Tuesday, May 27, 2014

BONZAI!!

We rode in our first rally / scavenger hunt! It is called the Bonzai Rally When I say we I mean my brother, two nephews, and I. It was a family outing of sorts.

The rally / scavenger hunt consists of riding your bike from point to point finding items around the state and filling out the answer in your paperwork.
Here is an example:
"Weber Field. Located on the corner of Hwy 70 and School Rd. According to the monument,
where did William Weber make the supreme sacrifice for his country on June 6, 1944?"
Basically you write in the Time, Odometer reading, and the answer. Once you have all that you move on to the next one. You have 12 hours to complete as many stops as you can. If you are late you lose more points than you probably collected.

This was held over Memorial Weekend and we made it a three day show.
On Friday morning I received an email with the route information but it did not include the values of each question. This sheet was one of our first of quite a few mistakes. I will cover all our mistakes or things we could have done differently in the end. I went ahead and entered all the coordinates into my Mapsource program so we would have all the way points ready.
My map ended up looking like this:


Each red pin is a stop

Of course you would be hard pressed to get each one in the 12 hour window so that makes the values important when planning your route.

Saturday morning I rode up to  La Crosse to meet up with my nephew CJ. I had planned to take the long way up and enjoy some back roads but the bruise on my back side from the hit I took in March was bothering me so I headed the fast way up. We then rode up to Hudson together. It was a pretty generic ride up but it is really nice because it is along the Mississippi river. In the mean time my other nephew Doug was treking across the state to Hudson and actually beat us there by about thirty minutes. My brother Eric was going to cruise up the freeway and meet us there later in the evening.

Once there the situation got a bit awkward because we of course don't know anyone and they all seemed to know each other. We had rooms in the hotel that was also the start and finish of the rally so for a while we hung out in our rooms and then did some exploring. We first went cruising around the halls and found some interesting things including a stair well that... well we should have just stayed out of that stair well, it was made of nightmares. Then we found out that the hotel has a theatre in it. I asked them what time a show would be starting and they let us know that there were no shows this weekend... so we gave ourselves a tour of the theatre.

Working the lights

The "Garage Band"

Making himself at home on the sofa

We eventually got caught by one of the employee's who didn't seem to really care, they were more startled than anything.

Later on Eric arrived and we mingled amongst the people for a while before heading to Pizza Hut for dinner. 


By this time I was suffering from a massive headache that I thought was from dehydration so I of course started drinking water like mad. 80 ounces of water later I still had a headache and thought maybe it was a lack of food. Nothing was kicking it so I just worked through it. CJ and Doug ran out to the store and while they were gone I found that I forgot the USB cable that connects the laptop to the computer. Without this we were dead in the water as I had no way to transfer the routes over to the GPS. I called Doug and he was able to buy one at Walmart. Once they got back we went over a couple of possible routes and created them in Mapsource. Shortly after that I just couldn't stand my headache anymore so I just went to bed.

Sunday morning I woke at about 5:20 am and my headache was mostly gone and I was feeling fine. We had to be at the Riders Meeting at 6:00 am to fill out our waiver and get the points list for the bonus'. Eric and I headed over to CJ and Dougs room only to find that they were up and gone already. We met up with them and got to the riders meeting which lasted a whole ten minutes at most. They passed out the final route sheet and once we had the it we headed back to the room and got on my laptop to create a route.

We looked at a couple of things and then just made a circle on the pins, shrugged our shoulders, and went with it. 
Here is what our plan looked like:



The red is our main route heading counter-clockwise. The pink is a secondary route that we created in case we have any extra time.

I loaded it up in the GPS and we headed outside to wait for 7:00 am and the start of the rally.

Waiting for the start

Once the rally started just followed the route going spot to spot. There was nothing too exciting that happened, we had a couple of U-turns because I missed the mark on the GPS, a couple of hunts where we didn't find what we needed right away, and for the most part we just took our time. We ran into other riders the whole day here and there. I was more than happy to help a couple of them out to find an object a little quicker.
Towards the end of the ride CJ noticed that Eric's tire was showing some chords but it wasn't bad enough that he couldn't continue. We got to the final stop on our original route.



We arrived there at 5:50 pm. We got it and I looked at the GPS to see if there was anything close to us. I saw number 56 in White Bear Lake, MN 10 miles away and worth 250 points. I asked the crew if they were up for it and they all agreed yes. 10 miles away, what is the worst that can happen? We have an hour and ten minutes to get back to the hotel... no problem.
We ran into construction, CJ needed gas, traffic was out of hand, people don't know how to drive, and we were further from the hotel than I anticipated. This was a huge mistake. We bucked our way through traffic, fought with a man and his boat, and we may or may not have exceeded the speed limits by one or two miles an hour.

We made it back in time. We had about ten minutes to spare.

Our final route. The blue is the last one we went after that wasn't part of our plan.



Once back you pull up to one of the volunteers and they take your mileage and the time of your arrival. They then hand you a scoring sheet that you need to write your answers in and add up your points.

Once that is done you take it up to the meeting and get scored. They tell you what they came up with for an ending score and see if you agree with it. We came up with 3765 and so did the scorers. We figured we did a fair job, probably not too high but not dead last. We wandered around while everyone was getting scored.

Here is a shot from the upper patio.


Once everyone was scored they served us dinner and then got on with the awards. They announced the Novice class first which was our class. So how did we do?



We took 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. So we couldn't have done any better. They broke the tie by mileage. Apparently my odometer is a bit off compared to the rest because I ended up with 512 miles and 4th place while Doug got 503 miles for 1st. We were in shock about the whole thing and thrilled to death.

After the excitement of it all wore off we discussed it and wish they would have just given us 1st and let the other riders enjoy 2nd and 3rd but overall that would have made a mess of their scoring system.

Afterwards we hung out with other riders and chatted for a while. I then headed to bed by 10:00 as I wanted to get a good early start in the morning to beat the Memorial Day traffic on the way home.

The next morning I packed up and headed out. I filled up with gas and didn't touch the ground until I needed gas again.

Overall the three days I ended up with 1130 miles.

I can't wait to do it again next time.

Now for the learning lessons.

1. We had no idea what we were getting into and should have done a bit more research.
2. Running with a group of four people is slowing. It was fun but if you want to be more serious about it then keep it at one or two riders.
3. Our route took us a whopping 5 minutes to create. We didn't take the points into consideration at all.
4. We didn't even consider a route until Saturday night and even then we didn't know what we were doing.
5. We thought that all the waypoints they gave us on Friday were bonus stops. We didn't realize that they were the only stops.
6. We didn't fill up with gas the night before the rally so we needed to stop pretty quick after the start.
7. I didn't map it with the thought of position of the bike so we would come into a spot and then have to turn the bikes around before heading to the next spot.
8. Practally every stop consisted of us taking our helmets and gloves off, finding our papers, figuring out what we were looking for, finding it, having a bit of coffee or water and maybe a snack, chat a bit, put our helmet and gloves back on, and head to the next stop where we would do the same thing over again.
9. Make sure everyone in your group can get about 200 miles to a tank.
10. My last learning lesson, if you can go do Bonzai then go do Bonzai, you won't regret it.