Tuesday, April 30, 2019

2019 Rock n Ride Rally (April 25 - 28)

WooHoo!  Right on the heels of our 2019 Easter Adventure we headed out for the Rock n Ride Rally where we were going to work as staff but first we get to ride the 12 hour rally on Friday.  Oh Boy!  It's been years, literally, years since either Eric or I had done a rally.  Neither of our bikes were set up for rallying but we would just have to make do with what we had.

Prior to the start of the RnR Rally, riders had to submit their best Elvis pose for points and had to include their bike in the picture and no helmet.  (Such a demanding rally master!)  Here is mine :-)  This requirement along with a few others set the tone for the RnR Rally.  It was sure to be fun!

Here is Eric's Elvis pose

Our destination was Bowling Green, KY about 300 miles away so we didn't have to get up early and hurry.  Instead, we took our time and finally left our driveway about 10:30 am. Guess what?  Yes, it was raining.  Really?  Yes, really.  Oh well.  After our gear failure on the Easter Adventure we had washed, rinsed, washed, rinsed, dried and waterproofed our gear hoping to stay a bit dryer.  It did help some but we got a bit wet.  Dang.....

We headed up the Natchez Trace and intended to ride that all the way to the northern terminus near Nashville, TN.  It rained pretty good for the better part of 100 miles or so and then lightened up and just spit on us the rest of the way to Bowling Green.  The ride was smooth and fine until Nashville and then we had to play dodge car and stop and go through town.  After Nashville, it was an easy ride to our hotel in Bowling Green.

We made a few stops along the Natchez Trace.

We arrived at the Red Roof Inn, Bowling Green about 4:00 pm or so.  Dinner was scheduled for 6:00 pm at the Hampton Inn across the street.  Several bikes were already in the Red Roof parking lot when we arrived.  We had a pleasant, although small room.  Clean and tidy!

Greg Blewett drove over in his car and picked us and another rider up to take us to dinner.  Thanks Greg!!!  Lynne Carey (Rally Mom) had organized a fantastic dinner for the riders starting in Bowling Green.  There were other start locations in Ohio and Florida with the finish for all starters at Barren River Lake State Resort Park near Bowling Green, KY.

That's Lynne getting everything set out for the hungry, waiting riders!

 A few snaps of the folks waiting to be fed.

My plate full of goodness.  Jason Jonas, BBQ Master, prepared ribs and pulled pork that were do die for.  Lynne made a yummy pasta salad, green salad, potatoes, pecan pies and more!

 Everyone got real quiet as we all chowed down.

Oh yeah!  here is some close-ups of Jason's goodness!!

Beans and vegetarian stew!

Pasta Salad...

Green salad and PECAN PIE!!!!   HOMEMADE PECAN PIE!!  It doesn't really get any better than this.  Lynne baked those pies and OMG....soooooo good!

I think it's safe to say that everyone had a great meal, good conversation and a boatload of fun.

Not long after dinner, the room was empty.  Riders had all gone back to their rooms to finish planning their routes.  Then someone politely notified us of the Wild Card bonuses that had been released earlier during dinner!  I think we were the last to see them, LOL.  The RnR Rally would start Friday morning at 6:00 am and we were to be at the Waffle House for the start at 5:30 am.  We returned to our room and snuggled in for the night.  Eric set the alarm for 4:45 am.  YIKES!  ICK!  I'm NOT a morning person, lol.  Oh well, we'll see if I decide to get up and out of bed when the alarm goes off ;-)

The alarm went off way too early and I struggled to pull my body out of that warm, cozy bed.  But I did it!  Slammed on my riding gear, packed up the bike and headed to the Waffle House across the street with Eric.  There were a number of riders milling about the parking lot with pre-rally jitters, anxiously waiting for the signal to mount up and go!

It was spitting rain but not pouring and the sky was beginning to lighten up as the sun tried to rise.    Lynne held a rider's meeting to give last minute directions and answer a few wild card bonus questions.

