Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Mason Dixon 20-20

The Mason Dixon 20-20 is a roughly 32 hour rally that runs on Memorial Day weekend every year starting and ending in Hagerstown MD. This was my second attempt at it. Most rallies are simply based on meeting all the requirements while obtaining the most points. This year the MD 20-20 was going to be based on efficiency meaning you wanted the highest points per mile. To keep it interesting there was a minimum of 900 and maximum of 1650 miles required.

This rally gives you some but not all information about the bonus locations about a week prior to the start. You have the bonus location ID, point value, GPS location, availability and special notes available to work with. You receive all the specifics required to claim a bonus about 15 minutes before starting. This allows you pre-plan your route before the rally but can cause you to make some last minute changes if the requirements of a particular bonus are not something you want to do.

As always there are a lot of bonus locations to choose from. This year there were 152 items on the list. The map below shows the locations with red flags indicating high points, green for medium and blue for low. Most of these are simply locations where you complete a specific task, normally a picture, but others can be combo bonuses where you have to get a group of other bonuses or obtain bonuses in a particular order. Most rallies including this one have a mandatory rest bonus requiring you to be off the bike for a minimum number of hours.

I normally create a route by picking a few high point bonus locations and build a route seeing what I can pickup along the way. It's not unusual for me to create 4-6 routes and see what I can come up with. Following my normal process I was coming up with numbers in the 6 points per mile range. After talking with a few other participants at the pre-rally banquet I found others in the 9 point-per-mile range and rumors of some near 12 points per mile. Sometimes these are misleading but I felt I had the wrong plan. After the banquet it was back to the drawing board. My best original route had me travelling deep into West Virginia and riding about 1305 miles.

A couple of hours with the computer and I had a new route that was 920 miles and 9.479 points-per-mile. The key seemed to be keeping you mileage as low as possible. This also had the benefit of having plenty of time and a very long rest period.

A riders meeting is held at 5am on Sunday morning where the rally books are handed out and last minute details are covered. Once all questions are answered it's time to ride.

My first stop was in Siler WV requiring only a picture of the sign below. All pictures require your unique flag to be in the picture. I was rider #5.

Stop 2 was a HHM titled "Population Center" in Wardensville WV. It states that the population center of the US was located in West Virginia 4 times (1820, 1830, 1840 & 1850) as it moved westward.
Stop 3 was another HHM in Lost City WV. This one was about Lost River's first church built prior to 1797.

Stop 4 in Petersburg WV was the World War memorial in front of the Grant County courthouse.
Stop 5 in Scherr WV was another HHM titled Greenland Gap.
Stop 6 was the birth place of Abraham Lincoln's mother Nancy Hanks in new New Creek WV. This was one to be careful with because the actual house was there but the requirement was to get a picture of the marker across from the house.
Stop 7 was in Keyser WV and required a picture of a bridge marker that listed Jonah Kelly. 

Stop 8 was in Barton MD and was a memorial to all those who have served.
Stop 9 was a marker indicating Backbone Mt. This one required having my rally flag and additional personal flag in the picture. 
Stop 10 was near Thomas WV and I needed a picture of the Fairfax stone. The stone marked
the western boundary of land granted to Lord Fairfax by the King of England in the 1700s. Almost
two centuries later, the stone was used as the determining factor in the state boundary between
West Virginia and Maryland. It is actually the 6th stone to mark the location as earlier ones were damaged or lost.
Stop 11 was near Redhouse MD and marks the highest point (3095 ft) on Maryland roads.

Stop 12 was to get a picture of Skip Cryer's memorial. This one was in the back of a small park on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere Maryland.

Stop 13 was to get a picture of a bridge in Grantville MD. While not a great picture it managed to get credit, barely.

Stop 14 was in Que Creek PA and is a memorial to coal miners.

Stop 15 was the Jacob Kinsey marker near Schellsburg PA. It was placed in 1939 and marks where the first log house in the area was located.

