At the pre-start banquet we were told our surprise bonus #71 was to take a picture of a fellow rallyist and your rally flag. I snapped a great photo of Ken Morton. No mistaking my rally flag!
I tried to get a good nights sleep but was restless. Start time was 10:10 am on Thursday. I was up in plenty of time, filled my water bottle with ice and water, washed the windscreen, made sure everything was secure and ready to go. Then wait......Go shouted the Rally Master, Steve Chalmers. And, go I did. I think I was first out of the parking lot. Beeline to I-80 West. I was cruising along at a nice clip when I spied another rider fall in behind me. I spied a nice big shoulder and pulled over for my second bonus shot, a picture of the Interstate sign. Wendy Crockett pulled in right behind me and we snapped the pic.Then it was on to Wendover for another bonus picture. At this point, a number of riders were hitting the same location but after Wendover, I headed toward Ely and didn't see another rider for quite some time. I rode to Furnace Creek in Death Valley to bag a boni then Goldfield for the farkle car boni. Crossing Nevada I hit a huge thunderstorm and gail force winds. A semi-truck was blown off the highway near Tonopah as I was riding near there. Makes for good fun(?) After about 1,000 miles, I finally made it to Fallon, NV before I realized it was sleep time. Check into the first motel, take a photo, get a receipt and sleep.
Up early, I headed to Reno, NV for the Kiss a Stranger at Harrah's in the center of town boni. Score!!! I pulled into the Amtrak parking lot and caught a taxi driver dropping off people. I told him I was on a scavenger hunt and needed to kiss a stranger with my rally flag in the photo. He was tickled and agreed and just then....a woman asked me for a light for her cigarette. I said sure, if you'll take my picture. So the lady snapped the photo of me kissing the taxi driver. In and out in 10 minutes. Woohoo. (Unfortunately, lost this photo). Lovely Ms. Garmin directed me out of the city to my next location, Virginia City and the Suicide Table. What a fantastic ride to Virginia City. Glad I didn't do it in the dark.
After snapping a pic of the Suicide Table, I decided I needed breakfast so sat down at the restaurant and ordered breakfast. While there, Wendy showed up along with another rider so we enjoyed a fast meal together. Ken Morton arrived a little later. I was way too early for the big point Steve Lotsofsky bonus so decided a quick run to Monitor Pass for that bonus was in order. Only, it wasn't quick. Yes, it was a beautiful road, but certainly not quick. Up to the top of the pass, snap the picture and down the other side and back to Virginia City. I arrived with about 1/2 hour to spare for the Steve Lotsofsky bonus and was glad to take a break and visit for a few minutes.
From there, I headed to Lodi, CA. I had planned on taking I-80 but really didn't want to get on the freeway so took Highway 88 instead. What an incredible road. Simply stunning. Freaking slow. It took me hours and hours and hours to get to Lodi. When I finally arrived and got my city limit sign, I was pooped. But, hadn't gone nearly enough miles. I quickly determined that the rest of the boni on my list for the day were toast and weren't going to happen. My best bet now would be to hightail it south toward San Diego. After a fuel stop and a quick rest, I hopped on Highway 99 south. In Fresno, about 9:30 pm I spied an In-and-Out Burger which was an anytime bonus. I stopped, grabbed a burger and chatted with some locals while I ate. They suggested I not do the Grapevine at night and maybe I should stop in Bakersfield. Okay...sounds good. Back on Highway 99 to Bakersfield.
I stopped at an exit that had several motels and drove to the Motel 6. Gee, there was a security guard there to greet me. Louis told me he patrols the parking lot and I should be just fine. Okay....I check in and as I come back out to my bike, two of the city's finest are rolling through the parking lot. I wave them down and explain about the scavenger hunt and ask for a photo which they graciously let me take (lost that one too, dammit). I asked if I was safe here and they said that they patrol the parking lot at least once an hour, I should be fine. Okay....I move my bike to a space in front of my room and begin unloading and covering up the bike when a County Mountie rolls through the parking lot. I stop him....again ask if I'm safe here. He says, "Define safe." Mr. Mountie tells me he also patrols the parking lot at least once an hour. Guess I'm safe, I have Louis, the two city cops and the county mountie all watching over me and my stuff. Okay, okay. Now I know, don't stay in Bakersfield!