And then ... it was go time!  Eric and I waited until pretty much everyone had left before we departed.  We weren't in a hurry, had our route planned and felt we had plenty of time to get our bonus locations and have a pleasant ride.  New to us on the rally was the requirement that your bonus photos be submitted electronically via your smart phone.  It took me a few attempts to get it right but thankfully, I got it figured out :-)

Our original route was to go to Nashville and get four fairly large point bonuses.  However, the NFL draft was being held in Nashville this weekend and they expected over 300,000 people in the city.  Here is what it looked like.

Although some riders did go there, I'm glad we decided to skip and and move on to the rest of our plan.

Our first bonus location was FORKKY1 for 275 points.  this was a special bonus as our friend and fellow rider, Jeremy Loveall and his welding class made the fork!  Here it is in Franklin, KY.

Our next stop was CSTV which required a photo of the fountain in downtown Clarksville, KY.  Take a close look at the little girl on the left.  See the drinking fountain splashing her eye?   Hahahahaha, fun stuff :-)

You can see that the weather improved from the raining departure in Bowling Green.  As the day progressed it got nicer and nicer.  Never warm but not raining.  But, holy moly, the wind, oh my the wind!  The wind was ferocious and it was a constant battle to stay straight.  Especially when crossing the very, very tall bridges over the Tennessee and Ohio rivers!  Yikes ;-)

Then it was on to HILL in Calvert City, KY where we had to take a photo of the Gulf man AND the building in the background showing the word "Toyland".  Gotta watch those bonus requirements and make sure you get them right.  Get it wrong and no points for you!

Our next stop was DRSC where we were to get a photo of the shop sign "Stringworks".  However when we got there the store had changed and was now "Aw Shucks" a Popcorn and Treats store.  We verified the address, took several pictures including a close up of the address and submitted the photos to the Rally Master.  They were accepted, whew!

And then it was a slog up to Illinois to Metropolis, whoopee!!  Superman!  So very cool.  This was a bonus where you had to remove your helmet and get your body into the photo.  I really enjoyed this one.  Eric spent a few extra minutes at the Superman Museum to get us a magnet and stickers.

BELFRY was our next bonus stop in Greenville, KY.  Another bonus that required getting off the bike and in the photo.

From there we rode to Central City, KY for the EVER bonus, a photo of the Everly Brothers monument.

Then a bit of a slog to Owensboro, KY for a photo of the giant head. TLKHEAD.  We lost a little time looking for the head.  It was on the lawn of the convention center... the BACK lawn.  :-)  But once found we scored easy parking and got our pictures w/o incident.

Now, we needed to get back to Bowling Green and see if we could score a Wildcard bonus or two.  Our time was running out.  We needed to be at the finish at Barren Riven Lake State Resort Park by 6:00 pm.  One second late would be a DNF (Did Not Finish).  I had two GPS's on board and my ZUMO was set to the finish location so we always had a clue as to how far and how much time it would take to get there.  Of course, that doesn't account for traffic, road construction, idiots and the like :-)

Once back in Bowling Green, we got the Steak n Shake Strawberry Milkshake receipts for a wildcard and then decided we'd better book on to the finish.  So, that's what we did.

Here is a pic of my Bonus Claim Form.  I'm tickled to say that neither Eric nor I lost any points at scoring.  That's always a good feeling!

Although we were done with our 12 hour rally, we wouldn't know the results until Saturday evening at the finish banquet when all riders from all start locations would gather.  So, for tonight, it was just relax with a cocktail and enjoy the beautiful sunset view from our room at the lodge.  Stunning!  Peaceful, quiet, perfect.

This was our good morning view on Saturday.  Yes, a lovely way to start the day.

Today, Eric and I would be working staff for the rally.  I would be scoring riders and Eric was checking them in, getting them T-Shirts and directing them to a scorer.  But, before scoring opened, Lynne took us to a great monument on the park grounds.  Hagar.

Rally Mom, Lynne Carey.

