The inaugural LDX Rally will be starting on Saturday, June 25 in Cheyenne, WY. We would like to take this opportunity to give a little back story on the sport for friends and family of riders who may be curious about what it is we do.
What is “LDX”? LD = Long Distance. X = a variable. Gives us the flexibility to make it however many days works with the particulars of the event year to year. In 2022, the event is 7 days long with one checkpoint in State College, PA. Riders will return to Cheyenne for the finish on Saturday, July 2nd.
How does it work? LDX is similar to other Endurance Rallies (or Long Distance Rallies). Riders will receive a document prior to the start with details of how this particular game will be played. Some rallies are fairly straightforward, listing several locations where riders earn points by completing the assigned task. Often this is taking a photo of a specific item, perhaps the largest ball of twine. Or it may be to get a receipt from a certain business or town. There are innumerable options, these are two common ones. Riders could not possibly get all of the items, so they need to plan how they can get the most points. The rider who successfully gathers the most points wins.
Some rallies, and LDX is certainly one of them, have a little more to them. The scheme, or method of receiving credit for bonuses collected, is a bit more nuanced. A few examples from prior year’s Heart of Texas rallies:
· Collecting head of cattle by visiting certain locations and then ‘driving’ them to market to be sold. Different locations offered different # of cattle along 4 different cattle trails. Riders then were able to sell only the cattle for that specific trail at a market. The price per head depended which market they went to. There were opportunities to add to the price per head on one or multiple trails, or other means to maximize profit. Rider with the most profit wins
· Visiting various racing tracks to collect points, but of course, the riders needed to have fuel in order to race, so they would need to stop at designated ‘pit stops’ prior to visiting the track in order to earn those points. No one actually raced on a track, many of them no longer existed, they were just a sign, or were for go carts or radio controlled vehicles. But there were points associated with each track. Rider with the most points wins.
· Holy Rollin’ was a Blues Brothers themed event where riders needed to raise the money needed to save the orphanage by touring with the band and playing the hit songs from their latest album at various churches. Each church equated to a letter of the alphabet. Riders collected the letters to spell the names of the songs, which happened to be the same as the books of the New Testament. Rider who earns the most for the orphanage wins.
· LDX will be something else entirely. No tricks, just something to make the game more interesting than a simple traveling salesman problem.
What do the riders do on the road? Mostly sit there and twist that. For most of the day. Many rides will eat and drink while on the road to maximize efficiency. They carry auxiliary fuel to minimize fuel stops. They might save the time and potential hassle of locating and checking into a hotel and just nap alongside their motorcycle somewhere. Or ON their motorcycle. Some riders actually carry sleep kits to accomplish this.
Is it a race? NO, this is definitely not a race. There is nothing to be gained by finishing first or getting to a particular bonus before anyone else. Speeding is not condoned. Staff has tracking devices on the riders and we watch for signs of chronic violators and deal with them accordingly. A rider can return early to a checkpoint or the finish, but arriving too late results in being time barred. There is a window where riders can return and still finish but receive penalty points. Because we do not like lateness, we penalize heavily. Couple minutes, you’ll be okay. 30 minutes and will really wish you didn’t stop for that Big Mac.
Who does this anyway? All sorts of people, men, women, young, old. Tends to be a lot of “older” males, but everyone is welcome. A woman won the Iron Butt Rally in 2019; there really isn’t any advantage on gender or age. It’s all about endurance, good planning and self-management. The winning rider is able to endure sitting on a motorcycle for extended periods (more on this later) and can plan a route that is both attainable and garners the rider more point than everyone else. A very important element here is being able to manage yourself. Eating, drinking, sleeping, other needs that simply must be managed to keep the rider mentally alert and able to process the requirements of each site.
There’s all sorts of folks in this crowd. Some are hard chargers trying to win. Others are out to have a fun ride and see some new places they otherwise would not have gone. Others are somewhere in between and trying to ride their best ride. They are all great friends who would do most anything for each other. Most folks ride by themselves, but enjoy running into someone along the way. And the finish banquet/party is always a great time of story telling from the road and enjoying each other’s company.
Are there allowances for bad weather? Oh heavens no. These folks claim to be the World’s Toughest Riders. Suck it up, buttercup. Seriously, this is part of self-management. Obviously, one cannot ride into a tornado safely. But what amount of wind can a rider handle? How about rain? Cold? Heat? How about going from 35 and rain in the morning to 110 in the desert a few hours later? Riders need to remain situationally aware and plan accordingly. They must know their limits and respect them.
Oh cool! I want to know more! Easy there, grasshopper. It’s late, we’re tired and have a big day getting everyone officially registered tomorrow. But photos have been taken to give you a tour of a fairly common bike set up and we’ll explain tomorrow. A few shots of the day from none other than rally photographer extaordinaire, Tobie Stevens, included here for your enjoyment.
Rally master, Paul Tong, works to load all the accoutrement needed into the hotel under the supervision of rally staff, Lisa Stevens.
Rally staff, Jeff Konicek, hanging out with riders in the hotel lobby. Lots of amazing folks in this crowd.
Rally master, Paul Tong will travel to and from the checkpoint with rally staff Jeff Konicek, Nancy Oswald (pictured here) and Tara Tong in this snazzy RV. This allows the staff to roll continuously. Working, taking turns driving and napping.