Monday, October 21, 2013

Big Texas 36 Hour Rally Ride Report

This past weekend I rode the Big Texas Rally, my first attempt at an Iron Butt type rally.  If you're not familiar with how these work, you're provided a list of bonii with each being worth a different number of points.  Then you're provided a check in or rally end location and the time you must be there.  You're task is to select the number of bonii you can ride to, do whatever the rally book calls for at this location, and get to the end location on time.
The Big Texas rally book had about 90 potential bonus locations and several locations you could start from.  I chose to start in Childress, Texas.  The night before the rally start, Mark and Eric had reserved a room at Maxey's Steak House for us to have dinner if we wanted to.  I went, had a good meal, and heard some good discussion about the rally.  As a newbie, I just sat and listened to those who had done several rallies.
The rally start was at 6 am on Friday, I was there early, got my starting receipt, and was anxious to get started.  About 20 riders were starting at Childress, here's a pic of some of them.
We got started at 6 am, I don't think anyone but me noticed me stalling the bike as I started out of the lot, something I've done on the RT about 3 times the entire time I've owned it.  My planned route was to ride over to Amarillo, get the Cadillac Ranch first, then head to Palo Duro Canyon.  It was pretty chilly and dark on the way over, I was watching for deer but didn't see any.  I got to Cadillac Ranch ok and walked down to take the required picture.  The rally book stated we must paint our first and last name as well as rider number on the roof or trunk of any car, then take a pic of ourselves including all. I had an issue with my flag blowing around and obscuring my number so I had to make 3 attempts at it before I got this. You have to look real close to see my info because I tried to use a paint pen instead of the spray paint that would have been much better.  I should have researched it better online and I would have known this.
I jumped back on the bike and headed for Palo Duro Canyon.  If you haven't been there before, it's really a pretty place and fun ride to the bottom.  I got passed by the eventual rally winner, Erik on the way down but that's ok, he was in it to win it, I was in it to finish.  Nice job Erik.  He was at the plaque when I arrived and was gracious enough to take the pic for me.
Rally Master Wayne had a great idea that changed things considerably for me and several other riders as well.  Originally, there was a list of 12 Texas icons worth 150 points each if you took a pic of them along the way.  At the start, it was announced that these icons would be worth 1500 points each instead.  Suddenly, I went from worrying about getting the required 25,000 points to be considered a finisher to knowing that I could relax a bit and have plenty of points just by picking up a few of these. Anyone collecting 10 or more would also get an extra 5,000 points.  I managed to get 5 of the icons, a windmill, a pump jack, a posted sign, a cactus, and a rodeo grounds.  Here are the pics of those.

I won't bore you with every single bonus I picked up but I rode my plan pretty well Friday but made the mistake of a newbie by not hydrating very well and I waited too long to grab anything to eat.  By 5 pm I had a thumping headache and at least 3 hours left to ride.  I made it to Sonora, Texas right at 9 pm after a harrowing ride on I10 where I just knew I'd have a close call with Bambi's daddy.  We were warned about I10 just after dark and just before dawn being very bad for deer in the road.  My route planned for me to be on it for both, not a great idea but I was lucky enough to avoid any mishaps.
The rally book called for a minimum rest bonus of 4 hours and 15 points per minute up to 8 hours.  I checked in to the motel, took some tylenol, and laid down with a cold wash cloth to try and get rid of my headache.
The alarm went off early on Saturday and I was feeling quite a bit better.  I got my rest bonus end receipt and a cup of coffee to start the day.  I already had enough points from Friday to be a finisher so I decided to take an easier route and make it safely to the finish on time.  I grabbed some great BBQ at Kreuz Market in Lockhart and headed to Austin for a noon picture bonus at the Stevie Ray Vaughn statue.  Parking here was bad so I parked about half a mile away and looked like a strange sight walking among all the joggers and walkers in my riding gear.  Just about everybody in the rally showed up at this bonus.  The rally book said that at exactly noon, 1 picture would be taken and for 2,000 points we had to be clearly visible in it with our rally flag as well.
After this picture, I hot footed it back to the bike and head for the next bonus, a pistol shoot near Killeen.  Here, we had to place our rally flag about 10 yards away, then shoot at it 3 times with either our pistol or one provided by the rally.  I opted to shoot a Ruger 9mm and managed to perforate my flag 3 times.  1 of the 3 was a flesh wound, just on the edge but a hit is a hit.
I had originally planned to get several more bonii after the pistol shoot but I was dragging and that nagging headache was starting to come back so I headed towards the rally check in location.  I had heard that I35 north was shut down due to an accident so I meandered north up highway 317 a while. This turned into a nice winding road and I was able to just relax and enjoy the ride.  At the start of the rally, our driver's license and insurance cards were sealed in an envelope.  At the end, if the envelope was still sealed, it was worth 5,000 points.  I only saw 3 or 4 troopers my entire ride and rode no more than 5 miles over the limit, so I had these points in the bag.
I made it to the rally check in just before 5 pm, completed my scoring paperwork, and was scored.  I had ridden just over 1200 miles, scored just over 30,000 points, and completed my first rally.  After a shower, the bar was open, we had some good food, and I met more riders.  The scoring took a while and the winners were announced just after 11 pm.  Congrats again to Erik and all of the riders who participated in the rally.  A special thanks to Steve B for giving me some rally routing pointers prior to the rally.  Texas is really very scenic and I'd encourage anyone to take a drive around to see it.  I'd like to thank Wayne and all the others for putting on the rally.  I think I'm hooked, it's cheaper than crack....barely.


  1. Wow great job. Sounds like you did pretty darn good for a first timer. I don't think I could do an overnight rally like this so I always tip my hat to those that do.

    Nicely done!!

  2. Nice ride. I live in central Texas so I have a lot of places to ride just in Texas. Y'all hit many of the best places to ride. My favorite ride is the Big Bend area.

    Ride safe...