Remember To Think

A GPS is a powerful tool. It’s almost impossible to imagine riding in a rally these days without one. Even those of us who rode in rallies when paper maps and Polaroids were all we had have come to depend on them (and Basecamp or Streets and Trips). Old-timers and curmudgeons lamenting the “good old days” of rally riding must admit they aren’t coming back.

These tools though are only that – tools to be used by our brains, not replacements for reason and common sense. It is of course not an original observation to suggest that these amazing technological tools are making us “dumber” as they remove human agency from our decision-making. Watching Butt Lite IX unfold, it’s clear that this process is accelerating, with occasionally frightening consequences.

If any bonus on either leg of Butt Lite IX required a rider to take an unpaved road in order to obtain it, this requirement was clearly noted in the bonus instructions in the rally book. Riders were told (and reminded) that if they found themselves on an unpaved road (or worse) that this was not necessary nor the intent of the rallymasters unless specifically noted in the rally book. This was done to alert riders uncomfortable on unpaved roads or riding a motorcycle unsuited for this in advance. We never intend to lead a rider onto a road that is wildly unsuited for a large street bike.

These reminders and instructions were largely ignored. It is clear to us that the text in the rally book is infrequently read, that riders do not bother to look at a map and pause to think whether the road ahead really makes sense or is even safe to ride, that the only thing that appears to matter is the waypoint provided as a convenience on the flash drive, the mapping program and the GPS response. Download the route and follow the magenta line. What could possibly go wrong?

As it turns out, a lot could go wrong. As more and more secondary roads, and goat paths that aren’t even real roads, are added to the database of a GPS, the machine is happy to instruct the rider -“hey, you should take this short cut! It’ll work out fine.” The unthinking rider then follows this advice and too often ends up in a bad place.

On leg one, we observed riders allowing themselves to be led to such bad places. Two veteran riders in northwest Arkansas wanted to obtain a bonus south of Mt. Judea on Hwy 123. This highway is very twisty and commercial trucks are advised not to use it, but it is paved and a great motorcycle road if you like curves. Rather than take Hwy 123 north from the intersection with Hwy 7, these two riders followed the GPS’ instructions and continued north on Hwy 7, then east on unpaved county roads. One hour or more later, one of the riders found himself part of the way up a rock-strewn hill that he could not ascend and was forced to back all the way down. All of this simply because the riders allowed the machine to think for them.

Again on leg one, a rider called the rally phone to let us know that he was 16 miles into a National Forest north of Atlanta, attempting to ride from his previous bonus to the next on the “road” that the GPS told him to take. He’d dropped his bike and couldn’t pick it up, the rocks on the road were “boulders” and the hill ahead of him appeared to be insurmountable. He was in a real jackpot. Fortunately, some locals showed up to help him pick the bike up and give advice on how to get out of there – which he eventually did. Proving this rider’s decision was no anomaly, minutes later we observed the SPOT icon for arguably the top rider in our sport start up the exact same road, though he did have enough sense to bail out earlier.

After these and other incidents on leg one, we reminded the riders again, at the mandatory meeting before leg two, that if they found themselves confronted by a challenging unpaved road not specifically noted in the rally book (and there were very few unpaved roads required on this rally) that their GPS was leading them astray. This reminder of course fell on deaf ears, or so it appears.

Once again, riders rode themselves into bad places. One got their bike stuck, incurred minor injuries and may or may not be on the road again as I type this. Another dropped their bike on an obscure unpaved road in remote Maine and called us last night wondering what to do. Fortunately for this rider, a local resident eventually appeared and helped the rider extricate himself from this bad place. While we’re always happy to hear from a rider in such straits, there is little we can do but suggest they call the local sheriff’s department.

This post should not be interpreted as a critique of the overall ability of our riders and their efforts. As they head toward the finish tomorrow morning, there are some amazing rides unfolding. Some of these rides would have been very difficult to pull off without these tools, and I’m not suggesting riders were better (or worse) back when these tools were unimaginable. I am suggesting though that reading the rally book, or at least the entire bonus description for the location you intend to visit, and having a paper map to consult before blindly following your GPS’ instructions, might be prudent and wise.

At the very least, remember to think before you follow the magenta line.

Kleenex Alert

Ron Messick, headed for the bonuses in the NE right from Maggie Valley picking up very few bonuses along the way, he was on a mission. He sent this text to the rally staff.

“Pete’s at Acadia, Cadillac Mountain. I put him as Far East as I could. I figured he wouldn’t be happy unless he was FIRST! I didn’t know Pete well, but I knew enough.

I’m baulin’ up here, got to Rally on.”

