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Date: Wed, 29 May 2002 22:02:10 -0400

From: Donald Graling

Subject: LDRider: MD2020 Rally trip report - Diners of America

The Opening
Friday was a crazy day - rushing home to leave at 2:00 PM with Bill Shaw for the MD-2020 Rally. We finally rolled out around 3:00 PM or so - me with a new to me 2001 R1150GS - with only about 300 new miles on it - purchased two weekends previously from Morton's BMW with 1344 miles on it. Let's see I was going to put more miles on the bike in one weekend then the previous owner had in 18 months? I had been adding junk to the bike all week - rushed home during lunch one day to add handguards and spoilers. Finally received the RAM mount for my GPS V on Thursday and installed that when I got home on Friday. We rode up Route 28 and out Route 7 which on a Friday before Memorial Day Weekend was jammed and it was hot! Finally once we cleared the Potomac River things opened up and we made good time to Pennsylvania and on to Route 30 to the Rally hotel. I had traveled to several of the bonus locations the previous weekend so I knew exactly where the hotel was after getting completely lost in York the previous weekend. Also, as we neared York I spotted the Diner located on West Market Street (Route 30) which was one of the bonus locations. At this point in time I thought DOA stood for Dinners or Alleys since several of the bonus locations had both in the same hundred block (Silver Spring, MD and Warrenton, VA).

The MD2020 greeting team could not have been nicer - all I wanted to do was get my odometer check in and then settle down for dinner. We got it done with 5 minutes to spare and had a great meal put on by the Rally team. Let me spend a minute complementing the whole group that put on the rally. I think it was Rick, Todd and Brent that I interacted with the most and they could not have been more helpful to a LD Rally rookie. The food was excellent and the hotel was a great choice.

We headed to our room early and watch Navy Seals in training getting washed out of their program - I was hoping that the next two days would not be a wet as those guys. Lights out at 10:00 PM with a wake up call at 5:00 AM.

Saturday - Day One
My internal clock woke me up about 10 minutes early - that was good. We attended the rider meeting and completed the route summary sheet that gave you a bunch of extra points. I already had the route laid out and was ready to go. No additional bonus locations were added except for the address of the diner across the street from the Rally hotel - total 1 point. Everyone hit the road promptly at 6:00 AM and our first stop was the diner that we had spotted the day before on West Market Street - I knew I didn't want to hit this road under construction on Sunday afternoon so we pulled this one in early. We had traveled up the road with a older Harley and the gentleman was headed to Knoxville and as we pulled in to the Diner he blew right past us? This was the easiest bonus all weekend?

After the Diner on West Market Street we headed up to Jim Young's grave - we were all alone on the trip up I-81 but we could see a bunch of bikes headed back down the road to begin the Southern Route. Jim's grave was easy to find - and we pulled his birth date off the grave stone for the rally book. Next destination was Frederick, Maryland. We took what I think was the long way to Frederick - I-81 to I-70 then to I-270 - the GPS V was trying to flip me onto Route 15 but at this point I wanted to roll at Superslab speeds and not watch the backroads at 55. I had not scooped out this diner on the previous weekend but knew exactly where it was but as we started down the final street and didn't spot it right away I got that sinking feeling that I had screwed it up? But no - it was just around the corner and we were set.

Next destination was a diner in Rippon, WV - we took Route 340 across the Potomac at Harper's Ferry - what a beautiful morning - traffic wasn't too bad and I knew we would make good time once on I-81. We of course blew right by the diner because it was about a mile before Rippon but a quick U-turn and we had three bonus locations before 9:00 AM. Continuing on Route 340 we hit Route 50 and popped into Winchester. I had written directions to this diner but Winchester is very confusing but my amazing luck was holding and we basically ran right into the diner off of Route 50 and Route 11. This was the last of the slow stuff and we jumped on I-81 headed to St. Albans, WVA where we had to be by 8:00 PM. As we traveled down I-81 I realized that my time estimates had been too conservative so we decided to hit Bedford, Virginia which was one of my optional locations.

