This was a bit different for me; a bit more relaxed and ‘fun’ as I knew what I wasn’t trying to do and had ambitions to just do my thing, have fun, see some new sights and go where I hadn’t before. It is always nice to do well in the standings but most important is to be safe, plan my ride and then ride my plan.
A month before the start, the rally master sends out the bonus listing – this time about 40 pages and more than 150 possible bonii. One gets to use anything and anyone to help plan a route. Many competitors go for the biggest points, the most combinations for even more points and thus attempt to find the winning ‘route’. Most competitors are years, if not decades, younger than I and may have thoughts of grandeur that I don’t, or they may look upon the situation in a more ‘energetic’ way.
Before the Hurricane Isaac came into the picture, I knew there was the possibility of the SE being impacted by such a storm; I knew, even though the big points were in the NE and along the E Coast, that I did not want to go there. In my planning I avoided all of those areas that might be in a storm and were essentially east of the Mississippi River. My route attempted to stay totally to the W of the MS River. As the Isaac forecast got more serious I made some changes in my route and did ride in Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky and Illinois. While I was in much heat and humidity I did not ride in any of the storm itself!
There is always a nice pre-rally dinner the night before and we all get re-connected and hear of any final instructions. We also have to ‘decorate’ our rally flag – a terrycloth towel that we personalize.
Day 1 – This IS the 10 n’ 10 rally and we start at 10:10 AM. There were ‘easy’ points in the LA area and a bed at home, so after a very unique start to the rally, off I went from SLC to home this first day – about 800mi. I slept a few hours and hit the road, for the LA bonii that were downtown, long before traffic was a bother on the freeways. I found the big fork in Pasadena, the 2 huge chairs in LA, Kermit the frog at the Henson Studios, along with John Wayne riding his horse in front of the Flynnt Publishing Company.
I was in and out of the Reagan Memorial complex in Simi Valley before the blinds were coming up on most houses and on up to Kernville for the exciting lawn mower races.
Each participant was provided a lap or two on a quite non-normal riding lawn mower around a 1/8th of a mile track. BIG points for this – like 15K. That was what my leg 1 – a total of about 55K points for me. Most important it was a successful start, I made my time marks and got all my bonii that I had planned. Oh, yeah, the unique start?! We were awarded 8500 points for firing the automatic weapon of our choice at a local range in SLC – I chose the SAW. What a kick! Well, in actuality there wasn’t a lot of kick to it but it sure was fun – 50 rounds in about 15sec of several short bursts of fire. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M249_light_machine_gun
Leg 2 was a sprint across the southern deserts of CA and into AZ for a quick receipt and photo at the Roadkill Café in Seligmen, AZ on Historic Route 66. To my surprise a fellow competitor followed me in the door and we ended up riding E across AZ to Gallup NM and another bonus – the Code Talkers statue. This is a tribute to Navajo Indians who in WW II provided the only ‘code’, by which military messages could be transmitted, that the Japanese could not break! It was so far off the beaten path that my GPS had trouble getting me out of the place – and it was midnight. I had reserved a room back in Gallup and called it a day after about 800mi.
I stopped by the Unser Racing Museum in Albuquerque, NM for a picture and headed N to Pikes Peak. The weather had been a bit iffy on the mountain but that day it turned out good and I got to the top for a minute and a picture then back to the bottom in a bit over an hour – quick for a climb to 14,100 feet.
One of my life-long friends and ‘sister’ has a place in Denver and after gathering a few bonii I spent the night at her nice place. Off early the next morning and snapped a photo of the wild mustang at DEN International Airport. Then E on I-70, zigging and zagging while getting photos of the home of Kool-Aid [originated by a ‘home’ chemist]; a big golden spike replica of the real one that is back in Promontory, UT; a train wheel marker that was the first Jesse James train robbery site; and way on east to Independence, MO for Harry S Truman’s Memorial site. I stopped after about a 1,000mi that day.
Early away again and toward the SW I was able to get a neat photo of the largest atomic cannon ever built at Junction City, KS. It was on a hill and the sun was coming up behind it – 10min later and the sun would have made for a difficult photo.
Just before one of many Subway breakfast sandwiches, I completed the Eisenhower Museum bonus with a photo in Abilene, KS.
Continuing on SW I stopped at the Mushroom State Park for photos of weird rocks shaped like mushrooms, of all things… this was SW of Salina, KS – out a dirt road that I told the rally master the Apaches certainly didn’t see me on as it was just damp enough to keep down the dust but not wet or muddy enough to be a problem on the bike.
