|(or Close Encounters of
the Weird Kind)
|(posted to the SabMag, SOAR-V4, and TwoWheelsOnly lists on Wednesday,
August 24, 2005)
The IronButt Rally this year is using transponders on selected bikes to allow tracking via the internet.
When I read that a Sabmaggot, Doug Chapman, was riding in the IBR, and that he had a link on his website (www.dougc.com) to the Star-Traxx
system showing his locations (Current and past), I started following him on the web.
Then this afternoon the IBA Newsletter gave a link (http://rally.star-traxx.com/rallyview.asp?Rally=30) allowing the tracking of all 13 bikes with transponders. I noticed that two bikes had gone to Key West by way of Fontana Dam, and the route from Fontana to Key West took them within a few miles of where I live (Sautee, Georgia).
I also noticed Doug was heading back north, presumably on the way to Denver. Sabmaggot Steve Ripaldi suggested he would probably go for the Fontana Dam bonus, which meant it was likely he would be riding within a few miles of me.
Hmmmmmm. I wonder, .... maybe I can wait by the side of the highway, catch him when he goes by, and ride along. I pondered this out loud (onlist) and Ripaldi suggested putting a sign up beside the highway.
Great idea! I went right to work, made a sign saying "GO DOUG" and also made a smaller sign with the SabMag logo on it. While I was doing this, I was also tracking Doug's progress, trying to estimate when he would pass near me.
Realizing it would be dark when he went by on Hwy 365 (my best guess ETA was 8:55 pm), I decided rather than going to the nearest point on 365 (no street lights), I would head south a ways and set up at an intersection that had a traffic light and gas stations on two corners. I knew it would be well lit, and Doug would be more likely to see the signs.
I briefly considered taking the bike, thinking a Magna on the side of the road would catch his eye, but the signs were too unwieldy, so I decide to take the cage instead.
Timing was becoming critical. If I waited at home and watched the website to be sure he turned northeast at Atlanta, I might not be able to get to my proposed intercept point before he did. So I threw everything in the car and headed that way, but got on the phone with Ken Carter, who I know from the TwoWheelsOnly list. He kept tabs on Doug's location while I drove.
It looked like I was going to be cutting it very close, with his ETA being 8:55 and my ETA at the intercept point being 8:45. I started looking for a motorcycle heading the opposite direction. Just as I neared the intercept point, I saw a bike go by. I did a u-turn at the light and started to chase him down. Before I got close, I saw the bike turn off at a side road, and then knew it couldn't be Doug.
Another u-turn and I'm speeding back to the "intercept" corner. The light favors me as a get there, so I make a U-turn again so I can pull into the BP station, park the car, dash down to the roadside with the signs, and get them set up before Doug comes by.
As I whipped into the BP parking lot, I noticed a bike at the pumps. Could it be? Yes! Sure enough, it's Doug, gassing up. I'm laughing my head off as I pull up beside him and hang the "GO DOUG" sign out the window.
Doug was a little nonplused. He spilled some gas, then forgot to tell the machine he wanted the receipt. I parked, got out and took a photo and we started chatting.
He later said that when I pulled up next to him, in the middle of nowhere, and hung the sign "GO DOUG" out of my window, he felt like he was in the Twilight Zone or something.
He also told me that it wasn't a planned fuel stop, but he had been riding with his visor up, and some prehistoric sized bug had clobbered him in the face. After riding several miles with one eye closed, trying to get bug guts off his face and glasses, he decided it was a good time to get fuel.
And there we were. He was planning on getting a sandwich at the Subway anyway, so we had a chance to visit. It was a little difficult because we were immediately latched on to by this kid named Jonathan, who seemed a few bricks shy of a load. But he was very curious and followed us everywhere, asking questions all the time.
Doug's doing well. He's on track for 25000 points for this leg, he said. That's a good number. He's heading to Robbinsville where we will get to sleep in a motel, because Fontana Dam doesn't open until 9 am, and he needs to get inside in order to get the bonus points. After that, he's heading back to Denver, the first checkpoint.
After a leisurely hour long break, it was time to suit up and head back out on the Iron Butt Trail. Below are a few photos from our encounter.
Good luck, Doug.
for larger view)
|The Twilight Zone
||Our Friend Jonathan
||Ready to Go
||On the Way
|The Twilight Zone
That's what Doug said he thought he was in, when he stopped for fuel in the middle of nowhere, and a car pulled up beside him, and the driver hung a "GO DOUG" sign out of the window. He was so surprised that he spilled fuel and forgot to get his time-stamped receipt. (They had a reprint for him inside)
These are the signs David intended to post on the side of the highway.
Checking in with his wife.
Our Friend Jonathan
Jonathan was in the Subway where Doug and David ate. An "interesting" person to say the least.
Doug called his wife to make sure he had reservations at his next rest stop. Jonathan was glued to us by that point.
Doug preparing to mount up and ride off, with Jonathan observing everything and asking questions non-stop.
Ready To Go
Suited up, plugged in, system booted up, ready to roll.
On the Way
Destination - Robbinsville, North Carolina for some sleep, and an early morning stopover at Fontana Dam for bonus points.