IBR 2019 Ride Report_Part 2B (Leg 2) ZION & Back to South Carolina

Martin Little

Premier Member
IBR Finisher
Day 8 – ZION

Day 8, how could it be Day 8 already? The KWICK bonus meant no departure before 4:00am. Having decided on a south western route into the National Parks the night before we were ready to depart just before 4:00am and arrived in the hotel lobby to find plenty of riders there ahead of us with their game faces on, patiently waiting to be signed out at 4:00am sharp by Lisa Landry. There was a quiet sense of steely determination in the air. Just like a major sporting event. When our turn came to be signed out, we muffed it having buttoned up our rally tags under multiple layers of gear, ready to ride. Lisa quietly admonished us and sent us on our way.

Into the night 4:15am departing Kennewick WA for ZION

Out in the carpark, bikes were being packed, motors started, and quiet words of encouragement were being shared as riders departed. Scribe John Harrison shared a few words with us before we waved goodbye and rode out into the dark, heading for our first bonus of the day, SHOSH in Idaho. Our route plan for the next 4 days was simple. There were several bigish point bonuses in the south west National Parks, which we would collect and then head for Greenville on the Day 11 collecting what bonuses were on route. How simple that seemed at the time. While there was no combo on offer for this route, it offered the relative safety of “make a mistake” only lose the bonus, not the combo, which for us was a deal breaker.

Heading south in the darkness of Washington State we shared the road briefly with several other riders also heading south. As time went on gaps opened up and as the sun came up we had the road to ourselves. It was 6 hours to Shoshone Falls and the time ticked away quietly. We chatted, we cross checked our route strategy and occasionally we rode in silence, content to just let the wheels turn in silence. Today was going to be a 1,600km/1,000mile day, so it was just a matter of letting the wheels turn. Bec had double checked the actual location of the bonus against the electronic way point and we made good time to our first bonus location, Shoshone Falls, sometimes called the “Niagara of the West”. Working our way down to the carpark in bright sunshine we parked the bike, walked to the required bonus location of the “Beware of Ice” sign, snapped our photo and were on the bike heading out of the park in what felt like no time. We had just earned an easy 479 points!

Shoshone Falls, ID and our first bonus of the day. Feeling good!

Riding back to the Interstate we passed a few riders all trying to navigate their way through the back roads to the bonus, waving as we passed. Back on I84, we settled back into our rhythm, we only had 800kms (531 miles) to the next bonus, The Temple of Sinawava in ZION National park. This bonus was daylight only and was worth 2,663 points and was nonnegotiable for us, we had to achieve this today, so we just ground out the miles and counted down the time. As we progressed southwards we were passed by and passed them again, another two-up couple, Steve and Micki. This provided a much-needed boost to our spirits! Despite being well rested after our trip to British Columbia, I could feel we were flagging already as the heat built up and the day seemed to drag on for eternity. Riding through Salt Lake City on I15 felt agonisingly painful with the traffic. Michael Baker passed us also, entertaining us as he went by but all too soon, we were alone again droning our way ever southwards into the heat of the late afternoon. I felt Bec was struggling on the back, so I called for a longer fuel stop, which we used to just take some time off the bike and regather ourselves.

Early evening the turn off to ZION finally arrived and with it a welcome respite from the Interstate. The road was now much more interesting, and we approached Springdale with a renewed energy and purpose. Our timing on entering Springdale and the park was excellent, with it being 7:00pm there were queues of cars leaving and no one entering. Perfect. Strangely there were major roadworks on the main street of Springdale which reduced the town’s main street to one lane. Right in their peak summertime? Bad planning, I thought to myself, but what would I know of such things?

The bonus instructions required us to park the bike and the catch the park shuttle through Zion Canyon to the Temple of Sinawava sign. This we duly did and after 1,600kms it was a welcome relief to be off the bike and enjoy the sights of Zion Canyon. We have hiked through here on previous trips and enjoyed every moment of it, and this time was no different. For us, there is something special about Zion. The timing of the shuttles worked perfectly for us, we hopped off one, snapped our bonus photos and hopped immediately back on to a shuttle ready to depart. We couldn’t have planned it better. Arriving back at the bike, we geared up and continued our ride through the Park aiming to overnight in Kanab on our way to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. On the way out of the park, Peter Green flashed by as he passed us going the other way, no doubt heading for the last shuttle to the Temple. We had time to wave, just, as we passed mid corner.

