Saturday, May 6, 2017

Gone dark…


You’re called a “Dark sider” when you mount a car tire or more appropriately a passenger vehicle tire on the back of a motorcycle. The phrase is also used for a video game you can play on the PC, Playstatopn 3 & 4, Xbox 360,  Xbox One and Wii U. I know nothing about Darksider the game series. But I have a little knowledge now about the act of running a car tire on the rear of a motorcycle. Specifically on the Yamaha FJR 1300 ES.

With the upcoming Iron Butt Rally to be held this summer, I’ve been pondering how I would get through the event without a tire change. You see, the FJR loves to eat my favorite tire of choice, the Michelin PR4. The best I could get out of one is around 10,000 miles. That will likely be 1,000 miles or more, short of the expected mileage for this summer’s event. So what to do…. I could just arrange to have a tire change done at one of the two check points but that would require me to get into the area early to reach a shop before they closed. If the check point was in the Houston area I MIGHT consider that but even then it would be unlikely. The next option would be to purchase a spare rim and mount a new tire ahead of time and have it delivered to the checkpoint. I could then change the complete rear wheel during a check point at the expense of rest time. Finally, there’s the option of mounting a passenger tire a.k.a. a car tire, on the motorcycle rim and not worrying about a tire change at all since these tires typically get 25,000 to 30,000 miles on them. I’ve even seen pictures of 32,000 mile tires that I probably wouldn’t have taken off unless I was going on an extended long ride like the IBR.

So last week I had a quiet afternoon and I took the opportunity to take off my fresh new PR4 with only 2,000 miles on it. I had a little difficulty with my NoMar tire changer and the new General G-MAX AS-03 205/50ZR-17 until I figured out that I needed to use my Posi-Clamps to get better clearance below the rim. Then the tire virtually fell on. Fabricating a new brake arm was as easy as drilling two holes in a piece of flat bar and painting it.

This morning I had the rare opportunity to be responsibility free so I could go for a ride. I took the bike out on my regular 100 mile “shake down” route. I like to use this route for anything I add to my riding setup. It’s long enough to help me identify problems, but close enough to the house that I don’t have to suffer when things aren’t working or need changing. The route has a mix of urban stop lights, interstate and back country roads with plenty of twists and turns.

Before embarking on this idea of going against the motorcycle tire status quo, I talked to several riders who had already made the switch. I listened to their opinions and comments about the choice. The general consensus was that it would take about 500 miles for me to develop the muscle memory of the differences. I don’t consider myself any sort super rider but it took less than 100 miles for me to get perfectly comfortable with this new set up.

First thing I had heard was that a car tire makes the motorcycle handle funny at low speeds.  As I left the drive way I noticed it required slightly more handgrip pressure to weave back and forth. It felt as if there was a spring trying to return me to straight up vertical. After a stop at the nearby gas station for fuel and a few more turns the sensation seemed to disappear. It didn’t feel any worse than riding on a worn tire that had seen really long stretches of Interstate.

The next thing was “tracking” while going down the road at freeway speeds. I’d read some engineer types talking about how the large, flat surface of the rear tire would make the bike track funny. Well guys, put your slide rules and scientific calculators away. The bike tracked just fine at my normal cruising speeds on the highway. In fact, I noticed with the cruise control set, it was even easier to ride hands-free for longer periods of time.

What about cornering? Surely I wouldn’t be able to corner like I could on a motorcycle tire. I evaluated this from two points. First, how did it feel when I was in a corner? And was it confidence inspiring or the opposite? I was quite pleased to discover that cornering wasn’t really affected EXCEPT!!!! Back in my MSF instructor days, we always taught students to keep a steady throttle through corners because when you rolled off the throttle the bike wanted to stand up.  That was in the curriculum but personally I felt like when you rolled off or chopped the throttle, the bike wanted to fall down. That was the sensation I experienced anyway. With the car tire, when I rolled off in a corner, it definitely wanted to STAND UP! At first, I noticed the increased and sustained handgrip pressure through corners.  However, after riding through a few sweepers I realized the increased pressure wasn’t all that great. In fact, I discovered I could set the cornering line and take my hands off the grips (with cruise set of course) and the bike would follow through the corner. So much for needing a rounded motorcycle tire to keep a rider going through a corner successfully.

There was one exciting thing I noticed about the new tire though. When I got into some deeply grooved payment in a construction zone, the bike struggled to track. it was exciting. The larger rear tire seems susceptible to debris and even the lane markers more so than regular tires. I was happy to find out that transitioning up and down uneven pavement layers in construction zones wasn’t any different than on a regular motorcycle tire.

My conclusion…. this is going to work just fine for me this summer. If I was taking the bike to a track day or a Lee Parks performance riding class, I’d put on a motorcycle tire. But for street riding like we do in the long distance community this is just fine for ME. You might be different. After the IBR, I’ll probably leave the tire on until it wears out. After that I’ll likely put that slightly used PR4 back on and wear it out. Afterwards, it’s anyone’s guess what I’ll do. Geeesh! It’s at least 37,000 miles from now Smile

Happy riding.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

RnR 2017–The Rally I almost never started


I’m setting at home after returning from the rally and trying to decide how to tell this story. I think this time I’ll start at the end, first!


Woohoo!  It’s taken me 5 years in this crazy sport to finally get one of these. The only thing that could have made it sweeter is if my rally friends Steve Bracken and Rex Legally could have been in the line up with me.


