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post #1 of 28 Old Mar 26th, 2011, 3:22 pm Thread Starter
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Vernal Equinox Rally, Oklahoma

Vernal Equinox Rally
19 March, 2011
Oklahoma


Prelude



It had been a frantic two weeks getting the new bike set up into Long Distance (LD) Rally mode. I needed to be in Dallas for a customer visit in late March, and really preferred riding over flying and the typical TSA circus sideshow and the competent-but-dull rental car routine.

By Wednesday of the week before my customer visit, the bike had come far enough along that riding it was actually feasible. My intercom was dead, most likely a problem with the helmet mic wiring, and my radar detector suddenly got a taste for popping fuses like candy. But the fuel cell, dual hydration jugs, HID lights, tank bag and Rally Book, dual GPS units, Spot tracker, heated gear controller, custom seat and backrest, aftermarket windscreen and side guards, and all the other LD “requirements” were on board and functional. Well, the GPS units were mute (thanks to the dead intercom), but they were installed and otherwise functional if I remembered to look at the screens now and again.

This refit job was made noticeably easier by my choice of mount. My original ’07 BMW K1200GT had died on the 10n10 Rally last September due to a cooling system failure. I had gotten a temporary replacement bike through some good friends, which happened to be another ’07 K1200GT. And while that bike had served me well while working in Dallas from October through February, it wasn’t quite the right bike for my upcoming 2011 Iron Butt Rally adventure.

So after some soul searching (and a fair bit of overtime at my customer site), I began the search for a newer K1300GT. These bikes have been discontinued and are getting scarce at dealer sites, yet they’re still new enough that there aren’t many to be found on the used market.

Thus began a nationwide internet search for the perfect bike, with the possibility of a fly-out-and-ride-home trip depending on where that bike might be located. Eventually I found three K13GT’s sitting at San Diego BMW, just a few hours down the road from me. This dealership is run by Gary Orr, an accomplished LD rider (who also ran the 10n10) and I was happy to give him some business.



I ended up getting an ’09 model GT, with just over 6,300 miles. It still smelled new. And the best part was that 90% of my farkles would just bolt right across from my old bike. But of course, it’s never quite that simple. BMW had redesigned the handlebar switchgear, which meant that I had to make completely new mounts for my V1, Spot, Warm & Safe controller, and HID light switches. And I decided to reuse my old fuel tank, which I had already drilled for my fuel cell input. But the top fill cap assembly had changed also, requiring some judicious use of old and new parts to get it all to work together as it should.

Finally, by late Wednesday, I had gotten through most of these issues and gotten the bike back together enough to go for a short test ride to my local AAA office to pick up a couple of Oklahoma maps.



You see, there was this 12-hour LD Rally being held that coming weekend, with all bonii located entirely within Oklahoma. The only problem was that Oklahoma was ~1,240 miles away, and I still needed to sort out my intercom situation. But I had to ride to Dallas anyway, and Oklahoma is (mostly) along the way . . .

The Rally Master (RM) graciously allowed me a late entry, and sent me the Rally pack and bonus locations that everyone else had gotten earlier that week. Somewhere in all of this I needed to find time to actually plan my Rally, but the to-do list before leaving was still quite long.

Thursday morning was spent loading the bike and doing some last minute household chores, but by 3:00 p.m. I was on my way.

I decided to forgo the initial freeway run for a ride down the Malibu coast. The day was perfect, traffic along the coast was light, and the bike was doing beautifully, even when I hit the inevitable LAX rush-hour traffic. Well, except for that little intercom issue. I stopped briefly in Orange County to hook up with a GT-riding friend, and we continued another half-hour south to JC Motors, who are an official dealer for Schuberth helmets.

My old C2 helmet had definitely seen better days, and I wanted to try on the new C3 model in various sizes to be sure that I got the right fit. I was also interested in Schuberth’s new SRC Bluetooth system. The clerk at JC Motors was helpful and quite patient, and I got set up with the helmet and Bluetooth. The clerk even offered to ship my crusty old helmet back home for me, which was a nice touch.

The C3 is everything they claim it to be. It is noticeably quieter, and pleasantly lighter. It has a built-in pinlock fog insert, which worked very well during a cold Oklahoma morning. Synching it to my iPhone was quick and painless, and now I was back in business with tunes (but still no GPS or radar).

I bid my friend farewell, and headed east with the goal of getting some miles behind me. Did I mention I was still ~1,200 miles and ~30 hours away from Oklahoma, and on a bike that had been torn down to the motor just a few days prior? Yeah, this was gonna be a fun trip . . .

On top of all of this, I hadn’t even had a chance to really go through the Rally pack. And this Rally had a “shotgun” start, meaning we could choose to start wherever we wanted, as long as it was inside Oklahoma and we could get a good starting receipt. We’d all end up at the same place, but this type of start leads to many interesting route choices, if only you have the time to consider all the possibilities . . .

Exiting California was painless, as the typical rush-hour molasses traffic had mostly died down. Around midnight I pulled into Kingman, AZ and figured this was a good place to sleep. But I still needed to process my bonii and do some route planning. So I grabbed a cheap motel and pulled out my Rally Pack, only to discover the motel’s internet was down. Crap.

Oh well, I still needed to read through the pack, process the data, and mark up my maps. About 3 hours later, I had a pretty good idea of the possibilities, but still didn’t know where I was going to be starting from. And the nearest Oklahoma border was still ~750 miles away . . .

Less than 3 hours later the alarm went off and I got up, got packed, got a quick breakfast, and got on the road. I set the cruise control and watched for traffic and road hazards for the next few hundred miles, accompanied by a classic rock soundtrack flowing through my shiny new C3.

When it was time for lunch, I pulled into a truck stop that had WiFi and started looking at routing options. After an hour or so I had come up with two reasonable possibilities.

There was a nice cluster of bonii near the western border that was worth decent points. There was a better cluster near the eastern border worth even more points, but that would mean riding all the way to the western Oklahoma border, then riding all the way across Oklahoma to the eastern border before the 5 a.m. Rally start. And the clock was ticking, as I needed to email my basic route plan to the Rally Master before 11 p.m., plus I was still a couple of states away from any starting position . . .

