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2015 MERA Menage-a-Trois

The rally started for me with a day long ride to Salt Lake City which was uneventful, except for the smoke from all fires in eastern Washington and Oregon.  Oh yeah, that and losing my headlight bulb going into SLC.

In true MERA tradition my first stop after checking in was to the bar, which already contained a fair number of riders.  After a drink, I headed back to my room to get some sleep.

The rally started at 7:00 pm Friday, so I did my best to sleep in but that didn't really work that well. 

Luckily, I'd brought a spare headlight bulb, so the first task of the day was a fair amount of swearing and fist shaking towards BMW and their designers with small hands to get my headlight was back in working order.  The next task of the day was to the odometer check.  I went back to the room and attempted to sleep again, knowing that I wouldn't be getting much for the next 36 hours.

The odometer check was at 4:00 and after a nice ride 22.1 mile ride down along the southern edge of the Great Salt Lake, my odometer was certified.  Next came the riders meeting.  I apparently missed the instruction to bring your drivers license, so I missed the first part of it running back to my room.

At the riders meeting it was confirmed that all bonuses from each rally were available from the moment the 36 hour riders were given their packets.  Steve also made it very clear that anyone who shared the contents of their packet with anyone else would be disqualified from the rally.

After my driver's license was impounded to a sealed envelope, I returned to my room to plan my route.  It became very clear to me that it really wasn't going to be feasible to participate in multiple rallies.  First, while the 12 hour bonuses weren't restricted to daylight only, it became pretty clear pretty quick that you weren't going to do much at night with these.  Additionally, the 24 and 36 hour bonuses were situated such that if you tried to do both, you weren't going to do well in either event.  I decided to try and hit some 12 hour bonuses tonight, then hit the 36 hour bonuses starting in the morning. 

The shoot at a local range was a one of the highest point values of the rally, but it was scheduled for the following morning in Salt Lake City.  This meant if you wanted to try to pick up multiple 36 hour bonuses, you were going to miss the shoot.  That meant I needed to get miles tonight more than anything, then try and hit the highest point value bonus I could after the shoot.  It became clear to me pretty quick that I was going to be going to Wall, SD. 

Unfortunately, before I left for Wall, I needed to get some miles to get up to the required 1632 miles to be considered a finisher.  My thought was that I would try and pick up some 12 hour bonuses, then stay the night back at the Rally headquarters, then head out to the shoot and Wall.  Except,  only one of the three locations I visited was actually able to be seen at night.  Shit.  Add to that a traffic accident that I had to detour around and road construction and I was in a fine mood as midnight rolled around.  I was so pissed that I seriously considered just bagging the whole event at that point.  Nothing was going to plan.  I decided to stop at an In-n-Out Burger and get something to eat. It seemed fitting considering this was a MERA event. This was a good idea and definitely put me in a better mood.  Calmer, I headed back to the hotel and finalized my route for the next day.  I was in bed by about 3:00 a.m.  Despite myself, I'd actually done pretty well for the night - just by getting mileage.  I just needed to forget about the 12 and 24 hour rallies and concentrate on the 36. 

I awoke at 6:30 and got on the road.  Unfortunately, there was an error in the rally pack and the time of the shoot was listed as an hour earlier than it really was.  Rally Master Chalmers gave the two of us who arrived early an extra 30 minutes on the rally since we were delayed.  However, it did mean that I had lost an hour of sleep.  Oh well.  I shot (poorly) then got back on the road and headed out of town.  The delay at the range did cause me to adjust my plan a bit as I realized with the later start I wouldn't have time to get the BMW dealership and get out to Wall and back in time.  I decided to bag the dealership and headed east out of Salt Lake City.

At some point I knew that I would need to take a rest bonus.  Given the difficultly I'd had on previous rallies getting a hotel, I didn't want to deal with the stress of finding a hotel in the middle of the night when time was definately not on my side.  I stopped in Rock Springs at the Super 8 to procure a room for the night.

This proved slightly more difficult than normal.  My driver's license was sealed in an envelope.  Some pleading and a $20 bill got me a room for the night and I once again headed east on I-80.

The road to Wall was long and boring.  I'm not sure there's much more I can say about it.  I stopped along the way to get a picture of a "wild animal" (They didn't say it had to be alive...) and by the time I got to Wall the wind was really cooking.  I got my sticker at Wall Drug, which was a little weird since it was completely different from how I remember it.  Obviously my memory was at fault since it hasn't changed much at all in the past 50 years.  After leaving Wall, I headed out to the sign for Badlands National Park, took a picture and made a hasty retreat back towards Utah.

The ride back to Rock Springs was also long and boring, though this time it was dark too!  I made it to Rock Springs with enough time to spare for about an hour rest before I needed to get back on the road to Salt Lake City and a 7:30 finish time.  It was here that I made the mistake that cost me the win on the rally, and it all came from not reading the bonus listing carefully.  "Take a picture of the outside of the hotel" it said.  I, in my sleep deprived state, took a picture of the INSIDE of the hotel and promptly went to sleep.  Of course I didn't know it until I got back to the scoring table.

After a brief nap of 30 minutes - I wanted to leave enough time for possible delays along the way -  I got back on the road and headed to SLC.

The ride back was really cold, but warmed back up quickly as I dropped down in the valley surrounding Salt Lake City.  I arrived just before 7:30 am and went in to get scored.  It was here that I realized my mistakeat the Super 8 and, a bit of swearing later, exited the scoring room and went to my room to sleep.

At the finisher's banquet I learned that my mistake had been enough points to drop me from first place to fourth place, behind a three way tie for the win.  (This being the second time I've finished behind a tie for the win.)

At the bar after the banquet, a few Macallan's eased my pain and I decided to turn in before things got too crazy, seeing that I had a 800 mile+ ride ahead of me in the morning.

While I was disappointed in my mistake, I still had a good time.  Many thanks to Steve for another fun MERA event.

Also, at the banquet, Steve announced his intention to run another 5 'n Dime in 2016.  Unfortunately, given the timing, I don't think I'll be able to make it this year, but we'll just have to see.  He is going to allow remote starts again, so who knows, maybe I'll be able to pull it off again.

 

 

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