Having fun at the Wild Wild West Rally !
Ray Blair and me (top photo)
Heidi Still, me, Rosie Sperry (bottom photo)
Well, it's over now and I've finally caught up enough to put down my thoughts about the absolutely fabulous Wild Wild West Rally put on by the Cognoscente Group in Ely, Nevada. I really didn't think I was ready for a 32 hour endurance rally but got prompted, prodded and bullied into signing up. Oh my, what had I done? My nerves increased as the day of departure got closer. The Rally Bastard gave me a little hint in that since the theme of the rally was Wild Wild West, it might behoove me to dress-up a little bit and play the part of a Saloon Girl or Calamity Jane type for the pre-rally banquet. Okay, note to self - maybe this is worth extra points?
On the morning of Thursday, July 15, I packed up the new Wing and headed to Pioche, NV for breakfast at the Silver Cafe where I met Chris Purney who was coming from Las Vegas on his LD fitted FJR. After a delightful breakfast and lots of chit chat about bikes and the upcoming rally, Chris and I left for Ely, going north on Nevada hiway 93.
The day promised to be very warm but our ride to Ely was pleasantly quick and uneventful. A quick left on Hiway 50 put us into Ely shortly after noon. Riding down the main drag of Ely we were hailed by two LD riders sitting on a bench in front of the Hotel Nevada. They obviously recognized our mounts as LD rides and gave us a great big welcome to Ely. Turns out it was Dennis Powell from Iowa and Bob St. George from Massachusetts. Just after arrival at the Four Sevens Motel, Mr. Matt Watkins pulled in. (Chris and I had a wager whether Matt would beat us to Ely. Matt came from Pasco, WA).
Checking into my room, I discovered just how very nice it was. I'd stay here anytime. Nice room with microwave and refrigerator, clean, plenty of space. Once checked in, we walked over to the Hotel Nevada for free margaritas and some BS'ing. Back at the Four Sevens, it was hang out time in the parking lot as rider after rider arrived and drinks began to flow. I had intentionally arrived a day early so I could chill and visit without worrying about getting up early the next morning for the rally.
Friday was odo check day. After a leisurely breakfast with some fellow riders, I got geared up and prepared to run my odo check. Fortunately, the route was simple and I completed it in one try. Oh, I should mention it was HOT. The rally staff was awesome and had everything under control, so things went smoothly. Then, it was more parking lot BS'ing but no drinkies for riders. Of course, staff and observers were having tons of fun with margaritas and various libations :)
That evening was the pre-rally banquet where rally packs would be handed out. We all trooped down the road a few blocks to a fantastic banquet hall where dinner was to be held. Now, remember, I mentioned a Wild Wild West theme outfit? Well, of course, hoping to get extra points, I donned my Saloon Girl garb. Do you think I was bamboozled? Led astray? Tricked? Newbie hazing? Aside from pretty Ms. Lisa Duff (Mr. Warchild's squeeze), I was the only one in Wild Wild West garb. Boy, oh boy, did I get lots of attention. Oh my......well, there I was, all kitted out and I wasn't going to miss dinner and the rally pack. So, there I was. Hahahahahahahaha. I'm glad I have a sense of humor. It really was a fun time., although I'm not used to having so much attention. It was what it was.
Dinner was a fantastic production of Italian fare. During dinner, Mr. Warchild outlined the sequence of events and Mr. Brian Roberts provided details as to how the rally would be run. Everyone paid close attention. We were given our rally packs that consisted of many cards identifying locations for bonus points that were related to Nevada and the Wild Wild West. We were to earn money and spend money based on the bonuses we collected with the intent to earn as much as possible and spend as much as possible before we die. We could earn money by going to mine locations, do outlaw or indian activities, or work as a cowboy. We could spend money by gambling, going to whore houses, or living life on the trail. (Sorry I've forgotten two categories - 1 each for earning and spending - but the above categories are the ones I went after).
Okay, it was then back to the hotel to start mapping out a route. I first sorted all my cards by town then mapped each town where a circle route emerged. I then discarded those bonus locations that were suckers (like anything with a gravel road). Actually, routing was pretty easy although it took me a while. I also discarded anything in or around Reno, Sparks and Lake Tahoe. I'm much more familiar with south and east Nevada so kept my route to areas I knew and that didn't have tons of traffic (well except Las Vegas - more later).
I highlighted a route on my paper map and then circled each town or milepost where I needed to stop for a bonus. After two hours, I felt pretty confident about my route and the points I could collect. I decided to head west and south in the morning and go east and north in the evening and finally, west and south in the wee hours. I had a pretty good idea of mileage. Oh, I forgot to mention, there was one check point. You didn't have to go, but if you were going to attempt the check point, you had to declare it prior to departure. The check point was somewhat south and west Nevada.
