IBR 2021 Day 7: Escape from New York

Spring Valley NY – Huntsville AL
Sunday Jun 27, 2021
(~1172 miles)
REST2 end receipt

REST2 end receipt

I filled the aux tank for my REST2 end receipt at 02:05, some 8:08 hrs after starting my rest break, maxing out the points. Time to brave the gauntlet of New York City and pick up even more! I know from experience I should hit minimal to no traffic at this hour, but I always have to psyche myself up a bit to deal with the Big Apple and surrounding boroughs. I am just not a big fan.

Hopping back on I-87, I crossed the Cuomo bridge and followed the highway south to the Cross County and Hutchinson parkways, through the Bronx and across to Long Island. The little traffic I encountered really petered out once I hit I-495 (Long Island Expressway) eastbound, with the odd racer-type hooligan cars flying by occasionally at 100+.. The bonus was only about 1/3 the way out the length of the island, and I set a quick pace to get there.  The pavement just sucks on the LI parkways – lots of seams, cracks, and potholes from the huge amount of vehicles on the roads every day. There is often debris or other hazards in the roadway, so I remained hyper-vigilant.

In 15 miles or so, I exited onto the Northern Parkway and rode for a ways until getting off at CR 67 in Huntington. At the intersection of Commack Road, I spotted the historical marker on an opposite corner of what appears to be a very busy intersection during daylight hours. Now it was a ghost town, and I pulled partially up onto the curb via a ramp to get out of the roadway while I got my photo of the LIMIT bonus.

The first concrete limited access highway for automobile use only was constructed here on Long Island.

LIMIT bonus

LIMIT bonus

A mere half mile south, and I turned back onto the LIE to head back west. I flew back east into Queens, spent a mile on I-278, then crossed the East River on the Williamsburg Bridge onto Manhattan. Here was the NYC craziness I’d been dreading/expecting… this city literally never sleeps and people were everywhere! Traffic was present, but moving, a lot of taxis and ride shares. I stayed straight on Delancey for several blocks to Allen Street, then zig-zagged a few times south and east to end up on Fulton Street, where I nabbed the UGROUND bonus.

The electric plant supplying the first underground system in the US was housed in a building on this site, forming the origin of New York’s present electrical system.

UGROUND bonus

UGROUND bonus

I continued on Fulton to Church Street for several more blocks, spotting a couple very large rats along the way. In short order I was cruising through the Holland Tunnel under the Hudson River and into New Jersey.  Right out of the tunnel, I exited into Hoboken, cruising several blocks up arrow-straight Bloomfield Street, past darkened apartment buildings and houses, with stop signs at least every other block. I turned on 11th Street and found the NJ bonus, a granite marker stone and plaque tucked prominently onto the end of a narrow landscaped median strip.

On June 19, 1846 the first match game of baseball was played here on the Elysian Fields between the Knickerbockers and the New Yorks.

NJ bonus - Baseball plaque

NJ bonus

I retraced my route south on a parallel residential street out of Hoboken to I-78, heading south through Jersey City, and crossing Newark Bay to pick up I-95. Just like that, I’d completed the NYC area, gathered some juicy bonus points, and it’s been only about 2.5 hours since leaving my hotel. I picked up the Garden State Parkway south for an out-and-back run down to the township of Holmdel NJ to grab the JANSKY bonus.

Bell Labs tower in dark exposure

cool, a UFO!

JANSKY bonus - Radio Astronomy historical marker

JANSKY bonus

This daylight-only bonus required two photos, one of the historical marker and one of the UFO’esque Bell Labs water tower (with motorcycle in the photo). Though my first photo was underexposed (I rather liked the effect), I’d timed this one well, arriving just as there was enough light in the sky to satisfy rally daylight requirements.

It was near this site in New Jersey that scientist Karl Jansky first discovered radio frequency energy coming from outer space.

IBR 2021 Day 7: Escape from New York

JANSKY bonus

I headed back north to Woodbridge and took I-287 north to I-78 west. In 20 miles I exited on NJ 173 into Bethlehem and pulled into a small side road near the next historical marker bonus, JERSEY.

Frequent accidents here led to the installation of concrete guards that later became known as Jersey Barriers.

