A Communique from the Butt Lite rallymasters

Before we start, we want to take the opportunity to thank all the riders who have participated in Butt Lite over the years. Without you, the rally could not happen, and because of you, we make the rally happen. Some of you even come back for more, which either shows we’re not cruel enough or there’s something wrong with you, or both. 

Also, we want to take the opportunity to thank all our volunteers over the years. Truly, the rally would not happen without your participation. Your continued willingness to travel half way across the country to get up at 4 am and deal with cranky, smelly rally riders and cranky, smelly rallymasters constantly amazes us.

 At the end of each Butt Lite rally, people start asking us when the next Butt Lite will happen. We have always responded that this is like asking a woman who just gave birth when she wants to have the next baby. This time, riders were asking us before we’d announced the results, which is like asking that woman even before the umbilical cord has been cut.

 Nevertheless, we did start talking among ourselves about the possibility of another Butt Lite fairly soon after the end of BLIX – sooner than we had started talking about it after any of the other rallies. We fairly quickly realized we all had the same feelings about the future of Butt Lite and we fairly quickly came to some decisions.

 We are planning that there will be a Butt Lite X in 2020.

 We are expecting that it will be the last Butt Lite rally.

 When we decided to do Butt Lite 6IX in May 2011, we were terrified that we would not live up to the standards and goal of Total World Domination established by our founders, Eddie James and Adam Wolkoff, and that we would somehow ruin the name of Butt Lite. We still strive to meet that standard of performance but we have less fear of failure. Over the past 7 years, we’ve had more fun working together to put on Butt Lite than you can imagine. One of our serious considerations regarding the future of Butt Lite, and a huge downside for us, is that breaking up this team will feel like breaking up a family.

 But, it is 2 solid years of work and stress that goes into putting on a multi-day rally like Butt Lite. The rally pretty much fills all available non-day-job hours. We want to be free to tell friends where we went on our last motorcycle ride without worrying about accidentally revealing a bonus location. We want to be free to post photos on social media without giving away a secret. We want to be free to go on a vacation that isn’t guided by the parameters of the next rally. As much as we enjoy working together, and as much as we will miss that, our lives have been controlled by the rally for 7 years now, and we (and our significant others) all feel it’s time for that to end.

 But why end Butt Lite instead of passing it along to someone else to continue? We just feel that closing up shop is the right way to go out. There were five Butt Lites under Eddie and Adam and there will be five Butt Lites under the Gen 2 rallymasters, and that’s a nice symmetry. We hope and expect that there are others who will develop another multi-day rally that will be as successful as Butt Lite, and we’ll be happy to give any advice we can. But the past can be a burden, and we think it’s best for the sport and for the LD community if that future rally, whatever it is, can be free to develop its own identity and become its own legend.

 There will be more details on Butt Lite X in time. But there is one other thing we need to tell you right now, and it will unavoidably make some riders unhappy. Because Butt Lite X will be the last Butt Lite, we expect there will be a lot of riders who will want to be part of it. And that’s great. But it’s incredibly important to us that those loyal Butt Lite riders who’ve supported the rally in the past, and for some reason still want to come back for more, get the chance to do so. So, as much as we enjoy watching the free-for-all, first-come-first-serve registration scramble, we’re not going to do that for Butt Lite X. We want to ensure that Butt Lite veterans don’t get shut out so there will be some sort of drawing process TBD that will give preference to returning riders. The good news is, you won’t all have to be sitting at your computers at midnight frantically hitting the Enter key.

 There will be more information posted at the TeamStrange website and discussion board and the Butt Lite blog in due time. And again, we want to thank our past and future riders and volunteers who gave us the opportunity for so much fun and angst over the past 7 years. One last time, light fuse and get away.

The Rider’s Perspective

Several of our Butt Lite IX riders are blogging about the experience.  One is a top 10 finisher, another gives us a first-time, multi-day perspective and finally, an Australian pillion riding in her first rally.  They all do a great job of detailing exactly what this is all about.  Enjoy!

Rider #32, 5th place – Steve Gallant:  https://swervenortheast.blogspot.com/

Rider #7, 54th place – James Epley:  https://fatboyrollin.blogspot.com/

Rider #75, 59th place – Rebecca McCallum:  https://pillionpiglet.wordpress.com/

The End

It is nearly a week since the end of Butt Lite IX.  I’ve spent much of this week in a fog.  I may be caught up on my sleep.  I plan to keep a low profile this weekend just in case a nap sneaks up on me.

Each Butt Lite is unique.  Each has its own highs and lows.  This one shall be known as the Goat Trail rally.  Not by design – at least not the rally master’s design.  But thanks to Garmin we all had to deal with much more stress than usual as rider after rider found themselves on questionable “roads”.  I lost  count of the number of calls we got from distressed riders with napping motorcycles that refused to be lifted.

