Saturday, August 21, 2010

Spank Rally and IBA Denver Meeting

I just couldn't wait to start riding toward Denver so I departed on Monday for Bluff, UT. The Spank rally was in process and the checkpoint was in Bluff, UT on Tuesday at noon. Tuesday morning I met up with George Z., the Rally Master, and a couple of riders who were going to participate in the 2 day Spank for breakfast.

Although not planned, I ended up helping check in riders as they came to the checkpoint. It was good fun to watch them arrive and hear their stories. Lots of dropped bikes which made for good story telling and some roadside repairs. Apparently, George provided bonus locations that were somewhat interesting and challenging. I saw mirrors missing, duct taped windshields, duct taped tupperware, zip tie repairs and others.
I think Robert Bolger is missing a mirror!!!

Peter was sooooo happy to see George at the Checkpoint

Riders starting to arrive at the Checkpoint

The umbrella dude! How cool is that?

After the riders left the checkpoint, I had a leisurely ride to Durango, CO where again I met up with George for a few brews at the pub and ribs at a BBQ joint. The next morning I spied Dennis Powell and Peter Perrin at the breakfast buffet at my hotel. What???? Spank riders actually rest???
Later that morning I went to the Brew Pub checkpoint to witness George performing unnatural acts. This was a bonus location for the riders. Heidi Still, Chris Ogden, Peter Perrin and Dennis Powell all showed up at the appropriate time to see George washing his bike. Good fun!

Peter Perrin is happy to see George yet again as Chris Ogden looks on fondly.

The lovely Ms. Heidi Still at the Brew Pub bonus
Chris and I were headed the same direction so we rode together and I got to see several more of the Spank bonus locations. We rode over Wolf Creek Pass (absolutely stunning) and stopped at the Desert Sand Dunes National Park. Who knew there were sand dunes in Colorado? It was great fun and I got three (yes 3) stamps for my National Parks Passport. Whoopee.

Sand Dunes in Colorado - who would of thunk?
We then rode on to Bishop's Castle. What a surprise in the middle of nowhere. First, great, twisty roads getting there lined with trees, boulders, streams. Just perfect. Then, at the top of the pass, the Harry Potter looking castle complete with dragons. Awesome. The ride over the other side of the pass was even better. There was a big sign that said WARNING - MOTORCYCLISTS USE "EXTREME" CAUTION. Oh boy, nice twisties!! I'm still laughing out loud about that road. Fantastic !!!!

Bishop's Castle - simply amazing!
After Bishop's Castle, we turned toward Pueblo so Chris could get a shampoo (another Spank bonus) and I could stop at a liquor store (a Cletha bonus). We accomplished both tasks quickly and hit the interstate toward Denver. We arrived in Denver shortly after 8:00 pm. Time to start the Iron Butt Association National Meeting!

Thursday was check-in, mingle, kick tires and tell stories. It was such fun to meet people in person that I had only met in cyberspace or had heard stories about. Great to put a face with a name.
I finally meet Pete Bansen - a Facebook Cyberspace LD Friend! (Photo by Chris Ogden)

Thursday night was the Spank Rally awards banquet which had good bbq on the menu. Winners were announced and presented beautiful paintings of motobikes done by George Z. What an accomplished guy, that George!
Top three Spank finishers with Rally Master, George Z.

Friday offered keynote speakers and breakout seminars. Everything I attended was amazing and chockfull of useful information and tips. I took lots of notes. Both lunch and dinner were sumptious and entertaining. I was so thrilled to meet the legends of LD riding. Kinda like a little groupie - I was in awe.
Saturday again offered keynote speakers and breakout seminars. I also attended the tire plugging demonstration in the parking lot and successfully plugged a tire. I hope I never have to in real life - but I think it is a very good skill to have. So, now I know how to thanks to Mr. Brian Roberts. I also attended the Aux Lights shootout. That was very educational and a ton of fun watching Matt Watkins do his deer prance in the headlights! Congratulations to Ray Blair for beating up the competition and walking away with first place.

