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Thread: another minuteman thread

  1. #1

    another minuteman thread

    Well, I just woke up from 14 hours of dark, dreamless sleep. You
    see, I rode in Rob Nye's first (hopefully annual) Minuteman 1000
    rally this weekend, and there just wasn't a lot of time for sleep.

    Before I get started, I want to say this right at the top, since
    some of you will only read this paragraph and then scan down the
    page for bikini bike washing pics. Thanks to Rob and his fellow
    rallymasters for putting on a great event, and thanks to Max
    of Max BMW for his very generous sponsorship. You guys are both
    big parts of what (to me at least) defines BMW riding in New
    England, and so it was no surprise that the event was so good
    with both of you involved. Thanks again!

    My ride report actually begins on Thursday. Those of you who
    don't know me might not yet realize that I'm an idiot. I had
    been riding only the KTM for weeks before the rally, and had
    to do some work on the BMW to get it ready for the rally.
    Nobody knows better than I do that work should not be done on
    the bike less than a week before a rally, so I naturally did
    the work the day before. Jackhole was apparently doing the
    same, so Thursday night we decided to go for a quick shakedown
    run. I convinced him I should lead, and that he'd really want
    to see how his K1200RS did in the dirt, since there would certainly
    be some dirt bonuses for us to collect. He's stupid too, so
    he agreed.

    I put together a nice route. I've been getting systematic about
    finding good nearby roads recently, and the effort has been paying
    off. We hit dirt within a few minutes, and I was immediately
    and disturbingly reminded that I wasn't on the KTM. No
    problem, but Jackhole behind me took note and gave me some more
    space. I guess he isn't entirely stupid. The ride proceeds, and
    he shows me that a K1200RS can hold its own on the dirt if
    piloted by a man with no concern for his bike or safety.

    Soon our time is up, and we are heading north again, but I
    remember a secret hidden gem that I'm dying to ride. Jackhole
    foolishly follows me to what is more like a path than a road,
    but it appears on the map and a local once told me it is in fact
    a public road. As we are negotiating this, I once again forget
    I'm not on the KTM and attack a mud filled rut a bit too
    enthusiastically for a 550 lb bike on tourances. The GS
    reminds me who is boss, and I end up standing on top of my bike
    about ten feet in the woods. All the aux lights are bent
    and my left hand (which got caught in the brake lever somehow)
    is in excruciating pain, but I get the bike picked up and everything
    else is OK. I had basically highsided at 2nd gear speeds into
    a mud bank between a rock and a tree.

    The moral to this long story: perhaps the night before a rally
    isn't the time to be getting too crazy off road. That's right:
    save those antics for DURING the rally, I say.

    I slept fitfully, got packed in the morning, and rode to
    Mass to start the madness.


    As with all rallies, this one started with some paperwork and an
    odometer check. And as usual, I got a comment on how "accurate"
    the GS odometer was. Stupid BMW odometers. Dinner was at 6:30,
    and a pretty good sized group of riders showed up. Turns out
    50 people were entered. Rally packs were distributed, I apparently
    asked too many questions, and we retired to our rooms to
    begin plotting and scheming. Here's the second page of the
    end result of all that planning:


    Naturally my screaming meanie went off before all the other alarms.
    I probably woke up ever other guest in the hotel. Ooops. Nothing
    I could do about it, so I just pretended it was someone else. My
    crap was already packed, so I put it on the bike and rode to the
    start area just in time for the morning meeting.

    As Jackhole and I are headed north, we're both doing some thinking
    about our plans. Both of us were worried about missing the time
    window at Max's, and we had both planned slightly different variations
    on heading to NY for about the same # of points with no time
    constraints. But as we rode north to VT, we both became convinced
    we could hit Max's in the window, get some NH bonuses, and do the
    MA/CT parts of our routes backwards for probably more points. At
    Ludlow Overlook (on the road up Okemo) Jackhole was ready to replan.
    I knew I wouldn't change my plan until Stowe, so I wished him luck
    and started heading North again. Nye had said Stowe was the most
    difficult bonus of the rally, a steep twisting dirt road usually
    closed to motorcycles because so many "metric cruiser" riders were
    dropping bikes and sueing. It was open until 4pm and worth quite
    a few points. There was no way I was going to miss it.

