FITE V – Morganton, North Carolina – October 1999

“Stamp n’ Go…and then again”

I can only see her head and her sunglass covered eyes in her rearview mirror, but there was no mistaking her message–

“… Don’t you dare pass me going up this mountain with the five cars ahead of me.”

She had seen me twist the throttle and close the gap from 50 yards back and now she was waving her finger at me in the mirror with a smile on her face. I was on Route 58 twisting my way up to Lovers Leap Overlook coming west out of Stuart, Virginia. I had been on the road for 7 ½ hours and had 3 ½ to go. And I was losing precious minutes as a lumbering utility truck slowly led this convoy up the twisting and turning roads up to the summit.

Clearly this woman was a local, clearly she knew the roads better than I, and clearly I wanted to get around her and the other five cars in front of me. I gave her a shrug of my shoulders and held my hand up in a questioning motion, saying “hey, the thought did cross my mind…” She did the same motion in her mirror and we both smiled at each other; each content to let state traffic laws and common sense prevail. I stayed behind the train all the way to the top….

I was riding in the 1999 Feast in the East Rally, a 11-hour rally that Bryan Moody was putting on in conjunction with the Feast in the East run by Hank Rowland in Morganton, NC. I had left the start at 5:38am and was about to make a time critical decision on what bonuses to shoot for that would decide my final standings.

FITE V Concept

This clearly was a unique rally and quite a fun concept as had been most rallies associated with this annual event; more focused on socializing than fierce competition. No… I take that back; that’s an untruth. There were lots of serious riders here and men, women and machines were ready for the rally. Bryan had posted the locations of the bonuses on the Internet about a week prior to the event. This allowed most riders time to locate them on maps, plan a route, and develop a strategy. At the start of the rally at 5:30am, Bryan handed out the rally books with what actions were required at each bonus location. The one constant was that everyone was be back in 11 hours. Anytime after that you would lose 5 points a minute for 15 mins and after that, time barred for the rally.

In a shorter rally such as this everything is condensed; more bonuses, more stops, and non-stop riding with little room for even a short break to successfully execute your route. I had created a route that went east into central North Carolina and the up into southern Virginia. Bouncing it off Todd Peer, a friend and fellow rider determined he had come up with the almost exact same route independently. It did not take the proverbial rocket scientist to figure out east was the way for the most points per mile. We would learn later that the majority of the riders at the rally would also head east.

Todd and I fine-tuned each of our routes, finally melding them into a solitary best route – or at least that was our take on it. We also shared our thoughts with other DC area LD riders. Now, all we had to do was ride it… and judging by the checkpoint times to make each bonus… that question would not be answered until the very end. J

Riding south for 400 miles to the Feast of the East on, we checked into the Days Inn which would serve as rally headquarters and conducted our odometer checks and socialized. (And as Manny pointed out over a beer…why is it called “the east”?… as it definitely appears to be in the “south!” I guess its more east than west in the bigger part of the LDR world.)

I had ridden down with Louis and we met Todd, Dale and Tracy, and Todd Witte and Brent Ames from Pennsylvania for dinner at a local steakhouse. The following morning after a brief riders meeting and after scanning my rally book quickly, I was off at 5:38am heading east on I-40 towards Greensboro.

This is the 1st page of note card directions I followed during the rally… I actually never looked at a map other than the Garmin GPS III+

The Ride

Looking back on it, I think I was one of the first to leave and kept a spirited pace in the dark heading to the first turn off at the 80 mile mark. No other bikes were with me until I approached the first bonus location, the Richard Childress Racing Museum. The question was whose car was displayed in the front window of the museum and what race did it win?

Heck, being a NASCAR fan, I didn’t even have to go the bonus to answer this question; of course it was Dale Earnhardt’s racecar sitting there behind the window

Note: Here is a future idea for a multi-day LDR rally could be a tour of the NASCAR tracks that are scattered around the US with heavy saturation in the east. There are tracks in Nevada, Texas, Arizona, and California so as not to leave the west out. Maybe someday I could organize such a rally have riders bring NASCAR memorabilia back! J

I jot this answer down and make the first blunder of the day; one that would cost me in the points total later…yes, I noted it was Dale’s racecar, but declined to add the Daytona 500 answer to my book.

That mistake hurt after the rally when a very serious and professional Debbie Moody put an “X” beside it when scoring my book …brought back memories of missing easy test questions in school! L Hey, but that what separates the winners from the rest of us.

By the time I had annotated my wrong answer in the predawn darkness in Welcome, North Carolina, I had drawn a crowd with about six riders showing up. I headed toward my next bonus at the Vietnam Veteran Memorial and didn’t see any from that group for quite awhile.

