Thursday, July 31, 2014

How The West Was Won Rally

Driving a car to the How the West Was Won (HW3) Rally was a first for us.  We had intended on riding our bikes but, alas, Eric's Yamaha Super Tenere decided it was time to take a vacation.  So, we loaded up the Chevy Blazer and headed to Colorado. We left late in the afternoon so stopped in Grand Junction for the night.  The next morning we were up early and back on I-70 to Georgetown, Colorado, and HW3 headquarters.

As the afternoon wore on, bikes began to show up and the parking lot was populated with rally riders.  Eric and I were participating as staff for this rally.

Following are pictures of riders, bikes and fun!

Andrew and Justin manning the registration table.

Once all riders got registered and settled in, it was time for the opening banquet.  Everyone looks so fresh and happy.  Riders had received their rally pack the week before so had plenty of time to plan that winning route.  Tonight was all about camaraderie, telling stories and eating.

Rally Staff had their own, exclusive table for dinner :-)
Now, it's about to get real.  Justin Phillipson, Rally Master is rubbing his hands together and has a mischievous glint in his eye as he tells the riders what to expect.
Eric Bray gave the riders a talk on safety and let them know we expected each rider to come back to the finish and regale us with their rally stories.
Not many lingered after dinner.  The parking lot emptied as riders went to their rooms preparing for a 5 am departure.  Riders were to be at their bikes by 4:30 am for a final odo check.  Yes, staff also got up that early (but then I went back to bed).
My night time photos leave a lot to be desired.  But, here we have all the riders lined up at the start, making last minute preparations, butterflies in their tummies, waiting their turn to go.

I finally changed the camera to night shots but the aperture stayed open so long and I couldn't hold the camera steady so this is what I got!
I actually think this photo is kind of cool.
Tyler Risk was taking photos with a much superior camera.

It was fun to watch the Spot Page and see all the different directions chosen by the riders.  They went to all corners of Colorado and it didn't take long for the pack to split up.

Since we had all day to hang around, we decided to take the car and explore a bit of Colorado ourselves.  After driving over several 11,000 foot passes, we decided to drive up Mt. Evans, the highest paved road in North America. Info on Mt. Evans

It took quite a while to get to the top because of the slow, slow, slow traffic.  Geez, we had a truck about six vehicles ahead of us that almost stopped at every curve.  They weren't smart enough to pull over and let the growing traffic behind it pass.  Oh well.....

At one point, near the top, traffic stopped in both directions because.....Big Horn Sheep!!!!

This was the first of several goat herds we spied on the mountain.  The babies are soooo cute.
You can see that they are still a big shaggy and haven't yet shed all their winter fleece.

While you don't really get a perspective of how high up we are, this is a good photo of the landscape.
We also saw mountain goats!

More goat butts :-)
We went through several rain showers.  It seemed like the weather changed around every curve on the mountain.  It was interesting to drive from thick forest to alpine forest to tundra.

Besides lots of goats, we also spied several marmots.  Man, they are so cute (and roly poly fat).
Finally, we made it to our destination, Mt. Evans, 14,130 feet!

I got a whopping headache from the altitude.  That surprised me because I've been at high elevations many times and never had this issue.  But, I had one heck of a headache so we only stayed long enough to take a quick look around before getting back in the car and driving down the mountain to our hotel.

My head hurt so bad that when we got back to the hotel, I immediately laid down and buried my head.  I slept through dinner and when I awoke, the headache had lessened but now I also had a very sore throat.  Dang it.  Fortunately, when traveling, I always carry food and odds and ends of over the counter medicines.  I made some dinner in the room and popped a couple of Aleve and went to bed.  The next morning I felt much better which was a good thing because we expected the rally riders to start arriving anytime after 9 am which is when the end checkpoint opened.

Following are pictures of rally riders coming in for the finish!

And pictures of folks doing what we do best, shooting the bull and telling stories in the parking lot!

It was really fun to watch folks come in for the finish.  Everyone, I mean Everyone, had a big grin on their face.  Some looked pretty beat up and exhausted but were still grinning.  Others looked surprisingly fresh considering they had just been riding for almost 32 hours.  I absolutely love hearing the riders stories.  Everyone has a different tale and they are all good.

Scoring was the next item on the agenda for the riders.  Everything went very smoothly and riders were pleased at how efficient scoring was.
Awww, they color coordinated :-)
After scoring and parking lot antics, it was time for the finish banquet.  Justin was relieved and ecstatic that all riders returned without serious mishap.
Some snaps of the riders and guests.  Lots of stories being told here :-)

Again, Rally Staff got the preferred table ;-)
And here are the trophies that all the riders were coveting.

This looks like a very satisfied and happy rider!
And, now for the announcement of rider position in the first ever HW3.
Craig Brooks took third place.
Rod Schween was the big winner in first place.

And....Erik "Sleepy" Lipps was second.  Erik was so zonked he slept through the banquet and had his trophy delivered to his room!

A few riders left for home right after the banquet but most left early the next morning.  We got up kind of late to find the parking lot almost empty.  Jan Mondale was the last rider to leave.

And we were the last rally staff to leave!  Fortunately, the weather was perfect and our drive home uneventful.  We had a terrific time at HW3 and are looking forward to next year's event.  Maybe next year we will ride the rally rather than staff.  Although, staff was tons of fun and had its perks!  We got to meet all the riders and had time to goof off.  We also ate well :-)

Justin Phillipson and staff did a fantastic job of putting on this rally.  The rally pack had all kinds of options to put together a winning route and see a lot of Colorado.  Everyone had a good time and I heard zero complaints.  As a matter of fact, all I heard from the riders was how great the event was.  We had newbie and veteran riders and everyone rode well.  Congratulations to all!