Sunday, August 3, 2014

2012 Utah 1088 3 day

  As I was preparing to leave the parking lot following the MN1K, I noticed my final drive weeping around the outer seal. After checking with Bart about a BMW dealer that might have a look on my way out of town on Monday, he suggested Moon Motorsports in Monticello, north of Minnesota. It would mean I would have to skip a trip to Mt. Rushmore, but at that point I was thinking my 3 day 1088 rally was in serious doubt. I called and left a message on the service manager’s voice mail and headed to bed. Monday I was up early and was there before the doors opened. The team at Moon was fantastic, getting me in right away and back on my way in about 90 minutes, can’t say enough about a dealership that goes to that kind of effort to get a rider back on the road.

clip_image002[4]The rest of the trip to Salt Lake was pretty uneventful, and I arrived early enough on Tuesday to pick up some supplies and scout the first bonus, a gun range a few miles from the rally hotel. The bonuses for this rally were sent out in a few weeks in advance, although with my pending job change I really didn’t get a chance to review the rally pack until the week before, so I spent some additional time reviewing my route.

One of the bonuses was to get a picture of the famous “Route 66” sign/logo, one of the rally volunteers had a Route 66 shirt on, however all but 2 of us missed this chance at easy points, both at the hotel and at the gun range. That said I think my photo which you’ll see later turned out pretty cool, still had I not come across that signage it would have been easy points missed. Having never shot a hand gun and having not fired a weapon since my pre-teen days on the farm,

I predictably missed all three shots on the range and was on my way.
clip_image006[4]My next bonus was Bryce canyon, although along the way I had to make sure to stop and by fuel or food as every state you did that earned you 410 points. While I was there wouldn’t you know it a Sheriff pulled in to the gas station. The 1088 always includes a bonus in their multi-day rallies, requiring riders to take a picture of a cop in uniform. He was a little reluctant at first, but ultimately agreed. There it was not even 11am and I’d bagged 4 bonuses. Bryce Canyon was brutally hot and to make it worse, Andy Mackey and I weren’t exactly sure which sign we needed a photo of at Inspiration Point. We ended up hiking up the trail to get this shot,        

and were rewarded with this amazing view.


Next up was a trip out to Glen Canyon Dam, seems like once a year I end up in Page Arizona during a rally, I was here in 2011 in the Iron Butt Rally and in 2010 during the Spank 5-day.

This was the first of 4 dams I would visit in order to claim one of the biggest bonuses of the event.      The trip out to Glen Canyon and back gave me plenty of time to think about my next stop. Right from the time I opened the bonus pack a few weeks earlier,

clip_image012[4]I struggled with the decision to do or not to do the “Sky Jump” from the Stratosphere tower in Las Vegas. It’s a bungee jump of over 800 feet, fortunately it is not a feet first dive, but ended up feeling more like a ride down in open platform than a free fall.  I had made a reservation and ended up getting there about 45 minutes ahead of schedule. At the top I was originally disappointed that there were a couple of guys taking their time were in front of me. It turned out to be a big benefit as I was able to watch them start their jump and noticed as they stepped off the ledge, they didn’t plummet, but the cables seemed to control their descent. I told myself to look straight ahead at the horizon and think as if I was riding down a glass elevator. Part way down I even worked up the nerve to look down, right about the point they “bounced” me about a 100 feet from the deck. Steve’s notes on this bonus said he didn’t like high priced bonuses, but that this was a once in a life time experience, it was pretty cool.


No way I would normally do something like this, it’s amazing the experiences the world of rallying has opened up for me.   It was close to 45 Celsius as I made my way into Vegas and it wasn’t much better on the way out. I had a frustrating Gas stop that took way to long as I had to try three different pumps before I would get one to pump. By the time I finally got to Hoover Dam to take a pic of the info signs I lost my hour cushion but was right on schedule.


                Next up was a trip to Joshua tree National Park to get a pic of the entrance sign, long the way my lights illuminated something painted on the road surface. I was past it by the time I realized it was the Route 66 photo I needed. I love this shot and it really gave me some energy.      I bagged the Joshua Tree sign and fought the winds as I headed West with San Diego and the USS Midway in my sights.