Up early again to tackle the LA Freeway system. This was one of the things that really intimidated me! Ha, piece o'cake. Well, admittedly it was early Saturday morning and relatively light traffic. Ms. Garmin guided me perfectly and even got me to a gas station that was easy on/off. Woohoo. I'm feeling great as I roll into San Diego. Because I was behind on my schedule, I blew off two pretty easy bonus locations and headed straight for the San Diego BMW dealer where I put on the XXXL T-Shirt and had my photo snapped with rally flag in place. I also scarfed a donut and a much needed cup of coffee. Friend Chris Ogden was there to cheer me on and gave me ice for my water bottle. And I met Craig Chaddock there as well. And who do I run into, Ken Meese!! Mark Starrett arrived just as I was leaving.
Crossing Arizona was HOT, about 107. I stopped for fuel and cool down and who do I spy? Mark Starrett. So, we went inside and had an ice cream to cool down. Highlight :-) We discuss our routes and we are basically running for the same boni. He decides to get the Tucson boni and I go for the Phoenix/Goldfield boni with Albuquerque on the agenda for the next day.
Again, checking my schedule, I'm way behind so blow off two Phoenix bonus locations and head for Goldfield, AZ and LuLu's Bordello and the Lost Dutchman State Park. Snapped both pics and had a great ride getting there. Well, but for the thunderstorms and rain and wind. Other than that, it was awesome. Thinking I can get some bonus points in Tucson, I head that way only to stop at a Mickey D's north of Tucson because of severe thunderstorms. I sit and have coffee, waiting for the dang weather cell to pass. About an hour later I take off in the dark rainy night but at least it has settled down some. I blow off the Tucson locations and head for the Cochise Motel.
Ms. Garmin let me down this time. She took me down Dragoon Road which would be a fantastic ride, in the day, in the dry. By now it was close to mid-night and plenty wet. I had to be very careful because some of the washes had water and there was plenty of slick mud on the road. Ms. Garmin kept trying to get me on dirt (really mud) roads. No way on the Goldwing. And....I was very low on fuel. Aaarrgghhhh. O'dark thirty in the middle of BFE and almost out of gas and the Goldwing feeling about as heavy as a tank. Now that was dumb on my part. I finally find a one pump little convenience store that is just locking up. I pleaded my case and they let me get some fuel and told me I couldn't get to the Cochise Motel because the roads were impassable due to the storm. Oh great. Point the way to a motel please! At this point I called the Rally Master to tell him I couldn't get the Cochise Motel and what do you know??? It was past midnight and just the right time for my call-in bonus which also required a receipt within 10 minutes. Well, I had just purchased fuel so I was good to go. Hahahahaha. Good one (not at all planned).
I stop at a motel, get my photo and receipt and fall into bed. Up early again the next morning (this repeats throughout) and head for Albuquerque. Terrific ride at a good pace. Munching granola bars and peanut butter crackers as I ride, listening to XM, cruise control. Boy, life is good. Ms. Garmin is nicer to me today and takes me directly to the Chevy on a Stick bonus where a nice lady takes my photo.
I then head to Old Town Albuquerque for the Rattlesnake Museum. Score! I rode right there, parked behind the museum and got a few pictures.
I'm feeling great, had a good ride to Albuquerque, found the bonus locations with no problems and back on the Interstate headed to El Morro Rock National Monument. Still more thunderstorms but still I chugged on. The road to El Morro is a treat to ride. I entered the park and up to the Visitor Center. When I entered there were 4 or 5 Rangers at the desk and as I walked up, a Ranger said "We're not going to do anything for you until you tell us what's going on!" LOL. Apparently several riders had been there before me getting brochures and running off in full gear to take pictures. So I explained what was going on, bought my annual park pass, visited with the Rangers then off to get my picture. They were good fun.
