At the riders meeting the night before the actual rally you are given the rally book. After we are dismissed from the rider meeting everyone takes off for their rooms to plan the best possible route. Now the theme of our rally was Reading is FunDaMental. While riding is a very important element, thorough reading is just as important.
My self imposed objectives of my first rally were:A> Interpret and plan a route that is competitive B> Execute this route C> Finish D> Be organized with the documentation that I do not give up any acquired points E> Good place standing, but not as important as the first 4.
Back in my room I am busily putting in the 55 or so bonii (bonus locations) into MapSource. MS is the route and mapping tool that comes with my Garmin 2610 GPS. This enables you to plan a route on a computer and then download into the actual GPS unit. Each location is worth generally between 150 to 1000 points. With them all entered, I decide I need to get the overall picture of what's going on. Sitting back, I begin reading each description of the bonii. I finally come to the last page, which has bonus type bonii. These are special pots of gold. For instance there is a rest bonus worth 20,000 points which requires you to take a break for 2 consecutive hours at one location. At the riders meeting the point value for this was corrected to 5,000. This is still high enough that you must take advantage of it to be considered in the the top 10 finishes.
The Poison Ivy bonii. This is a progressive bonus. Contained in the rally book are locations of the Ancient Eights or the Ivy League schools. If you visited 5 of them you got and additional 1000 points, 6 was 2000, 7 was 4000 and visit all 8 got you a whooping 8,000 points plus the value of each location to boot.
I had this preconceived route I was going to take which took me up thru Vermont thru New Hampshire over to Maine and back to Northampton MA, the rally headquarters. However after reading the Poison Ivy, I created a route that takes me to all the Ivy League schools. North to Dartmouth, down to Harvard, south to Brown, then Yale, Columbia (ych Manhattan), cross the river to Princetown NJ, a little further south and west to the University of PA in Philly, and finally up to Ithaca for Cornell and back to HQ. MS says this is around 1066 miles or so.
Some mental math I realize I would have to stop at 22+ locations to capture this many points. It's easy to plot stopping at locations in the computer, but in the real world it takes time to stop and do what you have to do to prove you were there and this is against a real clock.
In a 24 hour rally you have of 24 hours to complete the run without penalty. If you exceed 24 hours you are penalized 10 points for each minute over 24 hours up to the 25th hour, after that you are disqualified. With this being my inaugural rally, I allocated the time as follows: Rest Bonus 2 hours + Riding time for 1000 and 11oo miles 18 hours (I did a Saddlesore 1000 and completed 1066 miles in 18 hours, this is how I came up with this) +Gas stops 1000 miles with 225 to a tank 1000/ 225 = 4.4 stops figure 4 times 15 minutes = 1 Hour
Time left for bonii (24-2-18-1)= 3 hours or 360 minutes. Figure 15 minutes a stop. Remember you must get your rally flag in most of the pictures so this generally requires you stop, park and place the rally flag someplace that can be in the picture. With the 15 minutes that would equate to 24 locations you could travel to, but this is under optimal conditions. Traffic can get in the way, having to park a couple of blocks away from the bonii and walk takes time, so 15 minutes maybe a little on the light side. If you use 30 minutes this is 12 locations. In all my question of other people in rallies it seems 15 is a good number to use for planning purposes and this was my first one after all. There was one quote in a rally, "here is the menu, you may select as many items as you desire but if you select too many items and try to consume them all, you will die".
With all that in mind I created a route for the 8 Ivy League schools. Here is what the route basically looked like [ http://tinyurl.com/64bpdp ]. If after Cornell I had time there were bonii locations I could pick up on my way back to Northampton
First stop. Dartmouth College. Seemed like everyone headed for Dartmouth because a ton of us landed there. This is where I ran into Wayne and Robin on their K1200LT for the first time. What a nice bike. First stop went flawlessly. Off to the nest stop
Next destination was Harvard University. The instructions indicated it was acceptable to pull up and take a picture, No Rally Flag required. Rumor had it, it was going to be a very hot day. The trip down from NH was just about perfect and even had it's cool spots. I was pretty lucky with the traffic in Cambridge. Breezed in and out. I think I got here around 10 AM.
It is off to Providence RI to Brown University Book Store. (note the theme is centered all around Reading is FunDaMental). The heat is beginning to pick up a bit especially on the slabs such as I95. I arrive at the bookstore at around 11am . I was able to park almost right in front of the book store. How lucky is that? Get my picture and take a break to drink down some fluids. It is during this stop I recognized it was really hot out. I am guessing it is 95 or so. As part of the entrance fee we received a wicking shirt with the MM1000 logo on it. I had been meaning to buy one of these. I am sold on them now, this shirt was a life saver.
Next stop is Yale University in New Haven, CT. The journey to Yale proved to be more difficult than the rest of the stops. Traffic had picked up and the heat was becoming pretty intense. Requirement of this picture was to be able to see the Sterling in the photo. It is right over the entrance way. It is now about 1pm. It is friggin hot out !!
Columbia University is located in Manhattan, however if you carefully read the bonii descriptions, it offered an alternate location in Palisades NJ that would satisfy the requirement for the points. Now I am originally from Joisey but had never really been on the Palisades Parkway or 9W. 9W parallels the Hudson River and quite scenic. It is 3:30 or so.
