RWYB – means several things to different people. To the Rallymaster [RM] it means a lot of hard work in preparation and planning so some of us can come and play; to others it became Rain Where You Be; to me it meant soul searching in my attempt to do well; and to still others the name means Run What Ya’ Brung – kind of an “if you can ride it here, then you can ride it in the rally”.
The short version: about 26 of 35 showed up in Salt Lake City on Labor Day weekend to go wherever in the USA we decided to go to collect bonus points that we all knew the locations of 30 days in advance… These included Hyder Alaska, Key West Florida, the far North East and San Diego, California. Approximately 9 called during the last few days prior to the rally to cancel their efforts due to the threat of two hurricanes. We had a pre-rally dinner and heard some final instructions, had a good night’s sleep and were off for 5 days of riding at 07:00 Tuesday. Several apparently didn’t let the hurricanes bother them and headed E and S. I was bothered and so I took an alternate route that was W, NW, and mid-west. 19 of us finished; I scored 12th; the victor had ~10,500 [~15%] more points than me. To finish one had to accumulate 5000 miles in 5 days [120hrs]. The mileages ranged from 5009 to 6346. An interesting note is that we had our drivers licenses sealed in an envelope that we carried; if we brought it back unopened then we received points, and if it was opened we lost a lot of points [hence, ride carefully and don’t have to show your license to a policeman! (LEO)] And, ALL of us succeeded in this bonus effort. But, in truth, one silver tongued Canadian on the ride talked his way out of opening his envelope even though a LEO did give him a ticket.
So, I arrived in SLC in time to get rested and dried out having run into several hours of rain at night in the higher elevations of eastern Nevada the night before. I learned that I would always stop to don my rain gear while in a rally unless I can see through the storm and am going to be warm when the rain stops. It was pitch black and all I could see was lightning flashes in the distance so I tried to ride on – and that was on up to >5000 feet – e.g. cold. I stopped in Ely and added layers and my rain gear and headed out into another hour of rain.
The next day, SLC saw some terrific winds and more of the storm I had ridden in so it wasn’t real drying as I had hoped, but other riders were trying to arrive and were being stopped by 50mph-plus winds and rain. Everyone eventually made it safely though.
I used the day to watch the weather and keep working on alternate routes as everyone had to turn in their proposed route at the dinner. I eventually realized I did not want to do battle with a for sure landed hurricane and so began to relax with my decision.
Rallying is about managing one’s stops and rest times. It is not about speed, though we do ride briskly. Every gas stop is eating into what should be wheel-turning miles time. I can get off the interstate, fill the bike with gas, make my entry into the required fuel log, and get back on the interstate in about 5 minutes. If I have to do something with equipment, or eat, make a phone call or whatever, then those minutes can really accumulate.
Tuesday at 07:00 I was out of the parking lot instantly and on the interstate south to Las Vegas. Within a 100 miles I realized I had a personal equipment failure and that cost me about 20+ minutes to correct, but I did and that was important. I arrived in Vegas a bit behind schedule, with one gas stop, only to find my first bonus location was no longer where it was supposed to be. Luckily a security guard was there and told me where to go to the new location. I proceeded to it but found a very sun-washed sign and boarded up building instead of a thriving business – it was to be a “neon sign museum” for all the old Vegas and area neon signs. I took a few pictures and headed back to the original location and took some more pictures there including one of a neat old neon sign that was set into the concrete sidewalk that was about a motel – very 50’ish. I do want to go back to this when they get the new museum open. [N side of Las Vegas]
We usually budget about 10 minutes to get to a bonus location from the highway and do the required gathering of pictures, receipts, or what not. This first one took about 20 minutes…
Off to the pink elephant at the S end of Vegas for a picture – this one took a bit less than 10 minutes so I was feeling better about my time. Then to Baker CA for a pic of the world’s tallest thermometer. The reading was about 100o and I found a shady spot to set up the picture – we ALWAYS have to have our rally flag in every picture – somewhere. In this case it was a pink hand towel with big black and very unique font of RWYB. Thus, the RM knows we were at the bonus location to take the picture during the rally and not before.