With the bike and my belly both fueled up, I got back on the road. The miles rolled on as the music played and the states got checked off. I pulled in for another well-earned break and did a bit more work on my route. It just made more sense to start at the western edge, then scoop up everything I could get before the big, timed lunch bonus just outside Oklahoma City. That left those tasty eastern bonii out of reach, but I figured I could head north and snag a couple of combo bonii on my way back to the end. It was an aggressive first leg, with several options for adding or deleting bonii depending on how my timing and progress were working out.

With my basic route plan emailed off, I kept on heading east. I pulled into Amarillo just after 10 p.m. and found a FedEx store so I could print out my bonus sheets and basic route listing. After a quick bite, it was another couple of hours on to my chosen starting location in Erick OK.

The motel in Erick had its No Vacancy sign out, but I had called ahead so they had a room waiting for me. I noticed a few other Rally bikes in the parking lot, from riders who were smart enough to get there early and were already asleep.

I unloaded the necessary bits off the bike and did one final read through the Rally Pack looking for things I might have missed. Like the fact that we needed to text the Rally Master with our start location just after getting our initial fuel receipt. With that potential DNS (Did Not Start) trap out of the way, I crawled into bed around 2 a.m., with a 4:30 alarm set . . .

Which went off way too soon. I grabbed a quick shower and a snack, and loaded the bike. I had filled my main fuel tank at the local truck stop the night before, so I knew which pump had a good receipt. I waited with several other riders for the clock to tick past 5 a.m. and then filled my aux tank. With a 5:01 receipt in hand, I texted the RM and got moving.

Ken
Pacific NorthWet
'13 Dark Graphite Metallic K16GTLD, 24K miles
'09 Magnesium Beige Metallic K13GT, 63K miles
'03 Anthracite Metallic K12LTC, 66K miles
'02 Mauve Metallic K12LTC, 106K miles and sold
BMWLT#143, IBA# 366, MOA# 111996, SCMA# 24032


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post #2 of 28 Old Mar 26th, 2011, 3:24 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Vernal Equinox Rally, Oklahoma

Vernal Equinox Rally
19 March, 2011
Oklahoma


Rally



************************************************** ************
1A-BNDT / Bandit Museum & City Jail / 344 pts / 35.22025, -99.98894
400 S Main Ave, Texola OK 73668



The first bonus was an old jail in Texola. I had scouted this bonus on my way in the night before, so I had no trouble finding it in the dark among the dirt roads in this near ghost town. Another rider and I pulled up about the same time, so we swapped cameras and took each other’s pictures. Since there were no Rally flags, we had to have our faces visible in each pic. With 5 HIDs on my BMW and a full set of Gold Wing lights, there was no problem getting a good pic.

This location was part of a Jail combo that added some good points, if I could get the matching bonus located much further east sometime later in the day.

Another couple of riders showed up just afterwards, but as I had my pic already I headed out the way I came in, back to I-40 to get a few exits further east before heading south towards the next bonus.

As I came up to an empty intersection, that same ‘Wing came in from the right and pulled ahead of me. Apparently, he had taken a shortcut on local roads rather than the slightly longer but “faster” interstate option. I thought about passing, but he was setting a good pace so I was happy enough to tag along.

I stayed a bit back so that I didn’t blind him with my lights, but could still see far enough ahead using his lights as well as my own. Good thing, too as I saw the deer cross very close to him just as his brakes flashed on full. We did see a few more deer along the way, but none close enough to cause any real concern so we made it into the next town without any further incidents.

************************************************** ************
1B-HLLS / Hollis / 387 (774) pts / 34.684675, -99.914989
105 W Jones St, Hollis OK 73550



This bonus was a fire station, with the requirement to have our face and our bike in the pic. And we’d get double points if we had a fireman in the pic, too. Now, I didn’t know if a town this size would have a manned fire station at 0-dark-30, but it was worth a shot.

As the ‘Wing and I pulled into town, my GPS told me to head right as he went straight. So I turned right, into a maze of one-way streets, none of which seemed to go the way I needed to go. I found the GPS location, only to discover that it was a school, not a fire station. We had been warned that some of the GPS locations were “near” the bonii, and that the Rally Pack description was the final answer. Had I had proper time to go over the bonus pack, I would have done my research and verified each of these locations ahead of time. Oh well.

So I pulled up the Emergency Services page on my GPS and headed off towards the actual fire station. And I pulled into its front lot just as the ‘Wing did, and just as a car arrived as well. The car driver went into a side door, and I thought “Hey, I bet he’s a real fireman.”

So I knocked on the side door and explained what we were up to on this cool, clear morning. He was very accommodating, and even put on his fire pants and helmet so we could get good pics. Again, the ‘Wing rider and I traded cameras so that we got good, clear shots.

I found out later that another rider had called ahead and asked if a fireman would be present. Smart move on his part. Unfortunately, that rider neglected to put his bike in the pic, so he ended up losing those points. Reading comprehension is key here, folks . . .

************************************************** ************
1C-ELDO / Eldorado / 369 pts / 34.472356, -99.64826
OK-6 @ S Market St, Eldorado OK 73537



With double points in hand, the ‘Wing and I headed southeast to our next location. Again he led at a good pace, and we arrived in short order.

This bonus was to get a pic of some very large grain silos. Now, this town and the surrounding farms were covered in silos, but we had detailed instructions to a specific set of silos. I verified that the GPS coordinates matched the actual street description in the bonus pack, and we had no trouble finding them in the pre-dawn darkness.

Once again, it was HIDs and ‘Wing lights, but even so we could just barely make out the bottom of one or two silos in the pics. We settled for getting a sign and pump in the pic as additional identification that we were indeed at the right place. I started to wonder if this was turning in to an impromptu team effort, but I was glad to have the help getting decent pics in these difficult conditions.

************************************************** ************
1AA-FRC / Frederick Cemetery 315 pts / 34.398620, -99.045220
18045 County Rd NS220, Frederick OK 73542



As we headed out from Eldorado, I double-checked my routing. Good thing, too, as I discovered that I had somehow dropped a cemetery bonus that was part of a Dead combo thread. Oops.