Off to Princeton University in Princeton NJ. I have been here 3 times in my life all for the New Jersey State swimming championships back in the 60's. As I am driving to Princeton I have time to reflect back on my life in high school. I do not have a MP3 player or music on the bike, so I get to think about alot of stuff. Most of the stuff I can't remember what I thought about, but it must be good, because I never get upset about it. I had to walk abit to get to this location. As I was leaving a student on a bike stopped me and asked what I was doing. I explained the rally to him and made sure I reinforced it was not about speed but pace and long distance riding. It's now 5pm.
I had one really hair raising event on my way here. I am on Route 1 at a stop light. I look in my mirrors and see a red van about 1/2 mile back moving kind of fast for a stop light. At about 200 yards this van has not slowed down. I begin to release the clutch to get out his way. At about 100 yards, I start saying OMG I am gonna die. At a guess of 50 yards, this guy finally veers right to the berm and runs the red light and keeps going. Yup he did not see me and my guardian angel must of tugged on his steering wheel. This is first experience like this on the bike I have had in a very long time. Phew !
Man it's hot and the roads into Philly are junk. These roads have those lines which are dug up to put wires or whatever below the surface, which they fill with tar and other junk, which proceed to heave upwards and cause a bump every 1/10th of mile. Well everytime I hit one of these the GPS would shut off and come back on. Now this is not good because I have never been to Philly and I really need the directions. Just as the GPS would start to spout out another direction I would hit another bump, another shut off , comes back on, wait for the GPS to acquire the satellites again, repeat the process. Anyways, I was pretty darn hot and my eyes were killing me from riding for so long. It is around 7pm and I have been riding for 13 straight hours. I took a well deserved break at Dunkin Donuts, gulping down 2 things of water and had a granola bar. In the bonii description, there was no mention of taking a photo here, but we needed to answer a question. You had to be there to find the right statue of Ben Franklin with the words "Venerated for benevolence..." This bonii required a correct answer to a the question, Who said the quote on the statue about Ben. Well there were 3 names on this statue. So which person said it. The inscription of the words carved into the statue, seemed to been up against the elements and was well weathered and worn down, hence the actual inscription was very difficult to make out. As I was walking around I happen to look down and the picture at the right is what I saw. I must be getting tired at this point. Answer to question I wrote in George Washington. Remember reading is FunDaMental. I erased this entry and put in Washington, just like it said on the plague. For all I know it could of been Jeffrey Washington.
Up until Philly I was ahead of schedule by a whole hour, but I burned through this. I had trouble finding the statue and was just plain tired. All part of the rally experience. The sun is finally dropping down and it is beginning to cool off. Next stop is Cornell University in Ithaca NY, a mere 230 miles away. As I am leaving Philly there are alot of really neat bridges that have these huge arches in them. Sometime this summer I will be stopping back here for some INK. The ride to Cornell is actually delightful. We are deep enough into the season where the daylight is approaching the longest day. It is not getting dark until about 9pm at night. Estimated arrival time in Ithaca is 11pm.
The road off the interestate to Ithaca is a county highway (Rt79) which has gentle sweepers and dips and rises on the hills. It also seems (remember it is dark out) to be surrounded by woods and farms, just a perfect place for for deer and other animals to congregate. In these situations, I love to find a car that is driving at a decent speed to work as a deer and other animal blocker/catcher. I found such a car and pretty much followed them the whole 30 miles to Ithaca. They were moving a respectable 55 - 60 mph, which is faster than I could have traveled on this road comfortably without such assistance.
Requirement here is to get a picture of one of the statues of Ezra Cornell, one of the founders. I stop and ask a couple of people where I might find the statue and they point behind some buildings and say, "Right there on the quad". I park the bike in an reserved parking area, but it is behind a dumpster, so I am not taking any ones place and begin walking. As I round the building, I hear music and it is becoming louder as I walk. The campus also seems to be lit up. Yup there is a huge party going on. I am guessing this is a graduation party and there were tons of kids there. I walk to one statue and start to put my flag on it, when I ask a student who is sitting at the statue, is this Ezra Cornell. He says no, pointing across the quad says, "he is directly across from here. Just go thru the middle of the party and exit out the other side and he is right there". Well you had to have a button to get into the party so the campus police make me walk around the party. It's 12am and I get my final picture of the rally.
WooHoo, I have successfully captured all of the bonuses I had planned. Now all I have to do is find a 24 rest stop, take my Rest Bonus and make a run for Rally HQ. I have been running for almost 18:35:50 hours straight and looking forward to being off the bike for 2 hours. I remember passing a hugh Exxon station that appears to be a 24 hour place on my way to Ithaca. I head back out the way I came into Ithaca, this time picking up a pick-up truck that is really making some miles on Rt 79. I actually follow him right into the station that I planned to take the rest stop at. Low and behold I run into Wayne and Robin again. Oh how do I know I have been running for exactly that many hours. Well I pulled into the Exxon station and clocked my time at 12:38:50 and my start time was 6:03. Buts that another blog to be written