Thursday, August 24th
Dan, (the younger), still has no schedule for departure to Ohio. He is thinking of going to work Friday.
Friday, August 25th
I do not go to work. I decide to take some time, relax, get ready, and take an easy ride to Ohio. Wait for Dan? I would like to ride down with him.
Puttz and pack.
Hmmm, maybe I can rig a clever push-to-talk for my CB. The homemade headset that was completed yesterday is neat and sounds good.
I think I have done enough radio work. I lost all ability to transmit but I still have receiving. I also managed to get hot solder in my left eye once, 3 times on the face, and 8 burns on the hands and arms from the iron. My very nice very large flashlight will now be much easier to identify with the splat of solder melted into and covering half the plastic lens. Enough improvements, no more, it's time to ride.
I call Dan; he may leave soon, maybe.
Ohio is southeast; I head northwest. My lawn in Warrens, Wisconsin needs mowing.
Lawn is mowed, Dan rolls in, and we ride southeast.
Dinner at Kegel's Motorcycle Shop, Rockford, Illinois.
Kegel's has a great shop. They are one of the first franchised Harley-Davidson Dealers and they are also a BMW dealer. (If you are silly enough to want to buy a Harley-Davidson Motorcycle, you can do it here for $1,000 over Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price.) Food is OK, atmosphere is great. The ladies working the restaurant Friday night get a kick out of our strip act as we remove our Aerostitch. They are disappointed when Dan stops with the Stitch.
Somewhere south of Rockford, Illinois, my tour pack opens, quite on its own, and an intended experiment in comfort departs, leaving me more space for dirty laundry.
Saturday, August 26th
After a nice motel sleep and an easy ride, we roll into Reynoldsburg, Ohio about 14:00. We check-in, do all the necessary things like insurance and registration check, odometer check, fuel cell check, exhaust noise check, then have a beer. This year I gave up my "pizza-box", the plastic fuel cell so named by One-thumb, for a custom designed aluminum cell by Fuel-Safe. (Eddie thought he was the only one stupid enough to pay the price for an aluminum cell.) After a few beers I start whining about my CB. Dan, (the younger), says he'll fix it. I ask Eddie who is most likely to have a soldering iron. Eddie appears to think long and hard and after a nano-second responds, "Ahmet". I run around looking for Ahmet for a minute or two. Then, patient man I am, I run over to Wal-Mart and buy a soldering iron and solder. While there I pick up a little vice-grip that will serve to hold on my antenna that fell off on the way down here. Now I need a power cord and an outlet. The Lenox provides the power cord and we access power in Ahmet's room. Eddie was right, Ahmet has a solder gun, (that needs no outside power source), and just about everything else he might need to repair just about anything. Dan (the younger), takes a little less than a tenth of a second after the iron is hot an says, "There." Everything works, my clever push-to-talk and all.
Dan and I spend time Saturday and Sunday with Todd Witte. Todd's Harley is set-up "right" He seems to have everything. As a rider, he's one of the best. Todd is a relative newcomer to long-distance riding and the rally scene and he scores big. Todd asks questions of everyone, listens to what is said, wades through the bullshit, and comes up with conclusions that work for him. Waiting for the odometer check, I tell Adam that Todd has everything the big guys have and if he, (Adam), can think of something Todd should have that he doesn't, Todd will have it tomorrow. Adam looks at Todd's bike and says, "I don't see a direct satellite up-link". Todd shouts, "Where's a Radio Shack!" .
Todd really likes Wal-Mart. (That's another story, or 6.)
Sunday, August 27th
Dan's birthday. Skert's birthday, ?????(memory failure -- someone else's birthday, too, sorry 'bout that).
Wal-Mart is open 24 hours. I buy an oil drain pan, and change my oil.
Go for a ride.
Fill the fuel tanks.
too late for last odometer check
Bryce Ulrich arrives and has a most unhappy face, unlike the others here gathered.
At dinner I find out why.
Bryce had not arrived in time for mandatory pre-rally activities. Adam and Eddie put his future in the hands of the riders who had arrived in a timely manner. If the riders vote to allow Bryce to ride the rally, the rally masters have determined he will pay an additional $100 and will be time-barred for the first leg. Bryce has the ability and the expressed desire to win this rally. The time-barred first leg will make it extremely difficult for Bryce to win. If he rides, it will be because, although he came to win, he wants to ride. When the secret ballot vote is counted, the riders overwhelmingly vote to include Bryce in the Butt Lite II. Eddie is surprised.