JERSEY bonus - Jersey barriers historical marker

JERSEY bonus

I motored along I-78, considering my next move by running options on both GPS units. I’d been debating whether there was time to hit both the Delaware and Maryland bonuses before diving through the DC metro area. It wasn’t looking good on paper for an on-time arrival in Huntsville if I did so. So should I go many miles west out of my way for the larger MD bonus in Union Bridge, adding an hour and skipping DE? Finally, I decided to hedge my bets and stay east through Delaware, and then let timing/conditions  dictate how I proceeded from there.

I left I-78 near Allentown to cut down to I-476, bypassing Cooperstown on some local roads courtesy of Google. Skirting Philadelphia, I knew there was a small 300 pointer just a few miles into the city, but was still hoping to have a shot at MD so I didn’t even blink as I went on by. Plus, I was rather glad to be out of cities at the moment!

Hitting I-95 once more, I continued south, now starting to hit some heavier traffic delays due to construction in the Wilmington area and beyond. Traffic was thick, averaging about 55-60 mph, a frustrating pace that didn’t give me many options for making up time.

Pulling off into Newport, I found the DE bonus easily, right off the interstate.

Needing to get his 17-ton steam-powered water craft to the river, Oliver Evans attached driven axles below so it could lumber to the water under its own power. He called it the Oruktor Amphibolos.

DE bonus - Oliver Evans historical marker

DE bonus

I refueled down the road in Stanton and rejoined I-95 a couple miles further south, continuing to hit heavy traffic and delays across eastern Maryland. As I ran scenarios on the GPS, I finally blew a kiss goodbye to those 831 points for MD and focused in on what I had to do now to get into Huntsville on time.

Getting closer to Baltimore, I was really needing a nature break by now, and I know there are usually fewer convenient places to stop near big cities. I was relieved to see signs for the Baltimore welcome center, just before the tunnel crossing. It wasn’t the easiest rest stop to get to, taking a few turns through urban surface roads through an industrial area, but the roads and rest stop lot were empty, so I made it in and out quickly, restocking my tank bag with snacks before getting back on the road.

I-95 was much better, or at least faster, on the other side of Baltimore and down to the DC Beltway, which I took east a few exits to Edmundston Road. I found my way to the small College Park Airport, winding my way around one end of the field on a narrow lane towards some hangars. Right before a locked gate I arrived at the AIRMAIL bonus sign.

The first postal airmail service started was started here in College Park on August 12, 1918.

AIRMAIL bonus - Flying the Mail sign

AIRMAIL bonus

Rather than ride through the suburbs like Basecamp had plotted, I followed Google’s advice and headed back out to the Beltway and circled north, to set up my approach to DC through Chevy Chase. Connecticut Ave led me south for several miles. There was some traffic, but it was still early enough (~10:00) to be manageable. I was ready to be patient, having experienced this area already on a couple Mason-Dixon rallies. The DC bonus was a historical plaque located along this road, with a convenient curb cutout in front to pull the bike out of traffic while I got the photo.

The first atomic clock was developed near this site in 1948. The accuracy of the new atomic clock made possible the Global Positioning System, which probably led you here today.

DC bonus - First Atomic Clock historical marker

DC bonus

In another mile, Google had me turn onto the Rock Creek Parkway, which was a neat first-time surprise for me. This is a scenic road through the middle of DC, tracing the Potomac river through a lowered valley space within a preserved greenway space full of beautiful old trees and bridge, and plenty of people out jogging, biking, etc. Allowing passenger vehicles only, it felt very cool riding along below city street level, with all the hustle and bustle of the nation’s capitol just out of sight above. The speed limit was low, but it was a great way to bypass some of the busier and touristy parts of the city, as it dumped me out right near I-66/US 50 to cross the river into Virginia.

US 50 took me around to the western side of Arlington National Cemetery, where I turned off onto some local roads up a small hill to snag the VOICE bonus historical marker.

Three large radio towers were  erected here in 1913. The first trans-Atlantic voice communication was made between this station and the Eiffel Tower in France in 1915.