So this rally almost WASN’T. My riding level for 2017 has been as sparse as blog posts on here. I had only managed to take the bike out for one ride in March to scout some bonuses for another rally. Even that seemed like a struggle to find time for. There’s been lots of other things on my plate this year with the efforts to open a new business later this fall (lease negotiations, building plans, equipment shopping, etc…) and then my Mom got a nasty medical diagnosis followed by a significant surgical procedure. I just didn’t feel like I deserved to go ride around on my motorcycle for a weekend. But the rally master knew better. A friendly message to find out where my pre-rally bonus submissions were did the trick. I sent in what I needed to and started to prepare.

Preparation for this rally meant a few things; I needed to get my bike inspected and registered again, I needed to put on new tires (from last year!), I needed to order new riding pants (darn drier shrunk my old ones) and I needed to finish RallyMan! What????? you ask. That’s right, after last summer, I tinkered with my spreadsheet program trying to figure out how to make it better and then promptly shoved it into a folder and forgot about it.

Since I had made a promise back in August to share my routing system with a friend for this season I had to put it in high gear and shake out the cob webs in the program. As luck would have it, I found myself with an empty house the weekend before the rally so I went on a programming bender and hammered out lots and lots of bugs. I was determined I was going to ride a route that my program generated, so the program had to be right.

On Monday before the Rally started I had a working RallyMan system, with a settings page that looked like this:


Since the program queries Google Maps for the times and distances between bonus locations, I needed to decide what Speed Correction I would use. This correction is applied to the Average speed of the trip between two bonuses, not just the adjustment to the speed limit sign. Going too far with this setting can ruin the effectiveness of the whole program. This time I was only going to bump up the correction by  +2 miles per hour for any segment with an average speed of 60mph or higher. I also opted to take the full rest bonus at 30 points per minute!Schedule1

With the changes made and a little tweaking to find the best zip codes (that was done by hand) I had a route I was happy with totaling 43,622 points if I could ride it and find something purple along the way. So I loaded my GPS, my tablet and PoiPocket. Then proceeded to book my room and pack. I didn’t really touch the route before the start of the rally. I did however continue to tweak on the RallyMan program because I wasn’t happy with it’s mid-rally re-calculate abilities.

Of course, I had to keep working on my regular job plus keep things moving with the contractor and landlord for the new business. And I remained worried about my Mom and her recovery.

Finally Thursday comes, I rolled the bike out of the garage, thumb the starter and ride out of the neighborhood for my first rally of 2017 and only my second ride of the year. My trip up to the start in Paris, TX would take me by my parents house so I stopped in to visit for a couple of hours and see how Mom was doing. Then I continued up to Paris, scouted the 2 bonuses in town, found an ATM right next to the start bonus and picked up a few groceries from Wal-Mart before checking into the Quality Inn.

After dinner with many of the Paris starters, I looked into an aux lighting problem and once I determined I wasn’t going to fix it in time, I buttoned up the bike and proceeded to catch up with friends. This sport is as much a social gathering as it is about the riding. Many of these people I only get to see a few times a year.  I turned in early because I knew the next two days would be long ones.

I was up just after 4am, got ready and enjoyed a cup of coffee with my breakfast. Then I slipped out of the parking lot just before 5am. Since there was an ATM in the same parking lot as the first bonus, I knew that would save lots of time but I also knew I wanted to be first in line to take advantage of the proximity. Waiting 2 or 3 minutes wouldn’t be any better than getting a gas receipt 1 mile down the road. When I arrived at the ATM, I wasn’t surprised to find I was the first one there. LOL.

Lonnie McCoy was the first rider to show up followed by Bob Bowman. During our conversation while waiting I mentioned that the ATM was really only going to be a benefit to the first 3 or 4 riders, after that the delay would make it ineffective. Bob commented, “If three minutes is going to break your rally, you are already done.”  I didn’t say anything, but I knew that my rally schedule was timed to the minute.

6AM arrived, I got my start receipt and in short order I had the STARTTX bonus collected as well. I headed over to EAGL11 and then proceeded to get out of town.



On the way out of town, Waze seemed to have a different idea about routing to the next bonus, so I switched over to Google Maps and stayed with it for most of the rally. The delay out of town was minimal and by the time I reached my next bonus I was already ahead of schedule.

The next three were Zip code bonuses which were effectively wild cards. We had to find post offices that displayed the city, state and zip code on the building. In return we collected the points equal to the last three digits, ie 559 points for zip code 75559 in Dekalb, TX.






After collecting the Arkansas Zip code bonus, I was 17 minutes ahead on my route. This was a great start to my rally. I knew anything could go wrong throughout the day, but it was nice to have time in the rally bank so early.  Next up it was a stop at the Arkansas Diamond state park followed by a lucky purple sign to get my 500 point RAIN bonus in honor of Prince and finally the Bauxite Miner Family Statue. I was 35 minute ahead of schedule after the BMFS bonus!


So far the weather was holding out for me, with cloudy skies and comfortable temperatures although I knew it was only a matter of time before I’d eventually find some rain.

I finally found that rain as I rolled into Little Rock, Arkansas to collect 3 bonuses in the area, EAGL10, ARSUB and MGAS. I had looked up the name of the Submarine before I got there which made it easier to find the sign with the submarine’s name which was what the bonus instructions said to take a picture of. In hindsight, it appears I probably should have done these in the order of MGAS, EAGL10 and ARSUB, rather than backwards as I did. None the less, even with the rain, I left MGAS with 31 minutes of extra time.