(Bryce rode a damn fine rally, finishing 28th out of the 54 starters, having the ability to score on only three of the four legs.)
dinner's over -- route #1 is delivered -- mapping time
Dan is closing his computer, after mapping his route, about the time I'm unfolding my eighth map to find ?????? Hot Coffee is not on my maps. I have learned that Eddie's directions, although always perfectly clear to him, are often not clear to me. Hot Coffee is a must and #2 priority this leg. (#1 priority is getting to Baton Rouge). Dan has been sleeping for a while when I fold the maps and go to bed. At about the same moment as sleep arrives, so does a phone call from my wife. Dan is awakened. :(
Monday, August 28th
Do not mistake the Lenox Inn, and their fine service, for a fast food place. I am in and out of the restaurant a couple of times and I finally sit with Skert and a gentleman whos name escapes me. Terry Smith joins us. Good conversation, long wait.
Skert's food arrives, a full breakfast, and she is shoveling hard and fast. Terry goes to the rider's meeting, his food ordered, not delivered. I go to the rider's meeting late, just in time to get my route sheets, too late to hear any words of wisdom. I haven't been delivered my bill and although the gentleman sitting with us offered to pay, I can not allow that. I return to the restaurant to pay for my muffin and juice.
I review the additional routes and pack the bike. It is time to ride. Approaching the stop light just before the interstate I pull up beside Skert and ask if she is going to AMA. She says, "no, I've gott'a ride." She's right. Skert goes east I go west.
CB suffers total failure, no transmitter, no receiver.
In the wind and the day is going fine.
I blew off the first bonus of the day but now I'm collecting them one after another, ahead of schedule :)
In Hamilton, Ohio, there are a lot of riders and a lot more police officers.
In Nebraska, Indiana, an IBET rider takes my photo, with his camera and his film! WOW :) thanks.
Rome, Indiana, is the best of the day. A fine riding road takes me to the edge of the world, on the Ohio River, where the people do not know what time zone they are in or if they are on daylight-saving-time, nor do they care, it just doesn't matter. This is truly a beautiful place. What a fine ride. I will go back to Rome.
In Metropolis, Illinois I am so far ahead of schedule I wish I had waited for the AMA to open.
The sun begins to go down, as does my great rally bonus collecting experience.
Nashville is nowhere near Tiger Tail, Tennessee, but I know how to get to Memphis from Nashville.
It's a good thing I came to ride some miles.
My schedule is shot.
I'm tired and need rest.
Tuesday, August 29th
crack of dawn
I ask the street tough outside the gas station if he knows where Grace Land is. He points and smirks, "not from around here". Hmmm, him or me? Probably both. His directions are right on. I am on the road in nine minutes.
I am watching the clock, riding to Baton Rouge, hoping to make Hot Coffee.
I keep working the numbers in my head and blow off another bonus, (3rd lost opportunity). Approaching Jackson, Mississippi I know I can not make Hot Coffee and get to Baton Rouge on time. In Jackson, I exit the interstate in rush-hour traffic anyway, intent on collecting Hot Coffee. One hour and one-half mile later I chicken-out, U-turn around the cop at the accident and return to the interstate.
I arrive in Baton Rouge on time. If I had not followed two other riders in to the checkpoint, I would not have found it. Although disappointed I had not bagged Hot Coffee, I felt somewhat satisfied I had made the right decision to blow it off. If I could not follow the directions to the checkpoint, I could still be looking for Hot Coffee and giving Eddie way too much pleasure.
I am rolling the miles as planned. At the end of the first 24 hours I had logged over 1000 miles.
In Baton Rouge I have enough miles to cover the time of the window and time for mapping.
Mechanics at Herbert's Cycles attempt a fix on my CB with no positive results. I ride the Rally in silence.
After scoring, grabbing a bite of sub, and working on the CB, I have little time. I want to rest. I talk to Pauline Ralston, who has been resting next to me.
New opportunities are presented. I am running back to the bike to get more maps to add to the pile I am working on in the show-room when Allen Dye asks me to join him and, "show him how to map the winning route" Fat chance I could show one of the top riders anything. I was flattered Allen made such a comment. Although I could not offer anything useful to Allen, I sure as hell could learn something. I don't think there is enough room for all my maps on that computer table.
I like the multi-day legs and head north, hoping to beat the heat.
I stop in Arkansas to rest and prepare for the next day.
