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Thread: Iron Butt Rally 2017 - June 26-July 7 - Go Capo Go!

  1. #31
    apriliaforum expert Hellgate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by craigo298er View Post
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    wow, first time I've heard someone getting water intoxication in the summer down south. I've dehydrated myself on a 4hr trip before and it was not pleasant, and I had a gatoraid/water mix in a camelbak that I filled up again after 2 hours.
    I had a Soldier do that one summer. Didn't eat all day, but drank water all day. While pulling the charging handle of an M2 from the roof of a M113, he pasted out, and fell off. Once we learned he hasn't eaten, we made him drink the juice from an MRE ham slice, sure salt. 10 minutes later he was a new man. He still went to the rear to catch some AC and eat.

    OP, Nuun electrolight tabs are great. You can buy them at most grocery stores and cycling/running shops.

    Good luck!

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G900A using Tapatalk
    Pete

  2. #32
    apriliaforum expert ravenranger's Avatar
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    My actual route for leg 1 ended up looking like this:

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    1691 miles in ~2 days and 5.5 hours.


    On the water intoxication, basically I was hydrating the way I normally hydrate out west - taking a few sips every 5 minutes even if I'm not thirsty. That, along with salted seeds (I felt pretty dumb regarding the un-salted seeds), usually works really well. The having to pee every 50 miles should have been a clue that something wasn't right but, having not experienced water intoxication before and only having experienced dehydration, it just didn't occur to me that I was over-drinking. Humidity is just brutal when you aren't used to it!
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  3. #33
    apriliaforum expert ravenranger's Avatar
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    3:30AM

    beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep

    3:30AM, seriously?


    OMG, 3:30AM feels crazy early after two and a half longish days of riding. Especially when one is still feeling less than 100% after the whole water incident. But 3:30AM is when the alarm is set for in order to make it to the 4AM riders' meeting and get the next installment of points for leg 2.

    Most everyone else looks just as groggy as I feel, which is some consolation. It's no wonder folks are looking a little beat when one looks at the animation of the first leg:

    https://spotwalla.com/animator.php?id=429&idt=1

    The rally organizers have thoughtfully arranged a grab and go breakfast of burritos (bacon egg and cheese, egg and cheese), yogurt, and fruit. There's also a lot of coffee. We're admonished regarding speeding and reminded that sustained excessive speeds are grounds for disqualification. We are admonished that 20 over in Virginia is now ticketed as reckless driving and is a misdemeanor on a level with DUI. So, speeding is not a good idea and won't be tolerated.

    We're also given the new "string theory" for leg 2. Instead of matching sets, we're now putting together 4 out of 5 to get the combos. The 4th one we collect in the string will be tripled for points so figuring out a good order is important and could even include back-tracking <gasp>. The point values have also changed from leg 1 so we'll need to re-organize our organizing strategy from the previous leg.

    So, basically, there are 5 categories in the bonus book. I numbered mine to keep it simple. Air=1, Land=2, Mythical Creatures=3, Prehistoric=4, Water=5. This worked great in BaseCamp because it offers the option of numbers as symbols. I can also make the numbers 3 different colors. For leg 2 I used green for high points, blue for medium points, and red for low points. I then imported the poi's into my two gps's. Unfortunately, the gps's didn't care about the symbols I designated and simply put in dots. UGH. Fortunately, I had a nifty app on my phone called GPXViewer. When I loaded my poi's into it I could easily distinguish 1's from 5's and all the rest. YEAH!

    Here's what it looks like on my phone:

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    Obviously, I missed labeling a couple of points but that's of little consequence.

    Here's a zoomed in view:

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    We have from ~4:15AM on Thursday morning until 8PM on Saturday night to complete leg 2. We're informed that we should be shooting for a total of 25,000 points by the end of leg 2 to be on track for finishing. I managed to collect 9081 points (in only 1697 miles) in leg 1 so need to shoot for at least 16,000 points in leg 2. Thankfully, we do get points for resting (6 pts per minute for a rest break of not less than 4 hrs up to 8 hrs = 2880 pts if you do the full rest), keeping our tracking device active (1500), calling in during the call-in period (1500), and arriving back at Allen (1500). Basically we're looking at 7300 in "freebies" but, they're also easy to screw up and not get - bad receipts for your rest, messing up the time zone for the call-in or a garbled message, dead batteries on your spot tracker, not claiming the freebies on your score sheet, writing down the wrong time or odometer reading.....even the "freebies" aren't really free.

    By 4:30, we've all received our new bonus points packet and folks head back to their rooms. One can hear the buzz of computers booting up and see the gears turning in people's minds as we wrap ourselves around our new assignment and make a plan....

    I check the listing and see that the ART DOG in Shreveport (the GREEN 2 in the above picture - code LDS) is still a big bonus and decide that I really want to see that - it's unfinished business from leg 1, for sure. Now, to figure out how to get there. Right off the bat I see a clump of greens in south Texas. Hmmm.....South Padre Island looks promising.

    Here's the points listing for leg 2, what would you do?