From Little Rock, I headed north and started to drive out of the rain. I was wondering if my program had made a mistake because it seemed crazy to be riding so far for just the 423 points of BOYTR. But I followed the plan, picking up EAGL9 along the way. At BOYTR I enjoyed a benefit from using Poi Pocket and point to point routing. I noticed that ABBY was less than 1 mile away. In fact when I tried to route to it, Google Maps defaulted to Walking rather than Driving. This was a HUGE gain for me. In very short order I added 680 points to my rally. And even with the unexpected bonus, I was still ahead by 30 minutes.


It was time to head south to Memphis and pick up a few bonuses there. I thought the extra time was going to be helpful because it’s always time consuming to collect bonuses in major metro areas. I picked up REDROCK along the way and then landed downtown to grab SREC.  I got lucky on that one as I was able to snag the picture while at the light, then I pulled over to a driveway to make the submission. Interestingly, my program had routed past MTBF, MTES and MEBC equal to a total of 567 points.  I wasn’t going to second guess my route but did want to look into the problem once I stopped for my rest bonus later in the evening.


When I left Memphis I still had 26 minutes of extra time on my side. That was a good thing too. Because once I dropped onto South 3rd Street out of Memphis it was slow going for a while. I might have been better to take I-55 south to I-69 West but I was following the fastest route between Google Maps and the Garmin. I collected GBVC, MDCX and DOKSS fairly easily while managing to get back up to 31 minutes ahead of schedule.


The next bonus along the way was KTFG, in which I had to get a photo of me with a large Kermit the Frog. I had allocated 10 minutes for this bonus because I needed to take off my helmet, deal with a possibly chatty business person and so forth.  I was relieved and a little disappointed to discover the place had closed early. But I was able to get the bonus after calling the rally master. That really helped my time. I then collected ZIPMS753 and BFCAF which put me 43 minutes ahead of schedule!


The extra time helped to ease my nerves as I rode into Jackson, MS. for the MBTL bonus. The instructions said to take a photo of a woman standing next to the phone booth holding my rally flag. I knew this bonus was going to be difficult for me as I really don’t like asking strangers for help. And I also don’t like taking off my helmet during a rally, but knew I really needed to do it so I’d appear less threatening in my “Power Ranger” suit. I had 15 minutes allocated for the bonus and used just about every minute of it. I asked a few different ladies until I finally peaked the curiosity of one woman and she agreed to hold the flag if I didn’t show her face in the photo. Deal!!!


I left Jackson as quickly as I could, feeling very relieved that I had managed to get the bonus. I was 47 minutes ahead at this point.  When I arrived in Pontotoc, MS for the BTPC bonus, I was surprised to find Lonnie there as he was at KTFG the last time we had spoken on the phone. He opted not to go to Jackson. Good choice I think…   He helped me with my photo and I helped him with his. Then I headed to Tupelo for my last bonus before the Rest bonus.  Somehow, even though I left before him, I ended up pulling in behind him at the TUPE bonus.  No matter! We got our photos and then collected a start receipt for the REST bonus. The receipt showed 23:11 as my start time. Then both of us struggled to find a nearby hotel with any vacancies, eventually we found one about a mile away. $50 for a single was good enough for me!


During the rest bonus, I calculated I was 45 minutes ahead of schedule.  That was enough to put my ride back into RallyMan and see what it came up with using the extra time. With the lucky addition of ABBY earlier, I knew I had a 44,302 point ride if I just finished what I had. And with the rain that it looked like I was certain to hit, it seemed like a safe option. But I was 45 minutes AHEAD OF SCHEDULE!!! This never happened in a rally. So I opted to keep 15 minutes of wiggle room in my route and use the remaining to see if RallyMan could find a better route while I showered.

It didn’t turn out as slick as I had hoped, because the program didn’t find anything much while I was in the shower but it had added a few points. At this point I started to examine the route closely around Nashville. It only had me stopping at BTOB for 264 points and skipping the other 3 bonuses worth 1,289 points!  Hmmmm, this is similar to what happened in Memphis. As I looked Schedule2into why this was happening, I discovered it was due to a Division by Zero error in the spreadsheet because the distance between bonuses was less than 1 mile so my Google routine returned 0 miles and 0 minutes. Oooops!  I manually corrected these locations in Nashville assuming each would take me 7 minutes because of the stop lights and such.  This was enough! If I could ride the plan, I’d come in with 45,000+ points which I was pretty sure would get me in the top 2 or 3. So I loaded my Garmin with the new route and went to sleep for a few hours.

I had my alarm set 45 minutes before I needed to collect my REST End receipt. I wanted to check the weather and adjust my route if need be. But the weather looked like it would play into my favor and I might actually miss the worst of the front as I headed East to the Space Shuttle. I went back to the gas station where I got my REST Start receipt and collected my end receipt, 362 minutes later. Close enough!  We headed to MELT and had a little trouble finding the statue in the dark. Lonnie was quicker out of the bonus than I was, but I caught up with him on the way to BTJL. Then it was off to CTTW. This was one time following the shorter route on the Garmin was bad, because it didn’t know about the bridge closure which of course Google Maps knew about.  Oh well, it was OK, I made it to CTTW 8 minutes ahead of schedule.  As I was leaving, Lonnie was arriving. This was the last time we saw each other for the rest of the rally.


