Thursday, June 21, 2012

Ed's Last Resort Rally 2012

We are back full circle to the start of my rally riding addiction.  After I got my bike last year, I pulled off a long ride and a close win last year in Ed's 2011 rally, completed a SS1000, finished 8th in the Long Riders Digital Scavenger Hunt in Nov, and a 2nd place in the 2012 Cape Fear 1000.  Not to shabby for a rookie.  But my rookie card has been pulled and I am now considered a rally veteran.  I did a lot of prep for the Cape Fear this year, and for the most part, the bike was ready for Ed's Last Resort (ELR) since it was only a month later.  I did replace the rest of the lower coolant hoses to be sure none of them popped like in the Cape Fear.  But the weekend before ELR, the wife had planned a 4 day Disney trip with our 2 kids, our 8 yr old nephew, and her mother and brother.  Needless to say... that was a stressful 4 days.  And the week before, I had a server crash at work, and spent the 3 days prior slaving over that to get everything back up and running.  I had planned on skipping the first day of the vaca to complete everything 100%, but our CEO found out that I had sent the rest of the group down to Disney with out me, and told me to finish what I was doing, and go meet them... that the rest of the stuff could wait.  That was nice.  So really all I missed was dinner with them that night.  Had to change a flat tire in the Down Town Disney parking lot.. but I was there. But with work issues for a week, the nightmare of an extended family vacation, and continued  work issues after my return... the last thing on my mind was riding.  Between the Cape Fear and ELR, I logged a total of 50 miles on the bike.  My rear shock started leaking air pressure during the Cape Fear, but I didn't think it was too bad.  I pumped it back up the night before I left before ELR, but it was 'flat' again the next morning.  And when its flat... it kinda feels like a flat rear tire.  But no time to do anything about it now, so I'll just have to deal with it.  My head was not in it, and my body was not ready, and the bike was squirrly...  so lets run a rally!!  I spent a total of 30 mins prepping for this one.  I like to wing it!

I met dad at his house the Fri morning before the rally.  We were supposed to meet for breakfast @ 8, so texted him to see if that was still on.  I didn't hear back, but where he lives cell reception is spotty.  So I left to head there anyway.  I was 5 mins from the Waffle House, and felt my phone vibrate.  I pulled off to read it in case the location had changed.  It had... He said he just woke up, and to head to his house.  I knew he was meeting his friend Wayne somewhere between Daytona and Tallahassee, to guide him back to dads house Thurs night.  Turns out, they didn't get back to the house till about 3 in the morning!  But they got their bikes packed and we started the trek to Surrency, GA.   We weren't in any rush and made a few stops for gas and snacks.  And along the way I noticed Dad's taillight was out.  The brake light worked, just not the tail lights.  This had happened on the way back from the Cape Fear too, and a swap of the bulbs fixed it that time.  This time it didn't.  So we made a stop for 2 new bulbs... that didn't work either.  But dad noticed it lit up every time I turned off the bike.  With some jiggling of the ignition switch, it would light up.  Of course no one had any electrical contact cleaner, so we had one more stop in Baxley, GA to find some.  It seemed to fix the issue, so I sprayed mine too as a preemptive measure.