I opt for a motel as large biting bugs begin to lunch on me at a gas stop and I remember a similar experience last year in Mississippi.
Wednesday, August 30th
I snag the Tulsa, Oklahoma bonus minutes behind my son, (according to his ride report).
On to Groom, Texas. (I wonder how Dan went from Tulsa to Colorado.) I ride into Groom on Route 66, just like the old days. Although Eddie says Groom is right on I-40, it is not. I gas and ask the station owner, "what is your largest religious structure?" He considers the question and responds, "Well, the Baptist Church is big, but the Catholic Church is probably bigger." A customer, who is a "local", confirms what the station owner says. I get directions and head for the churches. In route I ask no less than 6 other locals the same question. The response is much the same, 5 conclude the Catholic Church is the largest, 3 say the Baptist Church is the largest. I suspect I can guess where they attend. The Methodist Church is not even in the running.
After careful inspection of all the religious structures in Groom, Texas, I photograph the Catholic Church and the Baptist Church. The Catholic Church because it is the largest by volume. The Baptist Church because it is the largest by area. Well satisfied I have done everything I can, and knowing that I do not have what Eddie wants, I head west on Route 66. I reconsider. I want a number of daylight opportunities in Colorado. I had better hit the super-slab and run some miles. I U-turn and head north through Groom to the new access to I-40. Coming off the entrance ramp at highway speed I see the biggest damn telephone pole I've ever seen. I hit the brakes and slide to the side.
Eddie wants this! Even if it's not IN Groom.
I'm glad Texas doesn't have much open range, at least around Groom. It probably took less time getting my rally flag off the barbed wire than it would have taken me to chase it across the open range.
As I enter Colorado I watch a most beautiful sunset. I like this a lot, but I would have preferred to see it AFTER I scored the daylight only bonuses.
Am I the only one who visited 5 gas stations in "Denver" before I found one IN "Denver"?
(To find them, I found 14 roads to now-where and 6 roads that returned me to where I started.)
Dan rides in, grabs his Denver gas receipt, and is heading out looking for sleep. I start to whine about how long I've been riding around "Denver", but all I get is, "Yea, yea, I don't see what the problem is here. Let's go sleep. We need to climb a mountain in the morning."
(This was one of those magic things that happen. During the Minnesota 2000 I met Dan in Lusk, Wyoming. We were traveling different routes and we were both off our schedules. Here we are again. We are traveling different routes and we are both off our schedules. In both cases, he showed up when I needed him. In both cases he renewed me and set me back on track.)
The Days Inn in Golden, Colorado, has a very special night clerk who can pick a fight with anyone. I think this guy could provoke a flower-child to war. He must love living this close to Boulder.
We bunk at the Hampton Inn.
Thursday, August 31st
Bikers at the gate, waiting for St. Peter, or anyone, to open the gate.
The gate is opened.
We rush to the base of the... how many steps?
"Oh, you're taking your Stitch off?"
"It's not 07:00, can we do this yet?"
We argue about what time it is and what we can and can not be doing, for 15 minutes.
These guys all know there is plenty of time to make Center City. I'm not so sure, but I do so love Center City and it's been so long since I've been there. I can not keep up with the Beemers going up the mountain on I-70, but I have them in sight at the exit. Up the best road of the day. I remember this road narrower, with more washouts, and more corners banking to the outside. The unprotected edge with the many foot drop into the view below always gets the blood flowing. I also remember many more Model-As and other autos from the past at the bottom of this ridge. Maybe Eddie had it graded for us :) Riders split at a fork in the road. Dan and Nels are gone up the mountain. I'll wait, see who turns back. It doesn't take long for Bryce to return and follow Dan and Nels, with a Harley on his tail. Knowing Center City is over the next ridge, and seeing a construction site with a developed parking lot, I head for the view. I shoot a couple of photos, eat, drink, pee, and figure I've waited long enough and saddle-up. The smart guys probably figured out that there is a nice blacktop on the other side of Center City and are long gone. I like the 8 miles of mining road I just came up, so back down I go. Faster. Nice ride. Eddie never wants to hear about roads once traveled but if anyone else does, I can tell you about mountain roads as good as this and some maybe better. I love the mountains, canyons, and deserts. I ride the super-slab way too much.
I swing through Richfield, Utah, collect a gas receipt, negotiate rush hour traffic entering Salt Lake City, and work my way through construction to photograph the tree sap in Salt Lake City.
With my City map of Salt Lake City, another rider and I find our way to check point #2.
