Big Tex 36-Hour Rally
October 18, 2012
My first bonus location stop was at Cottonwood cemetery to find the headstone of Machine Gun Kelley. I had done some research on the internet Thursday night and found a nice layout of the cemetery. I knew George Kelley’s grave was in the northwest quadrant, third row from the front. The stop did not take long. Riders started arriving in mass as I prepared to move again.
I knew that riding through Weatherford at the interstate is a mess, so I peeled off to add on the Baker Hotel in Mineral Wells. This would be the start of a route miscalculation that would cost me over an hour of rest points in Fort Davis. When I added the Baker Hotel in, I selected auto-arrange in the GPS to sort out the order of waypoints. When you have a “linear” route, this normally works fine. But my route was a semicircle down in the Big Bend area, so the auto-arrange put my stop at Terlingua instead of Fort Davis. I thought I had gained some time somehow through the recalculation of the route. I stopped at the steps of the Baker Hotel to document my visit there as laid out in the rally packet instructions.
Heading southwest towards Cross Plains brought me closer to my teenage days of living in Abilene and servicing juke boxes and cigaret machines at the Dairy Queens. Best job a high-schooler could ever have… I pulled through the only signal light in town, turned west towards Abilene, and arrived at the Howard House, home of Robert E. Howard, creator of Conan the Barbarian. Several other rally riders were at various stages of documenting their stop. The two very friendly curators inside of the house were very interested in where we lived, and where we were intending to travel on this day.
I pointed Katrina southwest again, riding past the Mesquite trees and ranches on the way to San Angelo. Again, I added another bonus location thinking I was somehow ahead of my plan. This time, it was the pictographs near Paint Rock. As I neared the waypoint, I saw it was off the highway. I pulled up to the gate with a sign “Posted – No Trespassing”. The sign on the highway pointed in the direction of the caliche road to the ranch house. I dismounted, unhooked the chain from the fence post, and swung the gate open. After securing it, I rode deep into the property past buffalo grazing beside the road. The rancher held his hand up as he dropped out of his pickup. I explained to him that I was searching for a pictograph marker to photograph. He said he was too busy to take me down to the pictographs, so I gracefully retreated back to the highway. Later I found out that my bonus point location was likely just under my feet right near where I was talking with the rancher. Oh well… Video here.
The bonus location in San Angelo was in the center of the town, the mural featuring Western writer Elmer Kelton. I had help there from Tong to take the picture of me holding the rally flag in front of the mural. I greeted Bobby while he was eating a protein bar under the shade.
The Mexican border was the next objective. I rode through hills covered with scrub to Hwy 90 (which I still think is actually the speed limit) and headed to Judge Roy Bean’s saloon and courthouse. There I found several riders on the same quest as me. After a brief hello, I went to pose in front of the old weathered wood shack to capture my photo with my rally flag.
West again on Hwy 90, this time riding with a fellow rally competitor that was at the ROY bonus location. After around 40 miles of riding, it was 4:00 and time to make the call-in bonus. The most effective use of time would be a call while riding using my Autocom in-helmet communications. I had a signal on the phone, and started dialing. I hear ringing, and an answer from Wayne’s team back in DeSoto. I could hear them clearly, but they could not hear me. I slowed thinking the wind noise was interfering. After a couple of attempts at this, the cell signal disappeared. I still had 50 minutes for the call-in bonus window. I kept riding.
I passed my ad hoc riding partner on the side of the road looking at a burned out train. A few miles further west, the ROB waypoint on the GPS showed the site of the 1912 last train robbery in Texas, between Dryden and Sanderson. The white Gold Wing rider rolled up to the historic marker as I was preparing my photo. He said he thought the burned train we saw earlier was the site. The wind was blowing, and I did not bring weights of any kind for my rally flag, so we helped each other to capture the bonus location photo with our number showing.I rolled away to the west again. My cell signal would appear on the hills and drop again in the valleys. Once the signal started appearing more steady, I called Debbie to let her know things were going OK. She stayed on the line long enough to tell me there was a lot of static. When I heard this, I disconnected my USB power cable from the charger I had bought early this morning. I knew I would be away from power to charge the phone and its battery would die during the ride. I had not yet tried the charger to know it caused audio static. Now Debbie could hear me quite well. We had a nice talk, and I told her I should make the check-in call while I had a signal. The next call to Wayne’s staff was successful, and I reported my last bonus location stop at ROB and heading to TPG (Trans Pecos Guitars) in Alpine. That call gave me 1,000 points.
