So, Ann rides with me to the Buckeye 1000 check-in on Friday.  She rides

the odometer calibration and we arrive at the AMA museum for the rider



While watching video she asks me, "Aren't you excited?"


"Not really, it's just another ride."


"I wish I was going."


"Really.  You want to go?"


Imagine Ann's look of, "Oh, shit maybe I shouldn't have said that!"


Well, she's going.


She may never be able to get on a bike again after this weekend!


Wish us luck!












(C) Copyright 2001 by Russell D. Stephan.  All rights reserved.






July, 2001.  Buckeye 1000.


As you all know, Ann and I ran the Buckeye 1000 this past weekend.


Nothing really too new for me, a completely new world for Ann, however.


Friday night we returned from the riders' briefing with a list of

preliminary bonus locations.  Ann and I charted them all on the various

state maps using red dot stickers about the size of a penny.  Since Ann

has the neater handwriting between the two of us, she labeled each dot

with the time requirements and point values.  We then did the

time/mileage calculations and came up with our base route.  Of course,

this was subject to change Saturday morning when additional bonus

locations were to be made available.


Ann was extremely excited.  I, however, was wondering about her

excitement level come hour number eighteen or so into the rally.  Would

she still be excited and happy to be participating?


I was really worried even though I kept it to myself.  If you'll

remember from two Spring's ago, Ann doesn't do well in strange and

tiring situations.  She gets, oh how can I say this delicately, a bit



The rally route I chose took advantage of big point values along routes

I travel regularly.  This was a big deal.  Since I was familiar with

these routes I would be able to predict the LEO presence and wick it up

when possible.  I also planned in high point value locations buried deep

in the more mountainous areas of West Virginia.  I was trying to stick

to my riding strengths.  Prior to calling it a night, I accessed the

Internet and checked my time/distance estimates with

Everything was checking out just fine.  I also decided to look over the

weather forecast.  End of July what could it be other than hot and

sticky? had a headline on their main page, "Big rain on tap for the

Ohio valley area."  Isn't that just fucking great?  Hey, a thunderstorm

or two isn't that big of a deal.  How bad could it be?  An hour or two

as the front moves through with its normal summertime quickness isn't

going to slow us down *that* much.


Saturday morning, Ann showed up at my place at 7:00am.  She informed me

she didn't sleep all that well since she was so excited.  I, however,

slept like a baby.  We loaded the bike, geared up, and chatted with the

neighbor across the street before heading to the east side of Columbus

for the start of the first running of the Buckeye 1000.


Once the Saturday morning bonus locations were made available, we

charted the new locations and modified our route accordingly.  Although

the route did change, it was still pretty close to what we planned the

night before.


Okay, here was our "plan".  Out of Columbus up to the Akron area for a

visit to a community fighting the proposed Marathon pipe line.  The

bonus was to answer the question, "What are we fighting for?"


Too bad you just can't answer the question without the accumulated

odometer miles.  You see, I ride by this very sign a dozen times a year

attending skydiving events in Rittman, Ohio.  As a matter of fact, Ann

and I drove by the drop zone and waved to the skydivers after we scored

the "Fight the Pipe" bonus.


We then spent a couple of hours heading south on I-77 for a visit to a

motorcycle dealership east of the I-77/I-70 split.  Now, here's where

reading comprehension plays a big part in rally competition.


The bonus question asked for the specific marquees the dealership sells.

I'm sure a number of riders got sucked into this particular Team Strange

"trap".  This small town had two dealerships.  The one visible from the

freeway and right off the Interstate exit was a Hardley/Buell/Yamaha

dealer.  However, the bonus question directions called for a dealership

northeast of the exit.  That dealership turned out to be a Honda

dealership with no freeway signage.  Ann and I even saw one rally rider

make the Hardley mistake.  I'll bet you that rider was kicking

themselves in the pants come route scoring.


In order to cover our collective asses, Ann and I decided to log a visit

to both dealerships in case there was a mistake on the bonus location

directions.  As it turned out, the more visible Hardley dealership was

the reading comprehension test trap!


Four hours into the rally and two hours east of Columbus, our next bonus

location was back in the Columbus area -- Lithopolis, Ohio actually.

The bonus was to purchase a quart of any motor oil from the Re-phycled

motorcycle shop.


I walked into the shop without taking my helmet off and approached the



"One quart of 10w-40 please."


