Tuesday, January 4, 2011

How to: Auxiliary Lights for Long Distance Motorcycle

One of the first and most important upgrades to your bike to consider for long distance riding is your lighting.  I consider this a critical safety enhancement.  Effective long distance riding means that you will be riding many hours at night.   Being able to see a hazard, like deer feeding in the ditch, is important.

PIAA Xtreme White series bulb
There are several ways to upgrade the lighting on your bike.  As a minimum, consider upgrading your stock headlamps.  This is a low cost alternative and is particularly effective on older bikes but all bikes will benefit.  I upgraded the bulb on my old 1992 Yamaha FJ1200 and was please with the results.  I currently use a PIAA Xteme White Series bulb in the left side lamp on my FJR.  You can also consider increasing the wattage of the bulb you use but be careful as damage to the housing and the stock wiring can result if you go overboard.   On my older FJ1200, I actually wired the headlamp to a direct power supply from the battery via a relay increasing the voltage available (and therefore the amount of light) by about 20%.

However, if you get serious about long distance riding, you should consider installing an auxiliary lighting system.

Let me show you the auxiliary light systems that I have installed on my 2007 Yamaha FJR.

The front of the FJR showing the 2 sets of Auxiliary lights installed.  The top set are 4GHIDs from Future Vision (no longer sold) and the lower set are PIA1100XX.   Installed in the right headlamp is an HID style low beam bulb.  The left headlamp was left stock with a PIA Xtreme bulb installed.  I left one headlamp stock for several reasons;  1) Redundancy in the event of multiple ballast failures. 2) The ability to keep a "flash to pass" option  3) The ability to flash oncoming cars without blinding them if they leave their high beams on and, 4) The ability to find a replacement H4 bulb from pretty much anywhere.  

I have 2 sets of auxiliary lights on the FJR.  The top set are my main auxiliary lights and HIDs type lights with external ballasts.  The lights were sold by Future Vision, model 4GHID, but are no longer available.  The 4GHID come on with hi beams (when switched on).  The lower set of lights are PIA1100XX halogen lights and come on with the low beam (when switched on).  I use the PIA1100XX during the day to provide "triangulation" which is a proven safety measure, as well as at night in foggy conditions.

4GHID Lights.  Light brackets are from FJR Goodies

4GHID Lights

4GHID Lights

PIA1100XX Lights

Both sets of lights are controlled via a switch box from BLM Accessories mounted on the front brake reservoir.   The left ON-OFF switch controls the PIA1100XX.  When switched ON the PIA1100XX will come on only when the main headlights are in low beam.  The two ON-OFF-ON switches on the right are for the 4GHIDs.  If the switch(s) is placed in the bottom ON position, the 4GHIDs will only turn on when the main headlamps are switched to hi beam.  If the 4GHID switch(s) are selected to the top ON position, the power to the 4GHIDs will bypass the relays and stay on all the time.  This provides redundancy in the event of failure of relay(s) (shown later in the post).

Closeup of BLM Switch Box. 

I installed a HID low beam bulb in the right headlamp.  The HID bulb was also sourced from Future Vision.

HID Low Beam for Right Headlamp.

Ballast for HID Low Beam.  Very slim and compact.

Locations of installed ballasts for right headlamp and right 4GHID aux light.  The left ballast is for the 4GHID.  I had to remove plastic from the battery box to get these two ballasts to fit.  It was a tight fit but ultimately worked out well.

Location of the 4GHID ballast for the left Aux. Light.

Wiring for the lights took some time.  I will provide a separate write up on how the wiring for the bike was done.  For this post, I want point out that I used 2 separate Fuzeblocks to supply power to the various lights.  The Fuzeblock on the right of the bike (top Fuzeblock in next picture) supplied power separately to the right HID headlamp and the right aux 4GHID lamp.  The Fuzeblock on the left of the bike (bottom in the next picture) supplied power to the left aux 4GHID and PIA1100XX lamps.  Each Fuzeblock is supplied from a separate fused line directly back to the battery.   The left stock headlamp was left connected to the stock wiring harness. Lots of redundancy..... Bottom line is that I should always have some light available!

Fuzeblocks installation under seat.

Close up of Fuzeblocks

The HID headlamp, right and left 4GHID aux. lights and the PIA1100XX aux. lights are all controlled by relays located under the seat for quick access, trouble shooting and replacement.  The relays are all waterproof.

