Sunday, February 21, 2010

Minuteman 1000 - June 2008

How I spent my Saturday

So the annual Minuteman 1000 is in the books for this year and to say it was a different experience from last year for me.  With New England's first expect heat wave predicted for Saturday this event proved to be challenging for all the riders not quite ready for extreme temperatures.  Last year got me into the IBA club by successfully completing a 1000 miles in 24 hours ride during the Minuteman 1000  Although parts of the ride were good, there was the expected long expanse of interstate riding that comes with a ride for miles and time.  This year I was on my own to compete in my first 24 hour IBA Rally Format.  This means that I had no required route and no require miles to go, just plan a ride to get bonuses and points and get back to Rally HQ before 24 hours.  There were a total of 37 riders entered in the 24 hour rally with some serious 'big dogs' of the IBA world.  These guys are infamous in their ability to plan an efficient ride that usually scores incredible points.  In addition we had several veterans of the IBR.  The bikes were impressive, the riders were friendly and helpful and the excitement was contagious.  One additional factor that makes this such a fun event is that there are a lot of new riders to IBA that are there just to try and see if they can complete the SS1000 to become a member of IBA.  A total of 34 entered the certification ride, and most had never tried doing 1000 miles in 24 hours before.

Check-in was Friday afternoon which entails the usual mileage check.  Following this mandatory check I gathered my registration, insurance and camera, this year was a first in allowing digital photos instead of Polaroid's, and checked in with the Rally Staff.  A fairly straight forward affair that went smoothly and quickly leaving me with several hours to kill till the dinner and handing out of rally books. 

So like any biker I headed to the parking lot to check out the rides.  I meet several new riders and my roommate for the weekend, another fellow RI Rider, and did a final check of the Wingabango.  I ran into some friends I have made along this journey into IBA and they as usual gave me grief on how clean and shinny the Wing was.  Over the winter I made a few changes to the bike to make it work better for me, some I have proven and tweaked with my rides to Deal's Gap and FL, some I haven't.  This ride would be using every change I made with the exception of the heated gear! 

As usual the social hour before dinner and the actual dinner were top notch.  For this rally we received Rally Flags which were actual towels with the logo and my Rally Number (65) and a very nice performance wicking shirt with the logo too.  After dinner was finished, the rally staff handed out the rally books for everyone to see for the first time.  We received the city and state of the locations for the bonuses the week before the rally to have a chance to plot them on maps and GPS software.  What was lacking were the details of what was needed at each location, the directions to the location and the point value.  Since I planned to do an entire electronic plan I loaded all 53 locations into my Mapsource software.  After I did this there appeared to be 2 primary concentrations of bonuses, a large group in Maine and a large group in CT.  I had pretty much decided that I didn't want to ride in any major cities and that I wanted to have as much 2 lane roads as possible including some quality time in VT.  Opening the package confirmed that with a rally theme of 'Reading is Fundamental' we would have to read the package carefully and that a major rally winning ride would require visiting all 8 Ivy League Schools in New England, this was affectionately referred to as the Poison Ivy Bonus (8000 points).  A winning rider would have to plan to get them all and grab all the bonuses near by to complete a top 5 ride.  In contrast my ride would not grab the 8000 points for Poison Ivy but would net me a solid 14,375 points.  I planned a ride that looked like it would be fun and offered several scenic highway rides in VT, NH, and ME.  I was tempted to go for more points but decided to stick to my plan and goals which was to have fun and complete the rally.  My roommate decided to go for more points by planning a ride to CT, RI, NY, and MA.  He would grab more points (16,000 + points) then my plan but have to deal with a lot more traffic.  At about 10:30 PM after making my note cards and finishing up my plan, I discovered the ultimate key to planning a successful ride.  The Rally Book contained Latitude and Longitude locations for every bonus and the Mapsource Software let me edit each bonus location my changing those numbers!  Eureka, I now had exact locations!  The only question was would it work the way I thought it did given this was my first time trying to navigate by lat/log.  I finally went to sleep by midnight and didn't sleep as well as I wish.  The 5:00 AM wakeup came too early, but the excitement was on.