On my way to COON, the rain really started coming down. As I was on back country roads there really wasn’t an overpass to stop under to zip up. I did the best I could while in motion. By the time I reached COON, there were definitely a few wet spots in my riding gear. I collected the bonus and headed east toward ROCK picking up the AMHF bonus along the way.  Only after the rally did I learn there was a great post office just a mile away from the AMHF. Research man, RESEARCH!!!

Getting over to Huntsville, AL was definitely worth the ride. Seeing the Space Shuttle up close was awesome! Plus I was 10 minutes ahead again.


I swept up two more Zip code bonuses on my way to Nashville and I was starting to dry out for the first time of the morning.


As I came into Nashville, I was only 8 minutes ahead. But after thinking about it, I opted to add the NBCK bonus because it was literally around the corner from CMHF. In my research, it seemed the reference photo didn’t match the bonus description but I opted to give it a shot anyway for 278 points and I could drop one or two smaller bonuses toward the end like WSAT. It turned out the PRCH statue was missing, so I had to call the rally master. The real time suck in Nashville was just getting around. None the less, I left town on schedule. My extra time had vanished.


By the time I reached EAGL1 the rain was back and traffic along I-65 was actually slowing me down. So I made the decision to drop my first bonus of the day, I’d drop HOGAN for 69 points. This seemed to indicate that I’d get back on schedule for a very small loss in points. Along the way to EAGL4, I stopped in for a GAS stop and to buy the 6PACK bonus. By the time I reached EAGL2, the camera on my phone was starting to fog up. I was 6 minutes BEHIND schedule with only a few bonuses left. 


I headed west along Hwy 62 to Nortonville, KY where I picked up the Zip code bonus for KY.  It was only 442 points but they were points!


As I left the post office and headed south on Hwy 41, I realized I had managed to make up some time. None the less, I opted to drop the WSAT bonus because it sounded like I’d have to do some walking in the rain. After snagging the extra points of NBCK, I wasn’t interested in the effort. So I headed to my last bonus of the day, EAGL6. The weather wasn’t as bad as the photo looks, but my phone camera was definitely struggling with moisture.


After collecting the last bonus, I had 1 hour and 7 minutes to make it to the finish. According to my schedule it would take me around 52 minutes. I decided to stop along the way for gas so I’d be ready the next day when I headed home.  I arrived at the finish and received my scoring envelope which showed a stop time of 14:42. 18 minutes to spare! I’d ridden the best rally ride of my life!


I checked into my room and really wasn’t in a hurry to get to scoring. I (mis-)figured it would take some time as I remembered what it was like the year before when I was a scorer. I worked to make my log sheet neat and double checked the points. I walked over to scoring with 45,790 on my sheet. I quickly discovered I was the last to turn in my envelope and they quickly got me and the other 2 remaining riders in for scoring.  The process was S.L.I.C.K!!! I especially liked the mirrored display so I could see what the scorer saw. Chris Rooney was my scorer. There was a mix up with the REST bonus and 6PACK bonus because I had not emailed them in, but they took care of it. Then they thought my NBCK bonus was mis-labled and that it was actually MBEC. I realized I was going to get the points for MBEC so I wasn’t going to argue.  Turns out that’s 77 points less, and I did have the right photo and the reference photo in the bonus listing was wrong.  I’m going to chalk it all up to good luck on my part.  My final score was 45,713  with the change of the 1 bonus. Still that felt like a solid score that should at least get me a trophy.


I was a little nervous going into the banquet, but I decided I had ridden my personal best rally ride and I followed my program very closely, only deviating a little as real time situations dictated. When they called out the score for second place, I was relieved to know that it all worked out in my favor. I had finally won a rally!

This was a fantastic rally and I’ve identified a few things that need to be fixed in my routing program. It’s my goal to get those changes made to the program, test it in the Iron Butt Rally this summer and then release the program for free to all rally riders. The interesting thing about the program is that because everyone rides at a different pace, takes a different amount of time at bonuses, gas stops and even rest stops, the routes will certainly be different. The goal of the program is to give each rider the best route they can ride with their given variables.

A huge thanks to Lynne, Jesse, Troy and all the volunteers for putting on such a fun rally.  I know just how hard these things are to host, and this is definitely a top notch event!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Butt Lite VIII–Leg 2

I didn’t need an alarm clock even though I had one set on my phone. I woke up when the sun rose. I dressed and went out to my bike to see if I could repair the damage to the hydration system. That turned out to be a simple matter and I had it working in short order. The broken mirror mount seemed like it would hold up for the rest of the rally, so I put my tools away and headed inside for breakfast.

I was so hungry that it didn’t matter much what I ate, but the food was pretty good. And visiting with fellow riders for a bit was nice. Several of us had on our poker faces but I could tell, I wasn’t the only one struggling in one way or another. With a full belly I went up to my room to work on RallyMan.

Since I didn’t have the “re-route” option coded into the interface, I had to go under the hood and code in my rally stops to this point as well as the time I estimated to leave the hotel. I had a couple of issues with the automatic gas stops getting populated but finally I had things ready. The program had a start time of 10:30 MDT which I anticipated would give me 15 to 20 minutes after the riders meeting was over.  Well the meeting went long and several scoring problems were mentioned without pointing out riders. The top 10 was announced without scores. I was devastated when I didn’t hear my name. They didn’t read off point values just the rider number and place. This was a blow to my enthusiasm, I thought I’d done better.