But I could not miss seeing Elsie Smith on her bright yellow BMW as she passed me on a two-lane state road leading to our next bonus, a Baptist Church. It was like a déjà vu as she had also passed me near the start in the Capital 1000. She passed a car in front of me before a double yellow started and disappeared into the thickening fog. I was finally able to get around the car and caught up with her as we reached the church. The bonus question was when was this church rebuilt for the 2nd time. The cornerstone plaque had numerous dates on it and I asked her if she got the same answer as I did… 1916- 1917 if I recall.

Elsie confirmed this and I took off for the next bonus at the Alston historical home site at the end of a tar and gravel road. After we recorded the mailbox number to answer the bonus question, she took off first and I followed. But at the end of the road she turned right and my route called for a left turn. I knew what had happened and I tried to signal her, but she was gone. When I had planned the route, Street Atlas ™ tried to take you south (right turn) to get north as the road was 4 lane and quicker default speed limits on roads. I had found a more direct northern route connecting with Rt. 42 toward the Bynum bonus.

After the rally we talked about it and she said she saw me turn left and stopped and consulted her maps but she was already committed to the one route, so she did not change. She continued on and did great in the rally.

As I was approaching the next bonus I noticed all of a sudden my route directions I had written down on note cards were not complete; the cards just said go to Bynum. I knew I was close to Bynum but I did not have a road listed to turn toward the tiny hamlet. At the last moment I saw Bynum Road on the northern boundaries when I should have been entering from the south. Knowing I was a little turned around already I decided a local resident would be the best source to find Clyde’s Lawn Art display and record the bonus. I pulled up to a “Mayberry gas station” and asked the first guy I saw. The bonus was right around the corner and could not be missed once I was close…he was right. Don’t know how to describe it but I thought it was worth a picture.

Clyde’s lawn art…

Leaving south I encountered an old bridge over a river open only to pedestrian traffic. I heard a friend of mine on a BIG BLUE motorcycle from Georgia had gone over this very bridge at the suggestion of a local as a shortcut…don’t know if the story is true however!? (More details of this alleged bridge crossing can be found in Duke Colley’s fine trip report.)

I turned around and retraced my route to the main highway.

It was in this timeframe that I started to see Todd Peer on his black ST, and the Todd Witte (Harley Road King) and Brent Ames (BMW) combo arriving at each bonus as I was leaving. We were all pretty much on the same route with slight variations and it showed in the final standings.

I continued my bonus hunt toward Greensboro where the another critical decision needed to be made…how to get through Greensboro south to north in the shortest time. I had decided to try Rt. 70 north early on and after hearing different local opinions had changed my choice three times. I decided to go with the flow when I arrived there so when I hit Greensboro and saw an exit ramp for Rt. 70 north I turned right rather than the planned left. It turned out to be one of the better decisions of the rally as I estimated I got through Greensboro in about 11-14 minutes, heading north on Rt. 220 to the Guilford Courthouse National Military Park for a stamp in our rally books.

This left me plenty of time to make my next slight error in judgement. What happened next makes me feel like a dunce on one hand and a responsible rallyist on the other hand. I arrived at the visitors’ center, stamped my book, and verified I could just barely read the markings enough to verify its content. I did not ink the stamp and stamp it again however.

I then took off and headed north for VA, happy to have cleared the Greensboro hurdle so sharply. As I motored north just a few blocks from the National Park, I then began to lament in my mind about the quality of the stamp.  What if I did not get credit for it because they could not read it? Why had I not just re-stamped it?

It was big points… This thought rotated in my head for about 2 miles before I decided to do the right thing and go back and re-stamp it. I did a U-turn and went back and got a nice dark stamp in the rally book. The ranger behind the counter knew I was certifiable for sure now with a second visit. I wasted 15-19 valuable minutes, but at least felt like I had done the right thing when I left the 2nd time. The key is to learn from this and not ever rush a bonus location again (like the mistake on bonus #1).

My new strategy is simply to record the bonus answer first, then read out loud the question (s) and read out loud my answer. If I don’t have an answer for every question, I don’t leave until I do even if I am short on time. Making a mistake and not getting the points only compounds your time problems as you already have taken the time to get to where ever you are in the first place! Duh? Rallymasters love these two part questions because they know you are tired, in a hurry and may miss part of it, getting no credit for the bonus. It’s part of the game.

Where, before I was “in the black” on time, due to this error, I was now about even on time. It left time for wildcard bonuses hunting lacking. The wildcards were BBQ places located anywhere along the route. You got progressively greater points for each visit up to a total of three BBQ joints.

Running north to Martinsville, Virginia I headed toward the Philpot Dam to record the number of large rocks at the parking lot. As I was leaving the Todd/Brent tandem pulled in…I was trying to stay ahead of them and they were trying to catch me at each stop!

Philpot Dam – Aerial View






I then followed slow moving traffic across Rt. 57 toward a date with the Bob White Covered Bridge bonus.