After a riders meeting at 5:30 AM we queued up in 2 columns side by side to start to leave at 6:00 AM.  I was in the second row next to a Honda Silver Wing rider who was going for his SS1000, so I was one of the first 24 hr Rally riders to leave.  I left the Northampton Clarion Parking lot at 6:00 AM, about 30 seconds after the first row left.  Leaving first had some advantages and some disadvantages.  The advantage was being on the road and enjoying the light traffic, the disadvantage is that I didn't see anybody behind me so I had a nagging doubt that I had picked a very bad route.  I was on I91 for the first 75 miles till I reached exit 7 in VT to take a short ride on US 5 to my first bonus, the Historic Handshake marker.  It was a low point value and was not a photo bonus, but it was the first location that would keep me on VT secondary roads for most of the morning.  About 5 miles from the exit a group of Rally riders finally caught up to me, given I was doing 65-70 mph they were really moving.  They all passed me on I 91 and one took the same exit I did, but his route took him a different way to the marker so I actually arrived first, recorded my information and was packing up just as the faster riders all pulled up to the marker.   I hit the road for the next bonus which took me up VT11, to VT10s to my first great road of the morning VT12A to Plainfield, VT.  Again Zumo navigated me to a small cemetery to take a photo of the cemetery name and a certain marker. 

Again I was the first to the bonus and the group that passed me on the interstate pulled up just as I was leaving.  Navigating to my next location, Dartmouth Library I continued on VT12A and just had to laughed and smiled the whole way enjoying a great ride in VT in my first 24 hour Rally.  Traffic was all but non existent and the road was typical VT Riding.  I did have to jump on I89 to I91 for a short 7 miles to grab the Dartmouth Library photo bonus. 

Once again I jumped back on I91 to I89 for 27 miles till I took the exit for VT107.  This bonus proved to provide even better VT riding then VT12A by connecting to VT125, a Scenic Highway.  I grabbed another large bonus for a Robert Frost Historic Marker and then continued on VT125 to US 7 to connect to I89N.  I had a short 38 mile ride on I89 to Swanton, VT to pick up my biggest combo bonus of 1500 points for buying a specific Maple Syrup at a specific farm.  I arrived at Carmen Brooks farm at 11:15 AM on plan and now starting to feel the heat as promised for the day. 
My morning route left me in pure joy and satisfaction as I had grabbed every location I planned and had a great ride.  The challenge for the rest of the day lay ahead with all secondary roads from VT to Rangeley Lakes' area of ME and a goal for getting to Portsmouth, NH between 4-7 PM.

On the road again, I head toward east Berkshire, VT to grab a photo of the town's combination Library and Massage building, you got to love small towns.  The ride up was typical VT awesome with practically no one on the road.  Unfortunately there was a detour around a small town that led me to my first dirt road of the day on the Wing.  The road was a good dirt road so the delay was minimal. 

After the library/massage stop I took a short ride to Montgomery, VT to grab a photo of my bike in front of the town post office. 

The next leg was to take me all the way to LL Cote in Errol, NH. 

This was a lot of great riding from VT118, to 58, to 5A to US 3 and finally 26 to my photo bonus.  It was about 2:30 and the heat was pretty intense, I was drinking lots of water with my camel backpack and stacking on trail mix and beef jerky.  I felt like I was making excellent time by covering the 132 miles from Swanton in 3 hours and check that my arrival into Portsmouth, NH would be 6:06 PM.  In my excitement I torn out of LL Cote Parking Lot and failed to notice till I was about 20 miles down the road that I was low on fuel!  Nearest fuel stop for me by Zumo would be a 30 min penalty to my planned arrival time in Portsmouth!  As I debated turning around and back tracking or risking running out of fuel before the next stop, I luck out with a ma and pa station not in the Zumo database showing up.  This was such a small station I had to give her my gallons and price after I was finished.  Also the receipt she gave me was just a credit card one for the total charge, it lacked the critical information for my fuel log and could kill my 1000 points I planned to get for a completed fuel log.  I asked her to sign it for me and I recorded the gallons, and price per gallon on the receipt.  It was the best I could do to document the problem and I wouldn't know until tomorrow if it would pass the scoring process.  Oh well time to move on to the ME bonus points and ride my ride.  I continued on ME 16 to Oquossoc, ME to take a photo of the fire station and record the phone number. 

