I think I got the crud…or last night’s dinner is still angry with me. Sleeping at a Super 8 and come home tomorrow.Share on Facebook
Made it back safe…with a car tire on back. Made a key finishing point.
Sleep now.Share on Facebook
Tire munched. No damage.
Walked 2 hours to 95/318 and Brad picked me up!
Now borrowed a rim and headed back to salvage a ride.
Marbach…you’re safe.Share on Facebook
17.6d 16.5h dark smooth fast. B nervous shooter.Share on Facebook
GPS back on. 16d 15h. Thanks Doug!!!!Share on Facebook
14d 13 h. Heh,Share on Facebook
6.8d 6.3h one credit card cutoff 2 left nice day!Share on Facebook
3.2d 3.0h 1bird mpg suxShare on Facebook
Click for the OFFICIAL TEAM LYLE STAMPEDE web page
GPS Tracking of Participants (I’m #21)
Thursday May 16 – Sunday May 19
Some friends and acquaintances are gathering in southern Nevada on this weekend to do a little riding. It’s called the Team Lyle Nevada Stampede and ostensibly a charity ride to benefit Eddie’s Road. However, the last time I did this kind of ride….was 2006 in White Pine Fever where I logged some serious miles and had a seriously good time at FJR nominal speeds. This is the kind of event and location where 1500 miles in 24 hours is sublimely fun task to accomplish and 1800+ isn’t unheard of.
My General Rally Plan
Ride the 1500 mile base route as detailed here. Alamo-Tonopah-Battle Mountain-West Wendover-Tonopah-Fallon- Baker-Alamo. About 1511 miles.
If time allows, ride an extra out-and-back to Tonopah…which would add a nice and comfortable 320 miles to the ride for an 1800+ ride. I note this stretch is wonderfully scenic and straight with very little traffic on it…wink, wink. A big chunk of it’s also known as the ET Highway.
Of course, nobody would ride more, let alone do an extra lap after 1800+ miles…that would just be crazy.
On the way I figure I’ll be scooping up some points in the Big Money Rally as well….so I’ll be taking a few sidetrips from a basic route. My plan is to head down via Burns, OR, through Austin, do some scouting between there and Rachel, then on to Alamo.
- Thursday about 9 p.m. Ride 395 to Burns, OR; Winnemucca, NV; Austin, NV; & head south to Alamo. Arrive Friday around noon and have a big ol’ nap.
- Saturday @ ~5 a.m. Start the Rally. 24 hours of Nevada with 20 other riders.
- Sunday @ ~5 a.m. Finish the Rally. Sleep. Banquet in afternoon.
- Sunday afternoon/evening – Sleep. Late evening – return home via Ely, Jackpot, and I-84 through Idaho.
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After I bought my 2013 Husqvarna TR650 Strada recently I waxed nostalgic with my dad, Clark, about the Husqvarnas he had in the 70′s.
Growing up I (and probably everybody else) identified the models of Husky by the color and shape of gas tank. The image of a classic orange tank surrounding a mirror smooth polished metal trapezoid is one of my VERY earliest memories.
Not just memories of motorcycles, but memories of my whole life. I’d spend time touching the knurled gas cap, the hollow thump and cool sides of a filled gas tank, the smooth ball end of an aluminum brake lever and rough edge of it’s snapped off sister clutch lever. The smaller diameter chrome cross bar I’d hold onto perched on gas tank at the ripe age 2 or 3…..with Dad steering. And loops of bailing wire jingling from it (actually this was mostly on the other popular bike we used on the farm…a Suzuki TS185) to unplug sprinklers around the farm.
The smell of castor bean two-stroke oil and smoke out of an exhaust pipe as the two-stroke bleated a staccato, “Ning, ning, ning, …. ning!” Multiply that noise times 500 at a Mattawa start and I can’t imagine a more joyous noise of the 70′s human condition.
As I write this blog, this specific image takes me back 40 some years and will always be one of the most formative and definitive images of my life.
Using this Vintage Husky helpful source along with Googling, Dad and I came up with a list of Huskies he owned. Details including years may not be exactly right, but this list should be fairly close recollecting 40 years after the fact.
Thanks Dad. / Matt
#1 1970 Cross 360 (Maroon tank)
It was probably a 1969-1971 360 Cross. Or it might have been a Viking or Sportsman. He didn’t have it for long time, but I remember the tank was a little different shape and color was deeper red than the later 450 orange tank. Assuming it was the 360 Cross–it was the slightly smaller little brother of another iconic image, Steve McQueen on the cover of Sports Illustrated in all his Steveness. Pictures of actual 360 Crosses are hard to find, but below should be the same other than tank lettering.
“The WR’s were the ones to get for the kind of riding we did.” – Clark Watkins
#2 1971-1973 WR 450 (“Wide Ratio” – Orange tank)
This was an iconic Husky to me and probably the one he rode most including racing Mattawa, Spring Creek, and other regional competitions. It was probably a ’72 or maybe a ’73 as I remember going to the races before I got my first motorcycle in 1974.
#3 1975 WR 175 (Wide Ratio – Gold tank)
Made only one year…I successfully kick-started (only sprained my ankle slightly) and rode this beast when I was 11 or 12. I’m imagining a bit of friction between Dad and Mom on whether to buy more Huskies or new coffee tables for the home.
#4 1978-1980 WR390 (“Wide Ratio”, Black Tank) & #5 1978-1980 OR390 (“Off Road”, Black Tank)
He rode these later after I moved to town with Mom. I remember the ominous looking blank tank with gold trim. It reminded me of Darth Vader as Star Wars came out right about the same time. I’d also get to ride my XR75 in the mountains on some family rides together.