When we arrived at  Ed's, Greg Rice and Roy Kellburg were already there and had caught some huge catfish from the pond.  So me, dad and Wayne dropped a few hooks too.  We pulled in another 4 fish in about 30 mins.  Wayne got out the fillet knife and started prepping them to have for dinner.  Talk about fresh fish!  We helped Ed set up while waiting for the rest of the riders to arrive. Joe Sunnutti showed up in a old tuck that he and Ed just finished putting together the week before.  It had a huge hot rod motor in it, and Joe was gonna drive it in the rally.  At least this year he would have windshield wipers and a roof if it rained!  All the other Hot Rod owners backed out again this year so Joe would compete against the bikes again.  Once most everyone arrived, we began the dinner feast.  Of course it was Ed's famous stew, with the added fresh fried catfish and a few other fixins.  After dinner is the riders meeting where they hand out the rally packs.  This year, Ed blasted out an email stating if a rider was course planning on a laptop, then they must bring it to the riders meeting.  He had joked before about doing a "back to basics rally" and not allow computers or GPS.  So a few people were concerned they were going to be w/o their coveted electronics for the rally.  And judging by some of the comments on the message boards... some were thinking about not showing up if they could not use computers and/or GPS.  But lucky for them, they came, and the reason we needed our computers was so they could give us the rally waypoints in digital format... THANK GOODNESS!!!  It takes a long time to type in 100 gps locations into the mapping program.  So now all I had to do was rename all the imported waypoints to add my naming system, point values, and description so I could plot some routes.  It still took some time, but it probably saved me an hour, and it prevented me from making any typos which I am known for doing.  I had just plotted my first route and I heard dad say a few expletives.   He was almost done with his renaming of everything and closed his program when he meant to just minimize it.  He lost everything he'd worked on for a hour.  So I asked the RallyMaster if it was OK for me to give him my edited file which he agreed to.  So dad had everything he needed, but we all have our own ways of classifying waypoints.  So I had to explain everything I did so he'd have a clue.  But we were both got back to plotting routes, and his night wasn't ruined.  This year all bonuses were with in the State of Ga which means there will be a lot of back roads vs the 90% of Interstates I drove last year.  Not good with a bad rear shock.  But that also meant everything was relatively evenly spaced out around the state.  But of course the farther away it was, the more points it was.  There were some big points was up near the GA/AL/TN border area, but not enough to make the mileage vs time work to finish high up.  So it was back to piecing together a bunch of smaller point bonuses and try and pick up a few larger ones when available.  My first route I planned, ended up being the one I would use.  There were 3 high point bonuses in and around Atlanta, so that's where I headed... with the one that was dead downtown off I-75 as a dropoff bounus depending on time and traffic that I could get or pass on if I needed to.  But it was mostly Interstate on the way there so I figured I could make some good time.  No other route came in at more points, so I started converting the track to upload into my GPS.  This is where my lack of planning prior to now slapped me in the face.  The free conversion program I had downloaded and used successfully in the past... now only allows you to convert a route with up to 10 waypoints.  I had 17!  The full version was $40. I figured typing 7 was better than 17, or spending another $40, so I uploaded what I could then manually edited the track on the GPS itself to add the rest.  I got them in there and started the route on the GPS.  It showed my route being 2 hours shorter on the GPS than on the computer.  So I rechecked the waypoints, and they all were in there correctly, so I just figured it was just not liking the manual additions to the uploaded track.  No biggie.  So I did the same thing for my backup GPS, and for good measure, uploaded just the waypoints to my backup backup car GPS.  I slept onsite in the cabin, so I didn't have to go anywhere, nor get up early to come back to the start.  Off to bed.

Rally morning was here and I heard some people stirring, so I got up and got ready.  Breakfast provided was coffee, donuts, and juice.  I had some of each.  I filled my camelback that was half full of Powerade, the rest of the way up with water and dropped in a bottle of 5 hour energy.  I won't try that cocktail again.  Nasty! It was cold that morning so I wore my rain suit jacket over my riding jacket, and wore my full fingered gloves so I wouldn't freeze the first part of the trip.  My first bonus would be 2 hours away in Macon, so it should warm up plenty by then to take off the rain suit.  It was getting close to start time so I went over and cranked up the bike to get it warmed up.  A few others followed my lead on that.  Took my last minute bio break, and got suited up.  When I pulled up my route on the primary GPS it still was way off on time, so I plugged in my car GPS so I could run waypoint to waypoint as a backup if needed.  