ZION NP - Temple of Sinawava & Bec is thinking can we make that shuttle?

The ride into Kanab was uneventful, evening was fast approaching, and the temperatures were cooling, perfect! Bec booked our motel as we rode along and as the sun sank below the horizon, I wound back the pace out of respect for our four-legged friends and was content to just motor along in the cool Utah air. We had some drama getting checked in at our motel, but eventually we sorted it out and sleep was upon us quickly. Tomorrow was an early start as we had a 90-minute ride in the dark to catch the sunrise over North Rim. It had been a big day in the saddle, a SS1,600km completed for two bonuses.

Day 9 – Sunrise over North Rim, sand traps in Capital Reef & sunset in Moab

3:15am and the alarm goes off. I’m groggy and sore, is that the time already? I got up and started moving, slowly. Bec surfaced and between us we gather ourselves, ate what constitutes breakfast, gathered our things, packed the bike and got riding to Arizona. It was dark, the stars were out, but no moon and it felt really dark. Pre-dawn dark. As we crossed the State Line into Arizona, we came upon several State Troopers cars, all lit up with lights flashing away at what looked like a truck weighing station or similar. Something was afoot at this ungodly hour and I felt conspicuous as we motored past. Not long later as we were motoring along in the dark my mirrors lit up with their flashing lights as they came up fast behind us, overtaking, only to then take a side road ahead of us and disappear into the inky darkness, lights flashing into the distance. Something was going on alright!

We continued towards the North Rim, the road gradually became more interesting as it climbed and twisted it’s way towards our destination. With that the temperature plummeted and as the first hint of dawn appeared across the horizon I had to stop and plug in my heated jacket. (I hadn’t plugged it in when we left the motel). Feeling better and warmer we enjoyed the ride from here into the North Rim site arriving just on dawn to find Jon Kerr and his white Goldwing along with another rider preparing to leave, having already collected the required photo for this Bonus BANGL. Bright Angel Landing is the location of the bonus and Bec set off unerringly in the right direction, I had no idea and followed along, trying to orientate myself. Sure enough we walked out onto the Bright Angel Landing. What a magnificent vista, it was daylight, even though the sun was still to appear over the horizon. We took a moment to enjoy the serenity of this location, just us and one other couple.

Dawn @ Bright Angel Landing, North Rim Arizona. Beautiful

Back at the bike we wrote up our log, then departed feeling well satisfied with ourselves. BANGL was worth 4,364 points! We retraced our steps back to Utah towards the next bonus of the day, CREEF at Capitol Reef National Park. The road back to Kanab was so different ridden in daylight and we enjoyed the road and the vistas. In Kanab, we refueled the bike and I made a captain’s call to say we need food and coffee. This was a biggie as time off the bike had to be repaid later but sometimes you need to make haste slowly and this was one of those times. As luck would have it we found a bakery open, which actually was a real bakery and served expresso coffee! Holy cow batman! The look of satisfaction on Bec’s face mirrored mine as we devoured fresh ham and cheese croissants washed down with a flat white. This was a precious 20 minutes well spent and really set us up well for the day ahead.

From Kanab we motored north towards Capitol Reef NP, this took us on some really quiet incredibly scenic back roads, across some decent mountains and down valleys. CREEF required 2.3 miles of unpaved road, with the warning in the rally book to exercise caution if it has rained recently. One of our rules for this rally was no gravel roads unless we agreed prior that we could cope two up on them as part of collecting the bonus. CREEF was worth 3,211 points and while initially we hadn’t been that keen due to the 2.3 miles of questionable gravel road, we decided we couldn’t pass it up given we needed the points and it was basically on route.

