Saturday, March 31, 2012

April Fools Rally 2012–Day 1

I didn’t sleep much overnight. I had gone to bed later than I wanted because I was still working on my route and trying to get everything in order. I had skipped working on the FOOLS bonus where you try to find all of the cities needed to spell A-P-R-I-L F-O-O-L-S by taking pictures of the city limit or welcome signs.

I was up before the alarm clock and by 5am I was headed out the door and getting on the bike for my ride over to Beaumont. By 7am I was in Beaumont and looking for a gas station and something to do for an hour. I found a Waffle House and grabbed some breakfast to pass the time. Then it was off to find the right gas station. It took 3 tries before I found one I liked. It put me a little farther west in town but I thought it would work.

At 7:55AM I rolled up to the pump and started the transaction. When I was done I pressed the button saying “Yes” I wanted a receipt. And out popped a receipt with a time stamp of 7:54AM.  Eeeek!!! I had to have a start receipt between 7:55am and 8:05am. Instead of trying to get a tiny bit of gas out of the pump on another transaction I went inside and bought a snack. Receipt said 7:59AM. I was good to go and on the clock.

The Garmin wanted to route me north out of town but since I knew Rose City was just to the east I went east on I-10 so I could bag my first letter in the FOOLS bonus (spell April Fools with the signs). Then it was up Hwy 12 and through East Texas on Hwy 96. I laughed about the fact that I had been on this very road last month for one of my training rides.

The first bonus was in Natchitoches, La. at an old abandoned rail road depot. No real issues getting to it, I just had to figure out my rhythm to bagging the bonus photo and sending a text. I quickly realized I needed gloves capable of typing on a smart phone. Hmmm Aerostitch had something like that I think.

1 - TPRR 2

The next bonus was in Paris, TX at the Eiffel tower. It was easy to get to and I even had a person offer to help with my photo. When I said I just needed to include the bike he understood and wished me well on my rally.

2 - EIFFEL 2

From there I rode up the road a few miles to Hugo, OK. and visited the grave of Lane Frost the legendary PRCA bull rider. His grave was near the roadway and I knew exactly where to go thanks to information found via Google.

3 - MOT 2

Upon leaving the cemetery I almost headed east to Ibadel to pick up the city limit sign for an “I”. I didn’t and this ultimately cost me the FOOLS bonus of 420 points

After the grave site, the next bonus was a little north of Antlers, OK in a little town called Moyers. I needed to get a picture of my bike in front of the Post Office. No problem as it was easy to see from the main road. Then I back tracked into Antlers.


Another bonus was just down the road in Stringtown, OK. I rode around the town for 10 minutes or so looking for a post office until I finally had to ask a guy changing a flat tire on his car. It was just down the street a block. I had the right idea while I was driving around, I was looking for a flag pole outside the building. I just didn’t see it because it was tucked back from the road more than I expected. This was my first experience with getting my head up out of the GPS and looking around.  I also completed my call-in bonus to let the rally master know where I was and where I was going.

5 - Stringtown 2

Up to this point I had been using my GPS to just navigate to the next bonus and wasn’t interested in what time I’d end up at the end point. I felt like I was doing good on time. That was until I pulled up my master route with all the locations programmed in. It told me I was going to be late. What gives???? The route was only supposed to take 21 hours start to finish plus my stops and a 6 hour rest break. I was truly devastated when I saw this. Something had gone wrong in my planning and now I had to solve it while not losing too much time.

I just kept going and decided I’d figure it out when I stopped for the night in Oklahoma City. The problem however is that it had an energy draining effect on me. I had messed up my routing some how and I couldn’t explain it. I pressed on.

The Colbert Monument was next on my list, it was just outside of Durant, OK. When I arrived at Fort Washita the gates were locked up and the sign posted the hours of operations. They closed at 4:30 and it was after 6. Since the bonus listing said available any time I opted for a pictured at the locked gate.


The Good Springs historical marker in Tishomingo, OK was easy enough to get to. I was in and out of the town without issues.


I stopped at the Gene Autry Museum in Gene Autry, OK. to get a quick photo. The bonus said to get a picture of the sign in front of the museum. Well that’s what I did and since I needed the bike in the picture I just drove up to the door via the side walk. I’m sure if someone was there I would have had some explaining to do. The sun was setting and I new I’d be working in the dark from this point on.

