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Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 05:01 PM PDT

"You May be Right, I May be Crazy ..."

by twigg

Keystone Lake ... Almost home againMy readers here are veterans of my motorcycling Ride Reports, but for those unfamiliar with the format, a brief explanation.

I belong to a group of motorcyclists who specialize in Safe, Long Distance Motorcycling. As part of that community I enter Long Distance Rallies. The format is a scavenger hunt, the difference is the scale.

There are no prizes for being the first back to the finish. Only a combination of meticulous preparation, flawless execution and the ability to sit on a motorcycle for many hours will get the job done.

Even then the only prize is the respect of your fellow riders, but that is a prize beyond the dreams of avarice.

This event was hosted by a first-time Rally Master whose main advantage was the backdrop of Colorado in which to organise a thirty two hour event. There would be no points available for rest stops on this one, all the points were on the road ... we would have to ride to earn every one.

What happened next is below the orange roadkill.

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Thu May 01, 2014 at 06:00 PM PDT

"Keep it Straight, and Keep it Eighty"

by twigg

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugBefore dawn on a warm and clear Texas morning, several dozen motorcyclists left their chosen starting points. They each had but a single ambition; be in Georgetown, TX, before six pm with more points than the other riders. For those who like to read the end before the substance, I arrived with more points than all but two.

Those two, Rex LeGalley and Brain Walters, managed feats that day that I hadn't even considered possible. Not by mortals anyway. But Rex and Brian are not mortal, they are Iron Butt Rally veterans with high finishing places. The company was, as they say, a select group.

Before we get to Georgetown there is the small matter of twelve hours traveling through some of the best country on offer, so let's go for a ride.

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Arriving in Dallas - attrib. Richard SwimIt was cold and dark when thirty motorcycles gathered at a gas station on the Texas side of the border, in Texarkana.

The men and women piloting these bikes, machines honed for efficiency and prepared to be ridden for many hours, were a quiet, concentrating bunch. They went about their business with a studied purpose, belying the apparently relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

At six am we, and thirty five others similarly gathered across three other locations, would ride into the early morning darkness. Most would not see each other again until Dallas, some thirty six hours, and up to fifteen hundred miles later.

Until that moment, pictured on the right, I was just a number. The Big Tex Rally was about to begin, and I was number 67.

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Reposted from Every Part of You Belongs to You by twigg

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug"Prada 'Marfa'" is a piece of installation art. It is on a deserted highway in Texas, close to Marfa, TX and the Mexico border. The structure was built at a cost of $80 000 and is designed to be allowed to degrade and crumble with the ravages of time.

It's sole purpose is to demonstrate the return from modernity to the earth from which it was created. Prada gave their blessing, and stock, for the store.

I was there because it was a bonus location worth 1405 points in the Big Tex Rally, a thirty six hour motorcycle rally entirely within the state of Texas.

From the start I was determined to make a significant assault on this rally. Despite my motorcycle inhabiting the territory known as the "Hopeless" Class, in previous rallies it has acquitted itself decently well, and surprised more than a few folk. This time the rally was a little longer, a little tougher, and I was determined to find out just what it could and couldn't do.

Incidentally, "it's the rider not the bike" is an old homily which was going to be put to the test too.

In the end it was a mixed result. For reasons that will become clear I decided not to finish, yet what I did accomplish, what I learned and what I will share that others may benefit too made this a truly worthwhile endeavour.

Let's jump the orange roadkill and go for a ride through Texas!

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Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 09:37 PM PDT

South Padre Island ... or Bust!

by twigg

Tarpley City sign, west of cityThe picture on the right is a city sign. It is not special, it is pretty much the same as many thousands of similar signs across the country. Tarpley, TX, is just another small community in central Texas. I can state confidently that decent Americans live there. They work, play and live their lives just as you, I and many millions of others do. It is completely unremarkable.

What is special about Tarpley, at least to me, is that I rode my motorcycle two thousand miles last weekend to get that picture.

That is clearly a statement that requires some explanation, at least to those who have not read these Diaries before; so let's jump the orange roadkill and find out more.

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Unique BonusIn the Heart of Texas they gather. Motorcyclists from all over the country congregate to embark upon a twelve hour scavenger hunt ending in Brady. The pace is more "Fast and Furious" than "Slow Boat to China", aided not a little by the seventy miles per hour speed limits on the Texas cart tracks. It is an unrelenting twelve hours with no room for error. If you make a mistake in your planning, or execution, you will be beaten by those who don't. In longer rallies there is time to, well, rally; but not in the Heart of Texas.

This year, James Stovall (Rally Master) added a twist. For extra points, and just for the bragging rights, he set up an additional "Unique" bonus. You could earn Certificates from Leather through Diamond Level, by riding from 500 miles, to 1500 miles one way and in twenty four hours or less, to the bonus location. Once there you had to photograph the bonus and mail or text that picture to James within thirty minutes. An end receipt could follow later.

This challenge, and one additional six hour task, had to be completed no later than about ten days before the rally proper, and within about twelve hours of each other. I'll say right here that I didn't take the second part of the challenge for reasons that will become clear. The Title is a hint!

