24 hour Rally – A Newb’s POV
June 17, 2005 – Start Day
The appointed start date of the Tenth Annual Alberta 2000 Endurance Rally rolled around and things were not getting off to a good start. I woke up about 3 hours earlier than I had planned and there was no way that I was going to be able to get back to sleep. Fine, I guess I’ll get my butt out of bed then and get my last few items squared away and loaded on the bike. Pretty much everything that I thought I would need for this ride had been assembled and packed the night before, and some of the stuff was already arranged on the bike. To really get my day off to a great start, I also had a bit of a headache to contend with, so I popped an extra-strength Advil Liqui-Gel, grabbed a cup of coffee and hoped that it did the trick – I did not want to get a migraine on this day of all days, as that would effectively end my Rally before I ever left the house to go to the start.
Rolled out of the driveway and headed off to the start location in Edmonton shortly after 10 in the morning, 2 hours before I had originally planned to leave, but really, when you are already caught up in your web-surfing and email and you’ve already got the bike packed, what else is there to do?
Got to the start location and found out that my electric vest was not working, so I decided I should look into that while I still had lots of time – turned out to be the blown fuse like I thought it might be. This was a half hour job to replace, as I had mistakenly put the fuse for the vest plug-in underneath the fuel tank (note to self – rewire the electric vest and move the fuse to a more accessible location). Everything worked fine after that. Once the Rallymaster and his lovely assistants arrived, I cold start with getting the Odometer check ride out of the way, and still have time to catch a nap before the 17:30 riders meeting.
~14:30hrs – check ride done, time for a nap
Ever try to have a nap when you are meeting a bunch of new riders and visiting with ones you’ve met before, all while hoping that your headache will go away and not get worse? (yes, I still had the headache, 6 hours and 3 Advil after I got up) Nap never happened, so I knew this was going to turn into a very long day.
Got the Rally package at the meeting and got down to pinpointing bonus locations and sorting out where I was going to go. This was tough, having never done it before, but I had one advantage in my favor – I knew that I wasn’t going to try to be competitive with the big dogs, my goal was just to finish the rally. I knew that I had to cover a minimum of 1600kms before I got to the finish, but how I was going to get that was my job, so I started plotting.
Mistake #1 – I really didn’t take the time that I should have to really look at where all the bonuses were, and how that related to the weather that was moving in.
I plotted a bunch of small bonuses that were all close together in the southeast corner of the province, with a couple of larger bonuses along the way, thinking that I could skirt the rain and get below it and then come around behind it on my return leg and grab a few more bonuses.
~21:40hrs – Electric vest failed. I suspect the fuse went again, but I decided that I wasn’t going to rip the bike apart on the side of the highway to check it. It wasn’t supposed to get all that cold, and I had layered well enough that if I stayed dry I would be alright. That was Mistake #2.
Then the rain hit me just south of Killam. Started as a light sprinkle but quickly turned into a deluge. Lost time in Consort looking for fuel and finally had to get back on the road and hope that I made it down to Hanna for my next bonus and a 24hr gas station. Wound up blowing off that bonus as the driving wind and rain made it far to dangerous to try to get the photo that I needed, so I headed into town, fighting to keep the bike upright and on the road. 5 minutes after I finished filling up, the rain stopped, so I put the liner back in my jacket, changed gloves and tossed some stuff out of my now damp tankbag and into the topcase where it would stay dry, then headed off to Drumheller and Rosedale for my next two bonuses. Took a break in Drumheller and had a bite to eat, then gassed up again to make sure that I could hit my next three bonuses (fortunately all close together) and get to Brooks for more fuel.
Things just weren’t going my way that night. At my second bonus stop after leaving Drumheller, I couldn’t find the sign that I needed, so I left and headed off to the next one, which was fairly easy to get. When I got to the next two though, they were both at the end of long, potholed muddy stretches of dirt road, so I said ‘to hell with it’ and headed to Brooks. After getting fuel, I holed up in the Tim Hortons to have a cup of tea and go over my map to look at the next section of my route. I had written down simple line directions on a piece of paper with the route number and bonus location along with the bonus code to keep in the map window of my tank bag (I found this easier to read and understand than trying to look at a map and sort out just where I was and where I was going), but this notesheet had gotten a little ‘damp’ in the downpour around Hanna and was no longer legible, so I needed to do some re-planning.