And here is a special bonus for those wanting to see an interesting nexus of Husqvarnas, Malcom Smith, and Eastern Washington–it’s an account of the 1966 Mattawa 100–the premier motorcycle race in the region. The author even referred to the 360′s and 400′s of the era.
“The idea was when the 12 gauge shotgun went off you turned around and ran 50 feet or so found your machine, get it started and then go as fast as you could to try to be at the burning tire site first. There were over 500 bikes on that starting line and all had the very same intent as you.”
Dad would race Mattawa himself as early as 1969 or 1970 and even win the “team class” in 1973 with his cousin Rex.
Besides the race being sponsored by the still-active Stump Jumpers Motorcycle Club–I love the tidbit about “Rainier”. The race was totally sponsored by Rainier Brewing Company and even remember seeing the Wild Rainiers at the entrance of one the races at Spring Creek.
Thanks for sitting down with me Dad and putting keys to blog and make sure we capture this for your grandson. / MattShare on Facebook
I sold my V-Strom! It just wasn’t the right bike for off-road use. And the XR650R before was great off-road, but suboptimal for long road rides and annoying to kick start sometimes. While there’s never going to be a perfect “dual sport” enter a really good try: the brand new 2013 Husqvarna TR650 Strada.
In it’s street livery of cast wheels (I see BMW stamps on them) and street rubber–it has ABS, 58 horsepower, and gets 50-60 mpg. (I seem to be getting in the 48 MPG range for my first tank)
The story of this particular model and Husqvarna is interesting. Historically, Husqvarna (known colloquially as “Husky”) is a Swedish company that also makes sewing machines and chainsaws. It was bought by BMW in 2007, a German company, but the engine is made in China. To confuse things more BMW sold the company to rival KTM of Austria in January 2013. The conundrum that makes this model likely to have an interesting, possibly short-lived life as KTM and Husqvarna compete with 690 Duke and this model.
I’ve only put 60 miles on the motorcycle as of this posting, but already in love with it. It lopes along at 70 mph on the freeway comfortably due to it’s taller gearing, street tires, and little after-market windshield. It can still zip up to 85 fairly quickly and think it will top out above the ton if flogged.
Around town the clutch is smooth and relatively long, the exhaust note is really quiet (possibly because it has two exhaust pipes and only one cylinder). At 400 pounds it’s not a lightweight bike, but feels just as nimble as my 320 pound XR650R ever did. It “feels” very European and no nonsense.
Because it is fuel injected with an O2 sensor they’ve squeezed every bit of fuel ecnomy out of the engine and at low RPM and part throttle does feel a bit like the engine is on the edge of dying…and has once or twice has when I wasn’t smooth with the clutch. Supposedly they get sweeter as the engine is broken in and I’ll reserve judgement until after the 600 mile break-in service.
There’s a $150 aftermarket “power plug” that tricks the computer into thinking its 30 degrees colder than in real life and richens it up across the spectrum just the right amount. I rode one of these (that had also been converted to a single pipe) and I can imagine doing something like that myself eventually.
It does need a skid plate for sure when I do take it off-road and I have to line up a set of spoked rims. I also found that since it shares the wheel configuration of BMW F650GS bikes–my aftermarket and used options should be a bit cheaper and expanded now.
But for now I’m leaving it stock and find a name for it. And for that I’m inclined to think about a name that befits the dual-nature of this bike. The off-road version with spoked wheels and bright red trim is called the Terra where mine has bad ass street wheels, ABS, and black trim named the Strada. They are essentially the same bike in very different roles. I think there’s serious truth in the notion that dual sports are the drag queens of motorcycles.
…and if I find myself deep in a scosh-too-Freudian thought about riding Wesley Snipes bareback all the time through the desert or in a tough crowd of testosterone–I’ll call him Blade instead and chug a beer to prove my manliness.Share on Facebook
Friday April 26 – Sunday April 28
Click here to see my progress via iPhone pictures on the Big Money Rally.
My Ride Plan
Headed to Seattle this weekend for my “Silver” anniversary as an alumni of Theta Xi Fraternity at University of Washington. It’s a little weird to remember I spent two interesting years at U-Dub as a college freshman and sophomore, before graduating WSU years later…..but I remember most of it fondly and all of it as an important part of growing up.
On the way I figure I’ll be scooping up some points in the Big Money Rally as well….so I’m taking the long way to Seattle. This route is subject to change as I ride it (maybe I drop some of the stuff west of Portland or maybe I add stuff on the Olympic Peninsula), but probably consider it the upper bound of where I’m generally going.
- Friday afternoon through Saturday morning. Zig zag to Portland and up the I-5 corridor snagging #2-27. (I may stop and get some sleep at my friend Dennis’)
- Saturday @ 10 a.m. Tour of Great Wolf Lodge, Grand Mound, WA (near #27)…they’re an aquatics facility comparable to what we’re considering in the Tri-Cities.
- Saturday afternoon. Maybe snag a few near #28, but check into hotel very near #28. Nap, shower, maybe walk to event and evening fellowship with fraternity brothers. Night at hotel.
- Sunday. Finish snagging the #28-37 cluster, work my way back home and snag whatever is convenient.
A little loop up to Coulee Dam and back Friday afternoon and evening. Going to try and visit several old Atlas missile sites I’ll try and mark with green marks. Watch here as I attempt to collect Big Money Rally points.Share on Facebook
I have a GoPro Hero camera and have posted many videos online from it. A very good product that I’ve used and talked about positively before, but I was upset to find that they appear to be going after people maliciously for posting negative reviews about their product using the much-maligned DMCA process in what seems a ham-handed, malicious, and/or illegal way. Slashdot has taken interest in the subject and has its usual variety of well-considered, snarky, and dumb responses; but the larger question is whether a company starts trying to cut off internet access to those that don’t paint them in a flattering light.