 In my rally planning I had calculated to be at the Midway just after 1am, my camera was set to Mtn time, so 18 hours and a little over 1100 miles I was about 15 minutes off my plan.   clip_image020[4] My next bonus was a must do, even though it was my bonus I had never been there before. Steve had invited the riders to submit a bonus location. In the months prior to the rally my wife had shown me a story about a young boy from L.A. who built an elaborate DIY cardboard arcade inside his dad’s used auto parts store, and invited people to play. The entire summer went by, and Caine had yet to have a single customer, until one day, a filmmaker named Nirvan stopped to buy a door handle. If you get a chance, Google Caine’s Arcade and watch the youtube movie. Very cool.


This bonus seemed to take for ever to get a decent shot, this is the US Bank Building in downtown LA. Only 15 minutes from the last photo, but I must have taken a dozen shots from 2 or 3 different spots. Was ultimately trying to be able to see the US Bank sign (which is near the top) in the photo, finally I gave up figuring that the building was unique in shape.   A bit of fatigue starting to set in, but a couple more quick bonuses before I could call it a day.       


I wish this photo would have turned out better, this is a shot of the front gates of the Henson Studios in LA. This bonus was a tribute to Ken Morton (AKA Dread Pirate Kermit) a rally rider who was lost during the 2011 1088.


Normally I’m not too happy with the shots I get at night on a rally but this one I was really pleased with. I checked out this bonus location on Google Maps prior to the rally and noticed the Engine we needed to get a photo of was visible from the road. So I planned to try and get this shot at night, and if it didn’t turn out I knew I could always come back in the morning as I planned to stay near here. As it happened the photo turned out pretty good, my bike is on the road, behind and a bit above me with every light on high beam.   Grabbed a hotel a few miles away to set up my first bonus of day 2 at Six Flags Park.   clip_image028[4]

So the first bonus on my list for day 2 was to get a photo of Colossus for 1555 points and take a ride for 4444 more. I thought I would get there early and hit the park as it opened at 10:30 pacific, thinking not many people would get there right at the opening, boy was I wrong. The crowds were lined up waiting for the gates to open, and of course the entry to Colussus was almost on the opposite side of the park, but at least there was no line waiting to get on. I typically am not a roller coaster fan, and this was no different, not one I’ll do again unless there’s rally points to be had.

On the way to six flags I also snapped up the In & Out Burger Bonus, now only had to try to find a baseball game to get the last of what I had termed as “wild card” bonuses. They did not have a specific location to go to, you just had to find these at some point during the rally.   clip_image030[4] I didn’t realize it when I had set up my route, but the next bonus I had actually been to a couple years before. I served as a Marshal at the Pebble Beach US Open in 2010. After the event I picked up my wife Patti in San Fransisco and we rode back home via the Oregon Coast. On the way to pick her up I passed Alice’s Restaurant near Woodside, California. Some great roads in this area and it was fun riding through here again.

clip_image032[4] What was not nearly so much fun was riding through downtown San Fran at 5 o’clock on a Friday afternoon. I was running low on gas and I’d like to say I was running late due to the trip to Woodside, but looking back I was just 20 minutes behind plan at this point. It was hot and people were everywhere, however I did manage to find a prime parking spot at Fisherman’s Warf, right across the street from Alioto’s restaurant, the bonus called for us to take a photo of the clamshell wall just inside the entrance to the restaurant. I’m sure the patrons were happy I wasn’t there for dinner, I’m sure by this time the fish smelled better than I did.                        


Next bonus was only a few blocks away. Lombard Street is list as the “Crookedest street” in the US.   The bonus called for us to get a photo of this crooked street from either end, and I ended up doing just that as I wasn’t happy with the first shot I ended up grabbing some gas a few blocks away and came back and took a shot from the bottom. But that was precious minutes that would cost me even more time an another hour or so.

 clip_image038[4]By the time I finally made it out of downtown San Fran I was almost an hour behind. The China Clipper Memorial was on Alameda Island, which I had no problem getting on and finding the marker, but getting off was a different story.  The Posey tube and the Webster Street tube are two parallel underwater tunnels connecting the cities of Oakland and Alameda, California, running beneath the Alameda–Oakland Estuary.

Currently, the Posey tube carries Oakland-bound traffic under the Estuary, while the Webster tube carries traffic bound for Alameda. The Posey tube is the second-oldest underwater vehicular tunnel in the US, preceded only by the Holland Tunnel.