Fortunately, the rain stayed away while I traveled to Fort MacLeod for the bonus there, then all the way to Crowsnest Pass for that batch of points. I met up with Steve Broadhead there, and we both spent a good 15 – 20 minutes looking around for the sign that we needed before deciding that the one that we had originally found had to be the one, so we took our pictures then headed our separate ways.
Stayed dry all the way up highway 22 (not even realizing that that was one of the highways that was itself a bonus location – Doh!), but fatigue was starting to kick in with a vengeance and I had to stop at just about every roadside turnout to get off the bike and walk around a bit in order to wake myself up. Made it into Black Diamond at ~10:30/11:00 am and got gas. Had to duct tape a couple pieces of my bike together as well in order to keep them from falling off as the screws holding them down started to vibrate loose. Fortunately the parts are mostly cosmetic in nature and it wouldn’t be a terrible loss if one fell off and got destroyed (other than the hassle of trying to get replacement parts. Note to self – get a new bike!) While taping up the bike, I heard on the radio that the bridge in Okotoks was closed due to flooding – great, this was the way I was headed to get back to Calgary. I filled up with gas and decided to risk it anyway, knowing that I could always continue past Okotoks and take a different route if that one was closed.
Got to Okotoks and found that the bridge had been re-opened, but the traffic was crawling through at a snails pace. I was not happy about this, as I could see the clouds rolling in and wanted to get as far along my homeward leg as I could before the skies opened up and I got soggy again. Just at the south end of Calgary though, I got hit with the rain. Along with the rain were also very heavy winds, so I got myself out of the traffic and off of the road that was being repaved (thanks for all the grooves guysL I hate road construction) until the wind let up enough that I could continue on my way. At this point I decided to forgo any of the other 6 bonus locations that were on my planned route and instead concentrated on just getting the miles I needed to qualify as a finisher in the rally and get to the hotel at the end.
Finally rolled into the hotel parking lot shortly after 18:00hrs on June 18, soaked through to the skin and fighting borderline hypothermia from being soaking wet and cold for so long (note to self – get some Nikwax and treat the waterproof pants/jacket again. ) Getting off the bike was a real chore, as my legs didn’t want to work, nor did my hands, but I did manage it without outside assistance. Bob McKay then gave me the key to his room and sent me packing to have a hot shower and get warmed up and changed, which I did (Thanks Bob. Greatly appreciated). I then had something hot to eat and sorted through all my photos and bonus sheets and turned them in to the Rallymaster for scoring. My roommate had rolled in by this time, so we had a couple beers in the pub and shot a few games of pool then headed off to get some sleep at about 2am Sunday morning.
Why is it that even after being up for 36 hours and riding for almost 24 of that, fighting fatigue all the way, I was still able to kick back, have a couple beers and have some fun for another 8 hours? I still haven’t figured that one out.
At the dinner and awards on Sunday afternoon, I found out just where I had placed in the standings. After a few words of encouragement and praise for my accomplishment, I heard the words I never thought I would hear:
Did Not Finish.
I was floored. Turns out that I hadn’t gone far enough over the minimum distance shown on my odometer, and the corrected distance put me short by 44km. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. I was devastated. I had come into the rally knowing that I wasn’t likely to be competitive with most of the other riders, so my only real goal was to finish, which I didn’t (officially) achieve. I can say that I finished it though, as I did arrive at the final checkpoint within the allowed time, I was just a little short on miles (I had actually only gone 97.25% of the minimum required distance)
I’ll do better next year.
Count on it.
1983 Suzuki GS650GL (sold)
2005 Kawasaki KLR 650 (sold)
Last edited by Gadjet on Sun Jul 23, 2006 10:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.