Aux Light shootout - can you guess which one is Ray Blair?
Lots of tire kicking and looking at bikes in the parking lot. It is amazing some of the things people come up with for their bikes. It gives me lots of ideas :-)
Again, another terrific lunch and dinner. This was a first class event attended by first class people and hosted by first class people. Kudos to those that made it happen.
Dean Tanji and Dale "Warchild" Wilson (I'm such a groupie).
And then, suddenly, it was time to leave. Sunday morning I met up with Chris Ogden again to ride home. I wish I could say it was uneventful - but it wasn't. Unfortunately Chris had a medical issue and about 70 miles west of Denver we had to stop at a hospital. Many hours later, Chris was released (he is fine now) and we headed homeward.
Chris at Hoosier Pass
My steed at Hoosier Pass.
We stopped at a blink your eye and you miss it town for a late lunch. Only we missed it so had to turn around. This is where I dropped my bike! Yes, after almost 100,000 miles of riding, I finally dropped the sucker. Turning around, not enough throttle, too tight turning right and down she went. I just let it go and stepped off. Shit. Oh well, an opportunity to try the pick up bike technique. Chris ended up helping me but I think I was close to getting it up by myself. A very nice cager stopped immediately to offer assistance. I thought that was nice. All just part of the adventure!! (I think Chris got tired of hearing that from me).
We only made it to Gunnison, CO. After a good night's sleep, we were up and ready to ride the rockies! I should mention that I've been on the Million Dollar Highway 5 times and it has ALWAYS poured down rain on me. But, I thought, gee, I'm going to ride this in the morning not the afternoon. I should have sunshine!!!

Ha. Not. It was raining when I woke up. On to Montrose where we would turn south to hit the passes. Not looking good.......No, it wasn't good. It was a real gully washer, a frog strangler, a downright downpour. For miles and miles and miles and miles. Well, you get the point. I quickly find out my water resistant pants are not very water resistant and my waterproof jacket isn't at all. Should have put the Frogg Toggs on. I know they work. Oh, well, all just part of the adventure. Even though I couldn't gawk about the scenery because I had to focus on the road I still had a grand time and again was laughing out loud. Good thing it wasn't cold on top of the wet :-)
The view of what's to come from Montrose, CO. It got worse.....
We stopped in Silverton and had lunch at Grumpy's followed by their delicious apple crisp.
While there, another downpour flooded the main street with a 5 foot wide 1 foot deep river. LOL otherwise I might cry. Nah, it was all good.
Me coming out of the storm (photo by Chris Ogden)
Pressing on from Silverton, we avoided cows and wild horses on the road and land again in Bluff, UT for a fuel stop. Looking west from Bluff was scary. The sky had that tornado cloud look about it. I suggested we wait in Bluff until it passed as there is no shelter on the road and a long way to anything. Good suggestion - we waited and sure enough, the wind blew in and the torrential downpour started.

Leaving Bluff about 6:30 pm. It's still 6 hours to my house. We move on. The ride through Monument Valley was beyond spectacular. A photographer's dream. Black clouds in the background, the rock formations bathed in sunlight and rainbows everywhere. Wow. Thank you God.
About 60 miles east of Page, AZ at Sunset (photo by Chris Ogden)

We stopped for dinner in Page, AZ and considered stopping for the night - but heck, almost home now so on we went. Another quick rest stop in Kanab, AZ and a quick stop in Washington, UT. Then.......HOME at 2:30 am or so. Blessed home. So glad to be home.

I had a wonderful, incredible time. Fantastic riding through the rockies. Met awesome people. Learned a ton. This kind of adventure just serves to remind me how lucky I am and how much I truly enjoy riding.
Hey, the folks you meet aren't too bad either :-)

10n10 Rally Preparation

The big day looms closer and I am getting more nervous about this adventure. Excited, but nervous. Can I actually do this ride? Of course I can. Have I planned sufficiently? Time will tell. New tires and an oil change for the bike so it is ready to go. After all, it's a Honda so it doesn't need much.

The day I received the bonus listing, I immediately went to work on attacking the routing. I first re-formatted the bonus listing to fit on 3x5 index cards, printed it out and pasted it on the cards. I then separated the cards by state.
Then, on a paper map of the US, I identified bonus locations with star stickers using a color code to indicate Huge, High, Medium and Low bonus points. This gave me some frame of reference and I saw a route begin to develop. Of course, this took up my massive dining room table and kitchen counter. I had paper, pens, stickers, etc. strewn about for weeks while I worked on the route.