[ Take a look at the rally blog and you’ll see I was in 16th place at this point. Apparently the rally team had found my photo time problem and taken the 500 points for the mistake. Good thing I decided to double check my camera on the first bonus stop of this leg! ]

They handed out the one page rally supplement and sent us off. I looked at it as I was in line for the elevator. 2000 points to go to Gerlach, and 500 points for something in Minnesota. Gerlach means something special to me, it’s where I feel the closest to my late wife even though we never went there together. We both recognized what it stood for but neither of us ever dreamed there would be a rock there with her name on it. So I had mixed emotions going there just to snap a picture with some past IBR winner and leaving. But I was going to let the RallyMan program tell me what to do. It’s about the math!

Once in front of my computer I had some difficulties with the “Get Distances” queries to Google. Darn internet at the hotel was flakey so I had to flip over to my cell phone internet. And to help matters I dumped 10 locations out of the program that I didn’t think were remotely possible at this point. I wanted to get that matrix down to  155 x 155. While waiting the 10 minutes or so it took to query Google over my cell phone (I’ll have a program correction for this before next year) I decided to read both of the bonuses. Then I about fell out of my chair laughing as I read the second bonus in Minnesota.

Here’s the actual bonus listing for the NOUSA bonus

In a nutshell, supposedly an 18 yr old female soldier dressed in her full military uniform was asked to leave a gas station because her uniform offended “Foreign Cab Drivers”. It turned out the whole thing was a hoax and Caitlin never visited the gas station in question. To claim the bonus we just had to collect a receipt from anywhere, for anything with a made up odometer, date and time. In other words, this was 500 points you could get just for reading the bonus sheet.   I opted to claim it as my first bonus when I stopped for fuel.

Meanwhile, RallyMan finally finished it’s “Get Distances” routine and then I kicked off the calculator. It kept coming back with routes that DID NOT include Gerlach. WTH??? That’s 2,000 points what is wrong with it.  RallyMan told me to head south, to the exact same next bonus as the original schedule.  I even went so far as to hard code Gerlach into my route and RallyMan came back with an overall score 4,000 points lower!  That’s right with Gerlach, my overall score was calculated at 40,000 and without Gerlach it was calculated at 44,000+.   I tweaked on it, checked for errors, and finally accepted the fact that going to Gerlach WAS NOT the right thing to do for me.


It was 12:15 MDT when I finally left the hotel. I had a bad case of “poor pitiful Brian”, I felt like I had screwed things up so bad that just going to Vegas for a day or two and then riding to Denver made more sense. But I had come to ride a rally and test my program, so that’s what I was going to do…

I stopped at the Chevron, near the hotel for fuel and the receipt I was going to use for the NOUSA bonus. Then I hit the road already running late. It was 12:32 as I left the station and I was supposed to be at a bonus 40 miles away at 12:41. Definitely not the way to start leg 2.

I called Decker and whined about not being in the top 10 and I was really disappointed with my rally as a whole. But looking back at it, there was absolutely no reason for my attitude. I had a score many would have loved and I had a route many probably struggled to find. I had it all, but from my point of view at the time, I didn’t have anything. Of course, if you’ve met Decker already, then you know how the conversation went. But if you haven’t met her, well…. the short and sweet of the conversation was “Suck it up Buttercup!”. I had a route to ride and I needed to get on it!

My first stop was in Carson City, I was supposed to take a picture of a clown that was in a glass case. I was having a hard time getting back into rally mode but pushed myself forward. I found the bonus, took the picture and then logged it. Then I checked the time. Crap! It was off by 2 hours! I wondered if they would catch the error for my Leg 1 photos…  I fixed the camera problem and retook the photo.



Arrival: 13:14
Schedule: 12:41



From Carson City, I worked my way through traffic and construction over to Lake Tahoe for the next bonus. Still in a funk, I wondered how the hell I was going to ever get on schedule. When I arrived at the entrance for the park where I was supposed to get the second bonus, the man at the gate seemed to want to share his life’s story with each and every person in front of me. So I waited and waited. When I finally got up to him, I asked him where this Cave Rock was and he simply pointed up the hill in front of me. His reaction made me laugh!



Arrival: 13:50
Schedule: 13:08



The next 3 bonuses had me working south and west of Lake Tahoe. While it appears to be a country like area, it’s quite congested with traffic and construction.




Arrival: 14:40
Schedule: 14:00






Arrival: 15:50
Schedule: 14:57







Arrival: 16:25
Schedule: 15:29




Despite my best efforts, I wasn’t making up the time I lost when I left the hotel earlier in the day. Traffic and construction was keeping me behind despite my best efforts. But I soldiered on. I still had a rally to ride and a plan to follow.



Arrival: 17:51
Schedule: 16:55






Arrival: 20:14
Schedule: 19:16


On my way to the next bonus the sun was starting to set on Day 4. I found myself riding on some fantastic twisty roads that challenged me thoroughly. Being as tired as I was though I opted to ride them slower than some would like and I think I even annoyed a few local drivers who were very used to the twisty roads I was on. It was during this part of the rally that I started to notice the severe cupping of my front tire. This was far worse than any problem I ever had with the Metzlers on the GS. It wasn’t going to stop me but it did mean I needed to keep at least one hand on the grips, especially at lower speeds.




Arrival: 21:54
Schedule: 20:49




After getting the GUERN bonus, I should have stopped across the street for fuel but I pushed on and found fuel along Hwy 101. This proved to be a bit of a time suck because the exits in California aren’t something I’m used to. I imagine driving an 18 wheeler in the state takes some expertise when it comes to refueling. The state doesn’t seem to design many of it’s exits with an easy off, easy on attitude. At least California has lane splitting.



