Utah 1088 I can’t seem to recall when I decided to go for it, I can’t determine when I went from not one more ride to sure, even worse now I want to do it again. Last year after completing my comedy of errors on my second 50CC Gold, I was determined to get through 2008 just riding and vacationing, ie taking a break from any Iron Butt Riding; well that was the idea any way. It seems my addiction runs much too deep and the more I thought about actually trying to vacation alone and not do a ride the more anxious I got, so at some point I decided to go for the Utah 1088 if Steve would have me – just my luck he did. Let me just briefly describe the idea behind a “rally,” a bunch of riders get together to battle over points, it is not a race (racing on the street is illegal); it is a battle of intelligence and determination. All riders have an equal opportunity to win, it is just a matter of collecting the highest number of points based on the information provided by the “Rally Master,” otherwise known by terms not fit to print here. The tasks presented on this rally ranged from riding your motorcycle as slowly as you could between point a and point b, to how many sit-ups you could do, to getting a Keno ticket in Las Vegas. Each task represents a different number of points and difficulty, the rider must determine which points to go after, which route they will take (on this rally there was one main route and three alternates), and still make it back to the finish line in time, otherwise loose it all. About now you are probably wondering why this would even interest me, the one who lives to ride and ride alone on my own time; I myself was wondering the same thing as I mailed in my registration but we all must step out of the box sometimes. So it went I registered and waivered right up until the last moment when my friend who was to ride it too backed out, but with a little nudge from Steve, aka King of the Rally Masters, I was in. I will not get into my ride from my home to Salt Lake City, UT (the start point), other then to say I took my time 2 days 13-1/2 hours of riding and stayed at a hotel in Boise I really didn’t want to leave – wow real beds and cable tv rock! Let’s just say all freeway fast and hard. I will tell you though about my little mishap or should I say no “Rachel Ride” would be a true “Rachel Ride” without a little excitement. It seems that when the dealer fixed my Scottoiler before I left it was not screwed on quite right, thus at some point between Boise and Salt Lake the entire unit my license plate and all fell off. I would not notice this until I returned to my bike from getting groceries to find I had no plate and no oiler. I immediately called 911 as I know only too well the liability behind someone using your plate. So I stood in the 90+ degree heat waiting and wondering if my ride had ended even before it started. I called a friend to have him reach out to Steve to keep him updated and made a quick call to the local Ducati dealer to see if they could help me. The officer finally showed up, took the report, and kept me standing in the heat much too long, he just wanted to talk bikes and all I wanted to do was to go to the DMV and convince them to let me have a plate. When it was all said and done I had begged my way to a 15 day trip permit, and convinced the Ducati dealer the next day to drill into my tail section to get it on tight enough to ride. Now I will ask you take a moment of silence with me and say goodbye to my favorite vanity plate ZEN4ME, it will never ride again as once it is listed as stolen it can not be used. Back to the rally. The odometer check was to take place Friday, June 27 between 1 pm and 6 pm, of course I arrived at 1 pm or a little before. The volunteers had tables lined up and steps laid out for us to follow, including a bunch of legal paper work, then we were to ride a convoluted trail to determine how far off our odometers were from the actual mileage of the route; our final ride mileage would be adjusted accordingly. Out and back I went, I would find out later that my odometer is .1 off not bad. Upon returning, I received a hat, t-shirt and had my picture taken for posterity. Then it was back to my room to eat a little something before the mandatory riders meeting at 7 pm. 7 pm is much too late for me but adrenaline was pumping as my nerves were on edge, so I wasn’t finding it too difficult to stay awake. My nerves were on edge as I could not find one other woman rider, and the men that were standing around me were 2 to 3 times my size on bikes 2 to 3 times the size of my Ducati with more fuel capacity then most cars. I wondered what had I gotten myself into as I looked over the lines of metal steeds awaiting their knights. These men had done this many a time, and were much more