Monday morning quarterbacking is always great and I now second guess myself on this - we should have gone directly to White Sulphur Springs (closed at 2:00 PM) and then done Bedford the next day but when you're traveling and calculating in your mind you just miss some things. We ended up in Bedford and then backtracked to I-64 towards St. Albans - by now the White Sulphur Springs diner was closed so we had to hit that one on Sunday morning - 7:00 AM. We arrived in St. Albans and met Shawn from Maine on a K11LT - he was looking at his laptop to figure his next location. I had been on this exact road a year earlier when it was my last stop - US 35 in the AWSHIDT tour. What a coincidence - same road and the road sign I used was just shy of the Diner. By this time it's around 6:30 PM and we've been running hard all day - quick gas stops - quick snacks - crackers, hot dog at the counter but I was pumped and ready to go. Next destination was Knoxville via Lexington, KY - we arrived in Knoxville around 10:00 or so - at the previous gas stop we had worked out the directions to the site in Knoxville which is a very confusing town. My luck was holding as we pulled to the curb to ask someone where the diner was he said "about 100 yards down the road but it's closed" - no big deal to me - don't need it to be open.

I had no idea how to get out of Knoxville but this is where the GPS comes in handy - set the direction - East and go - had us up and on to I-40 in about 5 minutes. Although I had been a little tired earlier in the day at this point I was pumped and really roaring - Bill lead the way on his K12LT with Cruise control since trying to hold a constant speed on my R1150GS with the stock screen was driving him crazy - it was driving me crazy. We had decided to ride until 1:00 AM or so - finish the tank of gas - grab the 3 hour rest bonus (worth something like 999,000 points) and then get up at 4:00 AM to head to White Sulphur Springs - I think the distance from Knoxville to White Sulphur Springs was about 300 miles or so. We stopped at 1:00 AM near Marion, Virginia - grabbed the hotel receipt to start the rest bonus and went to bed. It was interesting trying to relax once in bed and not think "I want to pump 8 hours of sleep into this 3 hour period". When that wake up call came at 4:00 AM it was jolting to say the least. I felt like crap and was thinking - "I'm never doing this again - I hate this stuff - this is crazy".

Sunday - Day Two
O.K. so that thought lasted about an hour and then the sun was coming up - the weather was absolutely beautiful and I was now thinking - "hey - this is pretty much fun and I think I'm going to do this again". We hit White Sulphur Springs right at 6:45 AM - grabbed some gas and some Orange Juice - and then blew right past Bev's Diner which was scheduled to open at 7:00 AM - - no sign of anyone so we peeked in and spotted the answer to the question and to how many turkeys are on the coat rack - answer was 3. We then were done with our Southern trip and heading back to the barn via a bunch of bonuses in and around Washington, D.C. I won't bore you with the details but most of these were easy since I'm from the D.C. area and knew exactly where most of these were - Front Royal, Warrenton, Fairfax in Virginia and then Silver Spring, Jessup, Catonsville and Baltimore. We were done and it was about 1:30 PM - we could have done one more maybe Aberdeen, Maryland but we were done - had really enjoyed the ride and decided to call it a wrap - headed back to York and I grabbed the last 1 point bonus - the address of the diner across the street from the Rally hotel - right on the awning was 222 - we finished at 2:30 PM about 30 minutes early.

We worked with the Rally crew to review our books and then I went and cleaned up after being on the road for a day and a half. The awards dinner started at 7:00 PM and I had the pleasure to sit with Ed Phelps and his wife Barb, Don Arthur and Rob Nye. I was very pleasantly surprised when it was announced that I had finished in 23rd place - although I have previously completed the Don's Four Corners Birthday Ride and a Saddlesore 1000 this was my first LD rally experience. Total uncorrected distance was 1766 miles.

Overall - it was a great ride - the ride home on Sunday night after the rally was in a torrential downpour most of the way but I didn't care because I knew that I was heading home and was in no hurry at all. Once again - thanks to the MD2020 team - what a class act and a class rally - count me in for next year I'll be there.

Don Graling
Centreville, Virginia
2001 BMW R1150GS