    Code Points
    AAE 1
    AAS 173
    ABB 1
    ABC 423
    ABD 3266
    ABF 1
    ABG 1
    ABH 1
    ABN 1
    ABO 1
    ABU 114
    ABV 544
    ACB 1
    ACC 154
    ACM 257
    ACR 1
    ACY 54
    ADA 1
    ADD 1
    ADS 802
    ADW 1
    AEG 1
    AEL 1
    AEP 1
    AER 899
    AFB 1
    AFS 589
    AGB 643
    AGE 255
    AGL 903
    AHB 303
    AHP 1
    AKB 864
    AKF 1
    AKG 1
    ALD 1
    ALM 1
    ALQ 1
    ALR 1
    AMD 275
    AME 1
    AMK 1
    AMT 344
    AOG 143
    AOS 1399
    APC 912
    APH 522
    APJ 267
    APK 1
    APM 1
    APP 920
    APR 202
    ARL 221
    ARP 1
    ARR 328
    ARS 1
    ASA 174
    ASG 166
    ASK 135
    ASM 1
    ASO 1
    ASP 812
    ASS 1
    ASV 1
    ASW 825
    ATE 432
    ATL 113
    ATW 99
    AVC 1
    AWB 1
    AWW 1
    LAA 1
    LBA 1
    LBB 412
    LBC 175
    LBE 148
    LBF 555
    LBH 1
    LBI 1121
    LBJ 1
    LBK 1
    LBN 1
    LBO 832
    LBQ 511
    LBT 1
    LBU 1
    LBV 1
    LBW 382
    LBX 1
    LBY 1
    LBZ 1
    LCB 1
    LCC 155
    LCD 1
    LCE 1
    LCG 1
    LCH 267
    LCI 1
    LCM 543
    LCW 1
    LDA 1
    LDB 253
    LDC 210
    LDE 1
    LDF 1865
    LDO 320
    LDS 877
    LEA 482
    LEL 1
    LFR 306
    LGA 1
    LGB 1
    LGD 65
    LGH 1
    LGI 1
    LGM 1
    LGP 343
    LGR 1
    LGT 345
    LHD 1
    LHS 1
    LHU 1
    LJA 421
    LJB 414
    LJH 1
    LJU 350
    LJW 232
    LLL 1
    LLN 1
    LMB 322
    LMG 932
    LMJ 1
    LMO 1
    LMR 843
    LMW 1
    LNB 1
    LNL 1
    LNY 1
    LOB 1
    LOO 1
    LPB 1
    LPE 1
    LPG 1
    LPM 1
    LPN 167
    LPO 310
    LPX 620
    LRB 1
    LRC 1
    LRG 367
    LRR 1
    LSA 1
    LSF 1
    LSH 1
    LSM 236
    LSO 884
    LSP 1
    LSS 1
    LSV 1
    LTH 542
    LVB 1
    LWA 401
    LWB 362
    LWJ 311
    LWL 399
    MAD 742
    MAW 1
    MBB 1
    MBD 1
    MBF 1
    MBI 1
    MBO 1
    MBT 1
    MCB 722
    MCC 1
    MCD 101
    MCH 1
    MCL 1
    MDC 1
    MDD 1
    MDG 608
    MDP 1
    MFB 1
    MFC 128
    MFG 1
    MFM 1
    MFP 1
    MHB 688
    MHR 1
    MJC 775
    MJD 390
    MJG 124
    MKF 1
    MLA 428
    MLK 1
    MLO 422
    MLS 1
    MMD 1
    MPD 91
    MPP 1
    MRA 1
    MRF 1
    MRM 355
    MSA 643
    MSF 4283
    MSG 1
    MSM 1
    MSO 1
    MSV 1
    MTL 1
    MTS 1
    MVB 1
    MWC 1
    MWT 358
    PAG 1
    PBB 288
    PBC 834
    PBM 1
    PCC 101
    PCR 658
    PDA 602
    PDB 1
    PDC 131
    PDD 1
    PDE 747
    PDH 1
    PDK 1
    PDP 543
    PDR 1
    PDW 1
    PDY 475
    PER 412
    PFD 588
    PFH 321
    PGB 1
    PGR 113
    PIG 1
    PIN 1
    PJU 1
    PKC 83
    PLM 394
    PMA 1
    PMD 188
    PMH 420
    PMK 1
    PNH 1
    PNM 1255
    PPB 1
    PPD 1
    PPM 623
    PSJ 1
    PSM 1
    PSP 1
    PTR 995
    PWH 447
    PWM 1
    WAC 221
    WAE 1
    WAS 1
    WBA 1
    WBH 1
    WBL 1205
    WBR 1
    WBW 1465
    WCB 2854
    WCC 1
    WCD 1
    WCK 1
    WCL 380
    WCM 1
    WCR 231
    WCS 394
    WDA 137
    WDH 1
    WDO 1
    WDT 656
    WFA 203
    WFB 1
    WFC 409
    WFD 32
    WFI 612
    WFK 1
    WFM 432
    WFN 1
    WFO 1
    WFR 203
    WFS 1
    WFW 1
    WGC 1
    WGS 1
    WHC 1
    WKB 1
    WKM 1
    WKT 1
    WKW 2629
    WLA 279
    WLH 1
    WLS 1
    WMB 401
    WMC 1
    WMG 1
    WMH 155
    WMU 1
    WNF 1
    WOK 449
    WOP 1
    WOT 1
    WPG 1
    WPI 1632
    WPR 1
    WRB 523
    WRF 75
    WSA 1
    WSC 1
    WSD 1
    WSG 318
    WSL 1552
    WSM 1
    WSO 1
    WSR 184
    WST 185
    WTC 1
    WTL 272
    WTM 201
    WTT 1
    WTU 1
    WWA 1
    WWS 593
    Last edited by ravenranger; 08-09-2017 at 09:01 PM.

  4. #34
    apriliaforum expert ravenranger's Avatar
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    Here's what I came up with for Leg 2....

    I'll divide this up over several posts because the forum will only allow 10 pictures per post.

    Let's start with the planned route, which starts and ends in Allen - it's running roughly counter-clockwise:

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    And STRING 1:

    Leave the Allen check point and head south.

    188 points

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    306 points

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    864 points

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    1632 points (x3)

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    The key here is that WPI is a daylight only bonus so it's imperative to get to South Padre Island before dark.

    From there, the plan is to continue on to the first location in the next string (located in Corpus Christie) and take the rest bonus there. That will be a full day at ~850 miles but should be do-able.
    Last edited by ravenranger; 07-17-2017 at 06:22 PM.
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  5. #35
    apriliaforum expert ravenranger's Avatar
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    STRING 2 starts in Corpus Christie:

    523 points

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    a detour to Austin for 178 points

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    428 points

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    a back track of around 60 miles for 447 points (x3)

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    This involves back-tracking from Houston to Wharton. Is it really worth 57 points and almost 120 total miles to use the Wharton dino as the multiplier instead of the Houston Armadillo? Um.....let's see how we're feeling when we ride by.....

