Wednesday, July 7, 2010

My First LD Rally - The Utah 1088

The Utah 1088 held on June 26, 2010 was my first long distance motorcycle endurance rally. I arrived Thursday evening to attend a great BBQ at the RallyMaster's house where I got to meet Rally riders and renew friendships with others. Friday was the day to ride the odometer check route, top off the gas tank and then hang in the parking lot watching riders arrive, kicking tires, telling lies, and trying to glean rally riding tips from the experts. The rider's meeting was held in the parking lot at 7:00 pm. I tried to listen carefully. I really, really wanted to finish this rally and comprehension of the rules is critical to finishing.

Although called the Utah 1088, this year's Rally required a minimum of 1,144 miles within 24 hours to be considered a finisher. Any bonus points collected along the way would improve your finish position. Rider packs were handed out and I rushed up to my room to try and sort it all out. I didn't have a clue what I was doing.
Okay, first, I read through the rally pack instructions. I immediately discarded alternate routes as being too aggressive for a newbie and settled on the base route. I traced the base route in yellow highlighter on my map and used the pink highlighter to identify possible bonus locations off the main route. I then used a red sharpie to circle bonus locations and the mandatory checkpoint.

Happy with my map routing, I then prepared index cards of my route. For example, I-80 to Wendover for Keno ticket; gas receipt in W. Wendover; I-80 to Oasis, etc. These cards proved very helpful throughout the rally.

I didn't have a GPS so didn't have to load waypoints or deal with that at all, so I went to bed for a restless night. Up about 5:00 am, dressed and bike loaded, I was ready long before the 7:00 am start time.

At 7:00 am we took off. I opted to try the slow race for some bonus points and waited while several riders did the same. My turn, I blew it so I blew out of there and headed to the BMW Service Shop. Fortunately, I had googled it the night before and with my firsthand knowledge of Salt Lake City, I was there quickly. Got my signed business card - Bonus scored!!! And took off on I-80 toward Wendover.

Riding along at a comfortable pace, I pass several riders on I-80. After a few miles, a rider passes me so I pick up the pace and follow him to Wendover. It got quite interesting as the wind picked up and buffeted us about as we passed the semi-trucks. Lots of turbulance!!! Thanks Eric V. for letting me chase you.

Arriving at Wendover, I go to the first casino. No Keno. I get on the bike and ride a mile down the road to another casino. No Keno. I turn around and go back to where I started and tried the casino across the street. Woohoo, they have Keno. I get in line behind one rider and some old guy who had won a Keno jackpot and was collecting his winnings. This took a loooooong time. As I waited my turn, the line of Keno ticket purchasers grew longer. They were all wearing motorcycle gear and helmets. Finally, the jackpot winner collected his huge jackpot of $33 and it was our turn to get our $1 Keno tickets. Bonus scored and out the door to West Wendover for a gas receipt, bonus scored and on to I-80.

I follow I-80 to Oasis and turn right onto a two lane highway. Clipping along after several miles I notice two motorcycle headlights in my mirror. They didn't try to pass so I just kept the pace. Entering Utah, I start to watch mile markers. Finally, the one I want is in sight and I stop to get the name of the ranch located there. Bonus scored. Quickly said hello to the other two riders and took off for the mandatory check point. I didn't want to miss this because if you didn't do the check point, your rally was over.
Got to the checkpoint early and formally met the two riders who had chased me across the Nevada desert. Joel R. and Bucky D. and I decided to ride together for a while. We all like the pace and I knew the Utah roads. Leaving the checkpoint, we headed down the Interstate for Rocket Garden. Remember, my rally hat must be in any photos to get the point. Bonus scored. Then to Golden Spike. Another bonus scored.

