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Well, I ran my first rally this past Saturday. Someone from the local Victory group (www.tcvr.us) put together a small one mainly geared toward first timers like myself. For those that don't know a rally is like a scavenger hunt on a motorcycle. When you get to the starting spot you are given a sealed envelope. When told, you can open up the envelope and find out what all the clues and destinations are. Then you have an hour or so to plan your route and which objectives you want to try and get to. You will never be able to get them all which is part of the planning. You can take as little time or as much time as you want to plan your route but you can't hit the road until a specified time, usually the hour I mentioned above.

Friday night I put on my KewlMetal luggage rack and strapped down my Kuryaken bag to carry stuff for the rally. I put in my raingear warm weather gloves, Zune, and some other stuff. Then I went up to the computer and uploaded what maps I thought I might need to my GPS.

Saturday morning the alarm goes off bright and early at 5:30 AM, an hour earlier then I get up during the week. I take a shower and get dressed. Check the weather, probably not going to need the raingear but I leave it in the bag anyway. I made a pot of coffee, filled up the thermos and put it in the bag as well. It's 50 degrees outside, a nice chilly start to the morning. So I throw a flannel shirt on and put the liner in my jacket. I hate being cold. Take the helmet out of the closet and clean the faceshield. I know, safety first but I usually don't wear a helmet but it's a lot easier to put one on when it's cold versus trying to cover up with handkerchiefs and such. Anyway, get all my gear on and fire up the bike. The starting point is only about 10 miles from my house so that allowed me to sleep in later than some others that had further to go.

I leave the house and run to the local gas station to buy some maps of Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota. I should have picked these up earlier but I'm a real good procrastinator. I'm also blind. I had to ask the lady behind the counter where they were. Of course they were right where I was looking in the first place. Buy my maps and a pack of camels and get on the road. Briefing is going to start about 7 and I roll into their place in plenty of time at 6:45. I see some familiar faces from the TCVR and my riding buddy for the day, DaGrey1. They hand out the packets and rally t-shirts. We will need to take pictures at most of the objectives with the t-shirt in the picture. I decide to wear mine, which made the stops we take just a bit longer since I had to take on and off my jacket each time so DaGrey1 could take my picture, thanks Richard!

After being told we can open the packets, Richard and I go through and mark every objective on the map so we can figure out where we want to go. Each stop is worth different points depending on difficulty and distance. Some have a cumulative bonus like 500 extra points for 3 water towers, 1000 for 4, etc. The name of this rally is "Dog Daze" One of the big ones is worth 3000 points if you hit every city listed to spell out Dog Daze. We decide to try that one along with multiple other stops along the way. In all honesty I kind of knew it was a pretty aggressive schedule we wanted to try especially since it was the first rally for both of us, but I thought we might be able to do it. We were still planning our route as other riders were leaving. Richard and I ended up being the last ones to leave the starting point. The total route if we had done everything would have been close to 500 miles and we now had less than 11 hours to do it in. You have to take into account the time it takes to find some of this stuff along with taking the picture so it's not as simple as just driving 500 miles.

We decided for our first two stops that we would hit up a couple of water towers in Minneapolis and St. Paul since they were close and then head west to hit up the city of Delano for the letter "D". The first water tower in Minneapolis turned out harder to find than I had originally thought. It's in an area callled Tangletown. It gets this name since the streets are well, a tangle. You would think you could see a water tower pretty easily right? Not one that was built in 1918 or whatever. We finally found it and it was neat looking. Then we headed into St. Paul to find the next one, this one was a little easier and I paid more attention to where my blackberry was telling me it was at.

After that we head over to Delano to take a picture by the city sign. by this time I'm getting warm so I switch gloves, lose the flannel and take off my helmet. Richard had a spider net that he let me use to secure it to the back of my luggage rack. The beginning of this was starting to become frustrating for me. With the difficulty we had finding that first tower and my competitive nature I was getting perturbed. Then I reminded myself that we are supposed to be having fun doing this and chose to enjoy it. At Delano we realized we weren't going to be able to do everything we wanted to so we abandoned a couple of the next side stops. Richard sacrificed a place he really wanted to go to so we might have a chance at completing the Dog Daze bonus.

Anyway, as the day went on we stopped at several towns across Southern Minnesota in a big loop. Did you know there is a water tower in Rochester, MN that's painted to look like an ear of corn? At some point we realized we weren't going to be able to complete the Dog Daze bonus and hit another water tower and one more stop in Miesville, MN to take a picture at the baseball field for their minor league team there. It's a Field of Dreams sort of thing.

We never hit any bad weather throughout the day though. Perfect weather really, no rain and not too hot with very little wind. My only complaint was the bugs out there in farm country. Let me tell you, without a windshield and helmet, I found a lot of bugs! When you can see a bug coming at you, you know it's going to hurt!

After our stop in Miesville we made the ride back to the starting point. We had to be back by 7:30 and we should be able to make it by that. We pull up and our official time is 7:18. Richard and I put on 380 miles on that rally and got a total of 2400 points. In comparison, the rally veteran that won it got 9000+ points and I have no idea how far he road. But we learned a lot, like better route planning and more efficient stops. The ride was fun as well. Found a lot of roads and places that I had never seen before.

Oh yeah, while we didn't even come close to winning, I think I may have got the best prize of all in one off the door prizes, a box of Girl Scout Samoa cookies!! woot!
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