This year I signed up for the Rock and Ride rally. This year the rally allowed riders to start wherever they wanted as long as they started at least 500 miles from the finish in Kenlake Kentucky. The problem was I would not be able to choose a starting location until after I received the bonus locations and had planned my route. A few weeks prior to the rally we received our first requirement, we had to submit a bonus location that potentially could be used for a future rally. It had to be in the spirit of the rally which was music, rock actually. I scratched my head and thought about what was around me that could be associated with a song. Then I thought of Space Oddity from David Bowie and the fact that the centrifuge used to train the NASA astronauts was just around the corner and was now a museum as well as an event venue. So I submitted:
Space Oddity – David Bowie – “Space Oddity” was David Bowie’s first UK top 5 hit and became one of Bowie’s signature songs. The song is about the launch of Major Tom, a fictional astronaut.
Take a picture of the front of the building with the “Fuge” sign over the doorway. This building houses one of the centrifuges used to train NASA Astronauts
Then a few weeks later we were given two assignments, one was to plot the locations of cities/towns named “Jackson” as well as the locations of Hard Rock Cafes. I decided to wait until I received the rally book to see how these fit in to see if they were worth the effort. On March 30 we received the rallybook and bonus locations so we could start our planning. I did my usual color coding of bonus locations and imported into my mapping software to get a view of the locations and point values. After 6 or 7 tries I came up with a route I liked starting in Pittsburgh PA except I had one large bonus where I had to be there at noon on Saturday for a photo. The problem was if I was there early I was wasting riding time and if I was late I lost a large bonus. On a whim I tried one more route starting in Harrisonburg VA. That was it, it not only had the most points it eliminated the need to include the photo bonus.
Of course work was busy as usual and it seemed that everyone knew I was taking Friday off so the work was just piled on. The rallymaster asked everyone to provide their starting locations and I must have had Pittsburgh on my brain so I replied without checking my final route. Thursday I realized I had not booked a room at the start location so I booked a room in Pittsburgh. Work was crazy and while I originally I had hoped to get out early I was lucky to get out on time. Actually I was lucky I didn’t have to cancel my day off. I got home, took care of a few things, loaded my route into my GPS, and then I noticed my mistake. My route had me starting in Harrisonburg VA however I had booked my hotel in Pittsburgh and it was past the cancelation time. OOPS! I loaded my second best route into both GPS units and headed to Pittsburgh. I got to my hotel around midnight, was given my keys, and went to my room. When I tried to open the door it only opened an inch and thunk! It stopped. I tried again and thunk! Then I heard a women’s voice asking “who is it?” I closed the door, went to the lobby, and said there was someone in the room. I was told that was my room and my response was something like “maybe so, but there is someone else there” A few minutes later I had new keys and was in an empty room. I went to park my bike but first made a stop at the gas station across the road to check the receipt and it was good. I parked the bike and called it a night.
My planned route for the day was as follows the Stephen Foster Memorial followed by a Hard Rock Café in Pittsburgh, the world’s largest gavel in Columbus OH, the American Signs Museum in Cincinnati OH, then head to Louisville Kentucky where I had to take a photo of a giant bat, as in baseball bat, followed by another Hardrock Café, Munfordville Kentucky where I had to take a photo of a replica of Stonehenge, Bowling Green Kentucky where I was supposed to have my photo made standing with statues of the Blues Brothers, the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville TN where I had to take a photo of a quote from Dolly Parton on the wall, then Huntsville Alabama where I had to take a photo of the Space Shuttle with my bike. Somewhere near there I had planned to take my rest bonus.