8 - AUTRY 2

The Wilson Fire Department was up next. I came into town from the east and per the instructions it was about 1/2 a mile off of Hwy 70. Well…. I don’t think so. The GPS coordinates put me at someone’s home. So I drove up and down the street for a bit unable to find it. I probably spent 15 minutes looking for the place before I gave up.  Instead of leaving town on the opposite end I back tracked the way I came. Big mistake, the bonus was about 4 blocks around the corner from where I was. Oooops!

I was a little discouraged after leaving the town of Wilson, OK. I headed north to Ratcliff and then east a short ways before I turned off onto a dirt road. This wasn’t in my plans. As it turned out, if I had remained on Hwy 76 north out of Ratcliff I would have stayed on pavement the whole time. And even with the back tracking I could have save 30 minutes or so. But I found the Claud school and bagged the bonus. This routing snafu cost me 48 minutes to go 20.8 miles over dirt at an average speed of 26mph.

10 - CLAUD

Once I got back to the pavement my pace picked up and I was feeling good. I was heading toward Oklahoma City and my planned REST break.  I stopped in Purcell, OK. to get a picture of the McClain County Law Enforcement memorial.

11 - MCLEM

In Norman I dashed into town to grab the James Garner statue bonus. It was late so I just drove up next to it to get a decent photo. I opted not to stay at the Super 8 there in Norman because it was a little difficult to get in and out of.


On the way into Oklahoma City I spotted the city limit sign a little too late so I decided I’d get it in the morning. I arrived at my hotel and started my REST bonus by getting a receipt at the nearby Loves gas station which had a Subway sandwich shop inside. I probably lost 10 minutes waiting for the lady to make my sandwich but that was one great tasting sandwich when I got to the room. I set my alarm clock to wake me up in 5 hours, that way I’d be able to work on my route and get back to Loves for fuel by the end of my 6 hour break.

769 miles in 16 hrs, 45 minutes.

Friday, March 30, 2012

April Fools Rally 2012–Day 0

In less than 12 hours I’ll be getting on my bike and heading to Beaumont to start a 30 hour endurance rally. This will be my first endurance rally in preparation for next year’s Iron Butt Rally 2013. Riding long distances has never really been a problem for me, riding long distances while keeping track of various bonus opportunities is going to be a whole new game.

In a nut shell I have 30 hours to travel from Beaumont, Texas to Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. No problem there’s plenty of time. Except that I have to make the route at least 1,000 miles or else I’ll DNF. I must get a receipt in Beaumont between 7:55AM and 8:05AM to start the clock. If I miss the window for any reason, I’ll be out of the rally before it starts. Next there’s the issue of picking which bonuses to claim. With 150 bonuses available there seems to be an endless combination of routing choices. That is until I realized that for every mile over 1,000 miles that I travel I lose a point up to 1,500 miles. 1,501 miles is a DNF. There’s also a 4 hour minimum rest break, miss that and you guessed it! A DNF.

I’m not about to post my route or intended bonuses before the rally starts, that would be a bad idea. I can say there are some interesting places to see though like an old jail, the grave site of a rodeo hero, several war memorials, an old barn and much much more. I’m not going to see the Gulf of Mexico on this ride as I had planned previously and I won’t be going down to the Padre Island either.

I’ve made a widget addition to this site which I hope will work as planned and allow my readers to follow me while I’m riding via spotwalla. I’ve also set up a spotwalla tracking page for the event. Click this link to see it. I rode a short shake down ride today and you can check out the link for it too.

So why a shake down ride less than 24 hours before a big ride. Simple really, too many things had to change before this ride and time seemed to be against me. My trusty riding boots were no longer trusty or water proof. It took 3 pairs before I found a new pair that was actually waterproof and fit comfortably. I love my new pair of Dianese touring boots, they are a definite step up from the Tour Masters. Then there was the matter of my riding pants. Winter was cruel to me and my borders had expanded beyond the boundaries of my current gear. So I needed a new pair of pants. I also retired my trusty Olympia AST jacket because well…. it looked like something a homeless person would wear and that’s after I cleaned it. And don’t forget the new waterproof gloves either. After 5 years of dependable use they too decided to call it quits in a recent rain storm. So I look like a mannequin for  new motorcycle gear and I wanted to make sure everything was going to be OK. It is.

Well, that’s it for now. I’ll post again on Sunday when the ride is over and I’ve had a good dinner with my fellow rally goers. In the mean time follow along on spotwalla. You can find the group spotwalla page for the rally here.