Thursday, May 19, 2011

5 Miles and 7 Minutes - The IBR Shakedown Rally

We left home on Wednesday, May 11th about noon and headed east. Our goal was Broken Arrow, OK for the IBR Shakedown Rally which was to start on Saturday, May 14th. Our destination was 1,276 miles away. We had plenty of time to get there so we just took it easy. We rode Highway 89 to Flagstaff where we got on I-40. We stopped in Holbrook, AZ for the night. Next morning was more slogging on I-40 but this day was windy. Big winds! So, we fought the wind until Elk City, OK where we spent the night. Friday was yet more wind as we rode on toward Broken Arrow.

Prior to our departure, we had arranged to have a rear tire delivered to our hotel in Broken Arrow and contacted a shop to mount and balance it. We arrived at the Marriott Towne Plaza Suites (nice hotel) and checked in. No tire....oh well, maybe later in the day. (Nope, tire never did arrive until our departure on Monday so I rode with a rather worn tire which caused me some worry). So, we hopped on the bikes and rode over to Casa de Hickman to check in and meet the other riders. We hung out at the Hickman abode greeting riders as they arrived. Good fun as I knew many of them and others I knew from Facebook or the LD Riders list. Always great to put a face with a name.

Rally Master Michael Hickman put on a great BBQ of brats and dogs with salads, chips, etc. Following our dinner we had a riders meeting where the first leg of the rally packs were handed out and we got the waypoints loaded onto our thumb drives. While waiting for the meeting to end, I quickly went through the waypoints and identified the anchors. I also coded each waypoint with colors for point value and symbols for any restrictions. As soon as I got my electronic bonus stick, we took off for the hotel and route planning.

Riders hanging out and visiting prior to the rider's meeting.

Bikes lined up in front of Casa de Hickman. Sure glad their neighbors are understanding!

I spent about two hours trying to figure out a decent route for the time allowed. We were told that we should go for at least 6,000 points (although there was no minimum) for the first leg. Start was 9:00 am CDT with a short rider meeting at 8:45 am. Required checkpoint was 10:00 pm to 11:00 pm with penalty points accruing between11:00:01 and 11:30 pm. Okay, I had between 13 and 14 hours of riding potential. The big anchors were sucker bonus locations such as Hell, Michigan and Key West, Florida. I really wanted to go to Black Mesa Nature Preserve which was big points but too far for the time allowed.

I'm not very GPS savvy and am definitely not great using MapSource. My first panic was when I couldn't download the waypoints into MapSource from my thumbdrive. Aaarrgghhh!!!!! Call the Rally Master in panic. Oh, calm down, just use the dropdown menu to pick the correct file extension format. Dummy :-) Lesson learned!

After several frustrating attempts at routing all of which were too big for me, I finally found the best route for my skills and ability. Not where I wanted to go, but the best bet if I wanted to make the checkpoint on time. I successfully downloaded all the waypoints into the ZUMO (well, after the second attempt). I made a mistake on the 10n10 Rally in that I didn't download ALL of the waypoints and when my original route became un-doable, I didn't have a backup plan. Learned that lesson, so I put every waypoint into the ZUMO. I then made up my index cards in order of each bonus location I wanted to capture. I made notes as to what was needed to collect the bonus such as photo with flag or include bike in picture or get a receipt or whatever was required.

The next morning I was up plenty early to partake in the hotel breakfast and make some last minutes notes on my index cards. I loaded up the bike, filled my hydration system with ice and took off for the start. We lined the bikes up in front of the Hickman abode waiting for the go signal.

Here I am in the middle, waiting for the go signal!

Then, I'm off to find my first bonus. Only 97 points, but on the way to the big one was the Oklahoma Prison Historical Museum. I pulled up right behind another rider that I'd been following from time to time. Snapped the required photo and took off for the next bonus.

Hickman Elementary School in Garland, Texas. Yup, this was enough to get the 6,000 minimum as it was worth 6,660 points. Score! There was another large bonus at Southern Methodist University, 2,630 points, but I decided to skip that as it is downtown Dallas and it was graduation day. I figured it would be a mess. My mistake. Several riders scored that bonus and all finished above me. Had I grabbed it.....oh well. Should of, could of, but didn't :)

However, I must say I was very proud of myself attacking the Dallas/Ft. Worth freeway system and conquering it! Hah! On to the next bonus which was back up in Arcadia, Oklahoma. Take a picture, including your motorcycle of the 66 foot giant soda bottle. I stopped for the photo and a couple of Ducati riders came over to inspect my mount. They were in the way so that's why there are in the photo. I chatted with them for a minute or two, mounted my steed and rode away. I think they are still scratching their heads about that one!