Friday morning came fast and before I knew it I was back at the gas station topping off my fuel at 9:01. I sent my start text and was off to my two stops, the Stephen Foster Memorial followed by a Hard Rock Café. The memorial was easy to find except I was looking on the wrong side of the street and passed it. As it was a one way street around the block I went. I took my photo and then road to the Hard Rock which was about 15 minutes away. Took my photo and was off to my next stop, the world’s largest gavel in Columbus OH. After a nice ride I found that without incident. Who could miss a gavel the size of a bus? I took my photo and headed off to the American Signs Museum in Cincinnati OH. Here I had to take a photo of a specific mural. The outside of this place was cool so I took a few moments and took pictures of the old signs that were about before moving on. I needed gas so I stopped to top off and grab something to eat. I fueled the bike and myself, and then headed out. I tried to get on I-75 but the onramp was closed. I rode around a bit and finally found my way to I-75 and was on my way to Louisville Kentucky where I had to take a photo of a giant bat, as in baseball bat, followed by another Hardrock Cafe. I found the bat and took my photo. I headed towards the Hardrock which was only a few blocks away but traffic was terrible. I found my way to the street but it was blocked off and according to my GPS it was at the opposite end of the street, so I had to go around the block to the other side. There was some street fest going on and there was a music stage in the middle of the street. I saw a tour bus and all of the street parking was closed which was good for me as this “reserved” a place for me to park. I snuck my bike in just in front of the bus, walked 100 feet or so to the Hardrock and took my photo, and then was back on the road. My next stop was not too far away in Munfordville Kentucky where I had to take a photo of a replica of Stonehenge. I got there and noticed it was someone’s home and was hesitant on pulling into the driveway so I re-read the rally book to ensure I knew where to take the photo and I was in the right place. Then I noticed that there was what appeared to be a small parking area so I pulled in, took my photo, and pulled out. Down the road I stopped to record the bonus in my log before I moved on to my next bonus in Bowling Green Kentucky. Here I was supposed to have my photo made standing with statues of the Blues Brothers. As I was riding I checked my time and saw I was running late due to the traffic I had run into. The more I thought about the bonus the more I thought this would be a time suck and would not be worth the mere 33 points. As I got close I decided to pass it by and head to the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville TN. I had a pleasant ride up to the point where I got into town and then ran into traffic which was not too surprising given Nashville is a somewhat large city. As I neared the center of town I realized there was some form of concert venue and there was an event going on. I found the Country Music Hall of Fame and saw there was no place to park. I spied a loading dock around the corner from where I needed my photo so I pulled in and parked. I confirmed what I needed to find and it was a quote from Dolly Parton on the wall. It happened to be the first one I came to so I took my photo and moved on. My next stop was Huntsville Alabama where I had to take a photo of the Space Shuttle with my bike. Finding that was easy and I pulled in around 9pm. It was dark and the shuttle was not lit directly, however there was enough light from the parking light the photo came out good enough.
As I was leaving I realized I had another hour ride to my next stop which was the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in Tuscumbia. The rest bonus was a minimum of 6 hours and a max of 8 hours and was worth 33 points a minute which was high enough that I could not get that many points riding so I decided to take the full 8 hours. I saw no reason to take another photo at night so I decided to find a room. That is when things started to come apart. I searched for hotels on my route and two popped up, a Hampton Inn 1 mile away and another 7 miles away. I opted for the close one so I pulled over and got my phone out to book the room. Found the hotel, booked the room, and road to it. The hotel was about a mile off my route which was surprising. It also had no gas station within 3 miles, so I had to go get gas and then go back to the hotel. When I went to check in the desk clerk could not find my reservation and asked for a confirm number. As I was getting my phone out I asked if this was the hotel on XXX road and he said no. I had done it again, I booked the wrong hotel! It was a 15 minute ride to the correct hotel and luck was with me as there was a gas station in the adjacent lot. I pulled in and got gas to start my rest bonus (again!), went in to check in, and was happy to hear that I was in the right place.
After the rest bonus I was heading to the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in Tuscumbia AL. I found that without incident and got my photo. My next stop was the Coon Dog Cemetery in Cherokee AL. I was about 30 minutes behind schedule and was in danger of missing the group photo. I opted to drop the Coon Dog Cemetery which gave me back the 30 minutes or so I needed. Next I was headed to Loretta Lynn’s museum in Hurricane Mills TN. On the way I searched for any additional bonus locations on my route and found there was an oldies radio station in Waynesboro TN that I added to my route. That and Loretta Lynn’s museum came and went without issue and then on to the group photo at noon in Hopkinsville KY. I got there 10 minutes early, spoke with a few of the riders, and once the photo was taken I was headed back south to Clarksville TN. The first stop was a fountain however there was sometime of music fest going on. I had plenty of time and few bonus locations I could add so I parked a block away and walked to the fountain for my photo. From there it was a short ride to take a photo of a bridge and then I was off to Hazel KY where I had to take a photo of a statue at the Kentucky – Tennessee border. That came without issue and I was headed the finish at Kenlake Resort in Hardin Kentucky. I noticed there was one more bonus location in the park so I stopped there for my photo of the blues sculpture and then headed into the finish.
We had to purchase a six pack and turn it in at the finish which I did. I parked, unloaded, and went into the hotel. I had plenty of time so I checked in and took a shower. I went over my paperwork, put everything in order, and turned in my photos and paperwork for scoring. Scoring went well and no points were lost. Once the results were posted I saw my standings as being 18th out of 36 riders. In total I had ridden 1106 miles in 31 1/2 hours of riding plus the 280 miles from home to my start in Pittsburgh
My route as ridden including the trip home:
Here are the photos I took:
Stephen Foster Memorial
Hard Rock Café – Pittsburgh
World’s largest gavel in Columbus OH
American Signs Museum in Cincinnati OH.
Giant bat in Louisville KY
Hardrock Café in Louisville KY
Replica of Stonehenge Munfordville Kentucky
Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville TN
Space Shuttle in Huntsville Alabama
Alabama Music Hall of Fame in Tuscumbia AL
Oldies radio station in Waynesboro TN
Loretta Lynn’s museum in Hurricane Mills TN
Group Photo in Hopkinsville Kentucky
Fountain in Clarksville TN
Bridge in Clarksville TN
Kentucky – Tennessee border in Hazel KY
Blues sculpture at Kenlake Resort in Hardin KY