Many learned the valuable lesson – just because the GPS says to go down that road/path/trail, it doesn’t mean you have to do it.  Be the boss of the GPS, not the other way around.  As Rider #55 found out –

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“Reading Comprehension” has been a mantra of TeamStrange since the very beginning.  We’re just so old-fashioned that way.  We think many of our Butt Lite IX riders would have been thrilled if we simply gave them way-points to visit with no context whatsoever.  That might make a great rally.  Go to this way-point and take a photo of whatever is there.  Only how will you know what you should be photographing with no description?  Take a photo and bring it to scoring and then we’ll tell you if it’s right or not.

No, that isn’t how we do things at Butt Lite.  We insist that you think, read, comprehend and solve problems as they arise.

We have our coffee mugs.  They are a staple of Butt Lite swag.  They have become collector items.  Sometimes we incorporate them in bonuses.  Sometimes we don’t.  On Butt Lite VIII there was no coffee mug bonus and when asked by riders if they needed to bring their mug with them we answered “No”.

At the beginning of BLIX we were asked if the coffee mugs would be needed – multiple times, in rider meetings, in the hall, in the parking lot.  Our answer was, “Bring everything you think you will need.”  That isn’t no.  It wasn’t a trick either.  We can’t disclose bonus information before the rally books are handed out.  So that was the best answer we could give.

So imagine our surprise as rider after rider left their mug in the storage room before leaving Lexington on leg one.  There was no mug bonus on leg one.  But there was on leg two.

5CollettsvilleNC MUG Daylight 357 points

Two homes and an entire fence are covered in about 25,000 coffee mugs. As far as we know there aren’t any TeamStrange mugs on the property but who could tell for sure?

Take a photo of your Butt Lite IX coffee mug at The Mug House. Your fully intact mug and flag must be visible in the photo.

Follow Old Johns River Road until pavement ends. From there continue 1 mile on the gravel road to The Mug House.

Coordinates 35.95863, -081.71101

Two riders went to the Mug House without their mugs.  They didn’t read the bonus ahead of time and didn’t realize they would need the mugs, which were safely stashed away at the hotel in Lexington.  I guess the bonus name wasn’t a big enough hint.  They were sad.

Something the three of us found very interesting – out of 303 total bonus locations all but seven of them were visited at least once.  That made us very happy.  It’s hard to cull the list and throw out locations to keep things manageable.  And it’s hard to find something very special and then have no one go there.  One of the seven lonely bonuses was one of my personal favorites:

84BroxtonGA BAR Daylight 301 points

Dylan Ross is a self-taught artist from Douglas, GA. His work is becoming highly collectible and valuable. This mural, on the side of a barn, may be his best piece yet.

Take a photo of Barney.

US 441, across from Broxton Church of God. There is a driveway to a home next to the mural where you can pull off. Take care, as it isn’t paved. Also be courteous to the home owners.

Coordinates 31.63756, -082.89790

Barney

In the end, everyone found their way home safely.  No matter what goes wrong during the rally, that is truly the only thing that matters.  With time, it all becomes a series of great stories, told over and over whenever long distance riders meet.

“Did I ever tell you about the time I went to the Mug House on Butt Lite IX  but didn’t have my mug?”

“I’ll never forget that goat trail Garmin sent me on when the rally book said you could get to the bonus on paved roads.”

“Have you ever heard of Belle Gunness?”

Another Butt Lite is done.  We hope you enjoyed the ride.  The food.  The bourbon.  And the stories.

The End.

 

 

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.

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.

MVI

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.

RMs

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

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Need A SPOT Gen II

Mike Nolan’s SPOT has died. If anyone who will be at the Check point in Maggie Valley or is in the area has one he can borrow for leg 2 we would all appreciate it. Otherwise he’ll be lost for the duration of the rally. You can comment here or ping me (Lisa) directly. Thanks.

Just Me & The Rally Phone

The first 24 hours is now over.  All in all, it was a quiet day.  Spending the night with the rally phone can be a surreal experience.  Getting woken up at 3:30 in the morning from a very deep sleep and attempting to sound coherent when a bonus isn’t where it’s supposed to be can be challenging.  Kind of like when you’ve had a few too many adult beverages and you are attempting to act completely sober.  Not that any of the rally masters would know anything about that.

Quite a few riders have made the trek out to Broken Bow, Oklahoma to take a photo of the Whispering Giant only to find that the giant isn’t there.  Luckily there is a nice monument of three broken arrows that will surely make a lovely photo.  Yes, the rally masters are capable of making a mistake.  Even after untold reviews and edits of the rally book by three sets of eyes, stuff can happen.

We’ve had a couple of camera issues – like Rider #1 has lost his already.  With all of his Day One bonus photos on it.  He is sad.  Nothing like finding a Wal Mart during a rally to replace an important tool (not that I would know anything about that either).  He plans on buying all of them (see below) but quickly noted they don’t take AA batteries so now charging the new camera has been added to his “to do” list.

noname

Another rider is sad today because he forgot to change the time zone on his camera to Eastern time.

And there is the No Social Media Rule.  They can give up caffeine and alcohol before a rally but asking them to give up Facebook is just way too difficult.  Someone is going to be sad about that too.

The rally van continues to rack up the points with a stop at the happiest place on earth.  We don’t think this Kentucky branch of Casa Bonita has cliff divers though.

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