    I think it was about this time I had to deal with the Harleys. VT
    route 100 doesn't always offer many passing opportunities, and I
    found myself stuck behind about 10 harleys going 35 in a 50, braking
    erratically, with their ride leader having his blinker on the whole
    time. It was my own personal hell. When they finally went to turn
    left, the ride leader almost dropped his bikes. Some people shouldn't
    be allowed on the road. These guys were moving hazards.

    Anyway, I make it to Mt. Mansfield. It is a toll road, and I'm in
    luck: the people in front of me are friends of the tollkeeper, and
    they talk to him for about 10 minutes. I turn off my bike and try
    not to do anything that will keep me off the mountain. Eventually
    the kid gets the idea that he is maybe not being the best tollkeeper
    he can be, and I get to pay my $8 and remind him I have to sign the
    waiver. It's annoying, but it turns out to be worth the wait: the
    road up the mountain is incredible. It's nice at the top too, but
    I'm not there to sightsee. I hike in with GPS, flag, and camera and
    get a picture of a plaque embedded in a rock.

  2. #2
    It's time to re-examine my plan. I want to make it to Max's and it
    looks doable. I can't remember exactly but I think I had time
    to get to Max's with 2 hours to spare at this point. This is where
    I make my biggest mistake. I plan a route NW to Swanton, then
    across the top of the state and down to Max's. I fail to do the
    math right here or I would realize that Swanton is too far out of
    the way for me to still make it to Max's. I make enthusiastic time
    getting down the mountain and I'm headed towards Swanton.

    If you want to see how Swanton screwed me, compare routes A and B:

    A few more bonuses and I'm heading west across the top of Vermont
    towards Jay's peak. I'm looking at the GPS and suddenly realize: I
    can't make it to Max's on time. I've screwed up. There's not much I
    can do about it, and I'm near 19,000 pre-planned points, so I hit
    Jay Peak, the 45th parallel, and Dixville Notch before getting my
    map out to figure out how screwed I am. Missing Max's is a big
    mistake: it's a 25,000 point bonus, plus a chance to say hi to
    some folks, show support for Max, and maybe catch up with Jackhole,
    who would probably have the same plan for the night as me so I
    could potentially do some riding with him.

    So I'm sitting in Dixville Notch, around 6:30 PM on Saturday, and
    I need to figure out how to make up some serious points. I'm
    right near the Maine border, but since I didn't originally plan on
    being in Maine, I didn't map any of the bonuses. So now I break
    out the map and figure out where everything is. It turns out
    that all the towns that have country names are close by, and if I
    get all eight of them I can score some decent points. I plan
    a route to try this, but it's obvious that it will be close and that
    I'll have to ride through the White Mountain National Forest early
    in the morning. I'd originally planned on a lot of more urban
    night/morning riding, because I'm deathly afraid of hitting animals.
    Looks like I'll have to suck it up and ride around all night in
    moose central. Figures.

    Here's the plan for Maine:

    I mount the bike and start heading east on 26 into Maine. There
    is just a little light left, and I make some decent time. I'm
    headed to Lynchville to visit a famous set of signs, then make my
    attempt on all eight towns. It's dark by the time I get to the signs,
    and I use my considerable lighting to get a picture. I then leave
    without taking my flag off the signs. A few miles later, I realize
    what I've done and chew up 15 or so minutes riding back to get my
    flag. Not a good start.

    On to Denmark. Just west of the center of the town is a dam.
    According to the rally book, it is "just after" the center. Now,
    I'd already been surprised by a "just after" rally direction, so
    when I didn't see the dam, I drove several miles further. Before
    long I had passed everything that looked like water on the GPS,
    so I stopped and entered a waypoint to the GPS coordinates for the
    damn, which I should have done in the first place but I had
    never intended on being in Maine. I get to within a few feet
    of the dam and still can't find it, so I ask a drunk lady on
    a porch who says it is across the street. As I'm turning my bike
    around, the lights finally illuminate it.