Then we were whisked off to Paradise! (Paradise Point http://paradisepointky.com/ ) A quirky place that is part cafe, part convenience store, part junk store, part art store.  Something for everyone.  I couldn't resist taking a photo of the crocheted spare tire cover, hahahaha!

Then I spied the picture cutouts and we had to get everyone in the photo!

That was a fun little side trip.  Then back to the resort to get ready for incoming riders.  This is the scoring room with riders and staff.

Wolfe Bonham, scoring guru.  Wolfe was in charge of the electronic scoring system and it really worked slick.  Well done!

I have no idea why but I didn't get a picture of Jesse Lucas at the RnR Rally.  He is a pivotal part of the rally and was responsible for scoring, bonuses, etc., etc., etc. !  So I grabbed this photo of Jesse from the JAX Pizza Party ;-)

Scoring went quite smoothly and before long all riders were done and waiting for the finish banquet.  Promptly at 6:15 pm we headed to the dining room for the cash bar and visiting prior to dining.  Then dinner.  Which was quite well done.  Banquet food never really thrills me but I must say this was yummy!  No shortage of food and everyone got their fill.

Here are some random banquet photos.  Sorry the quality isn't so good but I probably had a few cocktails by then, lol.

And then...it was time for awards.  How did everyone do?  Well, first and most important, all riders were safe and accounted for.  Not all finished, there was a family health issue that caused one rider to abandon the rally and another had a mechanical issue that took him out of the rally.  And yet another rider failed to wake up from his nap in time to get scored!  No mercy, hahahaha. Rallying is a tough game and if you can't follow the rules, you DNF!

 All the winners.  Awards were given to the top three places for each start location, Bowling Green, Ohio and Florida.  Only first place was given to the 12 hour rally participants.

12 Hour 
1st place Luke Rutledge
2nd place Cletha Walstrand
3rd place Eric Vaillancourt
Bowling Green 
1st place Jeff Wilson and Donna Attanasio
2nd place Craig Phillips
3rd place Kenneth Andrews
Lake City 
1st place Ashley Horn
2nd place Matt Hube
3rd place Eric Chernin and Shirley Davis
1st place Ken Aman and Felicia Cole Roggio Aman
2nd place Steve Gallant
3rd place Jeff and Erin Arsenault

43 bikes made it to the start line, 40 riders finished 

Did you see that?????  Cletha Walstrand (Vaillancourt) finished SECOND in the 12 Hour Rally.  Hahahaha!   I forgot to mention there were only 4 riders in the 12 Hour Rally, lol ;-)

So, banquet and awards were over and most peeps headed to the little pub for more chat.  We had a great time!

Then it was off to bed for our last night at Barren Riven Lake State Resort Park.  A lovely place for sure.  The next morning we got up to find the parking lot almost empty.  Most peeps had to get home or somewhere else for Monday morning.  We had a leisurely breakfast with a few of the remaining peeps, loaded up our bikes and headed out.

The weather was a bit iffy but improved as we rode along.  Our ride through Nashville on Sunday was a breeze.  Very little traffic and no issues.  Right after Nashville we jumped on the Natchez Trace with the intent to ride that all the way home.  Oh bliss!  It was sunny and getting nicely warm and there was hardly anyone on the Trace.  Simply beautiful!

Since we only had a few hundred miles we took our time and made many stops.  First stop on the Trace was a War of 1812 Memorial.  Who knew?  It was pretty awesome.

A picture perfect day for riding the Natchez Trace, lucky us!

We stopped at Jackson Falls.  The sign says it all - a STEEP trail, 900 feet long.....  Key word here, STEEP!!!  We took the trail to the falls, first down, down, down in full riding gear minus helmet.  In other words, heavy Sidi Adventure Boots, Klim pants and jacket, LD unders, gack!!  Then 900 feet up, up, up, up, up, up.  It went UP forever!
 However, the reward at the bottom was worth it.  Beautiful, gentle falls cascading over the rocks and into shallow pools.