Relays controlling the lights are located under the seat for quick access.  Note the spare relay available for quick replacement.

Close up of relay bank.
After about 25,000 miles, I can say that I am extremely pleased with my light setup.  The 4GHIDs can turn the night into day!  The HID headlamp is a huge improvement over the stock halogen and combined with the PIAA bulb, give an amazing amount of light even without the aux lights on.  The only item I may change this winter is the light brackets for the 4GHIDs.  The current configuration would be prone to damage in the event of a tip over.  I will probably change out the brackets to a forward facing style.

As an added bonus, below are some pictures of my very first aux, light setup on my 1992 Yamaha FJ1200.

PIA1100XX Aux Lighting on a 1992 Yamaha FJ1200

Monday, January 3, 2011

Minnesota 2010 - Multi Day Long Distance Rally, June 18-20, 2010

The Minnesota 2010 was a 2 say long distance motorcycle rally.  The Minnesota rally is home turf for the legendary "Team Strange".  By participating in this rally, I would forever by a member of Team Strange and assigned rider # 720 (some may argue that I have been a "Team Strange" member for most of my life....). This would be my first multi day rally and would provide excellent experience for the upcoming 5 day Iron Butt 5000 rally in August.

Another reason I registered for the Minnesota rally, was because the legendary long distance rider, Eddie James, was a founding member of Team Strange.  Eddie was to be the rallymaster for the Iron Butt 5000 before a tragic motorcycle accident took his life in Dec 6, 2009 on I75 in Atlanta.  Eddie is sorely missed by the LD community.  Participating on this rally was a way to honour him and to experience some of the crazy bonus locations that he was famous sending riders to.

A friend of mine, Tom, joined me for the ride from Ontario to Minnesota.   We took a ferry, called the Lake Express, across Lake Michigan to avoid the hassles of Chicago.  The ferry ride was only a couple of hours and it is an experience worth repeating.....very smoooooth and fast!

The Lake Express Ferry

My friend Tom beside the BMW GS and my bike....getting ready to tie the bikes down for the trip.

Thursday night was the traditional "Liar's Banquet" hosted by the rallymaster Bart Bakker.  Made some new friends.  Lisa Erbs, Eddie's,  fiancee spoke at the banquet about the Eddie James Foundation for Children which will provide resources to children and young adults who have suffered from abuse and neglect.  The riding community is truly very special!

The rally book was handed out and after some last minute corrections, I retreated back to my room to plan the adventure.  The planning went well and I was in bed by midnight.  I was conservative in my routing as I was not sure on my personnel limits on a 2 day rally.

The rally started at Leo's South motorcycle dealership in Lakeville, Minnesota. The dealership opened early for the riders and had coffee and donuts ready.  Thank you Leo's.

Me at the start of the Minnesota 2010 - I just tell my friends to watch for "Big Bird" on  a motorcycle!

First Bonus Stop:  Grotto of Redemption in West Bend, Iowa.  All  I can say is wow.... check of  this link.

On my way to the second bonus stop, I thought I had gained an hour on my original ETAs and thought I had time to ride to an unplanned bonus.  About half way to the new unplanned bonus location, I realized that had become confused between Central and Mountain time zones.....  I promised myself to come up with a Time Zone solution to prevent confusion during the Iron Butt 5000 rally.  I quickly turned around and began to hustle to make a timed bonus at the Two Rivers Saloon.

Post Office, Irene, South Dakota

Two Rivers Saloon, Niobrara, Nebraska.  This was a high point value timed bonus, good only on Friday  1:30pm - 3:00pm.  I was almost late for this bonus...

Plat of Fort Randall in South Dakota.  I added this bonus and later this turned out to be a mistake and cost me a higher point bonus later that evening.

Chalk Mine, Nebraska.

Scout's Rest, North Platte Nebraska.   There was a huge fair across the street.  Traffic was brutal getting to this location.  

The Sandhills historic marker near Thedford, Nebraska. It was very dark and I could not find this marker.  I drove in circles for about 30 minutes.  Finally in the darkness I could make out a semi truck parked at the back of the lot.  I drove up to the truck and walked in behind it as there was only about 3 ft clearance.  There was my marker...completely hidden by the truck!  Grrrrrr.....