If true (and I’ll be watching) I think this is a case for some civil disobedience as I think editorializing about GoPro and their Hero products constitutes fair use and they shouldn’t be abusing the DMCA process.
Also, I’ll be considering whether to upgrade to GoPro 3 or not.Share on Facebook
What is “Snpʕwílx” you ask? It’s the International Phonetic Alphabet equivalent to the English word “Sanpoil“.
Then you ask what “Sanpoil” is and I tell you it’s the anglicized form of the name that applies to the original and current native residents of a certain area along the Columbia River….principally the Sanpoil River near Keller Washington.
Most importantly it’s also the name being given to a brand new 116′ all-aluminum ferry that’s slated to go into service in July of 2013 on the Columbia at the Keller Ferry Crossing.
The vessel is still being built and WSDOT snapped a few pictures of the hull here. I believe the main section was trucked from Rainier, WA to an assembly area in Grand Coulee in early March.
It will replace the old 80′ Martha S. that’s been providing 63 years of continuous service and, I believe, the first ferry I ever rode…or at least remember riding in 1974 when the family drove the family truckster to Twin Lakes for trout -fishing vacation. It’s also interesting to note that this ferry is the only one run by the WSDOT that’s not on the Puget Sound.
I’ve ridden the Martha S. four other times in my life. To and From the Twin Lakes again in my teens, once in the 2011 Dam Tour, and once again coming back from Republic in the 2012 Dam tour. It runs two Detroit Diesel 6-71′s and it’s safe to say that it’s ran the route over 200,000 times in its life!
It consumes approximately 760 gallons of diesel fuel each week or 39,500 gallons per year. Multiplying the fuel figure out and that’s 2.5 million gallons of diesel over it’s 63 year lifetime.
Depending on what date they actually christen the new vessel….maybe I’ll be able to ride up, watch, and try and ride the new boat!Share on Facebook
This and the other great photos…courtesy of Tobie Stevens using a Canon 5D Mark II.
When you show up in Ely, Nevada you never quite know what to expect. It’s a weird little mining town that was a hopping place decades ago, but now has a crusty patina that’s part western sensibility and part old-school casino.
Regardless of it’s public image it has become a launching point for a bunch of motorcycle riders sporting auxiliary fuel tanks, lights enough to illuminate large sporting events, and mostly alpha personalities. It’s also at the confluence of two major continental highways and end of another state highway. That means there are 5 roads coming and going from Ely in all the cardinal directions plus one more for good measure. Generally the roads contain large swaths of straight tarmac headed to various points on the horizon. It also contains the Four Seven’s Motel that is a marginally maintained MoTel that allows us to run roughshod over the place for the weekend and not get in any trouble with the authorities.
First Curve ball
I arrived after leaving home at 1 a.m. and riding straight through the 700 miles. I was hot, a bit dehydrated, and tired so I figured I’d snag a nap before the banquet and festivities began…..doing my odo check of course. The curve ball came that the odo check also included a shooting and knife throwing event that had some special relevance on the rally.
Damn, the rally has already started!
I guzzled some water and aimed my bike out of town south on Highway 6–the highway I knew the least of all and only traveled on once before. Where 6 met with 318 I saw motorcycles parked and walked out behind a deteriorating boarded-up building to a makeshift knife and gun range.
All my practice at home with my own Gill Hibbons knives yielded exactly zero points and my shooting was average for me and netted 200 points that would mean something later….I was told.
Second Curve Ball
After I returned to the check-in I was handed my rally packet and rode my bike two blocks to the Hotel Nevada. I did my best to haul everything I’d need in one load.
As the lady futzed with my credit card I eyeballed the dozen or so pages of the packet not diving in to anything with detail, but capturing a hazy outline of the whole probing at what the best solution to the puzzle might be. California featured heavy with clusters of moderate point value bonuses, Seattle jumped out with a biggie point bonus, Arizona did little for me, and South Dakota chuckled at me as a probable sucker bonus on the edge of a the page for a 32 hour rally.
Paid up I jumped on the elevator, entered my smallish vintage room, fired up the laptop, shucked my clothes and took a shower with varying pressure and temperature only possible from a hundred year old building. Closing the blinds at 2:30 p.m. I resolved to get 2 hours of sleep and closed the laptop as I drifted off for a nap before dinner.
We were told we’d receive “clarifying information” at the banquet and I didn’t want to spend an hour or more finding and entering all the bonuses into Streets and Trips if I’d only be handed a USB drive with coordinates later. Each bonus also denoted a “thread” and figured that would be a part of the discussion. The tags read things like, “Pestilence”, “Plague”, and “Mayhem”.
Drifting off to sleep I heard the faint sound of slot machines singing their songs in the key of ‘C’ and thought about twisty two-laners in California, slogging through the 55 mph stretches of Oregon…yuck, interstate vectors through Utah and Wyoming, and most pleasantly…. the two-lane infinity views of the Extraterrestrial Highway. I’d decide in a few hours where exactly I was headed.
Two hours later I woke up about 5 and felt very refreshed. I toted the laptop, my packet, and a sharpie back towards the rally motel and enjoyed a soda when I got there. Other ralliers smiled, pointed to gizmos on bikes, teased each other, and hugged fresh arrivals as they trailed in.