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Tue Sep 25, 2012 at 12:59 AM PDT

Autumn Equinox 2012 - Dallas or Bust!

by twigg

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugIn what is becoming a tradition, this Diary is another Long Distance Motorcycle Ride Report.

For the build up to this ride, and to get an overview of the route taken, please go here.

I have written a number of these reports, and they are all available in my Diary List for anyone interested in glancing through them. Usually I describe the route, talk about locations visited and try to give a flavor of what it is like to take part in these events.

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Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 08:48 PM PDT

Autumn Equinox

by twigg

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugToday is the last day of summer. Appropriately it managed to reach 94F here in north east Oklahoma.

I don't know what folk generally do to celebrate the first day of Fall, but I spent last year on a Motorcycle Rally, and this year am doing the same.

Details, for those interested, lie beneath the orange roadkill.

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For the last couple of years, Jodie, my loving wife, has watched as I set off on motorcycle rides covering several States.

This time she was coming too!

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug I have ridden through Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma while she remained at home. She followed me on SPOT*, and got regular texts, calls and photo-messages, but until this weekend our longest joint ride was to the Talemina Scenic Byway; a trip of little more than four hundred miles.

By the standards I generally set, that was just a "ride before lunch".

This type of journey is not for everyone, but this weekend, it was just what we wanted.

For me, this was going to be a bit different too. Off came the auxiliary gas tank and cooler, on went things that would make her more comfortable in predicted temperatures in excess of 110F.

The journey was a long one, and keeping hydrated and as cool as possible would be the factors that determined success or total wipeout.

*In the SPOT link, set the history to "ALL" and hit "GO"

Let's wheelie over the orange bump in the road ...

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Tue May 01, 2012 at 07:00 PM PDT

The Heart of Texas

by twigg

The "Heart of Texas" is, in this instance, a twelve hour Motorcycle Rally held entirely within the borders of the State of Texas. 2012 is the third annual running, and this is my first entry.

Coming straight off the back of a "Did Not Finish" in my last Rally, I was keen to at least get to the finish line, in one piece, and in time to be classified as a finisher. Before that could happen there was the small matter of six hundred miles and some Bonus Hunting to be done, all between six am and six pm on Saturday, 28th April 2012.

Around forty riders, some with pillion passengers started the Rally, most, if not all finished. As I write this I know my own final score, but the final standings are not yet published. So I know I didn't finish in the top three, but finish I did, and respectably.

Throughout this Report I am likely to make comments and observations on the structure of the Rally, what I liked and didn't like, and how it was for me. This is my Report, and my right. Nothing is intended as a criticism of the Rally or it's Organisor, James Stovall, and his assistants. Those good and generous people make my pastime possible, and I am indebted to them. They have both my thanks and my gratitude for all they do.

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In every country there are those who, by dint of personal circumstances, are forced to endure difficult or unpleasant situations. Those are the people we seek to represent, who's circumstances we work to change. While we work towards social justice and equal opportunities for all, in our personal lives we also seek challenges.

It is simply the human condition. We are built that way. If he or she can do it, I wonder if I can do it Citius, Altius, Fortius.
Readers of my Diaries are sometimes very kind. They offer praise, interesting insights in comment threads and, while some think that I am mad, most recognise the challenge I confront in my chosen pastime.

From my point of view it is very easy to write about success, and triumph. What happens when you reach the limits of your endurance. When, despite the mind being willing, the body proves unable? How do you find the words to describe that, yet still convey the reality that, unless you have tested your own endurance beyond it's limits, then you haven't actually found out what that limit is.

In other words .... If you attempt to find out the limits of your own endurance, you can only do so if sometimes you reach the limit, and fail the task.

I found my limit and it is laid bare beneath the Orange Armadillo Roadkill

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I have written a number of Motorcycling Diaries and published them on this site. The question that crops up most frequently, along with statements about my general mental health, is Why??

To try to answer that I am going to take you on a Motorcycle Ride. This is not your "Sunday afternoon, let's go for a ride". Everyone can understand that, even if they don't want to do it themselves. No, this is a test of endurance. It is not a race but it is far more than just a ride.

This is a tale of an attempt to ride fifteen hundred miles in less than twenty four hours. We are not talking about whether it should be done, all I am concerned about here is whether or not it can be done, and can it be done safely.

In advance I know it can be done, but I don't know if I can do it.

In every test of endurance you will find your limits. Leaving it all on the field is a time-worn expression to those who have pushed themselves right to the point that their mind and body says "Enough! I have gone this far, but no further". If you have never experienced that then, at least in that respect, you have yet to realise your own potential.

Whether it be triathalon, marathon running, hang-gliding or any other activity that requires a combination of mental acuity and physical endurance there will always be those who want to push it to the point where they reach the wall, then go a bit further. The acid test is to be able to do that while retaining sufficient judgement to understand when it is time to stop. What marks out the truly successful is the ability to know when the limit is reached and take away not the failure, but the lessons.

In one respect, twigg failed. Sad, but true. There is more to it than that, so let's go on a ride, and you be the judge.

On the other side of the Orange roadkill, is the tale ....

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