On the trail was a little trickle of a stream with a cave at the top!  Cool ;-)
Back on the bikes we found yet another waterfall so we had to stop and take a look.  As we were heading down the trail another couple were coming back to the parking lot and the lady looked at me and said she didn't know how I could have made it up and down the 900 ft. steep trail at the prior waterfall with all that gear on.  Hahahaha!!

 Man, can't you just about taste and smell this beautiful ride?  This is just about perfect in every way.  Sunny, not too warm, no traffic, lots of scenic stops.  Stunning.  I'm a lucky girl ;-)

About 3:30 or so we were getting hungry.  There are no services along the Natchez Trace so we had to take a side trip to Iron City, TN for a late lunch.  We found Bumpers Bar & Grill and decided to take a chance.

 A good sign, a beautiful butterfly on the window screen.

It was an old fashioned bar, dark, dingy, a bit smokey with locals hanging at the bar, a few playing pool and lots of good ole boy talking going on.  We ordered a Pepsi and a water (big drinkers) along with bacon cheeseburgers and split an order of fries.  It was yummy!  After lunch, it was back on the bikes, return to the Trace and head on home.

We made a quick stop and photo opportunity at the Alabama/Tennessee state line.

And then, another quick stop about 40 miles later only to discover I had no rear brake!  I told Eric over the com as we pulled into Jourdan Creek Picnic pullout that my back brake wasn't working.  He looked over and said "OMG!  Your rotor is red hot and smoking!!"  GACK!!!

Always prepared, Eric popped my bike on the center stand and surveyed the situation.  Not good.  Now, I had no problem with the brake at the prior stop 40 miles up the road.  And, I don't think I even touched the brakes until we pulled into Jourdan Creek Picnic.  It's not really possible that I was riding the brake because I have to physically re-position my foot to activate the rear brake.  My feet are too small to reach the brake without moving my foot.  Perhaps it stuck at the last stop?

So, off come the panniers and rear tire and out come both tool kits, Eric's and mine.

Hahaha, looks like we're in the middle of the road but we are really in a pull out.

A very kind dude in a Jeep Wrangler passed us, turned around and came to offer assistance.  He had a trailer just down the road and would be happy to load up and trailer the bike home for us.  Isn't that just the best Southern Hospitality one could hope for?  We declined his generous offer and decided that we could go on home.  It was only another 40 miles and hey, who needs brakes?  LOL.  I did have the front brake.

Eric determined the rotor and pads had some pretty severe heat damage although the pads were not yet to the metal.  He zip tied the caliper out of the way, put everything back together and we headed home.

We made it home without further incident and I was thrilled to pull into our driveway.  So, we were going to take the bike to Memphis on Tuesday for a regularly scheduled maintenance.  We debated over Eric riding it to Memphis and me in the car because we're pretty sure it won't be coming home the same day.  But in the end, we called BMW Motorrad Roadside Assistance and they will be picking up the bike early Tuesday morning and taking it to the dealer.  Hopefully, we'll find out exactly what happened and get everything repaired.  Fortunately I purchased the extended warranty when I bought the bike so other than paying for our routine maintenance I think we should be covered for anything else.

There ya go!  That was our Rock n Ride Rally Adventure!  Tons of fun, great peeps, wonderful riding, fun bonus locations, good food, beautiful scenery.  What a life!  I want to give a big shout out to Lynne Carey, Jesse Lucas, Wolfe Bonham and all the other staff peeps who made this such a great event.  Also a big shout out to all the riders without whom the rally would never happen!  If you have the opportunity next year, do this event.  You will not regret it and you will have lots of big SEG's. (Sh*t Eating Grins). 

Also thanks to Eric James and Lynne Carey for letting me use some of their photos in this blog!

As always, thanks for following along.  Unfortunately due to bike issues, our next adventure, Riding the Ozarks, probably won't happen.  But, we'll do that another time.  For now, I need the bike ready for some other big adventures on the horizon.  Stay tuned to see just what that might be :-)

Cheers and hugs,