    It also includes that detour to Austin, adding close to 250 "extra" miles....
    Last edited by ravenranger; 07-17-2017 at 07:19 PM.
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  6. #36
    apriliaforum expert ravenranger's Avatar
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    And the final string leaves me scratching my head. I really, really want to go see LDS, the ART DOG in Shreveport (I've taken to calling him "SPOT"). So, how do I go see Spot? I've put together the start of a string but can't quite figure how to get Spot to be the multiplier....

    318 points

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    221 points

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    877 points

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    There just isn't anything nearby that's a different category. I could do a big detour up to Paris, Texas for a bonus that's there but, that starts pushing the night time only window on Spot and adds a couple hundred extra miles. I spend too much time playing with routing trying to get this to work before finally deciding to get going and head for South Padre Island. I'm still good for time to make that daylight bonus and then cut up to Corpus Christie for the night.

    As it stands I'm looking at 10135 points (not counting the freebies) and 1826 miles. Time to head out.

    First stop, the mammoth pit in Waco!
    Last edited by ravenranger; 07-17-2017 at 10:03 PM.
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  7. #37
    apriliaforum expert ravenranger's Avatar
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    Typically collecting bonuses is a matter of following your GPS to a location. Looking around to find the thing you're looking for. Pulling out your camera and your rally flag. Throwing your flag over the windscreen of your bike with the thing you're looking for in the background. Then, snap the photo, put the camera and rally flag away, and make a note of the time and odometer reading. Once you've done that, it's side-stand up and on to the next location. With practice, this maneuver can be accomplished in two minutes or less. Five minutes if you're particularly slow.

    Unless....


    There's a twist....

    The Waco Mammoth National Monument is a fascinating site. Twenty-four Columbian Mammoths have been found here in what has been determined to be a "nursery" herd. In other words, the mammoths fossilized here are moms and babies. The scientist aren't completely sure what happened to cause this many mammoths to find their demise at the same time in the same location but, based on what they have observed, it appears that this herd wandered into a mud bog, got stuck, and couldn't get out. Probably one of the most touching aspects of this mammoth disaster was that the moms had their babies cradled in their tusks. The scientist interpreted this as an attempt by the moms to lift the babies out of the mud bog. Wow, who knew....

    And that, my friends, is a twist. The first bonus of the day and I'm greeted with a tour that only starts on the 1/2 hour. Did I mention it's a walking tour? In Waco, TX, at noonish in June? And, I'm there on the quarter hour so have to wait for the next tour? Oh, and let's not forget that I'm in full riding gear. It's important to look like a spaceman whilst visiting out of the way places. Hmmm.....is this really worth only 188 points? Why yes, yes it is. (In fairness, when the location was originally scouted, the walking tour was not part of the exhibit and one could simply stroll to the excavation building and take a peek. Typically the organizers are kind enough to give higher bonus points for things that are more challenging to achieve, especially for things that are considered time-sucks.)

    This, my friends, is most definitely a time-suck, an interesting time-suck but, a time-suck none-the-less.

    Hmm, that daylight bonus in South Padre Island is not looking like such a sure thing right now as I sit, in the sun, in Waco and sip on my electrolyte enhanced hydration as sweat seeks escape routes under my riding suit....

    Finally the previous tour ends and I'm greeted by a half dozen of my compatriots, looking just a bit haggard and sun-worn in their array of vibrant riding gear. Yellows, reds, blues, and blacks seem most popular. Several of the "civilians" in my tour group inquire about our colorful adornment and want to know "isn't it hot?" "Well, I suppose it's cooler than laying on asphalt and we'd really like to avoid laying on asphalt." Folks chuckle and agree, better safe than sorry. I pass out extra packets of electrolytes to my fellow aliens as they fill their various containers and soak their neck-wraps and bandannas in water. They wave and scurry off to the next bonus as I head down the trail on the tour.

    It ends up being over 45 minutes collecting this bonus and I've still around 530 miles to go. Onward to the Freer, Texas rattlesnake but I'm crossing the humidity line into the dry hotness that I'm used to. Even at 105 it's doesn't feel as bad, to me, as Missouri had.

    That was not the case for one of my fellow riders, whom I came across at a gas station in Nixon, TX. They looked as beat up as I'd felt during leg one. We chatted for a few minutes and they were clearly having a hard time and convinced they'd totally messed up. They kept packing and unpacking a few things on their bike and muttering how there just wasn't enough daylight. They'd hoped to make it to Corpus Christie in daylight. They'd not gotten hung up at the Mammoth tour but did get hung up in traffic for a different bonus. I asked where they were headed next and they said the rattlesnake in Freer.

    "Great, I'm headed that way, too, and then on down to the border and South Padre Island."

    "That one's daylight only, you won't make it."

    "I know it will be close. Worse case, I figure I'll take my rest bonus there and get South Padre in the morning. I'll use the time to see if I can figure out how to get the dog in Shreveport to be my mulitplier."

    "Daylight is tomorrow, too," says my befuddled friend. Their countenance brightens, "Daylight is tomorrow, too!"

    "Yep, that's what I'm counting on," says I.

    I hand them a couple of packets of electrolytes and encourage them to add them to their hydration container and take a few minutes to cool off a bit more before heading on. I see them later at the rattlesnake and their mood and demeanor is significantly better as they continue on their own safari.

    It's so easy to get into one track on this thing and not be able to see other possibilities. I keep reminding myself of this as I journey on, through the west Texas heat, towards a killer bee in Hidalgo, Texas. I purposely choose the Farm to Market roads and enjoy the solitude. I'm very thankful the bee is an anytime bonus as I watch the sun slipping closer and closer to the horizon....
    Last edited by ravenranger; 07-18-2017 at 12:01 PM.
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  8. #38
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    I turn on to Hwy 281 just north of McAllen, TX. Quite a change from the little FM roads I was just on. On the map, 281 looks like any other Texas highway but, similar to 69 in Oklahoma, it is a 4 lane road that isn’t limited access but has a speed limit of 75 mph. Imagine, if you will, huge semi trucks barreling along at 75 mph in the right lane as lesser beings in jelly-bean colored plastic cages zip along even faster in the left and an old, beat-up farm truck chugging out of a driveway at 12 mph with no merge lane. That is Hwy 281 coming into McAllen. Too much swerving, shuffling, and switching of lanes with few turn signals to give a clue as to intentions. Throw sunset into the mix and, yikes! Better bring your "A" game.

