Sunday, October 23, 2011

Discover Kern County 200 Rally

At the eleventh hour, we decided to attend the inaugural Discover Kern County 200 Rally held in Bakersfield, CA. This is the first running of this 8 hour rally and the first rally for our Rally Master, Matt Pflug. We packed up the bikes and took off on Friday, October 21 and headed to California, Eric on his new Super Tenere and me on the little BMW F650GS Adventure Wannabe. We had beautiful weather as we headed down I-15. We made a quick stop in Primm, Nevada for breakfast and then scooted down the highway to CA 58 that would take us to Bakersfield. We arrived about 5pm and after locating the Rally start location, looked about for a hotel. Dang, stuff was going on in Bakersfield and even the Motel 6 was fully booked. We finally ended up with a decent room at Howard Johnsons.

Up early the next morning, we made our way to the Rocket Shop Cafe for the start. A few riders had already arrived. I spotted a Harley and a really, really old, bare naked GL1100 in the parking lot. We checked in with Matt, paid our fee (all fees were donations for Polio Plus) got our rally flags and signed the liability waivers. We were in.....

Promptly at 7am we were given our rally packs and had an hour to do some route planning. Eric and I have a routine. We each plan a route separately and then discuss our chosen routes. If we have opposing routes, we ride our own ride. If we have similar routes, we ride together. So, I went through the rally pack, located the bonus towns and cities on the map (Eric had picked up two Kern County maps - awesome!). There were about 45 bonus locations to choose from. My procedure is to highlight high point value bonus locations and also to highlight what is required, i.e., photo, receipt, etc. I looked at bonus location point values and after checking the map, quickly decided where I wanted to go. Eric and I had a quick discussion about our plans and surprise (not really) we had similar routes. Okay then, guess we'll ride this one together.

There were 15 riders in the rally. Quite a few newbies and some very seasoned rallyists. Matt had provided a blown-up map with all the bonus locations identified to help the new riders. I took a quick look at the map and decided I liked my route just fine. Heck, I have a plan!!! Now, plan the ride and ride the plan is an LD Motorcyclist's mantra. That's just what I was going to do.

All you had to do to be a finisher was ride 200 miles! Easy peasy.

Out to the parking lot to gear up and get ready to ride this rally. I needed an odo check and start time verified before taking off. Wendy Crockett, a fantastic rider, was volunteer staff at the event and performed my odometer check and start time. Start was 8am.....

Note - my Zumo had pretty much died and was of no practical use but for a receiver for my XM radio. I had NO GPS. Sucks..... Wendy offered to lend me one of her Zumo's. Yeah!!! I caved in and borrowed the GPS. It made a huge difference is my rally. I really wouldn't have had a rally without it. Thank you, Wendy.

Here is Mike Loomer (aka Mr. Wendy Crockett) who was staff. Mike added a lot of fun to the rally as you can see!

Here is Eric, sticking things in his ears, getting ready to rally!

Some photos of the bikes waiting for rally start. Look at that old, naked GL1100. I want one :-) Almost looks like a cafe racer.

Here I am, ready to roll...Big Smile - happy to be off on a great rally on a beautiful day. Does it get any better? I don't think so....

Promptly at 8am, we were off. Eric and I headed to the Southwest corner of Kern County. One of the threads was the four corners of Kern County. Our ambitious plan was to grab all four corners, each worth 1,000 pts. Our first was the SW. Off to Maricopa for the score. The bonus was an old abandoned adobe building about 100 yards north of the road way. Well, the only reason I found this was because I spied another rider parked along the highway. I stopped and looked around and couldn't see the rider. I saw his bike, but no person.....what??? I made at least two U-turns and parked again and then finally saw the rider across the street. I headed that way and then found the adobe ruin. Thanks! Rather unfortunately, this was Brian Casey who ended up with a DNF because of a dead battery. But thanks, Brian, because of you, I found the adobe ruin, got the photo and the points! Woohoo.

Yup, a piece of adobe ruin out in the middle of nowhere. Score :-)

Another thread was to photograph a county sign every time you entered a county other than Kern county. 200 pts. each. While I stopped at the adobe ruin, Eric went on down the road and found the county sign. He returned to where I was and went off to collect the adobe ruin and I scooted down the road to collect the county sign. Oh boy, 200 more pts. in the bag.

Okie dokie then. Off we went to our next bonus which was in Taft, CA. The bonus was the Oilfield Worker Monument. Taft had a couple of bonus locations. This scenario is where Eric and I work really well together. We each enter a location into the GPS and whoever gets the first hit takes the lead to the bonus. As we entered Taft, I got a hit and signaled to Eric that I would take the lead. We then went through town to the bonus. Hahahaha, funny thing. There was a town event going on and the park, where the bonus was located, was full of folks doing some kind of memorial event. The road was blocked off and there were Boy Scouts and a band all set up for a program of sorts. I parked next to the roadblock and walked up to the monument. A lady tried to hand me a program but I just said I was there to take a photo and she waved me on. Fully geared, earplugs and all the stuff. I marched up to the monument in front of the townfolk, laid my flag over the sign and snapped my photo. Turned around, walked off with about 100 people watching me and got on my bike and took off. Hahahaha. Thanks Matt, that was a special one!

Dang, I should have taken photos of the people all around this monument. Guess you don't really believe my story, but it's true!

We then went on to the Honolulu Race Track bonus - worth 500 pts. No photo required - instead, answer a question. What is the elevation of the track? Well, it was 1,128 ft!!! Another score.

So, on we go, and, another county sign. Score!!! 200 pts. Oh, here is where I forgot to get gas at the station 20 miles behind us. I notice I'm on reserve... Uh oh... We decide to go forward rather than backtrack. My booboo costs us 40 miles roundtrip. My Bad......But heck, we score another county sign.

