Friday, September 7, 2012

2012 MinuteMan 1000

The Dawn of Anti-Routing

Number 8.

It was my worst MinuteMan to date.

It was not the rally itself.  Rob Nye and Co. put on a fabulous event always.  It's just that this Luddite thing is killing me.

My previous seven rallies have always placed me with final standings, generally in the middle of the pack. Mostly due to my bizarro world approach to rally routing and hopeless choice of steed.

Seriously, would you take routing advise from this man?

This year I was going to try a new approach: Anti-Routing.  Instead of my usual route planning technique of circling bonus locations on a wall map, while desperately trying to decipher the meaning of life ( ie: going to locations that I thought were cool, regardless of point value) ..... I would just select a general direction, ( the one with the least amount of forecast rain ), and let the GPS pick the next likely bonus. Sort of like making changes on the fly.  Except with this method I would be doing the whole rally on the fly.

Now that 99% of LDR rallies are Electronic Bonus (EB) based, with little or no bonus location directions contained in the Rally Book or Route Sheets, it is harder and harder to NOT have a GPS on board.  So I have one, ( a Nuvi ). So now I must use it. So now, with all the bonus locations safely filed away in EXTRAS as poi's, I'm ready to go.

One of the features I do like about my GPS, is how it displays the list of poi's stored.  The one at the top is the closest to my current position. Couple this with Rob's bonus coding that contains the point value of the bonus, my routing plan ( or lack thereof ) was to merely select the next closest bonus location that has a decent point value.  Simple, eh?

Simply Stupid.

Can you guess the one HUGE flaw in all this?
Let us back up a bit.

It wasn't all bad. The weekend started off great ! ! !

The weather was fabulous; sunny and dry.  I enjoyed a nice ride from home to the host hotel.  Granted, it was not a leisurely ride along warm and fuzzy back roads.  Actually it was all  I-495 and the Mass Pike. But battling interstate truck and RV traffic can be very stimulating and exciting.  Nothing can get you into rally mode quicker than the pinhead drivers we have around here.  YYeeowww !!!!

Although I knew very well the way to rally HQ, I nonetheless had my GPS powered up. And it functioned just fine.  I was enjoying the ride, I never gave the GPS any thought.  This was my first BIG mistake.

The best part of arriving at rally HQ, is seeing familiar bikes in the parking lot. Your friends have already arrived !!!   It is always good to be back each year.  With enthusiastic hand shakes and hugs completed, there is only one thing left to do. GO TO LUNCH ! ! ! !

The Clarion Resort in Northampton, has a great poolside snack bar with a decent burger and cold beer. Doc, Cyril, Scott, Michael and myself enjoyed a great meal and even better stories.  Folks from New York always have great stories.  I loved the "pick up the car at the train station" story !!!!

Photo courtesy Clarion Resorts
After lunch, we all retreated to the Tire Kicker's Lounge, for more war stories and to enjoy the delicious attributes of a fine maduro wrapped dominican robusto.

Photo by Andy Kirby
So let's recap what has happened so far:
  • I had a good ride to start the day.
  • Met up with some of the best people on earth.
  • Enjoyed a fabulous poolside lunch.
  • Consumed a fine stogie in style.
All this, and we haven't even checked in yet ! ! ! !

God, I love this rally.

Below is a photo of the Hardest Working Rally Staff in LD.

These guys truly make it look easy ! ! !

It just doesn't happen without these fine folks.  As always, THANK YOU ALL VERY MUCH for doing this work year after year.

MAX BMW  has once again, graciously sponsored the MinuteMan1000 Rally and has provided incredible support from the beginning.  THANK YOU, Ben and Max.


Here's Rob reminding us just how much fun we are about to have, ( well, some riders will ).
( I should have stayed in bed ).

So now I've got this new routing approach sort of squared up in my head.  I don't really have a plan, but I am anxious to get started.

The MinuteMan 1000 always draws a good crowd.
Photo by Andy Kirby

I was soon to expose the big flaw in my plan.

Let us now skip the usual, "rode here, claimed this bonus", style of Ride Report, and go right to the, Lessons Learned, portion of our program.

1.  Never, ever, ever, assume the power cord to your GPS is working fine.  ( especially when you do not notice the nice error message on the screen that tells you your GPS has lost external power ). AArrgggg.
     Evidently, the power cord I was using on Friday had already failed and the GPS was running nicely on its battery. Which it does quite well, but not for ever......

     We'll get back to this later.

2.  Never, ever, ever, solely rely on your (single) GPS.  ( it's that whole "eggs in one basket" thing ).

      I mean, come on, this should be common sense.  Then again, so should NOT trying to rally on a 40 year old  machine.  Some folks just don't get it.


So there I am, leaving the start gate with no real plan except collect each of the MAX's BMW bonuses.
This was a combo bonus.  Visit each of MAX's dealerships and "win valuable prizes".  Seemed easy enough.
First go to MAX in New Hampshire, then go to MAX in Connecticut and finish with MAX in New York. In between each location I would just select the next closest bonus that was either worth the points or worth a visit.