equipped to complete the ride successfully armed with devices I only dreamed about, laser blockers, gps systems, etc. Then I stopped the negative thoughts knowing how well my AAA maps had served me, and that my gumption and willingness to ask directions had provided me with all the help I ever needed. At 7 pm the rider meeting started with Steve letting us know that some of us would woe the day we met him. He explained the basic gist of how things would go, asked if we had questions and proceeded to pass the “rock.” It seems that if you ask a foolish question, make a foolish statement, get on his bad side or do something totally outrageous you become the proud owner of the “rock” until another takes your place. We were told that at the end of the meeting our license and registration would be sealed and if we returned to the finish with the seal intact would acquire a nice 50 points. I should probably mention that in past years the rally points system had gotten so extensive that for this year Steve recalculated and decided to make bonuses (the tasks you do to get the points) not only difficult to acquire but worth little to nothing all they way down to values of .1! So those who had finished in past years with points tally’s in the 1,000’s would be hard pressed to break 200, a could win or loose based on .1! This was not going to be easy for even the old timers. It was around this time that two gentleman who had befriended me, Dale and Brian, would suggest I speak to Steve in private about my lack of gas mileage per tank, causing me a little more stress. Then we got the shock of the rally for the first time Steve would hand out our 1st leg rally packet and the alternate routes tonight instead of in the morning. Perhaps you would think this would be beneficial, you would be wrong; this would mean even less sleep for one like me with a sleep disorder, and for those with compulsive planning behaviors – ah well he promised we would have a hard time. The ride meeting ended without too much hoopla, we grabbed our packets, and ran for our rooms to get our license and registration, then proceeded to take over the lawn, lobby, etc to plan. I stepped over to Steve and told him about my dilemma, I can only go about 120-130 miles before I need gas; he was concerned. Steve said he knew there was at least one section without gas for about 150-160 miles on the main route, there might be others, and there might be ways to get around them but he suggested I look at doing an alternate route instead. Can you say major freak out. I had heard the alternate routes could be incredibly difficult and often only the foolhardy would dare do them, but I would not have a choice if I couldn’t get gas for 150 miles I could not ride the main route. My license sealed I sat down on the lawn with Dale and Brian to figure out what to do about a route since the main route was out. I had three options. Alternate 2 was ride 1600 miles any way you wanted, just get back to the finish before it closed. Alternate 3 was visit Cheyenne, WY, Devil’s Tower, and Mount Rushmore doing various tasks to prove you were in all three locations. Alternate 4 included Gallup, NM, Flagstaff, AZ and Las Vegas, NV. I thought about WY but I have been on those roads many times, I thought about 1600 miles that would be straight out to Lincoln, NE and back, but the one that really caught my attention and held it was Alternate 4. I hate NM with a passion and I am not fond of Las Vegas but something told me this was the way to go. So I bid my farewells to Dale and Brian, heading up to my room to map out gas stops every 100 miles or so on my AAA maps and try to get some sleep. I finally fell asleep about 10 pm but was up again at 2 am per my normal sleep issues. I forced myself to stay out of the gym, though I had kept up with my workouts so far I knew the next couple of days all my strength must be put toward riding. To waste time I headed for the hotel computer just to make sure the route I chose was the one I really wanted to do as 1600 was calling to me since it offered the most points of all three Alternates. I looked at the weather and though I would encounter temperatures of 105+ for 99% of the Alternate 4 ride this was a better option then the wind storms whipping through WY and NE on Alternate 2. At 6 am I was hanging out with others waiting for the riders meeting to start at 6:30 am, this would be the final speech by Steve before we were on our own. He reminded us of a few rules, about the points and asked that any one riding an Alternate notify him at the end of the meeting. He also chose this moment to embarrass someone; a nice man I had met named Richard. It seems that Richard’s hotel key had some how allowed him access to another riders room. The married couple were in the