Tuesday, December 13, 2011

National Parks Tour - AZ

Chiricahua National Monument and Saguaro National Park

This was a bad weather ride.  A great opportunity to check out my electric heated riding gear and rain gear.  I rode for home near Wimberley, TX, along I-10 to El Paso for RON.  Weather was clear but cold with a low of about 35F and high of 65F. The next morning a front was blowing up from Mexico with lots of rain.  After breakfast at the motel I headed for AZ on I-10 through New Mexico.  The rain was light but the interstate was soaked.  Every time I passed a vehicle I rode through the spray cloud.  Temperatures were in the low 40s for most of the ride out to Wilcox AZ where I turned south towards Chiricahua National Monument.  Broke out of the clouds and the sun was shining bright, lifting my spirits.  After collecting the passport stamp I headed back north to I-10 and continued west to just east of Tucsan.  Weather turned wet and cold again as soon as I crossed over the Texas Canyon divide.   Turning north off of I-10 the ride to Saguao NP was about 15 miles or so.  I obtained the passport stamp and headed to a gas station for fuel and hot cup of coffee to go with my Clif Builders bar.  Heading back east to El Paso the temperatures dropped to the low 30s.  As I was riding back over the Texas Canyon divide snow was falling and the boulders were covered with a white dusting.  Weather continued to deteriorate until I got back to El Paso for the evening.  The ride home the next day was very nice as the weather had cleared up and warmed up.  Check out the SpotWalla map.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

National Parks Tour - NM

Trinity Site

Site of the first nuclear explosion on July 16, 1945.  Trinity Site is deep in White Sands Missile Range and is open to the public on two days each year.  The first Saturday in April and October.  It was a 1,000 bonus point location on the 2011 Land of Enchantment motorcycle rally.  I always wanted to visit this historical site and when I found out the LOE Rally included it as a bonus location I signed up for the rally.

On US 70 just east of Alamogordo.  This was an opportunity NPT passport stamp stop as it was not a planned stop on the LOE rally plan.  I literally stumbled over it on my way to the next bonus point. 

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

This site was on the LOE Rally bonus list and was a challenge to get to.  It was at the end of a one lane road through the Gila National Forrest that went on for almost 40 miles.  When I started down the road it was late afternoon.  I had to ride back out at dusk then dark.  Lots of critters.  I did not get a passport stamp as the Visitor Center was closed when I arrived. 

Carlsbad Caverns

This was a treat to visit.  I stopped by on my way home after the LOE Rally.  Took lots of pictures inside the caverns but most of them turned out too dark or fuzzy.  But It was a cool, literally, experience.

Check out this SpotWalla Map of the entire LOE Rally ride.  Also, check out the blog of the Land of Enchantment Rally for more details about my second official motorcycle rally.

Land of Enchantment Rally

This motorcycle rally is a IBA crowd favorite.  It was my second motorcycle rally, the Iron Butt Rally being my first.  The main reason I entered this rally was because my rally mentor, Howard Entman, encouraged me to join him and others.  And when he told me that the Trinity atomic bomb test site was one of the bonus locations, I had to enter.

Here is the Garmin zumo 665 GPS track of my ride in the rally.  See the SpotWalla Map of the ride up to NM, the rally bonus point locations, and the ride back home.

The LOE Rally started on Saturday, October 1, 2011 in Las Lunas, NM.  Riders assembled at the hotel a couple of days prior to meet friends and hang out.  On Friday evening the Rally organizers conducted the rider meeting where they handed out the bonus packet.  A list of locations from which riders could choose to ride, record there arrival, take a picture and then head to the next chosen bonus location.  This year's LOE Rally was a combo and efficiency type.  Bonus locations could be combined to gain extra points.  Riders would be ranked by total points divided by miles traveled.  So, the highest points per rally miles determined the finish order.   A minimum of 1,000 miles in 24 hours must have been recorded by a rider to be considered a finisher.   I finished in 12th position with 1,167 miles, 8,953 points for 7.67 points per mile. 

Listed in order are the bonus locations I scored during the LOE Rally:

Trinity Site Monument - 1,000 points - Central Combo
This is the large monument at the exact spot of the first atomic explosion on July 16, 1945.  Going to this historic location has been on my 'todo' list for most of my life.  It was quite a thrill to finally get to stand in the exact spot of the first nuclear explosion. 

The Lincoln County Line - 276 points - Presidents Combo
New Mexico has 5 counties named after US Presidents.  The Presidents required the rider to take a picture of the rally flag, rider number and the county line sign to score.