As we could accumulate extra bonus points for buying gas in every state we were in, I had to stop in Nevada early to top off the tank and get a receipt. Then the Baker stop was fairly short but it was 14:00 or so and time for some Goo and nuts – manage the time at stops and for rest…
My friend, lawyer and chiropractor Jonathan had taken me to a bicycle shop to get Goo-like products to keep my energy up. I had learned at the August Iron Butt National Meet that we need 3-6000 Calories per day, even while riding! I had not been consuming anything close to that in my rallies and perhaps was mentally more fatigued than I realized. I found some little squeeze packs that contain no caffeine, some with 20mg of caffeine and some 50mg. I bought many of each – and they all contained important electrolytes as well as energy producing ingredients that didn’t include the dreaded high fructose corn syrup – try to find products without that crap!
These quick snack products work well. Add some nuts and a lot of water and I felt good. Thanks to Linda T of CustomTankBags http://www.customtankbags.com/ who made me a hydration kit that worked well – a 1gallon thermos to keep the liquid cold that sits in her nifty carrier attached to the passenger peg. I can now ride and through a tube, drink all the cold water I want and need. So, after some goo and nuts it was nice to have this at my finger tips.
Headed N now to the middle of the San Joaquin valley and Hanford CA – the home of the best malt according to the RM. I arrived early evening, got the malt – RM is correct!! – took the required pic and filed the receipt, and while ‘eating’ the thick malt, made phone calls to the office where Sofie was doing well and to the RM, Steve Chalmers, to explain the Vegas neon museum fiasco. He was appreciative of the heads up on it and I helped myself have a better chance at securing the points for that bonus location with the explanation.
Man, that malt was good… more nuts and water and head into the setting sun to San Francisco – at least I wouldn’t have to deal with much traffic during the early night hours [part of my plan]. The RM wasn’t sure all of us would remember the Haight-Asbury area but having never been there or participated in the LSD culture I WAS able to find it, talked a lady into holding my rally flag as I snapped the intersection road signs, and realized there were still some remnants of the 60’s around there.
Nice lady holding rally flag!
Off to collect a Golden Gate Bridge receipt only to find there was no toll [no receipt] while headed northbound. So I did what any enterprising rallyist would do, I quickly hung a U-ey and arrived at the southbound ticket booth – paid my $6, got my receipt, hung another U-ey and headed N out of San Francisco.
I rode into the night as far as I could and about 1AM [per my plan] I stopped for a motel and 5 or 6hrs of rest. I was unfortunately about 100mi short of my goal for the day, but in northern CA along I-5. And, I felt good that the day had generally gone well, and I have described this first day in detail so you understand what goes on when things go right in a rally…
…because day 2 was different. I had no trouble waking up, felt fairly rested, bike and equipment were intact and the bike started. Got back on the Interstate and did some rocking! [lingo for getting on down the road…] Seemed perfect – until I decided to believe the GPS that said to get to my next bonus I should take a highway north through Oregon and I would save time and miles over the Interstate. OK…
Well, that didn’t work out and I spent 8 hours traversing the state of Oregon and about 7.5 of those hours were in near-stroke mode. While I respect 55mph apparently statewide speed limit [I had not researched this] I could not stand the 52 or 53mph the Oregonians drove; and, didn’t pass each other even if the center line wasn’t a double yellow; and when a passing lane appeared they might speed up to 54 or 55mph… ARRGGGHH.
The shits of all of this was that I did not arrive in Maryhill WA for a pic of Sam Hill’s Stonehenge memorial to our soldiers until 18:45 – the whole day without scoring any points and only covering less than 500mi. I headed to Seattle at a brisk pace – again knowing I would arrive at night and be able to avoid traffic, but I had to cross off a bonus in northern Washington due to being far behind the clock and its location on an Indian Reservation.