Now there are two things about a rally that are fun – getting somewhere quickly on our great Interstate roads system and once you get to an area you get to ride the country highways and byways. Assuming the surfaces are good these secondary roads can be very entertaining. Getting out to the Mushroom State Park was just such fun.
Next was way south to Elk City, OK where a Route 66 museum is – another photo, but what was strange was my GPS took me to an old building that was a museum and had a Rte 66 sticker on its window and I thought that was what I was looking for. GPS’s can be very accurate… As I was going W out of town I looked at my paperwork while waiting in the heat at a stop light and realized the address was listed differently than where I had just been – and I was headed toward the correct address. Got a pic of the correct museum and kept going SW to Roswell, NM for some alien bonii. Stopped for the night in Roswell after 900mi.
During the rally we have ‘things to do’ to earn extra points – find a snake, an alligator, a police officer, sunset – all photos; collect 4-waters [from the Great Lakes, Gulf, Atlantic and Pacific – big points]; and the one I like is to spell A-N-T-I with city limit signs. The 10 n 10 is kind of the anti-rally as it is way different than the other 11-day rally that is held every other year. Here were my offerings for A-N-T-I:
Day 4 I headed toward Kermit, TX for a bonus of anything saying the same. Remember I was in LA and took a pic of Kermit the frog? Well, this was part of a combo bonus honoring one of our friends and he and Kermit had a thing.
I always try to include the sticker in all my Kermit photos
On E to Sweetwater and a pic of the WASP Museum honoring the women pilots of WW II who were instrumental in breaking in our new planes and for flying them across this country to another place where they might be shipped or flown on to battle. A lady in one of my nursing facilities was just such a pilot and she was very interesting and special to me. The museum wasn’t open so I didn’t get to go in.
Now it was a bit of a sprint up NE to Arcadia, OK for a timed bonus that had a 2hr window. While I ride briskly, as conditions allow, I do not ride out of control. I’m on this TX country highway in the middle of no-where with a posted speed limit sign of 70mph, and doing about 77 – no town, no houses, no traffic except this gray indistinguishable car coming at me a half-mile or so away… on come the whirling, flashing lights and he makes his U-turn about the time I stop safely off the road side! A very nice officer who explained the speed limit and my performance, took my paperwork back to his car [it’s hot and humid] and as he is walking back I shout that I don’t want him to bring me something back; he says he’ll see. About 4min later [I’m on a timed bonus…] he returns with only a warning – thank you very much – and sends me on my way. But wait, I am on a scavenger hunt and if I could get you to hold this flag for a picture it would be worth 5000 points; nope, no pictures… yes, I understand officer and thank you for the warning!
8min have just passed – I’m on a timed bonus – and now am in a TX computer system that will tell ANY officer that I have been warned. 7 over in nowhere and now have to ‘book’ it even more carefully another 200mi north. The odds are not good – but not only did I escape TX without any more stops I also didn’t get stopped anywhere else on the ride – good. And, I made it to the timed bonus with 15min to spare… of course a flat tire, or a road closure or detour could have changed all that.
So, a former rallyist was at POP’s and he signed my paperwork for the bonus; I bought a Dr Pepper for a receipt at POP’s that is known for having one of the largest pop bottle selection; a 25ft neon pop bottle sign out front and it is on Rte 66. Nice to see Steve there and it was a neat place. Just down the road was a famous round barn for another score.
Then the fun began [tongue in cheek] – a combo bonus of 3 designated toll roads in and around Oklahoma City – but it was quite late and some of the toll booths were unmanned and of course not knowing which booths to go to I was perhaps riding a hundred miles or so for nothing – and they were costing me money. I would say I spent $8-10 just getting to, on, and off these toll roads. One I was on I found a nice lady who asked me where I had come from [she meant what local city]. I told her CA… she laughed and said 50c and provided the much needed receipt as well as a short cut via country roads to the next toll road. I found it and rode another 30 or so miles thinking this might be for naught, when wahla! there was a nice lady in the last booth on the toll road. I asked her if anyone had ever told her how she was the best person to be found at this late hour. Another laugh and another receipt so that completed the combo for another 5,102pts.
Before this 1000mi day ended I went on to Alma, AR for a picture of Popeye – because this local area is known for its spinach. Too bad the pic not good – he stood a good 20’ tall!
I believe this was also another motel stop that cost less than $50! The rally master is very good about our safety and we are allowed 10 motel receipts during the rally and they are each worth 5000pts. I turned in 10! Also, each state we brought a receipt from we earned 1,111pts and I turned in 20 state receipts.