I wisely elected to take the paved route, ignoring the shorter dirt road, to Mt Blue State Park to grab another bonus location on another beautiful ride.  I then followed on 142 to Dixfield, ME to grab a photo of the local library sign. 

This was pretty funny because the Silver Wing rider that left Northampton at the same time as I on his SS1000 passed me as I was getting my bonus photo!  I felt bad for him because he still had a ways to go to Bangor before he could head south to CT.  I was sure that I had planned a great ride, even if points were not at the big dog level.  After Dixfield I took 108 to 4 to 136 to the Freeport Library Bonus.  The ride was ok, but I really didn't enjoy the Auburn traffic and congestion was picking up.  I then had to pick up I195/I95 to Portsmouth, NH to visit Max's BMW dealership for a dinner break that included good bonus points and a free meal of hamburgers and hotdogs!
Max's is the major sponsor for the Minuteman 1000 and has been for several years.  Max and his brother actually entered the SS1000 this year to complete it for their IBA certification.  They were both all smiles that morning and chatted with me for some time, I think they wanted to sell be a BMW.  They finished the SS1000 and were honored at the awards brunch, and again were all smiles!  BTW there are two 2008 R1200RT with 1000+ miles on them for a great price available. 

I arrived at Max's at 6:15 PM and was the second rider they had seen.  I hung out with the other rider who was Mark Collins, on his 1972 HD with 208,000 miles on it!  Mark is a great guy and he competed in the 2007 IBR with his HD.  He is a purest and doesn't have a GPS and does all his planning with paper maps!  It was quite a contrast in bikes in front of the BMW dealership, an old HD and a farkled up Wing.  After a great free meal, and a quick call to the family I was ready to grab the next 3 bonus location on my primary planned route in NH.  I pulled out first leaving Mark to finish up his prepping and rode 101 to Manchester, NH then picked up 114 to 13 to grab a photo of Sacred Book Store. 

I continued on 13 to 136 to Francestown, NH historic library bonus, and then continued on 136 to Peterborough Town to grab a marker for the last 1 room brick school house in NH.  At this point it was almost 9:00 PM and the two lane roads that were fun in daylight were looking a bit more exciting then I was interested in.  I checked my arrival back at the hotel which put me there by 10:30 PM, so it left me the option to try for 3 more bonuses west of the hotel.  So I decided to go for it since I had plenty of time and felt pretty good.  I headed west by 101 to 9 to pick up I91S to take me back to Northampton.  From Northampton I took 66 west to grab a photo bonus of a train.  Well the route was in Zumo, but the road wasn't exactly as I thought it would be.  The route was suppose to be 26 miles from the interstate, only problem was the road was torn up for repairs and nicely flooded out in several locations.  I made it with in 9 miles of the location after bouncing along at 15 mph standing on my pegs and trying to see a clear path in the fog with a sloppy mess of a road.  After about an hour of this mess I said forget it I'm going back and closing my rally out on a high note verses adding something about a crash and $$$$ damage to my bike.

I pulled back into Northampton about 11:30 and grabbed a receipt from a gas station to document my final bonus which was a rest bonus.  At 3:00 AM I returned to the gas station for my ending receipt for my rest bonus and then went back to bed for a couple hours before checking in at 5:00 AM to officially end my rally within the 24 hour time limit.  I spent about and hour cleaning up my documentation and then headed off to be scored.  I went into scoring and claimed every bonus, including my fuel log, for a total of 13,375, finishing 14 out 25 finishers from the 37 registered (I didn't get a number for DNS or DNF).  I was very please with my score and more importantly I had fun.  I missed the top 10 by 1,350 points and in hindsight I could have probably grabbed more then that amount of points if I had continued on a path to Bangor, ME which had several more bonus locations to grab.  It was Rob and his great staff that made this possible and I was truely happy to be a finisher.  Thanks to everyone who helped me on the IBA forum over the past year and on LDRiders to prepare.

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