The Void Rally first launched in fall of 2005 and other than skipping 2009, it has been the second weekend of October over the long holiday weekend. Jean and I have been part of every Void since its inception. It's a great way to finish off the rally season and get into the fall which is my favorite time of the year to ride.
This year's Void theme was food based; I started in Georgia again. Our bonus list looked like this, with too many possibilities and no real workable plan.
Then the other shoe dropped on Wednesday morning.... or should I say the Blue Plate Special hit the service pass [those who ever worked in food service will get the reference]. Other than a couple nearly undoable combos for us Georgia starters, we were left with the Blue Plate Specials- either fast food or chains. The fast foods were progressive and once you got past 10 they got very very valuable. The chains were variable points based upon the regular bonus location you obtained just before the chain. In either case, you had to string at least two regular then the Blue Plate to get the sequence. This meant that planning had to be crisp as if you had to drop one bonus while en route, you really had to drop three to get back into the correct pattern again. After a couple of hours of "new" route planning at my motel in Florence, SC, I had a new route. Still needed tweaking which i could do Thursday night before and after the starters dinner in Thomasville, GA.
My route cards assembled, everything is loaded into my Garmin and Pocket POI for the phone, plus a crib sheet of the remaining chains in case I need them if things go awry, like a Olive Garden closed or something and I am ready for the off at 7:20 at the gas station adjacent to the hotel. First stop, local employer Flowers Foods.
Then the Waffle House in Ashburn which required a receipt. Oddly, Waffle House wasnt on either Blue Plate Special List.
Just after starting my rest bonus for the full 6 hours to maximize my points, I try a camera reset. Carefully removing the SD card first, I hit the reset. And just like that, my camera is no longer in full manual mode; I have no idea how it got there, but's no longer there now. Adjusted the resolution to the correct size, made sure the clock and date were correct. It's all good.
At this point, I get to ride one of my most favorite roads in this part of the world. VA-130 between Natural Bridge and Lynchburg. link to VA 130 I'm hauling ass up this short but awesome set of mountain twisties as the temporary signs start to appear... Incident Ahead......Fire Response.... and finally Road Closed. Grrrr. The trooper at the turn around spot says the diversion is go all the way back to Buena Vista, head east on US 60 [by no means a slouch], and catch 29 in Amherst to head back to Lynchburg. That's all well and good, but it's a 28 mile detour that takes 45 minutes plus 29 southbound is closed between Amherst and Lynchburg..... grrrr. Like I said earlier; Friday went too well.... Oh and there was a bicycling festival in Farmville to add some fruit to that cake. Bicyclist assholes everywhere.
All that's left is to be scored, eat some dinner and be entertained by Salty. Remember those early options? Undoable combos etc? Well Bill Connacher rode from Thomasville to Long Island with only one bonus stop, bagged the Empire Diners plus the combo, then stacked on a couple of chain sequence and just demolished us.Spot tracker
As a post note, I got ride through a lot of the rural deep south this time. I've been out west and the number of abandoned or soon to be ghost towns is stunning. But out west, most of these towns are based on a single business: a grain silo, railroads, or the extraction industry and were constructed as boom towns. Once those close, the town goes too. In the south however, these places have existed for over a century in some cases three centuries; businesses have come and gone. Generations have lived in the same towns, but now they're dying rotting from the inside out. Shuttered businesses, abandoned store fronts, houses collapsing under the weight of kudzu vines. It's depressing. I'm not sure on the exact socio-economic reasons for why, but hundreds of these little towns that dot the landscape wont be around in 25 years unless something drastically changes. Two consecutive generations lost to the scourge of drugs; first crystal meth and now opioids. I can see the anger and anguish in the locals faces; their way of life is disappearing and they feel the need to blame someone or something for it. This a human reaction. That's a dangerous cocktail and a recipe for disaster if mixed incorrectly with money, race and politics.