No rain was forcasted, so I didn't bag it in a ziplock.  I had my headphones in so I could listen to the GPS, or plug it into my phone for tunes between bonuses.  I had a 2 hour ride to the first bonus, so I started with the tunes option.  They let us go one at a time and they started on my side of the line, which I was second out.  Awesome.  It was now I got slapped again...  Once I got out on Ed's road, My GPS was telling me to turn around.  I just thought it wanted me to go out the back way, so I ignored it and knew it'd recalculate when I got to the paved road.  Nope.  The route I uploaded, went in the GPS as the crow flies.  It was not giving me turn by turn directions!     Just a straight line from point to point.  No wonder it showed a much faster time.  This is not going to work!  So I plugged in the first waypoint in my car GPS and turned off the routing in my moto GPS.   Back to winging it!  I remembered Streets and Trips was going to take me a NW route to meet up w I-20, but the GPS is now taking me more north through Vidalia to get to the Hwy.  But my arrival time to Macon was the same.  So I decided in Vidalia to run into the Walmart for some wild card bonus items.  I figured I could get all the different items at one place and be done with it.  First WC was "a peach".  I was 11.5 hrs from the finish, and wasn't sure a real peach would make the trip, so I grabbed a can of peaches.  The 2nd WC was 3 parts.  1. A postcard. 2. Required postage for postcard.  3. Post card addressed to the address they gave us.  Did you know Walmart does not carry post cards?  ME EITHER!.  I wasted 5-10 minutes looking, then had to leave with just the peaches and my receipt.  As I'm headed out of Vidalia to get to I-20, the 4 lane road splits around the buildings downtown and is of course one way on each side.  I had just moved out of the left lane and into the right when here comes a Centenarian the wrong way on the one way.  Luckily traffic was light, and she was in the left lane.  I hope she figured it out sooner than later, as there may have been a head on collision behind me.  I make it to I-20 and on my way to Macon.  I'm probly 12 minutes behind at this point.  Not too hard to make up... I think.  I get into Macon, and we're looking for a cemetery.  The GPS shows the path all the way to the headstone, as there are roads throughout the cemetery.  Problem was when we got there, the gate was chained shut.  Richard Buber pulled in right behind me, so we went tromping through the cemetery looking for the historical marker in front of it, in full gear!  I grabbed the car GPS off the bike as it has a battery, and I tried to follow it.  But I think I was doing the blonde with a compass, by following the arrow and not the direction I was supposed to be going.  It took us about 15 minutes to find the stupid marker.  But we got it and headed back to the bikes.  Another rider was running towards us, since we made it obvious which way to go.  I stowed my rain jacket as I was plenty hot after running around the cemetery.  I got back on the bike and went to plug in my headphones to the moto GPS, but the adapter was missing.  When I unplugged it, the adapter came off w the head phones.  But it fell off sometime during the trip through the cemetery since I just left the cables to dangle. There goes my voice guidance system!   As we were leaving dad was pulling in.  He apparently took about 30 mins to find it, and only after finding another entrance that was not locked and driving around the place.  I followed Richard for a mile or 2 but my GPS of course wanted me on the interstate and we parted ways.  I was now about 25 mins behind schedule, so no 30 min rest bonus for me.  My next location was a confederate monument on the courthouse green in McDonough.  Traffic was light getting into town, but as soon as my GPS said 1/8 mile, I see a police car blocking the road ahead of me, and forcing a right turn when I needed to go straight.  As I round the corner, all I see are barricaded roads, cars parked everywhere,  and people walking everywhere.  Its a damn Spring Festival.  I ended up having to drive around for 10 minutes to find a spot to illegally park where the rent-a-cops wouldn't ticket me, then run 3 blocks in full gear, swim through the sea of people that were almost shoulder to shoulder, packed into one city block, find the monument, and repeat the process to get back to the bike.  Since all the roads were blocked off and made into one ways, getting out to the road I came in on was looking bleak.  But I noticed just enough room to squeeze through the barricades, so I took that route.  I was through it before the rent-a-cop realized what I did, so I didn't stop to chat.  Again as I was pulling back out on the road out of town, dad was pulling up to the first traffic cop.  He was smart and decided against trying to get the bonus and turned around.  I was now about 35 mins behind.  I was headed back to the hwy, but looking for I-75 at this point to get to Hotlanta.  I get stuck behind a semi, and passing areas are few and traffic coming the other way is not cooperating.  Its only about 3 more miles so I settle in instead of worrying about passing.  But the bike behind a semi is not settled.  It gets bounced around pretty good in their wake.  But I can handle it just in case a passing opportunity opens up.  I'm listening to my music trying to calm down knowing I'm so far behind schedule.  