by Bruce Mike
It’s almost March as I write this, and we are in the midst of another blizzard. This has been a winter for the record books. I’m not one to normally whine about winter but enough already. Bring on the above freezing temperatures and salt-free roads.
I look for every opportunity between November and March to attend whatever motorcycle events I can. These have always been along the lines of shows and swap meets. This year was different. I added a couple of road rallies. The I-Cycle Derby on January 1st, put on by the Travelers MC of Minneapolis, and the Popcycle Derby on February 19th, put on by Glacial Lakes MC in Watertown, SD. Both rallies greatly exceeded my “fun” expectations. If you’re interested, check out their websites.
These events are pretty much identical other than when and where they take place. They are timed rallies that are set up with two approximately 25 mile legs, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, with lunch provided in between. Each leg has 3-4 checkpoints that are manned by volunteers. The object is to reach each checkpoint in the allotted amount of time based on a predetermined average speed. Points are accrued by being early or late. You get more for being early than you do for being late. If you are right on time, you get zero points. The one with the least amount of points at the end, wins. There is a lot of math involved. Oh, they also take place in the Winter.
The weather for the I-Cycle on January 1st was nasty. Below zero windchill and sloppy, icy roads. The ride started at 10 am and there were about 15 riders up for the challenge. I was rider number 10 and each rider leaves a minute apart. I made it to the first checkpoint without much trouble. The roads were a little slippery and the road spray was pretty heavy off the front wheel of my little 1975 Kawasaki 175 enduro. I had no idea how I was doing points-wise. My goal was to finish without crashing. I got a little turned around finding the second checkpoint but I made it. I got completely lost on the third one and skipped it altogether. I was not the only one who got lost. I came to an intersection where there were two other riders going in opposite directions of me. We all raised our hands in a collective shrug and set out on our way. I returned to the starting point for lunch a little frustrated and cold. The first leg was supposed to be about 25 miles and I had gone over 40.
The second leg I made all my checkpoints but crashed hard on an icy rutted road. I twisted my handlebars back into place and finished. My fellow riders cheered me into the parking lot because I was the last one in. Despite some sore ribs and cold fingers, I could not stop smiling. I was riding a motorcycle on New Year’s Day and life doesn’t get much better than that.
The Popcycle was a much better overall ride. The weather was better and my navigational skills were much improved. Where I had run the I-Cycle consistently late, I ran the Popcycle way too fast. I finished in the middle of the pack where my riding partners finished 3rd and 4th. They brought home the hardware and once again all I came away with was a big grin and a plan for a better ride next year.