Well, long story short the “2.3 miles of unpaved road” was a very generous description for what was basically a badly formed rutted track containing sand traps and many other motorcyclist delights. Not to worry, we were there now and we bounced and crashed our way slowly along it to find the location of the bonus. We were both relieved to finally arrive, still in one piece with the bike still intact. We snapped our photo, wrote up the log and got out of there pronto. The ride out was even more exciting, coming around a downhill corner, an oncoming car forced us wide into a patch of sand, resulting in the handlebars doing the side to side dance for a few seconds. Somehow the bike stayed upright, I said a few choice words and we continued to bump our way back to paved roads. Bec was a champion on the pillion seat during this off-road excursion, never saying a wayward word and always staying still so as not to compromise our upright forward progress.

Capital Reef National Park & I can't believe we have just ridden two up along that goat track to get this bonus!

Next up was the BFROG bonus, located in Bullfrog Utah on the Colorado River. The rally book advised this was one of the “least convenient places to ride to in order to reach the Colorado River”. That was certainly accurate. We rode and we rode for hours under a scorching hot Utah sun, with hardly any other traffic for company. There was no cell signal, there was nothing other than rock, more rock and heat. This place was isolated! Having said that the road offered some great corners with distant vistas of mountains. As we neared Bullfrog we passed a RV towing a boat that had suffered a flat tire to the boat trailer. They appeared to be well underway with replacing the flat with the spare as we motored past. Arriving at the Bullfrog Visitor centre, the location of the bonus, we snapped our photo and took a moment to hydrate and snack under the blazing sun. The visitor’s centre was empty of any life and looked like it would remain that way long after we had gone.

Bullfrog Visitors Center Utah. And no sign of life anywhere. Did I mention it was hot?

The other harsh reality of this bonus meant retracing out steps back the way we had come, Bullfrog was a dead end in every sense of the word, so we set about retracing our steps to head for the next bonus near Moab. The occupants of the RV with the flat tire waved us down to request assistance, their spare tyre had failed and they were stuck and needed help. There was no cell coverage, so we offered to call the Utah Highway patrol as soon as we got back into service, which they were grateful for. In stopping I had pulled off the road and done a U turn back towards Bullfrog, and in my fatigued state, once underway continued to head back into Bullfrog. I don’t know what I was thinking as there was no cell coverage there either, and once Bec questioned what we were doing I realised my error and then had to find space to turn around and head back the right way. I stopped again to inform the RV owners what we were doing and reassured them we would call the Highway Patrol as soon as we could.

The hours ticked away in the blazing afternoon sun, as we wound our way north eastwards to Green River and Moab. This part of Utah is really barren and harsh and the ride seemed to last forever. Bec kept checking phone coverage frequently and it wasn’t until we were almost back at the Interstate that we could place the call to the Highway patrol. Back on I70 we made good progress to Green River, where we stopped for fuel and to cool off. It was hot! Not too much longer we took the off ramp to Highway 191 that would lead us to the next bonus GVIEW located in Canyonlands NP.

GVIEW was another high value bonus, worth 2,392 points and would be our last bonus for the day. It was early evening, and the ride up into Canyonlands NP was sublime in the shimmering heat. We climbed and we climbed, and we climbed with a magnificent vista opening to the east and the west. This was our first visit to Canyonlands NP and it was well worth the ride! Steve and Micki passed us on their way out, they must have been about 30 minutes ahead of us, followed not too long later by Kit on his FJR. Arriving at the bonus location we parked the bike and hiked the short distance out to the Grand View Point Overlook. The views were spectacular, and we took a few minutes to appreciate them. Photos taken and log written up we retraced our route back to Highway 191 where we turned for Moab, our planned rest stop for the evening. It had been a good day with 4 big bonuses collected, as we had planned. We were on schedule, so we checked into a motel in Moab. I dialled up some takeout from a restaurant across the road and walked across to collect it for dinner. I did attract a few strange looks as I was dressed in LD Comfort longs and a t-shirt, perfect attire!

