Friday, November 16, 2012

2012 Discover Kern County 200 Rally

The 2012 Discover Kern County 200 Rally (DKC) was scheduled for Saturday, November 10.  Rather than slog down the interstate to Bakersfield, CA from home, we decided to leave a day early and visit Death Valley, taking more scenic roads to our final destination.  We left Ivins, UT on Thursday morning stopping in Mesquite, NV for breakfast.  From there, we rode I-15 to Las Vegas where we then got on Highway 95 toward Beatty.  It was windy!  Big, blustery gusts that had me hanging on for dear life.  We took an ice cream break in Beatty before heading into Death Valley.  Our destination for the day was Panamint Springs.

As we rode across Death Valley it appeared like mist rising from the sand dunes.  Very surreal.  I have never seen such a thing - it was sand blowing off the top of the dunes.  Yes, it was very windy :-)  We also reached a high temperature near 90 at Stovepipe Wells!

We arrived at Panamint Springs Resort and checked into our room.  No phone, no television, no Internet, no microwave, no refrigerator and no air conditioning.  Very bare bones and quite rustic.
After cocktails in the room, we went to the restaurant for some dinner.  Hmmmm...I had a cocktail and Eric had a beer.  We split an appetizer plate of six coconut shrimp and had a pepperoni pizza with pineapple and green peppers.  Total cost for dinner?  $68.00 before tip.   Hahahaha - captive audience.  We enjoyed our stay here but it is unlikely I'll do it again.

Up the next morning we headed out on CA 190.  A new road for me and what a great ride up out of Death Valley and over the mountain top.  Sweet curves round and round to the summit and then more of the same on the down side.  It was cold but I had my heated liner on so was comfortable.  The sun was shining and not another vehicle in sight.  Oh yes!

We then got on CA 395 and began looking for a place to stop and eat.  We decided to not have breakfast at Panamint - I was afraid of a $50 bill for brekkie.  We made a gas stop here and decided to move on.
We proceeded to CA 178 toward Kernville.  More scenic riding through rural and mountainous landscape.  At Kernville we made a stop to visit Wendy Crockett at her shop, The Cyclesmiths.

We had a great visit with Wendy and took a few pics of the mural just painted on the wall beside her shop.  Very cool mural!

Wendy directed us to a great little hole in the wall diner for breakfast, The Cracked Egg and we were not disappointed.  Food was fantastic - just what I was needing.  And it didn't cost an arm and a leg.  We followed CA 178 into Bakersfield where the rally was starting the next morning.  This was a great road following the river with lots of twists and turns and awesome flow.  Very little traffic until we got to Bakersfield.  I wanted to turn around and do it the other direction!

A quick stop at the visitor center netted us a good map of Kern County which we were warned we might need.  Then, on to our motel, the Howard Johnson.  We ran into a couple of other riders there.  Matt Pflugh, the rally master had arranged a place for riders to meet for dinner and very kindly gave Eric and me a ride to the restaurant.  I think about 18 - 20 folks showed up for dinner which was delish.  To our delight, the major sponsor for the rally picked up everyone's dinner tab.  Wow!!!  This rally is fantastic and it hasn't even started yet :-)

Next morning we were up early and rode over to the Rocket Cafe which was rally start.  We ordered a light breakfast and impatiently waited for our rally packs.  At 7:05, rally packs were distributed and I immediately dove in.  This is an 8 hour rally starting at 8:00 and ending at 4:00 and not much room for error.  You had to ride at least 200 miles to be a finisher.  The rally was contained within Kern County, CA (which is a very large county).  There were two threads you could pursue for multiplier points as well as memorial and veterans bonus locations.  The threads were Zombie and Big Things.  In order to claim any Zombie bonus, you had to obtain a Zombie Killing Permit (Bonus 32) which was a timed bonus only available from 8:15 to 9:15.

Going through the rally pack, I immediately discarded a number of bonus locations because of distance and lack of big points.  That narrowed things down.  I decided to get the Zombie Killing Permit even though I really thought I'd do better on points going after the Big Things.  I plotted a route mostly up and down the Highway 99 corridor with in and outs along the way.  After a quick discussion with Eric we were ready to rock and roll.

I loaded the Zombie Killing Permit location into my GPS and we headed out.  Well, I thought I loaded the location properly.  We ended up 30 miles north of where we needed to be and remember, this was a timed bonus.  Yikes.  We reversed our route and Eric was able to find the location.  We made it with 10 minutes to spare. I inadvertently used the wrong format for the coordinates when loading the GPS.  As it turned out, at the end of the day, we needed those miles and we made the bonus location - so all was good.  But.....what a huge mistake right out the gate.

The Zombie Killing Permit bonus required you to have your picture taken with a Zombie and to kill a Zombie.  I wasn't so good at the killing with only one head shot.  The number of head shots you made was the bonus multiplier you would receive.  Eric got all 5!

Okay, first bonus completed.  Next was #43, Shafter Veterans Memorial.  Easy peasy!

Followed by my first Big Thing, a Giant Red Lady Bug.
Another Big Thing, Wasco Rose Mural.
Followed by the Wasco Veterans Memorial.
And the North Kern Cemetery Veterans War Memorial.
The next bonus location, #28, Two Big Horses was a bit more difficult to find.  the GPS coordinates had an extra digit and the address was listed as 16000 Block of Zerker Rd.  I finally found an address around 17000 Zerker Rd. and headed that direction.  Yippee, score.
I should mention that Eric has a very old GPS and it won't accept coordinates in any format other than GPS so, for the most part, I was the navigator on this rally.  LOL, just a little pressure :-)  Especially considering I blew the very first bonus.

