Ahhhh… the roar of the greasepaint and the smell of the road. Springtime and my first rally of the season after a long winter and some lingering weariness from the MERA 10 ‘n 10 last summer. The LC-11 was a nice extension that followed the Low Cal 250 the previous weekend, and the LC-11 was based out of Yuma, AZ with an 11 hour destination point of San Diego BMW Motorcycles. The Low Cal rallies are fund raisers for the Polycystic Kidney Disease Foundation – a worthwhile cause.
The participants received the rally pack a week before the start via internet from the Rally Master, Craig Chaddock. A scavenger hunt, variable mileage format allowed us to plan a route that we would be able to ride and the goal would be to obtain the maximum bonus points that would add up to a nice grand total. Of course, some entrants would be going to new places and seeing new things and maybe preparing for a big dance down the road and so those were goals also.
This year there was an arm chair class – the participants received the same rally pack and based on strict given parameters they planned a route they thought might be a winning one but they didn’t have to ride it [or couldn’t, or had to work, or family…]. This class provides an opportunity to learn about mapping programs and GPSs and one’s own ability at decision making.
I took several evenings to plan my route and had more than one in the works until one became more clearly obvious as a potentially high-point choice. The RM was feeding us information and answering questions as the week went on so there were tidbits of his knowledge that helped in the final routing decision. A particularly high-point bonus was up a quite rough mountain dirt road that was 17 miles round trip and when descriptions of boulders and 15% grade climbs [then descents] were offered this became a no-go for me and my very nice BMW R1200 RT. Thank you, I will find points in other places, and I won’t suffer for 30-45min on a ‘road’ that might be fun while riding a full-on dirt bike! This turned out to be a wise decision, even if I say so.
On Friday I wound my way through the desert toward Yuma and visited a few of my choices for bonus locations. This was a worthy effort as I learned some roads weren’t of interest to me even though they offered a more direct path to the next bonus. Some of the bonuses were quite out of the way, others required some searching for answers, et al. – nicely typical of the rally concept. While traveling the slab I was able to try out my new communication system and talked with some friends via blue tooth and the ‘droid phone as well as listen to some tunes while shooting to the east on I-10.
In typical fashion I hadn’t eaten much for the day and decided to replenish at the Olive Garden before going to Peggy’s Diner for an informal rider’s meeting and ice cream. The gang was there and Craig offered advice during all the talk and getting to know each other time.
At 05:30 Saturday morning we started to gather at the appointed Chevron station for the gas-up, odometer check and the start. We had a 30-minute window to get on the road. There were approximately 15 of us to begin heading essentially N and W as the roads would take us to San Diego.
My first stop was in AZ at the Laguna Dam bridge – a US Government project of 1908 that is no longer in use. It was interesting because it was decorated with swastikas – long before Hitler’s actions gave the design an evil meaning.
Click on any photo for a larger version.
Then off to the Yuma Proving Grounds and a nice display of early but significant artillery – we were to locate a particular “Yuma Duster” and identify the barely legible writing on its front. Turns out to be Teddy’s Roughriders was the answer.
US95 took me N to Blythe and beyond for the Blythe Italigos – interesting works over several hundreds of miles of desert that were done by natives perhaps 10,000 years ago. They dug into the rock and ground and made large human and animal figures that were initially identified by the pilot of a small plane back in the ‘30s. These figures are so big and visible from our satellites that the extra-terrestrial communication concept has come into discussions about their meaning.
I captured this while catching some air in the rugged desert… J These are now fenced off and as you can see, unfortunately the area around this one has been ‘defaced’
In the same vicinity were a couple more bonii that involved the movie set location for Torque – an apparent box-office hit back in the ‘90s. What? You didn’t see it? I have never heard of it…
The new S&W model 642 made some nice noises in this same area on Friday.
Next it was back into Blythe for the Gateway Plaza Memorial. I chose to honor the US Army, as I was once in it, and the RM asked us to put our helmet on one of the 6 services that were recognized. It was also time for some petrol and a V-8 juice.
Straight south of Blythe is AZ again, and crossing the River placed me in Cibola, AZ where there was a sign ‘tree’ for us to get an answer to – how far is Belton, TX? Turns out it is 1215mi.
Very windy was the weather for the whole day and I was headed toward Glamis and the sand dunes on Hwy 78. The direction of the blow was from the NNW and I had essentially been running N or S for the morning. Now I was headed SW with the winds hitting me from the side pretty solidly – like steady at 40mph with higher gusts. I heard, but only saw a lot of sand on the road, that the CHP had closed the road for part of the day due to the wind. I made it on around to the southern end of the Salton Sea.
Here, after some roads of questionable repute, I ended up at the Whistler Mud Pots – a geological phenomena that has hot water and CO2 boiling up through the mud… if only Al Gore knew.