Canyonlands NP Utah, wow, wow, wow! And Bec is smiling again

Bec went to sleep early, while I reviewed our route for tomorrow and studied the rally book. I wasn’t ready for sleep. While doing this I noticed a daylight only bonus, worth 512 points about an hour down the road from Moab, which I mulled over thinking we technically could have collected today after GVIEW. I couldn’t recall discussing it in our route planning so puzzled, I resolved to ask Bec in the morning, as it wouldn’t change our plans now.

Day 10 – Colorado and the Million Dollar Highway

Our route for the return to Greenville had been anchored around Day 10 and collecting the big time limited bonus of SLVER, worth 4,212 points. This could only be collected between the hours of 11;30am and 1:30pm and involved taking a photo of the train from Durango with our motorcycle in it, or, if the train was not there within these hours obtaining a receipt confirming location and time and take the required photo.

Day 10 dawned soon enough, I roused myself and commenced our morning preparations. We chatted as we got ourselves ready and I asked Bec about the additional bonus that appeared to be on route, and which we could have obtained late yesterday. Bec’s patient explanation made perfect sense, the actual bonus location was well away from the waypoint that I had been looking at, and would have involved significantly more riding, meaning we may not have made it within daylight & it would have taken us off route for collecting SILVR today. Logical, but in my tired state I took a long time to process this basic information including reconciling it against the more important task of collecting SILVR. Bec interpreted this as me being unhappy with our decision making. Finally, having joined the dots, it then took me a few minutes as we finalised departure prep to recognise my poor feedback to Bec who was now thinking she had done something wrong. Bad work on my part, and another indicator of the cumulative effects of my fatigue.

Prior to arriving in Silverton we were going to Telluride in Colorado to collect the Bonus TELL. This bonus is an old converted bus that was used to run on railway tracks and now resides in the middle of the town in a lovely little shady park. The ride from Moab into Colorado was magnificent, one of those gorgeous rides that nourish your soul, as the road twisted and climbed away from Utah and into the foothills of the Rockies. Very little traffic, cool but not unpleasantly so with marvellous views as we rode along. We stopped to refuel at a small town before continuing our climb towards Telluride. The timing of our departure from Moab meant our arrival into Telluride coincided with morning rush hour, such as it is in a mountain tourist town in Colorado. This was worsened by 25 mph speed limits and road works, all of which combined to make for very slow progress for the last 10 miles or so. I felt like I could have walked it faster. It didn’t matter as our ETA in SILVR was an hour ahead of the time required for that bonus, but I was cranky with the traffic, when patience was the right approach.

The Grey Goose in Telluride Colorado.

We were in and out of Telluride promptly, there was no need to linger and once the photo and log were complete we commenced retracing our steps to the main highway. Just out of town, we had one of those navigation moments when your whole rally balances upon a simple decision. As we approached the last roundabout on the city limits both Garmins indicated straight ahead to take us back to the main highway. Bec using Google said turn left onto Highway 145. Having been burnt badly in Buttlite IX by Garmin we didn’t hesitate to follow Google and turned left to follow a beautiful mountain road that commenced climbing into the heavens. Strangely the Garmins wouldn’t reset on this better route and kept on wanting a u turn to be undertaken. Bec to her credit, commenced rechecking things while I concentrated on riding ever upwards on an increasingly twisty road. Not too long later I got the instruction to turn around immediately, without haste, do it now! Hmmm OK, I’m onto it, and as we executed a u turn and retraced our steps downhill Bec explained that Google had been taking us over Ophir Pass to Silverton, a most dangerous gravel “road” that peaked at 11,814 feet in the snow.

Having reread later, on the web how bad Ophir Pass we dodged a bullet there for sure. Yes, Google said it was shorter, but in short it was dangerous road to try and ride a fully loaded rally bike two up. Possibly we would not have made Silverton and could quite possibly have jeopardised our rally. Anyway, back to the main highway, which then took us around the huge mountain range that the Ophir Pass was going to take us over. The ride into Silverton along Highway 550 (Million Dollar Highway) was another cracker, although as the road narrowed and the no guard rail drop offs become closer and closer, steady nerves were required as an “off” on this section of road would have meant a quick descent of many hundreds of feet. We arrived in Silverton at 11:00am, we had 30 minutes before the train arrived, so we positioned the bike with the tracks in the background and then retired to the café/shop adjacent where the train would stop to disgorge its load of tourists. Or so we thought.