Needless to say, this also took up a huge amount of time. Finally, I see my most likely route begin to appear. I collected those bonus cards in the order I thought I would go and went to the computer. I'm Mapsource stupid so loading the waypoints took me a very long time. But, I was eventually successful. Using the loaded waypoints, I started mapping daily routes considering mileage, time for stops, etc. I think I averaged between 40 - 43 miles an hour which would allow for taking pictures, refueling, stops, etc.

I had to consider time restrictions on certain bonus locations and tried to plan so I would be at the restricted bonus as the appropriate time. I'm sure weather and traffic will factor into this at some point and probably destroy all my hard work planning :-)
I set everything aside for a few days and revisited my plan. Get real!!! I eliminated a bunch of bonus locations because, upon reflection, it was just too ambitious for my style of riding. I really don't want to burn out in the first couple of days. So, I revised my routes and feel much better about my plan of attack.
We were told by the Rally Master to be prepared to decorate our Rally Towels prior to the start. I finally gave it some thought and my prototype is below.

So, now the waypoints and daily routes have been planned and downloaded to the Zumo. Oh, that also took a while because I haven't a clue what I'm doing. Seems to have worked. I've checked and double and triple checked to make sure it is all there. I'm so paranoid that I emailed myself and a trusted friend, my mapsource file and my day by day route cards with bonus info just in case disaster should happen and I need a copy.
I'm just finishing tracing the route onto paper maps. I like having a paper map and expect to finish that task today. I've packed my food cooler with soups, cup-o-noodles, oatmeal, granola bars and candy. I purchased a back-up camera. My current camera uses rechargeable batteries and even though I have two and try to charge them every night - who knows? So the new camera is waterproof and uses AA batteries. A good back up plan I think.
I ordered a new three page map case from Linda Tanner, but I'm thinking it won't show up here before I leave. Oh well, I'll make due with what I have.
I did not order an EZ-Pass or I-Pass for toll roads. Heck, I'm from the west and no nothing about toll roads. I decided to use the old fashioned method and carry quarters, 1's and 5's. So, off to the bank to get the change. However, a fellow LD rider came to the rescue and offered the use of his pass so now I have both, the EZ-Pass and a sock full of quarters.
I'm trying to approach this in a pragmatic way. Just keep plodding forward. I hope when I'm actually riding, that I remember all the things I'm supposed to do. You know, like Rally Towel in every photo. Don't forget fuel and food receipts. Take a picture of the sunset (don't forget the Rally Towel). Provide a receipt and a photo (with Rally Towel) of a hotdog purchase. Take a photo of a smiling cop (with Rally Towel). There are a number of anytime/anywhere bonus and I don't want to blow them off. I made a separate list of these anywhere/anytime bonus points and hope I remember to check the list frequently.
Okie dokie then. I'm as ready as I'm going to be. Just need to pack a few clothes and head out. The rally starts on Thursday, Aug. 26 at 10:10 am. There is a mandatory checkpoint in Sidney, NE on Aug. 31. Miss the checkpoint and you're out of the game. Hope my planning works out.
Check here after the rally for my report!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Off to Denver for the IBA National Meeting

The Iron Butt Association National Meeting will take place August 12 - 15 in Denver, CO. Denver is only about 650 miles from my home but I've decided to make it a leisurely, flower sniffin ride so am departing on Monday, August 9. I intend to ride to Bluff, UT on Monday so I can watch the Spank Rally riders come in to the checkpoint, also in Bluff, UT on Tuesday.

Tuesday's schedule is to take scenic byways in Colorado and maybe end up in Grand Junction. Or, who knows? That's what I love about flower sniffin particular destination, just whatever catches my fancy.

Wednesday should put me in Denver ready for the IBA National Meeting. There are a number of seminars, speakers, demonstrations and vendors scheduled. I'm definitely going to attend the tire plugging demo and perhaps have a go at it myself. I think this would be a good skill to learn.

I'm excited to renew friendships and meet people I've only chatted with in cyberspace. It's always great to put a face with a name. I'll try to remember to take lots of pictures and post them here with a full report when I return.

OMG!!!! Denver trip for a week, home for a week, then.......the big 10n10 Rally!