I walked into Mark Pollock’s guitar shop in Alpine and told him what I was there for. He handed me a couple of guitar picks, one for rally master Wayne and one for me. I asked him where the toilet was, as the wall above was the required photo for the stop. After topping off the fuel tank, I rode into the golden light of the late afternoon towards Paul and Voni’s Big Bend home.
Paul and Voni’s unique home has been a stop before. Paul helped us repair Tom’s radio antenna coax in his shop a couple of years ago. This time the Glaves were out for the afternoon. I put my name on the fridge again and shot my rally flag. I rolled again south towards Terlingua.
The rally pack instructions said to buy a La Kiva condom to gain the bonus points here. The waitress said they were all sold out, so I asked for a La Kiva sticker and a receipt stating the sell-out. She obliged, and I headed out for the River Road.
Riding the River Road so late into the evening concerned me. This road is challenging enough in the daylight with its hidden sharp turns over crests, so doing it in the waning light could be even worse. As the light started dropping off, I found that my headlights and PIAA driving lights lit up the white roadside markers. As I approached the crest of a hill, the markers pointed the direction to turn nicely, where in daylight the turn decision is made at the top of the hill.
Contrabando Mission is actually an abandoned movie set. I set up my camera on the tripod near the Rio Grande River to capture this photo, and climbed up to the road to ride west.
The Tee Pees have also been a stop on several previous rides to Big Bend Country.
El Patio was on my mind. This would be both a bonus location stop and a short rest from riding to get some real food in me. I had up to this point been living on energy bars and beef jerkey, both partaken at speed from my tank bag. I called Deb and let her know all was well. The chicken fajita burrito was extremely tasty.
Rolling north from Presidio and the Mexican border left me in the complete darkness of the West Texas high desert. I kept my eyes sharp on the sides of the road for deer, and systematically dimmed my headlight and shut down the PIAA’s for approaching cars. Shafter was another bonus location for the evening. I was expecting the museum with the photo of George Brooks to be just off of the highway, but it was deep into this ghost town through some rough dirt roads. I pulled up to the building, and checked to see if the door was open, and it was. I walked in and looked for the light switch and found none. The flashlight I carried was the only light available to walk through the building and find the photo of Mr. Brooks in his Union California uniform.
The Marfa Lights bonus would have to be dropped. It was not worth the 40 or so additional minutes of riding to gain the points, and I could gain more by getting to my rest stop at Fort Davis. The earlier routing error today threw off my timing, and I and planned to make the Mount Locke bonus tonight, but was feeling too tired. I elected to ride straight to the motel, and get up early Saturday to ride to McDonald Observatory for the almost 3,000 points.
As I rolled into Fort Davis, I needed to get a gas station receipt to document my rest stop start time. I pulled into the 24-hour fuel station, and talked with a Texas State Trooper filling up his truck. He mentioned the hour of the night and me still being out on the bike. I told him this was the end of a 900-mile day. He said he had pulled over a rider earlier that was on a long distance ride. The rider said he had his license and insurance papers sealed up in an envelope for the event, and the trooper let him go with a warning and kept the sealed envelope intact. I told him we were on the same event, as my license and insurance was also sealed in my top case.
Fort Davis Motor Inn was the stop for the evening. After updating my route for the next day, I hit the bed and slept well.
October 20, 2012
My alarm was set for 5:00. I awoke at 4:59 and was on the bike rolling at 5:16. I stopped by the same fuel station and completed filling my tank to get my end rest receipt. I was short 1,200 of rest time points due to adding on the Baker Hotel and the failed Paint Rock bonus. So the net was a loss of 900 or so points. Dang… I headed to Mount Locke in the dark, eyes peeled for deer, which I knew were very common along this stretch of road. The only one I saw was in the middle of the road on the climb up the mountain, victim of a hit the previous evening.
I climbed the steep ascent of Mount Locke, much easier on my moto than my bicycle that I rode in a time trial years ago during a stage race here. The blue “Highest road in Texas” sign was the bonus location. I dimmed my lights as I approached the observatory. I did not hear anyone when I got off of the bike, but I could hear the positioning gears and motors of the telescope as I walked the final steps to the marker for the photo.
Returning back down the mountain was a thrilling ride in the crisp morning air. I was conservative again, but enjoyed the curves of the road even in the total darkness. My lights illuminated the markers of the road to the point of looking like a TRON movie set.
Pasiano Pete, the world’s largest roadrunner, was the bonus location in Fort Stockton. The morning twilight was starting to illuminate the streets for the stop.