I learn Dan, Nels, and Bryce also rode down the mountain from Center City, the same way we went up.
I learn Allen Dye did not make it. I'm sad.
Time to change my oil again, which I do in a few minutes.
I learn Pauline Ralston was killed. I'll remember Pauline.
Route sheets for leg three are distributed.
By the time I read the route sheets to figure out there is a local bonus to collect, it's 5 minutes to the end of the window of opportunity. First bonus of the third leg lost.
I map, reflect, and sleep.
Friday, September 1st
On the road again.
Little America and Laramie are easy interstate bonus points. I provide roadside service to a Honda ST1100. I hope he records this gas stop, even if I didn't issue a time stamped receipt. Outside Medicine Bow I get to run some gravel to the windmills. Not a challenge, but better than the interstate. I see where Dan adventured into the Wyoming prairie during the Minnesota 2000. Remembering his story, I don't try the same thing when I blow past the turn like he did. Instead I try a power slide for a 180. I used to be able to do this. Maybe it's the bike. The dinosaur domicile is an easy take on the way to Lusk from Medicine Bow. I wish for a better place to pee. Best ride of the day is found on the way to Mother Featherlegs Monument. This road and the road to Center City get my vote for the "Best of the Rally". I'd rather not choose between them.
I follow Nels and another Beemer across the prairie to the monument. Beemer riders are peg-standing and motoring at 30 mph. I didn't know Beemers went that slow for that long.
"What do we do with this sign-up sheet?"
"I'll take it to Eddie since he has numbers 1 through 16 and I'm the 16th rider."
"What about all the others who are on their way here?"
"Only Adam and Eddie know."
Not wanting to eat more Beemer dust, and itching for some fun, I do what needs to be done, fire up the Hawg and head out. Too bad the speedometer runs off the front wheel. I could log 30 miles on this 10 mile stretch if it were on the rear. I crank it as hard as I can. I almost lose it on a corner I forgot. Open-range speed-bumps, in this case Black Angus, give me an opportunity to test my brakes. That cow was not sleeping in the road when I came in. I used to be able to do this faster. Maybe it's the bike.
Back on the pavement I go into cruise mode. Shortly, Beemers blow past, I try to keep up. The beating I gave the Harley so far this ride on the back-roads and off-roads seems to have improved the handling :) I keep taillights in site through Wyoming and some of South Dakota. I must have a tail wind. I run out of gas. Beemers keep running and top the next ridge to be seen no more. What a great day :) Sometimes I can almost want one of them motorcycles.
With a fresh load of fuel I return to cruise mode as the sun goes down and the winds pick up and shift to coming hard out of the west. Too late for Aladdin, I cross into North Dakota and storms. Too late for the Enchanted Highway, I pass another lost bonus. I need sleep but do not find the rest area I know is there. Sometimes I'm just too smart for my own good. I pull off on an exit with no services. These exits are usually quite places to catch a combat nap in this part of the world. I settle on top of the bike for some needed rest. The wind buffets me as the rain is driven in waves. I have the bike leaning into the wind on the side stand and the rocking motion is nice. Well, it's nice until one gust of wind stands the bike up straight. The bike settles gently back to the side stand and I determine it's time to ride. (Who needs them Screaming Meany things anyway?) This is, after all, a tail wind, I'm rested, and Fargo's calling.
A mile down the road I pass the rest stop, with its very nice building, a shelter from the storm. I exit at New Salem for a photograph of a cow. No daylight only requirement here. I pull under the protection of a gas station canopy to check the time and a map. The attendant inside looks a little worried as he gazes out at me. My clock is waterlogged, not working, so I get a back-up out of my saddlebag. I check the time and return it to its protected environment. I check the map and likewise secure it. I look toward the hill where I know the cow stands. I know it's out there. I can almost see the lights through the storm. I look at the weather, I think about water proof cameras and chasing rally flags across Texas and I return to the interstate without the photograph of the cow, thus blowing off the last bonus point of this leg. I really want to stop in Chamberlain for bonus points and a rest, but I'm in the wrong Dakota.
Saturday, September 2nd
At exactly the end of day 5 I log a gas stop in Fargo. I have been watching the miles and the time carefully. I have over 5000 miles in 5 days. I do not have enough miles "in the bank" to cover the Fargo checkpoint stop and mapping time. I have time to go for a ride, or I just may have to get lost again, on the way to Reynoldburg. I wish I had not had that thought.