Arrival: 23:37
Schedule: 22:15



This trip into San Francisco went better than my last trip in the 2013 IBR but as I expected, I lost time getting in and out of the city.  Interestingly, Waze had me take I-280 south of the bonus while Garmin wanted to put me right back on the 101. Looking at the map now, it doesn’t look like either way was necessarily “better” so late at night.

I kept riding south toward my next bonus, but I was getting tired and I realized I needed to stop for the night. The only problem, there weren’t too many towns along this stretch of highway and I didn’t think I’d easily find a quiet place to lay my head on a bench or table under a cover. When I reached Paso Robles, California I decided I’d had enough for the night. I pulled into a Motel 6, got a room and promptly fell asleep, just shedding my outer layer of riding gear.


I had stopped for a total of 3 hours and 40 minutes, it was enough time to sleep, brush my teeth and refill my water jugs. I only had 30 minutes to the next bonus, but I wasn’t feeling great because I was struggling with some sleep inertia. When I rode into Morro Bay, I made the single definitive mistake that would take me out of the top 10. I didn’t bother to actually read the bonus, but rather I acted from memory. So I stopped in a parking lot, snapped a photo of my bike and the big rock and logged the bonus.



Arrival: 4:28
Schedule: 7:02



Per the rally pack, I was supposed to get a picture of my motorcycle with the Morro Rock historical marker. Oooops! While stopped though, I pulled out my laptop and looked at Basecamp. I was 2.5 hours behind and I was pretty sure I couldn’t make up the time. I was now heading into LA at rush hour. I figured out that I could stay in Beatty, NV and I could actually flip the CARL and BEACH bonuses. This could save some time…. I hoped.

California traffic is different from Houston traffic and lane splitting is something I’m still “just getting used to”. So I wasn’t completely comfortable doing it as I headed into Los Angeles. Waze suggested a faster route rather than staying on the 405. In hindsight I probably should have stayed the course, but it turned out OK and I arrived at the cemetery to find fellow rider Troy Martin. He seemed to be searching diligently but without success. I tried to follow the coordinates given in the bonus description while he called into Rally HQ. The grave turned out to be on the other end of the cemetery.




Arrival: 10:59
Schedule: ---


We both recorded the bonus in our own way, and ended up leaving the cemetery at the same time. It was a quick and easy hop down to the next bonus.




Arrival: 11:22
Schedule: ---


We checked to see if we were continuing on together but we were not. I still had another bonus to get farther south for 500 points while he wanted to head east and get out of the traffic that was slowing him down. So we parted ways.



Arrival: 12:16
Schedule: 10:00



It was getting hot by the time I got to Newport Beach. I read the instructions twice and couldn’t figure out where the bonus was. I stopped to ask some caterers who were loading in for an event. And one of the guys looked across the street and said “you mean bunny statues like those?” Sure enough, you could see the ears sticking up above the shrubbery. I took the shortest path possible to get the picture.

When I got to Palm Springs, the heat from the sun was building. It was already over 100 degrees and my hydration system had developed an electrical problem. The switch collapsed, most likely due to the damage caused during the Leg 1 mishap. So I was having to be extra mindful of drinking water every chance I could.



Arrival: 14:02



Now I was finally out of the California traffic and could focus on making up some time. Or so I thought.



Arrival: 14:39
Schedule: 12:25








Arrival: 15:16
Schedule: 13:00


PURFOY slowed me down a little bit, because of the soft sand. I figured slowing down was better than dropping the bike.

On my way to Needles, CA I was faced with a decision between following the Garmin and following Waze. I opted to follow Waze. It would seem the Garmin wanted to take me on some back roads up to I-40 while Waze opted to keep me on Hwy 62 until I reached Hwy 95. I suspect I made better time following Waze.

Get a receipt in Needle, California!

Arrival: 17:42
Schedule: 15:01

According to the GPS, I was making up time, even though it looks like I was 2 hours and 41 minutes BEHIND when I reached the NEEDLE bonus. I used this time to refuel and reload my water jugs. It was quite toasty outside.

Heading west on I-40 and then north on Hwy 95 something unexpected happened that thoroughly messed up my time. Just a mile or so north of I-40 on Hwy 95 I crossed a very bumpy railroad crossing going less than 70 miles per hour. A few minutes later, I realized my Pelican top case was no longer attached to the motorcycle. Panic rushed through me as I realized both laptops were in there as was my rally envelope with the rally book and receipts. I turned around and back tracked to the rail road crossing where I found the case, upside down on the side of the road. Looking at the case mounting, I discovered the flimsy brackets had flexed enough to release the case. I used a few zip ties to make sure I wouldn’t have a repeat performance and resumed my travels northward. Now annoyed and further behind schedule.



Arrival: 19:15
Schedule: 16:16



I was now a solid 3 hours behind schedule thanks to the top case separation event. But I discovered a part of Boulder City I did not know existed. I like staying there because the rooms are cheap, but never knew about the cafes and bars. The next time I go out that way, I’m going to drive a little further into downtown to get a room.




Arrival: 20:42
Schedule: 17:42




I didn’t encounter anyone while I was at the Love Ranch, but it just felt very skeezy to me. I was glad I didn’t have to go inside, however all the signage around the place certainly seemed welcoming. The sun was setting and I still had 2 more bonuses to get. Make some time!!!!