Here was where the twisties started to rear their head and the quick flight down Rt. 8 was great fun. After slightly disrupting a church social near the bridge, I headed south to Stuart, VA. As I was leaving the church parking lot Todd/Brent came up from the south on a dirt road… the Harley Road King rules! I pointed over my shoulder at the bridge hidden in the trees and departed. I found out later that Todd Peer had passed this duo and was on the other side of the bridge as I was leaving. Arriving in Stuart, the courthouse was not readily apparent, and I have long since decided sometimes locals are the best for easy questions. I asked a lady at an ATM at the bank and she pointed over my left shoulder to the building right behind me.

I recorded the date of the B-52 crash (1950’s) in the area from the plaque in front of the courthouse. This bonus interested me as the Washington Post, in Aug 99 had done a lengthy feature article on a similar B-52 crash that occurred in 1964.  In the 1964 crash over rugged western Maryland , most crewmembers had survived the bailout and crash, but a major winter storm was paralyzing the area, and many of the crewmembers perished from exposure, some a few yards from safety of homes. Obviously some had also died here, but I was not able to linger long enough to gain further details on this local crash.

This brings us back to the point where the driver of the Chrysler and I are silently debating the usefulness of Virginia’s motor vehicle highway code…

I bided my time and followed the slow procession up the mountain, by Lovers Leap to the summit, expecting the two Todd’s and Brent to catch up with me at any moment. At the summit, a quick honk of the air horn and a friendly wave to the Chrysler driver and I am off. The last half of the journey down Rt. 58 into Hillside was a mix of serious riding on mountain roads and calculations in the head. I needed gas one more time for both a bonus and to get back to the finish. I would do that in Hillside and then determine if I had time to head north for Wytheville bonus or south to Fancy Gap and the finish.

I needed a lightning quick gas stop and for the first time on the entire trip, I didn’t get one. It was still fast, but the Shell pumps did not spit out the badly needed receipt so I had to go in and ask for one. I normally always take off my full-face helmet when talking with folks, but the helmet had not been off all day and I didn’t have time now. After getting the receipt and annotating the log I readied for departure. That is when I saw Todd on his black ST pull out from the Exxon station across the street. He must have closed on me right as I pulled in and I did not see him go by as I had my head down filling my tank. He also had not seen me parked at the gas station and could not figure out how he got ahead of me without passing me!

I was a mile behind him when he reached I-77… my clock told me I had a slim margin of time to head north for a historical marker bonus. By the time I reached the interstate, Todd was a small dot on the road. But a dot that became bigger and bigger as the Pacific Coast got up to “touring speed”. J I passed Todd and for a moment he was a dot in my rearview mirror…for a very small moment! The ST1100 quickly caught up with the mighty PC as Todd knew a good thing when he saw it…me leading point with nary a radar detector between us. Heck, they are illegal in Virginia anyway.

We covered the remaining miles to Popular Gap, Virginia swiftly where we quickly located the historical marker and hopped back on the bikes. I got out sooner but I knew the ST would run me down easily and we could get into Fancy Gap together and that is exactly what happened. We both pulled up to the Post Office bonus and dismounted. Todd’s dismount was a bit more graceful, as I executed a roundhouse kick to my thermos jug in front of my Givi trunk, snapping off the plastic tubing. For the first time in the whole rally I forgot I was connected to my hydration system. Ignoring the carnage for now, I recorded the emergency phone number from the door for the bonus answer and went back to pick up the pieces.

Running for the finish

Todd and I were done except for a 1000 point six pack bonus in Morganton. We had about 2 hours to reach Morganton and we were about 129 miles away. The only issue remaining was the stretch of serious road construction on I-77 that we both knew was there from our initial ride into Morganton. So I grabbed two bites off a Slim Jim ™ and we departed the post office. Much to our relief the one lane road construction was minimal and we were set to reach Morganton at 4:00pm, 38 minutes before our drop dead time. Todd briefly glanced at exit leading to the Hiddenite bonus, but we both shook our heads; not enough time.

We hit Exit 105 at Morganton precisely at 1601 and had 37 minutes to get our six pack bonus and pick up a BBQ bonus. I pulled in to the finish line with about 19 minutes to spare. After rechecking my rally book (obviously not too well) I handed it in to get scored and pulled the PC around to my room to clean up and prepare for the Feast.

After cleaning up, I headed back to watch the later finishers arrive. It was quite exciting to view it from a spectator’s perspective as I stood there with Bobb Todd and others. As the clock ticked down the arrivals picked up until 5:30pm when anyone arriving after the bewitching hour would be listed as time barred. It was no fun at this point as some single and double up riders came in beyond the time limit. One person in the group mused if an incoming rider knew he was time barred. As the rider lifted his tinted face shield, revealing his face, both Bobb Todd and I said in
unison, “he knows.” All took it in good stride in outward appearances and I will take that as a personal lesson as I could easily find myself in that position in a future rally.

