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.

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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.

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.

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

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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.

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An LD bike at Barbor. Who’s is it??

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Hiking through the museum to collect the Paul Pelland bonus.

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

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Good receipt!

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Riders arriving at Maggie Valley.

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Riders arriving at Maggie Valley.

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Riders arriving at Maggie Valley.

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The scoring table.

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

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AM riders meeting, y’all hush.

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