Silverton Colorado and we're missing a train!

11:30am came and went, with no train. Hmmm, OK the rally book instructions allowed us to collect a receipt to prove the time we were there, which we did and we then took the bonus photo, with the snow capped mountains as a backdrop. We carefully triple checked everything and finally satisfied we rode out of Silverton, heading south east down the Million Dollar Highway towards New Mexico, the location of our next bonus. The ride down the Million Dollar Highway was a real highlight, the sun was shining, there was little traffic and it was just one of those brilliant rides that rewards rider and pillion. Soon enough we were out of the Rockies and into the foothills with the terrain changing rapidly as we approached New Mexico. Once back into New Mexico, it was a case of just covering distance again towards Albuquerque and our next bonus SANDI.

SANDI required riding to the top of a mountain followed by a hike to locate a sign and was worth 1,190 points and would be our 2nd to last bonus of the day before we turned due east on I40 to head for the east coast and Rally HQ in Greenville. We also planned to take our Rest Bonus somewhere along I40, either in the Texas panhandle or Oklahoma depending on progress, which depending on where we overnighted would leave approximately 2,000km ride for Day 11. We knew this when we calculated this route and were prepared for it, we also had planned some contingency in case we were running behind and needed to drop bonuses. As we approached Albuquerque, Bec rechecked the bonus requirements against the electronic waypoint location, against our plan for our Rest Bonus. It now appeared that collecting SANDI would take an additional hour longer (at least) and tip us too close to either missing our Rest Bonus (which had to be commenced by 11:59:59pm tonight) or/and leave us with an even longer ride on Day 11 of potentially plus 2,300km to ride.

Discussing it, we decided to drop SANDI and continue our ride east on I40 to ensure we were well across Texas and able to take the full 8 hrs Rest bonus, leaving us only 2,000km to ride on Day 11, all of which would have us arriving into Rally HQ early on Friday morning, 3 hours before scoring opened. Satisfied at our decision we continued on through Albuquerque to take I40 and headed due east towards Texas. This was in rush hour traffic and a major storm was looming just south of us. The traffic was particularly bad with much chaotic high-speed lane changing by drivers, including one close call when a pick up truck accelerated to change lanes directly behind us as I was braking for the slowing traffic ahead. I was glad to leave Albuquerque in our rear view mirrors and make our way eastward into Texas as the sun set.

Bec booked our accommodation at a town called Shamrock not too far from the Oklahoma State line. This would have us arriving at 10:00pm tonight, allowing us to take the full 8 hrs rest bonus with an ETA into Rally HQ of 1:30amish on Friday, subject to any final bonuses we could collect on our route. The balance of the ride for today was memorable for two reasons. Firstly, a strong cross head wind had got up and it was strong, making riding extremely difficult as we sped along I40. Coming up behind the trucks the bike would be leant over for the wind, and as we started passing I had to upright the bike immediately, followed by anticipating the lean required as we motored past into “clear” air. That was tiring! Worst was to come. As I40 passed through what appeared to be a very minor valley that was perfectly orientated to channel the wind, we were hit by a huge gust of wind that pushed us right to the edge of the road just after passing a truck. I did everything I could to keep the bike away from the drop off into the grass and the gust seemed to last an eternity, but as sudden as it had come the wind strength reduced and the bike shot back into the centre of the interstate. Shit that had been close! The tires had been onto the rumble strip and so close to the edge of the road, all at 85 mph. I’m not sure what the truck driver may have been thinking behind us! Bec, again to her credit stayed calm and not long later we stopped for fuel and to regather ready for the night section.