After the Sandhills bonus, I was getting tired and decided it was time to use my rest bonus.  Plus there just happened to be a hotel in Thedford, the first I had seen for some time.  Turned out to be a good decision as it was many hours before I would see a hotel again in the morning.  I got my dated/timed receipt from a gas station about a mile down the road.  Crashed on the top of the bed with all my gear on and went to............ (loud train whistle sounds)...... Turns out that directly behind my room there was a train track.  About every 30 minutes, my sleep was interrupted by a whistle.  4 hours later, I go up, threw some water on my face and went to the front desk.  Turns out the person working at the hotel had gone into the back room and fell asleep.  Took some convincing, but I finally woke her.  She seemed rather upset with me.  "You just checked in.....why would you want to checkout already"....

The next several hours I was riding on some quiet back road in Nebraska.  No traffic.  Off in the the distance there was a spectacular lighting show..... where lighting was streaking across the sky. It was an amazing, marvelous sight......  this is why I enjoy these rides.....

The colours of dawn was breath taking.... you can just get a glimpse of the colours in the distance as I arrived at the next bonus - Mari Sandoz in Nebraska.  This bonus was on a lonely road with no traffic.  I could have stayed at this bonus for hours enjoying the sunrise...

Mari Sandoz bonus - Nebraska
 A few hours later we were to be at a Checkpoint, in Hill City, South Dakota.  I was 5 minutes late for the checkpoint resulting in significant penalty points.  Oh well.....it was still great fun.

The next bonus stop was the Mount Coolidge Fire Lookout located in Custer State Park.  The lookout tower was located at a very high elevation in the Black Hills..... Th tower was accessed by riding up a twisty gravel road with an occasional switch back....  I do not mind gravel roads......but I hate heights.  Needless to say that my mouth was rather dry when I arrived at the top. We had to count the # of stairs on the tower so I have no picture..... at that moment I was not having as much fun!

Some additional slow riding through Custer State Park on the Needles highway and I arrived at the next bonus location, a information sign for the Eye of the Needle.  On the way to this marker, I actually got to ride through the "Eye of the Needle"....very cool!

Eye of the Needle Information Sign
Eye of the Needle

A few hours north to arrive at the Geographic center of the Nation.

Geograhic Center of of the Nation.

Next photo bonus location:  Hugh Glass - Adventurer monument.  The road to this monument was a challenging gravel road.

Hugh Glass Monument.
On to the Siting Bull monument near Mobridge South Dakota.

Siting Bull Monument.  If you look closely to the left of the monument, I believe you can see John Coons, doing some kind of dance.  Why?  No one is sure!  John went on to win the Iron Butt 5000 rally in August.

Ipwich, S.D.  Towns in rural South Dakota where small and far apart.  You had to watch your fuel levels.

All I remember about this bonus was that I was denied the points at the scoring table.  It took me about 45 minutes of riding in the middle of the night on very lonely back roads to try to reach a bonus location, only to find the road closed with water across the road.  It was very dark and there was flooding all around me.  It was very eerie...

Paul Bunyan's Boat Anchor, Ortonville, MN.  Had no idea that Paul owned a boat. 

A bakery in downtown New London, MN.  It was the middle of the night and nothing was open.  Too bad as I was getting rather hungry.

After the New London, MN bonus, I was getting tired.  It was time to take my mandatory rest bonus.  Tried for over an hour to get a hotel but everything was booked full.  Finally stop in front of a closed Subway Shop in a small strip mall, put my gloves under my helmet and layed down on the sidewalk for a nap.  Woke up about an hour later shivering from the cold.  Fortunately, I carry a small emergency Bivi sack like the one pictured below.  After crawling into the Bivy sack I was able to sleep comfortably for a couple of a couple of hours.

Emergency Bivi Sack.  Packs light on the bike and works very well for use at the Iron Butt Motel.

After getting my a receipt to document the end of my rest bonus (from the same location that I obtained a receipt at the start of my rest bonus), as I headed to the my last bonus, the famous Bob's Java Hut,  I stopped for my first decent meal in 2 days, breakfest at McDonalds.  You would be surprised at how good McDonalds can taste if you have not eaten in 2 days!  

