Sunday, September 12, 2010

10n10 Rally Report

I questioned my sanity when I decided to participate in the 10n10 Rally. Now there is no doubt about my sanity or lack thereof. On Tuesday, August 24, 2010, I packed up the Goldwing and took off to Salt Lake City, Utah. Only about a 350 mile ride which was quite pleasant. I arrived at the host hotel to find a few riders already gathered. That evening was a fun party since the only riding we would be doing on Wednesday was the odo check. On Wednesday, paperwork completed and an easy odo check that I rode with a few other riders.

Kicking tires, telling stories and trying to not be too nervous about the start tomorrow.

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.

So, thinking over my route and how much time and miles I had lost due to weather, I decided I would ride to Durango and get a head start for the Silverton bonus. Yes, Durango is only like 30 or 40 miles and I could hear a bed calling my name. So, fired up the bike and headed to Durango. Had I any sense, I would have looked at my plan before shooting off. I had originally planned to stay in Farmington for the night and for good reason. I was to score the Four Corners and Mesa Verde bonus locations in the morning and then head to Silverton. Dumb me!

I arrive in Durango past midnight and pay dearly for a hotel. Why didn't I stay in Farmington (beating my head). Oh well, up early and headed to Silverton. Oh my......rain, hail, snow, lightening, thunder, wind. I had it all going over the pass. From a high temp of 107 in Arizona to a low of 37 in Colorado. It was rather frightening but on I went. I arrived in Silverton and headed to Grumpy's, the bonus location. I should mention, this is MY bonus location, the one I submitted for the rally which was to have the apple crisp for an orgasmic experience. Guess what? Grumpy's was closed. Hahahahaha. Okay, I go down the road and have breakfast after taking off all the rain gear, etc. Rethink what I'm doing and go back to Grumpy's. I entered the hotel lobby looking like a drowned rat and begged the hotel clerk to let me buy something, anything from Grumpy's. I explained the rally and she laughed and said, "I'll do for you what I did for the guy before you." and she reached into the garbage for a receipt. No, no, no. I must have a receipt from TODAY. My Spot tracker will not lie. So she very kindly let me purchase a T-Shirt. I got my receipt and rode off happy although it was still storming.

Through the Rockies with an occassional sun break and over to Colorado Hiway 141 for a ride from Vancorum to Grand Junction. Fantastic. Good gusty winds and t-storms for a while and then it all cleared up as I went west. Hiway 141 is an experience I would like to repeat (on a slow, flower sniffin day). It is not a fast road and there is no sign for Vancorum which was required. Instead, I stopped at a little town for a receipt and took a photo of the highway sign, then rode it up to Grand Junction where I did find a city sign. Snapped the photo then headed for the Interstate. Oh boy, I really wanted a freeway about now. Colorado was slow and all technical roads with weather thrown in. Behind schedule yet again


I-70 is really a beautiful ride through Colorado and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Although there were a few other bonus points I could grab, I wisely decided to head directly to the checkpoint in Sidney, NE. Wise choice. Yes, more thunderstorms and dark. At a rest stop, some ladies told me the best way to get to Sidney which was not the way Ms. Garmin wanted me to go. I ignored Ms. Garmin. My bad. I rode beyond my exit for many miles before stopping for fuel and asking directions. I'm so sorry I lost the photo. But I stopped at a gas station and asked directions. A lovely young lady, Candi, helped me and got the maps out. I took her picture with my rally flag and got her email address and promised to send her my report (which I will do) but the photo is gone, too bad. She was awesome.

Yeah, turn around or take this little dinky hiway and you'll eventually get to Sidney. Should have turned around and slogged back up the freeway but I didn't. Oh well, life's an adventure after all. So, here I am on a dinky, two lane, rural road, pitch black. If I had listened to Ms. Garmin I would already have been in a hotel bed sound asleep. But no...take a curve and who pops up in front of me? Well of course, Bambi. Dumb bitch made me stop. She couldn't decide if she wanted to go left or right or just stand in the middle of the flippin road. She finally leaves the road and I take off at a much, much slower pace. Very slow as I round another curve there is Rocky Racoon and his brother Bubba. Dumb beasts. I manage to miss them both but it slows me down even more. I think the last 40 miles to the checkpoint took me about an hour and a half. I was really shook over the fauna encounters and it was o'dark thirty, and I was tired.

Yay!!!! At the checkpoint safe and sound. Tuck myself into bed and am up in plenty of time for breakfast before the 8:00 am checkpoint. I manage to get all my receipts and photos in order and breeze through the checkpoint. I'm off again to the next bonus location which is only a half mile away.

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.