    Now, the instructions say I need to get some dates off of the dam.
    But the dam is about 60 feet away, and even my 400 watts of lights
    aren't making it bright enough that I can read the dates. I ride around,
    then walk around for a while with my flashlight, but I'm not getting
    anywhere. I finally end up having to climb out onto the dam to find
    and record the dates. Rallys make you do strange things.

    The town bonuses are close and easy after this, and I get through
    them quickly. The seventh of eight is Mexico, and after that I would
    need to actually drive a decent amount east to get to China for some
    decent points. Parked in Mexico, I let the GPS figure out my ETA
    back at rally HQ if I turned around now. Bad news: 5am. I still have
    to take the 40,000 point 2 hour rest bonus, so that means my real ETA
    is 7am, which only gives me an hour to dick around. Reluctantly I decide
    that I need to start getting closer to Greenfield while looking for a 24
    hour store in rural Maine.

    As an aside, I should mention a little detail about the scoring in this
    rally. From the moment your ride starts, you have 24 hours until you
    start accumulating penalty points. You then have two hours of losing
    50 points per minute (3000 pts/hr) until you are disqualified. This
    means that as long as you can be scoring more than 3000 pts/hour, you
    should take the full 26 hours. So all my planning was for a 26 hour
    ride. Ideeally, I would liked to have shown up in Greenfield at 5:45am
    and taken the rest bonus, but I felt that violated the spirit of the rule
    and would potentially run afoul of the rallymaster's sense of humor.

    Pulling through Bethel, ME I spot a 24 hour gast station. It's 2am and I'm
    not nearly tired, but I grab a gas reciept and pull behind the station
    to attempt to sleep. Set the screaming meanie for 1:45 and lie down next
    to the bike. In the dew. In 37 degree weather. Forty five minutes
    later I'm awake, freezing, with full body shudders I can't control. I
    go into the gas station and buy some coffee to try to add heat to my
    system. It's all about body temp management late at night (IMO), and
    I'm getting into a bad spot. I sit around for another hour or so, make
    some marks on the map, then get the second receipt for the rest bonus
    and mount up.

    Here's what it looked like as I was getting ready to leave. Blurry cuz I didn't have a tripod.

    Here's my route plan. I've optimistically labeled what's next as "the dumb zone". Animals are my mortal fear and I'm about to enter their kingdom.

    It's time to enter what I've labelled on the map as "the dumb zone". It
    is twilight and I'm riding deep into the White Mountain Nat'l Forest.
    I'm hardly surprised when I start seeing multiple moose on the road, just
    standing around. Occasionally they are running. There are decent bonuses
    for pics of moose, but it turns out to be quite hard to get close to one
    and get your camera out for a pic before they bound off into the woods.
    After two tries I give up and just ride carefully around the other 4 moose
    (or groups of mooses) I encounter. I've got to maintain something like
    55 MPH avg for the next few hours to get back on time.

    Speaking of maintaining > 55 MPH, I'm not sure how I did on the road from
    Lincoln, NH to the small town with the missile in it (Warren?), but
    it was nice to have an excuse to run it enthusiastically. The crappy
    pavement and twisty road are perfect for the GS and it is totally empty
    at 6am. Good fun.

    I finally make it to I-91S and suffer through just about the only interstate
    miles on my whole ride. I hadn't really taken this into account, so I
    finish the rally with over 30 minutes to spare. Plenty of time to have
    picked up some more points that were available in Lincoln, NH, but when
    I rode through that town I wasn't thinking about how much faster I'd be
    able to go on the interstate versus the twistly two lane roads I'd been
    on for the last 24 hours. Points on the table, but it turns out they wouldn't
    have been enough anyway.