Then a few more miles took me to Salvation Mountain, a real work of art that deserves more than the 5 minutes I was there for the 4000 point answer found on a small plaque. This is a religious-themed ‘mountain’ that has been a work in progress for decades. The dry desert air has preserved it well and apparently 1,000s of gallons of paint have been used in its design and preservation.
This was sort of the half-way point for me – I had planned to review the clock and the remaining route and possibly elect to bailout on the next bonus up in Mecca – a misnomer if there ever was… Butt, I was actually about an hour ahead at this spot and thus things were looking possible. My problem was not that I was behind time but I now had extra time – and I had not planned a ‘what if’ for any extra time. I should have had a couple of other bonii to go get if this was to be the scenario. In Mecca I got some more gas, for safety, and grabbed the required picture for another 817 points and rounded the Salton Sea at the N end and headed for a trio of bonii that would be fun because they were on the twisty roads San Diego County is known for to those who enjoy two-wheel travel.
First of the 3 bonii were the Saber Tooth tigers just out of Borrego Springs. I had to be careful when I retrieved the helmet!
In fact there are many sculpted animals in the scrub and long grasses in this area – both modern and extinct. Very interesting.
Next was a picture to help us all remember and celebrate our roots:
And, finally to Butterfield Ranch – a nice stop for people out on the road who would like some shade and a cool beverage and snack – just what I got, along with the required receipt [handwritten interestingly enough and the lady already knew I was going to ask since I had my riding gear on and I wasn’t the first one to be there to ask for a receipt. I told her ++Craig said Hello, and received a blank look]. The Ranch had some old equipment around and we were to snap a pic of the fire engine rig.
Last bonus of the day for me was in Julian, crowded on a Saturday afternoon, but some local knowledge helped me through this. This memorial was part of a combination bonus that earned extra points for the pic in Blythe and now this –
Another Veterans Memorial nicely done on the hillside. That’s my headless helmet in the foreground, part of the requirement – 502 points, a thank you to the Veterans, and another 800 points for the combo.
At this point I had plenty of time to make it back to the barn and had decided to take the longer way back because I knew straight west of Julian on CA67 would be slow. I headed down CA79 toward I-8 and followed another rider since the road was very hilly and curvy and the traffic didn’t allow for a pass that would result in anything meaningful in time savings. Out on I-8 finally the speed quickly got to way over freeway limits, and I was still being passed. And, the rider was still in front of me.
I had considered one more bonus with the time allowing and to my surprise the rider in front took the exit to get to it. I decide, nope, I am just gonna keep heading in. I arrived about 20min before the time that would have started costing me penalty points and I felt good. The other rider arrived a couple minutes later [and, later told me he had run into one-way streets that prevented him from easily scoring the bonus. I had heard about the one-way streets and this was one of my reasons to skip it. JOwen would never have done something like skip a last bonus… It turns out that this bonus would not have changed the standings, for the other rider, or for me.]
So, with San Diego BMW’s great hospitality we were treated to scoring tables to get our rally stuff together, plus cool, refreshing drinks and chips to ease the hunger pains, and a nice ambiance that is always present at this fine shop. Owner Gary Orr and I had participated in the 10 n’ 10 and we were friends and got to talk a bit.
As is their M-O the shop BBQ’ed a nice feed for everyone with steaks and hamburgers and lots of trimmings. I enjoyed the potato salad and the macaroni salad along with some good ice cream!
Then came time for the announcements of the results: Craig and his wife Lisa had great fun with all of us and told some stories about the day. The rider, mentioned above that I followed down I-8 turned out to be 3rd place finisher Chad Smith from Tucson, AZ who had escaped the stranglehold his business has on him long enough to compete. He ended up finishing dinner and heading back to Tucson that same night because of business.
Friend Brian Casey was 2nd by ~200 points – he had told me while we ate that he had gone for the mountain dirt road bonus I had decided not to attempt; I told him I thought he had won the rally with that effort. He got caught in traffic and a time crunch as the clock wound down and did not get to add to that big bonus with others that would have allowed him to score big. [Brian is the one who helped put the inner workings of this blog together – thank you very much, Brian.]
And, finally Craig says something to the effect, well, the winner of the LC-11 rally is a friend and able competitor… – and it turns out it was ME!! I won!! Giving a Woods-type arm pump I was really ecstatic – I had planned my ride well and had ridden my plan – and this is the key to doing as well as you can in any rally. Changing one’s mind and plan during a rally is usually costly. A great day and I was fortunate. I even won a nice gift card from San Diego BMW – probably a down payment on the new 1600 GTL!
Thanks to Craig and Lisa, as well as San Diego BMW and Gary Orr, for all they did to make this rally a good one.
- Run time: 8:57hrs
- Stop time: 1:40hrs – that was for 16 bonus stops plus other necessary stops – a ~6min average
- Moving average: 60.2mph
- Overall average: 50.6mph
Stay tuned for the MERA 1088 at the end of June.