Coming off a semi disappointing Cape Fear 2013, and a very disappointing Ed's Last Resort 2012, I felt I really needed a good performance this year to lighten my mood. This last Cape Fear was my first rally with lots of rain to deal with. And after being wet for 8 hours, I was really questioning why I do these rallys. (Of course better gear would help) This rally would prove no different. I look forward to this rally more than any other as it was my very first rally, my first rally win, and I also have a stake in its success, as I do the website, manage the registration and funds, and the Facebook page. But I was unsure going into it how I would feel if I had another bad performance. But I won't know till I try. Lets prep for Ed's!
I literally did nothing to the bike other than check tire and shock pressure and load all my crap in the tool and tank bags. Thats one good thing about back to back rallys. If nothing breaks, ready for the next one! But the rear shock was flat again. I have no luck with these used ebay shocks. I guess I need to pony up the $400 for a Progressive shock that is repair/rebuildable. But so far I'm only out $150 for the 3 used ones off eBay. I was able to get a few days of riding in before this rally, so that was a plus. About a week before the rally we got a notice to bring a digital camera if we wanted. It was not mandatory, but some of the bonuses we would be able to photograph if we felt it would help document our location. I brought my waterproof camera and my iPhone w/ a waterproof case as a backup. I took Friday off and headed out about 8:30 in the morning to help Ed get things set up. At 8:45 I got a call from the office that 2 of our servers went down when the power flickered. Great! But luckily I wasn't 200 miles away. It ended up being a quick fix to get them back up and running. Plus I moved some power cables around to better load balance them on different battery backups to prevent it from happening again. It was a pretty uneventful ride there. I stopped to fill my tanks 10 miles from the campground and cruised on in. Of course ELR is on a GA clay road, that gets a bit sandy if it doesn't rain. It hadn't rained in about 3 weeks. The trick is to turn left onto the driveway at Ed's house, then take the grass down the hill to the cabin. I hit the sand right when I got to the house. I was able to keep it upright and limped it onto the grass for a safe arrival. Dad and Wayne had gotten there on Thurs so they were there already working. We loaded coolers, built tables, moved a bunch of stuff, and fished a little. I was going for another 10 lb catfish like last year. I was able to finally hook one, but the hook broke as I dragged him ashore. I'm pretty sure he was about 50 pounds! People started trickling in around 4 or so. Not too many early arrivals this year. The only casualties on the way in were David and Valerie Gillespie. David hit the sand and laid his bike down. And Valerie's kickstand sank in the dirt and her bike fell over in the parking area. Luckily neither was hurt and the bikes just got a few new scuffs. Eventually most everyone showed up and it was time to eat and get some rally packs!
This years theme was "Here comes the Judge". I had an idea that courthouses would come into play. When they handed out the packs I mentioned to Matt Hube next to me that it felt REALLY light, and was very thin. Normal packs are 20-30 pages of bonuses and info. And when opened this one turned out to be about 5 pages. It was just a list of every County Courthouse in GA. The rules state you must get a photo of as many courthouses as possible, as long as the courthouse photo has the name of the county on it. OR just get a receipt in the city of the courthouse. That leaves only 159 places to choose from. And one of the Wild Cards was to get all 5 of the past State Capitals in the order they were founded. That one was actually was easy as you could make a loop to get them. But it also involves a trip in and out of Atlanta. I quickly decided against that. Plus it was over 600 miles and not a lot of points in between the 5 required stops. I plotted a loop that would take me a county north, head straight west to two high point courthouses on the Alabama border, then follow the counties on the FL border most of the way back. I finished a route of 25 locations, with 2 maybes if I am ahead, and 3 drops if I'm behind. It shows a scheduled ride time of 10.5 hours. That gives me 1 hour to make my stops, and 30 mins for the rest bonus. I set my S&T average speed presets down a bit, so hopefully I can keep on schedule. I'm sure it will be tight. Dad has somewhat the same idea but his loop takes him a bit more north. Points wise, they are all low. The lowest being 50, the highest being 450 IIRC. And their values are dependent on distance. So everyone will be very close on points which makes it impossible to plan a guaranteed winning route. So mine was just based on getting the 2 high point bonuses and everything in between. I didn't even add up my expected points. I just laid out the ride, uploaded it to my GPS and was done. I was a little frustrated because there was no obvious route, but that's why we call them rally bastards. I would just ride my ride and see how I stack up. At least I can go get some sleep.
Rally morning was painless. But over bfast I got to thinking about what I needed to do to win this thing. My win here two years ago involved riding really hard for a long way. But it was all on Interstates. On my 2nd place Cape Fear ride last year, I actually took it pretty easy and came out good. And my 2nd in the DSH I rode moderately. So what do I do now? After talking w dad previously about his Cape Fear win this year, he kept mentioning how hard he had to ride for the win. So there's 2 wins with riding hard. Time to go for broke and see how hard I can push the ole girl with a bad shock and stay on schedule. My plan is to make it to the courthouse and if there is no name on it, go get a receipt. If there is a name, just snap a photo and go. But that means lots of little purchases, and I have little cash, so stop one needs to be ATM instead of the courthouse photo.
Somehow I lucked into getting out of the gate first this year. I survived the wet grass and the sandy road on the way out and it was off to the races. Receipts had to show the city of the county seat, so I was watching for city limit signs prior to each stop. Stop one was the ATM in Reidsville for a receipt and cash. As I passed the courthouse, I did not see the county name on the building so good thing for the receipt. Stop two was Lyons, GA. No name on the courthouse, got another receipt. In case this is what I will see all day, the process will be just to run in a store and buy whatever was on the counter. Gum, lighters, candy... whatever
Now the fun part. I have 30 or so receipts to organize to get scored out which I put in the order that I got them. And of course while scoring out they ask for them in alphabetical order... ughhh. But we got through it. With all the WildCard and actual bonuses I ended up w right at 5500 points. Not too bad I figured. Again, all the point values of the courthouses were very small and close together so I turn my packet into Jim Phillips who acted shocked at the amount of points. I asked if it was good, and he said it was the best he'd seen yet. But there were plenty of people still needing to score out and too soon to get excited, but I figured a top 5 was an easy possibility. Time for a beer and a snack. One of the Wild Cards was bring back some boiled peanuts. A can of peanuts was allowed, so I bought one of the cajun kind since that was all the store I found them in had. But WTH! Last year I brought in a can of peaches instead of "a peach" and that wasn't allowed, but a can of boiled peanuts are??? Whatever. This year I got the points, and I got to try canned boiled peanuts for the first time. I LOVE boiled peanuts. I stop for them at the road side stands all the time. But anyone that tries to tell you that the canned ones are just a good... slap them. Maybe it was the fact they were cajun, but those things were horrible!!! We all milled around for a while before diner and got to talk of our woes of the day. Come to find out I was the ONLY person that got rained on all day. How did that happen! But after a giant spread of BBQ and fixins, it was time for the awards. There were only 18 finishers, so they read from the bottom to the top. I had 5500 and dad had 5000, so as they were calling them out along with their points scored, our chances of a podium kept creeping up. Once they got to third, Ron Allen, we knew we finished 1st and 2nd! There are not too many events a father and son can compete at the same level, so it was pretty neat for me and pops to finish one - two. It was a special moment. I hope we can do it a few more times! Maybe I'll let him win the next one.