VOICE bonus - Arlington Radio Towers historical marker

VOICE bonus

I got back to the interstate system quickly, taking I-66 west out to I-81 for the long haul southbound. At this point my route was fairly simple and predetermined, as there weren’t that many bonus locations along this corridor to tempt a rider off the beaten path. Sit there and twist that. Traffic was typical for a weekend on 81, moving along well for the most part but blocked by semi truck drag races from time to time on the hills. You have to watch speed carefully through Virginia anyway, with the radar detector switched off.

Exiting in the small town of Raphine, I immediately turned onto a small farm road and arrived at a historical farmstead site/park for the CYRUS bonus. There were a few authentic 200 year-old cabins and farm buildings on the property, making for a really beautiful little snapshot along this winding country lane.

Cyrus H. McCormick is credited with invention of the first practical reaper in 1831. This invention started the mechanization of farming around the world.

(don’t fear it, just use more cowbell)

 

CYRUS bonus - granite marker for Cyrus H McCormick

CYRUS bonus

McCormick farmstead

McCormick farmsteadI refueled before hopping back on the highway to continue south. Eventually crossing into Tennessee, I broke off on I-26 for a short side trip, bypassing Johnson City, down into Jonesborough via SR 354.

I rolled through a very trim and busy’ish little downtown area, with plenty of people out enjoying the nice weather, eating outside at restaurants, shopping, or just out for a Sunday stroll. For some reason, the waypoint was playing tricks with my head, and I pulled over a couple times, looking for it, before realizing I still needed to go 100 more yards or so. Finally spotting the sign, I pulled to an empty space at the curb, said hello to a few friendly passer-by, and proceeded to nab the TN bonus.

On this site in 1819-20 were printed the first periodicals in the US devoted exclusively to the abolition of human slavery.

TN bonus - First Abolition Publications

TN bonus

Basecamp had directed me to ride south from here on US 11E through Greeneville, but I’d opted for a more direct route back out to I-81 via the fun and curvy TN 81 to reduce chances of getting caught up in local traffic. I’d briefly considered a detour to a sizeable bonus up on Black Mountain, but knew it was a big time suck to get over there and wouldn’t be worth the amount of penalty points I’d have to accrue to fit it in. Based on stories I heard later, it was even worse than I thought, with a nasty unpaved portion required to get the last mile or so to the coordinates.

So I continued ticking away miles on the interstate, down 81 and then to I-75 at Knoxville, stopping to refuel near Niota. There was only one more small bonus left on my route in downtown Chattanooga that I’d marked as optional, based on time available. It was going to be tight, but I was making good time on the interstates now and felt like I should grab the points since it was just a short detour.

It’s some nice scenery, dropping down into the Tennessee River Valley on I-24 near Chattanooga, and the little traffic around me was moving at a good clip. I took the exits for downtown via US 27 onto MLK Boulevard and found the COKE bonus historical marker adjacent to a small paving-stone parking lot.

The Coca-Cola Bottling Company began operations on this site in 1899. Our waistlines have never recovered.

COKE bonus - First Coca-Cola Company historical marker

COKE bonus

Feeling the pressure of the clock ticking, now with 100 miles to go, I got moving again quickly, back south out of Chattanooga to I-24. Enjoyed the lovely scenery along the river while winding around the base of Lookout Mountain, before finally crossing the grand Tennessee River itself. At South Pittsburg, I exited south on US 72, paralleling the river for many miles down to Scottsboro on the shore of Lake Guntersville. This area brought back pleasant memories from my first long distance MC trip, when I came down here for a family wedding. Man, my riding universe has expanded so much since that trip!

US 72 cuts west over to Huntsville, converting to multi-lane I-565 upon entering the city. I was in the homestretch now and traffic was light. I spotted the huge Saturn rocket at the space center by the hotel as I came up over a rise, and it lifted my heart and energy levels as I pulled in at last to Checkpoint 2 under the Marriott portico with 11 minutes to spare before penalties.