The banquet was typical for loading up on some good food and entertaining discussion. Watching one FJR rider demonstrate to another FJR rider how to eat ribs without scraping their teeth was a bit surreal. I didn’t know whether I should laugh at the person that had some sort of phobia about eating meat from a bone or the other person demonstrating a method to reduce the risk while eating ‘nummy pork.
I decided to laugh internally at both of them and let it go.
After dinner the packet and details were explained to us and the twist on the rally proved to be the “Threads” designation on each bonus as I had wondered about earlier. Each bonus was worth a relatively small amount of points (the bigger ones being Seattle at 11.1, Badlands NP at 11.5, and Arizona location at 6.9), but for every bonus you got in a thread–you got to multiply by that total. So, it wasn’t just picking the best combination of points from an entire thread, but an internal bid of which bonuses could actually bag multiplied.
Choose any SINGLE Thread you want — Add up the totals points scored in that thread, add up the total number of bonuses. Multiply the sum of points by the number of bonuses–that is you COMBO BONUS. Example:
#181 –Charlie Manson 06.25
#184 — MGM Grand Fire 0.200
#186 — PSA Fit 1771 0.525
Total sum of points = 1.350, Number of Bonuses = 3, 1.350×3=4.05 points for the combo
After dinner I wandered back to the Four Sevens and tried my best to analyze route possibilities as I waited for the rally master, Brian. He offered an electronic copy of a spreadsheet to anybody that wanted it, and I definitely wanted one. Supposedly, the first person to ask for it was me. Didn’t cost nothin’.
Evaluating the Puzzle
With that file I used my skills in Excel to concatenate data into names I could upload to my GPS and use while I was riding. The threads were very important and even though I’d likely have a route planned before I went to sleep. Having all the route data like this while riding stored in the GPS often yields opportunities on the fly as I can’t possibly keep it all in my head, open the paper packet while riding, or my laptop while riding. I had an Excel spreadsheet sorta built up….it doesn’t make a lot of sense looking at this, but it helped me narrow it down to a “Mayhem” thread in red or “Apocalypse” thread in green. Both seemed objective standouts as possible winning routes.
Picking a Route
I could say that I decided that night EXACTLY where I was going, but I didn’t commit 100% to a route until I woke up in the morning. As I drifted off about 10 p.m. or so I was pretty sure I was headed to South Dakota on an aggressive route that hinged on a big bonus at the Bad Lands, but also realized it limited my multiplier getting back to Ely with little. It didn’t guarantee enough time towards the end to add any more thread multiplying bonuses and make it back the finish line in time.
The California thread yielded a multiplier that was golden and progressively grew, but the unknowns of traffic and bipolar cops made me wonder. Cali is beautiful with some great riding, but it was a huge state with variety of traffic speeds.
I decided I would commit after the rider meeting in the morning mulling things over in my head.
Waking up at 3:45 a.m. I quickly loaded gear in my arms, descended through the casino, noticed the reduction in ambient casino noises, and packed my motorcycle. Somehow I had left my auxiliary lights on low and worried I wouldn’t be able to turn over the bike. Fortunately, LED lights on their lowest setting must not draw much current because I was able to turn it over to a smooth idle. I fueled up down the street in the early morning cool and aimed toward the Four Seven’s starting line.
Tobie had conveniently chalked the starting spots for the first dozen riders or so and aimed my motorcycle into the outside pole position behind RenoJohn staggered style. I’d be talking off at 5:00:30. That is 5 a.m. plus thirty seconds.
With a rider meeting at 4:15 we received a last page of “Ooops – we almost forgot….” bonuses with two smallish ones added that I could net up to 3.75 points more. Guessing I could snag 80 or 90 points overall…these were small potatoes and didn’t change the two options in my head.
….I guess that clinched it. I was going to the Badlands! Now you and I know for sute. I decided what route I was taking less than 30 minutes before the start of this rally and the picture above is me making that choice with everybody standing around. I was going after green stuff that I could get in addition to the uber-point bonus #4. Two of us would end up choosing that route. Most others would choose the red stuff the other direction. We’d have Wyoming, South Dakota, Montana, and Idaho to ourselves.
Northeast Young Man
However, he and my other favorite Battle Born brethren, Brad “The Fuzz” W. would quickly catch up to me as we cleared McGill and started riding 93A at FJR nominal speeds. The sun was not quite up, traffic was sparse in the Saturday morning air, and a great way to start out a rally.
Rolling into Wendover as a wolf pack leader I immediately confused things and turned at the wrong place. As I turned around Brad made the route work for him and got to the first bonus 20 seconds before I did. RJ missed everything and went down the road to a far better bonus picture in my opinion, but not the one I thought the RM really wanted.
I was on the board with 0.500 points for bonus and an additional cumulative “1x” figure of 0.500 since it was the thread I was going to choose.
As I aimed out of Wendover onto I-80 east across the Bonneville Salt Flats I pretty much knew that Brad and RJ weren’t going to follow me to South Dakota. I know RJ is capable of doing extreme miles and think he would/could be an excellent competitive rallier….but the guy’s skills as a social butterfly and live blogger are unparalleled. And, I’m not sure winning these things is high up on his value list and also smile about. His niche of doing decent while blogging the best is, nonetheless, a great contribution to the sport. Go John!
Salt Lake City came fast in the early morning hours. I-80 is wonderfully efficient, fast,…..and boring. Pushing through town I quickly found myself spanning the upper chunk of Utah and approaching my first fuel stop in Evanston, Wyoming at the 325 mile mark. Fueling efficiently I did headed to the bathroom to charge up my cooling sleeves and knew it was going to get hot today.
