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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The Rally Red Wagon

Not to be out done by the Rally Van the BL IX photog in the RRW has been out collecting bonuses too.

Not Mayberry, but it could be. BTW, none of these are real bonuses but they’re worth HUGE points.

I generally loath the east for travel but sometimes there are roads!

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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Data analysis from the start

86 motorcycles and 94 riders started Butt Lite IX.

The lineup of brands is:

BMW 34
Honda 22
Yamaha 12
Triumph 7
Harley-Davidson 3
Kawasaki 3
Aprilia 1
Can-Am 1
Ducati 1
Indian 1
Victory 1

The high-mileage and oldest bike is Rick Snyder’s 1995 BMW R1100GS at 286,585 miles, followed by Rob Carlo’s 2011 Harley-Davidson Road Glide with 212,431 miles that somehow managed to pass the sound check.

The low-mileage and newest bike is Dylan Spink’s 2018 Honda Gold Wing with 810 (!) miles, followed by Ryan Rahjes’ 2016 Honda Goldwing  with 1398 miles (at least that’s what the odo says).

The average starting mileage is 59,328 miles. The motorcycles in the rally taken together have already gone over 5 million miles (5,102,265 to be exact).

The single most common model in the rally is the BMW R1200GS, 13 of them.

This year’s exotic bikes are Karen McCauley’s Can-Am Spyder (with 108,293 miles and two-up with Mariah), Yancey McCauley’s Indian Roadmaster (a late replacement for a V-Strom), and Kurt Worden’s Versys 300. There’s also Raven’s Aprilia Caponord, Jim Burriss’ Victory Cross Country, and Adrian Scudella’s Honda Gold Wing trike, which might be exotic to some, but they’re veterans and old friends to Butt Lite.

Then there’s Corey and Brian Nuehring who look identical and ride Yamaha FJRs that look identical and have the same license plate numbers from different states. That defies analysis.

 

10 Hours In

We’re not even 10 hours into the rally and we’ve had the first report of gear left behind at a bonus (a clear face shield in a bag, which someone will be wanting when the sun goes down shortly), the first flat tire (repaired and back on the road), and the first road closure that blocks access to a bonus location. And already Bart is yelling at the Spot tracking page “What are they thinking? Where are they going?”

It looks like Missouri is a popular destination today.