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The first decision I had to make regarding the MD 20-20 was whether or not
to ride it. Sept. 11th has had a profound effect on my business and I've
gone from working 25 hour weeks to working 70 hour weeks. Since September my
big K bike has sat mostly parked  as I've found myself in an endless string
of client hand holding meetings. I sent in my entry fee to hold a spot and
figured I'd make a decision in mid May. When the bonus locations were
announced, that was it, I was in! I got excited just looking at all the
possibilities.
Looking at the routes, North, South, West, and Key West I threw Key West out
immediately. Even though it looked marginally doable it wasn't doable for
me. You see, even though I'm an LD rider I'm a lazy LD rider. In fact, I
have LLDRS, Lazy Long Distance Rider Syndrome. Yeah, I'll do a 1000 or 1500
miles in a day, but 2600 miles in 36 hours? On disturbed, restless pre-
rally sleep? I don't think so! With Key West off the Board I was now able to
implement my sophisticated rally bonus location mapping system, paper maps,
a magic marker and Yahoo maps. Using this method I gave the boot to the West
route due to total unfamiliarity. The South route looked interesting, but it
also looked like too much riding to get a decent point score. Too much
riding would affect my LLDRS. The North route looked like the best bet, with
the most bonus points per mile. I probably could cover the entire route with
about 1600 miles of riding, not bad at all! However, the route looked like a
gamble. The big bonus point locations were all tourist traps, with mostly
one way in and one way out.  Very doable midweek, off season. But on a
holiday weekend? I don't care what brand of GPS you're using, when traffic
stops on the only road to town, you stop with it. Not to mention the
nightmare I-95 in New England can become. The big point locations in Maine
and Cape Cod would require almost perfect traffic conditions. I opted not to
do them. I was leaving every major point location on the table. No Eastport,
Stonington, Provincetown, or Brattleboro or the 1.8 million points that went
with them. I opted instead to make a lot of stops at smaller point
locations. My rally ride was going to be a 30 stop dice throw gamble that no
one could grab the big point locations and make it back to York PA inside
the time window. I was betting big time on good old New England traffic. To
supplement my planning I had an opportunity to visit some of  my planned
stops. I noted that all the blocks mentioned contained a Diner. Hmmm?
Saturday dawned clear and cool. A pleasant change from last year's drenching
start. I was the number two bike to start behind Rob Nye. No speeds
mentioned here, but Rob set a rather brisk pace to the first bonus location,
Jim Young's grave. At the grave site I bent down on one knee to pay my
respects to a great guy. Knowing Jim would understand, I then grabbed my
rally book, answered the question, and boogied on out of there. The longish
stop at Jim's grave had put me somewhat behind schedule, but from there the
day progressed mostly as expected, with few snags. I got the Allentown bonus
then got thrown out of the Diner in Jim Thorpe. I even offered the guy 20
bucks for the answer. "Get Out" was his reply. My key then jammed in my gas
cap at my first fuel stop. The key was jammed and so was the cap. I managed
to unstick it and continue on. I was a little unnerved by this and obsessed
until my next boni stop in Stroudsburg. I answered the question and then
tried the key in the cap again. It worked flawlessly as it has always
worked. The locking mechanism on the fuel cap has always been something I've
never liked and shouldn't be something that could end a ride. I'm sure BMW
can do better. I continued on, East Stroudsburg, Milford, lunch, K-Mart for
a better flash light and then across New York  to Stamford Connecticut. I
got off I-684 and came into Stamford on a back Road. I passed thru Bedford
NY, a beautiful little town. I can see why people live there. I got the two
Stamford locations with ease. A waitress at one of the Diners told me
another rider, dressed just like me had stopped in about two hours earlier
and that I 'd better get a move on. Hmmm, who else was going North with a
Hi-Viz Yellow Stitch or Darien? Back on my horse, I scooted up the Merrit
Parkway, a very nice road, to Meriden, and Middletown. I then hit
Wethersfield. It was all good and by late afternoon I found myself on a
beautiful central Connecticut two lane on the way to Dayville.  Lots of
helmet less local riders. And believe it or not I saw one rider in shorts
and flip flops, riding a Harley. At Dayville I decided to reverse my Rhode
Island route so I could hit  the Swamp Fight bonus in the last light of the
day. This would add about an hour to my ride but Head Bubba Rick Miller's
admonition to bring a good flashlight to this dirt road location loomed
large. Dirt road at nite on a K1200LT? No thanks! I poured it on down I-395