Fortunately, we had been making good time, so I felt that I could add it back in without too much bother. My GPS suggested that I skip the next nearby museum bonus to get to the cemetery, then grab the museum on my way back through town.

So at Altus, I kept going straight while the ‘Wing turned left towards the museum. I didn’t know if he was going after the Dead cemetery thread too, or if maybe his route took him further east instead of back north like my plan, but it was no matter as I was riding my own ride and he was riding his.

I found the cemetery without too much trouble, and pulled right up to the entrance. It took a few shots to get a good pic as it was still quite dark, but even so I wasn’t entirely happy with any of them. It seems that getting your close-up face in the same pic as a large, dark entrance gate was more difficult than it ought to be. I missed my ‘Wing buddy, and realized that I really need to learn how to use a tripod and the self-timer on my camera.

But I figured one of the several pics would be acceptable, so I retraced my route back to Altus and the museum.

************************************************** ************
1C-ELDO / Eldorado / 369 pts / 34.472356, -99.64826
OK-6 @ S Market St, Eldorado OK 73537



As the sun started to rise and the farmland slowly bloomed into clear detail, I began to wonder about those silos. We were told that the bonus pack description was the ultimate answer, and everything else was secondary. So I called the Rally Master for clarification. And he verified that yes, he wanted all the silos in the shot, which meant taking the pic from a block or so away, which meant that my dark pic of the pump and sign was inadequate. Damn.

I saw the ‘Wing heading towards the cemetery as I was heading back towards the museum, and I again wondered briefly about his ultimate route. I also wondered if his silo pic would be denied, as I was pretty sure mine was going to be.

The silos weren’t part of a combo, but they were good points that I didn‘t want to give up. So I did a bit of GPS calculations, and decided that I still had time to get it right. Back through Altus and past the museum, and back into Eldorado where the silos now stood out clearly in the morning light. I grabbed a local farmer at the shop across the street and got a good pic of all six silos, me, and the bike for good measure. Then it was back out that same road yet again heading for Altus for the third time this morning.

************************************************** ************
1D-MWP / Museum of the Western Prairie / 320 pts / 34.648920, -99.327880
1100 Memorial Dr, Altus OK 73521-2600



Once back in Altus, I took the same left turn that the ‘Wing had taken much earlier that morning. I fueled up at a convenient station along the way, and got to the museum and grabbed my pic without too much trouble. Either I was getting better at this face-in-the-pic thing, or perhaps it was just the daylight that helped.

************************************************** ************
1E-COME / Comecos Cemetery / 370 pts / 34.96524, -99.38842
Mountain Ave & Ada St, Granite OK 73547



Next stop was Granite, for another of the Dead cemetery thread. I found the location without too much bother, and saw the cemetery located out in a big field. Behind the cemetery was a huge plywood mural of Will Rogers, which also had to be in the pic.

Apparently, the museum was just a lucky shot, because I could not get the cemetery, mural, and my face all into the same pic at the same time. Several comical tries later, I finally had a “good enough” pic. I really need to learn how to use the self-timer . . .

************************************************** ************
1F-RTRP / Retrop / 299 pts / 35.160198, -99.359161
OK-55/OK-6 @ OK-6, Sentinel OK 73664



So now it was off to Retrop, in search of a monument to the old town. The GPS coordinates were taking me to a specific intersection, but the Rally Pack description clearly stated that the old town and cemetery was 1 mile east and 1 mile south of that location. My GPS knew where the cemetery was, so I detoured there along some well-maintained dirt roads.

And couldn’t find the monument at all. Damn.

Well, let’s try the original GPS intersection, and there the monument was, clear as day. Again, if I’d had time to vet some of these locations before the clock started . . .

************************************************** ************
1G-FCMON / Fort Cobb Monument / 192 pts / 35.09426, -98.43601
OK-9, South of Mopope St, Fort Cobb OK 73038



Even with the double-silo detour and the tour of Old Retrop, I was still on a good schedule with plenty of time to make it to the big lunch bonus. So I decided to skip my bail-out plan of heading straight up to I-40 and instead I stayed on the back roads and headed towards a couple of smaller bonii.

Traffic was non-existent on the back roads this early in the morning, and the Fort Cobb monument was right where the GPS said it would be, so it was a quick grab-the-pic-and-go stop. Next.

************************************************** ************
1H-FRHM / Fort Reno Historical Marker / 106 pts / 35.53739, -98.02598
OK-66, East of E1020 RD, El Reno OK 73036



The Fort Reno Historical Marker was also quite easy to find, although I needed a few “practice” shots to get it right. Then it was back to I-40 and head east, dodging trucks and tourists along the way.

At this point, the next big bonus was lunch near Oklahoma City. It was available from 11:30 – 12:30, and we had to sit with the RM for 10 minutes. But if we called ahead he’d have lunch waiting for us, which was a nice touch.

And I had some decisions to make. Plan A was to go after a few “consecutive” bonii combos, but the timing was tight and I’d have had to have left lunch pretty much right at 11:45. My GPS said I’d get there just before noon, which made things just too tight considering the mandatory wait period.

Plan B was to head north from lunch before cutting back east. The points weren’t as good up that way, but it would allow me to finish out the Dead combo and the Jail combo. Plus it was a slightly shorter route with a bit more time cushion. Which turned out to be a very good thing, as I realized a bit later . . .

************************************************** ************
1I-45TH / 45th Infantry Museum / 32 pts / 35.50779, -97.47308
2145 NE 36 St Oklahoma City OK 73111



Traffic on the interstate was light and I made good time. So I decided to grab another “extra” bonus that was just off my route. It was really small points, unless you got the big consecutive combo that I had already discounted due to time, but still, points are points.

A quick detour off I-35 and I found the location and got a great pic on the first shot. Nice. Then it was back to the interstate and off towards lunch.