Arrival: 21:26
Schedule: 18:31






Arrival: 21:34
Schedule: 18:34


After getting these two bonuses I backtracked into Beatty to start my rest bonus at the Stagecoach Hotel & Casino. In hindsight, I probably should have just rode to BROTHL and then picked up EDDIE as I was getting my start receipt for the Rest bonus. I realized it after the fact but it would have only changed things by a few minutes.

I had called ahead for my room and the lovely Innkeeper had my key waiting for me. She was kind enough to put me at the back of the main hotel where I could get some good sleep away from any disturbances. With the room acquired and the rest clock ticking, I went out to the bike and fixed my hydration system. It required the removal of a few body panels but I was able to convert it from an electrified pump system to a manual suck system. I buttoned everything up and took my normal stuff into the room. Before going to bed however, I opted for a good sit down meal at Denny’s which was attached to the Casino. While waiting on my order, I reviewed my route for the following day. Because I was a few hours late, it actually made my route easier and the road closings in Death Valley were simplified when I talked to my waitress who was a local and happy to help me get to the correct CLOSED sign for UBEHEB. With a full tummy and a simple reordering of my route, I went back to my room for a shower and some much needed sleep!


I woke up before my alarm and tried to get out of the room as quickly as I could. But for some reason I was moving slower than I wanted and soon found myself next door at the gas pumps a few minutes past the 8 hour mark. I topped off my tank, recorded the end of the rest bonus and hit the road, riding into Death Valley on Hwy 374.



Arrival: 6:31
Schedule: ---



I arrived at UBEHEB just as the sun started to come up and met a fellow rally rider, he was coming from California. We took a few different photos to make sure we documented the bonus sufficiently and then headed our separate ways.




Arrival: 7:21
Schedule: ---




I met a nice couple at this bonus, I couldn’t tell exactly where they were from but it sounded like Germany. I reminded them to use lots of sunscreen and drink plenty of water while in the park. It was already warming up at a cool 87 degrees.




Arrival: 8:04
Schedule: ---



At this point I was starting to get close to my schedule again. Since I had swapped the order of the bonuses I wasn’t sure how I was doing but I thought I was close to “on time.”

I zipped up Hwy 95 to my next bonus which the schedule originally had me getting BEFORE my rest stop. That would have been in-efficient!




Arrival: 9:56
Schedule: ---







Arrival: 10:53
Schedule: --




I had plenty of miles to the next bonus. I needed to purchase something from the A “LE” Inn roadside bar, restaurant and motel between 8am and 10pm local time. No problem, I was clearly going to be there in the day light hours.

I arrived at the bonus ALEINN @ 12:35, the schedule had me there at 13:40. Wooohoo! Reorganizing my stops and modifying the start of my Rest2 bonus was really paying off. As I pulled into the parking lot I met the same rider I’d seen at UBEHEB. I wondered if we’d keep seeing each other for the rest of the rally. We didn’t.

I just about dropped my bike getting to the next bonus though. Once again Garmin wanted to send me up a goat trail that I doubt I would have tried on the GS, but thankfully Waze led me to the location while keeping me on pavement most of the way.



Arrival: 13:57
Schedule: 15:13






Arrival: 15:50
Schedule: 17:22


The CEDRBK bonus was at 10,460 feet and as I got up to the bonus I was starting to feel slightly icky. Normally I’m not affected by elevation but on this trip I was. Maybe I’m just getting old.

At the time I didn’t completely understand just how ahead of my schedule I was because I’d made a list of the bonuses for the day using a screen shot from Basecamp and it’s times weren’t any good to me.


It would have been nice to have the schedule generated from RallyMan but since I had to hard code the route ridden to the point of Rest2, I opted for more sleeping time and went a little old school (for me at least) with the Basecamp route image..

Since I was using the Basecamp route sheet, I had to depend on the Garmin to tell me what time I’d get to the finish. And of course, it really didn’t know. But I kept on going.  For the sake of this report, I’m going to continue to the reference the original schedule I created at the beginning of Leg 2 above for times.



Arrival: 17:48
Schedule: 19:29



Between LASTWG and BEHUN I only traveled 80 miles but it took me a solid 90 minutes and I was quite hungry when I stopped. Why? Because I was on some of the most wonderful twisty tarmac you can find. State Road 12 in Utah! Put that on your “to ride” list and get up there sooner rather than later. I hadn’t ridden the road since 2008 but when I realized where I was some fun memories flooded into my mind. With so many twists and turns though, I didn’t have much time to dig in my tank bag for food until I reached the next bonus.



Arrival: 19:20
Schedule: 21:13



After leaving BEHUN I had some miles to work my way up to I-70 and that gave me time to decide if I was going to try the additional 3 bonuses I’d found for an extra 323 net points or if I was going to go for the originally planned last bonus according to RallyMan. Upon reaching I-70, even the Garmin agreed that I could make it to the finish with some time to spare and grab the extra points. So I dumped the ESCALANT bonus for 755 points in favor of 3 bonuses for a total of 1078 points. As I rolled onto I-70E from Hwy 24 it was 20:33 rally time on the last evening of the rally. I had 9 hours and 27 minutes until the penalty window started, and I only had 471 miles to go. No problem!

The sun dropped below the horizon behind me as I rolled along I-70 toward Denver. When I reached Grand Junction I stopped for my last fuel stop during the rally. It was 22:06 as I finished the stop and the temperature was still too warm to put on a liner. I knew it wouldn’t be long though as I made my way toward Montrose, CO.

