We can’t be lost, we haven’t gone far enough – Mountain Madness 2017

I slept pretty well, considering, and the bike started right up. I’d made sure I had a full tank of gas, not wanting to be “that guy,” and headed back to the casino. It was foggy, and there was a chance of rain in the forecast. Rain and dirt roads. yay.

These two were there for the HUMM

These guys weren't

At the casino, there were already some bikes. A fair number of people were staying in the attached hotel, which made sense. You didn’t have to ride again after the event, and could just relax. Being able to shower and change before the evening stuff would be nice too, but the camping was soon much more affordable. All well.

In the morning we were given a few last minute instructions – mostly review – and then were given our maps and binders with the locations. All the teams got them at the same time, so being there early didn’t help anyone. Next was planning out a route for the day, though at least one team just hit the road, planning to work it out on the way.

The other members of my team were Jeff and Mike. Jeff had taken the off-road training course offered right before the HUMM, so he knew the area. He was already pretty good with map reading.

Most of the other teams also took some time to work out a plan before taking off. Usually, I think I would be on the “just worry about it later” camp, but I don’t usually ride in groups and (to be honest) am not a fan of doing so. Taking some time in the morning let me get a sense of what Mike and Jeff were wanting to do with the weekend.

For those of you who have read my recent posts and know about my film photography, this event I was shooting digital. I was posting a lot of pictures online, and wanted to have them be as close to live as I could.

We decided to limit ourselves to the easier roads. Jeff was on a F700 and Mike on a old KLR. While I was on Rabbit, I am not a fan of struggling on hard roads, and we all needed our bikes to get home. With the plan in place, we headed out of the parking lot, and Jeff (leading) immediately took us down some crazy goat trail “short cut.” We all survived, and back on navigable roads we headed for the first tag.

At the tags we quickly developed a system. We had set the binder up with the tags we wanted to get, in the order we’d planned to ride them. We would all look at the picture, and then look for the location while riding. Some of the location pictures were taken from the other direction, so we had to look in out mirrors. Other times (often, actually), we caught other teams at a location, and everyone tried to help each other find the actual tag.

It was nice to see other riders from time to time, since it let us know we hadn’t wandered completely off track. The GPS teams probably had that a little easier, I guess, though they were also more competitive. For my part, I was just enjoying the ride and trying not to slow the rest of the team down.

All the teams had to be back to the casino, checked in, and scored by 5pm. The late penalties were pretty harsh, so we made sure to be back early. Even though rain had been in the forecast, and it had been occasionally cloudy, we hadn’t had a drop until heading back. We noticed the roads were wet and we caught a short, hard rain. Once parked, and inside, we learned it had been pouring at the casino all day. Other riders, who’d taken a different direction, were also coming back soaked and covered in mud. I don’t like riding in mud very much, so I was glad to have missed it.

mmmmm - bling

None of the teams were allowed to take the maps or binders from the room, so everyone took extra time after being scored to work out a riding plan for the next day.

This meant that, tomorrow, we would get a full day of riding, rather than having to take time in the morning to plan before getting on the road. While we were looking over tags and the maps, scores for the first day were posted and somehow we’d gotten into first place in our division –

What the...

It was the bonus items that had carried us – social media posts and collecting trash. We’d maxed out both of those. Just to give you an idea of how the more competitive groups were going, look at the difference in the scores –

So, it’s not like we were lighting up the score board.

For dinner, I got a pizza at the casino ($6! I guess casino food is cheap) and headed back to camp.

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