************************************************** ************
1K-POPS / Pops 66 Soda Ranch / 2011 pts / 35.658639, -97.335670 / 1130-1230
660 W Highway 66, Arcadia OK 73007



You can’t miss Pop’s 66 Soda Ranch, mostly because of the 66’ tall soda bottle out front and all the crazy tourists swarming about. I pulled in at noon on the nose and parked the bike in front of the bottle, then looked up to see the stereotypical Japanese tourists holding their cameras and looking at me. Oops, sorry. But they were kind enough to take my pic for me, and I was soon out of their way and parked near the restaurant along with a dozen or so other bikes.

A couple of guys came up and started asking about all the stuff bolted to my bike, and I gave a few brief explanations as I was getting my gear off and double-checking the bonus info. Another Rally rider said that the RM and other riders were sitting at a huge table out in back of the restaurant so I headed straight through crazy tourist hell and got checked in for my 10-minute wait.

My burger was waiting for me, and I grabbed a seat next to the RM’s adorable young daughter. While other kids were running wild through the restaurant, she was quite polite and we had a nice chat while I ate. I was impressed with her demeanor and enjoyed our brief talk.

But soon enough the clock ticked past 10 minutes, and I headed back out for my final leg and to see if I could snag a few of those valuable combos.

************************************************** ************
2A-FED / The Black - First Territorial Prison / 46 pts / 35.880105, -97.427290
200 W Noble Ave, Guthrie OK 73044



Just a short run up I-35 was another jail worth a whopping 46 points. But completing my Jail combo added 390 points so it was worth the short detour. There was a bicycle shop across the street, and the proprietor gladly took my pic while we talked briefly about how much bicycle technology had changed since I was racing them so many years ago.

As I was making my way further north on the interstate, I came across a flashing sign that said “Drug Inspection Ahead.” Huh? Traffic slowed and changed lanes and I saw a single cop car parked on the side of the road. He seemed to be ignoring all of us, or perhaps just napping, so we just kept on moving.

************************************************** ************
2B-TSG / Three Sands / 162 pts / 36.622500, -97.408230
located between present day Tonkawa & Perry, Three Sands OK



As continued north in search of yet another cemetery, I could see the dark storm clouds ahead and to the east. So far I had managed to avoid all but a few small sprinkles, but that was about to change.

The GPS took me off the interstate and had me criss-cross between farm fields and down some well-maintained dirt roads which I had no trouble taking at a reasonable pace. I pulled up to the GPS location, only to find absolutely nothing. Damn.

I looked around, but nothing obvious stood out except for a few small stands of trees way down the road and some old, rusting equipment in the next field over. There wasn’t even a nearby farmhouse that I could go and ask. So I grabbed my phone and looked up the cemetery online. I found some directions on a ghost town website that pretty much put me on the same dirt road that I was already on. Well OK then.

Just about the time the rain kicked in, I decided to follow the website directions in reverse, and I soon came across the cemetery. At least I thought it was the correct cemetery, even though the entrance sign said Riverview and not Riverside as the Bonus Pack suggested. I got my pic and hoped that there wasn’t another old cemetery somewhere nearby.

By this time the wind had kicked up something fierce, and the dirt roads had gotten rather more interesting, making the ride back out much more challenging and much slower than the ride in. I had been watching my final arrival time on the GPS, hoping to make up enough time to go past the end location and grab another bonus that was just a bit further southeast before heading back in to the finish. But I had used up most of my time cushion, leaving me just enough time to grab my final fuel stop, and to call the RM and explain to him just how much fun I had been having chasing rusting old cemetery gates down random dirt roads in the typical Oklahoma spring weather.

************************************************** ************
2C-MM / Marland Mansion / 193 pts / 36.716000, -97.061770
901 Monument Rd, Ponca City OK 74604-3600



I verified that my next GPS coordinates did take me directly to Marland Mansion and got there without issue. A nice lady took my pic with the mansion and my bike in full view and I was on my way, and even making up a small bit of my time cushion as I headed east.

************************************************** ************
2D-BOC / Barnsdall Oil Co / 257 pts / 36.558337, -96.161720
along OK-11 / 5th St, Barnsdall OK 74002



As I pulled into Barnsdall, I could see that what I had endured out by the cemetery was nothing compared to what this town had just survived. The sky was still slightly ominous, and the town was absolutely drenched. I had to avoid the right lane entirely as the water was still curb-deep, although a local in a pickup seemed to delight in splashing it as high as possible.

I pulled up to the GPS coordinates, but all I saw was an old junk shop full of rusting things. I grabbed a local and asked about the Bigheart memorial, and she directed me back to the center of town. Another local pointed me to Bigheart Park, which had a tank and a brick wall full of names of those who had died in service to our country. It took a few tries to get a decent pic, and I was on my way again.

As I headed south out of town, I realized that even though I had found Bigheart Park, nowhere did I see anything that had said Barnsdall Oil. Again I called the RM for clarification, and he confirmed that yes, the junk shop was what he was after. So I did a u-turn and backtracked into town to get the correct pic. Yep, there it was, Barnsdall Oil and a Big Red Heart, plain as day and shiny-clean from its recent shower.

************************************************** ************
2E-CYRUS / Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza / 175 pts / 36.144321, -96.00301 / 1530-1630
Southwest Blvd & Riverside Drive, Tulsa OK 74127



A quick check of the GPS coordinates versus the written directions showed that the Centennial Plaza was right where it ought to be.

This was part of a Route 66 combo bonus, but you had to visit it directly after lunch at Pop’s. I had foregone that combo, instead choosing to head north after lunch to get the Jail and Dead combos.

But what everyone failed to realize, myself included, was that this was also a timed bonus. So riders that did head there just after lunch ended up losing the points for being too early. Again, reading comprehension . . .

I had gotten lucky here, as my previous delays meant that I had hit this bonus right in the middle of its allowable window. And there just happened to be a local walking by, who was glad to get my pic with all eight of the Route 66 state flags in clear view.

************************************************** ************
2F-JARED / Cpl. Jared Shoemaker / 190 pts / 36.065821, -95.833145
6500 S 129 E Ave, Tulsa OK 74134



By this point, I had one final bonus to go which would complete my Dead combo thread. I didn’t quite have enough time to bypass the end location and grab that extra bonus further southeast, so I figured I’d just grab the final cemetery and be on my way.