Okie dokie, I had my route and my cards selected. I discarded the bonus points I wasn't going after. I put everything in order according to my route and thought I was ready to go. Finally went to bed around midnight and thought I had set the alarm for 4:30am. We had a 5:00am riders meeting and a 5:30 start. Imagine my surprise when I woke up and it was 4:55 am!!!!! Oh no, I threw on the LD Comfort tights and top and First Gear outer wear and ran downstairs to attend the riders meeting just in time. Whew....don't know what happened there but will bring my own alarm from now on.
Attended the riders meeting which was all about safety (we had previously added our Spot Tracker locations to the WWW rally site) then ran back to my room to brush my teeth and get my act together. Was on my bike and in line to roll at the appropriate time. The start was staggered by rider number which I really liked - no 40 bikes running off at the same time. I was rider 33. My turn came up, got to the start line, waited for the go signal and was off on the Wild Wild West Rally.
First bonus stop was time limited and down the street only two blocks - a whorehouse. I showed up with several other riders, got my photo and boogied to highway 93 for a bonus at the Shoshone "B" Ranch. As I left Ely, Doug Barrett was on my heels, we were going to the same place. Heading toward the ranch, Bob & Sylvie Torter were headed out at warp speed and I met Tom and Rosie Sperry at the photo location. Doug and I turned around and headed to Pioche (remember, I was just there for breakfast on Thursday). The Sperry's didn't turn around but continued on the road to encounter a long stretch of gravel. I'm glad I turned around to go back to the main hiway :)
Then it was on to Pioche. I missed an historical marker which I saw Doug stop at but it was too difficult to turn around. Silly me, I had my cards for Pioche in the wrong order. Oh well. On to the historical marker in Pioche. Arrived there to find Bob and Heidi Still (I would encounter them several times during the rally - we had the same basic route). Took my photo and realized my bike was parked to far over in the gravel to pick it up!! Everyone was gone by then and Doug hadn't yet caught up. Hahahaha. I hailed a lady jogging down the street for help. She very graciously helped push on my bike to get it upright. Down the road I went.
Next stop was the Mountain Meadows Monument which is only about 30 or so miles from my home so I knew right where to go and I knew the road. Yes, it was a gravel road, but not too bad. Took a minute to park in the gravel area that wouldn't put me over too far and ran off to the monument in full gear. A bit of a hike......got my photos and returned to my bike to find Terry and Lynda Lehman getting the same bonus. Gee, tons of experienced riders taking the same route??? Maybe I'm on to something.
I then took Utah Hiway 18 to Veyo where I took the Gunlock road to old Highway 91 which put me onto Interstate 15. Heading south, I took the exit to Overton and got the historical site bonus, back to I-15 to Valley of Fire. An 18 miles or so detour to the park, $10 entrance fee and 1/2 mile to the Beehive rock formations, photo taken, turn around, out of the park and back to I-15. On my way to Nelson, NV. If you've never been to Nelson, it is so worth going to. Oh, by now it was getting hot, like 111 degrees. Got to Nelson, took the required photo and on to the end of the road for a photo of the Colorado River and appropriate marker. Damn, did I say it was getting hot?
The Nelson bonus was an in and out, so back on I-15, actually the 515 and I missed my exit to the Blue Diamond Highway. Dang, didn't see a sign anywhere and I'm on paper maps. No GPS or help. Dang.....I'm low on fuel so take an exit only to put me in a neighborhood. Riding, riding, riding, hot, hot, hot and hotter as I get frustrated and have to go slow. Way flipping hot... probably 150 or so (hahahaha) really like 115. Way hot. Finally find a service station so I stop for water and ice and to cool down and get directions. Got directions from the clerk and went out to the bike to sort things out and cool down. A customer came over to me and told me the clerk gave me way the wrong directions and I only needed to go up the highway 2 exits and take Red Rock Hiway which would put me on the Blue Diamond Hiway to Pahrump. Back into the store for more ice and the clerk apologized and acknowledged he was wrong and the customer was correct. Oh boy - saved me about 200 miles of wrong way.
Went up the hiway, second exit, on to Red Rock Hiway. Take this if you have the opportunity. It was an awesome road which put me right onto the Blue Diamond Hiway to Pahrump :) Got to Pahrump and found the two cat houses for bonus points then off to Beatty, NV for more bonus points. On the way, stopped at Amargosa Valley for a photo op at Cherry Patch II cat house and who do I spy? Bob and Heidi Still. Dang, here again, parked wrong and Heidi, (bless her heart) helped me get the bike upright. Tearing off to Beatty.
Arrived in Beatty, hot as He**. Gassed up and went into the store to get water and ice. The attendant took pity and offered me all the ice I needed as I was red as a beet and hotter than heck. Took the ice and a break. Cooled down, wetted the LD Comfort shirt and helmet liner and chilled. Got the poker chip bonus at the Stagecoach Hotel Casino and chatted with the Still's for a bit.
This is when I called the Rally Bastard and said it was unlikely I would make the checkpoint as I had at least 250 miles to go and not enough time. Heck...I hate it when that happens. If I hadn't gotten screwed up in Las Vegas, I would have made the check point. Oh well, shit happens.
