Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Void 7

The VOID rally runs in early October and is based in Lynchburg VA. This year there were 3 starting locations Allentown, PA - Nashville, TN and Statesboro, GA all ending in Lynchburg. My starting location was Statesboro. Rally packets arrived via email on Tuesday afternoon and as soon as I made it home from work it was printed and the locations went into BaseCamp for route planning.
This years rally book was a little different than previous years in that there was no clear if you pull this off you'll have a high score bonus. There were several combo bonuses offered and I tried using them but never found a plan where using them meant a better score then ignoring them. 
This is my first route which took me from Statesboro toward Savannah and then up the SC coast, through NC, western VA, up through WV and then doing a clockwise route back down to Lynchburg. This route included a large combo bonus finding at least 3 of 4 replicas of the Statue of Liberty. The problems with it were a lot of coastal riding and if one of the 3 locations were lost at the scoring table then so was the combo bonus. 
 My second route and the one I rode took me from Statesboro toward Augusta and then up through SC, NC, into Virgina and then a counter-clockwise loop around VA and WV. This one provided the most points and left the mountain riding for Saturday morning with several bail-out options.
The first bonus on my route was to take a photo of the HHM titled "Graniteville Cemetery" in Aiken, SC. The waypoint provided was at the entrance to the cemetery so it took a little looking to find it but it was close enough.
Bonus 2 was to take a photo of the World's Smallest Police station in Ridgeway, SC.
Again the waypoint was off and the actual site was several block away.
Bonus 3 required a picture of the Gate 20 Diamond tower at Lowes Motor Speedway in Concord, NC. The GPS had me exit the interstate on what was a straight shot to Lowes but it was several miles of heavy traffic to get there. The better option would have been to stay on the interstate for a couple more exits and it would have saved about 15 minutes. Finding the right tower required riding around the outside of the speedway. Thankfully there was nothing going on at the track so that went quickly.
Bonus 4 wanted a photo of the horse mounted atop the sign for Myers Double M Farms in Belews Creek, NC.
Bonus 5 required a photo of the giant banjo on top the roof of Billy's Mountain Music in Bassett, VA.
Up to this point I had been seeing a couple of other riders at each stop. Shortly after we left here everyone took different routes and I didn't see another rider until the next morning.
Bonus 6 required a photo of the Keysville Drive-In Theatre's marquee making sure to get the name of the drive-in in the photo.
Bonus 7 in Dinwiddie, VA was different in that you had to use information on a HHM to calculate answers to a few questions. You can see the HHM here http://www.hmdb.org//marker.asp?marker=17668&Result=1. We had to determine how old the individual was when he entered the army, passed the bar and died. This was more far challenging than just taking a picture.
Bonus 8 required a photo of the giant bass atop the Winding Brook sign in Asburn, VA. As you can see it was dark which presents problems taking pictures.
Bonus 9 in Milford, VA wanted a photo of the rearing horse statue. This one was located at the entrance to a campground and the driveway was gravel. I ended up leaning over too far and my bike slowly dropped to the ground. This was only the second time I have done this and last time there was someone to help lift it. I had seen a demonstration on how to lift a bike properly but had never tried it. My choices were to try and hunt down help or see if I could do it. I was amazed how easy it was to upright a 650lb bike using the correct technique. It was up and ready to go in no time.
Bonus 10 was another HHM in Caret, VA titled "Gouldborough Plantation".
Bonus 11 near Colonial Beach, VA was a HHM titled "Bristol Iron Works". I rode to the waypoint and looked all over and no sign was to be found. Since some of the waypoints had been off and the one given was at a intersection I rode about a half-mile each way but still never found it. After trying again and wasting about 20 minutes I decided to move on. On the way to the next location I spotted a HHM about 2 miles past the waypoint provided. I made a U-turn and went back and sure enough it was the one I needed. Since this one was so far off the rallymaster gave credit to those who attempted it but didn't locate it. Maybe I should have asked for extra credit. Just kidding Scott.
As with most rallies the VOID requires a rest stop where you are off the bike and preferably sleeping somewhere for a few hours. I normally try and locate a inexpensive motel and grab some sleep. The requirement was to stop between 10pm Friday and 6am Saturday. I chose stop about 10:30 in Fredricksburg, VA at a decent looking Motel 6 with a 7-11 next door which provided good receipts.  
Bonus 12 in Midland. VA required a photo of a pyramid shaped monument to John Marshall, the 4th chief Justice of the United States. This one required taking a trail a half-mile to the monument from the parking lot. While hiking the trail I saw tire tracks and knew that at least one rider had been there and rode their motorcycle back to the monument. I can't say the thought didn't cross my mind but there were some slippery spots and I would not have wanted to explain to the nice office what I was doing with my bike back there.
Bonus 13 in Middelburg, VA was another HHM titled "Mosby's Rangers"
Bonus 14 in Berkly Springs, WV simply required a photo of the Midas Man with no other information. This was an incredibly difficult picture to take and after a half-dozen attempts this is the best I could get. I need to work with my camera and see if I can do better than this in the future. 
Bonus 15 in Artemas, PA required a photo of the Road Kill Cafe. This was the first location since the giant banjo that I met another rider at a bonus.
Bonus 16 in Kingwood, WV required a photo of the 1937 Esso gas station "Westbrook's Esso".
Bonus 17 in Elkins, WV required a photo of the giant statue of Minnehaha.
Bonus 18 in Monterey, VA wanted the fish on top of the Maple Restaurant.
Bonus 19 in Lewisburg, WV exposed a flaw in my system of finding bonuses. My normal routine involves printing 2 copies of the rally book, one to turn in for scoring and one to cut up. I take the cut up one and tape the bonus requirements to index cards that fit nicely in my tank bag map window. The problem with this is I only see about 2/3 of the text available. Normally it is not a problem but in this case it was. The full text read "Take a photo of the bell that was installed by Lewisburg Graded School in 1878 and given to the park by George L. Lemon. However what I was seeing stopped at 1878 so I didn't see the part about the park. I saw an old building close by with what looked like a bell on top so I took a picture and moved on. 28 points lost and lesson learned.  
Bonus 20 in Eagle Rock, VA required a photo of the gate supported between two brick columns. Arriving at the waypoint was the entrance to a national park but nothing like what was described. Fortunately another rider was departing and pointed down the gravel road entrance to the park.
Bonus 21 in Lexington, VA was a HHM titled Washington & Lee University. Normally this would have been very easy but Lexington is home of Virginia Military Institute and it was their homecoming so it was packed with traffic and people everywhere.
 Bonus 22 in Glasglow, VA stated "Take a photo of the woman on the dinosaur". Sometimes you not quite sure what you are going to find but here it is.
All done with bonus collecting it was time to head to rally central. My goal was to check in by 1:35 and submit my rally book before 2pm to avoid the penalties. Traffic back was miserable. There were twisties with no passing and vehicles going 10-15 under the speed limit. After that there was a long construction zone with a 25mph limit where it's normally 55. I managed to make it back and submit my rally pack at 1:58. This allowed no time to recheck my entries so all I could do was hope I got it right.
Scoring proved uneventful until the Lewisburg bonus came up and I read the entire text. I knew I had he wrong picture and lost a lot of points. Other than that one everything else was in order and I ended with a respectable score and second place for the Georgia start.
My thanks goes out to Scott and Gary and everyone who works with them to put on this fine event. I'm already looking forward to next year.  

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