A little diversion through Rock Springs, WY to snag a picture of a post office and pee put me on the way potential for spelling Z-O-M-B-I-E for 4.7 points. I could use the O or I. Plus with a fuel receipt I also snagged a little 0.800 bonus from the Disaster thread for a mine explosion from 1907.
I made it to the 1.8 point mark and was already 5 hours into the rally. Only 0.36 points per hour….a figure that would end up changing dramatically the deeper into the rally I went. I was starting to see this rally was about scooping up as many bonuses in one thread as possible and that not all threads were equal. 1 x 0.5 still equaled 0.5. I opined that the folks that made other thread choices were seeing their point totals climb more quickly and satisfyingly.
Once I made it to Rawlins (530 miles) I snagged a city limit sign and committed my two letters for ZOMBIE. This departure also meant I was entering a relative slow phase of the rally by getting off the interstate and navigating previously unrun two-laners.
This one occurred in the middle of nowhere Wyoming and was one handed to me in the morning before the ride.
This has to be a digital, computer generated, signs, address, gps time, etc. Assuming you cannot set yourself that you randomly come across–situation awareness. For each “1221″ you bring us there is 0.25 points in it for you” said the bonus.
So, I stopped by the side of the road at 12:20 and started eyeballing all the electronic gadgets in front of me. I snapped a picture of one GPS, the second GPS, my iPhone clock, and clock on the motorcycle. The latter might not count, but bagging 3 in 2 minutes was worth 0.75 points for sure.
Interestingly, as I finished my task I looked over to the right and saw this very striking curved hunk of granite that seemed out of character for the surrounding countryside. A rope extended up one side and tourists were ambling up. If I ever have time one day…I’d like to stop at Independence Rock.
Rolling into town I spotted a fairgrounds off the road to the right and snagged 0.5 points. 7 long minutes for a picture that worked out. I also snagged a picture of the Edgemont, SD (mile 834) sign for an M. ZOMBIE. My average was still 0.17 points per hour and I’d have to pick up the pace or risk only getting 5.5 points for the whole rally at this rate!
We Have Weather
After clearing Edgemont I noticed both a big gnarly thunderhead and raincloud to my left as well as some correpsonding fast moving Doppler activity on my GPS receiver. By my estimation I’d be skirting this thing as I did a big slow left arc towards Rapid City, SD. (mile 915) And as I left east on Rapid City I’d be headed back west again through the same area. I got a few drops here and there as temperatures dropped and shot back up several times over the course of 10 miles–suggesting I was on the edge of some very turbulent weather.
I was also getting near the apogee of my rally, The Badlands National Park. I’d radically change the amount of points I had and rate I was gathering them. I was also seeing with increasing regularity the ubiquitous Wall Drug billboards that I’d first seen hundreds of miles earlier in Wyoming.
Turning off I-90 east from Wall, SD (mile 970) it was just a short 7 mile skip to the entrance to the park.
Also bummed I didn’t ACTUALLY get to see yet another National Park I relished in the whopper of 11.5 points I snagged directly. Also the cumulative bonus of number in the thread times the total points in the thread. 2 x (11.5 + .5) = 24 points. Therefore my average shot up to 3.07 points per hour with this one bonus!
Another location I’ll have to come back another day….
Affirmations & Weather
I had hoped and estimated I’d be to the bonus by 6 p.m. if things went decently and bested it by about a half hour. It affirmed my decision to keep venturing sideways through Montana and not go directly back to the starting line. There were two more bonuses I could get in Montana and Idaho and I could turn the thread bonus into a 4 x 15 = 60 points equation. 60 points was serious!
I had already placed my next bonus at Little Big Horn into the GPS receiver unit and and began backtracking I-90 to the west through a curtain of yellow and red on the Doppler radar. It was still light out and I could see through the weather and sunny background. A little rain might feel good and as long as a lightning bolt didn’t zap me…I enjoyed the Midwest light show.
I also didn’t see anybody coming the other way as I backtracked I-90 west to Cedar Rapids and felt pretty sure nobody was following my route….or at least doing it counter-clockwise like I was. I’d find out later that there was somebody doing the route in reverse and we’d cross each other shortly after I’d stop for a sandwich in Sturgis. He’d see me, but I wouldn’t see him.
As I met the leading edge of the storm I enjoyed correlating what was actually storming around me with what was displayed on my Doppler radar screen. While it was very clear that a nasty hunk of moisture many miles wide was in the area I couldn’t correlate a green chunk of pixels from a red chunk on the screen with what I was actually experiencing….nor could I see the relationship if delayed a few minutes. I wondered if the weather radar was representative of something actually raining, whether it was that chunk of real estate from the ground to top of the sky that had lots of water vapor in the space, or something else. Or, if there was a delay from the alleged delay on the screen.
I came to the realization that regardless of what was going on in little pixelized chunks the bigger benefit of Doppler radar reception still helps with your situational awareness and would help more if I couldn’t see the weather if it was dark outside. It’s a nice-to-have tool, but it’s not one that you can or should use as a guide to try and slalom through red spots or individual lightning strikes or hail sheets. Treat the storm as a larger mass and aim for an edge of the Earth flu.
POW! A lightning bolt went cloud to ground with the sound about 3 seconds later. That was close!
Then another flash that I didn’t see directly as a lightning bolt, but saw all manner of shadow between my helmet, gloves, bike, and the ground. As I looked up I saw bolts going back and forth from the west to the east….and back again in rapid oscillation. Cloud lightning freaks me out more than ground lightning….especially when it’s directly overhead.
I grabbed a handful of throttle to make myself feel better.