Not sure what song was playing, but I was listening... then I felt something hit my leg, then my foot (following a truck my instant thought was rock) then the music quit.  Shit!  That was my phone!  So I had to slam on the brakes and do a u-turn on a 2 lane rd, then go find a spot to park the bike so it wouldn't fall over and go find the phone.  Luckily, there was a driveway to a house to park on, and the phone landed in the middle of the road, so none of the passing cars rolled over it.  I picked it up and it was still playing music!  Glad I bought the $30 case for it.  What the hell else could go wrong!!  This is not my day.  As I'm headed to Atlanta, I'm still undecided on the bonus down town.  It looks real close to the hwy according to the GPS, and may be a short 3 minute grab, but I won't know till I get closer and can really zoom in.  One GPS was trying to send me around the bypass... the other right through town.  It was a 20 minute difference.  So being behind, I took the faster route.  About a mile past the exit to go around the city, the 4 lane hwy drops to 2 for repaving.  WTF!!  Now I'm definitely not stopping in ATL.  I was in stop and go traffic, crawling for about 10 mins, then it opened back up.  40 mins behind!  I was so frustrated I was real close to turning around and head back to Eds.  But I was pretty much at my furthest point away, so I figured I'd make a run for the next highest point bonus and the ones in between, then see how bad off I am at that point.  It can't get much worse right?  I blast through ATL around 80mph... and still getting passed by a lot of folks, and head to the next monument.  At this point I loose all sense of direction.  I wasn't sure in which general direction I was headed... I felt like I was running East for some reason.  If I blew up the route on the GPS, it was way to crowded with waypoints to see anything discernible.  I just knew I had to get to the high point bonuses to try and salvage anything from this ride.  I keep moving.  I ended up passing the next bonus in Roswell, because the GPS said I could turn right to get to the monument, but there was no road.  So I had to double back and turn on the road before the monument.  As soon as I turned, I saw all the tents and people at ANOTHER festival in the parking lot of the building I needed to park at.  Luckily, everything was in the rear parking lot, and I could use the side lot to get to where I needed to go.  Still had to get off the bike and run to find the monument.  That one was the first 'easy' bonus so far.  The next one was right on the main drag in Gainesville, and the sign I was looking for was right at the front gate. Finally... a few normal bonuses not taking me 20 mins a shot.  But I haven't made up any time.  I'm still 35- 40 mins behind.   I still think I'm heading East as I make my way to Cornelia. (I'm really headed North )  I initially pass the sign I'm looking for and had to ride through a neighborhood to double back, thinking the GPS was wrong by a few feet.  Nope.  It was right where it said it was.  I just wasn't looking in the ditch for a sign.  I got my info and made off for a cemetery in Elberton.  Finally making some progress on the GPS, although not fast enough... I get stuck behind a funeral procession. I am boiling mad now.  This is the worst ride ever!  I'm so mad I didn't see the GPS tell me to turn 1/10 of a mile into the procession!  I had to find another road to turn around on... This was one of about 6 missed turns for the day not having voice guidance in my headphones.  At this point I'm running on some serious Ga back roads following the contours of creeks and such.  It gets real twisty back there.  I lost some of my chicken strips today. But its real tough keeping the bike in a hard lean with the rear shock gone.  As I get close to the next location, the GPS turns me down a gravel road.  I hate non paved roads!  Oh look.. theres a real road up ahead.  I guess this was the shortcut.  NOPE!!  2 miles of loose gravel.  Me and Connie had a Come To Jesus meeting.  This was way to far off the beaten path to miss out on the huge point value.  So we braved it.  It took a while to ride 2 miles in gravel dragging my feet.  But I finally get to a parking lot.  More like a dirt turnaround point.  But there was a headstone, pointing to Dan Tucker's grave.  Problem was.. there was 2  possible trails to follow in the direction the arrow was pointing.  So I took the one that said no motorized vehicles.  I took off my helmet, but left everything else on.  I start running down the path.  Its downhill, so thats easy enough.  And I'm running.  And I'm running.  Annnnd I'm jogging... and jogging... annnnd I'm walking.  Its hard to hate a dead person.  But I really hate Dan Tucker right now.  Hate him!  His grave and about 4 others, were 1/4 mile down this dirt trail.  So it was a 1/2 mile hike to get this stupid bonus after a gut wrenching 2 mile ride down a gravel road, and now I have make the trip back up the gravel road... 100% exhausted.  Why didn't I go home after Atlanta!  As I'm foot dragging my way up the gravel road... here comes another rider on his adventure bike... an off road bike w street tires... standing up on his pegs and flying past me doing 30 or 40.  I'm doing 10 mph. Note to self.  Get one of those... or stay off the non-paved roads!  But we make it out of Dan Tucker Hell and start heading to the next bonus.  I'm now about an hour behind.  So I stop at a cross road and try to regroup.  