The next morning I left out of Escalente, Ut early to catch the earth tone colors that the sunrise produced on the rock formations along Hwy 12 as it wound it's way through Dixie Nat'l Forest and Bryce Canyon Nat'l Park.
Outside a small tourist town of Panguitch, Ut I made it just in time to watch a hot air balloon rally get started. The weather was perfect for them to launch.
Continuing west I found the interstate that would take me on into SLC. like all super slabs it was time to twist it up a little. I made good time to the rally head quarters at the Holiday Inn by the airport. I pulled into the parking lot that was full of Beemers, FJRs, ST's and Wings. I was starting wonder if I had gotten in over my head. I had this feeling that I brought a lawn tractor to a drag race.
I checked in at the motel and then with the Rally folks . I filled out my release forms and did an odometer check to find my bikes mileage correction factor. This check found that my OD runs 1.9% fast. So to get the required mileage of 1150 miles I needed my trip odo to read 1171.9.
The driver's meeting started promptly at 1900 hours. The rallymaster went over the do's and don't's. Safety was the number one topic as well as that all the LOE agencies had been informed that we were coming and you better not miss the the first checkpoint if you choose to ride the main route. All of us contestants had our DL and Insurance cards sealed up in an envelope. It is a big penalty to come back with an open envelope. You could bet that the person opening up your envelope would be a friendly LOE.
At the end of the meeting a packet was handed out containing the various routes of the rally. I had the choice of a main route and three alternatives. The main route, which you plan out, had bonus locations within a 100 mile radius of SLC. Some of these bonuses where only listed by GPS coordinates and the rest had detailed locations. The most important location is the first check point, located in Heber City, Ut. If you missed this check point you would not get the information for the rest of rally. This meant you might as well go on to the house.
The alternative routes were interesting and it didn't require stopping at the 1st checkpoint. One had the riders go on a 1600 mile ride using a route of their choice. The second one had riders take a route through the greater SW via Gallup, NM, Flagstaff, AZ, Las Vegas, NV and back to SLC, UT. I mapped this one out to be over 1300 miles. The last route was a trip to Devils Tower, SD, Mt. Rushmore, SD, Cheyenne, WY and back to SLC, UT. This would be a more than 1400 miles round trip. I really study on this one, but instead I plotted a course on the main route.
It was well into the night when I finished up my plans. The start was at 0700 and the finish was at 0900 the next day. The rallymaster expressed the great importance of being back at the Rally HQ before 0900. If you arrive any later you would get a DNF, no matter how many miles and/or bonus you found. Sleep didn't come easy as I wondered about the coming morning. To say I was exicted was an understatement.