A verification of GPS coordinates showed the location to be right at the cemetery entrance, but there seemed to be an awful lot of space covered even on my GPS screen. Still, I had about a 15-minute cushion, so how hard could it be?

Yeah, it was a modern cemetery in the middle of a well-populated area, with thousands of graves, and I needed to find a very specific one. I looked through a small section labeled Floral Haven Memorial Gardens like on the bonus sheet, but soon realized that the entire area was Floral Haven Memorial Gardens. I looked into a nearby building, but it was a deserted crypt. I’m not sure if the folks interred inside knew where Corporal Shoemaker was resting but if they did, no one was offering up that information to me. And the clock was ticking, to where I was now in danger of either losing this bonus and thus losing the valuable Dead combo, or being late to the finish and losing my entire ride . . .

So I rode directly to the main funeral home that was fortunately still open, and asked the front desk guy where I might find Cpl. Shoemaker. He looked a bit confused, and said “Let me go ask someone . . .”

I then spied a map of all the grave sites and walked over, just as a lady came out of the office and said “Yeah, people have been asking about him all day. He’s right here, on the end of the 11th row.”

I proffered my thanks, and headed out quickly towards my intended destination. With such precise directions I found it easily and got the pic, and then packed up my camera and headed out of the last cemetery of the day.

************************************************** ************

After that, it was a short dash through suburbia to make it to the RM’s house and the end. The clock was ticking, but traffic was pleasantly light and all the traffic signals seemed to go just my way. Honest.

I saw all the bikes parked in front of the house and pulled right in, with just over a minute to spare. Whew.

Ken
Pacific NorthWet
'13 Dark Graphite Metallic K16GTLD, 24K miles
'09 Magnesium Beige Metallic K13GT, 63K miles
'03 Anthracite Metallic K12LTC, 66K miles
'02 Mauve Metallic K12LTC, 106K miles and sold
BMWLT#143, IBA# 366, MOA# 111996, SCMA# 24032


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Some people see the gas tank as half empty. Some see it as half full. All I care is that I know where the next tankful is coming from...
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meese is offline  
post #3 of 28 Old Mar 26th, 2011, 3:25 pm Thread Starter
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Location: West Linn, OR
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Re: Vernal Equinox Rally, Oklahoma

Vernal Equinox Rally
19 March, 2011
Oklahoma


Epilogue



I checked in, and took a few minutes to go over my paperwork and make sure everything was in order. I had claimed all my bonii, plus the two combos, and it all looked good so I handed it in. It wasn’t until much later that night that I realized I had forgotten to claim my Declare Your Route and Emergency Contact Info bonii on my route sheet. Damn. I knew I should have written those down on my log sheet before the Rally started. So there went those easy points, but apparently, I wasn’t the only rider to forget to claim those . . .

Most riders were telling tales and envying farkles, but the RM had another surprise for us. There were two sets of tape lines laid out in the street set 25 feet apart. We were to ride between the tape, taking as long as possible without putting a foot down. Every second we took added 10 points to our overall score.

Thanks to Mr. Chalmers and the Utah 1088, I was quite familiar with this whole slow ride business. In fact, I often practice this at random stop lights, just to maintain that ability. I managed a respectable time of 14 seconds, for 140 free points. Not bad at all, and I remembered to add it to my score sheet. A few other riders got some “free” points as well, and a few more managed to drop a foot or two, but fortunately, no one dropped a bike.



I got the chance to meet the RM’s wife and other two adorable children, and their rather rambunctious dogs, as well as talk with some of the other riders that I had passed at random locations throughout the state over the last 12 hours.

Soon enough the feast was on. The RM himself had been manning the grill and there was a plethora of well-seasoned meats and side dishes, plus a fridge full of sodas and beer. If you went unsatisfied here, it was your own damn fault.

As the evening wore down and the last dishes were cleared, the RM announced with an apology that his volunteer had bailed, and so he had to choose between scoring us all and feeding us. He had made the right choice, and so we agreed that we would hold off on the final scores until he had a chance to go over everyone’s pics and score sheets in great detail.

I had secured a room at a local hotel, and had an extra bed that I was able to offer to another rider. At this point, I had gotten less than 5 hours sleep over the last 2 ½ days, and so it was an early night. I had covered just under 2,000 miles since leaving L.A. on Thursday evening, and I still had to get myself to Dallas.

But not without a slight detour. I headed southeast out of Tulsa, and made my way across some great Arkansas back roads towards Bryant, and my 96-year-old Grandma. She was thrilled at the drop-in visit, and we had a great chat.

I still needed to be in Dallas that night, so I said my goodbyes and headed back out for a brief 300-mile jaunt down I-30 and into the greater Dallas metroplex. Traffic was light and I made it into the hotel without issue.

The bike had performed well, and I was pleased with my performance in the Rally. I still had no idea of my final position, but it had been a good ride so I was satisfied.

Later that night, I got a call from the RM. I had lost the easy points I had forgotten to write down of course, but pretty much everything else came through just fine. So my adjusted 8,115-point total was good for another Rally win, which was a nice verification of my efforts and my new bike.

I really enjoyed myself and had a great time riding with and talking to the other riders. I always like putting faces to internet handles and emails, and find the depth of experience and camaraderie of all the riders to be amazing. The RM’s family was a delight, and the food was awesome.

I ended up riding 681 miles during the 12-hour Rally, and just about double that distance to get there, all on about 5 hours sleep. And then almost that distance again getting in to my client the next day.

Would I do it again? Well, there is an Autumnal Equinox Rally coming up in Oklahoma this September . . .

Ken
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post #4 of 28 Old Mar 26th, 2011, 4:14 pm
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Re: Vernal Equinox Rally, Oklahoma

Great rallying, Ken. Great win. And a great read. Thanks for sharing with us.

