LowCal 250 Motorcycle Rally to Benefit PKD

2010 LowCal 250 Rally Architect's Report - Stats - Homepage

Ken Meese answers the call to duty

Last year as we were closing up shop on the 2009 LowCal 250 Rally I got a chance to chat with first place finisher Ken Meese. He had really enjoyed the day, and went out of the way to thank the staff and volunteers, saying something to the effect of, “The rest of us can’t play if no puts in the effort to put these games together.” Ken and I first met at George Zelenz’s “Up-Chuck 1000”. It was great to have Ken come down and we promised to get together later in the year to… well…’ talk rallying’ of course. Ken ended up getting a bit busy tallying up one rally win after another (Spank Rally, Cal24,Utah1088) and subsequently received a special entry offered to him for the 2009 Iron Butt Rally. After the dust settled on his top-ten win in that rally, I had an idea that was a little better than just getting together to ‘talk shop’.

By Summer I had the 2010 LowCal Rally formulated and I realized I could really use an extra hand this year from the rally community. The planned ‘mileage cap’ would require a formal odometer course and I knew that would spread me pretty thin in the morning with my other volunteers. I asked Ken if he would consider being the Rallymaster for 2010. As it turned out, it wasn’t just Ken taking over the top job in the morning that helped; his experience in scoring had a substantial impact on our efficiency in the afternoon.

Rally Routing 101

After observing simple mistakes and oversights riders committed in our rally in previous years, I wrote up a tutorial for basic routing strategies. Nothing fancy. Nothing software or equipment specific. Not a “How to Win” technique, but rather a set of guidelines and ideas to increase the odds of a “Strong Finish”. My goal was to get people ultimately focused on the safety and enjoyment of rallying. I presented the course materials to Gary Orr of San Diego BMW Motorcycles and he suggested we do a live class sometime before the rally. I thought sure... it would be worth having a small workshop style class. I was astonished that we had over 25 attendees the first night, and 5 more participated in an encore lecture the following afternoon, and another 15 were on the list to receive theRally Routing 101 course material by email (I’ll never forget, Doug Barrett dubbed the Saturday lecture the “no child left behind” class, since we added it to accommodate out-of-towners who couldn’t make it in Friday evening). The following night Ken Meese gave his 2009 Iron Butt Rally presentation at the shop, which was likewise very well attended.

The Mileage Cap

We distributed GPS coordinates to riders in 2010 a week ahead of the rally, however riders were warned:

"Consider access to the files a 'thanks' for pre-registering for the rally. Hopefully they will save you some time the morning of the rally if you have this data preloaded. Though it certainly won't hurt to get familiar with the waypoints, I would not obsess about them too much... as some are decoys... and you do not know what they are worth or in what combination they must be obtained. It is not my intent that they keep you up all night trying to figure out any hidden puzzle."

One of the reasons for the ‘decoys’, was to de-emphasize the high proportion of bonii located in the municipality of San Diego. The mileage cap was a twist that riders would only learn about on the morning of the rally. The mileage cap had a very specific purpose, but a side-effect was that it allowed us to showcase more locations in congested areas, where riders would not be under as great of time constraints as in a normal time-limited rally.

So what diabolical purpose was there in having a mileage cap? In the Rally Routing 101 class I went through several illustrations of how planning and stop management had a far greater impact on rally performance than simply twisting the throttle to let speed cover your mistakes. If I was wrong, then the mileage cap would change the distribution curve for the 'total points' of the top finishers, If I was right, the distribution of scores would be unaffected. But in order to ensure that routing skills would be critical, the layout of the rally had to ensure at least 12 core base route possibilities existed within 2% of the 250 mile limit. In other words there had to be many possible ways to get a good route without exceeding the mileage limit.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Please start your Rally Packets!

The decoy bonii in the GPS files that were missing from the rally packet probably had a bigger initial impact on riders than the mileage cap did. Several accidentally used a decoy location near Mecca to calculate the feasibility of reaching the sucker bonus in Vidal. Ah, sucker bonuses… where dreams and math collide. Once they plugged in the correct location, there initial euphoria subsided and it turned out no one made the attempt.

For a good synopsis of the day, please check out the lead article about the 2010 LowCal 250 Rally in the latest addition of Riders Review! Thanks to Heather Phillips and Cal Morlon for squeezing us in this year under a tight deadline!

So what then is the untold story? Well it's really not that ominous, but some details were left out of the Riders Review article to keep it brief enough for public consumption. The first fun and games came when one of our riders came in from the odometer check admitting right away he need to redo the course, "When I made the exit for I-15 South, my GPS took me back to my hotel". 

Was it true that even with the 250 mile cap a rider ran out of fuel? I never verified that exactly, but one disheveled rally packet had "G A S" written in large letters on the back of one of the pages. It did appear from that rider's timeline that they had a long period of little or no progress.