A quick stop at Bob's Java Hut for a coffee and to purchase a mug and meet new friends.  Bob is a huge supporter of the LD riding community.  Check out his place when in Minneapolis, MN.  The finish was only about 20 minutes away so I was in no hurry.  Arrived at the finish with plenty of time to spare and began completing the paperwork.  No bonus points are bagged until you thoroughly and completely fill out all paperwork and account for all receipts.  Get sloppy here and you can loose many of the points who worked so hard for over the previous days.

Scoring went well, but I was denied points for the bonus location I could not get to because of flooding.  Apparently, there was a way to ride around the flooding via a 70 mile detour.... the rules clearly state that if there is another way to the bonus, that the points will be denied.  Oh well..... all great fun!

I ended up finishing a respectable 29 out of 78 starters. I was happy with my results.  I now know that I can be more aggressive in my route planning and # of miles.  All in all it was great experience for my upcoming Iron Butt 5000, but more importantly I had an amazing time.  Most riders love the curves through mountains.  I can say after this rally. that I prefer the ride through wide open spaces like those in Northern Nebraska, and South Dakota.  

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Mason Dixon 2020 - 2010 Long Distance Rally May 29 & 30, 2010

The Mason Dixon 2020 is a a 34 hour rally that starts and ends in Hagerstown, Maryland.  The rallymaster, Rick Miller, puts on a great rally attended by rookies and veterans.

The theme of the 2010 rally was lighthouses.  I finished in 28th place out of 52 riders.  I was the only rider to run the route to the tip of the Bruce Peninsula in South Western Ontario, Canada.  I was not happy with my finish placement and the route was inefficient (ie points/miles was low). However, the rally and the ride was a blast.  I was able to ride directly past my house and a friend watching me on my SPOT tracker surprised me by catching up in Kincardine and riding with me for 20 minutes.  The weather was amazing.  I was able to sleep at my parents house in Guelph, Ontario for my rest stop saving me a few $$ as well.

I ended up riding over 1,600 miles in less than 36 hours, thereby qualifying me for my first Burn Burner certificate!

After the rally, Rick Miller (the rallymaster) presented pictures from his participation in the 2009 Iron Butt Rally. Rick Miller placed in 7th position after an incredible ride in the last leg in which he jumped from 32 place to 7th place!  It was an incredible time as the 2009 IBR winner, Jim Owen, top 10 Iron Butt finishers (Chris Sakala) and Iron But veterans attended and shared their experiences.

My Mason Dixon Rally Route - 1605 miles

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Cape Fear 2010 - Long Distance Rally. April 16-17, 2010

The Cape Fear Rally is one of the first rallies to be held each year on the East Coast.  There are 3 separate rally start locations.  This year riders started in Auburn, New York, Bowling Green, Kentucky and Lake Placid, Florida. The rally started at 11:00am EDT on April 16 and ended 28 hours later in Wilmington, North Carolina.

This is the 3rd time I have participated in a Long Distance rally.  My final score placed me in 14th position out of 27 riders starting from the Auburn, NY location.  There were about 100 riders starting from the 3 separate starting locations. I was very conservative with my route planning and knew there was no way I was going to finish anywhere near the top 10 with the very experienced riders starting from Auburn, NY. You are scored and placed against the other riders from your start location and almost a third of the 30 riders starting in Auburn, NY had ridden in the Iron Butt Rally (11 consecutive days x 1000 miles) with one finishing first in last years Iron Butt Rally and several others finishing in the top 10. This was also my first big ride of the year and my first real ride on my new bike - Yamaha FJR. I am not completed comfortable on the my new bike yet as that will come with additional time in the saddle. I still feel like the bike is riding me and not the other way around....
Cape Fear 2010 route

I rode 1179 miles (1897kms) during the rally itself. The first test of  the rally arrived when I received the rally book, which includes all the bonus information, via email on Wed night at 6pm. Turns out none of our printers were working and I was not able to print it out. Spent 3 hrs trying to fix the printer(s) with no luck. Jennie called our friend Arlene who bailed me out and printed the package for me.....Thanks Arlene....I owe you one (again!). Next challenge arrived when I realized that all the bonus locations were given in latitude and longitude in degrees, minutes, seconds. I use an Excel spreadsheet for sorting all my bonuses, but the latitude and longitude must be in decimal format. Therefore, I spent the next 1 hr doing lat/long conversions (I will fix my spreadsheet for next time). The next 2 hours were spent inputting the bonuses into my spreadsheet...... all 127 on them! Each bonus location has a point value By 1am, I had sorted through a rough outline of my selected route/bonuses. Below is an example of a bonus location from the "rally book"