Pics aren't meant to be for a photo contest, so I thought they were just fine for the rally (and the RM). Best of luck in September.
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post #5 of 28 Old Mar 26th, 2011, 7:02 pm
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Re: Vernal Equinox Rally, Oklahoma

Say Ken,
A heck of a ride. Two things I plan on riding the old route 66 this summer from beginning to end and will be partially on the same highway west of Oklahoma City. You must have your youth skin on very impressive. I am looking at 2448 miles with 10 days. 2 of which I will side track to Dallas then back OK City and when in Flagstaff a couple more side trips to Phoenix one day and Grand Canyon/Hoover Dam the next before heading the rest of the way.
My next concern is how is night riding in the desert like between Amarillo and Kingman or Needles or Bastow. I am thinking of the temp drop. You see I am getting away from cold breezes to sunny Cali so I don't want to be bogged down every night for 6 to 8 hours hiding from the cold. You had to be dressed for it this early in the season.
Congratulations on you feat and you did much less planning than I have already done, only thing my time has no limit.
ride safe
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post #6 of 28 Old Mar 26th, 2011, 8:21 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Vernal Equinox Rally, Oklahoma

The full Route 66 sounds like a great ride. I've done many of the western bits, and would like to do more. The Grand Canyon Caverns is kinda interesting if you have the time.

You just have to decide how "true" you want to be. Some of the original segments are still there, but are now well off the beaten path. And many of those are non-contiguous, so you have to go out of your way to find them. Still, there are a lot of resources out there, which I'm sure you're well into by now.

Night riding isn't a problem if you're prepared for it. I spoke about my HID lights and heated gear above. Now 5 HIDs may be overkill for most folks, but I like to see where I'm going, and more importantly, what's going to be in my path.

I've also ridden down below freezing with the heated gear going, in one case down to ~16°F. I'm plenty warm enough, so my biggest concern is precipitation and watching the road for ice. But if it's dry out then I just turn up the heat and keep on going.

Your biggest concern in the desert at night is more watching for open gas stations. There's an awful lot of nothing out that way . . .

Still, it sounds like you've done a lot of research already, which is half the fun.

Ken
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post #7 of 28 Old Mar 26th, 2011, 10:39 pm
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Re: Vernal Equinox Rally, Oklahoma

Great trip/rally report. Thanks for sharing it with all of us. I feel like I saw a lot of Oklahoma just by reading your report and seeing your rally pictures.

By the way, I absolutely loved how the rallymaster had hyperlinks from the finishers list so that we at home could all see their rally photos. I think this was a great innovation and one I love.

To see all those pictures of you taken by yourself reminded me of Jeff after he lost his flag in the 09 IBR.

And stopping to see your grandma reminded me of Brian R and his visit with his family during the 10/10. He did it on the clock, though....

Also, great to see your new bike. I am glad you were able to get that sorted out and get it at SDBMW, too.

See you in Seattle, if not before.
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post #8 of 28 Old Mar 27th, 2011, 12:31 am
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Re: Vernal Equinox Rally, Oklahoma

Way to go Ken--great write up...

Wade
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post #9 of 28 Old Mar 27th, 2011, 12:47 am Thread Starter
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Re: Vernal Equinox Rally, Oklahoma

Nice to see you here, Doug.

Quote:
Originally Posted by doug5551
By the way, I absolutely loved how the rallymaster had hyperlinks from the finishers list so that we at home could all see their rally photos.
I liked that, too.

It showed me that the original, dark silo pic would have worked (the 'Wing rider did get credit for it). But I had the time, and I wanted to be absolutely sure . . .

And it also shows which routes the other riders took, which is always interesting. For example, Jim had a similar start as me, but took the consecutive combo path after lunch. And it cost him. Then again, he did remember to write down the other non-riding bonii, so he did get those points that I missed.

Whereas Jack also had a similar first leg, but took the other consecutive combo option after lunch. But he forgot to write down the combos he did nab, and the two non-moving bonii, so that cost him.

That's a tough break, but it's all part of how we play the game.

Man, that was fun.

Ken
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post #10 of 28 Old Mar 27th, 2011, 3:30 pm
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Re: Vernal Equinox Rally, Oklahoma

Ken - great rallying [as usual] and a great write-up. I am real happy that you like the new bike and that it worked so well for you in this rally. Sounds like you will now be ready to try to do the IBR/1088 co-rallies... Go for it!

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post #11 of 28 Old Mar 27th, 2011, 3:46 pm
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Re: Vernal Equinox Rally, Oklahoma

Wow Ken, Great report..
Pop's is about ten minutes from my place..

Wish I had known you were about ...A Livation might have been in order...

John

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post #12 of 28 Old Mar 27th, 2011, 9:44 pm
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Re: Vernal Equinox Rally, Oklahoma

Ken,
Congats! on your rally win. What seem to be the age bracket of the competition. Were there any senior citizens (60+) and how did they fair. Another thing the slow bike race at the end I once did some of that on '79 Kawasaki 1000 with a Vetter fairing and a tail rack and was pretty good but even on my '85 Goldwing that talent faded. Now with the LT I won't even think it. Besides much less strength at 59--> 60.
I hate to admit it but yes I might be doing too much planning and research. I have been on trips before but never with this much freedom and no time limit. I have also ridden at night but in mostly familiar settings road and weather. I think I am a bit apprehensive with my new baby. My heated grips and seat work so that is not the concern. I was thought to lean from you experiences and take heed to those of others. Since I joined the forum I have been doing a lot of that. Or else it would be useless reading.
A friend of mine has a HD and he has a tailor made gas can for his side case. I been getting pretty close to 285 miles on a full-up last year on trip to NC. So I wonder if that is necessary. I know you could not do that in competition. Aside from yours and the Wing what other bikes were involved. I better cut it short.
ride safe
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post #13 of 28 Old Mar 27th, 2011, 10:39 pm
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Re: Vernal Equinox Rally, Oklahoma

Bill,

Here is a note from the rallymaster about the results:

The Rally was fortunate to have twelve riders sign up for this year's
challenging 12 hour rally. Nine riders started all across Oklahoma at 05:00
Saturday morning.