I should also mention that it was COLD but sunny.  I kept my electric jacket and handgrips on the entire rally.

Heading toward our next bonus #22 Marine Corps Devil Dog, we stopped for a Micky D lunch and then I spied the Pig.  Situational awareness!  Bonus #11 Giant Pink Pig was on my list and we were able to snap the pic from our lunch stop parking lot!
We then quickly got the Marine Cors Devil Dog.

Next up was #31, Okie Rays Veterans Memorial.  At Okie Rays Barber Shop there is a private Armed Forces Memorial which was built using donations from the community.  It is a cool memorial.  Although I dinked around so long getting a picture that Okie Ray hollered at us :-)
#19 Indian on the Circle was next.  I entered the coordinates into the GPS but only after a short distance, I realized that was NOT right.  I was going the wrong way.  The GPS had me going 50 miles away and taking dirt roads across country.  Nope - that wasn't right for sure.  We had an address so Eric put it into his GPS and took us directly to the Very Big Indian!
Pursuing the Big Things, our next bonus location was #16 Giant Soccer Ball 2.  After a bit of riding through a lovely park, we got back on the highway to find the Giant Soccer Ball a few more miles down the road at, guess where?  The Soccer Park!
From the Giant Soccer Ball, we headed back to downtown Bakersfield for a photo of #7 Father Garces Statue which counted toward the Big Things thread.  This was a bit tricky to find if you were not familiar with the area which we were not.  It is on a roundabout UNDER the main highway.  We made a quick stop to discuss finding this bonus and decided to take a frontage road and low and behold, there was the bonus!
#10 Giant James Dean #2 was only a few blocks away and an easy score.  The mural is on the side of a Woolworths building.  Very cool.
Following the Big Things theme, we found #14 Giant Shoe Building not far away.
Our last memorial bonus location was #20 Kern County Veterans Memorial.  The wind was picking up at this point and no place to anchor our placards so Eric held mine while I snapped the pic.
Our last bonus of the day was #8 Giant Baseball.
Okay, time is just about up so we headed to our finish location which was the home of Roger and Mary Van Fleet who were also the major sponsor for the DKC Rally.  This year the rally raised funds for the Brain Aneurysm Foundation.  Mary, very fortunately, survived a brain aneurysm and is a fantastic supporter of the foundation.  This is what we found when we arrived at the finish.
Well, we actually found a lot more folks than Peter P.  But the banner was a great touch.  Here are a few of the bikes at the finish.
We were treated to a fantastic meal of bbq beef, chicken, salad, cheesy potatoes, bread, desserts, sodas, coffee, etc.  There was a raffle for a number of cool items and then an auction for even more cool items.  The bidding got hot and heavy a few times.  Very good fun.  All funds go to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation.  Then, the moment all had been waiting for - the results!!!!!

Congratulations to Nancy Lefcourt who won the rally by a large margin.  She planned a great route and rode her plan.  All results are listed on the DKC Rally website

Eric and I finished and I was happy with how we did.  Best of all, we had a great day of riding around Kern county.  I was surprised to find such diversity and have a new opinion of Bakersfield, a positive opinion.  We found all kinds of fun things and places.  Matt did an exceptional job putting this together with no repeat bonus locations from last year.  I really enjoyed the themes and the places I went. I had a blast riding this rally with my honey.  We worked really well as a team and had zero issues or stress.  For me, this was a total no stress rally that I thoroughly enjoyed.  You can bet I will be there next year.

Actually, this was the first rally I've ridden with no issues, no frightening moments, no horrific weather, no weirdos.  Just a lovely day ride, my bike ran perfect and I was "on" my game and rode well.

A heartfelt thanks to Matt and Andrea Pflugh and Roger and Mary Van Fleet for the wonderful job you did in putting together and hosting this very special rally.

But the fun didn't end there!  We went back to Howard Johnson's to spend the night.  We headed out the next morning - oh, brrrrrrrr - it was cold :-)  Made a gas stop in Tehachapi and rode CA 58 to I-15 where we turned north toward home.  We stopped at Peggy Sue's in Yermo for a late breakfast which is always good home cookin food.  We planned to stop in Baker for fuel but about 20 miles south of Baker my bike developed a front end wobble.  Just a little bump here and there with no rhythm.  I told Eric on the CB that I needed to stop so we pulled over and he checked it out.  Nothing.....  So we got back on the freeway and went about a mile and I said STOP.  We took exit 230 Basin Road and stopped at the top.  The wobble was getting progressively worse and it simply was not safe to continue riding.

Just my luck, huh?  In the middle of BFE Mojave Desert broken down yet again with BMW tow service sending me a truck.  Fortunately we both had cell service.

Just over two hours of waiting time.  It was beginning to get dark and I was cold so I plugged my heated jacket into the bike and turned it up high to get warm.  Boy, for a nowhere exit that goes nowhere, it sure got a lot of visitors.  Finding a bush to hide behind to pee was a challenge :-)

The tow truck finally arrives.  It had come from Las Vegas, just over 100 miles away and would take me back to Vegas to the dealer.  While waiting, we found a hotel near the BMW dealer and made a reservation.
 Eric rode it up the truck.  Thank you, honey!
We got the bike to the hotel that night and then the few blocks to the dealer the next morning.  Eric rode his bike home (another 107 miles) and came back to collect me in the Blazer.  Home sure looked good that night!

The saga of the F650GS continues but that's for another post!

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