At the last moment I decided to sign up for Hammy’s Titan Quest rally. Knowing Hammy as I do I realized I had no idea what we were in for, but it would certainly be interesting and fun! I received the bonus locations and sure enough, I wasn’t disappointed. Bonus locations stretched from New England down to South Carolina, and from New Jersey to Indiana. We had Whispering Giants, Muffler Men, Uniroyal Girls, and other large statues. Point values ranged from 10,000 points for “Farnham Colossi” which is a collection of various Muffler Men and Uniroyal Girls in the backyard of a residence in West Virginia, 1,000 points for four large statues, 100 points for Whispering Giants, 5 points for some other large statues and objects, and finally 1 point for Muffler Men. We also had a 100,000 point rest bonus. Some of the bonus locations were daylight only which is normal as some are on private property or if the Rally Master just wants to play with us a little. The rally was 24 hours, we could start anywhere, and we all would be gathering at Yoders restaurant near Lancaster PA when it was done. We documented our start and stop time with a receipt. We also had the option of completing a Saddle Sore ride (1,000 miles in 24 hours) during the rally. During the typical 100 questions asked of a rally master someone asked if the end receipt for the rally could be used as the start of the rest bonus. The answer was a surprising “yes” meaning we had a full 24 hours to ride and collect bonus locations, then we could take our 2 hour rest before we met at the end location.
Prior to the rally we were informed we would receive a ”non-traditional” rally flag. What on earth could that be I wondered. For the Mason Dixon 2020 rally we received aprons as flags. What could be more “non-traditional” than that I wondered. Little did I know that “some assembly would be required” When I received a package in the mail from Hammy and opened it. The flag was a Lego mini figure. When I first looked at him I thought he looked like a gremlin with a light saber. And thus he was named.
My plan for this rally was simple. Plan a relaxing, fun route and don’t push myself too hard. After all, this is the first long ride after the Iron Butt Rally just 4 weeks ago, I am riding my Softail which has a 150 mile range rather than a 400 mile range, and I simply wanted to have fun. After a few hours I had what I thought was a respectable route which began in Erie PA and got me about 6 hours of sleep in my own bed. I checked my route carefully and I was scheduled to arrive at each bonus location when it was available. The week prior to the rally I got a message from another rallier hesitantly asking where I was starting. I told him since he was far more experienced than I and sure enough, he was starting near me. We decided to split a room if I could get there after work the night before the rally. And then, something changed. Two nights before the rally I took another look at my route and spied a Whispering Giant down in Virginia Beach. For the heck of it I checked to see what adding the VA Beach bonus to my route. It only added 1 ½ hours AND it kept me away from Washington DC because my original route took me across the Bay Bridge near Annapolis.
The day before the rally I had to work. Fortunately, I got out an hour or so early so I rushed home, changed, finished packing the bike, and headed northwest towards Erie. Fortunately I made it without issue and got to the hotel by 12:20 am. 6 am came and I was awake. Hung out for 30 minutes or so and chatted, then hoped in the shower, dressed, grabbed my gear, and loaded my bike. I went inside for a mediocre breakfast at best, and then was on my way at 7:36 am. First stop was Statue Of Liberfrog up the road in North Erie worth 1 point.
From there I turned my bike south. I ran into a short detour due to a running event in town but did not lose much time. Little did I know that this was a sign of things to come. My next stop was Angus The Fighting Scotsman on the campus of Edinboro University in Edinboro PA worth 1,000 points.
I had a few nagging aches and pains so I stopped at a Walmart for some ibuprofen. Despite the early hour this cost me about 20 minutes. From there I continued on to I-80 and turned east for the PA-OH border. My next stop was the Whispering Giant Sharon Giant in Sharon PA worth 100 points. This was actually at the PA Welcome center on I-80 so I had to cross into Ohio and turn around to get to it
From there I turned south to my next bonus Zuverman the Giant Bodybuilder in Darlington, PA worth 5 points and then east to Snowman in Portersville, PA also worth 5 points.
After that I had a long run southeast to Farnham Colossi in Unger WV. This was a huge 10.000 points. I had been at this location several years ago on my first rally however it was in the middle of the night. I was looking forward to seeing it during the daylight. This bonus is also in someone’s backyard, something I was unaware of the first time I visited it. As I got close to the bonus I made a turn and found myself on an unpaved road. However, this was not possible as I have my GPS set to avoid unpaved roads. Then I noticed that the road had been paved at one time, a long long time ago. After 3 or so miles of lousy road I got back onto a paved road and as I pulled up at the bonus stop I saw another rider, my friend Kevin. We chatted for a minute and headed off. I grabbed my photo and spied a giant Santa to I claimed that as an extra “bonus find” worth 1 point.
Now I had another long run down to Virginia Beach for the Whispering Giant Indian Chief worth 100 points . According to my GPS I should get there by 7pm. However, I did some quick math in my head and realized that if I was in VA Beach at 7pm, it was unlikely that I would get to Miles the Monster in Dover DE during daylight hours. Since it was 1,000 points I could not pass that up. I considered skipping VA Beach but decided instead I would pass Miles and head up to NJ and PA, take my rest bonus at home, and then backtrack down to Dover for Miles. It would destroy the efficiency of my route and add a hundred or so miles but so be it. So much for a relaxing ride.