Well as I tried to return to Oakland to get back on I-880 to keep heading North, a vehicle accident had closed the Posey Tube.

clip_image040[4]The only good thing about that my detour took me directly past a sports field and sure enough, Friday night Baseball was underway, good enough for 1987 points and my final wild card bonus. The bad I was more than an hour behind. At this point I had pretty much decided to drop Battery Park Lighthouse, which probably was a good thing, other riders that decided to go up the coast really got wet, although I would see some precipitation I wasn’t counting on the next day.


  A few hours later I grabbed my third dam in Oroville.        I had decided since I wasn’t heading to the Coast I would try to get as close to my first bonus of day 3 as I could, which was Crater Lake. I decided on Klamath Falls and made a reservation at a hotel there, little did I know how uncomfortable a ride that would turn out to be.

clip_image044[4]  Rain was particularly heavy as I made my way to Klamath Falls, coming into town I also ran into road construction which was shut down for the night. I almost went down in a short gravel section as I tried to make my way around in the dark, not fun but ultimately no harm. Up and rolling the next moring I realized it could have been much worse the night before as I ran into SNOW at Crater lake. I’ve been here two or three times now and never have seen the lake, every time it’s been fogged or clouded in. In addition to having to take it easy, it also meant I lost over an hour as I had to backtrack to get back on the main highway as the route out I had planned was blocked by snow.

clip_image046[4]A few people were making their way out as I stopped and talked to the Ranger, apparently they had spent the night outside in their vehicles, trapped by the snow.    The detour meant I would have to skip some bonuses in order to get back on time, so I dropped a couple stops in Portland which were going to be too far and too time consuming considering the points. Prior to that a stop in Bend Oregon for a bonus overlooking the city.


Then a long hot slog to the Dworshak Dam near Orofino, Id. Best part of this trip was leaving this dam and heading back to Salt Lake. I had a nice long run down Highway 95 and 55 to McCall, Id and then Boise before hooking back up with the Interstate. If you haven't had a chance to make that ride on a motorcycle, put it on your bucket list. Nice long sweepers and some great scenery make this one of my favorite motorcycle roads.

  I made it safely back to the finish with plenty of time to spare. There was one small snafu at scoring, however it wasn’t my issue, rather the rally master had accidentally marked down one bonus with the wrong point total on his score sheet and I couldn’t get the totals to match.

Thanks to Steve for being very cool about me pointing out the error, when you ride the miles you want the points. Little did I know that it wouldn’t have made a difference as I had more than enough cushion to cover the lost points. In the end I was very pleased when Steve called my name as the first place finisher, I knew it had been a good ride and I was very pleased to pick up my first rally win.

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly Rally.

2011 Good, Bad & Ugly Rally (Big Sky Montana)

Since this would be the closest to a rally on "home" turf for me, I was really looking forward to riding the GBU. The rally was the brain child of IBR veteran's Bob and Sylvie Torter. The V-Twins and staff did a great job and I hope they hold it again.

Rally waypoints were sent to us the week prior, and since I was in my old home town of Cranbrook over a weekend, I decided to do a little run to some of the rally locations in the Northwest of Montana that I didn't anticipate riding on the rally. I'd been through Libby numerous times when I still lived in BC, and that loop including Lake Koocanusa is still one of my favourites. However I'd never ventured north of Libby to the Montana town of Yaak. Been to Yahk, BC and back (sorry) but never Yaak, Montana. Not much to see but the roads were fun. Never thought I'd end up back there on the rally.

Since I'd only returned home from the Iron Butt Rally a few weeks before, and was planning on taking part in the Minnesota 1000 the following weekend, I felt I'd better hold off heading for Big Sky until the Friday morning of the Rally. I had about a six hour trip to Rally HQ, so I left around 7am. I had until 4pm to finish the odo run so I figured I had plenty of time. Of course I hit a couple long delays for road construction, just enough that timing was a little tighter than I wanted but nothing too drastic.

After the odo loop, I ran into Linda Lehman in the hotel lobby. Linda had scored me on leg 1 of the IBR, and she and husband Terry were part of the rally staff for GBU. "I have someone I need to introduce" she said, "Rod, I'd like you to meet Dick Fish, he's been asking about you!" I knew of Dick Fish, he was a legend in the LD world, what I didn't know was why on earth he'd know anything about me. Dick explained that since I was from Lethbridge and he was living only 45 minutes away in Cardston, he had followed my progress in the IBR. We chatted for a few moments, but since it was getting late we agreed we'd meet up on Sunday after the rally and talk more. Unfortunately as most reading this know, we never got that chance as we lost Dick in a freak accident during the rally. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family...

