Once April gets here, all eyes in the long distance motorcycle community turn to Wimington for the annual Cape Fear 1000 motorcycle rally and 2013 was no different. I was fortunate to be selected for my 6th year in this incredibly fun and well run event. This year I chose to start the rally from Union City, TN (in northwestern Tennessee about an hour from the Mississippi River as the crow flies). Given the fact that I am currently doing three additional rallies this spring (Big Money Rally, Tour of Honor, and Grand Tour of Georgia), I decided to start the Cape Fear ride a little early this year and took off on Wednesday. I figured that I could hit a number of BMR, TOH, and Georgia spots along the way, then spend the night outside of Nashville, figure out a route in the hotel room, and then ride into Union City by midday on Thursday.
|Historic Floyd County|
|A Lyerly Twofer - BMR and Georgia Tour!|
|Menlo, GA Fire Station|
|Cloudmont Ski Area in Alabama!?!|
|Huntsville Veteran's Memorial|
The Tour of Honor is also a "do as time permits" rally with all of the proceeds going towards the Wounded Warrior Project. They do a great job with this rally and the locations of the memorials are always very interesting and very reflective of the past events which they honor. The first TOH stop along the way to Union City was the Veteran's Memorial in Huntsville. I had the wrong coordinates for the location of the memorial typed into the GPS, but the size of the memorial made it a couldn't miss. A quick U-Turn pulled me right into the center of the site. After a brief conversation with one of Huntsville's Finest about my mid-block U-turn maneuver (he actually was very cool and liked hearing about the Tour of Honor and appreciated the fund raising aspect of it). I got to explore and snap a few pictures of the memorial. While there, Rick Bailey texted me that the Cape Fear rally books were released and I should get busy. Well I still had about 2 1/2 hours of riding ahead of me, so I tried to put the anticipation aside of the routing portion for a little while longer.
|Ardmore, TN Welcome Center|
|Elkton, TN Fire Station|
After Elkton, it was time to settle in for an easy ride up I-65 towards Nashville before cutting over to I-40 on the recently completed TN-840 route. TN-840 travels through some beautiful countryside and was the source of quite a number of lawsuits and compromises. In the end, it is a great road with some great vistas and hopefully remain some sort of gem in the Tennessee road system - as long as the exits don't become havens for every chain. I rode into the Dickson Super 8 motel a little after 6 pm ready to route! Incidentally, the Dickson Super 8 is a real gem of a motel - especially for the Super 8 brand. Not only was it modern, clean, it is family run and the owner and his extended family are extremely welcoming - all of this for $40. Needless to say, I enjoyed spending the night there.
The routing did not go as great as I had hoped. Given the pending storms on Thursday night and Friday morning, I was having difficulty in picking a direction to head from Union City. I landed on due east and became fixated on getting the Mount Mitchell bonus stop as part of my routes. From there, there were over 4500 points available near the coastal town of Edenton that was a must have. So with the wildcard bonus point locations and activities, I was looking at a 35,000 point ride (about 17,500 for wildcards and 17,500 points of riding to bonus locations) in 1200 miles. Happy with it - not escatic but it seemed to be very doable even with a 6 hour rest bonus. Rick texted me shortly before 11p.m. saying that he was looking at a 20,000 point ride. For the life of me, I couldn't see it. So I decided to go to bed and revisit the routing in the morning.
The morning routing exercise did not yield any epiphanies, still stuck on about 17,500 points by way of Mount Mitchell and Edenton - how in the heck is Rick doing this????? A quick look at the weather indicated it was going to be a windy day as the stormfront headed into Tennessee from the west. I figure that I will have plenty of time to get to Union City before the rain hits, but I don't want to daudle in Dickson for too much longer. So I pack up, check out, and hit a local print shop to print out the rally book and other needed receipts. While there, I was speaking to the technicians about the rally and the fact that I was headed to Union City and she immediately let me know that her husband is from there and gave me an alternative route to go instead of I-40. After the short interaction, I was out on the road heading due west into a 30 mph head wind. Yeah, this is going to be fun!
|Union City, TN TOH Memorial|
|Big Sandy, TN Fire Station|
|Henry, TN Fire Station|
Now that all of the routing is completed, all is left is to wait out the pending storm and have dinner with many of the other riders at the adjacent restaurant. The pre-rally dinner is always fun in talking to other riders about their routes and meeting up with old friends. Once dinner was over the rains started and it came down hard for a few hours. Man it rained hard so I used the time to relax a little while I finish the last minute preparations for my route. Once the rain stopped, the temperature dropped pretty fast so that it was in the low 40's by the time the morning came and the rally was about to start.