The majority of the riders suffered from reading comprehension, incorrect
and/or missing bonus sheet entries, or a combination of both. For some
riders, the result was dropping multiple finish spots (more on that later).
Let's hope all the '11 IBR entrants in Vernal Equinox learn from these
mistakes!

The majority of the field failed the CYRUS bonus, which had a time
restriction of 1530-1630. Rides homed in on the combination points for POPS
& CYRUS consecutively. So, many lost both the CYRUS and the RT66 combo
points.

One rider called ahead to a volunteer fire department to get a uniformed
firefighter to pose for double points. All the other riders appreciated this
gesture. Unfortunately, the same rider failed to have his cycle in the
picture, losing all the points!

POP66 soda ranch was a time limited, 1130-1230, bonni that was worth enough
bonus points that all nine riders met Avery and I for lunch. Riders were
required to stop at Pops66 for ten minutes; most used this time to have a
quick lunch.

Severe weather was scattered across OK Saturday, with most riders able to
avoid all but some drizzle time to time. The rally ended at the RM's house,
where I hosted a cookout. Luckily, the severe weather tracked North of the
end, enabling us to enjoy the beautiful weather.

Riders had one final bonus at the end, a slow speed ride twenty-five feet
long. Riders were awarded ten points per second, or fractions thereof, for
the twenty-five foot length. the ability to slip the clutch while dragging
the rear brake paid off for the high scorers! Ken Meese took the longest,
14.0 seconds, earning him an additional 140 points. Riders that touched the
ground did not earn any points.

Bo Griffin crashed the event, so Bo was forced to complete the slow speed
vonus to earn his dinner.

This years winner was Ken Meese, who rode 1,400+ miles to start his rally
from Erick, OK. Ken met the four other riders who also chose Erick for their
start receipt. Congratulations Ken, you're earned a no-cost entry to the
24hr Autumnal Equinox 2011 rally!

Riders spent several hours commiserating & enjoying some homemade slop that
cooked and grilled. Most riders will agree that the downtime after a rally
is usually the most fun part of the entire event!

The results are now posted online:
http://therally.us/vernal_equinox_20...011_scores.htm

If you click on the rider name, you can see each bonus that was ridden to,
along with comments about points that were not awarded. You can also see
each rider's bonus picture.

A few rider pics:
http://therally.us/vernal_equinox_2011/ve_2011_pics.htm
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post #14 of 28 Old Mar 27th, 2011, 10:48 pm
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Re: Vernal Equinox Rally, Oklahoma

Excellent preparation and result Meese! Nice write-up too. What is your projection for mileage for this year? Will you top 40k this year?

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post #15 of 28 Old Mar 27th, 2011, 11:17 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Vernal Equinox Rally, Oklahoma

Quote:
Originally Posted by JPSpen
Wish I had known you were about ...A Libation might have been in order…
Sounds good, but I was on kind of a tight schedule . . .

Maybe next time.

Ken
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post #16 of 28 Old Mar 27th, 2011, 11:27 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Vernal Equinox Rally, Oklahoma

Bill,

There's more info on the Vernal Equinox Rally site, including a list of riders and their bikes with pics. You'll see lots of distinguished grey hairs in there . . .

Slow rides aren't about strength. They're about coordination and balance, and knowing your bike. And practice, lots of practice.

Don't worry about doing 'too much" planning. That's half the fun. Just get a good base route down, but remember to take the occasional detour if something strikes your fancy. As long as you stay roughly on schedule, the unknown side trips can easily be the best part of the ride.

A 285-mile range is fine. Just plan ahead and don't push yourself all the way to reserve before looking for fuel.

I also like to carry a couple of MSR fuel bottles. Two 1-liter bottles gives me a 20-25 mile cushion in case I run the bike dry. Oops.

It's gonna be the ride of a lifetime, so take your time and enjoy it.

Ken
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post #17 of 28 Old Mar 27th, 2011, 11:31 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Vernal Equinox Rally, Oklahoma

Quote:
Originally Posted by peterb
I am real happy that you like the new bike and that it worked so well for you in this rally.
Yeah, me, too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by peterb
Sounds like you will now be ready to try to do the IBR/1088 co-rallies... Go for it!
Instigator . . .

Ken
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post #18 of 28 Old Mar 27th, 2011, 11:35 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Vernal Equinox Rally, Oklahoma

Quote:
Originally Posted by ErnieA
Will you top 40k this year?
Well, I've already got 20K miles hard planned, so yeah, about 40K ought to do it . . .

At this rate, I'll probably wear out the K13 just in time for BMW to get the bugs worked out of the K16 bikes.

Ken
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post #19 of 28 Old Mar 28th, 2011, 7:31 pm
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Re: Vernal Equinox Rally, Oklahoma

Ken you and your RM (Doug I believe) did an awesome job. And the info you both supplied answered more than a few thoughts.
I looked at all 4 sites.
The gas bottle I have seen before but I was referring to a jug tailored to fit in his side case.
Also the rules and results of the rally I got from the RM reminded me of my high school days when we did something like that with a couple variations. On the sports field we rode bicycles around a 1 mile track that was fitted with obstacles like riding over a 2x4 without falling over, collecting things along the way like eggs, glass pop bottle, books and picking up clues. The final two challenges were to ride with a 1 gallon pail full of water and the one with the least spill got the most points and the grand finale was the slow bike race which I mostly won.
I mentioned strength because holding up an 800 pound Goldwing or LT in one spot while leaning left and right to balance needs arm strength if you don't want to drop it. I took my daughter on the LT and we stopped at a light, she was shifting on the back and I almost lost it just as I was putting my feet down. My right hand was stiff.
Yes I saw a few grey haired wonders in your group but I am willing to bet youth ruled the day. To me 12 hours is 12 hours and once I retired double shifts are no longer in my vocabulary.
I am not raining on your victory but from the results I think the BMW's were at an advantage over the Goldwings and definitely the Yamaha's. Besides you overcame a lot with little sleep, a new bike and a whole lot of trust in not knowing how it would perform. Great ride, great mental toughness and your decision making to acquire the most points makes a true champ. I hope everyone else enjoyed the challenge.
Your RM was super he must know where every rock is in OK.
Thanks for all the ideas and great pictures.
ride safe
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post #20 of 28 Old Mar 29th, 2011, 11:59 am Thread Starter
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Re: Vernal Equinox Rally, Oklahoma

The Rally Master was Michael Hickman, who did a fine job pretty much all on his own. I'm amazed at how much work these guys will put in just so that a bunch of us can go and play for a while.

