Wandering Ganesha

2015 Iron Butt Rally – Part 1.3: A Gathering of Strangers

Arriving at Petrified Forest I spied my good friend Sanjay Dixit! Sanjay is my riding buddy from San Francisco. We’d met at the start of Butt Lite VI. I was moving to San Francisco during the rally. Well, more accurately my wife was supervising the movers and packers while I had a 2-week motorcycle vacation. Yes, her sainthood has been conferred by the pope already. Before BL VI, I’d been checking out the other riders online and had noticed that Sanjay was from the Bay Area. I figured that it was my mission in life to met him and at least got to know one another. It would give me one moto friend in the bay! He finished the 2013 IBR, after riding through the night from Kitty Hawk, but after the event he had been actively counseled to retire early at the behest of his wife and daughter. He’s a better man than me!

Sanjay Dixit

Sanjay Dixit

Sanjay had been at the start banquet with me and is always a calming presence. I’d known he was going to ride to the group photo location, why I didn’t think to just meet up with him is beyond me. We chatted for a bit. Remembering how we met, and my wife’s sainthood, I realized this was a perfect opportunity to go buy my wife an anniversary present. I could send it back with Sanjay and she would be able to get it before our anniversary!

Yes, our anniversary is on July 5th, during the rally. Our last four anniversaries had been particularly romantic.

year Me Her
2012 Butt Lite VI – 4th Place! Packing the house and moving to San Francisco
2013 Iron Butt Rally – DNF 🙁 Taking care of the kids in SF
2014* Butt Lite VII – 5th Place! Visiting friends in Minneapolis, start of BL VII
2015 Iron Butt Rally – ??? At home with our teenage hormone driven son

* to be fair in 2014 we had a lovely anniversary breakfast as BL VII didn’t start till that evening.

There was a convenient gift shop right here! And I still had over an hour to kill. Walking inside I found most of the riders who’s bikes were parked outside. Looking them over I was a little concerned. It was day 1… not 4 hours from the start of the rally. Many of them looked like it was day 8! Haggard and worn out the heat was not being kind to them.

No many folks know that I try to keep a cheerful demeanor during rallies. That being friendly and upbeat is just who I am. But… I’m also a little competitive. Aaaannnndddd… a little psychological warfare against the competition is not above me. I chatted with a few folks and talked about how great it was to be at the bonus early and have time to relax. In general folks seemed a little glum. Not everyone shared my enthusiasm at being early. Seems most of them didn’t realize Arizona was a state that believed in the LORD ALMIGHTY. if the LORD ALMIGHTY had wanted daylight savings time he would have mentioned it in the good book.

I decided that the best course of action was to have an ice cream. They had hand dipped cones in the restaurant and I got a strawberry. It was awesome!

Going back to the jewelry counter I picked out a nice necklace and pair of earrings. Luckily I had time to spare as the cash register is in the Guinness book of world records for being the slowest on the planet. Seriously it took 5 minutes to authorize my credit card. I chatted to the extremely cute young lady behind the register. A lifelong resident of the area she was back from school for the summer. She was Navajo and her long flowing raven locks, shy smile, and perhaps other qualities, I’m sure fill many a young man’s dreams – maybe even a few older ones as well. The sound of the receipt printing out brought my mind back to the fact that I was there buying anniversary gifts for my wife. Ah well; back to work.

Pleasant thoughts in my head and a skip in my step I crossed back across the lot where Sanjay and found a lost soul in need of redemption. Sanjay is a good soul. Not a mean streak in his body and wounded animals will seek him out for protection. I was thankful he hadn’t been near the cashier. In the parking lot, a fellow IBR rider that was having some challenges had found him.

For privacy reasons, I won’t mention the riders name but he was having challenges getting his Sena headset to work with his Garmin and Cell phone. Sanjay knew that I would be able to straighten him out. I started to help him out when his cell phone rang. Seems the reason he needed it fixed was that Lisa Landry had been calling him on the road and he couldn’t answer the call. As he was chatting with her I realized that I still needed my parks pass.

Sanjay had already scoped it out and knew I had to go to the booth at the entrance to get it, not at the gift shop. Cursing my ill luck at not being able to spend another 5 minutes with my Navajo goddess I wandered over to the small booth.

As I approached the booth I saw a slender hand resting on the window sill with dayglow hi-viz pink nail polish. As I rounded the booth to see inside my memory of raven hair evaporated and was quickly replaced with golden tresses. The park ranger was not a local. Looking more like she had stepped out of a bikini competition in Santa Monica than growing up in Arizona I proceded to enquire, slowly mind you, as to the availability of an annual pass. With depressing rapidity, she exclaimed that she had plenty and would it be cash or charge? Saying a silent prayer to Ganesha I hoped that her cash register was on the same system as the gift shop. Sadly it was not to be. She deftly swiped my credit card and handed it and my pass back. “Have a great trip! would you like your receipt?” There were many things that I wanted at that moment… my receipt was not on the list.

Walking back to Sanjay I exclaimed that I was abandoning my quest, moving to the petrified forest to pursue a life of working as a park ranger. He asked me if I’d managed to get an anniversary gift for my wife. Shifty guy that Sanjay, I never did trust him. Back to reality I handed over my gift so he could bestow it on my sainted wife on our day of wedded bliss.

The Jewels

The Jewels

Our downed rider had finished his call with Lisa. It turned the reason that Lisa was calling him was that his spot track was bad. Sanjay had managed to get his Sena working while I had been reevaluating my life’s goals. The rider exclaimed that his spot was on and should have been working fine! Well, it was on, and the lights were blinking, but it was also basically under a sleeping bag on his top case. Spots really appreciate a clear line of sight to the sky. If you look at my bike I actually have an antenna mast that is up high and I get excellent tracking maps and my batteries last a long time. Looking over his bike I noticed that he had a toll transponder mounted with an excellent view of the sky.

Getting some Duolock from my tool kit we quickly moved the spot to its new perch and put the toll transponder in the spots place. Problem solved.

My hope is that someone that wants to ride in the IBR reads this blog and gleans a little knowledge about what it’s like and some things that will make their rally a little easier. Folks, DO NOT WAIT TILL LEG ONE TO TEST SHIT. I understand that things may break on the way to the IBR. Heck, my 2013 disaster started with me working in the parking lot to fix things. But seriously spend some of your 14 months from the time you are accepted to get your stuff figured out and to understand how everything works. This especially includes your electronics!!! They are what’s going to fail first! End of rant.

By this time, I decided it was time to move onto the actual photo spot. Mounting up I vowed to stay strong and focused – and not get distracted by hi-viz pink nail polish.


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