Now, on to Chaco Canyon. Here is where I really started to screw the pooch. I realized I couldn't change the weather and the fact that storms slowed me down every day, but I could make wise decisions and here I failed. First, I should have read the bonus instruction more closely. It clearly says off Highway US550......I routed a different road and after a long (beautiful) ride on the mesa that is full of nothing, I turned to Chaco Canyon as the day is getting late and my fuel is getting low. I finally find the turn off to see this:
Crap. I turn around and head back to the highway. Low on fuel, Ms. Garmin tells me to go 35 miles back the way I had just come. No way.....I motor on west. I ride and ride and ride and ride. There is NOTHING out here. Yes, it is beautiful, but now I'm tired and disappointed I blew the Chaco Canyon bonus and am VERY low on fuel. Geez, will I never get to Farmington? Now, its dark. Pitch dark. No cars, no houses, no lights, nothing except my low fuel light glowing at me like a demon. Crap again. I slow down to conserve fuel. Ms. Garmin tells me Farmington is 18 miles away. Fortunately the last 15 miles were all downhill. I finally arrive at the outskirts of Farmington and pull into a gas station. Took 5.8 or something like that gallons of fuels. About 0.2 from emty!!!! Filled up the tank and parked for a good 4 or 5 cigarettes. I was a bit shook and that bike again felt like a tank.
I was rather looking forward to this, the 6th day because it was mostly Interstate and I'd had enough of technical roads and bad weather. Just kick back, flip on the cruise control and ride.....for a long way. Stop every 200 miles and get gas. My next bonus location was Fremont, NE. The road to Fremont took me through rural Nebraska and I got terrific views of the countryside and farmhouses and little bergs. Nice break from the freeway. I snapped the Fremont city limit sign and motored on with the thought of reaching Defiance, MO for another bonus.
That wasn't going to happen. I managed to make my way through Omaha during rush hour and headed into Iowa when then clouds got thick and dark. I stopped in Percival, IA to debate waiting out the storm I was about to ride into or just go for it. I stopped at a Wendy's and lo and behold, who was there? Mark Starrett pondering the same question! I grabbed a burger and got my Iowa state receipt for a bonus and sat with Mark and discussed the nasty weather situation. It wasn't getting any better but rather, it was getting worse. We were at a podunk truck stop kind of place with two motels. Easy decision. Quit for the day, get a room and try again in the morning. Dang weather really screwed up my plans. At this point, Mark and I decided to ride together for a while since we were basically on the same route.
So, now the banquet where the results will be known. Unfortunately, several riders DNF'ed (Did Not Finish) but rode a quality, incredible ride. Even though they didn't finish the 10n10, they finished an epic ride and kudos and more to them. I'm amazed at the routes they choose and what they accomplished.
The WINNER - Ken Morton with the Rally Master (Bastard). Good on you Ken. You deserved it. What a ride, hahahah, on a Sissy Strom. You rock.
I could go on for hours about this ride. Suffice it to say I had an incredible trip. I pushed my limits and found I could do it. There are so many riders that helped me in ways they will never know. I hate to name names because I will totally forget someone. Bucky Dent - you are something....two rallies and you take on a 10n10 and finish like 4th??? You rock. Mr. Gary D. you made me laugh out loud. What a guy. Mr. Gary O. Duh.....rocking it big time. Oh my goodness, Mr. RenoJohn....did we have fun? That's what it is all about. You are a personal hero. And, I love your beautiful wife and daughter. Mr. Roberts, as in Brian, ha...... you are another hero. Peter P.....you had a ride of a lifetime. Mark S....thanks for riding with me through horrid conditions....And everyone else that I didn't mention..sorry I didn't. You are all incredible LD riders.