How did 'team scooter' come back scoring higher than nine motorcycles? The scooter was a great story. A local college geography student took great interest in the rally this year, envisioning it like it was a version of television's 'The Great Race'. Knowing ahead that the mileage cap would give the scooter plenty to chase within 100 miles, I gave approval for the entry without fanfare. I knew the scooter would not come in last. Why? Typically you get a sample of missteps and errors that account for the lower scores. Also a number of riders might just come out to take a look at things they haven't seen before (and not ride as competitively), not to mention the inevitable DNF status ('Did Not Finish' status). The couple on the scooter basically scooped up every bonus within the City of San Diego. This year those bonii were the most efficient. If you didn't scoop up some of those you missed the game. The scooter went only 86 miles and had a respectable base score. The funniest part is... they went home twice to check in on their dog during the rally!

So what was my conclusion of the mileage cap then? I am happy to report that the statistical distribution of scores was no different than our previous years. It really put an emphasis on route execution, and rewarded the riders that really kept their missteps to a minimum.  I loved the mileage cap for what it illustrated and I would do it every year if I could... but it would never have the same effect. Also, it took a lot of extra coordination to manage a formal odometer check and make it fit within an 8-hour rally. It was fun, but I would have to predict it won't happen again, at least not as it was presented this year. 

I'm not sure if it was the mileage cap or the rally class, but one pleasant outcome of the 2010 LowCal 250 was that we got everyone back safe and sound in record time. All 42 starting riders finished! How can we accomplish that again? We'll be looking at that closely and doing our best to repeat that every year!

The Top Finishers - a detailed look

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The 2010 decal incorporated the signature LowCal 250 "San Diego County Gasket" (not certified for use in any CARB regulated engines)

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EP, a dirt option, was not required to break the 15,000 point barrier, however it was the choice of all the top finishers for the day.  The top 5 scorers all had BM,EP, HB, SC, and SY in common. 
1st & 3rd Place

Jacob Langford and Mike Langford ran their route as a team. Mike gave up bonus 'TB' at the scoring table which kept the two from tying for first. Jacob said it was the best ride he'd had in the 10 years he's lived out here.

2nd Place

Eddie Frowiss routed with the aid of a computer in the morning, but finished a solid second with no onboard navigation assistance. Eddie missed bonus 'PM', arriving too late to enter the museum for the answer required.

Rallymaster's Award

Jon Good & Andree Bergman's East Coast rally experience showed as they placed 4th overall in score, but were effectively the 3rd highest scoring 'route' of the day.

LEG

C1/CF
C1/SP
SP/TB
TB/MB
MB/BH
BH/BM
BM/PM
PM/LM
LM/LV
LV/EP
EP/SY
SY/HB
HB/PI
PI/SC
SC/C2

TRIP

n/a
10
3
9
6
10
9
3
19
32
19
30
40
41
5

TIME

0:21
0:17
0:11
0:23
0:13
0:19
0:17
0:18
0:30
1:02
0:47
0:38
0:53
0:37
0:25

LEG

C1/CF
C1/SP
SP/TB
TB/SC
SC/HC
HC/HB
HB/SY
SY/EP
EP/LV
LV/BM
BM/LM
LM/PM
PM/MB
MB/C1

TRIP

n/a
10
3
13
32
55
31
19
32
22
7
- -
14
9

TIME

0:17
0:12
0:13
0:20
0:41
1:06
0:33
0:58
1:05
0:53
0:15
- -
0:54
0:16

LEG

C1/CF
C1/PI
PI/HB
HB/SY
SY/EP
EP/LM
LM/PM
PM/BM
BM/BH
BH/FB
FB/MB
MB/SP
SP/TB
TB/SC
SC/C2

TRIP

n/a
44
40
30
19
43
3
8
9
8
6
7
3
11
6

TIME

0:18
0:40
0:50
0:40
0:42
1:08
0:10
0:28
0:15
0:24
0:20
0:19
0:10
0:49
0:09


The Unique Trophies for 2010

The LowCal 250 has traditionally awarded what we like to refer to as "high-end garage art". Stuff that won't break on your way home. Something that will start a conversation wherever you decide to place it. In 2008 I had a love-hate relationship manufacturing the resin-casts of San Diego County in relief. Last year I was especially pleased with the gaskets in the shape of San Diego County. All I had to do was design them in AutoCAD and Ken Boyd of Paramount Gaskets did the rest. This year it was Gary Orr of San Diego BMW Motorcycles leading a brainstorming session with a local gifted metal sculptor Ken Kosiorek (a.k.a the "Baja Turtle") and myself to come up with the idea to weld a motorcycle chain into a trophy. 

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Gary acquired the chain in bulk and gave it a good scrub. I came up with a representation of the county and routed a mirror of it into a piece of plywood, cut the chain into 68-link sections and headed over to Ken's shop where he welded them up. The bases were cut from reclaimed lumber... and with just a bit of finishing and a professionally printed nameplate for each: the 2010 LowCal 250 Rally trophy was created!

Rally Logistics, Volunteers, Back-Country Recovery Assistance and Bonus Location Verification provided by

San Diego Adventure Riders

LowCal 250 - Twice the Adventure, Only Half the Petrol!! * Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) affects 600,000 Americans and 12.5 million children and adults worldwide. Visit PKDcure.org to find out more about the only organization worldwide dedicated to promoting research to find a cure for PKD and improving the care and treatment of those it affects.