It was a nice sunny day, so heading East on the Mass Pike was just glare city.  I've got so much duct tape on my face shield, I'm looking through about 1/2" of open visor.  I looked like Gort, the robot in the movie, "The Day the Earth Stood Still",  (the original, not the Keanu Reeves one).  It's all I can do to keep an eye on traffic, I wasn't paying attention to my GPS.  Oooops.

So now it's about 44 minutes into the rally.  I finally glance at my GPS.  The screen is blank?  WTF?  I jiggle and wiggle wires to reset my power connection.   Nothing.  Just a nice "Low Battery" message.  OK....... I guess I'll deal with this once I get to MAX's.  Since I had nothing written down as far as bonus locations were concerned, I was not going to grab any bonuses on the way.

The MAX NH bonus: "Obtain a business card from any employee". Well, I certainly choose the most enthusiastic rally supporting employee, ( name withheld to protect privacy ). Thank you for the fabulous "signature" you added to your card. ( I really, really wished I had taken a photo).

Words just won't do, but you get the idea.  I should have got extra points .......

It was time to see just what was up with my GPS power cord.  Check the power socket.  Check the cord.  Fiddle with the plug end.  I finally get to the little fuse behind the tip. It's white ceramic and I can't tell if it is blown or not.  Screw it, just go get some new fuses and get going.  Next stop, Radio Shack.  Hey, fuses are cheap, insert a new one and let's get going........ not so fast there Pink Pad.  New fuse - Still no power.
Crap!!!!!  Maybe it's the socket.  Next stop, Auto Zone.  Hey, sockets are cheap, wire in a new socket and let's get going ........ not so fast there Knumb Knutz.  New socket - Still no power.  AAArrrg ! ! ! ! !

It is now approaching mid-morning and I'm still sitting in the Auto Zone parking lot in Hampton Beach, NH.
I'm so far behind schedule (not that I really had one), it's criminal.  After much anguish and gnashing of teeth, I realize I just can't wrestle with this wiring stuff in the parking lot any longer.  Cut your loses and get going.  The Rally Book does not have directions, so trying to rally "old school" just isn't going to work.  The entire rally is lock up in my dead GPS.  I do not have a laptop with mapping software like all the big kids have. So that option just does not exist.  Next stop: MAX's Conn.

Although I did not have directions to MAX's shop in Brookfield, I did have an address, 465 Federal Road.   I figured that Federal Road would be a main road.  So after only a short cruise around town, I found MAX's BMW.

"Take a photo of the sign with the address clearly visible."   Got it.

The good folks at MAX's are very cool and they tried their best to help me with my GPS problem.  I thank them very much.  It was time to go.

As sort of a mid-rally checkpoint, there was a very high point, time restricted bonus in Easthampton that was not to be missed.  Thankfully I did not need a GPS to find it.  I knew the location well ........ ;o)

As testimony to how bad my rally was going ....... I had arrived at the checkpoint 2 HOURS early.  Just as well, I needed the time to do a little electrical troubleshooting.  When you consider that I have been known to loose voltage in only 6 inches of wire, this is going to be a challenge.

Many thanks to Bob St. George, who graciously allowed me some garage space to try and make repairs.
We tried other power cords, voltage tested all connections, even tried the GPS in Bob's car ...... nothing.

Photo by Andy Kirby
Yep, that's my GPS on the floor. Not a good sign.
It wasn't all bad.  The situation did lend itself a certain amount of levity.

Photo by Andy Kirby

This is what happens when you leave to go to the bathroom.   It's not easy being a Harley rider in this world.

Love you guys.

Oh, I almost forgot.  I did claim the bonus.  This was the famous "Ring My Bell" bonus.  It was worth lots of points.  The rally staff had a good time with the riders during this bonus.  After all, that's what it's all about.

Mission Accomplished.

My rally was now very simple; take the Rest Bonus, then get my ass to MAX's in Troy.

During my Rest Bonus, I was desperately searching for a bonus that I might bag on the way to Troy.  There was one.  The Meneely Foundry in Watervliet, NY, which is across the Hudson from Troy.  Again, I had the address, so I just hunted around the old fashion way; I asked directions at a gas station.  Of course the kid had no idea what I was talking about, but he was able to guide me to the correct street.  It was now dark, but I somehow found this sign.


Next stop: MAX's Troy

The shop is easy to find.  Just follow your nose on Route 7.  Bingo ! ! !

Oh look, longitude and latitude coordinates.  Now if only I had some device that could do something with that info ......

Time to wrap this up and head back.

My Scoring Table shock & ahhh face.  It did not go well.

Post rally banquet was fab.

Would I try Anti-Routing again?  Maybe not.  I may try some variation on the theme next year, who knows.

Regardless, if you are new to this game and/or have had your fill of Certificate Rides, then join us next year at the MinuteMan.  You will not be disappointed.

Mark W. Collins
Kingston, Mass