The Feast

Hey, what about the Feast? It was down the road a bit at some relatives of Hank so we headed south for 4 miles where tents were set up and a hearty BBQ dinner was waiting. The perfect Atkins food…J Everyone got plenty to eat and I enjoyed the company of Mike Sachs, his wife Mary Breen, Paul Taylor and his wife, and Louis and Dave from Pennsylvania at our niche at the tables.

After dinner, Bryan announced the final rally results starting with the end of the list. Five minutes later Todd Peer was announced as the #1 rider, winning a rather large First Place Trophy. I had told Todd he had a great shot at winning before we even left home. That may sound bold, but I knew he had the best route, the right bike, the right attitude, and the right skills to do it. I was really proud of him when he accepted the trophy from Bryan.

Todd Peer with his BIG first place trophy and his ST…

Todd is a top single day rallyist. Had it not been for a small but consistent documentation mistake (did not record mileage or times at each stop) L in the 1999 Cap 1000 he would have placed in the top five in his first rally. He came back from that difficult DNF and won this rally. My hats off to him as he is a humble guy to boot. I do not know if he aspires to multi- day rallies but I think he would certainly be competitive.

Todd and myself, happy 1st and 5th place dudes…

ST and PC — very similar from the front …dont you think?

PC almost looks meaner, heh?…J

I was pleased with my 5th place finish in the trophy class and very happy my friends Brent Ames and Todd Witte were in 2nd and 3rd place respectfully. Paul Taylor riding two up with his wife also had a great finish in 4th place. Even though I say that I thought we would do well, when Bryan handed out the trophies, I was still dumbstruck with the good fortune by the finishers I knew, and all in general. I am not aware of one safety or crash-related incident by any of the riders.

After the feast and the awards were handed out, everyone rather quickly returned to the motel to take care of the Morganton 1000 point six pack bonuses that were cooling their heels in the FITE Rally HQ’s bathtub. I got to thank Harold Brooks for his mentoring when I asked for rally planning advice earlier in the summer. He had responded and assisted even while busy preparing for the IBR. It is experienced mentors like Harold and Pete Withers, who also assisted me, that can help breaking into this sport easier.

I also thanked Bob Ray for his salient advice in 1998 when I was considering riding a Saddlesore initially and we had a few laughs about his Honda PC exploits in the 97 IBR. A group formed outside of Corky Reed’s RV  to continue to talk IBA “stuff” while we emptied the cooler on the RV’s rear bumper; thanks Corky!

Heading home

As the evening wound down, so did I. I retired early as I was planning on departing at 5:00am to beat Hurricane Irene out of North Carolina. I left the next morning, but did ride through 4 hours of rain up I-85 and then I-95 getting home in about 6 hours. It was an excellent FITE V ran by the some great people. Hank and Bryan were great hosts and the LDR community certainly appreciates their contribution in 99 for this event. I know I do!

To further make a great weekend even better, two packages from the IBA were on the kitchen table when I got home; my certifications from my SS2000 and BBG 1500 from August. Mike Kneebone had written on the outside of the ever present priority mail packaging:

“Bob,  That Pacific Coast has really been working! Congratulations, Mike”

Yes it had… so I took the time to wash the road grime off on it and caught the NASCAR race from sunny Alabama. Dale Earnhardt won in a hard fought race….hey, didn’t he win the Daytona 500 once with a car sitting in a museum in North Carolina…?

Route and Checkpoints:

This is the spreadsheet I carried in on my left arm pocket of the stich:



Actual Time


Location Bonus





#10 -Welcome Childress racing





#14 -I-85 rest stop Vietnam Vet memorial





#12 -Level Cross Firestation?





Asheboro Gas





#21 -Bennett Fall Creek Baptist Church





#19 -Carbonton Alston House





#6 -Bynum Clydes Lawn Art





#13 -Liberty VFW?





#8 -Greensboro Guilford Battleground / GAS





#42 -Basset Philpot Dam





#45 -Woolwine Bob White Cov Bridge





#43 -Stuart Courthouse / GAS





#44 -Fancy gap Post office





#20 -Morganton Buy Beer/soda





OR at Hillside






#41 -Wytheville Shot Tower State park?





#44 -Fancy Gap Post Office





#20 -Morganton Buy BEER/soda -Finish 10:45?

As you can see, even using slightly elevated speeds from Street Atlas ™ default speed settings, if I was unable to make time checks slightly ahead of schedule, I would be late for the finish if I did Bonus #41.

I have added actual time column that shows the time I arrived to the best of my records, showing slight gains at each stop that were needed.