|Obrion County Library|
|Eugene Lewis Crypt in Nashville|
|Spring City School Bus Crash|
After hitting a couple more library locations and navigating 2 miles of an uphill gravel road, I pull up to the Buffalo Mountain Church which is an absolutely beautiful church which is on a paved road. I snap the required picture and decide to try my luck and follow the paved road down the mountain since I was not looking forward to trying the gravel road on the downhill path. Fortunately, the paved road drops me right where I need to be and I point the bike east on US 58 and follow the VA/NC border. Coming down from the Appalachian Mountains, I pass a beautiful overlook called Lover's Leap just outside Stuart, VA. It is a breathtaking vista of the surrounding valley and the patchwork farm fields getting ready for the upcoming season creates a gorgeous view as the sun sets behind me. Shortly after I pass through Stuart the rains start and I am hopeful that it will be short lived. Well I can at least hope.
|Junkyard Dinosaur Halifax, VA|
The Cape Fear has really increased the bonus points associated with rest bonuses and the structure of it now is it is a minimum 4 hour rest with extra points (50 points a minute) up to six hours. So it really is tough to not take the full 6 hour bonus. I set the alarm for 5:45 a.m., get a quick shower, load up the bike (no more rain!!!) and head back to the gas station for an ending receipt. With that accomplished, I am back on the road at 6:15 a.m. and heading over to the boyhood home of Paul Rose (founder of Rose's stores - I remember when Blacksburg had one while I was there and there used to be one here in Athens as well).
From Seaboard, NC, it was a criss cross path along the northeastern portion of North Carolina as I pick up
|American Legion Tribute - Aulander, NC|
|Roper (NC) cemetery|
|Edenton (NC) Bell Battery|
|Blue Crab, Chocowinity, NC|
|Croatan National Forest - BMR|
|9-11 Memorial, Havelock, NC|
|Els Drive-In Diner, Morehead City, NC|
|Otway Burns, Swansboro, NC|
So I follow the coast over to Cedar Point, NC. Hey I haven't been here since my first Cape Fear in 2008 when the Masonic Octagon House was a bonus point. This time, the Rally Crewe has us passing through Cedar Point and over the Hampton Bay bridge right into a parking lot overlooking the Bay and am greeted by Captain Otway Burns. I grab the necessary statue picture and move further south. It is now a little after 12 and quite frankly, I am getting done with the Rally. I really shouldn't be complaining it has been a relatively easy Saturday morning ride along the coast. But I still have about 80 miles and 2 more bonus stops to hit before the Greentree Inn. So I just change the channel on the satellite radio (how did I ever ride without one?????) and settle in for the next 2 hours.
The next two stops were just off US17 near Sneads Ferry, NC. The first was a question that had to be answered in front of the library about the flagpole and the second was a picture of a large shark located outside a swimwear/beach store. Both were easily bagged and I headed into Wilmington. A stop for a cold six pack just before the hotel allowed me to pull in at 2:20 p.m. - still about 25 minutes ahead of schedule with about 1,194 mile according to Ms. Garmin (according to the bike =1,220 miles) traveled since 9:00 a.m. CT yesterday.
With the ride behind me, all that is left is to organize the receipts, pictures, and rally book. Since I refuse to fill out any "official" paperwork while on the bike during the rally, my system is actually pretty clean and efficient. I pull out the index cards and plug the camera card into my computer to be sure that I can clearly see everything I need to. I recorded each one and count up the total number of points to be 21,443 for the bonus and claim the full rest bonus, fuel log, beverage, and all four wildcard boni for 17,500 which lands my 38,943.
Scoring goes fairly smoothly. The only real hiccup was at the very beginning when the scorer's computer could not read my camera card. It just worked!!!! Nothing will sink your heart faster than a technical failure at the scorer's table. But blowing on the card and reinserting it brings all my pictures up without any problems. After a thorough review by the scorer of each bonus, she signs off on my total and credits me with 38,943 points. I leave the table a happy camper and head to check-in for the hotel room and a much needed shower.
While the scoring is being finished and dinner begins, I begin to notice that I seem to be at the upper end of the point totals for Union City. That would really be something if I was a podium finisher at the Cape Fear. Alas, when the results are read - I am fourth out of about 35 Union City participants. But wait! One of the top three riders believes that his score is incorrect and believes he should not have scored that high. So the final results will have to wait until Jim can audit the scores after the rally. It did turn out that there was a scoring error and I wound up in 3rd place! Yes, I am very happy with the result and the ride that I pulled off, but there still is a lingering sense of doubt in my skills since Rick suggested that I forgo Mount Mitchell for a better route. I sincerely thank Rick for the advice. In the end, it really is not about the plaque and more about the friendships that exist and are fostered during these events. So, again, I thank Rick for his suggestion.
At first I had thoughts of trying to hit several more BMR stops along the way home from Wilmington NC, but I decided that if I beelined it home, I could be productive for a few hours so that is what I did. I did use the time to hit three more Tour of Honor memorials since they were exactly on my way - Wilmington, NC, Marion, NC, and Columbia, SC. I pulled into the Athens driveway at at 2:00 p.m. ready to cut the grass and so some yardwork! All in all, it was about 2,200 miles since Wednesday afternoon and a great time. As always, my hat is off to the Rally Crewe for a great adventure. Here is to next year!
|9/11 Memorial in Columbia, SC|