thanks to a High speed Mustang doing Rabbit duty. I somehow missed the exit
to 95 North and did a U-turn through some construction. This added ten
minutes. I was racing the now setting sun. I was slowed again after exiting
95. I was behind a horse truck in a no passing zone. !5 minutes later I
turned onto RI 2. I managed to find the dirt road. It wasn't as good as the
bubba's had led me to believe but it wasn't bad either. It was guarded by a
very large dog that wasn't intimidated in the least by my motorcycle. The
dog gave chase but fortunately gave up before I got the foot path that would
take me back to the bonus. It was still light as I walked thru the woods
rally book in hand. Honest to God, how do the rally bubbas find these
places? This was a hike! At least a half mile walk on an unmarked trail
through the woods! But there it was in the middle of the woods, a monument
surrounded by four markers. On the way out I was ready for Fido but
apparently he only chases  incoming traffic. Outgoing traffic doesn't even
warrant a nod. OK with me as I continued on to finish out the Rhode Island
string and move on to Fall River MA. The temps were starting to dip as the
sun went down so out came the Gerbings jacket. Near the ocean I was getting
temp readings in the mid forties. Being thin blooded Florida born and bred,
cold or even cool temperatures have always been a problem for me. Most of
the trunk and bag space on my bike is taken up with clothing. Being too hot
you can always peel off a layer, but getting cold without any way to get
warm will finish your ride in a hurry. At least it does for me. I met up
with another LT rider at my 2nd Fall River stop. I think it was Wally
Nichols, but as I write this I'm not sure. He mentioned that he'd been to
Provincetown and was now working his way west. Hmmm? This was my first
indication that I should have bet the pass line on route selection. The dice
were going against me.  I continued on, hitting Pawtucket, East Greenwich
and then down to Groton. It was about midnight and I was starting to fade. I
rode across the street to a Wal-Mart to see if I could stop there for a
while. They had just closed. 9 hours later fellow rider Don Arthur would
lose much of the contents of his tank bag to a thief at this same Wal-Mart.
I continued on south, following my hand written directions. About a half
hour later I pulled into a rest stop for a short break and a Diet Coke.
Fifty miles later I again needed to stop and found another rest area, this
time to hit the Iron Butt Motel. As I cruised the parking lot of this huge
rest area-restaurant-gas station facility the upper left corner of the lot
looked like the best place to stop. As I neared the intersection of the lane
I was in with the main entry way I ignored the no left turn sign, looked
right to clear traffic and accelerated into a left turn. As I looked forward
HORROR! A curb was right in front of me! SHIT!  PRESS HARD RIGHT, HARD LEFT,
ACCELERATE, GAS,GAS,GAS! I caromed off the curb, the bike wobbled but stayed
up. WHAT THE F WAS THAT? STUPID,STUPID,STUPID! I stopped for a moment. At
least now I was awake. There was no sleeping now. I checked the bike and all
was good. The adrenalin got me  to New Jersey and into New York City. At the
Bendix Diner in Hasbrouck HTS. NJ I asked the BLIND proprietor if he'd seen
anyone dressed like me that day. Funny, the little things you don't notice
about people at four in the morning. I rolled my way down the NJ Turnpike
passing thru two radar setups. 10 over didn't get a yawn. At 5:30am I pulled
into my own driveway in Cherry Hill NJ to start my rest bonus. Four hours
later I left to begin the Southeastern PA leg of my tour. By 2:30pm I had
worked my way back  to York. Not wanting to show up empty handed I made one
final stop at a Wal-Mart to pick up some things for the kids. I checked in
at the finish line at 2:50pm.
So how did my throw of the dice strategy work out? I finished 9th.
Apparently, with the exception of the Tappan zee bridge New England traffic
took the weekend off! The North route turned out to be the right choice,
with the top three spots going to North Route riders. But these riders were
able to hit one, two or all of the big point locations. I tip my bug
spattered helmet to them. They too took a gamble. For them it pad big. No
complaints on how it paid for me.
Looking back, what would I do differently? Not much. My plan was to make
lots of stops, which meant riding efficiency and time management would be
key. I did that, so I'm happy. I rode my ride almost flawlessly and I'm
happy with that. I will take my rest bonus earlier next time. I kinda got
caught in a trap this time. I found myself in the NYC metro area without a
suitable place to stop. The curb incident told me I needed to be off the
bike a lot sooner than 5:30am.
All in all it was a great rally. The Rally staff did a fantastic job with
every aspect of this event. And best of all, in keeping my LLDRS at bay I
only rode 1207 miles!
Back to hand holding.

Tom Cotter