Friday, May 29, 2015

Bonzai! 2015 is over

After waiting and planning and anticipating the Bonzai it is over. It is amazing how fast it comes and goes. It is hard to believe that I am sitting in a campground by the fire writing this a week after the Bonzai.


The entire trip was mostly uneventful. We headed up Saturday morning Isaiah met me at the house and after a few last minute details we headed over to meet a co-worker of mine Brandon who was going to ride up with us.

We stayed off the interstate while heading to La Crosse taking Hwy 33 from Portage to Wildcat Mountain State Park. This part of Hwy 33 is about the best twisties in the state that I have been able to find. They are what we call the Dragon of Wisconsin. Obviously it isn’t near as twisty or as long but it is a fun time.

After we met up with CJ in La Crosse and grabbing lunch at the local A&W we hit the Minnesota side of the Mississippi to head to Hudson. The Minnesota side has fewer towns and higher speeds so it got the ride over with quickly.

Once at the Hudson house (hotel and meeting start/finish area) we went through the usual awkwardness of seeing other riders although not quite as bad as last year. This year it is a few familiar faces and you get a smile hear and there from some of the people who remember you.

We unpacked the bikes and headed over to Pizza Hut for dinner. After dinner we headed back to the hotel room and started looking at routes. This year the plan was for Isaiah and I to run as a team and CJ was going to run his first solo rally.

I was a little disappointed that we didn’t have two teams for us to compete against each other but I was interested to see how CJ would handle running solo.

After digging through the different bonus points and fine-tuning some of the routes we called it a night since we wouldn’t have the values of each stop until the rider meeting in the morning.

3:45 am I work up for a nature call but I knew I wasn’t going back to sleep. I lay there watching the time tick by and at 4:30 I had enough and started getting ready.

By the time I came out of the bathroom everyone was up and getting ready. By 5:30 we were up in the conference area to get checked in. while standing around CJ pointed someone out to me… it was my nephew Doug! He had signed up for the rally and rode over to Hudson that morning. I was ecstatic to see him and had to stare at him for a few seconds to even get my brain to wrap around who I was looking at, it was too early in the morning for it to click.


All of a sudden CJ is running as a team and we have a competition going. We got registered and sat down for the quick meeting and to get our bonus packets with the points. As soon as we had them we hustled back to the room and I started plugging numbers to find the best route with the most points. Isaiah and I agreed on the route, I loaded it up in my GPS and we were set to go.

Outside we got our mileage checked in. My bikes mileage was at 24888 and Isaiah’s 85’ GPZ 550 came in at a whopping 500 miles. Yes he cheated by putting a new speedo / tach on it.

Doug came sporting a new bike rather than his ole' CBR he was riding this.


We were ready to go when CJ came with an issue he was having on his GPS. It kept wanting to complete the route where the starts. We messed around with it but couldn’t get it to stop doing it. I gave it one last try by deleting everything on the GPS and told him to reload it and see what happens. I went out to my bike with about 5 minutes left till the start. Got geared up and when they gave the signal we took off only to have the same issue with my GPS. After screwing around with it I put my second GPS to work navigating to the first point and left my main one alone. By the time we got to the first point I restarted the route on my main unit and it asked me if I wanted to navigate to the beginning, I said no, and it went right along with the route. Now that we were on track we were able to start burning miles. For the next couple of hours we were doing well and everything was on time.
Then it started to rain.

After a half hour or so Isaiah’s bike started to drop a cylinder. His number 3 cylinder was getting wet. We continued on, one moment we would be flying and the next he would hardly be in my rear view mirror.
We kept stopping and trying to get it to run correctly but no matter what we tried we just couldn’t keep the water out of there.

12 or 13 bonus stops in wanted to call it quits to because we rather complete the rally than be a 'Did Not Finish' (DNF). We started taking them one at a time. Get to the next stop, “You ok to continue Isaiah?” “Yep” he would respond and we would rinse and repeat. We continued this trend till at least the 18th to 20th stops. We were at a point where we knew that we needed to make the turn for the finish. At the moment that we realized that we needed to head back we were shy about 6 stops. I started digging through the GPS and found that we could squeeze at least three more stops in. We started making the hustle to the finish. We hit a couple more bonus stops and hit a gas station before getting back to the finish. We got back with about 15 minutes to spare.

I noticed right away that Brandon’s bike was back already and I didn’t see CJ or Doug yet.

We went back to our room, Isaiah was soaked to the core so he just jumped in the shower. I stayed fairly dry, only my feet and my hands were wet.

I walked down to find Brandon, he had actually came back at 1:00 pm after getting rained on, a speeding ticket, and having a bike drop. I couldn’t blame him after all that and we later found out that he was the only novice rider so he defaulted into first place.

I walked outside to find CJ and Doug but they still had not arrived. By this time it is about 10 minutes till the finish and I was starting to wonder.

They finally rolled in with a few minutes to spare. Doug’s rally book got so wet that it was practically a wad of mush. It was so bad he had to pick though and carefully separate each page.

After they totaled up their scores and we totaled up ours it looked as if they had the lead on us, which was expected with the troubles that we had. We were pretty happy with our results and ended up with 3 more stops than we had expected.

We took our papers up to the scoring area to get it all finalized. Isaiah and I ended up with close to the same score that we calculated, we lost points on one stop because we were too lazy to go count the tires and instead tried to count them from the road.

I looked over and saw CJ and Doug getting scored and there were a lot of numbers flying around. I then saw Doug pulling his phone out to calculate. I don’t know what happened and never will because once your score is final that is it. Isaiah and I ended up ahead of CJ and Doug by 200 points. I don’t know how that is possible since they had three more bonus’ than us but the ole’ saying is “There is no whining in rally” so you take your score and start planning your revenge in the next rally.

Beating CJ and Doug was good enough for us, we really didn’t care where we would place. We didn’t know how many teams were entered and we sure as hell didn’t expect to place very high against them with the troubles we had.

Well we were wrong and ended up in First place for the Team category.


After the dinner Doug hit the road back to Eau Claire and we headed back to our room. Isaiah was a bit worried about the ride back home the next day but I figured the worst that would happen is we would have to take the back roads.

While Isaiah’s gear was all wet we were both dealing with wet boots. I went down to the front desk to see if I could find some newspaper to stuff in the boots as it is one of the fastest ways I have found to dry boots but they didn’t have any. I then asked her for some tough garbage bags. Those she had.



The next morning we got ready to hit the road and Isaiah’s bike was fighting him. He ran the bike for a while and it finally started clearing up. We figure it was still wet from the night of rain.
We hit the road and for the most part the ride home was uneventful, Brandon joined us for the ride and we did find him pushing his bike once from running out of gas. Other than that we made good time and had minimal rain to slow the GPZ down.

Our GPS total for the ride was 1056 and my motorcycle milage ended up at 1045. Typically it would be the other way around but I put a slightly taller rear tire on the bike this year and it really leveled my milage out.




I also happen to leave my other GPS on only during the rally so I got the stats from that.




As for Isaiah's GPZ, I believe he will be sending it to the farm but I think he'll be back and I may have created another Rally junkie.