I ride into the checkpoint and do my paperwork. As I am working to score myself, folks start to prepare breakfast; what a great smell. I haven't eaten anything hot since........
When Adam and Eddie scored me on the Mother Featherlegs bonus, Adam asked if I had seen the sign-in sheet.
I think they really wanted to see someone other than a rally rider sign in.
I find Dan's motel room to get some sleep. I have almost 2 hours before the next route sheets are handed out. I remember the smell of breakfast cooking; what a great smell. I haven't eaten anything hot since.....
I wake up to discover Dan got payback for my wife's call the night before the start. Dan had set the alarm for 1 hour. I bet all that good food is gone and the mess is cleaned up. I go back to sleep thinking of that great smell. I haven't eaten anything hot since.....
I get to the riders' meeting as the route sheets are handed out, too late for any words of wisdom.
I learn that I do not have to actually ride my motorcycle into a checkpoint to be timed in and scored.
I head back to Dan's room to map my ride to Ohio.
I want Lone Rock, Iowa, and then McGregor, Iowa, before sundown. Dan tells me to grab Mankato, Minnesota, on the way. I don't think I have time to do that.
I remember I-35 vs. 169 on the first day of the Butt Lite and opt for 169 this time. (Dan ran into some heavy traffic on I-35. We picked up all his motorcycle parts, found 169, and continued.) I blow through Mankato, leaving a nice bonus uncollected. As I pass through Windom I get the sense there may be something wrong. I see another rider cut off on 71. Why? I stop to check the map. Hmmm, looks like I managed to collect some of those needed miles again. Now I'm worried about the time it's going to take to get to the farm. McGregor is definitely a lost cause.
I'm not the last to arrive at the farm south of Lone Rock, but close. Good food. good company, and I stayed too long. My conversation with Eric Jewell helped me enjoy the rest of the ride and Will Outlaw was enjoying this stop even more than I was.
I am tired, discouraged, and in need of sleep.
Somewhere in Iowa I pay too much for a motel room.
Sunday, September 3nd
I don't think the night clerk believed me when I told her what my departure time was, but she had a fresh pot of coffee for me anyway.
I waited for the sun to rise to provide enough light for a city limit photo in Albia, Iowa.
I head for Independence, Kansas. The cabin is a replica, it's not the real thing. How come whenever I show up here no one is here, but before I can pee there's a crowd?
I have just enough time to get to Mansfield, Missouri, before the sun goes down.
In Mansfield, after the third pickup truck tries to make me a permanent part of the landscape, I think we must have really pissed these folks off somehow. Sun goes down as I photograph another grave.
Monday, September 4nd
The sun is shining as I photograph the best grave of the rally in the middle of the road near Franklin, Indiana. There are damn near as many police officers around here as there were in Hamilton, Ohio. Another rider arrives before I leave.
"When can we stop?" he pleads.
"Never," say I. "Once they get you into this stuff, you go 'till you die."
I ride east, calculating time and distance as I ride. It's time to head for the barn.
I know I can not make the end without penalty points if I stop one more time. In fact, with my riding style, I could get time barred if I go to Brock, Ohio. I remember what Eric said; I take the exit and head for Brock. It starts to rain. I photograph another grave and head south.
It takes me exactly the time that I knew it would to go to Brock and get back to the interstate. That means I'm in deep shit.
The rain gets harder.
Traffic gets heavier.
Poor to no visibility on I-70 as I go through Columbus.
Cars keep getting caught in an "exit only" lane they do not want and cut me off as they pull back into traffic.
I know I am going to miss the exit.
I have no clock in the rain.
Damn there it goes! I look for an exit to turn around.
I think I see an exit, I crowd the construction barriers on the right and ease onto the exit ramp.
I see the Lenox Inn. I made the correct exit, amazing.
It doesn't seem to be raining here.
I turn right at the light and ride past the turn into the Lenox.
U-turn, left turn, I'm in the parking lot and there's my grandchildren, wife, and mother-in-law. My granddaughter is jumping and waving wildly! What a fan club :)
As I pull around the building, everyone is very helpful making sure I get to Room 124 to stop the penalty clock. I don't even know where I am in the window.
Rider 127 arrives at 15:06, that's 7 minutes times 15 penalty points per minute. Hmmm, Brock stop equals net gain.
By the time I'm back at the bike my grandson has a beer in my hand.
I came intent on riding some miles. Did that.
to all those who did the work so I could play.
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