When I realized I was VERY low on gas, Eric and I both searched for gas stations on our GPS units (his 2610 and my Zumo). Both units said a Texaco station was about 7 miles from our current location, so that's where we headed. We should have realized something was wrong when Ms. Garmin told us to turn right on a dirt road. But, turn we did and no, there was no Texaco there and never had been. Dumb GPS.

So we go to wherever and get gas. And, I was hungry so we stop for lunch. Guess what? A 30 minute lunch break gets you 1,000 pts. Another score!

On our way to the NorthWest Corner, we snap another county sign. 200 pts. Gotta love this!

Our NW corner was a ranch sign. "Take a picture of the American Flag if it is flying at the Rudnick Cholame Ranch." This it is....

And, just to be sure, here is a picture of the ranch sign.

After the ranch, we moved on toward Button Willow for some more bonus locations. Before we got there, we scored another county sign :-) Heck, another 200 pts. (Those county signs were going to be big for us!)

Before we reached the next bonus, we copped yet another county sign! Dogs barking up a storm. I thought this might be interesting, but the dogs were fenced off. Oh thanks, that was fun.

Our next stop was one of the racetrack threads. Eric led us to this bonus. No photo required, but an answer to a question. Button Willow Race Way - "What is it that they ask you to return before you leave the race track?".... the answer was a transponder. Another score!

I led us to the Button Willow Jail House bonus. In a "shady" neighborhood, we snapped the photo of the jailhouse.

Now, time was pressing. Grab more bonii or head for the barn? We decided to head for the barn. If we could score some more bonii on the way, terrific! Not going to happen. We turned the bikes toward the finish. Very slow....Traffic was intense as we headed back toward Bakersfield and all the happenings there. Dang....yes it was slow. We finally got to rally end.. maybe 20-30 minutes before DNF. Hey, I have a thing about DNF (Did Not Finish) because the last 2 rallies I rode, I DNF'ed. So, I really didn't want to be a DNF on this 8 hour rally.

Made it back to Rally Central with 20-30 minutes to spare. In retrospect, we could have used those minutes to grab some more bonii and moved up a spot or two....but....what would you do? We just went back to rally central and ended our rally. I think it was 100 points per minute for being late - up to 30 minutes. I think we made a smart decision to not be late!

All the riders and staff gathered at the Rocket Shop Cafe for scoring, a raffle and awards. Scoring went very smoothly. Matt was extremely organized and with the help of Mike, scoring was quick and easy for everyone.

Wendy and Mike held a raffle with the proceeds also going to Polio Plus. Wendy's shop, Cyclesmiths, donated some really great prizes. Mike did a great job of describing each item. He had us in stitches.

Riders checking their raffle ticket numbers.

Here is the rally rider group photo. Everyone had a fun, safe ride. Peter Perrin took first place followed by Michael Hardaway in second. Craig Chaddock and Michael Smith tied for third. Eric and I tied for fourth!!! I think Eric and I were the only riders to grab the county signs. That gave us a sweet 1,000 pts for county signs!

I had a fantastic time on this rally. I rode fun places like the oilfields, vinyards, orchard country, hills, valleys, towns. The weather was perfect and I never felt stressed. The riders were lots of fun and Matt and volunteers did a wonderful job. Everything was well organized and clear. This is definitely on my list for next year!

After the rally, Eric and I rode to Tehachapi and got a room. The next morning we waited a bit for things to warm up and then headed home. We decided to check out the Kelso Depot that was mentioned on the LD Rider list a few weeks ago. From Barstow, we took I-40 about 70 miles east. I really wanted to ride this section of I-40 because during the IBR I rode it at night and was miserable. Of course, this was the last day of the IBR and I was exhausted. I just remember the road surface being terribly rough, no shoulder, lots of big trucks and dark. I so wanted to stop but there was nothing but ranch exits. But, that's another story. Anyway, our jaunt on I-40 confirmed that it was as bad as I thought. Oh well, at least this time I got to see it in the daylight!

From I-40, we took the Kelbaker exit into the Mojave National Preserve.

An awesome road for 22 miles and we came upon the Kelso Depot which has been restored and is now run by the National Park Service.

There are informational signs posted on the grounds of the Depot. They even had a hot box two cell jail!

Now that would be miserable in the hot Mojave sun! Eric and I really enjoyed this place.

There is an old fashioned lunch counter. They have a very limited and expensive menu, but it was good. We had ham & swiss deli sandwiches and fresh, delicious, thick milkshakes!

Inside the Depot is a nice museum. Downstairs was a great photographic exhibit and a really cool model of the town of Kelso in its heyday. On the main floor were exhibits of flora and fauna along with the telegraph office, luggage area and passenger waiting room. Upstairs were even more exhibits showing the way of life, lots of train history, history of Kelso and my favorite, an exhibit of the ranchers in the area, complete with a saddle to sit on. I just love doing silly stuff and what a perfect opportunity. Ride 'em Cowboy!

We left Kelso and headed to Cima where we got back on I-15 for the rest of the ride home. I had a fantastic three day ride. The weather was just right, I got to hang out with fun people, see new places and bonus - got THREE National Park Stamps at Kelso.

I've already put the Mojave National Preserve on my list of places to go back. There is the Hole-in-the-Wall Nature Trail and Information Center and the Mitchell Caverns Natural Preserve that I haven't seen yet. Yes, this is a place I'll be exploring more.

That's it folks. Now to work on the IBR blog......

1 comment:

  1. Nice report Cletha.

    Sounds like you guys had a blast.

    Steve Bracken