At the riders meeting, we learned that the waypoints we'd been sent didn't include all locations. Some were the middle markers for a series of "Scenic Routes" which we would need to document the beginning, middle and end locations of in order to score the overall bonus. I'd worked up a half dozen or so potential routes based on what we'd been sent in advance, that work had pretty
much just gone out the window. The riders meeting went long, and it was after midnight by the time I finally settled on a route I was happy with.


And they're off...At 5am, Warchild "The Releaser" Wilson sent off the riders as only he can. Talk about pressure! when Warchild points, you'd better be ready to go. Whew, second time in a month I managed to avoid stalling it in front of Dale :)

One of the things I've come to enjoy most about rallies is the unexpected surprise of ending up somewhere you never thought you'd end up. Like the sunrise bonus at Landscape Arch after riding all night in the 5 day SPANK rally last year, or riding through New York City on a Saturday night as I did in this year's IBR. My first bonus location was one of those bonuses.
 I actually added this one strictly on points and proximity to my route, it wasn't until I got close to Butte and saw "Evel Knevil Days" on a sign outside of town that it registered where I was headed.

Only on a rally would you find yourself visiting Evel's grave at 6:50 on a Saturday morning. Did I mention I love rally riding? This was just too cool a start.

I was also encouraged to see Jeff Earls pull in a couple riders behind me, never a bad thing to see a ride like Jeff on the same route as you, even if it was the first stop. I got a little turned around leaving town as both my GPS's decided to route me back to Evel's grave, I knew it was wrong but blindly followed them anyway. My thoughts of being on the same route as Earls quickly vanished as he continued on I-90 and I found the first of many fun and twisty routes on my way to my next two bonuses.

I had originally planned a route that would take me further South towards Idaho Falls, but since I'd never done a 32 hour rally before I really wasn't sure what kind of mileage to expect, or if I'd need a rest period.

For some reason I just couldn't seem to make the Southern route work, even though I was sure it would. Ultimately Matt Watkins would use that and more for his winning ride. Nice ride Matt !

I instead ending up opting for Lolo Pass and then a shot north to the same area I'd ridden the weekend previous for some high point bonii and routes. I ended up on 93 heading north and made a couple stops before grabbing the first of three pictures to claim Lolo.


The Daly Manson near Hamilton

Can you see the girl in the beer mug?


     Lolo Hot Springs Totem pole.

Lolo was a gamble, good points and a fun road, but it can also be slooow going. Fortunately I got through in great shape, and managed to only get flashed once by the fuzz.

Only other problem with this route was it was going to be five hours between bonuses. Considering this was a Montana rally, after Lolo I was almost through Idaho and could have spit into Washington a couple of times.

Heading Upstream - The end of the Lolo Route Bonus

The key to my route was to get through Lolo and then north in time to complete the Piano man timed bonus. 

Turned out I was a couple hours ahead of schedule by the time I reached Yaak.


The Yaak forest route reminded me of the Wildwood Highway near Redding California, maybe a little rougher . Just a narrow one laner in the middle of nowhere.

The Eagle in Libby was the end of the Yaak Route and the beginning of the Lake Koocanusa route.

The Lake Koocanusa route ended in Eureka, only an hour from my old home town of Cranbrook.

From there it was a quick trip over to Kalispell for the Climbing Cowboy. Now 2 1/2 hours ahead of schedule I had to make some decisions, do I stick to my route or add another high point route bonus over the Going to the Sun Highway ?

My wife Patti and I usually try to do the Going to the Sun Highway at least once a year. It had only opened a week or two prior to the GBU because of all the snow, and since I originally wasn't planning on coming to this part of the state, I hadn't checked road conditions.

If I'd known it was in the condition it was, I probably would never have decided to ride it in the dark. I ran into Trey Nicoud at a construction area near the summit, the wind was blowing quite hard at the top so we held each other's flags.

I also wasn't really looking forward to the ride from the east gate of Glacier park to the town of East Glacier and the world's Largest purple spoon.

This area is full of deer, the pavement is rough and while I love the twisties, this is an area where a mistake can happen quickly and it is pretty remote.