At this point I realized I was considerably ahead of schedule. This is due in most part because I'd been riding the slab at a spirited pace. Looking at the ZUMO and waypoints, I realized a bonus was only 9 miles from my current location and easily doable. So I headed to get a picture of the historical marker that celebrates the life of Wiley Post. This is one of my lessons learned from the 10n10!

I punched in the waypoint on the ZUMO and headed in the proper direction. For those of you (myself included) who don't know, Oklahoma is full of Turnpikes with tolls. Many require exact change or a PikePass. I used the John Langan approach and loaded my jacket pocket with change in one baggie and bills in another with a note to the cashier (at manned tolls) to please take what the toll was and return the balance with a receipt in the bag to me. This worked fantastic! Thanks for the tip John. Anyway, headed to the Wiley Post bonus put me on a turnpike for about a quarter to a half mile at a toll of $0.60. No problem. I had my baggie of change, threw in two quarters and a dime and went through the gate. Took the next exit and followed the ZUMO directions which had me go in a circle and back on the damn toll road. Threw in another 60 cents and did the same damn thing. Finally on the third attempt I spotted a cemetery and pulled in there to re-check the directions and have a smoke to calm down. Heck, THREE times through the flipping toll both to go in circles. Those watching my SPOT tracker sure had a good laugh.

Anyway, sitting there in the cemetery, ZUMO says to take the ally. Okay, I took the ally down the cemetery and viola! There was the Wiley Post memorial. Hooray. Photo taken, bonus in the bag.

Next stop was a photo of the Weer historical marker in Broken Arrow. ZUMO led me directly there. It was just getting dusk and I was a bit concerned about critters. The road to Weer is tree lined and perfect for deer. I had good fun crossing a creepy wooden bridge. Up on the pegs, eyes forward and no problem. At the historical marker, I tried to turn around by backing up but hit some soft stuff and almost lost it! YIKES. Put it into first and got back on the pavement. Rode up the street a hundred yards and found a good turn around place. Back at the marker, I snapped the photo and took off for my final bonus of the day. (As a side note, another rider got this bonus just after I did and encountered 4 deer that he avoided only to exit the bonus and find the deer had tangled with a car and truck - stupid deer).

My last bonus was Broken Arrow Farmers Market Centennial Clock. Lucky me. I had saved this one for last. Those who went there first couldn't get the photo because it was Rooster Days or something like that. Broken Arrow town festival complete with parade, marathon, carnival, etc. right downtown. Riders were turned away. I got there after the streets were re-opened and snapped the photo of the centennial clock with my bike and flag. SCORE :-)

I arrived at the check point well within the time allowed. Leg 1 scoring was quick and I didn't loose any points. All my photos had the required elements and my fuel log was flawless. Whoopee!

In true IBR fashion, we were to receive our second leg bonus locations the following morning after a mandatory rest stop. I rode back to the hotel and tried to get some sleep. That didn't work so well. About 2 am, I awoke with terrible cramps in my left foot and toes. After much massage, walking around, stretching, trying to go back to bed, I gave up and got up. Heck I needed to be at the Rally start for leg 2 at 3:45 am for a riders meeting. I was at the start in plenty of time. After a very quick rider meeting, we were given our leg 2 bonus locations, again on a thumb drive. The key here, we would be routing on the clock! Start of leg 2 was at 4:00 am and finish was at 3:00 pm with a thirty minute penalty window and DNF at 3:30 pm.

I jumped on my bike and sped to the hotel to begin my leg 2 routing. First, I identified the anchors and coded each waypoint according to point value and restrictions. Then I downloaded the waypoints into MapSource. A huge group of anchors was in the northwest corner of Oklahoma. Oh, I really wanted to go there but it was over 1,000 mile round trip and there was no way I could achieve that in 8 hours of riding time. Okay, I needed to find some other route that would give me the 11,000 - 14,000 points suggested by the Rally Master. Heck, nothing big. Nothing........Finally, eureka! I spotted the route I would take. It was aggressive but on leg 1 I had time to spare. Leg 1 was mostly slab with easy in and outs. Leg 2 appeared to have a good chunk of slab or at least 4 lane big highways. Okay, I had a route and quickly made up my index cards with locations and notes. Grabbed my stuff and flew out of the hotel to load the bike and take off to get my first bonus.

