Tuesday, June 8, 2010

2010 Minuteman Rally Report Part 1

So, I explained the basics of this sport earlier, but wanted to get more into specifics about planning the ride and riding the plan. We received the bonus locations a few days before the rally and I probably spent about four hours in total mapping a route prior to the Friday evening dinner before the rally start on Saturday. On Friday night I spent about another hour fine tuning things. I didn’t change any of my route plans, but I did write down all of the bonus codes and what was required at each stop. I wanted to have that on my tank bag so I could quickly reference each location. That way I didn’t need to fumble around with the rally book before getting started at each location. This saved my ass big time because my GPS screwed me at the third bonus location. More on that in a minute. So, I had the plan and was ready to roll on Saturday morning. We had a riders meeting in the parking lot of the Clarion Hotel in Northampton MA at 5:30 in the morning prior to the 6:00 start. It was a very well organized event. We were instructed to line up three abreast at one end of the parking lot and my bike happened to be near the start so I was the second bike out of the chute. My basic route was planned at a thousand miles with 28 stops. I would hit MA, NH, ME, and VT. I stayed away from CT, RI, and NY. There was a bonus at Madison Square Garden and people actually went there for it. It seemed like a real time burner to go all that way. The point return for going that route was not worth it. Anyway, my first set of bonuses was in downtown Boston which is my back yard so I was pumped and off to a good start. However, I am not a Garmin power user so I am still learning the functionality of my GPS. One of the bonuses was the TD Garden where the Celtics and Bruins play. Anyway, I used to work next door to this place so I know the area and knew exactly where I would go for the picture which did not jive with the Garmin so because I didn’t pass the waypoint (according to Garmin) the GPS kept recalculating to take me back there. I was 10 miles on to the next bonus, but Garmin would not give me directions to it because I did not go by the TD Garden waypoint. I was so frustrated I deleted the route and just went with individual waypoints. Here is where my handwritten sheets really saved me. Because I had all the route codes as waypoints in the GPS and I had them in the order of my original route, I would just punch in the waypoint and go. It was one extra step when I would get back on the bike, but I didn’t have time to mess around with the route and it didn’t really take up any time because I had the general directions of the entire route in my head and could motor along without the need for immediate directions from the GPS. The key to success in these rallies is time management. You really need to have a quick efficient system of being able to get off the bike, get your rally flag, take the picture, fill-out the rally book, put everything away, and go. I purchased a piece of luggage for the back seat of the bike with a quick zipper which I stored everything in and made it easy to access. My stops were about 60 to 90 seconds. I would leave the bike running, get off the bike, only take one glove off, leave the helmet on and just flip it up, grab my stuff, take the pic, put everything away, and take off. I thought it was about as efficient as I could be. I might be able to shave a few seconds if I convert the zipper bag to a velcro bag, but otherwise I’m doing everything right. Gas stops need to be quick and efficient as well. I basically treat the gas stops like bonus stops with the same routine. From Boston I motored up the coast stopping in Wakefield MA, Newburyport MA, and Portsmouth NH before making the long haul up to Rockwood ME where I will pick-up in Part 2.

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