Sunday, September 23, 2012

Autumnal Equinox 2012: The Rally

The rally started at 10am, with a riders meeting at 9:30. Needless to say I wasn’t rushed to get out of the hotel room. I checked out my bike, headed over to Wal-Mart for a few extra things and then went to the rally master’s house for the meeting and the start.

NOTE: This was a quadrant rally, Oklahoma and surrounding states were divided by the I-35 and I-40 highways. No 2 bonuses could be collected consecutively inside the same quadrant.

There were a few new faces, since not everyone had shown up the night before. We had the riders meeting and then waited around for 10am to arrive. At 5 minutes until the start, a warning was given and everyone started toward their bikes and began donning their gear.

At 10am, we were sent out 1 at a time just like they do at the Iron Butt Rallies. I knew several of us were headed to the same bonus but with traffic and such within a few miles of leaving the start I was riding alone. I started to wonder if I had taken the long way or what?

By 10:56 I reached the first bonus, Clear Creek Monastery. Two of the other riders that I knew were going there had already arrived. I quickly figured out how easy the balloon flag was and grabbed my picture. I then left the area ahead of everyone thanks to the gravel road. I was 20 minutes ahead of schedule already.

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The next bonus was in the south eastern quadrant 174 miles away. So I settled into a pace that would keep me from dealing with any more patrol officers. I arrived in Hugo, OK a little after 1:30pm, rode into the Mount Olivet Cemetery and found the Circus City bonus. When I left this bonus I was 43 minutes ahead of schedule after only 2 bonuses. I was trying to find a water tower for the IB Tag bonus but before I did the tag got changed to a park bench.

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The next bonus took me back over to I-35 so I could get something in the southwest quadrant. The Fort Arbuckle Monument was just a few miles off of I-35 so it was a quick and easy bonus to grab. I reached the bonus at 4:17pm, I was now only 41 minutes ahead of schedule.

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On my way to the FAM bonus I managed to capture an IB tag bonus by finding a picnic table (aka Iron Butt Motel) and followed that up with a big rig getting fuel.

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Dealing with those photo tags is why my time ahead of schedule dropped getting to the FAM bonus, but I had managed to add 1,000 points to my score sheet so it was worth it.

The next bonus was at the Sacred Heart Mission near Konawa, OK. It was only worth 132 points but it was part of the MONK combo bonus which gave me an extra 593 points. Plus it was on the way to a big bonus up in the northeast quadrant. I logged this bonus at 5:21pm, 41 minutes ahead of schedule.

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The POPS bonus was a timed bonus that didn’t open until 7pm, at my current pace I was due to be there earlier than the open. So even though I was running back roads where it’s easy to gain time I settled into an easy pace and moved along the back roads enjoying the scenery. I reached Pops 66 Soda Ranch at 6:43pm, so I fueled the bike, took a bio break and got some ice to go in my drink cup. Steve Bracken was already there when I arrived.

We both waited patiently for 7pm to arrive and when our cameras confirmed it we snapped our pictures. Steve was heading south and I was heading west, we wouldn’t see each other again until the finish.

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My schedule only had one more bonus before I was to jump into a hotel room for the mandatory SLEEP bonus of at least 4 hours with additional points for up to 6 hours of rest. The Comecos Cemetery in Granite, OK was a fun bonus to visit and easy to get up to on the bike. The photo had to include the cemetery PLUS the Will Rogers mural to the northwest. Thank goodness for all of my auxiliary lights. I collected this bonus at 9:30pm which meant I was still 43 minutes ahead of schedule.

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I was pretty far west in the quadrant, and my next bonus was on the other side of I-35 in Gene Autry, OK. I had planned to stay in Lawton, OK on the way over there. But since I was feeling good and I knew I would be back tracking through Lawton again to get another bonus in the southwest quadrant I opted to pass through town, being sure to scope out places to get stop and start receipts for the SLEEP bonus.

I arrived in Gene Autry, OK and got a picture of the museum sign as listed. This bonus was used in the April Fools rally earlier this year. I took a couple of extra minutes here to stretch my legs and handle a biological need. I was over an hour ahead of schedule by this point.

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On my way back to Lawton, I stopped for gas at an Exxon station just west of I-35 in Springer, OK. Their receipt printer didn’t work so I snapped a photo of the pump. Hmm, I’m supposed to be able to carry 11 gallons of fuel. I had a little over a gallon to spare but after midnight in this part of Oklahoma I didn’t want to chance it.

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I got into Lawton a little after 2am with my start receipt showing 2:10am. I checked into the Quality Inn where they were waiting for me. And I got a few hours of sleep. I ended the rest bonus at 7am just down the street at an ATM machine. I opted to turn as much of that “ahead of schedule” time into extra points.

I headed west to Frederick Cemetery in Frederick, OK. Being as it was Sunday morning traffic was non-existent. And I was heading west as the sun rose behind me. I collected the bonus at 7:48am and boogied back toward Lawton.

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I wasn’t really working off my my schedule any more. Instead, I had maximized my points for the SLEEP bonus and gave myself only an extra 20 minutes to collect all of the remaining bonuses.  As long as my Zumo 550 said I would reach the end point before 2:00 pm I was happy.

On my way up to Oklahoma City I passed the 1,000 mile mark so I stopped at the Phillips 66 in Chicasaw, OK to get an ending gas receipt to document my Oklahoma SaddleSore 1000. I pulled into the station at 9:20:30am and by 9:23:38am I was moving again. A 3 minute gas stop is all business!

The Zumo was telling me I had 10 minutes to spare after the fuel stop. I still had 4 bonuses to collect. I expected things would be tight. As I headed toward OKC I thought about possibly dropping some stops but decided not to.

