The 2016 Mason Dixon 2020 was the 3rd time I had participated in this rally. As in all rallies this one had a theme: Say What? When I heard what the theme was I could not imagine what the bonus locations would be so I had to wait until I received my rally book to figure it out. A week before the rally we received the bonus locations. The bonus locations were, well, interesting. We were headed to towns such as Blue Ball PA, Climax NC, Intercourse PA, Loveladies NJ, and Harts WV to name a few. This was going to be interesting. Included in the bonus list were 13 combination boni with four locations we had to visit to meet the requirements. One included stopping at two Sheetz stores with another bonus between them – Think between the Sheetz! The point values were such that one had to incorporate several of the combinations into the route to have any hope of scoring near the top. In addition the annual mandatory bonus in Fort Indiantown Gap was in the rally book as was a mandatory rest bonus of 3 hours. We had a mileage cap of 1,700 miles and had to be at the finish line no later than 1:30 pm. There were also two wildcard bonus locations that could be used to satisfy one of the combination bonus locations.

I spent the week coming up with different routes and finally had one I was happy with. My strategy was to take each combination bonus and use that as the basis for a route, and then see what I could add to it. I finally found one that incorporated 3 of the combination boni along with some high value bonus locations in North Carolina. The mileage was reasonable and I would have 4 hours for a rest bonus. I had looked at the wildcard locations however one was up in Canada and the other was in Kentucky. I just could not find a route that allowed me to incorporate them so I dismissed them.

Then, it was time to head to the rally start. This year I took off on Friday and headed out Thursday night on a meandering ride to rally HQ. I arrived around 3pm on Friday, registered, did my odometer check ride, and settled into the hotel and hung out with friends I had not seen for several months. Noticeably absent was our friend Bruce Jansen who sadly is no longer with us (You were missed Bruce!) The banquet went as normal, we were fed an excellent meal, chatted, and then it was time for rally business. We were told we would be receiving our rally books at the morning pre-rally meeting, which had me concerned that there could be something in it that would cause me to change my route at the last minute “on the clock”. We were also told that the nice shirts we had received (which I was wearing) were our rally flags. I guess I should have noticed the fact that my rally number was on the shirt. At least I did not get any food on it. We received our start instructions including where to line up our bikes and time for the pre-rally meeting. After the banquet there was a meeting for the rookies and newbies (first time MD2020 ralliers and first time ralliers). Since I was neither, I hung out with friends for a while and then it was off to my room to review my route one more time.

As usual the night went fast and before I knew it the alarm was going off and I had to head down to the bike and move it to the start location. Then it was breakfast and the pre-rally meeting. I chose to keep my room so I did not have to pack up. We were handed our rally books, told about one change to it, and we were dismissed. Having learned hard lessons in the past I went back to my room to review the rally book for any new boni. There was one that I saw, purchase $2 in lottery tickets from one of several states, WV, MD, or PA I believe. I also read the rally instructions for each bonus I planned to visit to ensure there was nothing unusual such as walk 2 miles to the location or the need to ride on an 8 mile dirt road. Nothing unusual was noted for my locations and proud that I had taken the time to pick up on the lottery tickets, I headed out around 6am. In hindsight, there was one red flag screaming at me however I was oblivious to it as were most of the other riders.

My first stop was the Sheetz directly across the street from the hotel to start my “between the Sheetz” combo. I purchased a bottle of water and my lottery tickets and was off to my next bonus which was KNOB in Knobsville PA where we had to take a picture of the cornerstone of a church.

From there I stopped at another Sheetz and then collected the KINK bonus in Duncannon PA where we had to take a photo of a sign for the Kinkora Pythian nursing home

Along the way my new GPS told me of a traffic detour on US 15 near Harrisburg so I left I-81 at Carlisle and routed around it. Unfortunately my GPS put me on a road that was closed so I had another detour, however I got that sorted out and was on my way. From KINK I was off to Ft Indiantown Gap for the JIM bonus to pay our annual respect to LTC Jim Young.

From there I headed to Lickdale PA for the SWAT bonus and bumped into a few other riders there. Here we had to take a picture of the historical marker for Fort Swatara

It seemed we were headed in the same direction but my next bonus was not on their list. I wasn’t sure if that was good or bad. Did I miss something? I figured I would find out and headed out on my way to the VIRG bonus in Virginville PA to take a photo of a fire station.

From there I was turning south for a photo of a sign for a covered bridge in Reamstown PA for the REAM bonus. I found the bridge ok but could not find a sign that looked like the image I was supposed to capture. I rode around for a bit and then decided to get off the bike and walk through the bridge. I found it painted on the inside of the bridge, took my photo, and moved on. I lost about 5 minutes at that stop.

Next it was down to Intercourse PA for a photo of a sign for the INT bonus. No real issues other than the side was on the other side of the road and it took a few minutes to make a U-turn for a photo and then another to head off in the proper direction.

From there I had a long ride down to Baltimore for the DICV bonus. This was actually for the town of Dickville MD which if I recall was on the register of historic places. Here was the only place that I had real trouble finding a bonus. There was nothing at the coordinates given. I rode around for a few minutes going about ¼ in each direction looking for it because I am too stubborn to call the Rally Master. Another rider showed up and I resigned myself to the fact I had to make a call. It seems there was good reason I could not find the location, it seems critical information was missing from the rally book. We needed to go approximately ¼ down the road. I had turned around 50 feet from the sign but had missed it. Photo was taken and I was headed south on I-95 towards the PUMP bonus in Richmond VA.