    It gets fully dark as I maneuver my way through McAllen towards Hidalgo’s killer bee. I’m not far from my quarry when I see an undulating form crossing the road. To my amazement, it’s an otter. Yes an otter in south Texas. Who knew? I wonder if I’m hallucinating....

    At the killer bee, I’m taking a photo when another rider approaches looking like a UFO with riding lights full blaze and a suited, helmeted pilot on board. They dismount and take a photo from several angles as I finish up my log entry and prepare to depart. Yet another of us arrives just as I’m cranking up to leave. During the first leg, on my journey to Allen, I didn’t see anyone else after the group photo until I ran into the staff people in Oklahoma. Today, I’ve clearly picked a much more popular route. Now, onward to South Padre Island, it’s only 90 miles and I should make it in around 11:30PM only two and half hours after dark. Well, at least there’s daylight tomorrow....
    Last edited by ravenranger; 07-18-2017 at 04:07 PM.
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  9. #39
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    I’ve been up since 4AM but am not the least bit tired as I come into South Padre Island. The 90 miles since Hidalgo have been full of traffic and speed traps. Plus, I’m hungry. Not just hungry - hungry, hungry. It’s the most hungry I’ve been since before the rally started. If there’s a fish shack open, I’m stopping. This is terribly ironic considering I don’t particularly like fish but, fish is all I can think about as I come into South Padre Island. And there are plenty of fish shops there on the Gulf, unfortunately, it’s just late enough that none of them are open.

    I continue on and find a hotel that’s practically in the parking lot of Jaws. Good, I won’t have far to go in the morning. I get checked in and resign myself to ordering a pizza since none of the little restaurants are open after 9. I’ll dial the 800 number on the room key and get transferred to the local joint where I get “Hello, hello, can’t hear you,” and the click of disconnection. I try again and get the same thing. It’s a quarter of midnight and they close at midnight and I suspect that they’ve already done the closing clean and were ready to walk out the door early. I call one more time and the person that answers says they close at midnight. I say, “Great and and I’d like to place an order.” “Oh no,” is the reply, “We’re closed.” I check my clock and it’s 11:55. Can’t say I really blame them though, it’s late on a Thursday night and they probably haven’t had an order since 10. Looks like it’s the burger joint across the street.

    The drive thru is open 24 hours. Here’s the catch, you actually have to drive through to use the drive thru. No pedestrians allowed. I find this out after I walk over to place an order. Ugh, is there no way to get something to eat? I go back to my room, put on my boots and helmet, then grab my keys. Now, out to the bike, crank it up, pull out of parking, pull out onto the street, go up a block to do a u-turn and then, head to the drive thru. Make my order, collect my order, and am thankful that I had the foresight to mount a cup-holder on the handlebars. I then pull out, go a block up the street the other direction and make another u-turn to get back to the hotel. BTW, that national chain has excellent receipts and I ended up using that for the start of my rest bonus.

    I get back to the room and begin munching on a burger and fries as I crack open the laptop and start the search for a way to make Spot a multiplier. I have a bone to pick with Spot, ok, not really a bone but definitely unfinished business from Leg 1. I want to see Spot. Spot has somehow become my holy grail of the rally. I pull up Basecamp and start playing with waypoints. Um, nope, that combo doesn’t work. No, that’s not good either since Spot is nighttime only. There has to be a way....

    I’m looking back and forth between Basecamp on my computer, where I’m getting the spinning wheel of endless processing, and GPXViewer on my phone. And then, in that moment where I’m about to give up, I see it. I see a way to make Spot the last in a string. But wait, that can’t be. It can’t be that simple. I close and re-open Basecamp and put in my newly envisioned route. Yes, it works. How is it possible to cut out bonuses, ride fewer miles, and make more points? I can hardly believe it but it’s true. I’ve found a way to make Spot the end of the string AND get more points with fewer miles. I have a great night’s sleep after that.

    Here’s a picture of my “view” from the hotel. Beautiful poolside location with a water view that isn’t really evidenced from the night shot....

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    but, in the morning....

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    How many people get to say they slept at the beach during the Iron Butt Rally? Ok, actually quite a few of us did this year but, it is kind of cool to have done so. In fact, there’s another rider’s bike sitting under the portico, near mine, when I come out the next morning.

    Morning starts with getting a receipt to match my receipt from the previous night to get the full 8 hours. There’s time for a cup of coffee as I wait for the few minutes after 8 to arrive. Each of those minutes is worth six points and I don’t want to miss a single one. AFTER getting the receipt, I take a photo of Jaws. We aren’t allowed to collect points during our rest bonus so the order of operations is important here. Then, I make a phone call. Yep, the call-in bonus window is open from midnight this morning until noon today. It’s so easy to get that messed up, especially with the rest bonus in the mix, too. During the call-in bonus you have to report your name (you’d think that would be easy but....), your rider number (ditto), your location (don’t forget the state), the last bonus you collected and the next bonus you’re planning to collect. We’re encouraged to check the message after leaving it to make sure it isn’t garbled. We’re also encouraged to call more than once, just in case. On the first try, I forget to hit the replay button to listen to the message I left. Better call again. The second try I think it’s okay. Later on, as I’m riding towards Rockport, it occurs to me that I may have forgotten to say what state I’m in. So, I stop and call again even though, as far as I know, South Padre Island and Corpus Christie are only in Texas.

    209 miles to the big blue crab in Rockport, TX, just outside of Corpus Christie. 209 miles of those weird four lane highways that aren’t really expressways but kind of are and just as tiring. There’s the promise of 75 mph quickness that gets one’s hopes up but they’re just as suddenly dashed by bottlenecks, traffic, and stoplights. Still, it’s a beautiful day with a slight bit of cloud-cover so the ride to Rockport isn’t bad.