I collected the 45th Infantry Museum bonus at 10:00am. That means I had ridden 1,120 miles in just 24 hours AND gotten almost 5 hours of rest to boot. That’s a solid OKSS1000. According to my notes I still had 4 hours and 37 minutes of riding to do. I snapped the picture as well as ones of my GPS odometer and the bike’s odometer. I didn’t take the time to log anything by hand. When I got back to I-35 heading north the GPS said I hadn’t delayed my arrival time by even 1 minute.

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Now I needed to collect a bonus in the northeast quadrant and as I had planned I went right by Pops 66 again to bag the Red Barn bonus. This too was in the April Fools rally but this time the requirement was to take a picture of the big red barn. I snagged the photo at 10:18 and then snapped the GPS and bike odo. Another sub-one minute stop.

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I hopped back on I-35 north bound and started checking my GPSes to see if they were in agreement to the next stop. They weren’t. The Zumo 665 wanted to take me up to the north, the 550 wanted to bring me in from the south. So I opted for the one with the shortest time. That was the 665. That’s because the 665 had the gravel roads option checked. When I got to the exit and crossed over the over pass, my eyes lit up as I saw the hard packed gravel. I knew I could make some time and I did. I collected the Riverview Cemetery bonus in Three Sands, OK at 11:33.

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I turned around and headed back to I-35 the same way I came in. When I reached the interstate my Zumo 550 now told me I would arrive at the end with 20 minutes to spare. Yeeehaw!!! I had picked up some big time and I only had 1 bonus left to collect. That was the Corporal Jared Shoemaker grave site bonus. Again, one that I had visited in April so I knew exactly where it was. I rode into the cemetery at a very slow and respectable speed. I walked to the grave site and collected my final bonus of the rally. It was  1:29pm and I was only 10 minutes from the end.

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On the way to the end, I decided to stop at a gas station and fuel up so I’d be ready when it was time to head home later in the evening. I topped off the tank, checked over my rally paperwork, basically I was just letting the clock run down.

I arrived with 5 minutes to spare and was the last one in. I had ridden 1,350 miles according the bike’s odometer and 1,362.5 miles according to the Zumo 665. Either way I had time and miles to spare since 1,400 miles was the mileage cap.

After a little visiting, I went inside to compile my score sheet and make sure I recorded things correctly. I then added up my score sheet and discovered I had a total of 10,491 points. Great. Then I heard the rally master tell another rider that his score was 11,000 and something. Hmmm, maybe not great. I sure hoped not too many others had that high of a score.

When it was my turn to get scored I sat with the rally master, we reviewed my score sheet, verified the pictures, confirmed the combo bonuses and then totaled the numbers. After a data entry error on his part we agreed that I had indeed scored 10,491 points and lost NOTHING at the scoring table. This was a monumental accomplishment for me. Now I didn’t care if everyone else got 11,000 and something. I planned my ride, rode my plan, and kept every point I went after. I had won my own personal challenge.

We enjoyed a great dinner of BBQ and talked a lot about how we planned our routes. It was interesting to hear how some others went about digesting the rally pack. I shared what I had done as well.

Finally Michael came out with the scores and announced how Pandora’s Box affected each of the riders. What’s Pandora’s Box you ask? Simple, there were a select group of bonuses where you could collect the points and in doing so the other riders lost the same amount of points. I collected 2 such bonuses so those 500 points meant that other riders lost 500 points. Some riders collected several of the Pandora’s bonuses and we each lost over 1,200 points per rider as a result.

Michael announced our ranking before Pandora where I came in 4th out of 8 riders. He then announced the rankings and scores post Pandora and I moved up to 3rd place. I was happy with that because I had already won my own challenge in my mind when I walked away from the scoring table keeping all of my points.

In hind sight, I had the extra miles to go after some bigger Pandora’s box bonuses, plus on that final run up I-35 I could have picked up 2 additional bonuses that I didn’t even consider when planning. That mistake in my route planning cost me 742 points, 474 of which were Pandora points. Was it enough to put me into 1st or 2nd place. Not by itself it wasn’t. But it certainly would have given me an 11,000 something score at the scoring table.

This rally was the best rally I’ve ridden all year. I can see a definite improvement in my time management and my route planning now. I still have lots of room for improvement but I’m certainly pleased with my progress. I learned that I need to adjust a few things on my bike such as cell phone placement and water jug. I also want to work on my cell phone calls while on the bike, the person at the other end tends to have lots of problems hearing me, even if I’m stopped so I think it’s more of a Bluetooth issue rather than a noise issue.

I certainly ended my 2012 rally season on a high note. I get to prep a new bike this winter but I can’t wait to start the rallies next spring!

3 comments:

Claudio Mccarty said...

Great job! Congratulations for coming in 3rd on your rally. You managed all of your bike's issues, and I'm pretty sure you’re going to be 1st in your next rally. I admire your optimism by the way. It's really great that you appreciate all of your life's wins, no matter how small or big they can be. Keep it up!

Claudio Mccarty

Erik Lucien said...

Well, even if those photo tags were the reason why you took a long time getting a bonus, it was still precious. These photos simply serve as your proof, or you may even consider it as your souvenir of the different places that you've been to on your motorcycle. ;) Congrats on your rally. Being 3rd is still a good thing, bro! :D

Erik Lucien

Max Piedra said...

When is the next rally, Brian? You must really prepare yourself for this upcoming event so you may have the chance of coming first this time. Haha! Just by looking at these photos, I can see that it’s a really fun rally! Doesn’t it feel like that you’ve been all over the world on your motorcycle? Nice!

Max Piedra