and running to and fro.  I decided that I would not be sleeping on the ground in Galesburg and also realized that unless I found a time machine somewhere that there was no way I would be making Memphis by 11am.  My new goal was to make Springfield (another gas receipt bonus), stop for the night there and catch the 5pm Memphis window.

            I made it as far as Peoria before I decided I really needed to stop before I did something stupid (like fall asleep on the bike).  Unfortunately it was 4am and there were no hotels with vacancies.  I finally rolled into a gas station with a side parking lot, rolled the bike in and slept for an hour on the grass next to the bike.  It was my first night without a hotel and it wasn’t the best sleep.  It did get me awake and alert enough that I was able to hit the road with an approximate 2 hour cushion to get to Memphis.

            The road to Memphis was boring and hot.  Every 50 miles south brought a couple degrees of temperature and a couple percentage points of relative humidity.  I rolled into Memphis at 3pm and easily found the Peabody Hotel, the site of the biggest bonus on the final leg.  I sat down in the hotel and started looking at my points for the first time and was quite surprised at the potential finishing number (I figured to double my score at this point).  I also figured that any number of other riders were riding just as good routes elsewhere so I didn’t get my hopes up too much.  I took the extra time at the hotel to finalize my route into Columbus and chat with some revelers at the bar (who had been drinking since the ducks came down at 11).  Speaking of ducks, the Peabody Hotel’s claim to fame is the world famous “March of the Ducks.”  A family of mallards lives in a rooftop penthouse at the Peabody and occupy the foyer fountain between the hours of 11 and 5.  In the morning, the red carpet is rolled out from the elevator to the center fountain and the ducks sprint like mad to the fountain.  In the evening, the same drama is played out in reverse.

            Did I say sprint?  This bonus was shaping up to have all the trappings of a sucker bonus.  In my conversations with the locals and revelers I learned that this was no small event.  First of all, during the duck march there are throngs of people pressing up to the edge of the carpet to get a picture of a duck, which is a good trick because of the throngs of people and the sheer speed of the ducks, whose definition of march is not as stately or precise as Sousa would define it.  The bonus here was to get a picture of the ducks on the carpet so the challenge was clear.

The locals advised me that in my stinky and dirty state I would have little problem staking out a spot near the carpet and holding it.  They also advised me to stake it out at least 15 minutes early.  I set up in front of a table of musicians, one of whom graciously offered to take my photo with my rally towel while the ducks marched by.  While jostling with the small children for position, I noticed Tom Austin on the other side of the fountain, smiling knowingly.  He had clearly picked a better spot – his angle allowed him to shoot down the carpet, nearly ensuring a successful photo op.  He had also recruited someone to hold his towel for him using some subterfuge that I will leave for his ride report.

At precisely 5pm, the lights dimmed and a public address announcer started discussing the history of the ducks and the excitement mounted and the crowd pressed closer.  Somewhere in the 5 minutes prior to starting the event my carefully chosen spot became occupied by many small children whose stern looking mothers were clearly not pleased with my picture taking plans.  As soon as the music started, the duck sprint began.  My picture taker snapped two quick photos and the ducks were gone.  My stomach was in knots as we watched the pictures come in to focus.  Uh-oh, no duck in picture number one.  Picture number two had better results with a happy little mallard in a runner’s crouch on the carpet.  I’m glad I didn’t have to find out how necessary the duck was to the picture.

From Memphis, my only solid plans were to go to Bowling Green (and get the Corvette Museum bonus) get a good night’s sleep and pick up 3 bonuses in the morning.  I rode a leisurely ride to Bowling Green, arriving well after dark for yet another photo bonus.  The bonus required a picture of the entrance sign at the park, which I assumed was the big tower with the big 30 foot circular emblem on it.  After taking 10 marginal pictures of that tower and having a discussion with grounds security about why I wanted a picture of the sign so bad I snapped a perfect picture of the driveway sign that showed the museum’s hours of operation as backup.  It was 10:30 at night and I checked in to the nearest hotel and went swimming for about an hour then headed to bed for a good night’s sleep, anticipating a relaxing morning.

One thing had already gone wrong at this point that the error made before going to bed compounded.  For the entire leg, I had been thinking that the checkpoint opened at 1300.  In actuality, the checkpoint opened at 1500.  This was important because my going to bed routine failed.