    I'm in excellent spirits since finding my way to get Spot as a multiplier. The solution also solved the "problem" of backtracking to the dinosaur in Wharton. It's now part of the string instead of the end of one. Plus, I've cut out the "detour" to Austin. Here's what I'm doing:

    WRB - the Rockport Beach Big Blue Crab
    PWH - the Dinosaur in Wharton
    MLA - the Armodillo in downtown Houston
    LDS - Spot! Yay! Spot! in Shrevesport

    I know what you're thinking....I thought the same....there's no way this works for points....it can't possibly be that simple. But, yes, it's true. I'll get an extra 100 points for doing less bonuses (bonii?) and have a relatively short day of 633 miles. Then, there's really nothing to collect between Shreveport and Dallas. All I have to decide is if I'm willing to endure another ride on Hwy 69 for the group picture near Tulsa. It's a lot of points and do-able but it's just not a route I really have any need to ever ride again after my journey in Leg 1. Maybe it would be better to make my run up to Shreveport, get a good night's sleep and then only take the smallest country roads I can find as I make my way back to Dallas for the check point at the end of the second leg.

    But first, the trip to Houston....

    I've crossed over the humidity line and the wonderful cloud cover that got me to Rockport has disappeared. It's hot. It's humid. It's four lane expressway, at least it's that weird four lane, 75mph, madness that passes for an expressway. I'm convinced the Texas legislature came up with this craziness as a means of population control but I soldier on because Mr. Garmin is convinced that it's the best way to get from Rockport to Wharton to Houston to Shreveport.

    There's construction in Wharton at the Dinosaur Park and Mr. Garmin is completely flummoxed by the fact that the road he wants isn't currently a road at all. I manage to navigate around the bridge and get my photo and then find some shade. The Capo has become more Goldwing-like the longer I've been in Texas and now has a propensity for finding Dairy Queens. I'm quite impressed with this transformation in my ride and, sure enough, the Capo finds a DQ with a giant shade tree and insists on pulling in. The beast has developed quite the personality over the course of the rally (as if there wasn't already quite a personality). Now that she's hit her stride, her determination is laudable. BTW, she really likes pie, too. See, Goldwing-like....

    From Wharton, the Capo and I head toward Houston. Did I mention I've managed to time this absolutely perfectly so that I'm coming into Houston just at rush hour? Yes, rush hour in Houston. At least I'm headed into town, I don't even want to think about getting out of town. Fortunately, I'm rewarded for my endeavor. Turns out that the Goode Company Armadillo Palace is sitting right smack-dab at a BBQ joint. My friends are tickled when I send a check-in message via my spot tracker saying, "Hallelujah, we finally got a BBQ bonus!" While I'm there, one of the two-up teams arrives for their photo op. We exchange greetings and try and decide whether to grab some BBQ. We're on the clock and time is always of the essence but, it's rush hour and it's BBQ! I'd just been at the DQ in Wharton and they'd also recently eaten as well but the fragrant aroma wafting in the early evening beckoned us in. Despite my humidity drench riding gear, I clumped inside and ordered up some brisket. Fortunately, for other diners, there was porch seating. Yum. Never has brisket tasted quite so tasty as it tasted there in Houston. I have a few bites and walk some brisket out to my compatriots who were doing the sun-muddled pack and re-pack we all seem to do when we get over-hot and over tired. They'd decided against taking the time for BBQ but the proffered brisket was met with joy and devoured with gusto. We all check the traffic and debate hanging out a bit longer. I decide to make a run for it, get geared up and head on. They were headed for Florida and were still arranging gear as I left.
    Last edited by ravenranger; 07-19-2017 at 12:35 AM.
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  10. #40
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    Hwy 69/59 is not too far from the armadillo and I meander through surface streets to get to the nearest on ramp. It’s only 250 miles to Shreveport and finally seeing Spot. I pull on and find myself immediately in a parking lot. Nothing is moving. Ok, it’s moving by inches. The off ramp lane is open and I don’t even bother to merge in and head for the next exit. I ask Mr. Garmin for a detour. Ha, it’s like talking to a brick. I do a bit more meandering on almost empty city streets and see a sign for the Hwy 69/59 EXPRESS. I follow the signs and find myself on an empty on-ramp that leads to what’s basically a very long bridge that runs above the highway all the way out to the perimeter. Here I am, riding through the sky, whilst below I can see eight lanes across of nothing but parking lot from downtown all the way out of town. Near the perimeter is a car fire that has closed down everything. Being down there in that mess, especially with the heat and humidity, could definitely be a rally ender for riders. Fortunately, I’d ordered a Texas toll pass before the rally and have it adhered to my windshield so taking the express is not only easy but legal, too. Definitely some of the best money spent on the rally.

    Stopping for gas, again. Seems like I’m always stopping for gas. About every 200 miles, just to be on the safe side. I should have around 250 miles on a tank but I’ve never run it to empty and don’t know for sure. I sure don’t want to find out the hard way the exact amount so I’ve resigned myself to stopping every 200ish miles for gas. I’m on the road to Shreveport and there, at the gas station, is my friend from yesterday’s gas station in West Texas. I pull in and tap my horn. They look up, break into a huge grin, giving me a thumbs-up. “You saved my rally yesterday, thanks so much,” they call out. I laugh and give a thumbs-up back. “No, seriously, I was toast and you really turned it around for me.”

    It’s funny. Long distance riding is such a solitary sport. There are so many hours on the road with just you and your thoughts floating about in your helmet. Yet, in a rally, we find ourselves as part of a team even though we don’t ride together and may not see each other from the start to the finish. Yes, we all want to do well and, in the end, there’s always a bit of competition regarding who’s collected the most points or who was most efficient. But, each of us knows exactly how much each of us has sacrificed to be there, especially in the Iron Butt Rally, because each of us has sacrificed to be there. Whether it’s the hours and hours of bike prep or the hours and hours of routing practice or the hours and hours of riding practice. We’ve all done it, as we are able, in preparation for this strange bucket-list endeavor. We’ve all dreamed big and worked hard and swallowed down the swarms of butterflies that threaten to come pouring out at every turn. We’ve overcome the self-doubt and saved our pennies and pulled in our support networks. There’s something about encountering a kindred spirit during the rally that gives us that extra bit of something that keeps us going or opens our thoughts to alternative routes. Whether it’s a friendly word or shared BBQ or a thumbs up at the gas station, we’re pulling for each other and hoping to see everyone who started getting their plaque at the finisher’s banquet.