Here I had a dilemma, I could avoid I-95 like the time suck it is due to traffic or I could suck it up, stay on I-95 and pick up one more bonus. I was actually about 30 minutes ahead of schedule and staying on I-95 was shorter than my planned route of I-97 and US 301 so I decided to add the BUTS bonus in Fairfax Station VA. The coordinates took me to the intersection of VA 123 and a small road leading to what would be considered a service road so I turned onto the service road and then into the first parking lot I saw. It turned out that was my bonus location so I took my photo of the Imageworks Garden Center and continued on.

I had a slight delay since the traffic sensors did not detect my bike and there were no cars that pulled up behind me for a while. My next bonus was PUMP in Richmond VA. This turned out to be in the Pumping Station Mall and I had to take a photo of a fountain and be sure that the sign for Dicks Sporting goods was visible. That didn’t seem so bad. When I got there I found a spot to park and headed into the courtyard of the mall. I saw a foundation, but no Dicks. Then I saw another fountain, but no Dicks. Then I saw Dicks but no fountain. I looked closely at the sample photo and neither fountain I could see looked like the one in the photo. I decided to take a photo of each fountain and sort it out later. I found the one spot where you could see the fountain and the sign for Dicks. The sign was hard to see due to the trees and the overhead covered walkways in the way. I am sure the 1,000 or so shoppers that were present were wondering what the idiot wearing the winter jacket holding a stick with a shirt hanging from it was doing with the camera in his hand. It turned out the fountain had been changed however the one I wanted had pumps on it and I had captured a good photo of it so I did score the bonus worth 969 points. I think I had taken my helmet off but don’t recall.

Here is the one that counted. Not the pumps on the fountain to the right and the Dicks sign to the left

And here is the other fountain

Next on my list was the BOB bonus in Bobbit NC. This and the next few were fairly large bonus locations worth 1,669 to 2,069 points. They were the meat of my rally other than the combination boni. In Bobbit I had to take a photo of a gas station/general store which went without a hitch.

My next stop was the LIZ bonus in Lizard Lick NC for a photo of the town hall. I got there, pulled into a gas station, and did not see any buildings that looked like my photo. I was on the phone to the Rally Master and he informed me they had painted the building and never put up the Town Hall sign. At the same time another rider pulled up, I took a photo of the building

Then I was off to the TWOQ bonus in Cameron NC where I had to take a photo of a sign with two ??’s on it. It was now dark and the area with the sign was dark so I passed it and had to turn around. My new lights came in handy as I was able to light up the sign without getting too far of the road and took my photo.

A car turned around and asked if I was ok which was cool. I assured them I was ok and headed off to the ERCT bonus in Erect NC. I got there with no issues at the same time as another rider, we took our photos, and I was out quicker than he was which made me feel that I was getting more efficient in my stops.

From there I was headed to the DICK bonus in Randleman NC for a photo of a statue of Richard Petty.

This was a little tricky to find in the dark but I did after a minute or so and I was off for the HORN bonus in High Point NC where I needed to take a photo of the Horneytown Fire Department which went smoothly.

My next bonus was CLI in Climax NC worth 1,869 points but it was daylight only. I was not going to make it however going over my route I realized I could take my rest bonus, and then pick up the CLI bonus. I modified my plan accordingly and headed toward the bonus to find a hotel. It was around midnight and had just started to rain. I found my hotel, checked in, and slept for 4 hour or so. I was 15 minutes away from CLI and when I got there is was daylight enough for my photo so I got it and moved on.

Next I headed off to the TITE bonus in Chatham VA where I had to take a photo of the Tight Squeeze garden supply store.

That went without issue and next was the LOVI bonus in Lovingston VA where I needed to take a photo of a memorial for the victims from Nelson County of hurricane Camile. The courthouse where this was located had some construction going on but I was able to find the memorial after a few minutes and took my photo.

My next bonus was the last on my list, HEAD in Headwaters VA where I had to take a photo of a church. I had a fantastic ride through the mountains and found the church, however the sign we needed for the photo was gone so I took a photo of where the sign was and another that was on the building identifying it.

I then had a decision to make. My schedule had me getting to the finish 90 minutes early. There was one more bonus along the way that I could pick up that was work a lot of points but would add 60 minutes to my route leaving me only a 30 minute cushion. However, I was about 200 miles from the finish and a lot could happen to eat up 30 minutes causing me to DNF (Did Not Finish) I debated this for a few minutes but since I am not at a point where I want to DNF a rally I opted to skip it.

I pulled into the finish about as schedule, 90 minutes early. Since I had plenty of time I showered and sat down to review my paperwork. All was in order so I submitted it for scoring. I lost no points at the table which was good, and then the wait came for the results. At the banquet we had another great meal, and then the results were read. I am typically a middle of the pack finisher so as the names were read I started wondering what happened when I did not hear my name at that point. Then, I heard my name called. I was pleasantly surprised to hear I was #10! My first top ten finish.

In summary, the 2016 MD2020 went well for me. I rode my ride without dropping any bonus locations and even added two. Had I rode the route in the reverse direction I would have been able to pick up another large point bonus, however that would have put me on I-95 for the last portion of the rally with its predictable bad traffic, plus I would have had the mandatory bonus in Ft Indiantown Gap at the end which I could not drop. Also, with the bonus being in a National Cemetery and it being Memorial Day weekend traffic could be a problem. So I was happy with the way the rally went. Maybe it is time to start pushing the envelope a little more and not leaving such a big cushion at the end. We shall see …

Here is the route including the trip to the start of the rally. The rally started at point 59, I headed north to 75, and then south. Total miles ridden were approximately 1250