I had the pleasure (?) of competing in the second annual Minnesota 1000, which was held July 20-21, 1996. Contrary to what its name implies (but consistent with the twisted mind of its Rallymaster, Eddie James), the event does not require participants to ride 1000 miles, or confine themselves to staying within the border of Minnesota.
The event starts and ends at Bob's Java Hut, a local coffee shop. The folks at Bob's are very m/c friendly, and Saturday was no exception. Though they were in the middle of moving into and remodeling a new store, Bob's provided free coffee and eats to the 50 or so participants waiting for the rally to start at 1000.
I arrived at 0900, checked in, and checked out the competition. Was happy to see fellow President Tim Foreman, and someone who I thought might know Joan Oswald (turns out it WAS Joan, but I didn't learn this until later).
After the riders meeting, the route sheet was handed out. This 16 page document listed a variety of places, most within the 5 state area, and the points associated with each destination. The document also described additional bonuses for each state ridden in, visiting certain casinos, and so on. Riders were free to choose their own route and select any combination of destinations (bonuses) desired. The only hard rule was that you have 24 hours to get out there and get back. Riders arriving later than 24 hours but earlier than 25 hours after starting faced stiff penalty points for each minute late. After 25 hours, DNF.
Once the packets were handed out, the clock started. Some riders immediately jumped on their bikes and sped off. Others sat around flipping maps and looking serious. I looked over the route sheet and my route appeared to me. It actually lifted off the page and floated in front of my eyes. Coffee sure is strong at Bobs.
Anyway, I figured I would head toward Wisconsin, grabbing bonuses in Ellsworth and Peppin. I would then head south into Iowa, first toward Dubuque then toward Riverside. I would then Head up to Mankato, Minnesota, then south and west to South Dakota, snagging lucrative bonuses in Mitchel and Yankton. I'd then blast back to Bob's for the triumphant finish. By the time I snagged this route out of the air and put it down onto my map, the majority of the field was gone. At least Prez Tim was still there. Eddie looked at my route and grinned, but said nothing.
I knew the route was long, but doable, I thought. Ultimately, time would tell. I hopped on the bike and roared off. The road was calling.
As I headed east on 94 towards Ellsworth, WI, I knew the key to hitting all the stops would be keeping the average speed up. I just returned from a 6k mile jaunt where daily speeds could run up to 100 mph for hours at a time, with long stretches of 80-90 mph. No problem, I figured.
The big E as in Error quickly became apparent when I was stuck behind (another damn) minivan on a crowded 2 lane. "You idiot," I thought. "Its easy to drive 80-90 in the DESERT! That ain't here!" I grabbed the bonuses in Ellsworth and Pepin, and continued south into Iowa. I thought I still might have a chance at making the whole thing work, given that the later part of the route was all freeway, and some of that in South Dakota, where I had sped with impunity the week before.
Another monkey wrench popped up in Iowa: Cops. Lots of them. Town police. Sheriffs. Troopers. The whole shooting match. The presence of these Guardians of The Speed Limit, coupled with the locals' refusal to exceed the same, left me in a dilemma. If I sped, I risked losing the envelope bonus. All competitors' licenses were sealed in envelopes prior to the start. Returning the sealed envelope was worth 500 points. I slowed down.
Eventually I reached Dubuque and grabbed the bonus there, then shot over to Illinois to grab a state bonus. Slammed another Cliff Bar, chased it with some XLer8, and back on the bike.
Eventually I reached my destination: Riverside, Iowa, the future birthplace of Capt James T Kirk and a hefty 888 bonus points. Though my average speed was down, I was feeling strong and still entertained some hope of at least hitting Yankton, and the Nebraska border for a hefty state bonus (states not bordering Minnesota were worth double points). It was here that I made my first serious mistake.
If I had been thinking, and reviewing my route as I went (hint, hint), I would have picked up I80 out of Iowa City and headed straight west. I could have picked up multiple state bonuses in Missouri and Nebraska, then shot north to South Dakota. Instead, I headed gamely up 380 to 218 to I-90 in Minnesota.
Time marched on; time stood still. I picked up bonuses along I 90, chopped the early Mankato leg off the trip (The bonus location had closed) and headed west. Then, the rain started. Fog, rain, dark, miles, and jazz music mixed in the night. Eventually, I found myself fueling the bike in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. It is 0330. I am frazzled. I am now faced with a difficult decision. Mitchell and Yankton are out of reach given the remaining time. I could possibly blast down to NE and grab the state bonus, but that would leave me dangerously close on time. I consider my mental state (wobbly), the weather (poor and deteriorating) and the end of the 1088 3 weeks before. I finished the 1088 with minutes to spare, having ridden the last 30 miles (mostly through downtown Salt Lake) in excess of 100 mph. Not again, I thought. I headed east toward Bobs.
The rest of the Rally passed uneventfully. The rain quit. The sun rose. I napped for a few minutes in a rest stop short of Madelia, picking up a bonus at the same time. I pulled into the Twin cities with enough time to snag all the local bonuses that I had left off the beginning (a big picture of Elvis on a garage door, a statue of a saint carrying a frog, and a HD poker run), and checked in to Bobs, 1150 miles and 24 hours wiser.
Eventually the results were tabulated. About 12 of the riders had ridden over 1000 miles, and earned a special pin. The Internet folks as a whole did well. Tim and Joan placed in their divisions (I won't spoil THEIR reports...). I was surprised (and gratified) to learn that I had won 1st place in the Expert Class (riders with previous long distance event experience)!
The Minnesota 1K is an annual event. I found the ride well organized and enjoyable. I would encourage all of you to sign up next year. I'll be back to defend my title, that's for sure.
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