After getting checked in and being told I had an hour to present to scoring, I quickly parked the bike out in the lot, grabbed my necessaries, and headed inside to find a place to prep. This hotel was a lot quieter than Carmel, much less activity going on in the smaller lobby area. The hotel bar was right near the door, and appeared to be closed down for pandemic restrictions, so I appropriated a small table to complete my scoring prep. It felt really weird to have actually arrived on time once again at an IBR checkpoint and I was slightly uncomfortable about it – like I had missed something! It was close enough not to have time for dilly-dallying though.

I completed my paperwork, backed up my photos, and assembled everything for scoring. I dropped the envelope off with Donna and headed into the designated room for some post-ride grub. I grabbed a foil-wrapped pulled pork sandwich with a side dish (macaroni salad?) and got to work on it. The scoring process must be super efficient this year, because I hadn’t finished my plate when they came looking for me to get scored.

Toby Stevens’ smile greeted me once more as he processed my SD card and copied to a USB stick. I was again passed to Jim Fousek and then to my old friend from checkpoint one, Joel Rappaport, for scoring. All this felt very familiar by now!

Joel again invited me to sit beside him to watch the scoring process as he went through everything. He caught a ‘write-o’ (typo) on my claim sheet where, in my delusion, I’d written down JANSKEY rather than JANSKY, probably because it was right next to JERSEY (and who can ever remember when things are -EY or just -Y anyway??). 10 points docked, but I can live with that.

Aside from that, my scorecard for Leg 2 was clean, and I felt pretty satisfied with my second leg. I’d been surprised while riding to hear just how many riders had gone to the Outer Banks to complete the FLIGHT combo. I was a bit worried that I’d underestimated the importance of getting that bonus, but what’s done is done. Time for some rest!

I headed back to finish my meal and then checked in to my room (lickety-split!), went out to cover the bike and grabbed a few more things for the night. Great to see Rock n Ride rallymaster Lynne Carey there – she had come down to witness the action and welcome riders in to the checkpoint. I bid her a tired and garbled greeting before heading up to my room – there’s just no time to socialize at the checkpoints!

After room chores were completed, I prepped for routing the next morning and got myself into bed as soon as I could, which was still past 22:00.

LEG 2 Stats
Hours of leg: 65
Est. Stopped Rest Time: ~14.25 hrs (edit: includes 2.75 hours routing at start of leg)
Points: 45,197
Miles: 3128
Bonus locations: 29
Rally-wide State Bonuses: 10

map of day 7 route

Leg 2 route map

Leg 2

11 comments on IBR 2021 Day 7: Escape from New York

    1. Me too Bob, too bad there is no time to read up on it at the time you’re there, but I like to go back and look some of them up after the fact.

  1. Great stuff Steve! Fun to read your experiences, we stopped at many of the same places at opposite times of the day. I won’t be going through Manhattan on a rally again mid day if I can help it. How are you calculating your “Est. Stopped Rest Time”? Just 8hr rest plus time off the bike for naps or hotel or are you including any other stops in that estimate? Looking forward to leg 3!

    1. That’s because you had the foresight and quick thinking to have a route pre-planned based on the RW bonuses, getting out of the gate 2 hours before me! That est stopped time is very rough, just the times I remember stopping to rest and close my eyes, plus sitting at the photo bonus to wait for 15 min – not fuel, nature breaks, etc.

  2. Great stuff. Those DC streets can mess with Google and BaseCamp a lot. Several good routes in and out of the city (e.g. Canal Dr, Cabin John Pkwy) are one-way at certain times and it seems the routing algorithm stays away from them a lot of the time because it hasn’t threaded the needle. Rock Creek Parkway has a few sections closed on weekends so the same, though that closed area even when open ks probably slower than Connecticut.

  3. Thanks Steve, You made the ride into NY city sound so easy and efficient! Well done on a great Leg 2

  4. Steve, this is another great report. My first ‘scavenger’ rally was the Mason Dixon/Co-Void last year, and I plan to ride the Void again this year. Meanwhile, I “practice” (between work/family commitments) with Tour of Honor and IBA Lighthouse Tour. Your IBR day reports are informative and inspiring (and funny, too 🙂 Thank you! Avi.

  5. Was Blue Öyster Cult playing ??? Almost ready to start my third cup of coffee. You have a great memory remembering some of the finer points of the days. At my age, sometimes forget what day of the week it is.

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