The second memorable thing was we encountered roadworks in Texas near Amarillo. These roadworks were where brand new asphalt surface had been re-laid but with new no line marking completed yet. The effect in the dark was essentially a black surface with no edge delineation for lanes or edge drop offs. I found this extremely challenging, as I couldn’t use my high beam/aux lights due to oncoming traffic, while I had to maintain speed due to traffic behind me. I’m sure the drivers behind me must have wondered what we were doing as the bike wandered across the lanes as I tried to position myself seeking visual ques that were non-existent. I was relieved to arrive into Shamrock at 10;30am, half an hour behind schedule. We collected our starting receipt from the gas station and then checked into our motel, which Bec had booked earlier. It had been a big day! I was desperate for a burger for dinner but the fast food joints had just closed and we had other priorities, like sleep!

Day 11 – Back to Rally HQ! The final day.

Day 11, the final day of the rally dawned. We were both up promptly and even had time for brekkie in the motel while we counted down the time to complete our rest bonus. We used this time to review our route and plan for the day. We had just under 2,000kms to ride to Rally HQ including through Memphis and Atlanta, my two least favourite cities to ride through and, progress permitting, we had some options about collecting more bonuses. It all seemed quite achievable and while we were both tired, at the same time I felt we were both in a good space with a good plan for the day.

We collected our rest bonus finish receipt right on the dot of 6:30am and headed back out I40, turned eastwards and twisted the throttle. As we watched the sun come up Bec reviewed the options for bonuses. First up was OKC in Oklahoma City, a few hours down the interstate. Not a big point bonus but close to our route and strangely the waypoint seemed to match the actual bonus location, so we decided to collect it. Arriving into Oklahoma City we detoured off I40 to the bonus in the early part of the rush hour, collected the bonus and were back on I40 very efficiently. It was quite weird to arrive at the electronic waypoint and to see the bonus a few hundred metres away. Had we read this right? Yes, we had, there was the lighthouse (in Oklahoma City?) the subject of the bonus, we snapped our photo, wrote up the log and departed.

A lighthouse in Oklahoma City! Our only bonus we collected on Day 11...sit and ride!

Eastward we rode, ever eastward, into Arkansas where the humidity jumped dramatically along with the temperature. We decided to turn on the air conditioning and collected a bag of ice at our next fuel stop which, jammed in between us did a marvellous job of keeping us both cool. There were three bonuses available off route in Arkansas, but after a careful check by Bec we agreed they required too much of a diversion down the ‘roads less travelled” and would have us arriving too late into Greenville. Onward we rode into Tennessee and Memphis traffic in the late afternoon. Now, ever since Buttlite 7 when I had a bad experience riding through Memphis (I missed the ring road around Memphis and had the pleasure of riding through one of Memphis’s finer suburbs in the early evening) I’ve tended to avoid Memphis, well not today: the most efficient route was to take the interstates to and around the city. Again, Bec’s excellent navigational skills won the day and before we knew it we were on the other side of Memphis and heading for Tupelo. Huzzah! To make things even better the forecast storm had passed through ahead of us breaking the humidity to make our ride in the early evening quite pleasant.

Near Tupelo we stopped at a Truckstop to refuel, and we grabbed a Subway for dinner, it never tasted so good! We were both ravenous, and I could see Bec was glad to be off the bike for 15 minutes. I recognised this Truckstop as being where I had stopped on Buttlite 7 before erroneously riding into Memphis. We also took the time to discuss how we were going, we both felt ok, weary but on track to complete the ride to Greenville about 2:00am. Things were going well for a 2,000km day ride, although we knew we had more work to do including navigating our way through Atlanta, but our plan was to have rest stops as we required them.

Heading off we looped slightly southwards to Birmingham and then up towards Atlanta. Bec kept me focused and entertained by reading a book to me. This was something we had started on Day 8 and we both enjoyed it. Crossing the State Line into Alabama it was a beautiful evening to be riding. Near Birmingham we were detoured off the Interstate due to a motor vehicle accident. The detour was only 30 miles or so and we were soon back on I85 heading for Atlanta. The detour had been on some rough roads which I found unsettling. This set the scene for the next 3-4 hrs as we rode into the night, we encountered more and more roadworks with heavy stop start traffic. There seemed to be no apparent reason for the slow traffic, which made for very hard work trying to trickle along slipping first gear trying to maintain some momentum. I was tiring.