As I got closer to my next bonus I was really struggling to see if I could squeeze just one more bonus into the route. PLACER was worth 626 points but it added 100 miles to the route. Garmin was saying I was going to be late, and I just wasn’t willing to risk the penalty points. So when I reached Montrose, I stayed on route for the next planned bonus.DSCN0892


Arrival: 23:27
Remaining: 6:33 hrs


When I reached the MORROW bonus in Cimarron the temperature had definitely dropped to the point that my electric liner was desired. So I took a few extra minutes to add a layer while I was at the stop.

Riding to the next bonus was fun. Hwy 50 has some wonderful twists and turns along the way. I wasn’t so concerned about the curves though, it was the potential of wildlife that had me bothered. As it turned out, I didn’t see any wildlife along that stretch of highway. Funny thing happened to me though on Highway 50. As I rolled along with all of my LED lights burning away the night, I saw a dim single headlight slowly gaining on me. Finally he caught up with me and it turned out to be a grizzly looking “biker dude” on a Harley that seemed to be a throw back from Easy Rider. Complete with the bedroll and all. He passed me (I really am a slow rider) and kept on riding into the night. It was at that moment that I found humor in the situation and some insight too. I had so much light ahead of me that I was actually struggling with the reflected light from signs and markers, yet this guy with his old, dim stock light was riding along effortlessly. I opted to leave my lights on “low” for the rest of the night with only the occasional flip to high beams. It worked out well.



Arrival: 1:12
Remaining: 4:48 hrs





Arrival: 2:32
Remaining: 3:28 hrs



Upon my arrival to Leadville, CO I was starting to feel the toll of the past 5 1/2 days of riding. It was cold, the wind was blowing and the altitude was bothering me again. I wanted to get the picture and go! But I didn’t want to make a mistake, so I followed my routine and double checked the bonus listing as I’d been doing all day.

The ride north to I-70 was just grueling for me. Now I had the Garmin and Waze telling me how long and far it was to the finish. Of course they didn’t agree. But it was less than 2 hours and most of it would be on Interstate. I just had to make my way up to I-70.

Once I reached the Interstate though it didn’t get better. I don’t know what it is about that pass over the mountains but it always seems to take forever and I couldn’t find a place to stop of a short break. So I soldiered on and talked to Decker for a little while to pass the time.

Finally I saw the glow of Denver. That infused me with new energy and I stuck with the directions Waze was giving me. The closer I got, the better I felt. I was going to arrive early but there wasn’t anything I could do about that now.

At 4:25, I rolled into the parking lot from which I had started 6 days prior. Got my time card from the rally officials and parked the bike. I’d done it! Again!!!!

Shortly after my arrival Decker came out to meet me. She was dressed in a fun clown dress that I really wish I’d snapped a picture of. It was fantastic! She definitely brightened my morning.

I made my way up to the room for a shower and to work on my rally log for the final day’s bonuses. I looked things over and felt good about my ride. It was time to go down for scoring and to get some breakfast.

The entire scoring process was very smooth and I was inside with a scorer in just minutes after reporting to the check-in table. And then my beautiful ride went to pot! I lost the LOWLAK bonus for a typo on the name Joseph and I lost the MORRO bonus for the wrong picture (READ THE BONUS). Ouch!!! That was 2,187 points lost at the scoring table between the 2 legs. I still didn’t know about the points I lost for the camera time. I walked away from the scoring table with 42,882 or so I thought. It didn’t matter though. The ride was done, the mistakes were made. Now it was time to sleep and visit with my girl!

I probably should have spent more time sleeping, but I don’t sleep well in the day time. I enjoyed the day with Decker and our 16 year old son, Hayden. We wanted to introduce him to the insanity of this sport. I think it work Winking smile

Just before the finishers’ social hour, we found a spot to load the bike into the back of the truck, strapped it down and made our way to the festivities. I enjoyed myself during dinner listening to other riders talk about their ride.

Then it was time to announce the winners. As they worked their way through the 78 finishers, the scores kept rising. I was relieved to have at least made the top 20 and when they got to the 12th place I considered the possibility of a top 10. Then I heard Lisa call rider number 28 and I knew I’d gotten 11th place. To quote Maxwell Smart, “missed it by that much.” But I hadn’t really, I mean John Coons had beat me by a solid 858 points. How much was that MORROW bonus? 1001 points. Ouch!!!

On the way up to get my finishers plaque, a few realizations popped into my head:
1. I’d safely completed a 6,250 (GPS) mile ride in less than 6 days
2. I’d proven my RallyMan program had some serious possibilities
3. I’d done better than my last Butt Lite finish
4. I was already in the 2017 IBR

Then I realized, in my own way, I KICKED ASS!!!!  Smile


So what now?

This rally showed me that while I hadn’t completely forgot how to rally, my skills are rusty. I made some seriously stupid mistakes that I can correct going forward. And my idea for a computer algorithm that calculates a competitive route is definitely viable.

I don’t plan to do any more rallies this year, instead I’m going to focus on getting married, being the best step dad I can be, being a grandpa to the cutest little girl ever (yes, I’m biased) and when I find time I’ll work on fixing the damage to my bike. And of course, I’ll fix the problems I had with RallyMan. Next spring I plan to hit a few rallies before the IBR to debug the last bits of the program. But if things go as I hope, I’ll be in bed early after the starters banquet for the 2017 IBR Winking smile

Oh and by the way… I will release the RallyMan code to the riding community after some more real world testing. I think an 11 day field test next year should about do it. For a few of you though, there might just be a beta test available…