********************************************************************************** Uncle Sam's Grave

Troy, NY N42 45.202 W73 40.643 2842 points

During the War of 1812, Samuel Wilson was in the business of slaughtering and packing meat. He provided large shipments of meat to the US Army, in barrels that were stamped with the initials "U.S." Supposedly, someone who saw the "U.S." stamp suggested -- perhaps as a joke -- that the initials stood for "Uncle Sam" Wilson. The suggestion that the meat shipments came  from "Uncle Sam" led to the idea that Uncle Sam symbolized the federal government. Samuel Wilson is buried in the Oakwood Cemetery, in the northern part of Troy. Enter the cemetery from the Oakwood Ave. entrance, then follow the road to the right. You'll see signs that lead the way  toward Sam Wilson's grave. Even with the signs, some visitors have difficulty locating the grave. Look for a waist-height, rectangular monument with a brass plaque set in its front; Wilson's grave is nearby. The headstone is very plain and small, as is that of his wife Betsey Mann. Both headstones lie flat on the ground. Take a photograph of Samuel Wilson's headstone.

Code: USG Time: Odometer: Approved By:


Thurs I rode down to Auburn NY, stopping to see my parents on the way down. The weather was beautiful, I arrived in time to meet some old  friends and make some new ones. Several of us went to dinner and then it
was back to the hotel room to finalize my route and upload the data into my GPS(s).  Friday morning, the riders begin to get their bikes ready in the parking lot and usually are found making last minute adjustments on their farkles (ie GPSs, communication systems, aux fuel cells etc). Everyone has their game faces on and the "head games" begin. This is where a rider will say something like.... "I hear that bonus #xx is a sucker bonus", (meaning some some trick or next to impossible to obtain), or that "Looks like everyone is planning on going to Bonus xx...." (meaning that if you are not then you are missing something). This is only my 3rd rally but I have figured out that the purpose of these "declarations" is to fake out the other riders and make you question your planned route. My first rally I fell for it...but now I know enough (and I still know very little) to plan my route and ride my plan. At 10:30am, we all ride to locations we had individually found the night before which issued good receipts (ie, accurate date, time, city and state on the receipt).  The official start time was 10:50 to 11:10 EDT. It is better to start as earlier as possible as several bonus locations have time restrictions (eg. daylight only, closed at 5pm etc). Of course, everyone else wants to do the same thing. I watched my GPS clock and at 10:50 I obtained my "starting receipt". Next step is to call in your starting time. There are 6 possible #'s call and everyone (~100 riders) are trying to call at the same time! I had all the #'s preprogrammed into my cell phone and finally got through to one # after about 5 minutes of trying. It is important when you call in to give specific information as indicated in the rally book (ie Rider name, Rider #, starting time, location etc). Mess this first step or get a bad receipt and you will be assigned penalties worth 50% of the amount you collected. Reading comprehension is very important in a rally. If the rally book says take a picture of a grave head stone and you take a picture of the monument beside the headstone....you will score no points.....ask me how I know!

My first bonus location was off to Troy New York to take a picture of  Uncle Sams "headstone". The weather started off sunny and around 70F but quickly cooled off to around 54F as I headed East. I ended up approaching the cemetary from the wrong direction but fortunately I noticed some cemetary workers and asked them for directions to Uncle Sams site (the cemetary is huge and very old.) There was several others visiting this tourist location and most gave me a strange look as I ran toward the site  (picture a guy flying up on a motorcycle with all kinds of lights and gadgets and dressed in a 1 piece yellow suit (called a "Stich) with a helmet with a happy face on the back.... running up to the headstone,  putting my rally flag beside the headstone, taking a picture and running back the bike all before they could digest what was happening...). I saw the look of amuzement on their faces and let them know that it I was "alright (ie good in the head) and that I was on a bike scavenger hunt.  Next stop was Reading PA for a 1/2 mandatory rest stop. By Reading, PA I had travelled over 424miles (681kms) with only 1 fuel stop. I had an auxillary fuel tank installed in the location of my rear fender. When my main tank is empty, I just have to flip a switch and fuel is pumped from my auxillary to my main tank and I have another tank of fuel to keep me going. I can travel about 400miles(640kms) or about 6-7hours without stopping. I also have an on board water cooler (1 gallon total) with water that I can drink while riding. While in Reading, PA a severe Thunder storm came through with hail and torrential rains. I waited for the  lighting to pass before heading out but it was still raining very hard when I left Reading and it was now dark. For the next 5 hours, I would ride in hard rain in the dark on my ride down to Baltimore, MD. In my haste to keep going, I had neglected to properly secure the top of my 1 piece suit (which is gortex and waterproof). It was not long before the water began to enter the suit just below my neck and fill my suit.... yuck! The rain finally stopped in Baltimore and I grapped my second bonus which was a receipt for a toll bridge. Because of the rain and the delay of waiting out the storm, I was over 3 hrs behind schedule.