The gentleman behind the counter asked me how the rally was going.  I

said it was going fine.  He said it didn't look like I was having fun.

I was surprised at his comment and replied that I've been in freeway

drone mode for the last six hours.  I paid for my oil and returned to

Ann and the bike with the quart and the receipt.


For the rest of the rally I wondered about the motorcycle shop owner's

comments.  Yes, I was having fun.  Yes, I was rather down-to-business

about acquiring the necessary oil purchase, but I didn't think I was all

that distant.


But, of course I was distant.  I was, after all, in the heat of battle.

Much like a marathon runner, I was waging a war against the dropping

grains of sand in the hourglass.  My mind was on get-in-and-get-out.

Besides, marathon runners usually don't look all that happy while

they're running.


This must have seemed rather strange to the shop owner.  He must have

been expecting me to be excited, happy, or chatty.  I was none of the



With the oil tucked in one of the ST's saddlebags (yes, the bonus

required the quart to be delivered for scoring), Ann and I were off for

a gas receipt in Marietta.


It was nine hours into the rally and we were kicking ass!  The arrival

at Marietta though, signaled a downward spiral for the protagonists of

this little adventure.


The rain started just as we were sitting at the stoplight at the end of

the southbound I-77 off-ramp.  And rain it did!  We missed most of the

heavy downpour as we fueled under the protective canopy of a Gas-n-go

station.  The Gas-n-go also offered up dinner in the form of a couple of

turkey sandwiches for me and a bowl of fresh fruit for Ann.


Up until this point, I hadn't noticed Ann's lack of drinking water or

eating for that matter.  It was the end of July.  It was fairly warm.  I

had been hitting the water bottle at each and every bonus/gas stop.  I

told her she had to drink something.  She did take a small hit of water

after my chide, but not much.  She then said that she was afraid of

drinking or eating too much and causing excessive bathroom break stops.

To tell you the truth, her thinking was spot-on, if not a little



We spent forty-five minutes under that Gas-n-go canopy as the rain

continued to fall.  I helped Ann put on her rain suit and we both geared

up for running with electrics.  However, Ann's rain suit did not have a

place to route the electric cord.  I figured with the rain suit over her

`Stich jacket and riding pants, she'd be just comfy without the Gerbing

electric jacket.


It was now time to enter rally hell!


The rain, the rain, the rain...  Jesus H. Christ!  It's fucking July!

This is an April rain!  And April it remained for the rest of our ride.


Riding two up for a twenty-four hour rally does have its advantages.

Hitting toll booths is a non-event.  Pull up to attendant and let the

pillion handle the coinage and receipt collection.  Detailed reading of

the map/rally sheet while rolling?  Hand the tank bag map holder to the

pillion.  3:00am sanity check when trying to locate a bonus?  That's

right, get the opinion of the pillion.  Of course, if you don't ask

nicely, you're likely to get your head ripped off by a sleep deprived,

thirsty, tired of the rain, reevaluating-her-decision-to-run-a-rally,

soon-to-be ex-girlfriend!


Our next bonus location was Sam Black Church, West Virginia.  Right off

the freeway is a historical marker detailing the only known murder

conviction obtained by the testimony of a ghost (the murder victim).


Now for the fun...


Our next bonus was to be obtained in New Castle, Virginia.  What is the

elevation written on the road sign at the top of Potts Mountain?


For those of you familiar with rain and high elevations, you can begin

to guess the hell Ann and I were about to enter.  Rain on the freeway is

one thing.  Rain, blindingly thick fog, mountain twisties are a

completely different depth of deep dog poopy.


Up until this particular bonus, we were making seriously good time

despite the bad weather.


The Potts Mountain climb had Ann extremely worried.  Here it was 1:00am

in the morning and I had been riding for fourteen hours straight.  The

fog was so thick that even with my 600 watts of after-market lighting

upgrades, I could only see twenty to thirty feet ahead on the

treacherously winding roads of US-311.


At one point she yelled at me, "This is scaring me.  How much further?"


"It's scaring me too.  My guess is another two hours.  We're going to

keep it slow.  We'll make it."


Needless to say, Ann didn't feel comfortable enough to do *any* sleeping

during the Potts Mountain bonus.


The Potts Mountain weather really put a dent in our route schedule

considering I was putting along at fifteen to twenty five miles an hour

most of the time.  This bonus would have been unavailable had I not had

the extra lighting capability installed on the ST.


