Void rally ride report
Wednesday, Oct 15, 2008
It all started a couple months ago with a wild hair descision. I have been into Long Distance Riding for quite some time now, and I enjoy reading peoples ride reports and I am fascinated reading the news going around during the various rallys. I always wondered what it would be like to actually participate in a rally if for no other reason than the fact that I am running out of places to ride to that spark my interest. So when I read about the Void 4 rally I instantly decided to sign up.
A couple weeks later, I stopped by the local college to visit with another LD rider, and experienced rally rider Mike Sachs. I asked him for some advice about riding a rally, and after a little discussion, he stated that the problem with rallys is that usually the trip out to the start and the trip home is what kills you, it just took up too much time. When he heard that the Void had a start location in Columbus Ga, I knew he was hooked. He even stated at the time that he thought he was in on this one.
Fast forward a couple of months and we were about a week before the start. Little discussion had really taken place other than a 3rd rider had joined, Billy Street. We all agreed to ride the rally together with the understanding that if you got tired or wanted to bail out for any reason, there would be no hard feelings. The rally flags came in the mail a few days prior to the start, and about 3 days before the start we received the rally book full of bonus locations. Now, this is my first rally and after thumbing through the rally book with 97ish bonuses, I thought "holy shit, what have I gotten myself into". I spoke to Mike later that afternoon, and I am pretty sure he was thinking the same thing. Things have been very slow at work lately, so I had a couple days to give myself a crash course in mapping a route based on time constraints and efficient point gathering, still trying to stay within my limits. I think it was my 4th or 5th route I mapped, I came upon what I felt was a route that had both points and the mileage, admittedly a bit ambitious route to ride.
The three of us split a room in Columbus Ga and once the others arrived, we spent most of the night and into the wee hours of the morning working the route backwards, tweeking locations on the computer, and working out the logistics. We got up in the morning and got our ducks in a row and headed off to a gas station for the start. It was just a few minutes before 10am and we started pumping our gas to get a receipt to serve as our official start time and location, already there was a problem...The damn gas pumps were not printing receipts, and the couple that did get them lacked the state on the print. By this time a couple of other riders arrived and started pumping their fuel. One after another we all went into the gas station to obtain duplicate receipts, and each time the clerk became more and more irritated at us, lazy chick with an attitude. I believe the last guy to go in had a rough morning and actually said the hell with it and took a DNS because of the clerk. We called Rally HQ with our information and hit the road.
Back in the begining when I had gone to the college for advise about the rally, Mike had mentioned "rally pace" in conversation and that concerned me a little. I really can't afford a speeding ticket and thought he just meant hauling ass. I was about to learn all about "rally pace" over the next 27.5 hours. It has little to do with speed. We made our way up through Atlanta and skipped on a small bonus there, The scoring was based around a golf score card using your first or last 9 bonuses in a row with the par as a multiplier. Known now as the "front 9" and "back 9". Since the bonii were sequential, we couldn't afford little bonusus, only the ones that really paid off. The first stop was for fuel just south of Chattanooga, but still in Ga. Thats when things started to get interesting. We topped off, took the receipts and logged our rally books, then Billy went to start his bike to leave. Click click click, the battery was dead. Mike and Billy push started it, while I dug my multimeter out of my tool kit (I'm a motorcycle technican as profession, and Mike teaches it for a living). We tested the charging system and determined that it was charging, but only a little bit. If I had to lay out a scenario of a hard core rider, this descision says it all. At this point Billy was within an hour or so from home, we knew his bikes charging system was toast, and there were only two possible outcomes. It may be fine and need to be push started from time to time, or it may leave him stranded. He decided to unplug a headlight to conserve power and keep rolling. All of this within 10 minutes.
We traveled through Chattanooga and picked up our 2nd bonus a little north of there at the Hiwassee wildlife refuge sign in Dayton TN. It was a little ways off the route, and down a couple miles of dirt/gravel road coming from the south. We made our way back out to I-75 and continued north through Knoxville, where we lost some time due to me trying to find gas off an exit that didn't have any. Eventually making it to Corbin KY for our 2nd bonus at the Original KFC, otherwise known as Sanders Cafe. Time for chicken legs had been a matter of debate thoughout the day but we managed to squeeze time for a bite in, while continuing "rally pace" afterall, it was 5:30 and we hadn't eaten since the continental breakfast that morning.
At this point I figured out what rally pace was, we had run 2.5 tanks of fuel out only putting a foot down to bag a bonus, or refill the tanks. Fine by me, we headed out to the 3rd bonus, Frankfort KY. We took a picture of the historical marker for Daniel Boones grave, then skipped town to the next bonus. It was dark as we headed west on the interstate towards Louisville KY. Traffic wasn't bad, but we did get stuck behind a patched in Outlaw biker for a while, then behind a couple 18 wheelers. As I was cruising along behind the big truck I looked up and noted that Mike and Billys headlights were casting my shadow onto the back doors of the trailer, for whatever reason, I proceded to raise my left arm and put on a little shadow puppet show on the back of the big truck. Sometimes I crack myself up, or maybe I was starting to get tired. We arrived at the Worlds largest baseball bat around 8:30 and got our pictures, we snuck inside to find a restroom and discovered that it was a really cool place to check out. That coming from a guy who hates Baseball, should say something.