bathroom, one in the shower the other at the sink, when Richard waltzed in put his stuff down and then realized it was not his room. He tried to scoot out quickly but failed to grab everything he had brought in with him, thus his error was found out much to the chagrin of all of us. Needless to say he got the rock. As I was gearing up a man I had met briefly the day before approached guardedly, he grinned sheepishly and said “I am sorry about calling you a newbie yesterday.” I was dumbfounded, I considered myself a newbie and said as much to him, when he informed me that I was not based on my ride experience of which he was unaware but had been corrected by others. I had to laugh and explain to him that I considered myself a newbie and no offense was taken, which seemed to ease his conscious. This mans awe of my experience would manifest itself time and time again by others who met me much to my astonishment. I rarely encounter people who are appreciative of my ride experience; instead I am usually met with a mixture of stunned silence and downward glances as if trying not to stare at someone who is disabled or insane. Here amongst my brethren I am one, understood as much as anyone can understand what we do and appreciated for the challenges I have over come based on my size. I would still be singing in my heart days later from this experience and the knowledge though what I do might be unique I am not the anomaly many have thought me to be. By now I had met several other riders and developed that odd bonding that only groups like this develop; Denver, John, Jason, Brad, Brian and Dale would make up my “hang” group. I don’t know if I will see them again, though I hope I do as they were all extremely kind to me. I would also like to thank the others I met who’s names I can not remember (name recall has never been my forte). We all bid each other good rides and promised to meet up at the end. Dale and Brian made me promise to park the bike where they could see it when I got back to signal I was safe and/or leave a message for them at the hotel, I agreed. At 7 am sharp not a second after all 76 riders started across the start line to their chosen routes. I will as mentioned be riding Alternate 4, it was up to me to decide how to get to Gallup, Flagstaff and Las Vegas so I chose this order knowing that it would be a no-brainer ride up I-15 in the dark from Las Vegas to Salt Lake City, much needed after the hard hours I would spend prior to the end of the ride. I chose to take a lesser road out to Gallup, a road I had spent a little bit of time on many years ago with a much adored ex-boyfriend (he is now happily married to a wonderful woman) the very same week of 9/11, Route 6. I was thrilled to hit the road and even more so to find that Route 6 was even better then I had remembered. Gorgeous twisting mountain roads, long sweeping turns would help me quickly pass the time all the way into Price my first stop for gas. It was getting hot fast and I knew it would only get worse so I made sure to drink plenty of water and would do so at every stop. Back on the road toward Moab on Route 191, now is when the vista’s would change drastically and my mind would fill to bursting with visual overload. I thought I had been this way before but perhaps not quite as I do not recall Arches National Park, or I should say I don’t recall ever having seen anything so incredibly magnificently red and pink and orange. The formations (I don’t know what else to call them) I passed by ranged from huge bulbous type formations to sharp craggily ones, each ranging in color from brilliant blood reds to vibrant oranges. I had to force myself not to stop and stare, to keep my throttle open, and to stay my mind from wandering from the true purpose of the ride; I promised myself I would one day return and stop. As I am enjoying the view I am all of sudden assaulted with the most ridiculous (to put it kindly) graffiti I have ever seen. I am actually a fan of the art-like graffiti found on many walls in cities (as long as it does not harm others), but this is beyond ridiculous all it says is “Hole in the rock” in huge white letters with a large white arrow. This would not be nearly so offensive to me except it is painted on the side of one of the gorgeous red formations! Who thought this was a good idea and further who approved it? Sometimes humans need to think twice before defacing natural formations – just my two cents. It was little outside of Moab I would notice a big yellow Gold Wing, we would play pass and catch up time and time again over the course of the ride. I realized soon enough it must me another 1088 rider, but I am not familiar with all the riders and their bikes so could not until we met again before the banquet have told you who, and I still don’t