This was the second time I have participated in the Mason Dixon 2020. When I first saw the partner rules I looked around my house at my grandkids toys and eyed a few that would serve as my partner. There was a giant dog my parents had gotten them, a giant talking rabbit, and a few others. But nowhere to be found was the one I really wanted to use, Tigger who had served me well in one of Hammy’s rallies which was the very first rally I ever rode in. But then I thought if it rained I may ruin one of their stiffed animals and thought that would not sit well. Or even worse, what if I lose it!
Then about two months or so before the rally a friend of mine, Kevin, indicated he was interested in doing a rally and he was considering another rally as his first. That fell through due to his work schedule so he registered for the MD2020. I told him that if he wanted we could be partners for the rally and he agreed.
When we got the email with the bonus locations I was too busy at work to take a look at them during the day and I had a meeting that night. I spent an hour or so Monday night dumping the locations into Streets and Trips to get the overall picture of the locations and that was about it. Kevin was equally busy and did not have time to look at them. Tuesday evening I finally had time to go over everything and did my grouping of boni and color coding to aid in my route planning. First route I ran was with the combination boni. The next few were without them and the points were considerably lower. I then found one that took me up into CT, MA, VT, and NY that was about 1,000 less points than the combo route. Kevin was plotting away as well trying to plan a route and after a few pointers he came up with a route similar to my combo route that was about 2,000 points less. Not bad for someone who has never done this before and did not have the benefit of a mapping program where he could load all of the points! In the end I suggested we skip the combo routes as we had not included any of the open boni yet and we had 15 stops. Plus, one slip up and we’d lose way too many points for my comfort. I did briefly look at the Pants bonus (-15,000 points if you leave Friday eve rather than wait until Saturday) but ruled it out because I did not want to do that to someone on their first rally. I did not attempt to see if there was a combination that would work with that bonus.
Getting to the rally for me was mostly uneventful. This year I took Friday off and decided I would get the state inspection done on my bike so I did not have to worry about it at the end of June when it was due. One less thing to do before the Iron Butt Rally! My mechanic went over the bike with a fine toothed comb and other than commenting that I will likely need rear brakes by the end of the IBR pronounced the bike fit to ride. On the way out to the start point I decided to pick up a few Tour of Honor locations that were on the way. Got a text from Kevin around 3 indicating he was leaving work as well and was only an hour or so away so we should have both gotten there around the same time. I pulled in around 4:30 and no Kevin. At 5:00 he called saying he was in stop and go traffic on I-70, mostly stopped. He arrived at 6:20, just in time for dinner. We ate, registered, did the odo check, and attended the riders meeting. Afterwards we went over the rally book and decided we would not make any significant change to our route. We did decide that we would try and pick up the wild card boni if they were on the route, however when we saw the requirements for the combo boni I was glad we decided to skip them since neither of us had a tripod with us and there was no easy way for the two of us to be in each picture with our bikes.
Saturday we were up early, attended the rider meeting, and were off to our first stop just down the road. We passed a gaggle of ralliers attempting to get their photos in front of a Candy store for one of the combo boni and I was glad I didn’t chose to do them. We stopped at the marker and I pulled out my flag, attached it to my flag rig, extended it, took my photo, and put it away. Meanwhile Kevin was looking at his flag and trying to figure out how to get it into a photo with the marker. Lesson 1 for the new guy J. I suggested using his windshield for now and he took the photo and we were on the road. It occurred to me while riding that I had a few binder clips with me and he could use them to attach the flag to his tour pak. Our second stop was Jim Young’s grave at Fort Indiantown Gap. Other than getting off at the wrong exit this went without issue. While there someone approached us asking why all the motorcyclists were stopping and taking a photo of one particular grave. I explained and we were on our way to the next stop, Bowman’s Tower. I found a Porsche dealer near Allentown which was on our route so we stopped to pick it up. We found it very difficult to take a selfie and get the flag and Porsche sign in the photo. After 5 or more tries we each had a photo. While we were doing this someone from the dealership came out to see what we were doing and I explained. He was a rider too and he understood what we were doing, but he wanted to talk, and talk, and talk. Eventually he said he’d let us finish and moved on. We were finally back on our way after close to 20 minutes.