I put the finish in one GPS and then skip the next bonus on the other.  Still behind.  Drop another... still behind.  Drop a third... behind.   Screw it.  I'm headed to the house.  So I take the left turn instead of the right and head due south.  I end up running back through Crawfordville, Ga where the dogs tried to eat me on the Cape Fear rally... And sure enough, they they were waiting to chase more cars and bikes.  They looked like Pit Bull/Collie mixes.  Glad I didn't have to tangle with them either time.  I had about 30 minutes to the good to make it back, and I had about a 3 hour ride ahead.  I may can pick up one more bonus near the end... but my ride is pretty much done.  Then it hits me... I skipped my rest bonus to make up time.  I have 30 mins to the good right now.  I can make it somewhere and take my rest bonus.  If I find a CVS I can get my beer bonus, and find the post card and stamp for that bonus.  OK.  I have a good plan!  I'm in a better mood now, and my riding pace picks up a bit.  Buy the time I found a place to take my rest bonus, I had made up 15 more mins.  So after a 30 min rest I was still 15 mins good.  I come across a Rite Aide, 2 miles from the bonus in Dublin.  I ran inside and bought a Coke to start the rest bonus.  I explained to the clerk I'd be hanging around for 30 mins because I needed 2 receipts 30 mins apart for a scavenger hunt.  Of course I got the deer in the headlights look.  So I explained it a bit more.  I didn't need a call to the cops because this smelly biker dude won't leave the store.  She understood most of it I think.  So I went looking for my beer bonus and post card.  GUESS WHAT!  Rite Aide doesn't sell beer.. or any alcohol for that matter.  At least not at this location.  Guess what else they don't have.  POST CARDS!! So I thought about it a min.  I found an Elvis greeting card.  Nothing was written on the inside at all.  I'll just cut the back flap off and make it a post card.  As for the beer bonus... the politically correct way its written in the rally pack, is bring your favorite 6-PACK to scoring.  Guess what else Rite Aide doesn't have?  6-Packs of anything.  4 packs... 8 packs.. 12 packs... NO 6 PACKS!  Fine.  I'll buy an 8 pack of Coke and cut 2 off.  I take my 8pack and greeting card to the counter.  I ask if the computer shows a time and luckily it does.  So 31 mins after my first receipt, I buy the other crap for my end receipt.  STAMPS!!  I forgot stamps!  "Maam.  Sorry I forgot.  I'll need a stamp too."  "Oh we aint got no stamps."  Well shit.  I grab my stuff and load it on the bike and head 2 miles up the road to a bonus.  Its right on the road, and I don't even have to get off the bike.  I'm good on time so I plug in the last possible bonus, and Eds.  I will be 1 minute late.  I think I can make up one minute.  I take off to the last bonus.  I'm back in rally mode.  I got some rest, something to drink, got my rest bonus, and now can pick up the last bonus.  My chicken strips shrank some more!  I made it to the last bonus ahead of schedule, and turned it to the house.  I was still making up some time, so I made one more stop to try and find some beer. I need a six pack after this day.  Oh look.  A BaitNTackle/Gas Station/Feed store.  They have to have beer, and maybe a stamp, right?  Nope.  WHAT KIND OF BAITNTACKLE/GAS STATION DOESNT SELL BEER!!!  Oh well.  There are 5 people in line buying cigarettes and night crawlers, so I left w/o even asking about stamps.  It was a nice leisurely ride back to the barn.  I expected to see a few more bikes on the road back, as I was getting in close to the DNF time I wrote on my cheat sheet of 7:15.  I showed up at 7:05. 7:15 passed , and still no sign or dad or a bunch of other riders... recheck of the rally pack... oh!  7:30 was the DNF time.  I wrote 7:15 to build my own 15 min cushion.  Another mental mistake for the day.  Sure enough... the mad rush commenced.  About half the riders came in the last 10 mins.  But noone was late.  Not a single DNF!  I was just glad I was done.  

I must have looked really mad because a few people asked me if I was Ok. So I tried to paraphrase all the crap I endured to a few folks.  Scoring wasn't too bad.  Coach (Ron Allan) scored me out.  He was dad's mentee in this years Cape Fear.  But he wasn't easy on me.  I got every bonus location I went for.  Good.  I got the postcard bonus minus the points for the stamp.  Ok.  They accepted the cut down 8 pack of Coke for the 6 pack bonus.  Good.  Now comes the peach.  I bought a can of peaches.  Not "a peach".  So I argued there was at least a whole peach in the can maybe 2.  Rallymaster squashed that. Bad.  Rest bonus... I took it around 4:00.  Slap in the face again... as the rest bonus window was only from 12 -2. Real bad!  But the good news is I didn't DNF, and I didn't finish last.  Bad news is... I was 19th of 27 starters.  That killed my average 4th place finish, and dumped me to a 7th place average.  But as stated earlier.  I was not mentally or physically prepared for this rally.  My head just was not in it and I made a lot of mistakes, on top of the difficult situations getting to some of the bonuses, and fighting an ill handling bike.  But hey... That's rallying.  This just happend to be a really frustrating one for me.  Good news is... nothing blew up, and I kept it upright the whole time. I'm ready for my next rally.  Too bad I don't have another scheduled until November.