Mar 1, 2009

2000 Blackfly Endurance Rally

North Bay, Ontario, Canada August 11-13 2000
Organized by Iron Butt Rally veteran Peter Hoogeveen

Lots of changes in format for this year. The biggest: Radisson, PQ, (BBG mileage - 2500 km) was worth WAAAY less than in 1998. 1400 pts. instead of 4000. None of the top 10 finishers went to Radisson. In fact, I don't believe any of the top 20 finishers went there!

The biggest points were garnered from going around and collecting pictures of Jehovah Witness Halls (P.H.'s twisted sense of humour evident here). These were the auxiliary bonus points listed on a separate sheet from the main list of bonuses. Points awarded were worth successively more for each additional J.W. pic returned.

Rallymaster Peter Hoogeveen

Did I work from the J.W. pic bonus sheet? "No." Can I tell you why not? "No." I went from the Ontario list of bonuses. (SS1000 mileage - 1600 km, hence the name of the rally) I think I just decided that it seemed lucrative enough, and didn't spend the extra time needed to calculate and map out the potential list of J.W. Hall locations. I get an extreme case of ants-in-the-pants when I am facing a big ride, and simply mapped out the standard list of bonuses and started riding.

A more thoughtful approach would have been to examine ALL the possibilities before leaving. John Laurenson of Fla. and Dennis Kesseler of Maine spent almost two hours doing this to my 45 minutes and placed many positions higher.

I put in 2250 kms and placed 19th out of over 40 riders. Several people in the top 10 put in less that 2000 km. I did not make a note of the two guys who tied for first place. They went above and beyond the call of duty by asking several J.W. members where all the Halls were and taking pictures of many more than were listed on the route sheet. This was specifically allowed for in the rules.

Most of the alumni from the 1998 event returned for 2000. Mark Daub, the insane rider of an FJ1200 who placed first in 1998, proved that was no accident as he placed second this year. This earned him a special place in the heart of our perennial second-place rallymaster. A Harley rider placed third.

Mark Daub

The dinner was catered and was spectacular. Each of us stood and spoke breifly of our impressions and highlights from the event. It was highly entertaining. We all had different experiences in the same event, and many overcame difficulties to finish.

Including John Laurenson. He had a flat rear tire moments before arriving for tech check in and needed a new tire installed. He had brought along a new tire as he wasn't sure his rear would make it all the way. There was speculation as to whether this new tire contributed to his spill during the event. John low-sided on a turn near Sault Ste. Marie and did damage on the right side of his new-to-him Yamaha GTS1000. John had minor scrapes on his hands as he was involved with taking in nutrients at the time. Otherwise, he was unhurt.

I struck a very large bird while doing about 140 km/h. It cracked my Ventura light guard in several places, sacrificing itself to protect my headlight as it is designed to do. Fortunately, I traded the Aerostich Evap-O-Danna won as a door prize (I already own one!) for a coupon for a new light guard another fellow won! Serendipity!

Before starting the rally, I decided to tackle a coolant leak I had been worried about. Right after tech check-in and odometer synchronization was complete on Friday, I tore my bike down in search of the leak which had up to that point eluded me for over a year. Two weeks prior in Arizona, it became more serious and would require attention soon, should I want to avoid serious trouble. I located the leak, two hose clamps on the thermostat housing were loose. I enlisted the help of a mechanic from North Bay Cycle who used a small ratchet to tighten the offending nuts. Leak fixed. Then, a quick storm cell moved through and soaked eveything before I had a chance to re-assemble the bike and it's contents. Naturally, once eveything was undercover and covered in a layer of sand, it passed and the sky was clear again. I re-filled the cooling system with silicate-free coolant I had carried with me from London and I was good to go.

Tear down tupperware - 1 hour, fix leak - 15 minutes.

Weather was great. Although rain did become part of the event for some. We started under a cloudless sky, and that was all that was in the forecast (for North Bay at least). However, those riding up north experienced cloudy skies from a system moving in from Manitoba and many (including me) were rained on, at times quite briskly. It was nothing but clear skies and warm temps at the finish line, however.

The Wawa Goose

Speaking of the finish line, this was changed this year from the hotel (where the scoring and festivities took place) to North Bay Cycle (where tech check in and start line were located). It was believed among many participants that I was responsible for this change after 1998s spectacular race to the finish mere seconds before the clock expired.

Another change made this year to ease people's speeding and panic close to the finish was to allow late finishes, but with penalties. These changes were welcomed by all. That didn't prevent a few from receiving tickets, despite Peter's repeated warning during the rider meeting that "this is not a race!" That was also repeated by the OPP officer who gave a talk to us at the start line, then rode off on his Harly Police special.

Speaking of the start line, we had a few notable writers in attendance at the rider meeting: Larry Tate of Inside Motorcycles, who was riding the event, and Max Burns of Cycle Canada, who was not. Larry was riding a BMW F650 test bike. I noted that he was not wearing one of the now-infamous BMW riding suits, but rather a Hi-Viz Aerostich.

All in all, a great event. No drinking goats, but plenty of UFOs, Jehovah Halls, dead end roads, nickel and dime roadside attractions, and of course - BLACKFLIES!

This rally is now known as the Northern Exposure Rally.

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