Are you aware your vehicle can be confiscated while you are on a reservation and you may not get it back? That was a bit unsettling and so arriving at 01:00 to take a picture of a burial marker was no longer an option.
I did score the picture of the troll under the Aurora Bridge in Seattle. That was fun and worth 858 points. Then I decided to ride through the night to try to catch up with my plan – skipping the burial marker bonus and riding through the night should get me back close to square one. I knew I would need sleep and I stopped at a couple of roadside rest areas – used the air mattress on a picnic table of one, fell asleep instantly and probably for a half-hour, then at another just laid down and slept for about 15 minutes.
We learned that less than 45 minutes of sleep is a power nap and can be refreshing. If you are going to sleep for >45min then you need 2 to 3 hours of sleep to reset your internal clock. I do well with power naps. Of course when the sun comes up it’s a whole new day – in many ways and I usually feel refreshed.
I was west of Spokane and headed into the panhandle of Idaho as the night was turning to day – but clouds kept the sun out of my eyes and also hid it from my spirit. I needed some sun! I sent a text message to my friend Larry Huffman that I had passed through Coeur d’Alene ID – an old haunt of his and received one back about taking out trees in someone’s honor…
Then into Montana and I was looking to really rock and get back some time. I was figuring on 300 miles in 3:45 – about 80+ with a gas stop. The road was good, traffic cooperative and I was rocking along. Then a line of brake lights appeared east of Missoula on I-90. I slowed to a stop and couldn’t see the front of the line. After a few minutes the line moved forward a bit and I took the opportunity to wind my way between stopped vehicles toward the front. A couple of emergency vehicles coming by on the shoulder of the road seemed to indicate this stop wasn’t for road construction.
Toward the head of the line I stopped for a couple of truckers who were out of their vehicles. One said to not go any further forward as there was a dump truck on its side blocking all 3 lanes and under the trailer was a camper and under that a leaking propane tank. Oh boy! We are talking hours of road closure here. So, I said to the trucker that I was on a rally and needed to keep moving. He suggested a detour and my map showed me what became a 51mi detour back to the Interstate – the map just didn’t explain that 41mi of it was a 2 or 3 lane dirt road, and that some of the dirt road was under construction and big road hogging dump trucks were on it too; and of course since the surface was hard pack and since I was on a fully loaded road bike the weather decided to provide RAIN that made it slicker than greased owl snot. Just what I needed – more adventure and fun. Well, when I got back to the I-state 3 hours later, it was very empty. The operative phrase there is that I did get back; and the road closure was still in effect. Now I started bookin’ it.
But, the rain decided to fall even harder and as I rode toward Cody, WY the cold set in and daylight turned to nighttime. I was miserable – 300mi had taken me 8 more hours, not the 3:45 I had hoped for. I located the Cody Firearms Museum inside a large complex honoring Buffalo Bill Cody – a true wild-west pioneer. The nice man who helped me with my rally flag and picture suggested the direction I was headed meant snow and he sent me down the road to a mom ‘n pop motel instead. I had made it to that museum 10 minutes before it closed, and to the motel when it had only a couple more rooms!
Good call. I needed rest, food, warmth and dryness and I decided it was time to make an alternate route so I could finish the 5000 miles and not to worry about maximizing my bonus points accumulation. Another good call. A hot shower, a washout of the LD Comfort garments, a Subway sandwich and several hours of sleep were the tickets to a clearer head. LD Comfort makes motorcycle and long distance specific undergarments that are warm in the cool air and can be wet down for cooling in the heat and they are truly comfortable. A good find at the National Meet.
My new route lopped off about 1000 miles into the Dakotas and Minnesota and instead took me to Nebraska and Kansas. That 4th day I bagged “carhenge” in Alliance, NE to make a combination bonus with the Stonehenge. Carhenge is a collection of cars set into mother Earth.