I left the start at about 4:15 am and then after routing left the hotel at 6:00 am. First bonus was EAT - Provide a receipt from a fast food restaurant (no fuel stations) showing that you purchased food. Directly across from my hotel was a SteaknShake. I ran into the restaurant and asked for a receipt for a cup of coffee. The gal headed toward the coffee pot and I said, "NO, I just want the receipt, I don't want any coffee." She didn't quite know what to make of that but the young man behind the counter rang up a coffee and handed me the receipt as I threw $2 to him and dashed out of the store to my bike. Ha! First bonus of the day scored. That put me in a really good mood.

Next stop was the Rock Cafe in Stroud, OK. I rode directly there and snapped the photo of the neon sign with my bike. Unfortunately, the sun was in a bad place for the picture but after a few attempts, I got one that I thought would be okay.

Next bonus was BARN. I selected the waypoint on the ZUMO and headed toward the bonus location. Now, yesterday had been slab. The route to the Rock Cafe was slab. The ride to BARN was anything but. Lovely, yes. Beautiful Oklahoma rural scenes on Route 66 and slow.......I finally arrived to take a picture of the historical marker.

From BARN, I headed toward Oklahoma City for the George "Hookey" Miller headstone picture. Here's where I made a critical mistake. I followed the ZUMO directions but didn't end up at a cemetery. I called the rally master to ask if anyone was having problems locating this bonus and he said no and gave me the street address. I realized there was a call in bonus at the third bonus. So I asked if the EAT bonus counted as a bonus location and the Rally Master said yes, so I scored the call in. What I didn't score was the extra 1,000 points for taking a photo of your third bonus and texting it to the Rally Master. I'd already left the BARN so couldn't take a cell picture but doubt I could have texted it anyway because I so don't know how to use the dumb phone.

I entered the street address for the Hookey monument into ZUMO and took off on neighborhood streets through Oklahoma City. Very SLOW. I finally arrive at the cemetery only to realize, without proper GPS coordinates, I'll never find the headstone amongst the zillion or so headstones. The cemetery office wouldn't open until after noon so nobody was there to give directions. I stupidly rode around the cemetery for a while before realizing it was dumb. I should move on. Oh well. Lesson learned that I hope I remember during the IBR :-)

So, next on my list was the OKCF, the Oklahoma City National Memorial Fence. Again I followed the ZUMO directions and went directly there. I was surprised to find Bobby Fox, another rally rider there. I snapped my photo and took off in good time.

The next bonus location was Slaughterville city limits sign. Again, Bobby and I ended up at the same place at the same time. Snapped the required photo and took off again on small, slow roads.

Finally, back on the slab. Perhaps I could make up some time? I twisted up a bit and was having a glorious ride. The weather was fine and everything was working perfectly. My little GS kitten was just purring along. I was riding a freeway I had been on the day before, just in the opposite direction. I was headed to the Arbuckle Mountains. Beautiful scenery. I took the proper exit for a quick 5 mile in and out to snap a photo of the Fort Arbuckle Monument. ZUMO said I had arrived. I didn't see a dang thing except some farmhouses. I turned around and rode up and down a 1/2 mile stretch of highway all the time ZUMO saying I had arrived. I finally pulled into the only side street, turned around and re-read the bonus and checked the GPS coordinates. Yes, I was where I was supposed to be but sure as heck couldn't see any kind of monument or memorial. Nothing but a street sign and some pasture. So, I took a picture of the street sign showing I was in the proper place and headed back out to the highway.

No points for effort here :-(

On the way out, Michael Boge passed me going for the Ft. Arbuckle monument bonus. I gestured to him that I couldn't find it. This prompted Michael to actually get off his bike and scout around. He found the VERY TINY MONUMENT located in a farmer's field where he had to climb between the fence and hike out to the middle of the pasture to get the photo. Good for you Michael!!!!!

At this point, I knew I was running low on time. I figured I could continue my route and make it to the finish on time even if it meant dropping my last two bonus attempts. After all, the road I was going to take was a big four laner. What I didn't know was it is littered with tiny towns where you have to slow down to 25 mph and miles of road construction. Get up to 65 or 75 and then down to 25. Ugh! So on I pushed to Kingston where I was to take a photo with my bike in the picture of the Kingston Water Tower. Easy, peasy.

Now, I'm really concerned about time. ZUMO says I have 12 minutes to spare before DNF. I'd still be in penalty but could finish if all goes perfect. Of course, it didn't. I totally blew off my final bonus location which I spied as I rode past it. Oh well, now it was all about making up time to get to the finish. I was still 175 miles from the end. And, I was still on that stupid four lane highway that had speed limits ranging from 25 mph to 65 mph. I was cruising along quite nicely when an Oklahoma State Trooper going in the opposite direction lit up the lights. Damn, I immediately slowed down and got in line with traffic. Sure enough, a few minutes later he had turned around and I saw nothing but blue and red in my mirrors.

