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 –

P1010208

“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.

 

 

Finisher Photos

The photos of the finishers are now up in the Butt Lite IX gallery here. All the photos in the gallery are available for download for personal use. You can either right click to save or use the download button in the lower right corner when the image you’re interested in is selected. It’s always great to credit your photographer http://www.rickcorwinephoto.com and a link back to the blog is a nice idea too.

 

 

Finish Banquet

Let the festivities begin!

Buy’n swag to help Arlene.

The endless line for the bar.

Um, yeah, Aussies.

Buy’n swag to help Arlene.

Mariah Thompson, the youngest participant ever in a Butt Lite, had many riders sign her flag.

Rally HQ was dog friendly.

Lyle guarding the finisher plaques.

The top ten, minus one.

The ladies of Butt Lite IX.

A very weary Jim Owen thanks rally master Lisa Erbes.

Greg Lenentine got a special finisher award from his wife.

All the photos are, as always here.

The finisher head shots will be done in a day or so, I need to get home 😉

The Riders are IN!

All riders are in or accounted for, there are some bumps and bruises but for the most part all the riders are okay.

Eric Bray in with time to spare.

Thumbs up for a fun ride.

Last rider in, well into the penalty window but still smiling.

Jim Owen arrives with 2 minutes to spare before penalties.

 

 

 

 

 

Lined up for scoring.

Bart checking on a question from Coleen McPhee at the scoring table.

Lots and lots of thumb drives.

Scoring in full swing.

 

Now we wait to see how everyone did. All the photos from this morning are here.

Analyzing the top 3 on leg 1

Some quick analysis of the top 3 riders on leg 1:

Rider 98 Jim Owen 50 Eric Bray 10 Billy Connacher
Base points (excluding SEC combo) 9757 9217 9088
Rest minutes 448 485 524
Rest bonus points 2240 2400 2400
Leg 1 total 14497 14017 13988
 # of bonuses 43 45 43
Miles 3207 2912 2943
Time In to checkpt  10:51:00 PM  5:50:00 AM  11:49:00 PM
  • Jim got more points on bonuses than Eric and Billy but fewer points on rest. How important will a little bit of extra rest be on leg 2?
  • Jim and Billy got to the checkpoint on Tuesday night which meant they got the leg 2 bonuses at 6 am Wednesday morning. Eric checked in just before the checkpoint window opened so he got the leg 2 bonuses at 8 am Wednesday morning. How important is an extra two hours of routing time on leg 2? (There was no time-restricted bonus that would have required the riders to haul out of the checkpoint immediately at 8 am.)
  • Eric collected the most bonuses with the fewest miles of the three.
  • All three riders went for and got the 2500 point SEC combo bonus.
  • Between them the three riders went to 12 of the 14 SEC stadiums (two went all the way to Texas A&M in College Station but none of the three went to Florida or South Carolina).

The three riders’ routes were similar yet built of different bonuses.

owen-2

Jim Owen

Bray

Eric Bray

Connacher

Billy Connacher

What does all this mean for the second half of the rally? We’ll know in a little over 24 hours.

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.