My plan was to ride to Washington DC where there were some really big points and the 2nd half of a couple of two part boni. Considering the weather and the fact that Hurricane Earl was due to hit the east coast, I made the decision to head west again into the dry and hot. The east coast will be there for me another time.

Up the next morning, Mark and I decide to head west and maybe pick up some boni we had missed. Sounds good. Took our motel photos, grabbed the receipts and headed out. On the interestate, we're making good time until late in the afternoon when guess what? Yup, another giant storm cell. We had no choice but to ride through it. Marble size hail pounding me along with sheets of blinding rain and massive wind gusts. Semi trucks were pulling off the highway. I didn't dare pull over - I couldn't see and didn't want to fall over!!!!! Ouch, the hail hurt like hell. We got through the storm cell and motored on toward yet another. Oh

We were going to get it bad. Lightening was striking the ground near by and the sky was an awful color. We pulled into a Travel America Truck Stop in Sayre, Oklahoma and filled up the bikes. We parked and went into the truck stop for a quick bite. Sitting in a booth, the power goes off. Yes, it did. The manager comes over to us and says we have to leave the store as their policy is to vacate the store if the power goes off. I looked at her like she was crazy and said, "But we're on motorcycles!" She says, "You can hide under the overhang." I said, "I'm a lawyer and I'm going to sue you if you put us out in this weather. It is intentional endangerment. Get me a pen and paper, I want your name, the store information, etc.!" So, she goes in search of pen and paper and I suggest Mark take his time getting his gear on. She returns and I get the requested information and slowly begin to gear up. By now, the supervisor runs up to us and says, "No, no, no, you don't have to leave. Stay as long as you need. No problem." Ha! Lawyer card worked :-)

So, as we sit and discuss what to do, we finally start calling and find a motel up the road about 10 miles. We book two rooms, get on our gear, hop on the bikes, tuck into the windscreen and twist the throttle as hard as we can. We fly up the interstate to the motel. Parked under the entrance porch and greatfully seek shelter. Yes, another day cut short on miles and boni due to awful weather.

Okay, day 8 and way short on the 8,000 miles I need to be a finisher of this rally. What to do? Well, I guess forget boni and concentrate on miles, lots of them. We get up before dawn and hit the interstate. As we enter Texas we are surrounded by pea soup fog. I'm leading and have to ride near the center line and follow the dots because the fog is so thick. Can't stop because I can't see the shoulder. Moving along about 60 mph watching the dots. I feel thump, thump, slish, thump. Looking down, I see blood and lots of it. Then I see guts and gore. A head here and hind quarters there. Another head. More guts. Thump, thump, slish, squish. Oh my GOSH. A trucker must have hit a herd of deer. Fresh roadkill, about half a dozen. ICK ICK ICK. Thick fog, fresh meat, dark. I have lots of talks with God.

Finally, the sun comes up and the fog lifts. Thank you! We ride through Amarillo and make a fuel stop just before leaving Texas for another bonus receipt. Ride, ride, ride. The same road I took earlier to Albuquerque which is just fine because it is a lovely, fast section of interstate. On to I-40 for more fast slogging. Going along just fine until.......STOP......dead stop on the interstate. I have a CB on my bike and hear there is a traffic fatality and traffic will be stopped for hours. It is HOT and we are parked.

Mark and I take the time to check email and Tweet or Facebook. LOL. Funny huh? Hey, we're stuck and no way out. We could have ridden up the shoulder to a turn around but I'm not going to do that with the Wing. Too heavy and risky for me. So we waited, and waited, and waited. Finally got moving again.

Cruising along I-40 at a comfortable pace we make a fuel stop and I decide to stop in Needles, CA while Mark decides to ride home for the night (somewhere in Pasadena or Anaheim or around there). How nice for him :-).

I find a grocery store in Needles and get some snacks then snag a hotel. Take the requisite picture, get the receipt and go to bed. I later find out that Needles is kind of like Bakersfield - don't stay there. It is not particularly safe or nice. Oh well, no problems. I arise before dawn and load up and head out. I really need some miles. I cruise through Las Vegas and resist the temptation to go home which is so very close. I stay on I-15 and head up to Salt Lake City. I need lots of miles so I cruise on past Salt Lake to Wendover on I-80 and back then check into the host hotel. I'm there a day early, but I'm not done yet!!!!!

Again, I haul my butt out of bed at an early hour, mount the bike and head west on I-80. I need miles and lots of them. I'm so tired that I actually email the Rally Master and say, "I'm so tired at this point that I can no longer calculate. What should my odo read in order to be a finisher?" He very graciously emails back with the magic number. OH NO...over 1,200 miles......

