Saturday morning started early – technically the rally didn’t finish until 6am with the penalty window open until 8am. We were up at 4 to get the odometer read and then hit scoring.
Unfortunately this time around, I had made a mistake. When we’d stopped at the Eternal Light Peace memorial in PA, I’d written 12.10am instead of 12.10pm on the score sheet. Because it was a timed bonus, we lost those points (426 of them) at the table. It’s not a big deal, but I felt like I’d let the team down. These things do happen, but it’s frustrating when they do, and it’s easy to give yourself a hard time about it.
After we finished scoring I went back to bed and slept for a long time. We had a massage in the spa at midday and then a lazy lunch over some wine before heading to the finishing banquet. It was wonderful to share our experiences with the other riders and their friends and families, and to catch up with friends we’ve made along the way.
Despite all the fun and joy, there was also a bit of regret for me that it was over. The rally was something I’d been working towards and gearing up to for more than 6 months and now it was over and that sense of ‘what’s next’? It was, for me, a once in a lifetime experience that I don’t think I’ll ever repeat. Though I did tell Kiwi that I’d do the IBR with him next year if he bought the Grand America. I don’t think he believes me.
I feel so lucky and so privileged to have been able to have the experience and to share it with Kiwi, and I think I better understand the appeal of the rally than I did. But it’s not my passion. I hope that I did the experience justice. I think I did my best. I didn’t want to go into this as something that I treated as a joke. Riding these rallies is something a lot of people would love to do and some don’t get the chance for all kinds of reasons so I wanted to make sure I respected the experience and I hope I did it justice. I think we finished 59th, up from 62nd after Leg 1, and that’s pretty amazing.
There are many people I’d like to acknowledge and thank for their part in helping me along the way. First, of course, is The Kiwi. He’s an incredible partner who supports me in a way that allows me to challenge myself knowing that if I fail, he’ll be there to help me get up and try again and I am so grateful and blessed to be his partner and wife. He shows me things and takes me places I wouldn’t otherwise experience and I can’t thank him enough.
Second, Team Strange. My sense was this year that the rally masters had a tough time of it with BLIX. They did amazing work finding great places to send us but a few things didn’t go to plan and by the end of the 6 days I feel like they were as tired as we were and needed a break. Lisa, David and Bart, you guys put on a great rally – thank you so much. Just because I don’t think I’ll be back doesn’t mean I didn’t have a great time! And thank you to all the volunteers who travelled to Lexington and to Maggie Valley to help score and plan and make it all such a great experience. You’re all incredible.
Third are all the other people who’ve helped and supported me along the journey – in ways big and small. Lisa Hecker sent me rally packs and advice from half way across the world, Tina Baker responded to my random text messages while I was on the rally going ‘my butt hurts’ and ‘it’s hot’ and never just gave in to the temptation to say “I’ll swap with you!” which I think she probably wanted to! And then she brought me wine! Our American family of Lori, Joe, Meaghan, Gillian and Alex who look after us so well every time we come and make sure we get some great down time after every rally – I love you guys – I hope you know how much! Thank you!
Finally, thank you for reading the blog. It’s been great to have people to share the stories with! I feel like I’ve received support from friends, family and even people I’ve never met in the LD riding community. I’m going to keep writing about my riding experiences – but they may not be as exciting and eventful as the past few weeks have been. If you haven’t checked it out already – there are more stories (from Team Strange) and photos (from Rick Corkwine) on the Butt Lite blog.
‘Till next time, happy riding and safe travels.