Cadillac Mountain is the first spot to see the sunrise on many days every year. Pete will now see that sun come up before all of us, he liked to be first.

Brief update

We had reported the Schlemans as being out of the rally with mechanical issues on the brand new Gold Wing but they got it sorted out (bad battery) and got to the checkpoint on time.

John Frick and Rick Snyder may have planned their route with an ulterior motive, because we heard that they stopped off at the BMWMOA rally in Iowa in mid bonus hunting. John seems to be having a good time because he hasn’t called to yell at us this time, yet.

Bruce and Adrian Scudella have withdrawn for non-rally related reasons. They’re veterans of many Butt Lites and we’re sad to see them go.

Ian McPhee’s R1100RT blew it’s final drive (how often have we heard that one) but thanks to fellow IBR rider Bob Lilley, is back on the road.

The big topic for discussion after this rally will be GPS navigation, for many reasons which we’ll talk about later. All we’ll say at this point is, if your GPS sends you down a goat trail and we didn’t tell you you needed to be there, maybe don’t listen to the GPS




Bonus Hunting

The Rally Van scored 2 bonuses today after a grueling morning of auditing. It may be Leg 2 but we’re still working on Leg 1. We bagged our first SEC bonus and the -10 point camel bonus.

Photo Gallery Updated

A few bonuses I caught along the way… And the photo gallery is updated here.

6) Bloomfield, KY LOV Daylight 70 points

In 1821, to avenge his wife’s honor, Jereboum Beauchamp murdered Solomon Sharp. Beauchamp’s wife, Anna, refused to leave his side while he was in jail prior to his execution. Anna smuggled a knife into the jail cell which they used to stab themselves. Anna bled to death; Beauchamp was rushed to the gallows to hang before he could bleed to death. They are buried together, entwined in an embrace here in the old Bloomfield Cemetery (now part of Maple Grove Cemetery).


45) Rosine, KY BLM 24 hours 190 points

Bill Monroe invented bluegrass music. He was born near Rosine, was raised here by his Uncle Pen (the subject of one of Bill’s most famous songs) and is buried in the town. Every Friday, there is live bluegrass at the Rosine Barn Jamboree here. On the barn there is a large bronze disk honoring Bill Monroe.


76) Leipers Fork, TN W12 24 hours 126 points

This monument memorializes War of 1812 soldiers buried along the Old Trace. The Natchez Trace served as an important route to move troops for the defense of the Gulf Coast region. Tennessee volunteer cavalry under the leadership of Andrew Jackson marched down the Trace to Natchez in January 1813. Following the victory at the Battle of New Orleans, most Americans who fought the battle returned home on the Trace.

42) Huntsville, AL BAK Daylight 240 points

Miss Baker was an ill-tempered squirrel monkey who in 1959 was placed in the nose cone of a rocket and blasted 360 miles to the edge of space. Her companion astro-monkey, Miss Able (a Butt Lite 7 bonus in Independence KS) died soon after but Miss Baker lived a long and pampered life. One Tranquility Base, near the entrance to the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. Miss Baker’s tombstone stands among some trees just outside the main entrance to the Space Center, with a much smaller marker for her husband, Big George, nearby.

Leg One and checkpoint Photos


Early arrivals at the Barbor Motorcycle Museum.


John Harrison helping out at Barbor with Paul Pelland as the bonus.


This is what the Worlds Toughest looks like Lynn Carey with a damaged knee refuses help and walks all the way across the Barbor museum to collect big points.


An LD bike at Barbor. Who’s is it??


Hiking through the museum to collect the Paul Pelland bonus.


Eddie’s bench and the Atlanta skyline. Three of these Dr Peppers bottles are incorrect can you tell why?


Good receipt!


Riders arriving at Maggie Valley.


Riders arriving at Maggie Valley.


Riders arriving at Maggie Valley.


The scoring table.


The scoring table. Does this look like a lighthouse to you??


AM riders meeting, y’all hush.


The photo gallery will be uploaded when I reach a sufficient internet connection.