Rider enthusiasm trumps bike brand any day. We're still mostly doing street routes, so pretty much any street-legal bike works just fine. Still, riders who are serious about the sport tend to gravitate to bikes that are efficient and reliable under a variety of conditions.

And yes, there's a mix of ages as well. Some older riders simply have more free time to ride, but the younger riders tend to push a bit harder to place well. Then again, those are generalities and I know riders of all ages that are fiercely competitive, yet still remember to have fun.

The MSR bottles are convenient, safe, and relatively cheap. There are other options, but those work well for me.

Glad you enjoyed the report.

Ken
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post #21 of 28 Old Mar 29th, 2011, 5:50 pm
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Re: Vernal Equinox Rally, Oklahoma

Everyone else has already said what I would have said about a great ride and great report, so all I can say is, well done!
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post #22 of 28 Old Mar 29th, 2011, 8:10 pm
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Re: Vernal Equinox Rally, Oklahoma

Quote:
Originally Posted by meese
Bill,

I also like to carry a couple of MSR fuel bottles. Two 1-liter bottles gives me a 20-25 mile cushion in case I run the bike dry. Oops.
I am willing to consider the MSR fuel bottles but with a few more questions. I can get them easily at Dick's sporting.

Is it an easy pour from bottle to gas tank without any spillage or is there a spout with? I am not too keen on packing a funnel or to have a gas smell in my side cases.

Secondly a bottle has a smaller base than a jug design for the low profile at the front of the case. I guess bungee cord them on inside might work. Plus I might need a pair to balance in either side. Well I got time to play around with all these ideas. I would prefer to have auxiliary gas rather than get out in the desert Gallup NM - Tucumcari - Albuquerque and find the water hole dried up (shut tight - no gas). A lot of gas stations in my area are becoming relics
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post #23 of 28 Old Mar 29th, 2011, 8:36 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Vernal Equinox Rally, Oklahoma

The MSR bottles are made for fuel. There's an o-ring on the cap, so they seal up fine and there's no extra smell.

And the cap has a couple of holes so you can do a slow pour, or you can remove the cap to pour faster.

If you aim carefully and pour slowly you can get it all in without spilling.

Remember, these are just an emergency backup so you're not using them very often at all. If I haven't needed mine in many months, then I'll just pour them into the tank and put in fresh gas. But I've never had a problem with it going bad.

I have a tool bin in my left saddlebag, and the bottles usually just lie flat on top of that. Then I'll stuff my heated gear and extra gloves in and it's all fine.

There are other fuel pack options from Kolpin and RotopaX, but those are larger and more expensive.

Ken
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Some people see the gas tank as half empty. Some see it as half full. All I care is that I know where the next tankful is coming from...
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post #24 of 28 Old Mar 29th, 2011, 9:36 pm
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Re: Vernal Equinox Rally, Oklahoma

Thanks a million. I think these are more like the one in the HD side case. I did not ask him to take it out cause I was no interested at the time. Besides I was doing 1 fuel stop to 2 of his. Even with the gas situation I never panic because I was on familiar trip going east IN, KY, TN, and the Carolina. The desert south west is a different animal.
I will consider price and put it to rest. But you have been very helpful.
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post #25 of 28 Old Apr 1st, 2011, 1:18 pm
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Re: Vernal Equinox Rally, Oklahoma

Quote:
Originally Posted by meese
What can I say, great minds think alike (with the exception of days in the saddle non-stop, I like stopping)
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post #26 of 28 Old Apr 1st, 2011, 5:40 pm
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Re: Vernal Equinox Rally, Oklahoma

Now what this a tease! Nice Ride.

There is nothing like that around here, Yes the snow has gone but rain moved in to take its place and it is still in the 40's.

And if I send you a picture like that of my bike on April 1st you can bet it was a post card because no mountains overlooking the coast. And Lake Michigan has no mountains.

Last year when She was 1 month old and first trip to St. Joseph MI. Hope the attachment made it. My first time.
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post #27 of 28 Old Apr 4th, 2011, 12:16 pm
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Re: Vernal Equinox Rally, Oklahoma

Ken,

Excellent ride report - just a phenomenal read. One day with I can shake off the laziness I'm going to give a local rally a try.

I see a lot of riders with the two GPS setup. Please clue me in on the strategy behind this. Is it just for alternate route calculations or something else? Thanks.

Greg


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post #28 of 28 Old Apr 5th, 2011, 10:54 am Thread Starter
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Re: Vernal Equinox Rally, Oklahoma

Rallies can be a lot of fun. After you learn how to do the long miles comfortably, then the long interstate stretches can get a bit boring.

A Rally keeps your brain engaged as you're constantly balancing time versus distance versus average speed, trying to see if you can fit in one more bonus before the checkpoint cutoff time . . .

I use two identical gps units for redundancy, so if one fails I have a backup ready to go. Also, one is usually focused up close on the next turn or two, and one is zoomed out to 25 or 50 miles so I can see what towns are coming up. That helps for planning fuel stops, but also makes sure that my overall route plan still makes sense. And it means that I can leave one on my base route and use the other to add or subtract locations, or to try a smaller, shorter road over a larger, faster road, and then I get instant feedback on whether it will save me time or make me late.

The more information I have readily available, the better decisions I can make, and thus the better my overall score.

Ken
Pacific NorthWet
'13 Dark Graphite Metallic K16GTLD, 24K miles
'09 Magnesium Beige Metallic K13GT, 63K miles
'03 Anthracite Metallic K12LTC, 66K miles
'02 Mauve Metallic K12LTC, 106K miles and sold
BMWLT#143, IBA# 366, MOA# 111996, SCMA# 24032


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Some people see the gas tank as half empty. Some see it as half full. All I care is that I know where the next tankful is coming from...
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