As I zoomed through Cedar Rapids westbound I could see the edge of the storm and ebbing sun break through. Quickly the pavement dried back up and I cleared the storm. (Mile 1048)
As I did some basic calculations of remaining miles and pace I started to get an inkling that I could easily bag 2100 miles and still have time when I got back to Ely. I’d have in the 80 or 90 point range, but were there any other thread bonuses in the area? I remembered one was between Tonopah and Ely, but not sure if it was 50 or 150 miles from Ely.
I was hungry and it was 14 hours into the rally so I decided this was one of those chances I could slow down so I might be able to speed up . It may seem counter-intuitive, but a Subway sandwich, a laptop, and a 20 minute break helped me finalize plans for the last half of the rally–or at least visualize my options on a 15″ laptop screen at an air-conditioned table over the tiny 3″ bouncing GPS screen in the harsh light of humid day. And not that I want to stop in the Harleyland of Sturgis for any reason, but the next Subway was there and I was ready for a break and needed body fuel.
Working through my ritual of firing up the laptop as I got my sandwich, logged in, took a big bite of Buffalo Chicken goodness, and updating my location in Streets and Trips I quickly spotted the opportunity to go from a 4×15=60 to a 6×15=90 thread. It would be tight by slightly conservative estimates, but if I could make it back to Ely, go and additional 100 miles to a pair of bonuses, and make it back…..it would be a HUGE change to my end point total.
On the other side of my brain to go from 2100 to 2300 miles was a serious plan change–even by my high mileage standards. It’s easy to over-estimate what you can do, but in the free-moving west I was making great time. It also would mean I’d have to focus on doing only bonuses that contribute to the thread score….and only those things DIRECTLY on my route I could snag in a minute or maybe two. No chasing off-route bonuses.
I wolfed down the sandwich, packed up, fueled, and pointed my bike west again into the lingering sun. I’d find out after the rally that the #2 finisher passed me just west of Sturgis and was doing the same loop I was trying in, but in reverse. I’d also affirm my direction was a much better choice.
Just as soon as I was back on familiar ol’ I-90 I was told by my GPS receiver to get off at Spearfish and go on U.S. Route 212 and puzzled at the idea. I-90 was a MAJOR road from Chicago to Seattle and was a no-brainer to me until Bozeman. Aren’t interstates meant to be the quickest route between major places? I skeptically followed the GPS since I hadn’t pre-reviewed this particular leg of the route and will generally follow the GPS–especially when it comes to major routes like interstates or U.S. routes.
The facts according to a Ms. Garmin:
- Spearfish, SD to Crow Agency, MT via U.S. 212 according to my Garmin 2820: 215.7 miles, 3 hours 12 minutes
The facts according to Mr. Gates:
- Spearfish, SD to Crow Agency, MT via I-90 according to Streets and Trips 2010: 265.9 miles, 3 hours 51 minutes estimated time.
That’s 23% less miles and 20% less time according to the GPS. And, although I-90 is rated for 75 mph the whole way compared to mostly 70 zones and occasional burgs with 35 zones on the 2 lane route…the fading sun meant a lull in traffic in this red-state nirvana. The two-lane road was by far more interesting and quicker and I wouldn’t have chosen it myself.
I’ll listen to Ms. Garmin this time…sorry Bill.
The route choice also meant a quick stop in Alzada (mile 1130) for my coveted Z in ZOMBIE. I’d have a chance in Bozeman, but this Post Office was 200 feet off the main road and this one was a no-brainer. With the Z I was well on the way to snagging the 4.7 points fro this bonus.
Just before entering I-90 I stopped at a very minor bonus that I knew would be closed and that I couldn’t accomplish the specific directions. As the closed sign was right near the road it was worth the time to bag the 1.2 points even though it was part of the Mayhem thread I had decided to not choose…and that the other riders in California would have liked to add to their quiver.
PoPo Montana Reservation Style
As I re-entered I-90 and regained interstate-like speeds near Crow Agency, Montana I came to the rude realization that I was passing a local LEO running on a parallel frontage road. I dropped my pace slightly and didn’t think much of it separated by a whole bunch of pavement, fences, and course-changes….but found myself with some blue lights in the mirror just a few miles later. Dang, even though I was moving along quite safely, smoothly, and reasonably….I tripped the LEO’s upper limit of tolerance and had to have a conversation with The Man.
I politely provided all the documents he wanted and lamented him saying I’d be earning a citation that evening and waited patiently by the side of the road with a forced smile on my face. Inwardly, I could feel the minutes ticking away and wanted to scream. I hate tickets!
It wasn’t until he returned about 10 minutes later and was stunned to hear that it was $25.00.
And it didn’t count on insurance and he didn’t even admonish me to slow down was done.
$25.00 for 15 minutes of his time, fuel, and overhead wear-and-tear? I wanted to hug the guy and offer another $25 to do it all over again! But I resisted because I wanted back on my bike as soon as possible to tackle the next 200 miles to Bozeman.
I’d never been happier in my life to get a ticket! And several weeks later other than the minor PITA to wade through a Walmart line to get a “money order”, address an envelope, find a stamp, and mail it off…they even sent me a receipt back in the mail a week later.
Back to I-90 in my head I set my throttle lock for near…..er the speed limit and cruised through the early night smoothly and modestly. It deflated me a bit, but I had hundreds of miles to put it into perspective.
Zero Dark Thirty
Doing a 270 degree turn off Exit 309 into Bozeman (mile 1498) I began pondering the next 300 inky black miles that would take me through the rest of the night, some seriously twisty and critter filled tree country, and scoring two more bonuses on the thread. This stretch was, by far, the slowest piece technically of the ride while coming during the toughest part of my internal clock cycle.
