Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Utah 1088

What follows is a mediocre report about mediocre effort and, not surprisingly, mediocre results, but I had a damn good time!

For the past several years I've wanted to run the Utah 1088. And who wouldn't? Steve Chalmers, the rallymaster, is a pioneer of our sport and has a reputation that precedes him. I'm not sure why, but I was expecting an unbending hard-ass of a rallymaster. Over the course of the next few days I found a rallymaster who's decisions were fair across the board, that was well-respected, cunning, insightful and, well, a real bastard. Something I think we all expect from anyone willing to come up with a plan to put riders through hell and back and return with smiles on their faces.

I've been on the road since leaving for Hyder Seek toward the end of May. Being on the road prior to a rally is never an issue. I packed the Polaroid as well as a backup and a few other implements of destruction. I figured I'd buy anything else I needed along the way. The biggest issue in my mind was, well, my state of mind. I haven't been in rally mode since the 2004 Waltz Across Texas and I didn't do an admirable job of defending the 2003 WATR title either. As competitive rally riders know, mindset plays an integral role in competition. From gas stops to bonus stops, every move must be choreographed, practiced, refined and perfected because time cannot be wasted. All your moves must be precise, efficient and deliberate. I didn't know how much I lost during my idle time, but the 1088 was sure to exaggerate and expose every weakness.

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Steve went over some of the fundamental do's and don'ts at the rider's meeting Friday evening. The rock got passed around a number of times. For those of you that don't know... if you're holding the rock, you asked a stupid question. At the end of the meeting, the alternate routes were passed out because he knew we needed something to whet our appetites. None of the alternate routes spoke to me, but I wanted to wait until the rally packets were passed out to see how everything, if anything, could be combined.

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I never have a difficult time sleeping the night before a rally. What's the point of staying up all night when I'm going to do just that the following evening? The next morning came quickly. We had a brief meeting, but only a few questions were asked. It was obvious everyone wanted the rally packets. When I got mine I opened it immediately. I'm not sure what the hell I expected, but I stood there with my thumb up my ass for a few minutes before deciding to go to the room to plot the locations on a map. The plotting didn't go too well. I was out of practice, under pressure and forgot how to do a lot of the things in Streets and Trips and Mapsource that were, at one time, second nature. It was frustrating to say the least.

A potential light was shining through frustration's fog. One location worth a good number of points and only a mere 425 miles to the south. Vegas Vic, a 40-foot tall neon cowboy located under the canopy on Fremont Street. All I needed to do was get on the bike and ride. If I could squeeze in some other locations on the way back, then that's just icing on the cake. Between the slow race, ol Vic and an unopened envelope with my driver's license, I should clear roughly 25,000 points the first leg. "Should" and "would" are two different things.

The problem with the slow race is that it's slow. This should have been an easy bonus. The first time through I finished in 38 seconds, but needed to cross the finish line in no less than 45. Damn! The next time through I wasn't even close to 38. As I was getting closer, Bill looked up and said, "You ain't gonna make it." Damn! Damn!

I was off for Vegas! The temperature in the basin was supposed to get into the high 80s. The temperature in Vegas was supposed to be hotter than shit - literally. From the reports I heard, in places it was approximately 20 degrees hotter than fresh, recently-plopped shit. Why the hell did I go to Vegas? Oh ya. Because I was not prepared to efficiently and deliberately go through the rally packet. I chose the easy way out. And while it was hot, it wasn't intolerable. I sweated my ass off and my shirt had the salt stains to prove it.

Finding Vic wasn't too difficult. I found a local who pointed me in the general direction. As I was turning around I saw Ken Morton at the stop light. We leap-frogged each other on the way down. He was heading in the same direction so I figured we were onto something. Ken and I found a place to park and mosied over under the coolness of the canopy and snapped a pic of Vegas Vic.

From Vegas to St. George, UT is a desert oven. I couldn't wait to start making the slow ascent from St. George because with the ascent comes a welcome decrease in temperature. And even one degree less is one degree in the right direction. By the time I got back in the basin, it was colder than shit - literally. About 10 degress colder than fresh, recently-plopped shit. I knew Steve would likely keep us in the cold the second leg. It would be welcome.

Having blown my wad on Vegas Vic, when I received the bonus list for the second leg I immediately searched it for that one, high point bonus. And I kept searching and searching and searching and damn!! Bastard! He's gonna make me work for this one. So I scurried up to the room and plotted all the points. A definitive route didn't stand out. Damn! About the only thing I could do to acquire a respectable amount of points was run a star pattern and get what I could before returning to base. It was obvious no rider would be able to "make up" points on the second leg. If, for whatever reason, you didn't go balls out on the first leg and get some serious points, remember the feeling. That's what it feels like to screw yourself.

I looked forward to riding through the night. I hadn't done that in a long time. My only concern was with critters crossing my path. The points in the Flaming Gorge region weren't enough to entice me out that way and that's where the majority of critters would be. There was a little stretch of US-6 that concerned me, but nothing more than usual. Not much else to do but fire up the HIDs, keep the head on a swivel, cover the brakes and twist the throttle.

The night went by quickly. Surprisingly, the route I took wasn't all that cold. Good thing since when I pit-stopped at my sister's in Austin I decided to leave the electrics. I wound up in downtown Salt Lake at the capital building waiting for the sun to rise. Steve Broadhead strolled up as I went over the paperwork. We chatted a bit before the sun shed enough light on the building. We took our pictures and hauled ass back to rally headquarters. The 1088 was over.

The banquet was excellent. Steve does a helluva job of handing out the awards. He tends to keep a steady gait pacing the floor telling stories, announcing 10th place, telling another story, announcing 9th, telling... you get the picture. As with anything else in life, you get out of it what you put into it. I put in average effort and finished in an average position. No regrets. I know what I need to work on and, in the end, I came back with a smile on my face.

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I'd like to thank Steve and all the volunteers who helped him put on a helluva rally. Y'all did good. I look forward to coming back again next year.

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