Around midnight I arrived at my 3 bonus location which to take a picture of the post office in a small town. Unfortunately, I could not initially find the post office. I rode the bike slowly up and down each street before finally finding it. There was no one moving around the town and it was very quiet. I kept sensing that there were "many" eyes watching me through the dark windows...... Taking a picture of the post office at  night was difficult with my camera. I could not get the unlit "Vienna Post Office" sign on the side of the building to show in the picture.

Fortunately, due to previous experience, I had purchased a "slave flash" unit. This is a small flash that triggers off the camera flash. You can place the unit close to the object and it will fill the scene with light.  With a good picture I was off to my next location..... the Chesapeake Bay Bride-Tunnel. This is a 20 mile bridge/tunnel complex. You travel by bridge out into the middle of the bay and twice you drop down into a tunnel in the middle of the bay. Just before crossing the bridge, I was getting tired so I needed to stop for my 3 hour "rest bonus". The rest bonus is not mandatory in a rally but it worth a substantial amount of  points that you could not finish well without taking one. It really is the manner in which the Rally Master forces the riders to stop to sleep.

To prove you stopped, you need to produce a time/dated receipt for the start and stop of the rest bonus. There was raindrops in the air so I needed to find a hotel to get some sleep (There was no sleeping in the ditch or rest area on this rally!) Unfortunately, I wasted alot of time trying to find a hotel. The first 3 hotels were booked. Each minute in a rally is precious and I wasted about 15-20 minutes looking for a room. Several riders have the ability to call hotels from their bike to check on availability.... After checking in and making sure the receipt was "good", I entered my room dropped on top of the bed (still in my riding clothes) and set my Screaming Meaning for 2.9hrs (btw.....the hotel was a dump). The Sceaming Meaning is used by truckers and is very simple to operate as you only need to set the # of hours/minutes you want to sleep as opposed to an actual wake time. The alarm itself is loud enough to wake "the dead".... so it works great when you are "dead tired"!. 3 hrs later I  checked out of the hotel and was back riding.  Within minutes I arrived at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. It was early dawn and the sun was just rising...... crossing the bridge with no  traffic and the smell of the ocean was one of those "perfect" moments.

These perfect moments are what I enjoy most about motorcycling and Long Distance Riding. Those treasured few perfect moments get stored in memory  forever....

The remaining several bonuses were picture bonuses located in small towns. This is where my route feel apart. I quickly found myself loosing a tremendous amount of time just "looking" for the bonuses and sometimes having to backtrack. My GPS co-ordinates would take me to the middle of the town but not to the actual bonus location (ie lighthouse, couthouse, gravestone or other interesting place). I learned during this rally I need to take the time to look ahead and read the rally book before arriving at the GPS location. Many times the bonus location will be on road signs but you first need to know what you are looking for. Arriving in the middle of town and then looking is not smart...... lesson learned.

It was also during this time that I had an encounter with North Carolina's  finest. I was on a back road and the weather was beautiful with the sun shinning and temps in the mid 70s. I was not in a hurry as I already accepted that I had no intention of being competiitve but I was not paying attention to my speed. My bike is very smooth and can quickly accelerate to some very high speeds if not paying attention...... I was riding down this road and their was a swamp on the right side with thousands of huge  turtles sunning themselves (another perfect moment).... except this perfect moment was interupted by a police car feet from the rear of my bike with its lights flashing. I looked at my speedometer and my jaw dropped...... oops this was going to be expensive! Pulled over and took my helmet off. The Police officer asked me why I was in such a hurry. I was honest with him and said that I was enjoying his perfect weather, roads and the turtles and that I just "let her get away from me" from lack of attention. Turns out I was doing 25mph (40kph) over on a back road and he suggested that was not a good thing! I agreed completely and apologized. He asked if was cold in Canada and I indicated that it was compared to NC. He returned my licence and asked my to slow it down and to have a nice day! Whew..... I was lucky.