know his name. I would find out later he could go over 400 miles on a tank of gas, thus the constant catch up and pass game we would play. Out of Moab on to Cortez, via Route 491, for more gas, the heat was reaching extreme temperatures and it wasn’t even noon. By the time I got to Gallup heat was a given and I was thankful it was a dry heat. Pulling into a gas station at the entrance of I-40 I notice two more riders together, handsome men my age perhaps younger, gassing up their bikes and themselves. We nod knowing time is of the essence this gas stop will fulfill our first bonus, a gas receipt in Gallup, NM. When I am done gassing up the bike I head inside for the bathroom key to find that the women’s room key is nowhere to be found, just as one of the riders drops the men’s room key on the counter. Without a second thought I grab it and run. I learned a long time ago that men’s rooms have toilets and rarely have lines, sure enough four women are standing in line as I walk by and quickly unlock the men’s room door. At the banquet the other rider who had dropped the key would talk to many about me grabbing the men’s room key; most found this odd enough that a picture of me using the men’s room just might have garnered this man a few extra points; maybe I really am an anomaly. I am on I-40 and people are just flying. I think back over the first bit of my trip, not having mapped it out I have no idea how far I have come or how much further I have to go, I do know that I passed more people on the first leg of this ride then I have in the last five years; gosh do I prefer to ride with no one else on the road. Now I remember how little gear people wear when riding in the south, as I pass a man in shorts and a t-shirt, I practically start having convulsions just thinking about him hitting the pavement at the 75 +mph we are going; what is it with people I try not to think too long on it. I-40 is nothing great, I pass close to the Grand Canyon but not close enough to see anything. My mind is on one goal get to Flagstaff and find the “Welcome to Flagstaff” sign I need to take a picture of, then head on to Las Vegas. Well that sign might have been seemingly easy to find until I tried to find it. Hot and getting tired, I didn’t waste too much time before asking. I noticed a family selling rabbits on the lawn near a large market and figured they were local enough to point me in the right direction, fortunately they could, unfortunately it was 3-4 miles back the way I came and would require a u-turn to get to, ah well off I was. Time wasted, I had three pictures stashed in my inside jacket pocket where I was keeping all my pertinent information; too many before me had lost everything they needed for points by leaving proof on their bikes instead of on their person. Now back on I-40 still without a clue as to how far I had come or how much further I had to go, and no time to try to figure it out, I knew I just needed to press on. Pulling off I-40 for gas in Kingman I put my foot down in a pile of gravel and could feel myself loosing the bike. I fought with every ounce of strength I had left to keep her upright fearing I would be stuck here so close but so far, something in me pulled her back up. I-40 to 93 north up over Hoover Dam. The skies were darkening but the heat was not subsiding; for one who adores heat even I was starting to tire of the oven like feel, there would be moments just brief fleeting moments of a cool breeze and I would hold them dearly as if clutching to life by a thread. Tourists abound even at this hour making their way over the dam, causing me great distress, again I was forced to pass people again and again, until I could no longer do so and had instead to just stay calm at 20-25 mph, until the freedom of a passing lane allowed me to move along again. So close to Las Vegas, and yet not quite. My mind is racing I don’t know what Keno is I am not even sure what is considered Las Vegas proper, all I know is that to get the full bonus for this ride I needed a Keno ticket from a Las Vegas proper casino with the numbers 8, 10 and 80 (I don’t think I will ever forget those numbers). I hoped for light skies but knew I was too far behind timing wise for that, instead I hoped for not too much traffic in temperatures well over 105. I had Mapquested quickly that morning what was downtown Las Vegas and hoped that I remembered where to get off the freeway, as in the dark I could not see my maps. I managed to make my way to the proper area but could not tell which casino might have what I needed. I tried to ask a few people but none could help, finally I took my chances pulling up onto the sidewalk entrance of a large old casino, I ran inside. Rushing up the bar in full gear helmet in hand I knew I had to be quick as all my equipment