The next target was Columbus Ohio, all we had to do there was obtain a receipt from the city, or take a picture of the post office. We took a short break near Cincinatti for Chilli, and layered some clothes / pulled out the heated gear. It was getting cold. I forget the name of the restraunt but I am told that it is to Cincinatti like Waffle house is to Georgia. The thing that I found funny there was the fact that every Cop in town was there, probably 8 police cars in the parking lot, and the television in the diner had old Police academy movies playing. I wonder which one was Mahoney.
By the time we made Columbus, we needed gas anyways, so we went into the store and picked up a receipt to serve as proof, then started heading southeast on a 4 lane for a while. Chillicothe Ohio is where things got real shitty. We stopped for our 2500 point rest bonus of 3 hours and I made a comment about how bad it stunk there and how could anyone live here with that smell. While Mike checked us into the room, Billy and I made our way over to a convienience store on the other side of the parking lot to buy 3 Gatoraids with 3 different receipts. I'll bet that clerk though we were dumbasses. Oh well, who cares. Going back to the motel, we noticed that it only really smelled bad near our bikes. Then Billy tried to start his to ride over to the room....dead, zilch, zero, nada.
We were all very tired at this point (around 2:30am) and decided to deal with it when we woke up, 2.5 hours later. I must say, 2.5 hours of sleep works wonders. Really, it does.
The diagnosis for the bike was bad, the Rectifier was shorted to ground and had blown the fuse for the fuel injection, plus the stator was crap. Billy was stuck. He insisted that Mike and I stop screwing around and get moving, and he would go back to the room and find a rental truck in the morning. Mike and I headed over to Point Pleasant WV and bagged the Mothman statue bonus. Then down to Lesage WV to Hillbilly hotdogs. It was an hour before dawn at that point and when we pulled up and shut the bikes off, you couldn't see your hand waving right in front of your face. It took both bikes running the high beams right on the object there to get a dim photo. What a place beyond decription, a junkyard and restraunt in one.
We headed down some twisty backroads for a while heading for the next bonus in Coalwood WV when Mike pulled up next to me. He said that his suspension felt like shit and he wasn't up for it. He told me to go on without him and he would meet me at the hotel, but I wasn't about to split up like that. I think that would have been a mistake, So I decided to skip the shuttle in Coalwood bonus and head for easier roads to the next bonus. We made it back to the interstate and I punched in the finish line via our last bonus and I swear the Garmin reached up and smacked me with reality. The arrival time said 4:00pm, and penalty points were to begin at 1:30 with DNF at 2:00. It was a tough decision, but we bailed on the Mall bonus in South Williamson KY. We stopped and got the "guy from Canada Bonus" which was to bring a 6 pack to the finish line, later realized the rules said it had to be purchased during the rally and we probably needed proof of purchase.
The one thing I really absolutely did not want to do was DNF my first rally. We decided to take the bonuses we had and start heading to the finish line. I was monkeying around in the GPS and spotted another bonus on the route to the finish line that only added about 20 minutes to our ride, so we went there. It was to take a picture of the side of a strip club in Princeton WV. We made it there, took the final gas stop, picked up a couple more 6 packs, this time with receipts and went straight to the finish in Lynchburg VA. The closer I got to Lynchburg, the more bikes I noticed in my rear view mirrors. At one point there were 5 or 6 I was leading to the finish when we needed to turn left onto a 4 lane. When the light turned green I started to go and heard screeching, looked up and saw a car sliding at 70 mph down the hill with smoke bellowing from its tires. This moron slid half way through the intersection then decided to get back on the gas and just blow the light. What an idiot, had he been 2 seconds later he probably would have hit all 5 of us. It seems like nobody in VA knows how to negotiate a traffic light, I've never seen such poor driving and so many people run red lights. And I live in Atlanta for cripes sakes. Anyways, we made it to the finish line with 12 minutes to spare, and 1270 miles from the starting line.
The next order of business was the scoring table. I've heard so many tales of people having trouble at the scoring tables or "leaving points at the table" that I have to admit I was a little intimidated when I got there. It was peice of cake, I had my paperwork in order and the guy who did the scoring was a really nice guy. Sorry, whoever you were for squashing the big bad scoring guy reputation. I found out later that I finished 3rd in points of the GA starters and Mike left some points at the table which bumped him to 5th. The banquet was fun, and the food was good. I met a lot of people and I think I have gotten myself into another addiction. I am already checking out other rallies on the calender. The Void will definately be marked down for next year.
In conclusion, the rally was better than great, it was a life experience, and a great challenge. I like to set goals and push myself to acheive them and thats part of LD riding for me. Rallying takes it to the next level. We rode backroads down to the VA, NC borders going home, then the Blue Ridge Parkway. We stayed on it for an hour or so before bailing to the interstate due to the traffic, lots of people watching the leaves change. I made it home at 10pm Sunday night and headed off to bed almost immediately. An incredible weekend!