    I start pumping gas and ask where they’re going. They plan to visit Art (a.k.a Spot), in Shreveport, and then ride all night to get to Tulsa for the group photo. “I’m headed to Shreveport, too, but I think I'm skipping the photo. Already been down that road and I’d rather explore some back roads back to Dallas.” We each run a different rally even with the same book. Some can’t resist the lure of competition. Some can’t resist the lure of an unknown road. Some are just curious to see places they haven’t seen before. Some are driven to test themselves against themselves, whilst some test themselves against others. No matter the reason, each of these hundred different rallies occurring within the over-all rally are incredible accomplishments in their own right.

    Did I mention I tend towards becoming a bit of a philosopher when spending too much time in my helmet? Now, onward to Shreveport, I have a dog to see....
    Last edited by ravenranger; 07-28-2017 at 12:11 PM.
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  11. #41
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    See Spot sit.

    Just couldn’t resist that.

    I’d read the rally book description, “’Art’ is a 19-foot-tall statue of a Dalmatian dog.” but somehow 19-foot-tall just really hadn’t registered. Art (a.k.a. Spot) is big, really big. Art is almost as big as the grin that spreads across my face as I rolled around the slight curve and catch sight of him. It was definitely worth coming to see Spot sit. I pull into the off-camber driveway and find myself slightly off kilter. The four-lanes have taken so much energy and I'm tired. I can’t quite put my side-stand down where I’m at and I don't want to risk dropping the bike so crank back up and pull on into the parking lot, do a u-turn and re-set myself for my photo of Art. Looking at Art, I’m just giddy with how big he is. Somehow I was expecting a dog that was larger than life but maybe waist high at best. Instead, Art is almost as tall as the building where he sits. He’s especially compelling in the night with his pale luminescence and glowing spots. I’m so happy to finally be here, three nights late but here none-the-less. I pull out my rally flag and camera and snap my picture. I want one with the bike to get the sense of scale. I chuckle at myself amazed at my amazement at Art's size. My face hurts from grinning.

    Seeing Art has rejuvenated me and I seriously consider doing the night ride towards Tulsa. The group photo is at noon the next day in Catoosa, OK (near Tulsa). It’s not that far from Allen to make the check point and I could theoretically put together a string to make it’s 1205 points worth triple. I spend a few minutes poking around my computer. 528 miles and three anytime bonuses is do-able and I’m feeling good. I could also just do 365 miles and at least get the 1205 for the group photo even without a string. I do some considering and think about Hwy 69. No matter what I do, there’s no by-passing Hwy 69. I think about how miserable I was on day three. I think about all the 4 lanes I’ve done the last two days. I think about there still being six days to go after the checkpoint. Plus, there’s still tomorrow’s riding to do. But, there's also the lure of points. Jumping up the list a few places would be really nice. More points now, lowers the threshold for the next leg. We all have a streak of competitive in us and it's a potent siren's song. What would make me happy? What would give me a boost for the second half? What do I want? Is it Hwy 69 or something different?

    I crank the bike, take one last look at Art, grin from ear to ear and make my decision....
    Last edited by ravenranger; 07-28-2017 at 12:14 PM.
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  12. #42
    apriliaforum expert ravenranger's Avatar
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    I’m probably not the typical rallynista.

    Back in ’97 I was in a pretty bad crash. Okay, it was a really bad crash. Someone turned left in front of me and I ended up smashing my leg into pieces. Crushed the tib/fib and broke the femur above the knee. I was fortunate that a big-shot LA surgeon had just moved out to the middle-of-nowhere Georgia to do Orthopedics for the Georgia Southern University football team and to escape the crazy malpractice insurance in California. He had the latest and greatest implant devices shipped out and managed to reconstruct my shattered bones with plates and rods and screws. His work saved me 8 to 10 weeks of traction for the femoral break as well as probable amputation of the lower leg.

    Despite an amazing surgeon, the recovery was a tough haul. I spent almost three years on crutches as the tibia slowly mended. The rod supported the surprisingly quick healing femur. The fibula is still apart as it was never fixed. The surgeon called it the “extra” bone and said not to worry about it. The x-rays kind of make one's stomach turn. I made it through those three years in surprisingly good spirits. Yes, there were difficult times and I’d get frustrated and angry. I developed an irrational fear of lightning - I had a rod, after all (it’s since been removed and the fear of lightning left with it).

    To make it through, I did a lot of counting. Counting steps from the car to the door. Counting steps from the door to the bathroom. Counting steps from the bathroom to the counter. Counting, counting, counting. Each swing of the crutches was another number, another step. Sometimes those steps were really big ones, counting the steps across the stage at the University graduation. Sometimes they were small ones, counting steps to the porch to watch the sunset. Somehow that counting made it easier to go just one more. One more step than the last time. One more step the next time. I’d get so tired but I also learned the importance of resting and then counting some more. I learned to be patient, even though it’s really hard to be patient. I learned a little bit about resilience.

    I bring this up not for your sympathy but to talk a little bit about competition. Out there on the Iron Butt Rally, there’s definitely competition. Otherwise, why go to so much trouble to collect points that have been arbitrarily assigned to locations that most people will never even know exist. The question is, what or who are you competing against?

    Many of us have big dreams of not only finishing but actually being competitive. You know, we really, deep down, kind of want to win it. We’ve watched the Iron Butt movies (believe it or not, there are two of them) and we’ve read the stories of all the great riders who’ve tested their mettle and left either themselves or their bikes smoldering ash-heaps at the side of the road. They then pick themselves up and dust themselves off and build some semblance of a bike from the rubbish heap, making piston rods out of drill bits, or buying someone’s bike out of a barn to make a frankenbike and they hobble their way to the finish line despite broken bodies and broken bikes. We cheer those who strap car batteries to the seat of their bike to overcome their burnt out stator and valiantly continue on, through the darkness towards the finish line, arriving well past the penalty window and getting a DNF but all the more a hero despite not finishing. We see the amazing rides and number of miles that the top finishers put together and wonder if we could, by any stretch of the imagination, breathe that rarified air of the podium finish. We share the devastation of those who have to make the dreaded call to the rally master and report that they just aren’t going to make it back in.