was on my bike with no way to lock it down, it could disappear in seconds. I asked the bartender for help, he was none. There was a man sitting at the bar who tried to help me play bar Keno but we could not get a receipt so I blew $1. Finally, the bartender took pity on me, that or he realized I was not going to buy a drink and I was blocking a seat, so he pointed toward the opposite end of the casino telling me that is where I needed to go. Still uncertain I ran up to a security guard and asked for his help, imagine if you will a fully dressed security guard all 6’5” 300 lbs and little me in all my gear running (I am not kidding running) from one end of the casino to the other. Arriving at the Keno table the man behind the counter cut me a ticket and wished me luck. I had told the dealer I was on a scavenger hunt so I thought he was wishing me luck on the hunt then I realized he meant on the ticket; too bad for me it was all Steve’s. Back on the bike and up on the freeway, hoping I could find gas knowing it was not that easy in downtown Las Vegas, I did manage to find a station but did not take the extra time to pee or drink I was too afraid of the neighborhood. Now that I had all three bonuses handled it was just a matter of getting back to Salt Lake in time. I would need to get back in time to fill out my gas log, which would mean at the latest about 8:30 am since the gate would close at 9 am. I still had no idea how much further I had to go until I passed a sign on I-15 that told me I was 394 miles from Salt Lake City and it was after 10 pm, would I make it or not I wasn’t sure. The adrenaline that had kept me going trying to get my bonuses was gone, the heat was easing but not by much, the darkness was so thick you could cut it with a knife and fatigue was setting in. It is about this time on every ride I must make the decision to stop more often, stay hydrated, well fed and caffeinated. I don’t like to resort to caffeine and will only start drinking coffee if I absolutely have to, thus I would inch my way up I-15 toward Salt Lake City, stopping often to rest, eat and drink, I managed to get in one good 15 minute nap on my tank allowing me to re-energize enough to continue on. I started to wonder where the other riders were about 3 am or so, I figured about now I would start seeing others, sure enough I pulled into a station near Beaver and found myself in the midst of a bunch of other riders. My spirits rose as the karma from them gave me hope to carry on. I started to notice other motorcycle headlights behind me and taillights in front of me, then as I neared Provo, more and more of us found each other, some would pass me, some I would pass but just knowing that others were out here battling like me kept me going. I arrived in Salt Lake City after riding for 22 hours and 50 minutes, with what I would later learn was 1372 miles in the saddle; plenty of time to write up my gas log before the finish line closed. A sense of relief and accomplishment settled in, but my mind was still racing did I get the right picture in Flagstaff, did I purchase the right Keno ticket; all my hard work could be for not if I did not fulfill the requirements, one thing for sure my license and registration was still sealed up tight, others would not be so lucky. A nap, shower and quick run to the market for a little food before I was too tired to walk, then off to the banquet. I ran into the guys I had been speaking with before and we all started to talk about the various routes taken, experiences had, and whether or not we did well. I made sure to give Steve a huge thank you hug simply for giving me the opportunity for a good ride, he seemed surprised I was not. The banquet is a time for people to receive kudos and be roasted, eat and be merry, and talk to others about that which we love, it was marvelous. I would ride home in one day on Monday all 850 miles in 12-1/2 hours with temperatures that made the prior day look cool, but I wanted to get home. I would miss the luxury of a bed and cable tv, but I longed for the cool air of the Pacific Northwest. Wednesday I would learn where I truly placed, Sunday was just the initial placement and at that time I was tied at 39th (89 signed up, 76 crossed the start, 22 didn’t finish), Wednesday I was 41st in points and 20th in mileage – 20th in mileage I immediately called my parents to tell them the news. Me on my little tiny Ducati, with no extra fuel, no gps, no nothing not even my radar detector the last half – it blew outside of Flagstaff, had beaten out 40 huge men and one woman on big bikes all tricked out! Maybe next year I can actually get some decent points –what next year it has only been a few days, what is wrong with me – nothing according to all the folks who rode the 2008 Utah 1088!