The next bonus was at the intersection of I-81 and I-77 in Virginia.

This location also caused us a big time delay.  The rally requirement

called for the wording from two brass plaques mounted on a stone marker.

The problem was the marker was located far enough off the road to not be

visible at night.  We passed the marker at least six times before

stumbling on it.  We also had been up the access road to the marker in a

previous attempt to locate it.  Communication between Ann and I

certainly did suffer the effects of frustration and fatigue. Ann

described me as being snippy.  I characterized her as being exceedingly



At one point during our marker bonus quest, I had Ann go into a mini-

mart and ask the two working clerks for directions and marker

verification.  They verified the location of the stone marker (it was,

after all, only a half a mile away from the gas station, you can't miss

it).  However, even they didn't tell us it wasn't visible from the road

at night!


Ann also got to suffer the never-ending questions from the clerks.  Now,

Ann is a little too nice to be short with people (I seem to be the only

exception to this rule, though).  However, it was a rally and we had

things to do.  I could tell she was getting rather frustrated with the

curious seekers' delay as I observed her through the glass of the mini-

mart interacting with the clerks.


We finally found the marker.  During the day it would have been obvious.

At night, however, it was an hour challenge to locate it.


Prior to arriving at this bonus location, I also felt the effects of

diminished mental capacity due to fatigue.  I misread the map *and* the

bonus location description and took a little ten mile detour on I-77



I pulled off to a gas station to consult my map again and Ann informed

me she was getting chilly even with the rain suit on.  No doubt, her

tired state was amplifying her chill.  She took her helmet off to reveal

the look of death warmed over.  I don't think I've ever seen her eyes so

red or her face so tired.  Under the harsh lights of the gas station's

canopy, she was even approached by another woman concerned about her

condition.  "How can you stand to ride on the back of that thing in this



In order to get her plugged in to the bike's electrical system, I had to

make a cut in the rain suit's material next to the main zipper.  The

Velcro storm flap should keep most of the weather from finding the small

controller cord access incision.


Our next fun was located at an exit near Beckley, West Virginia.

Actually, I should say my fun location.


I was searching for West Virginia state route 3 to lead me to state

route 99 and the final destination of Man, West Virginia.  I chose the

wrong exit off I-77.  Then after rectifying that miscalculation, I

doubled back down route 3 only because I second guessed myself.  A stop

at a mini-mart produced seriously wrong directions from a local.  I was

still lucent enough to know this helper was completely wrong in his

advice.  Never get directions from someone with booze on his breath!

Finally, at 4:30am, we rolled into Man, West Virginia to a road block.


Man, West Virginia is a place that receives little if any outside

visitors.  The old woman manning the DOT road block only barked, "South

Man" when I approached her about directions.  When I tried to explain

that I wasn't from around here and had no idea about what she was

talking about she repeated her "South Man!" growl.


Apparently, there is a "suburb" of Man called South Man.  On our detour,

we stumbled on the Man, West Virginia High School to answer the

question, "What is the Man, West Virginia High School mascot?"  The

answer is, "The Hillbillies."


By this time it was apparent that our rally hopes to place respectable,

were in the toilet.  Ann was miserably tired and the mental effort of

fighting the mountain roads through the fog, high water, and wrong turns

had done its damage on me.


I needed a break, and it certainly wouldn't hurt Ann to catch a few

winks.  I set a screeching alarm timer for one hour and twenty minutes.

The alarm starts chirping at ten minutes before full blast fog horn

activation so the twenty extra minutes would translate into a full

hour's sleep.  Right there in Man, West Virginia at the high school's

main entrance, Ann and I fell asleep on the hard concrete protected from

the rain by the doorway's overhang.


I awoke forty minutes after I put my head down.  Ann had moved from a

sitting position with her back against the glass doors of the school to

being on her side using only her wet leather gloves as a pillow.  She

looked so comfortable I didn't have the heart to awake her before the

alarm went off.  I spent the next twenty minutes walking around the

school and eating things from the cargo hold of the ST.


Ann started to stir a few minutes prior to the alarm's first warning

chirp.  She was amazed at just how comfortable concrete can be when

you're really tired!  The nap seemed to do her a world of good for her

mood.  The sleep also made a big difference in my mental sharpness.  I

could tell as we started with the mountain roads again as we left Man,

West Virginia.