On the positive I'd been through this region many times, so this is what it's like to rally close to home, I was thankful for the local knowledge. While it was getting late, I was feeling good and I knew I was through the hardest part of my rally.

The biggest question for me was still, would I need to stop somewhere for a few hours.I had Great Falls coming up, but really beyond that there wasn't going to be any opportunities to grab a room, so I would need to decide soon if I could go the distance to the finish, or if I would need to stop.

The Browning Teepee bonus was easy and a quick find, andI was familiar with the Cut Bank Penguin after reading about it in reports from the 07 IBR.

By this time I had decided to skip the hotel, I had done 24 hours plus on many occasions and could tell fatigue was not going to be an issue.

I had trouble finding the World Greatest Girls monument in the dark and then getting a decent picture.

I'd stayed only a few blocks from the Kid Russell and Monty statue in Great Falls, but never had seen it until that night.

The second bonus in Great Falls was also decent points for a pretty cool Lewis and Clark statue.

Since I'd decided to forgo my planned 4 hour rest I found I was now looking for bonii to add to my route. Prior to heading south for the Greatest Girls statue, I stopped for gas in Shelby and had a quick look on the GPS about adding Havre. I decided against it as it would have added about 250 miles to my route. I should have looked closer because I could have easily added the Shep bonuses in Fort Benton which would have only added a 100 miles to the route. In the end it wouldn't have mattered as it wouldn't have changed my finishing result.

My last route bonus was the Kings Hill Byway, which I enjoyed so much I decided to ride again on my way back home.

I ended up backtracking a few blocks in White Sulphur Springs for the Castle bonus. I actually thought the Rallymasters might have been trying to trick us up with this one as there had been a fair amount of discussion about collecting the 3 route bonuses in order before collecting another bonus. I don't think it mattered as others got the castle in the midst of their Kings Hill route, but it was only a half mile or so and I didn't want to risk losing points.

Backtracking also gave one of the "relaxed" class riders a chance to head south in front of me. We had met at the Ft. Logan sign and separated when I went back for the castle. Unfortunately in the time I went back, he ended up hitting a small deer. Good think it was just a fawn and he managed to keep the bike upright and the impact didn't hurt himself or the bike. I ended up following him for 15 or 20 miles until he was certain the bike was no worse for wear.

My original plan was now out the window as I had only one bonus left and that was the low point "Elk" in Bozeman. Instead I continued south to Livingston and the Sacajawea bonus. I grabbed that around 6:30am and stopped for a quick McDonalds breakfast.

My only options here were to grab the single bonus in Bozeman or risk heading into Yellowstone park for a pair of bonuses, plus another outside the park gates in West Yellowstone. As it was I probably could have added Old Faithful, actually that was one bonus that really surprised me. Prior to the rally I was convinced that there would have been big points for grabbing a shot of Old Faithful while erupting. As it was the points were really low and I think only rider grabbed those points.

Yes those really are two different signs, it took a while at scoring to sort that one out but I got the points for both.

I grabbed the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center around 9am and took a leisurely drive back to Big Sky.

If my memory serves me right I stopped the clock around 10am, so it wasn't very good time management. But overall I was confident I had run a good rally and there was nothing big enough points wise that made me feel it was worth risking the whole rally at that point.

I ended up being scored by Dick Peak, another IBR rider I'd gotten a chance to spend a little time with at the Ontario finish. Dick and I had a funny exchange as I sat down to score. "How many miles did you end up doing?" asked Dick. "Around 1575" I replied. Dick just shook his head. Now remember he was one of 3 riders who went for Alaska on Leg 1 of this year's IBR, I wasn't sure why Dick was shaking his head. 1300 were needed to be a finisher, so I figured 1575 wasn't bad.

"I know I can do those miles" he said, "it's just when you sit here at scoring that sounds like a long way." It was a nice confirmation of the satisfaction I felt for my rally. We tallied up the points and Dick smiled, "That's a ton of points." And with that my rally was done, all that was left was to watch the other riders come in and grab a nap.

I was hoping it was going to be enough to crack the top 10, but by the time they called the 4th place rider they still hadn't called my name. I'd managed to take advantage of my knowledge of a good part of the route, pushed my limits again and was thrilled to head home with 3rd place.

Once again a big thank you to all the rally staff, a job well done.

Rod Schween
IBA #418
Lethbridge, Ab
November, 2011