The heat and humidity from Isaac are comin’ on and I am headed back to TX, where I will be careful again, for the Dallas-Ft Worth area. Two problems creep up, I am riding with a tail wind that affords me little cooling and my GPS seems to be about 5 to 10 seconds late on its decisions. I am on the correct ramp but it forks and the GPS isn’t telling me which road to take. Sometimes the forks are toward Mennard or toward Camptown but these are not what I have heard of and so about 90% of the time I ended up taking the wrong fork – meaning lots of off and on the freeways to get the correct one – I even ‘succeeded’ in going west, choosing south incorrectly, getting off and back on only to learn I was too late for the ramp to the west, so now I am going north and get off and on to finally get to the west bound road I was on in the first place. This happened only in the Ft. Worth area and was difficult. By the way, I was looking for Barn A at Fort Worth Stock Exchange that has become a large complex for recognizing the cowboy.
My next bonus was a special rest stop where we were to take a boat or tube ride in a lake – the long hot summer had created low water levels and so no ride, but I did eat some fruit, cool off a bit and reload my GPS to see if I could get it to work better. I had been deleting each bonus as I completed them so I didn’t think it was being overworked. Ron was at the lake house and was cordial to the riders; he is also a partner in the house with one of our rally riders who helped arrange this bonus. Thanks fellows.
As this day is growing longer I head on out and around the busy cities for Tyler, TX where a BBQ shack is located – thank goodness it was closed so a pic did just fine for the bonus requirements. And, now it was time for some good night riding as I made my way up to the Memphis, TN area – another ~1000mi day.
[BTW – while starting this report I missed an hour of the banquet celebration because this computer was on CA time and not the mountain time that SLC is on… too bad because there is much merriment and sharing at the dinner, along with some good food – the first real food in over 10 days.]
On the way toward Memphis I got sleepy and tried a power nap on a bench behind a station, but as I arrived there was a rather large cat [non-house type] on top of the trash bin. I scared it away but as I lay down it wasn’t real easy to fall asleep. I decided to ride on but lo! there was an inexpensive motel that fit the bill and I settled in safely for 4 or 5hrs of good sleep.
On into Memphis, TN there were two bonii to obtain – one was Sun Records, original headquarters where Elvis made his initial recordings and start, along with countless blues performers of the 50’s and on. The second was another BBQ place, as Memphis is known for BBQ – it was early morning so no worries and I took a good shot of Beale Street that is a happening place during the evenings.
Then I didn’t think things through real well – the next bonus was an elephant to take a pic of in Cookeville, TN – way east, even east of Nashville. As I rode toward Nashville I realized I was spending about 3hrs of time for this bonus and if I had cut north from Memphis I would have shaved even more off. I skipped the elephant and rode on to Bowling Green, KY where a huge Corvette museum and national meet was happening. I had to get into take a pic of a ’53 ‘vette that was on display. Now, I have been around promotions and shows enough that I figured some moxie was in order. I was dressed in some interesting motorcycle pants of 2 different colors, a black tight top, and I always wear a name tag around my neck – I ‘stormed’ in, past the admission pay table, found a nice gentleman who was looking to help someone and he and I moved right on through the lines of attendees and ticket takers as if I was a VIP – got the pic and was out of the place in 7min – for free! Very nice car, too.
The unexpected highlight of the trip for me was about to occur – I was headed for a Trappist Monk Monastery in Trappist, KY. The roads were unbelievable! Smooth, well surfaced, incredibly curvy and hilly – a motorcyclist’s dream, especially after all the slab I had ridden. Arrived at the Monastery later in the afternoon but in time to purchase some fudge, made by the monks, and worth 4800pts as well.
Then more interstate up to Louisville and IN where I stopped for a state receipt I hadn’t expected. While trying to locate a Starbucks I found a Radio Shack for some mending material for my speaker-equipped ear plugs, and right next door to it was a 5 Guys Burger place that was a bonus. I had already collected it in the LA area but felt compelled to send the rally master a phone pic of it as a surprise for just choosing an off ramp and finding it there.
The RM has humor within [along with mischievousness, et al] – he says we long-distance riders are thought of as anything but normal. What did he do? He sent us to Normal, IL to take a pic of anything that said Normal, IL. I found a nice water tower to photograph and an inexpensive motel to catch some winks in and called it another day.
The tower at night wasn’t as good as day.
I made an executive decision to NOT go to the Pabst Brewery near Chicago [traffic] and instead headed straight for Dyersville, IA where the filming of Kevin Costner’s “Field of Dreams” occurred. What a place – in the middle of corn and wheat fields stands a beautiful baseball field, a barn and a cozy looking farm house, the latter the subject of the bonus picture. A small group of tourists were ‘playing’ baseball and a good hit would have landed in a cornfield that bordered the property – with no fencing involved! – just idyllic. This place gave me quite a chill in the previous 10 n 10 rally but that was at 02:00 and now it was broad daylight.