I hit I-10 and enjoyed the 80 mph speed limit, but squinted as the sun rose directly in front of me. I dropped low-point bonus locations along the interstate in order to keep rolling as fast as possible to the Luckenbach location – high points, and a must stop. As I approached the old store, I saw more and more bikes and remembered this was the Harvest Classic vintage rally weekend. I talked my way into the event, and pulled directly up to the store for my photo of the Alaska license plate DWD-187. I looked all over for this elusive plate, first concentrating on the yellow-orange older colored Alaskan plates. I even helped another Big Tex Rally rider photograph his plate. On the third look at the wall where the other rider’s plate was, I found mine. Dang, more time wasted… But it was a fun way to waste time. My helmet cam recorded the life of the vintage rally.
I headed towards Austin and McGregor park. I saw those high points Friday morning and wondered why this seemed too easy. As I rode closer to Austin, I studied the road on the GPS and then recognized the location. It was Hippie Hollow, the only public nude beach in Texas. Now I knew why the points were so high. A photo of a park visitor holding my rally flag would be hard to claim. I was too close now to not give it a try. My original route was too far to the west. I walked down to the water, and talked with several park visitors, who almost in unison said photos were just not allowed at waterside. So, dejected, I walked back to the bike and thought about more wasted time, but once again, it was not a total waste of time. I did try a photo of myself being a park visitor, but read later that it had to be someone other than myself. Dang…I-35 is my least popular route of travel, either by car or moto. But, I had to get to Waco to do the 44 Magnum bonus location. Each of 3 shots on target would give me 5 percent of my total score. That could be 7,500 points more! And I love shooting, especially the big caliber ammo. I could not find any evidence of shooting at the waypoint. I called Wayne, and he pointed out
the window closed at 2:00. It was 2:50 when I arrived. Dang… This time it was totally wasted. I stated thinking how I could have improved this day of riding.
I made a quick stop in Waco to capture the low-point Texas Ranger bonus.
The Texas Theater was the high-point location in Dallas. This was the theater that Oswald was apprehended in. The poster for the photo was the feature that was playing during that historic event.
The last photographed bonus was the Longhorn Ballroom. I captured this, and then went to buy a six-pack of Shiner Bock worth another 600 points.
I pulled into the finish, and Wayne’s posse documented my arrival. As I walked into the scoring area, many riders were sifting through their ride documents to tally scores. I downed three bottles of cold water and then sipped a cold brew to start working through my own. There was a great dinner enjoyed by all participants. The most food likely consumed in the day and a half of riding.
Rally master Wayne Boyter
The evening progressed, and scoring validation was completed. The winning score was held by Paul Tong, who I took first place in the short practice rally a month back. He had an impressive score. Paul’s a nice guy, and well deserves the finish. I hope to see him again if I get the chance to ride another rally. Our own Lone Star BMW Riders club member, Bobby Fox, claimed 5th place.
The final results are below. There were 50 riders registered, but some had to drop before and during the ride.
BigTexRally 2012 Final Standings
Rider / Miles / Points:
1. TONG 1,733 / 73,637
2. LOVEALL 1,264 / 72,146
3. BRAY 1,604 / 64,558
4. LeGALLEY 1,678 / 62,723
5. FOX 1,193 / 60,650
6. DUCK 1,527 / 55,574
7. FRANKIEWICZ 1,523 / 51,038
8. PERES 1,550 / 50,811
9. WALL 1,308 / 50,445
10. SCHWARTZ 1,563 / 49,689
11. TRAIL 1,731 / 49,084
12. SWIM 1,601 / 48,018
13. MIXON 1,620 / 46,699
14. BOUCHER 1,530 / 46,368
15. BOWERS 1,201 / 46,344
16. COLLARD 1,145 / 46,344
17. MEEKER 1,494 / 45,515
18. JOHNSON 1,514 / 44,869
19. BAILEY 1,638 / 44,612
20. STALLINGS 1,637 / 43,658
21. ORR 1,607 / 43,301
22. POWELL 1,209 / 42,986
23. ANDERSON 1,432 / 42,274
24. SCHWAB, C. 1,350 / 41,385
25. SCHWAB, G. 1,313 / 41,385
26. HARTWIG 1,286 / 41,385
27. STILL 1,283 / 41,291
28. NATALI 1,558 / 39,383
29. QUARLES 1,342 / 37,760
30. GETZENDANNER 1,580 / 37,118
31. HECKER 1,437 / 37,073
32. SORENSEN 1,325 / 34,712
33. HUDSON 1,167 / 34,691
34. RAGSDALE 1,650 / 33,725
35. HOOD 1,339 / 31,678