As we were moving through traffic on PA 309 and then US 202, I realized my mistake in routing as I watched the minutes tick by and my GPS showed our arrival time getting later and later. Why was I on a small road? Why didn’t I take a closer look at the roads my route took us on when I planned this? I have made these mistakes before. Even our wonderful and cheerful rally master had given me the advice of staying off small roads when we were discussing the Butt Lite in 2014. Did I learn? Obviously not! We eventually got there, paid our $6, climbed to the top of the tower, and took our photos. Our next stop was in Tappan NY. My GPS originally had us routed up US 202 to I-287 to Tappan. However we needed gas so we went to the closest gas station to fill up. Being that we were near I-95 my GPS rerouted us up 95 and the New Jersey Turnpike. I thought that a better route than 202 so we went that way. Other than some traffic near the GW Bridge and when we got off the turnpike and got on the Palisades Parkway everything went well. I had found Ferrari North America which was right off the Parkway, however I was uncertain if the corporate headquarters would count for the boni as it was not a dealership plus I did not want to take the time to get the selfie so we let it pass by. We got off at our exit and made our way to the reference point. From there I pulled over at the first place I could to see what we were looking for and we had to head west for two blocks and turn left, the memorial was in a small circle. We headed east for two blocks and saw a memorial in a triangle. Our astute powers of observation told us we were in the wrong spot and despite years of my car telling me my door is a jar I was able to determine that a triangle is not a circle. Plus the monument did not have the same words on it. So I took a look at my GPS and realized my error of heading east when I should have gone west and we made our way to the memorial and took our photo.
From there we continued North to Newtown CT to take a picture of the roof of the fire department and then to Holyoke MA to take a picture of dinosaur foot prints. These were pretty cool! We continued north to White River Junction for a photo of the Quechee diner. There it started getting cold so I put on my heated jacket liner. We continued down US 4 and it was rather dark. Next stop was Indian Lake NY for a photo of a sign which turned out to be in a sleepy neighborhood. We pulled up and there were several other riders there. We were all looking at a post but no sign was evident. Someone claiming to be the owner of the property came out and explained the sign had blown down in a storm. She also explained how her neighbors were rather upset at the motorcycle traffic all day and had called the police. I apologized, took my picture quickly, and we headed out. Down the road we stopped so I could record the time and odometer reading. It was getting late and we were getting tired, but we were in the middle of nowhere so there was no place to stay. It was also rather cold out so the Iron Butt Hotel was out of the question for me (not that I ever considered it anyway). When we stopped for fuel and I unplugged my heated gear I got real cold real fast. The first place we tried was full due to college gradations in the area, however we found a room at a Super 8 a few miles down the road in Oneida NY.
After a few hours sleep we headed out. As feared I ran the routes through my GPS and we would need to drop several bonus locations to be able to make it to the finish in time so we did not DNF. I ran a bunch of scenarios and we were able to stop in Lyons NY for a photo of a mural. We got that and turned south. Our next and last stop was in Sandy Ridge PA. We took our photo and headed straight back to rally HQ. However, we had to skip four bonus locations. We needed a fuel stop so we stopped at a Sheetz so we could get gas and pick up a Gobbz and a York Peppermint Patty which were also boni. From there it was a straight shot back to HQ. We got in with about 15 minutes to spare. At scoring Kevin did well and did not lose any points. However when it was my turn my camera card could not be read. We had the rally master play with it and he noted the card was cracked. We got it to read and I was scored as well. As with Kevin, I lost no points. At the banquet we found that we were 13th and 14th, with Kevin taking the top rookie award. I was 14th due to my riding more miles than Kevin. Not sure how that happened other than my passing one of the bonus locations by 100yds and having to turn around.
Unfortunately I forgot to download my photos from the rally. This is all I have:
The guest of honor at the ending banquet
And the dinosaur footprints