I rode down Main Street as college students stumbled out of bars closed down in the last 15 minutes. Twirling blue lights littered block corners as uniformed cops peered into cars with Maglites full of drunk Montana State University coeds. Some were enjoying their Friday night evening prowling the bar scene responsibly and probably going home to hook up with fellow car occupants, but some drivers looked over-served even to my amateur eyes. Cops would wave them over like cattle and I’m sure inevitable perp walks would ensue after blowing 0.08% plus. Mommy and Daddy would be rudely awakened in an hour or two.
For some reason I attracted no such suspicion and only one furrowed brow of a police officer watched as I rode by. Perhaps it was my blue motorcycle and yellow firefighter-like garb or the electric-like sound of my idling engine that make him think I was fellow cop off duty. Perhaps it was the bug encrusted bike front and jacket shoulders that made him say like a drone, “Not…one…of…them.”
Regardless, I chuckled to myself, “I’m super visible…yet invisible! Cool!”
Hanging a left on 191 I wound the miles to Big Sky I had won a rally a year before at and thought about my friends Bob & Sylvie in Ely at this same moment. I wound through the twisty lanes of the Gallatin National Forest on a recently chip sealed road taking corners below their posted limits as my tires fought for the minimal bit of available traction. Again, I knew this leg was the most serious part of the ride and took my time to navigate it smoothly, safely, and ignore the GPS ETA time encroaching on the 11 a.m. deadline.
Stopping quickly at West Yellowstone I snagged a 2.1 point bonus, but most importantly raising my thread multiplier to 3x or about 42 points. My point average per hour and per mile was now shooting up healthily.
Clear of the park I aimed first west, then south, then southwest to Rexburg and the comforts of flat scrub land. Idaho was asleep as I cruised through it. I aimed towards Arco I and realized I missed a sure-thing fuel opportunity. I couldn’t make it the whole 90 miles to Arco and the town of “Mud Lake” (mile 1701) didn’t look promising to me for 24 hour fueling opportunities.
Fueling Through a Bar Straw
But, there was a long-closed Conoco set of pumps bathed in buzzing under-powered sodium lights on the edge of a podunk town as my reserve light started flashing. It took my card fine, but began dispensing fuel at a ridiculously slow rate of about 0.3 gallons per minute. Annoyed and slightly tired I solved the little puzzle by putting in a second credit card into the far side of the pump (in case you can’t pump from the same card simultaneously), threading the handle through a hot dog advertisement since the hose was short, choosing premium (I learned years ago the reason pumps are slow is because of a plugging filter that affects all the dispensers on the same manifold and grade of fuel), and began filling the auxiliary tank. It spewed premium unleaded at a prodigious rate of 5+ gpm and I quickly filled the whole bike. A small price to pay for premium fuel even if I didn’t need the grade.
Smiling I thought about leaving my hose mess where it lay, but decided to unwind my hose mess and mount the bike with a clear conscience and 300+ more miles of fun.
Craters & Bumps
I’d visited Craters of the Moon National Monument several years previously on a rally and easily found what I needed for a picture. 1.8 points, but with the 4x multiplier I was seriously on the board with 64 points from the thread bonus alone.
As the pre-dawn gave way to formal dawn I found myself slightly sleepy and need of a cup of old fashioned coffee. I snagged one at a mini-mart in Twin Falls (mile 1869) and did my best to hold onto it riding on 95 south towards Jackpot. Alternating between gripping it in my teeth and lower lip as I rattled through the gears I settled into a nice pace southbound and the cup perched on my gas tank and left hand holding it. Perhaps not the absolute safest, but an acceptable risk in the super sparse early Sunday morning traffic.
Ka-Boom! I hit a pothole and watched the contents of the coffee cup geyser over my helmet in a thin rope of caramel colored liquid. Some splattered on my helmet and a few drops hit my cheek. The rest aerosolized into mist behind me. I swore from the sight that all the coffee would be gone, but the jolt from the road transferred 2 or 3 ounces of coffee into a perfect ribbon 3 feet long, but left the majority still in the cup.
Weird. Slurp another slug of caffeinated goodness.
I finished drinking the coffee and stashed the smashed cup into my jacket pocket for later disposal.
Moving Past The Finish Line
Dispatching the miles between Twin Falls and Ely (mile 2119) is a fairly quick affair even when you slow down for unknown oncoming traffic. One of them could be a NHP doing his morning patrol and I hadn’t seen one yet. In fact, I wouldn’t see one until after Ely.
Rolling past the finishing town I still had 3 1/2 hours until the finish and figured another 200 miles to snag two more thread bonuses. One should be easy as it was right on the main paved road and the other was 5-10 miles down some goat trail of unknown quality.
Highway 6 was fast and pleasant as the morning slid by. This land personifies what The Great Basin is geologically about. The familiar straight basin stretches between crumpled up mountain ranges was soothing for its simplicity and scale. As I turned the last corner before a dead-straight three mile stretch to the first bonus I saw a single headlight round another bend coming from the other direction. I knew it would be a fellow rider, but wondered which one.
I could see they were going to reach the bonus a bit before I would so I gave some throttle and narrowed the gap slightly for dramatic effect. I’d ridden now about 2000 miles and hadn’t seen a single fellow rider…our meeting was going to be fun.
It was RenoJohn!
Of all the other riders he was my absolute favorite to run across at the end of the rally. It was fate of the silliest and friendliest ind. He’d been the last person I had seen 2000 miles earlier and my Nevada barnstorming brother. We laughed, we smiled, we shook our heads, and we snapped our pictures of the easy bonus.