Every rider probably has a “going to bed routine.”  When you are riding tired, it is too easy to just stay sleeping in a comfortable bed.  If there is an alarm clock in my room, I first check the speaker by turning the radio on.  I then set the alarm and set my screaming meanie for 20 minutes later.  I use the meanie as a backup because, let’s face it, it’s really damn loud and I don’t like holding my hotel neighbors to my sleeping schedule.  This routine has done well for me both on rallies and when I’m riding hard for work.  This time, things went wrong.  While the speaker on the alarm worked with the radio, it apparently didn’t like to buzz for the alarm.  What should have been a minor inconvenience almost turned disastrous as I had set my meanie but not started it.  I awoke with a start at 6:15am (central time, rally ends on eastern time) with dread in my heart.  I had rode so well on this leg and now I was in trouble.

It took me less than 5 minutes to put all my gear on the bike and get checked out.  I was on the road at 6:23, cursing myself for my mistake.  I was really quite awake though!  Kentucky law enforcement decided to claim many overtime hours as there was a state patrol vehicle every 3 miles or so, ensuring my speed was not spectacular or even over the speed limit.  Mental recalculations left me with the impression that I would not be able to pick up my 3 morning bonuses (Idaho, Brock and Newark Ohio) and make the checkpoint on time so I just rode on past Cincinnati without heading east for Idaho.  With about 75 miles left to Columbus and the clock approaching noon eastern, a new panic set in: What if the checkpoint open time was actually 1100, not 1300?

At this point I decided to stop and check the real time, even though the stop could potentially cost me a time-barred finish if it was indeed 1100.  I really needed the ass kicking machine from the first leg of the rally after I checked my next checkpoint sheet and discovered the true checkpoint open time of 1500.  At this point, it was too late to go back for Idaho and the oversleeping had eliminated Brock but I could still pick up Newark quite comfortably so plans were changed again.

The Newark bonus was slightly vague.  Riders needed to take a picture of “that building” east of Newark on highway 16.  We’d know it when we saw it.  Nels took a picture of the courthouse, which wasn’t “that building.”  The Longaberger building was clearly that building.  From the signs around the area I’m certain that the Newark area is famous for picnic baskets of all sorts.  The Longaberger company decided to pay tribute to this legacy by architecting their office building in the likeness of a picnic basket – complete with handles.  The local authorities must have anticipated the desire of passersby to take pictures of this fine structure as the roadsides were clearly marked as “no stopping on the roadside for any reason.”  After about three wrong turns I found the correct entrance to get me to the parking lot and snapped my last photo of the rally.

I purposely got lost on my way to Pickerington and had a nice relaxing ride on some neat roads between Newark and Columbus.  I rolled into the final checkpoint at 1400, fully rested and feeling pretty good about my ride.  Especially about the finishing part.  All told on the last leg I scored 10,027 points.  I left over 1000 points on the table thanks to my sleeping ugly impression.  I figured it was enough to get me back into the top 10, Adam and Eddie both figured higher at the scoring table but I was just happy to have my first beer in a week and share stories with the other riders.

In the end, I couldn’t catch Kiecker. Bart finished strong but I was able to secure third place by a slim point margin over Bob Hall.  While I couldn’t be happier with the finish, that hindsight thing keeps gnawing at me.  The awards ceremony was a lot of fun and it was great to see Bill Davis get a much deserved standing ovation for his incredible ride.  This year Adam and Eddie had obviously learned a little something about everyone and spent a time talking about every rider, which was cool because we all got to learn something about them too.  I still don’t know what happened to some of the people that didn’t finish or why they didn’t: Ron Ayres for instance.

The Butt Lite 2 was my best rally to date, both in finishing position and enjoyment factor.  Adam and Eddie do a terrific job of putting together an enjoyable rally (although Adam’s pointed omission of my final leg ride in his reports from the road has me feeling sad). (Your results speak for themselves. -editor) My thanks to them and especially to the volunteers, I hope everyone had as much fun as I did.

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Reproduction or duplication in any form without our express permission is prohibited. 
The "Ironbutt" name and logo used by permission of the Ironbutt Association.
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