I rode up to the check-in point just outside of Hartford, CT (the Nutmeg State), at the newest location for the great Max BMW dealership. I got up there about 3pm, a traffic-filled 2.5 hours north of Manhattan, but only a little more than 100 miles. Not much was happening at the dealer yet so I rode up to the hotel about 6 miles away to check-in there and unload the few things I wouldn’t need in the rally Saturday. After a little rest, I went to the 6pm Rider’s meeting at a different hotel. The slide show and advice was meant for new riders but I went anyway in case there were late additions to the rally book. After the meeting, I went back to the hotel to find my motorcycle buddies from New Hampshire had arrived. I met Kim (Tiger 1050) and Kate (R1200) at the Nutmeg last year, and then a month after that, Kim brought her friend Laurie (V-Strom) to the Bennington Bash. Now all three were doing the Nutmeg and staying in the same hotel. Also there was another threesome from NH; a Tiger XC, a Sprint ST, and an FJR.
I left before the others to do some paperwork at the dealer. Kim and Kate got there but no Laurie. She left her heated grips on overnight and her battery was depleted. Kim pulled a tiny charger out of her pannier and left Laurie to charge via extension cord out of the lobby door. Nice Save! Laurie would meet us when she could.
While we stood around from 7-8 awaiting the release of riders, Kim convinced me her route, which was all about the riding & roads vs. my plan of distance and points, would be more fun. So I called an audible, throwing my plan to the dirt, literally, to blindly follow their route. Kim is a serious technical rider and also has a KTM 250 for dirt and BMW 650 for trails; Laurie is a Motorcycle Safety Foundation instructor. I figured it would be better riding.
We then continued on to collect dates at train tunnels, names off of signs on covered bridges, historical markers, and other small wonders carefully selected for fun roads by the Rally staff and then plotted by Kim. Here is an example of our roads today:
We met up with Laurie at the lunch break at Max BMW’s Troy, NY location:
She had needed about an hour to recharge her Suzuki and was fine now. After the stop we continued our riding on the Taconic Trails, the Mohawk Trail, and kept crossing in and out of NY, CT, and Mass. As the day got late, I kept my GPS on the time/distance back to the finish; at 6pm you started getting penalized and at 6:15 you were out of the Rally. Kim took us to a last location and then we blasted off to the dealer, actually using our only 17 miles of highway that day (91S) and checked-in by 5:50. We wound up with credit for all our claimed bonuses, and finished with 721 points. The 10th place finisher was in at 800+, and the 1st place finisher at 1,178 points. The top three finishers were all Iron Butt vets with extra fuel cells under their top box, etc. One was a 50cc vet (Coast-Coast in 50hrs). Overall, an excellent day of riding, weather, fun, and friends.