We had discussed potentially collecting the bonus TWO near Atlanta, it was worth 900 points but it was a typical rally bonus, being at least an hour away from the electronic waypoint, somewhere in the Smokey Mountains. A midnight ride through twisty roads in the Smokey Mountains, after a 17-hour ride from Texas? no thanks. We continued our journey into Atlanta. And that’s when all hell broke lose literally. Foolishly I had expected the Atlanta traffic to be light at midnight when we rode through. What did I know? What it really meant was that the normal heavy Atlanta traffic was able to flow at 90 miles per hour, with everyone changing lanes at the slightest whim and no indication. It felt like being a rock stuck in a fast-flowing river of metal. Maintaining a safe pace through this mayhem sent my stress levels off the scale, I was tired, and it took all of my remaining energy supported by Bec’s great navigation and support to get through to the other side of Atlanta. About halfway through, Mike Baker passed us, giving a friendly wave. Not too long later I really needed to stop and reset but the suburbs of Atlanta seemed to go forever and ever with no convenient safe place to stop.

After a couple of false attempts, somewhere on I85 I managed to find a gas station where I gladly parked the bike and we both got off, stressed and just needing to take some time off the bike. Poor Bec was stressed because I was stressed from the traffic mayhem of Atlanta. We gladly took 20 minutes to calm down and reset. Greenville was only 2 hrs away and we would have a spectacular lightning show to watch as a huge storm was dumping torrential rain ahead of us. Feeling better we got back on with the task at hand, and rode back onto I85 for the final leg into Greenville and Rally HQ. The lightning display ahead of us was continuous but as we motored along it moved westwards into the Smokey Mountains and the road ahead while wet became clear with the stars making an appearance. Things were looking up as we neared Greenville. Our spirits lifted, well mine did, I’m sure Bec was thinking ‘get me off this bike!’

And so about 1:30am we took the off ramp from I85 for the final few km’s to Rally HQ. Was this real? Could we really be that close to the end of 11 days on the road? Hah, the rally was not done with us yet. Waiting patiently at a red light at the end of the off ramp the light would not change to green. We could both see the Michelin Building, so close and yet the damn light would not change to green. I couldn’t think what was the right thing to do here, run the red? Hop off the bike and push the pedestrian waiting button? Processing the various options was taking me an eternity! Then, a car pulls up beside us and immediately triggers the sensor, decision made! I almost stall the bike, idiot! But we ride on, finally into the Marriott carpark just on 1:45am to be greeted by a bunch of spectators and rally support staff. Legends! Parking the bike and turning off the key was glorious!

Back at the Barn and chatting with Steve Rufo as he awaits the father/daughter team of his Lisa and her Dad to arrive

But wait! We are not done, with the bike to be unpacked, check into our room to be completed and preparations made ready to present for scoring. Bec the ever calm and professional IBR pillion went about this like a real veteran, calmly quietly and without complaint. Once the bike was unpacked, and we were in our room we agreed to have two hours sleep and get up again at 4:00 to check and recheck our rally pack ready to present for scoring at 5:00am sharp.

4:00am and we awaken to the next task. We spent 45 minutes downloading photos, checking receipts and the log for accuracy of date and time. I was sluggish and really slow at completing my share of the tasks, which I was sure was frustrating Bec no end, hurry up damn you! Checking complete we both agreed we were ready to present to scoring, so we gathered up our things (checking again of course that everything was complete & ready) and headed downstairs to present for scoring. We arrived to find a hive of activity, there was a short queue already, which we joined and as we waited to be summoned by rally staff we quietly congratulated others for making it back, and swapped stories from the road less traveled.

And then we were summoned to scoring, which we got through with no points lost and confirmation of our score, we had enough to be finishers! Time to head back to the room and sleep. Well Bec did, I stayed out for a while to watch other riders coming in. The rest of the day was spent sleeping and all too soon the finishers banquet arrived, and Lisa Landry was announcing the finishers. With bated breath we waited and waited, had something happened to our score? Finally, we were called up as finishers at position 63. We were IBR19 Finishers!

The smiles say it all! IBR Finishers. My second and Bec's first.....& last?