For those of you twisty pilots out there, state route 10 from Huntington

West Virginia to Man, West Virginia is seriously good time.  This road

is one worth exploring during non-rainy daylight hours!


At the end of our state route 10 travels Ann head thunked me really hard

during a braking maneuver for curve indicating her still sleepy state.

Rather sternly, I told her to hang on for three more hours.  Give me

just three more hours of alertness and we'll be done with this.


For the rest of the trip back to Columbus, she managed to stay awake and

not clunk me again.


At a map examination stop prior to picking up US-23 in Kentucky for the

final push back into Columbus, I asked Ann if she needed to change

anything with her gear (she still had the rain suit on and it was

starting to warm up).  She looked like she was at her limit and wanted

everything to be over.  It reminded me of someone not wanting to pause

for fear of being able to continue on.  The tone in her response

indicated I had better not ask her too many more questions either.


Once back in Columbus we organized our paperwork and waited in line to

be scored.  Once it became our turn to get "verified", we discovered we

failed to fill out the proper scoring end sheet form.  We had to forfeit

our place in line and return to the ST to add that necessary piece of

paper to our document pile.  This final snafu was a little too much for

Ann.  She needed some time to her self away from the hassles and demands

of the rally.  With Ann off and dealing with her fatigue induced demons,

I waited in the riders' scoring line again to get our paperwork



Forty minutes later, Ann joined me for our sit in front of a score

granter.  Everything went smoothly and there were no problems with any

of our bonus responses.


During all the end-of-rally cacophony, Katherine Becker showed up to

take in the rally finish arrivals.  It was nice to see another familiar

face among so many bikers.


The award banquet was the first real food we had eaten in 32 hours.  I

don't know if the food was really that good or not.  To me, however, it

was fantastic!  Of course, at that point I probably could have eaten dog

food and enjoyed it!


Ann has now qualified for her IBA Saddlesore award.  So have I.  I never

have been too key on the IBA awards because I've traveled those kinds of

miles before.  I don't need to have a certificate to make them real.  My

bike's odometer is good enough for me.  However, the rider/pillion

combined Saddlesore award is something I'm proud of.  Ann deserves

serious congratulations for sticking it out to the end despite the

miserable weather and the at-times-less-than-understanding doofus

piloting her mount.  To be honest, I don't think I could stand to be on

the back of a bike for 24 hours straight -- and I don't mind riding



A couple of interesting observations...


This was my first rally effort.  It was fun and enjoyable.  Will I do it

again?  Probably.  However, I have no desire to turn this into a major

focus of my riding effort.  Rallies are a little too rigid.  You lose

something from riding if all it becomes is a mode of transportation.

Rallies do, to some level, relegate a bike to basic transportation.  You

have to get from bonus "A" to bonus "B" in the quickest way possible.

To me, riding is mostly a fluid thing.  Pick a couple of must-see places

or planned visits then let the weekend flesh in itself in its own way.


Would I recommend a rally to other riders?  Certainly!  There is a

challenge inherent in running one of these events that lifts you beyond

your normally familiar performance envelope (mental and physical).


Ann was extremely impressed with the caliber of the riders at this

event.  She said it just had an air about it that said these are riding

professionals.  Her observations did make sense.  Compared to any other

collection of bikers (The Gap, Hoot, Homecoming, etc), these riders

rode, parked, moved, and handled their bikes with seasoned proficiency.

The contrast with your average collection of riders was stark.


Even if you don't have the desire to run a rally yourself, I would

suggest that you attend the start and end of one sometime just to get a

feeling for the event and its participants.


Another area where the level of experience was obvious was the group

riding during the early stages of the rally.  Ann and I had the

opportunity to ride with three other participants during our first bonus

location hunt.  It was like we were all hooked up via wireless

communication.  I knew these riders piloting moves like I had rode with

them for thousands of miles.  When, in actuality none of us had spent

any time together prior to this first bonus acquiring route leg.


Ann has said that she would like to run another rally sometime.  She now

knows what to expect and she says that the next time it should be a

little easier.  She also wants to re-read _Against the Wind_.  She says

the book will mean a little more to her because she "knows".  She still

can't comprehend eleven straight days of such riding though.


So, how far did we go?  Uncorrected odometer miles indicates 1,301

miles.  Considering how long we were crawling at a snail's pace through

West Virginia's mountain fog, this number really surprised me.


If they run the Buckeye 1000 next year it looks like we'll give it

another go.





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