Then I was off to what I thought would be interesting bonus – the center of the 48 states – in Lebanon, KS. It was a bit anticlimactic but there I was and took the pic that was necessary. Also went to Cawker City to capture the country or world’s largest ball of sisal twine bonus – it’s now about 3AM.
I head back north toward the interstate that will take me toward SLC and the finish line on the final day. I fell asleep 3 times and thus, following our rule – 3 errors or problems and you stop – well, I knew I was pushing it and there before me in the middle of nowhere was a Motel 8 that was brand new. At 05:00 there was even a clerk at the desk. Where m’am is the dotted line?
About 4 hours of sleep later I was up and breakfasting on their hardboiled eggs and OJ. I had about 22 hours to complete the last 1000 miles and during those hours and miles I would bag a couple more bonii. First was the jackalope statue in Douglas WY. That meant a couple hundred mile diversion off the chosen route and of course more rain. I stopped to put the gear on again as there was a black wall of clouds and falling rain in front of me and I knew I would be riding late into the night to finish and I did NOT want to be wet and cold. So, I stopped. Got the gear on in a few minutes. Turned around to get on the bike and there was the sun and blue sky where the blackness had been… Oh well. Forge onward.
A nice lady at the next gas stop directed me to the area of the jackalope and I snapped a picture of it.
I use painter’s blue masking tape in several ways but a good one is to block out setting [or rising] sun so that I am not blinded. I put the tape on at the jackalope because I was headed directly into the setting sun on a secondary highway. Good I did because the road called for good vision.
Arrived at so-close-to-home that it would have been nice to turn south toward SLC but instead I had a 160mi loop for one more bonus and another picture – and that was to the north. I needed gas and stopped at a 7-11. Got my gas, coffee and in pulls a pickup truck with a dude who is hyped about the 12-point buck he had in the back of the truck – the rack only. He and buddies had just hauled out on pack horses, 350 pounds of meat from a bow n’ arrow kill from a couple days ago. Pretty impressive. And in pulls a sheriff… Its midnight and I am thinking this is confrontation time over the right of the kill et al, but turns out these guys knew each other and all was friendly.
Bonus time! We could get photos of consenting LEOs with our rally flag and earn 21 points. I hadn’t had the “fortune” of meeting any LEOs during my trip but this was the moment. I asked the sheriff if I could take his pic because I was on a rally. At the same time I am unfurling my rally flag and he takes hold of it, straightens up in a nice pose and I snap away! He was proud and I was happy!
On north to get a picture of the Thikol/ATK rocket garden outside of Brigham City UT – and let me tell you that at 01:00 it was dark out there! I got flashed by a LEO who may have thought I was going too fast – but I wasn’t! – and eventually arrived for the pic.
Wow! headed to the barn now – just the final 100mi. I was in physical agony as my back was in spasms from the long days in the saddle and I wanted some sleep! But, the lure of the finish line was strong and I stayed awake ‘til I arrived.
Interestingly, my GPSs were telling me I had 5020+ miles so I wasn’t concerned about total mileage as both GPSs had been off at times while I was in tunnels or under the canopy of trees on the goat trail in Montana. At least the odometer of the motorcycle isn’t affected by GPS’ loss of satellites. But I was the distinguished finisher who had the 5009 miles – the lowest total. Not sure how that would have played out if I was recorded at 4998 instead, as that would have been non-finisher status.
So I am pleased with my forthcoming certificate that will say I completed a SS5000 – 5 consecutive days of 1000 miles each. I was a finisher of a tough multi-day rally. I was just a bit disappointed in my 12th place ranking.
I learned I do NOT have to do the 11-day IronButt Rally. I am very satisfied with 5 days.
Ride time 73:05hrs
Stop time 45.28hrs [my original plan was for not more than 30hrs of stop time]
Total 118:34 [as I finished earlier than 120hrs]
Ride speed average 68.7mph
Overall average 42.3mph
Max speed 1124mph !!! [this is what a GPS does when it loses the satellite and picks it up shortly thereafter – thinking I made a quantum speed leap to the new location!]
Total GPS miles 5019