Scroll to the bottom of this post for the links to the Video’s I took. Thanks for Mr. Coons to convince me to post them up here by checking with Rally Bastard Bart to make sure I wouldn’t be robbed of that coveted 4th place finish in Sport/Touring.
This was my 2nd running of this event, the first on the new ride. Last year I rode my ’01 R1 Down to Atchison, KS. I’m still proud to say I was dumb enough to earn my IBA membership on the MN1K on a crotch rocket. This winter BrianJ tempted me with a 4 corners ride and I knew there is no way I’d want to do that on the liter bike and I’d been doing some research on a bike better suited for LD riding since I did my first Rally a couple years ago. I pulled the trigger this winter and joined the FJR club. I got comfortable on it putting 7000 miles on this spring, mainly helping scout for the Bonzai.
Friday at work I was already in rally mode. I’m pretty sure I didn’t do a productive thing all day and left work early to head to Leo’s and got checked in. I wondered back to the bathrooms and saw team FJR (Jayd, Dana and Derrick) scheming – being new to the FJR world they allowed me the pleasure of jointing their entourage. Peter and Paula came over a short while later and where immediately ridiculed for not riding the FJR on this rally. Then DonQ stopped by and the table got all quiet… cricket… cricket.
Of the Rally’s I’ve done, all but 1 has been with BrianJ and quite a few with Darryl also, so I found them and figured out our plan. BrianJ, we was riding 2 up with his new wife Kris, asked if I was going to go it solo for the win with the new bike… I laughed, but I think he was serious. Not with this list of usual suspects. Turns out his Zumo had been stolen recently for the 2nd time this year so the leading was going to be up to me for most of the ride. Normally he leads and I ride sweep and take the lead once we get close to the bonus if I think I know where the bonus is exactly.
We got our packets and decided we better play it safe and go to Bob that night for the 500 points. Then we each headed to our homes to plug in the points and figure out a plan. About 1:30 in the morning I decided enough was enough and my plan was sure to get changed in the morning anyway when Bart gives us all the combo’s.
Saturday morning I got checked in and set up my laptop for the combo bonuses that never came. We decided we’d stay away from Canada since Kris did not have a passport and thought it would be wise to stay away from Duluth in the morning because of the marathon so we went the WI/U.P. route counterclockwise.
1st stop was Connorsville to write something or another down across from a church. Easy enough, but why isn’t BrianJ and Darryl following me? They didn’t trust I knew where I was going – I can see the bonus but they are turning on the other end of town. They figured it out. Besides, I can see Rich, Dave, Erik and a host of others at the bonus in front of me.
2nd stop was the Ice Age visitor center for a stamp. Same crew of riders at the last stop were just done getting their stamps. I hadn’t even got off my bike when I saw Kris sprinting for the door. Damn, she is really into this. I grab my packet and run in after her only to find out she was not running for the stamp but the facilities. I was getting to the point where nature was calling too but knew the next stop was a rest stop. I think this is the point where I remember back to last years Harvest rally waiting for Kris to do something for at least 10 minutes. Found out she was putting on make-up, so I naturally had to bring that up. Told her she was not allowed to put on makeup during this rally. She didn’t find that as funny as I did.
3rd stop was the Jump River rest stop. Wrote down who took care of the place then put it to good use. Now it had been a while and I was definitely not dehydrated so I took a while. I get out to see Dana standing in front of the door waiting looking kinda cranky and said “Hurry it up”… I replied “It’s a 2 seater.” I got back to my bike to hear Eddie telling Brian of his near miss with a deer. I was busy when he was telling the story of the actual hit so didn’t find that out until the next morning back at Leo’s. Dana later gave me crap for blocking his view of the bonus – I’m 6’4”, 280, I cover a lot of real estate.
4th Stop was Lilly to take a photo. I wanted to get Rhinelander but we were just not making good enough time and knew there was a time limit on some bonuses on the south shore of Superior that we’d be cutting it close on. Dana was on our tail and thanks to some crafty short cuts that turned into 5 miles of gravel and a fuel stop, Dana ended up passing us twice, the look he must have had under his helmet the 2nd time must have been priceless.
5th Stop was Menomonee to write something down at the MI welcome center and reminisce about BrianJ’s adventure with a deer in 2003 that put him in the Menomonee Hospital. It was hot and I was hoping for some lake effect relief but didn’t find any until suddenly just south of Gladstone the temp dropped 15 degrees in a mile and a half.
6th stop was Gladstone, Things are running together at this point, I think this was the # on the nose of the Jet. This s also where we started seeing all kinds of people doing the same route we were but in reverse.
7th stop was the Stonington lighthouse. This was my favorite point on the rally. Something like 18 miles of back country tar followed by a mile of single lane gravies, I was loving life. I turned the camera on a mile or so before I hit the gravel. I should have done that sooner. I link to this video below.