    So I finish the rally. I'm pretty sure I'm going to be middle of the pack,
    as I know I've left some serious points on the table by missing Max's, but
    on the other hand I feel I've at least ridden a pretty solid ride. I head
    off to McDonald's with Jackhole and drink a lot of coffee while waiting
    for the 10:30 rider's breakfast.

    These clowns were waiting for me at the finish:

    There's not much more to say. Everyone finished safely and had a good
    time. At breakfast I met another AdvRider, Win3835 or some sort of rifle
    round, who had ridden the saddlesore ride. I ended up 4th with just under
    150K points, jackhole scored 3rd with IIRC just under 170K. Peter Leap
    continued a great year of victories by winning with a much more efficient
    route, 170K+ points in just over 800 miles. I rode just over 900.


    I've made some good progress in the last two years, and a lot of things
    came together for me on this ride. I know I can pretty much ride anybody's
    route. The bike is dialed in and reliable. And my system for staying
    on plan is finally working. I'm at the point where to make additional
    progress I'm going to have to learn to plan better routes. So unless I
    just feel like it, I'm going to hold off entering another rally until I've
    made some improvements to my planning technique.

    These things are still hard, but they're the fun kind of hard. My last rally,
    the LOE, featured some physically gruelling parts that left me wondering for
    19 hours why I did this stuff. I'm pleased that things went better this time,
    and that for almost the entire time I was enjoying the ride. It certainly helped
    that the MinuteMan seemed designed to keep you off the boring stuff.

    Hope you guys enjoyed the report. Rumor has it Rob and company will be making
    this an annual thing, and I'm looking forward to riding or helping out next year.


  3. #3
    Jackhole and I had put a beer on which one of us would score better. He won . But since he came in 3rd he won a beer mug, and because I know right from wrong, I agreed to modify the bet so that whenever he drinks from the mug in my presence, it is on me. Dammit.

    Rob, your trophys aren't atrophying.

    Note the sweet rally swag, compliments of Max BMW's sponsorship of the event. Nizice!

    Anyway, thanks again to Rob, Max, and everyone else who made this event come off so smoothly. I had a great time.

  4. #4
    El Dookey loves to ride. 99007's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Ada, MI (outside Grand Rapids)


    folks is crazeee! (in a good way)
    Don't winterize; Rounderize!

  5. #5
    On the Road Win3855's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Portland, Maine
    HHHMMMM Somethings missing,not sure what it is.The post seems to lack a certain amount of pizazz. A splendid write up just the same.

  6. #6
    Focused kbasa's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Marin By God County, California
    I love it.

    Good to see you back over here, dizave. I think the same weekend you were running that, they were running the Cal24 out here.
    Dave Swider
    Marin County, CA

    Some bikes. Some with motors, some without.

  7. #7
    Originally posted by KBasa
    I love it.

    Good to see you back over here, dizave. I think the same weekend you were running that, they were running the Cal24 out here.
    Cal24? Pshaw. They didn't have Rob Nye. And where's the ride report?

    Seriously though, an the Minuteman had a way different character than the rallies out west that I've done, and judging from the pics that I saw of the Cal24, quite a bit different than that as well. What I mean is, on the MM I picked up somewhere north of 30 bonuses. That means more than once an hour I was seeing something interesting, getting off the bike for a bit. Just over 900 miles, and only the last 100 or so were interstate. The other 800 were some pretty nice roads througout VT, NH, and ME for me, including some I know I'll be back to now that I've found them.

    Contrast this with the stuff out west, where sometimes you just have to suck it up and blast out a lot of miles on a perfectly straight road with no scenery. Stuff is just further apart. And the multiday stuff typically has such far-flung bonuses that rider tolerance for doing huge miles must be much higher.

    Rob and his crew set out to make this approachable and enjoyable for novice (endurance rally) riders, and I think the succeeded spectacularly. But at the same time I think it made it more fun for those of us with some experience.


  8. #8
    Rally Rat YB in IN's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Bloomington, Indiana
    Great ride report, but what happened to the girls in bikinis? Looks like you had a grand time, maybe that will be an event to think about running in next year.

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