Okay then, off to Goldfield and Tonopah. Collected the courthouse, mine and cathouse bonus points. It was getting dark by now, hmmmm......critters on the road? I pushed on and screamed through Mina and Fallon and other places where I totally ignored bonus points (note - I stopped in Fallon to check my map and a Harley rider went by and asked if I was okay.....nice) and landed in Winnemucca at the wee hours. Boy was I tired. Stopped at a Chevron and thought about getting a motel room. Got gas, had a cup of coffee, chatted with the sweet young men attendants and by the time I had washed my windshield, drank my coffee, talked with the boys, I had a second wind. Collected a few bonus points in Winnemucca and hit I-80.
Screamed up I-80 to Battle Mountain at O'dark thirty. Stopped at a gas station to ask directions to Donna's Whorehouse. Hahahahahhaa. Still got lost but eventually found it. Took the requisite picture. Then, in all my smartness, took a left thinking it would take me to the hiway. It didn't. It took me to a trailer park. Not a nice one either. Like 2:30 am riding through a trailer park that turned into a big chunky gravel road leading to a junkyard with dogs barking and having a fit. Oh boy. Are we having fun now? I had to turn that big old flipping Wing around on chunky (big rock) gravel with dogs barking and waiting for folks to come out with guns. Heck, that made me sweat. Finally got turned around without dropping the bike and made haste getting out of there.
Okay then, adrenaline running through my veins...on to the interstate again to Elko. My oh my, I'm dying here. Stopped at the McDonald's in Elko. I don't do fast food so I don't even know what to order. I walk through the drive through and the young lady was so kind to me and explained what I could order at 4 something in the morning. I ordered coffee and some pancakes with sausage. Sat on the curb and ate my breakfast, looking really sad I'm sure. Now, I'm cold because its about 48 degrees. So, on with the electric jacket. Sure glad I brought that with me. Turned on the heated seat and grips and was toasty. Quite a difference from the 115 degrees or so near Las Vegas!
Okay now, third wind....I'm ready to go. Hit the cathouse in Elko after traveling several miles on road construction only to find the house closed for the night at 4:00 am??? what??? okay. Picture and move on.
Back on the highway heading to Ely. Got there about sun-up and still needed some miles so I headed to Eureka. What an awesome place. Put this on your ride list. Rode there, through Elk and Deer warnings....lots of twisties and straights..What an incredible ride. There and back. Time is running out.
Go back to Ely for the final daylight bonus of guess what.... a whore house...got that. Then, heck I could get a bun burner if I do a few more miles... so a quick look at the map takes me to highway 6. Scream down that and back and I think I'll get the bun burner. I pass Dennis twice...he is collecting miles as well. Hahahah again. We wave and laugh as we pass each other.
End up at rally central with more than enough miles to be a finisher. Now on to scoring. I gathered my cards and poker chip and head to the scoring table for an initial approval of my bonus points. Woohoo! All bonus points approved. Back to my room to figure out the scoring process which was a mathematical nightmare. Especially considering I'd been riding for 30 1/2 hours. I won't go into detail but I screwed the pooch in my scoring. Oh well, live and learn, my own dumb fault. After submitting my final score, I took a much needed shower, got into fresh clothes and went down to the scoring area for more BS'ing and rally tales along with margaritas and other libations. All riders safe and accounted for.
Another fine feast. Mr. Warchild recapped the rally and announced the winners. Jeff Earls was first, followed by Matt Watkins in second and Dick Peek in third. Jerry White had a fine finish at fourth with Terry & Lynda Lahman at fifth, Andy Mackey at sixth and Wendy Crockett at seventh. I received a special mention as a newbie who had not only finished, but rode 1,595.7 corrected miles in 30 1/2 hours ! :)
Dinner was followed by yet more parking lot BS'ing and imbibing. Somehow I got myself to bed and crashed hard!!!! I had been up since 5:00 am Saturday morning and it was now about 10:00 pm Sunday night. Yes, I was tired.
Waking up Monday morning, I went outside to see if anyone was still around. Sure enough, I found a few folks and went to breakfast. I was tickled to meet Jan Cutler and laughed when he ordered ice cream for breakfast. What a guy. Back to the hotel, I packed up my bike and felt a bit melancholy. I was having so much fun I didn't want it to end. But, it was time to go. Five of us rode out of Ely together and had some good, fast, fun on a few twisties on Hiway 6.
Chris Purney, Doug Barrett and I then took Hiway 318 toward home. It was a lovely ride with beautiful scenery. We stopped at Ash Springs on Hiway 93 for a break and lunch. After visiting with Chris and Doug for a bit, I headed for home.
That's it.....I had a fantastic time, met wonderful people, rode the heck out of the Wing, saw new and interesting places, pushed my limits, finished the rally and screwed the pooch. All good, silly fun.
A very special thank you to the Cognoscente Group for a wonderful event. Ms. Landry, Messers Warchild, Roberts, Hobart, Hickey, Austin and Blair - well done. I'm looking forward to your next party.