As I was nearing I-95 just north of Fredericksburg VA I decided I needed a brief break and I also needed gas so I stopped, filled up the tank, grabbed a sandwich, and found a shaded piece of grass where I laid down and closed my eyes for 10 minutes. I got up refreshed and headed on my way, eating my sandwich as I rode. Nearing Richmond and I-295 I saw signs indicating it was 2 hours to VA Beach on I-64 and 90 minutes on US 460. My GPS said the ride should be 90 minutes. I thought for a minute that maybe by the time I got there the traffic would subside, however I could not be sure and I was running out of time. My GPS said I should get there by 7:30 pm and sunset was at 8:14. I passed by I-64 and headed towards US-460, however my GPS then picked VA route VA-10. I thought about it and figured it may have less traffic than the main routes so I decided to take a shot. All was going fine until I got stuck behind a line of cars and a truck doing 5 mph below the speed limit and there were too many cars for me to pass. I sucked it up for 10 miles and watched 10 minutes fade away. Then as I got into Portsmouth I saw detour signs all over for closed roads. So far so good, until I had to get onto I-264 and the onramp was closed. I was frustrated as I had lost a lot of time. It was 8:30 pm, past sundown and light was fading fast. I was 5 minutes away and could not get there. I did not know what roads were open or closed and did not know the area that well so I had no choice but follow the detour and ignore my GPS as I watched it get darker and darker. Finally I got onto I-264 and made my way to the bonus location. And it was 9pm, pitch black, certainly not daylight, and there was a locked gate between me and the bonus. The point was clear, I had just ridden down to VA Beach for no reason.
However, that is the way things go and I still had a rally to ride. I stopped for fuel and grabbed a hoagie and some candy to munch on including faux Swedish Fish. I pointed north for my next stop, the Muffler Man Cowboy with Ice Cream Cone in Berlin MD. I had passed this several times and knew right where it was. As I pulled up I had a thought. My “flag” had a staff, and I was at the beach, and I had faux Swedish Fish. I decided that there was no reason why I could not have a little fun so impaled one of the fish on my flag’s staff. He had caught a fish while at the beach! It made perfect sense to someone who had been riding for the past 17 hours of so!
I continued north a short distance to my next stops, the Whispering Giants Nanticoke in Ocean City MD and Chief Little Owl in Bethany Beach each worth 100 points. Took my photos and continued north.
Due to the stop in Dover DE being daylight only I had to pass it by and head up to my next stops near Philadelphia. They were Uniroyal Girl Nitro Girl in Blackwood, NJ worth 1,000 points, the Muffler Man Tire Man in Pink worth 1 point in Magnolia, NJ, followed by a statue of baseball players called Play at 2nd and football players called Tackle near Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia each worth 5 points.
Due to my loss of time I had to skip the 5 point bonus in Trenton NJ and could not make my stop at home for a rest so I had to turn south to Miles the Monster in Dover DE worth 1,000 points. I got there just at sunrise and took my photo. As I was there I saw two other riders which was reassuring since they were the only ones I had seen since the prior day
Now I was in the home stretch. I had two more bonus locations on my list, Amos the Amish Farmer and Huckleberry the Farmer with pigs, both in Strasburg PA and worth 5 points each. My GPS showed I would get there at 7:30, just in time to grab a photo and hopefully get an end receipt before my clock expired at 7:36 am. Surprisingly, I was running into traffic at 6:45 am. I was concerned that I would not have time to grab an end receipt near the last two bonus locations so I opted to stop at a gas station and squirt a gallon or so of gas in my tank and get a backup receipt just in case. I pumped the gas, said yes to the receipt, and … nothing! Went inside and there were several people in line. By the time I got to the register and got my receipt I realized it was futile as I now could not get to my last two stops in time.
I still had a huge rest bonus to claim before I could head into the finish and I was looking for a place to take it. I wasn’t too far from Chester County Airport and I knew there was a gas station near there so I decided I’d go watch planes fly for two hours. Along the way I came over a slight hill on US 30 and saw a line of cones across it with a sigh saying “Emergency Scene”. No one was in sight so I went around them and came to a second set of cones. Thinking they were left over from a previous event I kept going and as I came over another hill I saw flashing lights Great, a third detour! I turned around, picked my way around the accident scene, and grabbed my receipt at a gas station near the airport. 7:27 am. Headed to the airport and relaxed for 2 hours watching planes come and go, and then at 9:30 left and treated myself to a chocolate shake at Burger King for the end of my rest bonus. 30 minutes later I was at Yoders.
At scoring I did not lose any points. I got some food, hung out with some friends, and the results were announced. I came in 4th out of 14 riders. Total miles ridden were 1177 miles
And that is my report from the 2015 Titan Quest rally.