We also knew we were heading into the second bonus together and would do something silly and stupid to mark the occasion. And it took about 15 minutes to get back into the crater. It was washboard, but very doable for dirt bike riders. And as I crested a small hill to overlook a crater I knew the picture that had to be taken. This is not it by the way…the picture we turned in was a very different picture I’m not putting on my blog.
Unwinding the washboard we got back on pavement and aimed for Ely. I had a big chunk of points in the bag (well over 100) with 30 of them in about as many minutes. It seemed like small potatoes, but I rode with RJ to the other side of Ely and snagged another 0.3 with a rodeo site and 0.2 and 0.2 for two brothels down the block from the hotel.
Rolling into the finish line I looked at my clock and chuckled to see it was 12:19 p.m…..a scant two minutes before the all important “1221″. As I stopped at the finish line the scorekeeper wanted to check me and I pleaded, “Not yet!” and waited the minute for my clock and GPS to change. I took 3 more pictures of gadgets and figured at least 5 of the 6 would count. Another 0.5 points of low-hanging, low-points fruit, but still worth slightly more than one point when considered in total.
As I finished my last photograph I said, “Now.”
Chuck handed me some paperwork and told me I had an hour to get to the scoring table.
The rally ride was over. Now I had to secure the points.
Scoring went smoothly and I didn’t lose anything at the table. Only a couple of my pictures took slight examination or a hand over the laptop screen to make out a detail in the relatively bright sunlight of the Nevada morning. My friend seemed a little bit non-plussed by RJ and my special photographs, but he smiled a little too. I’m getting ready in the upper left.
I agreed with the math and looked at the relatively small handwritten “126.5″ on a scrap of paper and started to wonder how others had done.
George Zelenz is always like a fart in a skillet and asked me what I had gotten right after I got up from the scoring table…and I felt like I should hold back back some. I choked up on the bat, checked my swing and said, “A bit over a hundred.” nonchalantly thinking that would put me in the hunt somewhere, but not an amount that would overly surprise anybody or tip a hand in case I had done really well.
He looked at me wide-eyed as if he was doing a spit take . Then he reached out his hand and shook it. “Dude! You dominated! Game over!”
Apparently, I should have said “a bit over 60″ to make it more drama…..
As other usual top dogs came in I heard lots of scores in the 60′s and puzzled slightly that a rookie had 84 and did the same thread as me….just clockwise to my CCW. I still wondered if there was another sleeper out there holding points close to their vest and knew it wouldn’t really be over until the banquet. I had learned that before in SPANK 2010 when Eric Jewell beat me by about 425 points out of over 100,000.
It’s never over until the banquet is my rule.
Regardless, I felt very good that I had been able to snag the last two bonuses and executed a plan…plus some.
Napping a bit first I then joined the throng of people wandering to the old Post Office to break bread for the last time and tell tales about their adventures. The table of plaques was well-flanked by a set of prizes including throwing knives and an ax that would dispatch real zombies with efficient precision.
Snippets of the ride, memories of exchanges with other riders, and Cletha in full makeup as a zombie flitted around my mind like a Romero flashback. 32 hours and I’d ridden through 6 Western states, visited multiple national parks and monuments, and wore down a set of tires half of their lives. Memories of the ride were thick and blurry.
The food was good, conversation friendly, and fatigue of riders balanced by the good cheer.
The top 10 riders were read aloud starting at about 49 points and by the time the top 3 came up my good friend Greg Marbach (whom I’ve never beat in a rally) placed 3rd with 68 points (that’s nearly double his points….not that I’m counting ). 2nd place was the rookie on a Hayabusa on the thread I chose at 85 points and I knew I had won handily.
An interesting estimate is how I gathered points over time. While not logarithmic…it was defitely point heavy in the ending hours.
My points and miles were announced at 126.5 with 2326 miles and had ridden the most miles as well as the most points per mile. Cognoscente events usually favor the rider and this was no exception. Bagging half again as many points as 2nd place demonstrated that solving the puzzle at the beginning and then executing it was the key to the event.
The plaque and axe were wonderful mementos and would adorn my living room wall with distinction. The Cognoscente volunteers know how to throw a good event. And Brian knows how to build an incredibly fun puzzle. I’m ready for the real Apocalypse and any zombie that might stray into my kill zone.
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Lots of little things done and bigger projects started the past week. The spiffy new helmet really excited me about riding this year!
One I haven’t done before (on a modern motorcycle) was to “check” the valves. I’ve adjusted a few tappets over time and even one shim/bucket thing on a Volkswagen and feel just a little disconcerting taking off the valve cover, unplugging many connections, not letting dirt and crud fall into things, and then remembering how it all went back together.
I concluded the check on Tuesday and found that two valves were out of specification….the outboard two exhaust valves E1A and E4B. They were tight by .03 and 0.8 mm respectively. As my previous FJR never went out of spec the 3 times I had it checked over 135,000 miles…I flinched a little and hoped I hadn’t gone too long.
That then made me have to do some more research and push my own comfort envelope a bit further to understand the world of motorcycle valve shims as well as spending about $70 on a shim kit.
The kit will be here next week and I’ll get to push my envelope even a bit further by loosening one cam (while keeping it intact with the cam chain) and changing shims.
Slow and methodical. Plus now that I understand shims come in .05mm increments I don’t feel too bad as one valve is below minimum less than one shim size and the other out between one and two shim increments.
Then I get to put everything back together, add coolant, and start it back up. If Apollo 13 can make it back to Earth–I’m sure I can successfully adjust a couple of valves.
Once I get the engine buttoned back up two bigger projects are installing a cruise control and redoing some of the electricals in support of lighting changes.Share on Facebook