    There’s no doubt about it, the Iron Butt Rally is hard. The Iron Butt Association motto is “World’s Toughest Riders” and we wear that toughness as a badge of honor. But, I would argue, that perhaps just as valuable is that other definition of toughness, resilience. That ability to take the various misfortunes, missed daylight windows, mammoth tours, bird strikes, busted bits, super storms, and take them in stride - just a step, another step, one more step. To take stock and remember it’s a game and games are fun. To be patient, both with one’s self and the circumstances. To reconsider and readjust goals, goals that were arbitrary to begin with. To listen and to just be.

    And so, I am not a typical rallynista (as if there really is a typical rallynista because we all bring really different realities and histories to this rally, to this challenge). The Iron Butt Rally is hard, but it's not as hard as counting steps can be and counting steps can get one a long way and through some pretty hard stuff. And so I count steps. My rally points me towards remembering why I like to ride in the first place - just one more step. I find myself drawn to places I want to go rather than places I feel like I ought to go - one more step. I want to find the pretty roads to get there - one more step. I know I need to rest a little more and ride a few fewer miles - one more step. To let go of the numbers, even though I really like numbers, and grab hold of the moments. Counting, counting, counting. Just one more step. One more step. One more step.

    Counting....
    Last edited by ravenranger; 07-20-2017 at 10:19 AM.
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    I grab a hotel in Shreveport. A good night’s sleep is a just reward for finally seeing Art (a.k.a. Spot). There’s only around 200 miles to Allen for tomorrow, no bonuses along the way so why not be rested for the start of LEG 3? Competition stomps over to the corner of the hotel room and pouts for a while. Seriously, it really felt like dealing with a two year old having a temper tantrum. But, I brought out the big guns - PIE. There’s been no pie on this rally thus far and only a tiny bit of brisket. It’s definitely high time for pie. Isn’t that why motorcyclists ride? I’m also sick to death of four lanes. I debate pulling out the computer to pull up the map and get a rough idea of the smallest two lanes I can find. I know I'll have a little ways on I-20, but if I hit the Texas welcome center I can grab a paper map and then wander my way back to Allen without Mr. Garmin. I set my alarm for 10 and plan to sleep in before going on my quest for pie.

    As I have every morning since the rally started, I wake up early. This morning it’s 6. I roll over, go back to sleep and wake up at 7. There’s no reason to get into Allen too early and this hotel room is paid for until noon but I’m not sleepy. May as well use this time to think about LEG 3. I pop open the computer. Where will I go? What will the points look like? What will the combo and multiplier be? Where would I like to go? I pull up the GPXViewer and look at the big picture.

    So far, the point lists have made it pretty obvious where the rally creator doesn’t want us to go. There’s lots of 1 point locations that are on the way to nowhere. But, we’re going to have six days to explore for LEG 3. What does the rally creator (no, more like rally engineer) want us to do? What will he tempt us with? What is possible but improbable? What will the combo be?

    Let’s see, three of a kind, a run of four, that sounds like playing cards. What’s the best hand in cards? Royal flush? Not possible since we don’t have “face” cards. Straight flush? Five cards in sequence is evil but that doesn’t really seem possible since we technically have suits but not numbers but we could do a run of five instead of the four we did in LEG 2. Four of a kind? We just did a run of four and I’m sure it will be something that requires five. Full house? Three of a kind and two of a kind.....hmmm. That’s interesting.

    I’m looking at Vermont and New Hampshire and Maine because I’ve never ridden in the northeast. Riding up there is another bucket-list item and it’d be fun to check that box during the rally. Of course, it might be more fun to have the time to wander a bit up there. I see Nova Scotia and Newfoundland teasing out there. That’s an adventure for sure. Is it possible? A quick check of ferry times and some rudimentary routing and it kind of is possible using either of the probable "5 card" combos if someone decides straight away, makes the reservation, and gets out the door. That someone is definitely not me but I’m thinking it’s possible. It really will depend on the points.

    I think about riding the northeast during the 4th of July. It may not be too bad since it’s not a weekend day but traffic is always an issue east of the Mississippi. I check the weather predictions for the coming week. No storms to speak of but high humidity and hot.

    I check the group photo location for LEG 3. It’s on Thursday in North Dakota. I check the 5 day forecast and the weather looks good out west. Well, it’s all guessing until we get the points list and that won’t be until tomorrow. For now, it’s time to head towards Dallas and enjoy a day of country road riding.

    It clearly poured down rain overnight. I think of my friend who'd planned to ride through to Tulsa and hope they had a safe journey and missed the rain. I check my weather app and see that there's ribbons of rain between me and Dallas but nothing too major and, for now, the sky is clear and the air has the post-rain sparkle. It's going to be a great day. I hit I-20 and get into Texas, pick up a paper map at the welcome center and refold it for my tank bag. There's just something about a paper map and dead reckoning that Mr. Garmin can never replace.

    The ride to Allen is fantastic. I find the tiniest little grey lines I can while Mr. Garmin pouts, perched on the handle bar like a mad bird, continuously "recalculating". I'm now quite happy that my helmet headset refused to recharge on the first day and it's just the sound of the motor and the sky in my ears. I hear the redwing blackbirds warble hello as I pass by fields and farms. Danged if that isn't a wild turkey in that stand of trees. I smell the dampness of the night's rain and watch the black clouds forming on the horizon. I zig and zag through the countryside, finding the smallest roads. There's no better way to remember why we ride than getting lost on the backroads. About 40 miles out from Allen the skies open up and the rain-band I've been zig-zagging around finally gets to beat it's drums and clash it's cymbals. My bug-encrusted riding suit gets a good wash down but, while it's soaked on the outside, it stays dry on the inside. My left boot's waterproofing is overcome by the wind-blown rain but it's not too bad and I continue on toward the ever darkening sky. A crack of lightning that's much too close convinces me to seek shelter under a gas station ramada as I'm coming into Quinlan, TX and I could use some gas anyway. I meet a rider on a Kawasaki ZRX (love that old-school look) who's headed out on a camping trip. We chat for a while as the storm passes over and then head out in opposite directions as the sky begins to clear.

