Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Long Night

[7/6/17 Corrections: It’s hard to get the details together, especially over broken cell phone connections lasting a few minutes here and there.  That being said, I feel like I need to post a quick correction.  Kirsten wasn’t taking a short-cut, nor was she following a brilliant suggestion from her GPS.  She was following the actual signs to the state park, and that brought her on that road – which by itself makes me wonder about the sign plan!  Regardless, we can now confirm that the R1200RT can stand well by itself with it wheels deep in sand, and keep on ticking.  One other correction pointed out by the honorable former IBR scribe, Mr. Higdon (I'm honored sir) - it is in fact Smokey Bear.  Not Smokey the Bear.  In my defense, even though everyone thinks park rangers work for the US Forest Service, we do not - the National Park Service is within a different Department entirely.  Smokey is their bear.  We have Buddy Bison.]

Well friends, it’s been a very long 24 hours. Kirsten started Leg 3 fairly refreshed and a few spots up in the standings after Checkpoint 2.  Days 7 & 8 found her riding through some of her favorite parts of the country.  But last night, trying to make a tight window for a daylight only bonus, she took a back road that turned into more of what I’d call a rutted mess.  She was out of contact for 11 hours.  I’ve been out of contact with her on many rallies, sometimes for well over day; but it has never started with the red “needs assistance” Spot message pinging my phone and e-mail for an hour.  To keep a long and sleepless story short, I’ll say that Kirsten found herself in the dark, having wrestled the bike up from one sand pit only to be tossed into an embankment as the bike found yet another pit of deep sand and a rock for the front tire.  For those of you playing along at home, that’s four get-offs – one pre-start and three underway.
The SAR team assist, including propping the RT up with some of the abundant rocks.
Being smart, strong, and resourceful, she hiked nearly 4 miles to her planned bonus location knowing that there would be people there in the morning.  She did the hike in the company of one rattlesnake, one scorpion, and one otherwise vacant road.  She took shelter on the concrete floor of a vault toilet – warm and scorpion free.  In the morning, the SAR team provided an assist to get her back to her bike, and get the bike back to the “good gravel.”  She rode out under her own power on 30+ miles of gravel to arrive gratefully on a solid piece of pavement.  
Blessed pavement and war horse RT

When she rolled into the closest town, it happened to be in the middle of a 4th of July parade.  She and her war horse RT were only a few spots behind Smokey the Bear!  With her helmet up, she waved and wished a Happy July 4th to everyone on her way to a water and food stop.  I'm not sure how many people can say they were involved in a SAR and came out in a 4th of July parade, but I can’t make this stuff up.

From this side of the keyboard, I can only say again how grateful I am for rally staff, skilled responders, family and cell towers.  And pavement.  She is rested and the bike, now looking pretty ugly, is running well.  She is making her way back to the barn with high attention given to self and bike care. And I’m pretty sure there are a few bonus locations within her path of travel.


  1. WOW! What an adventure. So very thankful to read a positive ending. Give her our best wishes and hopefully no more problems.

  2. I'm sure you're familiar with Teddy Roosevelt's famous quote that includes, "The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds ..". Entirely apropos here. Ride on, ride safe KT.

  3. Tough. As. Nails.

  4. 1) What is SAR?

    2) As a ranger at the Smokey Bear Historical Park in Capitan NM explained to me years ago, "It's Smokey Bear, not Smokey the Bear. You wouldn't say Donald the Duck, would you?" I agreed that I would not, but that I would say Frosty the Snowman or Bozo the Clown. He wasn't amused.

  5. Search and rescue. Got it.

  6. Scorpions, rattlesnakes and sand pits oh my! Glad to know you are back on solid ground. Keep fighting to good fight - or riding the good ride Kirsten. You know we are cheering for you. :o)