From Golden Spike, we head over to Logan Canyon and Bear Lake. A beautiful ride on a sunny day. Headed to windy Wyoming for the Fort Bridger bonus. Bonus scored. Shortly after leaving Fort Bridger, on a small town road, we get flagged over by the police. What???? I'm thinking what could possibly be wrong? We were not speeding at all. Being in town, we were using all precautions. Anyway, we pull over and it happens to be a motorcycle poker run checkpoint the police are manning for a charity. They thought we were riding the poker run. Hahahahaha. We quickly pull out and get on our way to Flaming Gorge. Another beautiful road.

By the time we get to Vernal, we need a break and discuss our route. We decided to go to Dinosaur National Monument in Colorado for a bonus. Bonus scored! It was an out and back trip, so back in Vernal we discuss further routing. It's about 9:00 pm and dark. We're a long way from any bonus points and a long way from the required mileage to finish.

We decide to take the fastest route to I-15 and run down the super slab to accumulate some miles. While in Vernal, I purchased a six pack of beer and some other items. The six pack bonus scored. The other items also gave me bonus points which became important later.

With Joel in the lead now (I have a deer issue I'm trying to get over) me in the middle and Bucky pulling up the rear, we take Hiway 40 through Duschene and over to Heber where we stop for a quick burger and drink. Down Provo canyon and we're on I-15 headed south. Rode to Fillmore, took a quick break where I reminded Joe and Bucky to pick up a six pack. Nice of me huh? I thought so.

Back on I-15 north at a spirited pace. Arrive in SLC and decide some more miles might be required so shoot west on I-80 to Tooele for a gas stop. There we decided that we had time to grab another SLC bonus and as the sky was getting light, I was somewhat rejuvenated. Off we went to take a photo of the Utah Highway Patrol memorial cross then back to the hotel to check in.

I checked in at 6:00 am sharp and was told to have my scoring package done and submitted within an hour. It only took about 15 minutes. I finished!!!!!! I was elated!!!!! I finished!!!!!!

I went up to my room and slept several hours, took a shower and joined the rally riders downstairs for the banquet.

During the banquet, Rally Master, Steve Chalmers announced the winners. All but one rider finished the rally. Top honors went to Ken Meese, first place; Matt Watkins, 2nd place; and Ken Morton, 3rd Place. Cletha Walstrand, 25th place, Joel R. and Bucky D. tied for 26th place. See, the rally pack said to spend some money in Utah for something other than fuel. Any receipt showing a purchase in Utah was a bonus. I collected mine in Vernal. Joel and Bucky didn't. Reading comprehension, my friends. Gee, they could have used their burger receipts !!!!!!

Following the banquet, our gracious Rally Master hosted an open bar. Big mistake. EPIC party. Hey, I wasn't the last to leave the parking lot in the morning. I saw several bikes still parked. I had a lovely ride home playing tourist along the way.

I completed almost 1,200 miles in 23 hours. Enough for an IBA Saddle Sore certificate (my second). I met awesome people and rode a fantastic ride. I had just purchased the 2008 Honda GL1800 about 6 days prior to riding it in the Utah 1088. I connected with that bike during the rally, tossing it around like it was a little 250cc bike.

I learned a lot about route planning and what it takes to ride such a distance in a short time while trying to collect bonus points.

Many thanks to Joel and Bucky who rode with me and helped me overcome my deer issues and kept me motivated to finish.

Many thanks to Steve Chalmers and volunteers who made this a very special, fun and safe event.

Many thanks to all you expert rally riders for all the tips, help and support. What a fantastic group of people.


  1. Great Job Cletha! Blog looks good to me.

    John T

  2. Great ride! Great blog! Thanks for sharing your adventure!


  3. Great ride QueenB, and nice to meet you in person! You certainly fit in during the rally and in the post rally shenanigans. I expect this will not be your first rally!


  4. Great story, Cletha! Congratulations on your first finish. You did great. See you very soon in Ely!!

  5. Nice job Cletha. I think I might try this next year.

  6. Good job on the 1st rally--congrats!
    Nice blog too.