The National Solar Observatory - 28 points - Observatory Combo
Near scenic Cloudcroft NM the observatory is high in the mountains at the end of a long winding road.

Poncho Villa State Park - 42 points - West Combo
Site of where the forces Poncho Villa's army invaded the United States and attached the residents of Columbus NM and a small US military encampment on the outskirts of town.

The Grant Count Line - 276 points - President's Combo

Hacita Liquor Store and Saloon - 26 points - Southwest Combo
Only Ira knows why this is significant enough to be a bonus location.  And, I didn't ask.  Was an easy stop tough.

Gilla Cliff Dwellings National Monument - 42 points - Southwest & West Combo
This bonus location was at the end of a 40 plus miles winding single lane road through the Gilla National Forrest.  It took me almost 2.5 hours for the round trip back to the main highway.  The trip back was in the dark and I had so reduce speed due to the many critters encountered along the road.

The Town of Reserve - 47 points - West Combo
It was late in the evening when I got to this bonus location.  It had a gas station with pumps open to credit card users.  I filled up and was on my way.  Lots of elk on the margins of the highways in the Gilla National Forrest.

NRAO Very Large Array - 28 points - Observatory Combo
Yes, this is the one from the movie "Contact", my favorite ScFi movie.  In order to score this bonus at least three of the radio telescopes must be visible in the rally photograph.  It was after midnight when I pulled.  In had to position my motorcycle such that my high and low beam plus driving lights would illuminate the picture.  I also used my 192 lumen flashlight to help with the lighting. 

Pie Town - 29 points - West Combo
Famous for....pies?

McKinley County Line - 276 points - President's Combo
This was my last bonus location before heading back to the finish line at the hotel in Las Lunas.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

National Parks Tour - TX

Big Bend National Park and Fort Davis Historical Site NP

This was the kick off ride for my Iron Butt Association National Parks Tour - Gold quest.  The IBA National Parks Tour rules specify the rider must collect 50 passport stamps from National Parks, National Monuments, National Historic Sites, etc., in at least 25 different States.  To achieve "Master Traveler Gold" status the rider must obtain a passport stamp in Florida, California, Maine and Alaska.  I have made it a condition of the NPT-Gold quest to ride my motorcycle from my home near Wimberley, TX to each of the passport stamp locations.  Here is the SpotWalla map of my first NPT-Gold quest.

Amistad National Recreation Area -- January 6, 2012

I was in the area on business so I decided to obtain another passport stamp.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Iron Butt Rally Tire Performance

During the run up to the IBR there was a lot of discussion on the IBA Forum about which tires performed well and how each rider was going to deal with a possible tire change during the rally.  I took a different approach.  I selected a tire that I thought would give me full rally performance and durability.  I selected the Michelin Anakee 2 "V" compound tire for my BMW R1200GS Adventure.  These tires were recommended to me by the owner of BeemerWurks near Blanco, TX.  Steve has been servicing the tire needs of the local BMW riding community for quite some time so he's pretty familiar with which tires last and which don't fare so well.

I put on a fresh set of Anakee 2's at Big Twin BMW dealership in Boise ID on my way to the Seattle WA starting point of the rally.  Boise is about 500 miles away from Seattle so the tires were sufficiently scuffed up by the time the IBR started.   During the rally I check the tires to see how well they were holding up.  I took a good look at them at the end of Leg 2 in Jacksonville, FL as that was an opportunity to get a fresh rear if necessary.  The rear was in great shape still and I had only about 3,000 miles left to the finish in Ontario, CA.  I had already arranged a service at the San Diego BMW dealership and fully expected to replace the rear tire.  Front tires typically last through two rear tires.  When I got to the San Diego BMW dealership I inspected the rear and found it in good enough shape to ride all the way back home to Wimberley, TX.  Check out this video I did when I got back home.

I put a total of over 14,000 hard miles on this tire during the Iron Butt Rally.  The motorcycle was at about 85% GVWR and the tires pressure was set to cold front/rear 38/44 PSI.  I use "Tire Watch" pressure monitoring system and the hot PSI runs about 42/50 in the hottest weather.  Remember, I'm using the higher temperature rated "V" compound so there were no performance issues.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