    I get into rally head-quarters early but I have an oil change to do and need to adjust the chain so a little extra time is not a bad thing. I get my paperwork squared away and ready for the 5pm check-in. I feel refreshed after such a great day of riding, even without finding pie, and am ready for the second half. Quite a bit different than the end of leg one. Note to self, stick to the country roads.

    I end up with 17663 points in 1520 miles for the leg and jump up in the list a ways. Nice numbers for LEG2 but the moments, the moments count for so much more.

    Like I said, I'm probably not the typical rallynista....
    Last edited by ravenranger; 07-20-2017 at 10:47 AM.
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  14. #44
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    The actual LEG 2 route ended up being this:

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    Sunday’s 4AM riders’ meeting doesn’t seem to be nearly so early as the last one. Yesterday’s “fun” day and decent point count at the end of LEG 2 buoys me and the self-doubt I’ve carried since I put in for the draw, almost 2 years ago, drops away. I’m here. I’m doing it. I’m half way through the IBR and I’m doing ok. The Capo is great. I’m having fun.

    The new string theory is introduced. Holy smokes, I guessed right. It’s going to be a “full-house” of 3 of a kind, 2 of kind with every 5th bonus in the string worth 4x’s the point listing. Much discussion and explanation ensues as questions percolate through the gathering. People want to know if the bonuses have to be in order and we're assured that the 5 can be collected in any order so long as they included three of one thing and two of another but to be sure that we get the highest one last because that's the multiplier. Several want to know if a bonus is screwed up and not credited will it shift the string, or re-start the count of five. The scoring algorithm starts with the first five and then moves to the next five until it hits a repeat and then it will restart it's count. Someone asks if we can put in a "dummy" bonus to create an artificial repeat and trigger the algorithm to restart it's count of five. Wow, now there's a twist. While our brilliant rally puppet-master had anticipated a lot of things in this rally, I'm not sure he'd anticipated that. In fact, we get a follow-up email spelling out in no uncertain terms that unvisited bonuses (a.k.a. "dummy" bonuses) claimed on the score sheet would be grounds for disqualification.

    Meanwhile, I glance around at “the big dogs” and see them practically levitating in their seats. I imagine they’re dying to get their hands on the bonus listing, which we still haven’t seen and the clock is ticking. No one yet knows what the actual point values are but as the discussion ensues we’re admonished again about speeding and reminded that there is an especially large moose population in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. Although, I’m still not sure if that meant that the moose are especially large or the population is large or both. Either way, I've no desire that any of us get close enough to find out and tap wood that all stay safe. The moose are either a big clue as to where bunches of points will be found or a merciless tease. We’ll find out soon enough.

    We get the LEG 3 packets and there are a few more questions fielded before we get the okay to open them. There’s a flurry of page fluttering that sounds almost like Sunday morning when the preacher quotes the Bible and folks fan through theirs to check the source. Given that it’s Sunday morning and everyone is as solemn as church, it seems an appropriate analogy.

    Sure enough, there’s a handful of super-size bonus points in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. But, beyond that, I need to process the points and throw them on the map for a better picture. We’re dismissed from the rider meeting and there’s not quite the same buzz of “ready to go” as there was at the start of LEG 2. Folks have quite a bit of mulling to do and there are still many questions being asked. Those who’d already made some correct guesses will, no doubt, be on their bikes and on their way before the majority of us have even gotten our data sorted. This promises to be a great second half and I’m almost envious of the folks watching the spot trackers online, like I’ve done so many times myself. Almost....

    GPXViewer is, once again, a protagonist in my story as Mr. Garmin takes on a supporting role. Whilst I was playing with ideas yesterday, I also re-organized my organizing scheme to make routing on the fly a bit easier. The last two legs, I simply named the coordinates in my digital file by combining their three letter rally book code with their point value. It occurred to me that it would be helpful to know, at a glance, if it were a daylight only bonus, an anytime bonus, or if there were special extra instructions involved. In preparation for that, since each leg has been the same coordinates, I’d gone through the book and marked each one in my digital file with a “.” for daylight only, a “-“ for anytime, an “x” for extra info, an “n” for nighttime, an “m” for motorcycle in picture, and “gp” for group photo. Why hadn’t I thought of this before? So, for example, in LEG 3 my buddy Spot is marked LDSn812 while the killer bee anytime bonus in Hidalgo is AKB-932.

    What seemed to take a couple of hours at the beginning of LEG 1, processing the data for GPS import, now takes around 5 minutes. All I really need to do is combine the new point values with the coordinate names (a quick bit of cut and paste with a twist of find/replace to get rid of spaces). Then a scan through to adjust value colors which I do manually by sorting my database by point value and changing the color in the symbol column. I then cut out the "extra" point column (because I've combined it with the name) and I'm ready to save the file, translate it to .gpx using an online service, and import it into my phone and GPS's. I’d found that I kept looking at red for medium points in the previous leg so I changed my color code to blues for low (<500), reds for medium (500-1000) and green for high (>1000). I then imported the new file into my phone, opened up GPXViewer, and looked for greens and a way to get to them. Basecamp even took a bit of a backseat and really only functioned as a mileage checker as I added and subtracted possibilities.

    I'm still tempted by the northeast and see a nice clump of high points in New York City but, with the group photo in North Dakota, I opt to go west. At the end of a string, the group photo quadrupled the value goes from 2218 to 8872. With the rest of the string, it will give me over 10k in points. Another nearby green is worth 2323 which, with that string to get there nets over another 10k. Over 20k not including the freebies that will add another 15k, if I can manage to not mess them up. That’s enough to finish.

    So, it's time to get from Allen, TX to the Bismark, ND area to set myself up for the Thursday group photo and to finish.

    I’ve already come many, many steps to get here.
    Today, finishing is my goal.
    Last edited by ravenranger; 07-21-2017 at 12:56 PM.
    2006 Caponord 1989 NX250
    IBA#22798 is now #580 AMA#601202

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