Now that Leg 1 is over, I can finally talk about it a little bit!
I spoke to Ken several times today, and got to hear his perpective on the first leg of the rally. He was really happy with the route planning he did, and acknowledges that he made a few mistakes that cost him points. He’s not the type to kick himself for mistakes, though, and hey, it’s only the first leg. (In 2009, he was much farther down the list at this point, and still ended up coming in 9th!)
I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned, but the theme of this year’s rally is Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (and, apparently, steamboats and funiculars). I’m not quite clear on why he ended up in a cemetery, but it was a big one, and a helpful staff member in the office gave him a map and showed him where the grave he was looking for was located. Ken said another rider was arriving at the same time so he flagged that rider to follow him. This is one of the things I really appreciate and respect about the rallies: It’s a competition and the top riders are focused, but they all still help each other out.
Ken also told me to thank our trainer, because at one point he had to run from one end of a museum to the other. 🙂
The first day of the rally, his auxiliary fuel tank stopped working. He figured out the problem and it wasn’t a difficult fix, but he was looking at pulling into a motel and fixing it in the parking lot before catching some sleep. The middle-of-the-night parking lot.
He was in central Michigan at this point, and he pulled onto a highway…that started to look familiar. “Hold on,” he said, and did a quick check.
Yup. His uncle lived on that very highway!
So he called his uncle and aunt, and was able to fix the fuel cell in their (better lit than a parking lot) garage, eat a sandwich provided by his aunt, and catch a nap before heading back out.
He also rode reasonably close to my mom’s house, but on the wrong side of Lake Champlain. So he couldn’t use her condo as a motel. 😉
The next checkpoint is in Sacramento, and I think I’m allowed to say that he’s already headed west…as is every other rider. He’s still in great spirits, focused but also having fun.
Here are some pictures from the Pittsburgh checkpoint: picture one, picture two. I’ve told him that he’s not allowed to cut his hair again for two years. ;-P