2011 IBR Leg 3 Goal and Strategy

Jacksonville FL to Ontario CA 

The goal for Leg 3 was to score the Four Corner bonus locations of Key West FL and San Ysidro CA.   Leg 3 was 85:00 hour in length.  I had only the bottom states left to score having consumed all the northern and middle tier states during Legs 1 & 2.  Leg 3 was a relatively easy ride.  I left the hotel in Jacksonville just after the 10pm rider's meeting and headed south to Key West.  I stopped at a rest stop a little after 3am for an hour or so of sleep.  My circadian rhythm causes me to get sleepy between 2am and 4am.  I had been to Key West the year before doing the Ultimate Coast to Coast challenge ride so I know the slog from Homestead to Key West would take some time.  It was raining by the time I left Key West heading north after scoring the Four Corner bonus at the PO.  I ran into thunder storms all the way to Tallahassee where I scored the capital and did the Rest Bonus stop.  I stayed in a hotel and got some quality rest.  Departed just after 6am heading west on I-10.  Through AL, MS and on to Baton Rouge LA for a capital bonus during the day.  Next, up to Texarkana AR where I stopped for a DBR.  I gassed up the GS, and made my last Call-In bonus call.

Call-In bonus calls had a strict procedure to be scored correctly.  The rider had to call the number and leave the follow elements during the time window for the call;  Name, rider number, current location, last bonus scored, next bonus location.  On the two previous Call-In bonus phone calls I wrote the information down lest I forget something.  But, I had just spend the last rest stop in a nice hotel bed after a nice hot shower and I was feeling rested and in full control of my faculties.  So, I dialed the number, waited for the message then said, "This is Tim Masterson, rider number 29, I am in Texarkana AR, I just scored Baton Rouge, and I'm on my way to Texas."  I logged the call in my Passport book, mounted up and headed out.

The ride through the northeast corner of TX up through Indian Country in OK to I-40 was pleasant and uneventful.  Except for technical issue with my tire pressure monitoring system.  I'm riding on the toll Indian Nation Parkway with the bright red LED light started flashing a low pressure on the rear tire.  Rolling off the throttle I applied a little front brake to avoid too much stopping pressure on the rear tire.  This was my first mechanical issue the entire rally so far.  As I dismounted, put the MC up on the center stand, I did what any red blooded bike would do....I kicked the rear tire.  It was hard as a rock!  Hummmmm.....I said, and pulled out my tire gauge to check the pressure.  It was right where it should be.  Inspecting the tire I did not notice any damage, holes, or anything.  I then went to the tire pressure monitoring receiver to check it.  Sure enough it show the rear tire at 5 psi.  I turned it off, then back on. Bingo, it registered 49 psi on the rear tire.  I concluded it must have been an erroneous radio signal to the monitoring unit that set off the low pressure alarm.  Excitement over, I mounted and headed on my way.

I had stopped for rest again just outside of OK City.  Riding across OK, TX, NM, AZ and through the bottom tip of NV was uneventful.  Once in CA the goal was to navigate to the final Four Corner bonus location in San Ysidro, suburb of San Diego.  This was day 10 of the rally and I was feeling the affects of chronic sleep deprivation.  The sleep monster was getting stronger and more frequent.  On I-15 in the desert I noticed my ability to hold a steady visual focus ahead.  This is a clear sign of the onset of "micro sleep."  Spotting an exit ahead I decided to stop for a nap.  I was around 8pm, just dusk, and I had plenty of time cushion.    After a short refreshing power nap I pressed on to San Ysidro for the GOLD.  I arrived around midnight, took the final photo of my GS, my Rally flag and the required post office building.  Now, a final fill up and DBR before heading north.

The ride to the finish Checkpoint in Ontario was a struggle.  I was less then two hours normal driving time from San Diego to the finish hotel.  The GPS was homed in on the location, the route painted on the screen and Greta Garmin was urging me on.  But the sleep monster was really roaring at me during the early morning hours.  I had plenty of time before the Checkpoint window so I stopped three times to nap and refresh before arriving at the finish.

Done!  At the finish in one piece, and scoring all Four Corners to achieve my goal of finishing in the color.....GOLD!  Scoring was a routine and the staff was very efficient.  There was one hitch though.  I was informed there was a problem with my Call-In during Leg 3.  This was a surprise to me as I was very confident I made it and remember it well.  I was escorted over to Tom Austin, chief IBR scorer, for the full story.  He informed me I gave the WRONG rider number during the call.  I was SHOCKED!!!!  He lifted his laptop up, pressed play and I could hear, "This is Tim Masterson, rider number 29, I am in Texarkana AR, I just scored Baton Rouge, and I'm on my way to Texas."  My official Rider Number is.....wait for it....73!  I have no idea why I said 29 instead of 73.  It cost me 500 points and a top 20 finish in the 2011 Iron Butt Rally.  I finished a respectable 23rd and in the IBA record books for riding more than 12,000 mile in the IBR.  Not too shabby for a Rookie!