Okay then. I head for Elko, NV then come back to Tooele, UT. Then back to Elko then on to Winnemucca then back to almost Elko. Between Winnemucca and Battle Mountain is a lovely, flat, straight 25 mile stretch of interstate with easy turn arounds. I did that a bunch of times. Back and forth, back and forth. Racked up 200 miles on that little stretch. I now know every bush on that stretch of highway. Then on to Elko and Wendover. From Wendover I went to Tooele and fueled up where I ran into Dorsey, another rally rider. We chatted a bit as I was waiting for dark since I was headed west and was tired, I didn't want to be riding directly into the sun. I had a subway sandwich, filled up my bottle with ice and got back on the bike. Dang, I was tired but had many more miles to go.

Back to Wendover, gas up. Back to Tooele, gas up. Back to Wendover, gas up. You get the picture? Okay, back to Tooele but just can't deal with another trip to Wendover so keep on I-80 toward Salt Lake.

Here is where a very scary thing happened. More scary than any of the weather issues or the dead meat on the highway. I'm cruising along, when all of a sudden, whirr, zip, scream, roar......a bunch and I mean a bunch, like 20 or so squids and at least 3 cars whiz by me like I'm standing still. Weaving in and out of traffic. Zoom, zoom, zoom. Crazy. My heart was pounding. I was sure I was going to witness, if not be involved in, a horrific accident. This was about 1:00 am. They are still screaming up behind me and swerving around me and other traffic when I finally see blue flashing lights. Dang, only one patrol car in hot pursuit. I put on my signal and take my exit as I know I'm not the target. There is a squid behind me, lucky bastard. I'm so glad I did not see a terrible accident. I hope the cop got more than one but I doubt it. (Squids are those stupid dumb idiot young men on screaming crotch rockets or bullet bikes that ride insanely - should be against the law except on racetracks).

So, exit and re-enter the Interstate. But this time I'm going North. I'm tired of the salt flats. I head up the Legacy Highway to Ogden, turn around and head for the barn. I'm tired, I have enough miles and IB DONE. IB SO DONE.

I get to my lovely room and crawl into bed. Yay!!! I did it. Well, not quite. Finish check in is between 8:00 and 10:10 am. No problem. At 9:40 a.m. my phone rings and wakes me up. "Cletha, get your ass down here NOW!" Oh my gosh, I almost overslept the finish check-in!!!!!!! I thought I had asked for a wake-up call but I guess that was in my dreams. I didn't ride for 10 days and a bazillion miles only to DNF.
I quickly woke myself up, gathered my camera and receipts and high-tailed it to the check-in. I was still asleep and groggy so it took me a while. Mr. Rally Bastard chastised me several times for talking and not paying attention to my scoring. Hahahaha. Got it done with two minutes to spare. Too close for comfort. Butt, I finished :-)

Now, swapping stories with all the other riders, kicking tires and telling stories (lies, nah....) How good is this?

The Rally Master (Bastard when times are rough) holds my distinct Rally Flag. (Gotta love a guy who can hold a "Queenb" sign and smile)

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.

My finish was bittersweet in that I didn't get to the east coast (chicken) where other riders did and finished very well. They are awesome and my heroes. However, I rode the F out of that Wing and pushed myself to places I never thought I could go. Hooray. I'm very proud of my accomplishment and very thrilled that I overcame personal challenges and obstacles. LA freeways - ha - I can do you. Iowa hail/thunderstorms - I can do you. Texas fog and deer soup - ha - I can do you.

For those who followed the 10n10 or my personal trip on SpotWalla....well....Hooray. Thanks to Jason Jonas for providing that tool and Jason rode one heck of a ride as well. It gave me great comfort to know people were watching me and added to my confidence as well. It was awesome to know that help was probably within mere miles should I need it. I'll never ride without my Spot tracker.

This ride was a huge challenge for me. I'm glad I got bullied into attempting it. The whole time my mantra was "I'm not in it to win it, I'm in it to finish." and.....that worked for me.
The last day, slogging the interstate through the desert back and forth and back and forth, etc., to get the required miles - tough. Riding all over the place, finding exciting destinations and sights - priceless. Running into Rally riders at obscure places, meeting the most kind, considerate, wonderful people everywhere....can it get any better?

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.
Wendy Crockett, riding an FJR like a rocket, came in second. Wendy, you are awesome. I watched your progress on Spot and on the I-Net. Wow!!!!!

Mr. Jeff Powell coming in third. The quiet, fast, efficient guy. Congrats!

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 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.

I am so thankful to have particpated in this ride.

So there you go, that is my ride report. It was a ride of a lifetime and I hope to have the opportunity to do something similar again.

Thanks to those who followed me, your support kept me going. I'm happy to be home but am ready to take on another challenge.

Hugs and kisses,