Stop 16 was a HHM located in Windber PA dedicated to Johnny Weissmuller who starred in a dozen early Tarzan movies.

Stop 17 was one of the original Lincoln highway markers in Ligonier PA. Most of the original 2,346 markers were placed by Boy Scouts along the route on 9/1/1928. Only a few remain today.

Stop 18 was a marker to John Montgomery in Lewisville PA

Stop 19 was a marker for the village of Idaho PA.
Stop 20 required a picture of Flower Power Phil in Punxsutawney PA. This one presented a bit of a challenge as some creative individual had rearranged the plaques that had the names and the name on this one didn't match the bonus description. However the GPS coordinates indicated this guy and it looked right. It was.

Stop 21 in Beccaria PA was a memorial to veterans on the town.
Stop 22 in Ashville PA was a marker dedicated to Elmer "Boob" Crossman who's contribution was to have a creek stocked with trout. I guess the folks in this area like to fish.
Stop 23 near Bellwood PA was the marker about The Lead Mines.

Stop 24 in Petersburg PA was this memorial dedicated to Sgt. William D. Port who was awarded a congressional medal of honor.

Stop 25 in McAlevys Fort PA marks the location near where McAlevy's Fort was built in 1773 to defend against the Indians.

Stop 26 in Boalsburg PA was this Armed Forces Memorial

Stop 27 near Spring Mills PA called for this sign. The GPS coordinates were a bit off on this one and I was looking for it about 1/8 mile down the road.

Stop 28 was simply a picture of the Troxelville PA sign. 

At this point it was about time for my rest bonus. I found an inexpensive room in Shamokin Dam PA and got a receipt from a fuel station to start the clock. The requirement called for a minimum of 3 hours stopped but I spent closer to 8 hours off the bike. Another receipt from the same fuel station to stop the clock, breakfast at McDonald's and the bonus hunt was back underway.

Stop 29 in Northumberlin PA was the Joseph Priestley house. Mr. Priestley was a English scientist who discovered oxygen in 1774. Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were some of his friends.

Stop 30 near Pittman PA was the Purple Pump. It's a old purple pump in the middle of nowhere.   

Stop 31 required obtaining evidence of Centralia PA which is all but abandoned due to an underground mine fire that started in 1962 and may burn for another 1000 years. I had trouble finding anything that stated Centralia and wasted several miles looking for a sign. I was about to give up when I finally located this. Apparently there were other signs but I never saw them.

Stop 32 in Marlin PA was another memorial to coal miners.

Stop 33 is one that is always part of the Mason Dixon and a required bonus. Jim Young's grave is located in the Fort Indiantown Gap National Cemetery. Being Memorial Day weekend American flags line the roads and make for an impressive display. This bonus always make me thankful for those that sacrificed so we could have the freedom we enjoy.

Stop 34 in Boiling Springs was this war memorial.

Stop 35 in Pine Grove was this sign for Camp Michaux which was a CCC camp.

Stop 36 and 37 were near Cashtown PA not far from Gettysburg. The first was The Round Barn and the second was a HHM about the Gettysburg Campaign

Bonus collecting finished it was time to head back to Rally HQ. Due to a couple of bridges that were out requiring detours and the problems in Centralia I rode about 20 miles farther than planed. Overall it was a good ride with only a little rain and no problems with the bike or equipment. Scoring was easy and I did not lose any points claimed. At the ending banquet I was lucky enough to place 8th and received this.
Yes, it's a trophy for shooting. Following the theme of the rally "The Mountain Do-Do" all the trophies were located at yard sales and re-purposed. The top 10 riders received trophies and many of them were ballerinas and such so I consider myself lucky.


  1. Hey John, great write-up! I was not able to download any of my pictures from the rally. Thankfully they were able to get them at the scoring table! The rally was awesome.. Can't wait until next year!

    Matt White - Rider 1 (the only number one thing I got on that ride!). :)

  2. Nice rally report. Also, nice bike.