Leg 1 Results

Audited official leg 1 standings

Position Rider # Rider name L1 score L1 miles L1 bonuses
1 98 Jim Owen 14497 3207 43
2 50 Eric Bray 14017 2912 45
3 10 Billy Connacher 13988 2943 43
4 29-30 Peter Green & Rex LeGalley 13952 3369 46
5 33 Brian Nuehring 12975 2969 43
6 91 Corey Nuehring 12975 2967 43
7 8 Jeffrey Konicek 12971 2871 47
8 89 Rick Armour 12731 2827 37
9 32 Steve Gallant 12538 3034 38
10 56-57 Tad & Karen Scott 12437 2656 32
11 104 Scott Thornton 12435 2790 35
12 62 Ian McPhee 12379 2882 38
13 101 Kevin Gardner 12308 3187 32
14 46-47 John & Nadine Huval 12128 2832 39
15 76 Dylan Spink 11926 3046 32
16 15 Jay Bolinger 11902 2749 34
17 81 Gregg Lenentine 11854 2888 36
18 4 Ron Messick 11826 2783 32
19 64 Greg Farmer 11783 2643 31
20 105 Beth Madson 11344 2626 31
21 79 Barry Myers 10805 2154 38
22 3 Gary Huff 10761 2500 34
23 45 Mike Hutsal 10733 4231 28
24 35 Cary Pettinger 10728 2745 29
25 106 Don Duck 10601 2342 27
26 14 Paul Meyer 10467 3383 34
27 34 Ryan Rahjes 10366 2563 37
28 111 Kurt Worden 10311 2191 35
29 2 Eric Edelman 10245 2038 37
30 39 Rick Snyder 10178 2657 26
31 31 Roy Kjendal 10077 2230 25
32 42 Angelo Patacca 10022 2201 30
33 54 Freddie Edelman 9935 2089 35
34 92 Mike Hall 9931 2353 29
35 13 John Frick 9847 2459 25
36 69 Mike Nolan 9846 2270 34
37 84-85 Eric Chernin & Shirley Davis 9786 2337 34
38 95-96 Karen McCauley & Mariah Thompson 9760 2128 32
39 37 Steve Snell 9749 2654 28
40 94 Yancey McCauley 9660 2152 32
41 11 Gerry Arel 9625 2436 30
42 55 Jim Winterer 9622 2672 26
43 12 Lynda Lahman 9537 2058 29
44 59 Terry Lahman 9537 2049 29
45 99 Sjef Vanderaa 9399 2496 25
46 24 Brian North 9378 2328 24
47 21 Martin Cover 9271 2125 33
48 53 Lyle Monroe 9266 2051 25
49 28 Maura Gatensby 9240 2286 21
50 67 Mike Riley 9225 2429 26
51 23 George Levar 9104 1878 30
52 82 Lisa Hecker 9071 2124 32
53 100 Steven Rufo 8994 2140 31
54 49 Bill Cumbie 8934 1797 31
55 22 Kith Burkingstock 8773 2188 32
56 5 Raven Park 8747 1898 29
57 1 Nathan Smurdon 8675 2424 24
58 26 Michael Baker 8596 1872 31
59 115 Jesse Lucas 8546 1907 26
60 58 Chuck Lackey 8546 1860 25
61 88 Daniel Eckert 8481 1956 33
62 74-75 Martin Little & Rebecca McCallum 8440 1728 30
63 61 Trey Nicoud 8427 2384 24
64 60 Jim Burriss 8171 1835 28
65 90 Bob Bowman 7988 2822 26
66 6 Nancy Lefcourt 7917 2520 29
67 97 Andy Regnier 7879 2434 32
68 18-19 Doug & Liz Jacobs 7536 1977 19
69 7 James Epley 7528 2672 29
70 63 Adrian Scudella 7520 1813 19
71 113 Todd Lipps 7330 2123 20
72 43 Brent Cornell 7324 2357 19
73 68 Paul Partin 7321 1745 24
74 52 Darryl Doughty 6973 2633 22
75 80 Jon Good 6927 1934 21
76 86 Ken Cook 6433 2229 25
77 114 Rob Carlo 6007 2687 22
78 65-66 Ken & Linda Schleman 5686 1808 12
79 93 Lynne Carey 5665 1176 19
80 108 Lee Miller 5156 2457 23
81 70 Bruce Scudella 4830 1833 19
82 36 JD Smith 4657 2311 16
25 Troy Martin DNF
20 Michael Best DNF
51 Thomas Spearman DNF
83 Daniel Roth DNF
Frans & Bettie de Wet DNS
Steve Bennett DNS
Steve Boone DNS
Brett Morehead DNS
Phil Becker DNS
Thomas Southwood DNS
Josh Mountain DNS
Jeff  Johnson DNS
Jon & Graeson Kerr DNS
Wolfe Bonham DNS
Chad Churchill DNS
Zac Rhoades DNS
Rob  Lightner DNS
Jim Alton DNS
David Arkle DNS
Michael Kalinosky DNS
Robyn Pitts DNS
Bruce Edwards DNS


First World Problems

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.

Moto pkg

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.

Col Sanders