8th stop was Marquette for fuel. Our 2nd attempted worked for me. I even verified by looking at someone else’s receipt the attendant showed me. BrianJ and I paid with a card. Darryl used cash. Apparently if you use cash they don’t print the location, so Darryl had to try again. Eddie pulled in as we were about to take off looking cranky… I’m guessing that was not his first gas stop in that town but we assured him it would work if he used a card.
9th stop was L’Anse to take a picture. Sun was right in my shot. Speaking of sun, it was going down quick and the next bonus we had to be there by 10 eastern so we’d have to hustle I thought. I don’t know why I had such a hard time figuring out the time zone issue, but I had convinced myself I needed to be to them by 8 central time when it was actually 9.
10th stop was Victoria Dam. I found Rockland and the sign to the dam and gave it the gas. I have a video of part of this ride below too. Got to the dam with about 10 minutes to spare and snapped a photo. I got my photo quick and was heading back to the pike as those Polaroid types tried to get a decent shot to develop. Walking back to the bikes I see Kris kneeling down next to the bike, what is she doing, I think to myself when it clicks, she is looking in the mirror putting on makeup. I shout, “Hey, what did I say about makeup?” Once again, she didn’t find that as funny as I did. Things got a little interesting here for the next half hour. For those of you that know Darryl you know what I’m about to say – he has rally flag issues. I was putting my flag away when I look up to ask Darryl if he has his flag when I see him putting everything away – nice, I don’t need to remind him I thought. We drive back out and get to Rockland and I wait for Brian and Darryl to catch up to me, I give the thumbs up to Brian and he says “yep” so I take off. I see both of them pull out behind me. I get less than 1 mile out of town and I only see 1 headlight behind me, so I stop and wait for Darryl to catch up. Brian pulls up next to me, and we wait, and we wait, and we wait. Where the #$% is he, I saw him pull out. We turn around and ride back into town to see if he had problems. There is no sign of him. I ask some of the townsfolk if they had seen 3 bikes drive by and they can’t remember, I’m sure they’ve been seeing them all day. I think to myself, he couldn’t have forgotten his flag; he would have caught up to us and told us. Now I’m thinking he is in the ditch, so I ride up and down the road looking for him. Finally another rider comes along and tells Brian he saw a GS riding down to the dam which he thought was odd since it was too late to take a photo now. Well that made me feel better that he wasn’t in the ditch somewhere. Brian decides he is going to go after him; I wait in town getting some interesting looks from the townsfolk of me and my bike in rally mode as I ate a health meal of Powerbars and Propel. That ordeal cost us about a half hour so when I saw them, I got the thumbs up and took off. Brian and I almost smoke a deer a few miles later and I decide that 14 hours of bugs on the visor need to come off so I can see better. When we stopped to clean visors I asked him what he was thinking not catching us first to which he replied, “I didn’t want to catch up and tell you because I knew what you would say.” I replied, “we don’t have any planned photo bonus’s left, I’d have said leave it.” He said, “I know that is why I didn’t tell you, I wanted it and figured I’d just catch up with you at the next bonus.”
11th stop was Lake of the Clouds; I took a video of a section of the road on the way in. Not that cool at night, but a great view of Superior I’m sure if we were there a little earlier. The vid shows what it’s like to look for deer at night in the U.P. Of course I didn’t see any when I had the camera on. I figured there would be a nice view but it was dark, so heading the advice from Susan Dean I brought with a little 10 million candlepower spotlight. Yep, I could see the lake from the overlook with that… ok enough of the sights, who are those pay binoculars dedicated to and let’s roll.
12th stop was Ashland; it was about 2am now, time to use the rest bonus. Ate breakfast at a Country Kitchen (who were nice enough to fill up my camelback that I had almost completely drained all 100oz from) and then pulled up some lawn outside for a quick nap before we grabbed the bonus there.
13th stop was Oliver to pay our respects to Bart’s outlaw dad – that must be where he gets it.
Last stop was Bruno down MN 23 (this one was unplanned) – We were supposed to find the big white sign on the side of the road. The 1st big white sign we saw was something about the rivers and Lake Superior, we were looking for something else, I found another white sign closer to the road and south of the big one.
We hoofed it back to Leo’s with a half hour to spare, damn, we could have got an extra 350 points and got our coffee from Bob’s in the morning. Oh well.
Here are the couple video’s I mentioned above. Nothing spectacular, the Stonington lighthouse is my favorite. The sound sucks and the window is full of bugs so if you don’t like ’em, kiss my… I mean don’t watch.
Stonington Lighthouse – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zem_e0-WqyA
Victoria Dam – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=prGbxPSHM-Q
Riding up to Lake of the Clouds – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FXKbs5A8RCM
Again… thanks Bart and team for another day of adventure. I’m not alone in already wishing the 16th annual event was upon us.