Probably the moving experience of this rally was going to Clear Lake, IA for a photo of the phone booth that is still in the Surf Ballroom where Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and others performed their final show before a fateful plane crash took their lives – it was the ‘day the music died’. The booth was special, as it was a 1959 era wooden booth with glass door and old phone still attached. The performers had called their wives in LA and NY before heading out. The place is still happening and some youngsters were decorating for a dance party that night.
Off to Mankato, MN for an inauspicious photo of the location of a mass execution of 38 Sioux that occurred in 1862. A nice man from the library close by showed me several memorials and declared that the particular one I was searching for wasn’t a good one for the city.
Finally, out into nowheresville for photo of the largest crow – a huge statue that is surrounded by many things signifying crow – the river, state park et al. It was actually outside of Belgrade, MN.
Finally, I was headed west and back to the barn. I rode into SD and found a place to spend the night. Up early and headed for Mobridge, SD, I finally found something different to eat than Subway breakfast sandwiches. I had been hankerin’ for Mexican food and had seen several Taco Johns, so I decided to stop in one that was open early in the morning – glad I did because the breakfast burrito was tasty.
Just west of Mobridge, SD is a large statue of Sitting Bull – he overlooks a lovely valley and river and seems as if it is appropriate for him to be there.
My last two bonii were kind of tied together. I had to find a tunnel that would allow me to take a pic of Mt Rushmore and the carvings. I went through the first tunnel expecting the view was in front of me and snapped a pic while coming out of the tunnel – of trees. I went on to the next tunnel and there was a shot of the carvings – stately! My GPS continued me on up the tight, curvy road until I figured it didn’t know where we were going. I turned around and headed back down the little road for the main highway. Lo and behold, the first tunnel I had entered had the view I wanted but it was behind me so I didn’t see it originally – very nice view, too.
A few miles SW of Mt Rushmore is Chief Crazy Horse, SD where a mountain is being carved into a huge representation of its namesake. Wow! what a project. They wanted $5 to get in but when I told the lad I just wanted to take a picture he allowed me to go in 20 yards and snap the picture.
So, I’m several hundred miles from SLC but I had made a reservation that night so I would have a place to really rest. I headed SW through SD and into WY to get to the barn – beautiful country roads with little traffic. I missed one large rain storm but ran into another that proved to be a serious storm for the last 2+ hours into SLC. It isn’t easy riding in the rain because the helmet visor doesn’t like the water, the condensation from my breathing makes it difficult to see and of course the lights from the trucks and cars. I can’t believe some of the rallyists were in the throes of Isaac for days.
Over my shoulder – heading back to Salt Lake City and into a big storm
Arriving safe and getting cleaned up was nice. A short sleep and time to officially check in – this includes an odometer check, bonus scoring, and a nice touch – bloody marys and mimosas. We even could have a massage! Of course there was lots of banter and information that we all could share about our trials and tribulations.
The dinner I arrived at late was well underway and I got to learn of the top scorers – turns out Twisty Lipschitz was second to Roadrunner by ~8% in total points; she placed second to our late dread Pirate friend 2 years ago. This happened in the inaugural running of the 10 n 10. Twisty BTW happens to be a very accomplished lady rider! Roadrunner is known for his wins and collecting coyote trophies while tooling through the Silver State of Nevada. The joke on me is they both scored more than twice the points I did in my effort, butt then they have stories of NYC, Boston, Washington, DC, Miami and Isaac that I don’t – thank goodness for me.
There was a special contest this year taking into account several rallies, and a trophy was up for the person who received the most points for participating in, and doing as well in, as many rallies as possible. Irish Rider did just that and while he didn’t win any of the rallies he was a consistent top finisher – 4th in this 10 n 10. Private Pilot is new to rallying and decided to forego so many individual bonus huntings and instead opted for a 4-corners ride that included specific locations in the 4 corners of the US 48 contiguous states – nice accomplishment.
My mileage approached 9,000 this rally. I was stopped for bonus gathering, gas, food et al [not motel time] for about 25hrs or 1/7 of my total ride time. I went through about a $100 of gas per day and my new tires really worked well and proved they were worth more than the average car tires cost. I placed 11th again, as I did in the first one!
Good fun, much thanks to Steve and his wife Jeniel for making all of this possible.
Epilogue: I cleaned my bike yesterday, going to the garage for the first time since returning home Monday – what to my wondering eyes did appear but a not-nice oil blob on the garage floor – my 3rd transmission seal has failed again. Seems the vibrations I was feeling may be from a failing tranny bearing. Major disassembly necessary…