I signaled and pulled over but there was a crown on the shoulder area and I couldn't get my kickstand down. Mr. Officer came up to me and I flipped up the fancy new Schuberth C3W and said "Gee, Officer, there is a crown on the road here and I can't park. This isn't safe, can we go somewhere else to take care of this business?" He said sure. I asked if I should follow him or if he wanted to follow me. He told me to go ahead. So I took off (at a slow pace) and pulled over again at a little bit better spot. I still could not get the kickstand down so I asked Mr. Officer to just hold my right elbow while I leaned the bike over to get the stand down. He kindly accommodated me and I got parked. He then asked for my license and registration. DAMN. Of course the license and registration were in a sealed envelope. Not worth points but if opened it meant a loss of points. Damn it again. Without a word, I opened the envelope and handed him the documents. I'm sure he wondered why my docs were sealed but he didn't ask. He did query as to where I was headed and I told him Broken Arrow.

A short time later he came back to my bike and had me sign a piece of paper. No tickie! WhooHoo!!!! A warning. He told me I could do whatever I liked with it such as throw it away. No, no, no I said. I wanted to keep it. But as he handed me my copy, the wind picked up and blew it far away. No souvenier. I again asked Mr. Officer to hold my elbow and I lean the bike over to get the kick stand up! Hahahahahahaha. What do you suppose he thought? A little lady all geared up asking for an elbow hold. Bet he's still scratching his head on that one. He reminded me to watch my speed and to have a safe ride. Thank you Mr. Officer.

Okay, now I'm really pushing the envelope to finish on time. Heck between some serious road construction, Mr. Officer and 25 mph speed limits, I was on the edge. After the Mr. Officer incident, I was too timid to run very hot so I slogged along watching as the ZUMO kept adding minutes to my arrival time. Dang.

Just 5 miles from the finish my ZUMO said 3:30. Seven minutes later I arrived at the finish. I pulled up at the Rally Master's house 7 minutes late, a complete, total, absolute DNF.

Arriving at the finish....Happy to have had a fantastic ride!

Sad to have my envelope molested.

Fun hanging out with all the rally riders at the Hickman abode.

A motely crue if I ever saw one. What a fantastic group of riders!!!

Following scoring (Michael scored me even though I DNF'd so I could see how I did) the Rally Master cooked up a feast for those who stayed for the banquet. Bacon wrapped steak, roasted chicken, four, yes four different cassaroles, chips, dip, etc. etc. etc. Absolutely fabulous meal and tons of good stories from all the riders. Thank you Mr. Hickman!

Although I've done a few rallies now, this was by far the most intense. It was designed to mimic a leg of the IBR and boy, did I feel the pressure. Routing on the clock was intense but I think I did okay on that part. Finding a route that is doable, being able to add or subtract bonus locations on the fly was a challenge that now I think I can do okay. Watching time get away from me was not a fun thing. All good lessons. Learning when to cut bait on a bonus was another good lesson. I wasted way too much time in the cemetery looking for a monument I KNEW I wouldn't find - well that was just plain dumb. It won't happen again. Being at the right location and not finding the bonus? Well, maybe next time I'll get off the bike and do a little searching, who knows?

I learned a LOT about using my GPS, not just loading waypoints, but using it to estimate times and distances, knowing my overall and moving average speeds - all good stuff. I got a lot of practice with the GPS and heaven knows, I really needed it. I'm feeling much more confident using the ZUMO and MapSource now.

Fortunately the weather was decent, a bit cold at times but I had my electric jacket to keep me warm. Rather windy at times but heck, in the last few weeks I've had plenty of wind riding practice so that was okay.

Also, I'm much more confident on the GS. Riding that intensely all by myself, tackling the Dallas/Ft. Worth freeway system, riding downtown Oklahoma city.....all helped me overcome certain fears and trepidations. So, all in all, it was a fantastic learning experience and bonus - a fun, fun rally with super cool people.

The ride home from Broken Arrow is a story all by itself. Perhaps I'll blog about that another time. Enough to say we got stopped by snow in the Rockies, thus time to write this blog.

Thanks to Michael Hickman for putting on a fantastic event. Thanks to my sweetie, Eric for volunteering and helping Mr. Hickman check in riders. Thanks to my fellow rallyists for all the good sportsmanship and fun stories. You all rode a super rally. See you in Seattle!!!

Snowed in at Pagosa Springs, CO.......
and having a cocktail,



  1. It sounds like you got in a lot of valuable, practical experience in preparation for The Big Dance. As always, I enjoyed reading your blog.

  2. Practice, Practice, Practice, makes perfect... Good luck might even see you at the NY check point.