Most of us walk around with a very powerful device in the palm of our hand. We can reach all around the world, find the answer to any question, talk to all, comment on anything. And then you get to Maggie Valley, North Carolina.
Maggie Valley is a lovely, little town nestled in a valley of the Great Smoky Mountains in western North Carolina. It is surrounded by those beautiful, green mountains and apparently, cell service is sketchy – at best.
When scouting locations for our checkpoint we had a list of requirements that the facility had to meet. Hotel rooms, catering or on-site food and beverage, and wifi. It has all of those things plus motorcycle-friendly owners. This place seems to be perfect except for that sketchy cell service.
We no sooner pulled in the parking lot when we discovered we had zero coverage with the most important piece of our rally equipment – the Rally Phone. It had been ringing off the hook all day long mostly thanks to two bonus locations that were causing stress for the riders.
WSP – Broken Bow, OK – The rally book states that this is a Whispering Giant statue in Beavers Bend State Park. Only when the riders began arriving they were finding they were actually in Ouachita National Forest looking up at the Three Sticks Monument. How could this happen you ask?
Well, a simple error, actually. The three of us are equally OCD about bonus scouting, getting every word and comma correct and checking, re-checking, and checking again. RM 1 (as he will be known in this writing) scouted both of these locations, which are on the same highway about 50 miles apart. The plan was to use the Whispering Giant because it was a little more difficult to reach. (Of course.) Unfortunately, in the data entry phase the coordinates for the Three Sticks were entered in error. Our final check should have caught this when RM 3 (as he will be known in this writing) goes through the tedious process of looking at every single bonus location on Google to make sure what we think is there is there. That version of the site was fuzzy at best and frankly, hard to discern if it was a giant Indian head or not.
As the calls kept coming in the solution was simple – take a photo of the monument that is there, we will accept it and the rider will get the points. So, throughout the day the calls kept coming.
Meanwhile, in Athens, Georgia, the bridge right in front of Sanford Stadium was closed for construction. We aren’t sure how RM 2 (as she will be known in this writing) could not have been aware of this issue given all her other super powers but, alas, we were ignorant to the plans of the University of Georgia maintenance crews. The bridge isn’t critical to claiming this location but it made for the best spot to get a good photo of the stadium (part of the SEC Combo Bonus). And the calls came.
And the rally phone was useless. A trip was made to Walmart to get a phone on a different carrier (seriously y’all – Verizon has the BEST coverage). After many, many, many technical issues RM 3 was finally able to get the new phone to work & it had decent coverage. But not before RM 2 had sent out text messages to every rider telling them to contact RM 1 directly on his cell phone which had ok coverage.
All is now well. The phone debacle has been handled. And I think most of us would be perfectly happy to stay in this lovely oasis of minimal outside interference for many more days. But, the rally continues. Tonight is the check point and it will be very, very busy.
The riders have the opportunity to go through early scoring beginning at 9:00pm tonight. A benefit to this will be getting the Leg 2 rally pack at 6:00am tomorrow morning. Anyone who gets in after midnight will go through scoring beginning at 4:00am and will get their next rally pack at 8:00am.
So rally staff has a very busy time ahead.
It is unfortunate that we have had some riders who have had to withdraw from the rally. Troy Martin and the team of Ken & Linda Schleman had mechanical issues. Daniel Roth got word that his grandfather has passed away. Thomas Spearman had a family issue to deal with. Our thoughts are with Daniel & his family.
A couple of riders are having mechanical issues but will hopefully be able to make it to Maggie Valley to get scored. Fingers crossed.
Lynne Carey had a very exciting visit to the highest point in Mississippi. Lynne had been practicing her mountain road riding skills prior to Butt Lite. She dropped her bike on the way up to Woodall Mountain. And while she was shaken, she was determined to claim the bonus. She walked up the last half mile or so, got the photo and walked back to her bike. Then she had a get off on her way down the mountain. Thankfully, after a trip to the ER, she was released with a torn meniscus and no other issues. Her bike took the adventure in stride and so she got back on & continued her rally. Hats off to her. We’ll welcome her with a hug at the checkpoint.
Rally staff continues to bag bonuses. Jonathan celebrated the bucket list item of visiting the original Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant in Corbin, KY with a huge breakfast at Joey’s Pancakes here in Maggie Valley.