At this point the rest of my rally route was shot. One of my GPSs is always giving my the ETA to the final checkpoint and it was now saying that I would arrive at the Wilmington, NC checkpoint with only 20 minutes to spare and with about 150 miles to the finish. 20 minutes can disappear fast in traffic or accident delays. I had already experience 2 significant traffic delays already on this rally.... At this point I dropped all remaining bonuses and headed straight for the barn. A good rally plan has "bail out" points and fortunately I had planned some. I was able implement my bail out plan and arrived at the final check point with 16 minutes to spare. Miss the checkpoint window by 30 minutes and  you are instantly given a DNF (Did Not Finish) and you would receive no score. When you arrive at the checkpoint there is a behive of activity. Volunteers direct you to the "pit" area where you are "checked in". You are given your official finish time and instructed to report to the Scoring area.

The rally is far from over however. You have a limited time to complete you paperwork and get scored. I was directed to a large hall with doozens of tables with smelly riders (that included me) and gear thrown everywhere. At this point you have to gather all receipts and properly label them with bonus location and odometer reading. You also complete your rally book with similar information. You must also complete a rider log with the date, time, purpose, odo reading, and picture information for every stop taken during the rally (including simply stopping for a quick bathroom break). Get anything at all wrong, or if your paperwork is not complete, or if your pictures are not correct etc, then you will lose your points. They call this "leaving points at the table". In my previous rallies, I had left some big points at the table. In both previous rallies these mistakes took me out of top 10 finishes. My goal for this rally was to leave no points at the table. At this point you are pretty tired and it easy to make a mistake. Once you are done the paperwork, you go to the scoring table. At this point you hand over your package to a scorer. They will ask you if you are ready to be scored. Once you respond yes, you cannot leave the scoring table to obtain a receipt on your bike etc. The scorers are pretty picky and everything must be done correctly and pictures taken must be clear and always show your rally flag. I am happy to say that I did not leave any points at the table which was a big deal for me. I successfully completed all 4 of my goals for this rally 1) Be safe 2) Break in all the new equipment installed on my bike over the winter 3) Leave no points on the table 4) Don't forget Rule #1.  After scoring, everyone has a bit if time before the awards dinner to clean up and shower. At the awards dinner I sat with my fellow Canadian riders who I have gotten to know. 2 are from North Bay and the other 2 are from Montreal. These riders are very experienced and the 2 from Montreal have finished the Iron Butt Rally mentioned earlier. They have a wealth of information of lessons learned over many rallies and they are eager to share them with me as they want to see all Canadians place well.

We had fantastic BBQ ribs for supper and it was obvious that this was the first real meal the riders had in 30hrs. At the awards announcement we found out that my 2 friends from North Bay placed in 8 and 9 position from the Auburn NY starters and my friends from Montreal placed in 6 place from the Kentucky starters (they ride as a team).  All said the rally was great fun. My next rallies will be the Mason Dixon in Maryland (end of May), the Minuteman 1000 in Mass (beginning of June) and the Minnessota 2010 in Minn (middle of June). I am also taking some advanced rider training courses in 2 weeks in Michigan (better bike  handing and low speed control) and 2 days of track racing school in the middle of May (high speed cornering/braking). I am doing all this to better prepare myself for my participation in the Iron Butt 5000 in August. This rally will be 5 days long with about 5000 miles ridden. The rally starts in Denver, CO and ends in Spartanburg, SC. I am under no illusion that participation in this rally will be very difficult and that my preparation and training must be as thorough as possible. For example, several weeks ago I gave up coffee to prevent "caffine withdrawal  headaches while riding.

Epilogue:  On the ride home from Wilmington, the FJR developed a small coolant leak. The coolant was leaking out of the weaping hole in the bottom of the water pump.  I was not too happy to have this type of problem with so few miles on the bike!