“It’s Déjà vu all over again “is a quote attributed to baseball great Yogi Berra. It was also the theme for the 13th running of the Void Rally held over Columbus Day weekend. This would be my 5th time riding in the Void and my first time riding it 2-up. Dianne has been riding with me now for quite a while participating in Tour of Honor, the IBA Pressed Penny Insanity Challenge, and a few FJR forum meets so she’s familiar and comfortable on the bike but this would be her first foray into the LD rally world. I’m just hoping the weather is atypical for the Void and we don’t ride into a hurricane. With the option to start from one of 3 different locations there is no pre-rally riders meeting and so bonus locations are emailed to participants roughly a week prior to the start. This year start cities were Reading, PA, Columbia, TN, and Kingsland, GA. We’ve signed up to start from Reading as it’s the closest location and we’ve already burnt up a lot of vacation days this summer traveling. On September 29th I get the bonus location email and excitedly drag the GPX file into Basecamp to see where we may be going. Glancing through the locations I realize I’d already visited several of them. Déjà vu? One thing I also notice is no mention of any form of combo bonus. Combos are a normal part of rallying where the rally master offers extra points for riders able to collect a string of bonuses with some common theme or characteristic. Puzzled, I can only guess this will be revealed in a few days when we get the final rally book with the rest of our instructions. I note a bonus location about 20 miles from my home and know from recent news this area has been hard hit with heavy rains and flash flooding. I contact Scott, the rally master with my concerns that I’ve heard the replica Cape Hatteras lighthouse he’s using for a bonus may no longer exist. He asks me to verify the rumor so Tuesday after work I take a short ride and text him some photos taken with my phone. Not only is the lighthouse replica gone so is a significant part of the road into the area. He promptly sends out an email to all riders removing the bonus from the list. I spend several hours over about 3 or 4 days working on routes until I feel I have one that we can use. At this point Dianne’s longest day in the saddle is around 550 miles give or take. This route should cover about 900+ but we will take advantage of the mandatory rest break which calls for a minimum of 3 hours off the bike but extra points for taking up to 6 hours. With a 6-hour break in the plan this puts our first stretch of riding at close to 600 before any serious amount of time out of the seat. We’re looking at 21 bonus locations, so she’ll be hopping off the bike quite a bit to hold our rally flag and be in the pictures we’ll be taking. On Wednesday October 3 I get the email containing the rest of the rally book. Oddly enough this year there are no combo bonuses, but we scour the final edition looking for extra point bonuses for other things. The usual suspects appear like bringing your rally flag along to scoring and having a Void Rally sticker visible on your bike when you arrive at the finish. Satisfied with our plan I load the GPX files into my Garmin and we pack our stuff for a Thursday afternoon departure to Reading. Thursday after work the bike is loaded with all our clothing, copies of the rally packets, snacks and water, and all the other incidentals we might need during the rally. The trip to Reading is in a light rain and we’re hoping this will be the only rain we deal with for the rest of the event. We’re booked at a Days Inn along with a slew of other riders we’ll be meeting for dinner later that evening. Our ride is uneventful, the hotel is clean enough and dinner at Olive Garden with about 20 other rally participants is light and pleasant. Dianne gets to meet quite a few people and hopes she can remember all the names for later. Discussion is centered on possible routes, where to get a good gas receipt in the morning to start our rally, and tales of rallies past including humorous stories from some Iron Butt Rally finishers. It’s an early night as everyone knows their alarm clocks will be going off far sooner than they might like. Friday morning we’re up before the alarm whether from excitement at what’s to come or the need to use the bathroom I’m not sure. The hotel has free breakfast and we go downstairs to begin loading the bike and join some other riders for coffee and what may be our last decent food for quite a while. Hunger sated we’re off to a Wawa station to wait out the remaining time until our 8:20-8:30 start window opens for the PA starters. I top off my fuel and check my receipt to be sure it has all the necessary information then record my starting mileage on it before texting my start info to the rally master. 77, C. Snyder, PA, 082253, 110801. There is a very specific format that must be used. Rider number, rider name as first initial period last name, starting state, exact time from your receipt, and starting mileage. I’ve personally screwed this up in the past, so I take a few seconds to check my own work before pressing send. Within a minute we get a simple reply of “K” and we’re off. “If you come to a fork in the road, take it”. Our first stop is less than 10 miles away and it would appear a large number of other riders have chosen it too. On many rallies I’ve ridden it’s pretty common to be grouped up for the first few stops and this was no exception. We’re trailing a rider much of the way until we get caught at a traffic light and I see the lights of another rally bike in my mirrors. Dianne hops off and holds our flag as I take the picture required to get the bonus. I almost ride off without recording out time and odometer but fortunately Dianne asks if I’ve done it to remind me. Back on the road it’s a relatively short 30 or so miles to Kutztown, PA a nice college town to visit an art installation in a park with a statue by the artist Keith Haring. It’s a figure of someone on a dog with the typical coloring of Haring’s work. We’re arriving as another bike is leaving and we still have our tail of a BMW mounted rider. Quakertown, PA and some heavy lifting is up next. I just visited this location on last year’s Void Rally, so I know where to look. It’s in the back corner of a parking lot at a fitness store. Picture taken, time and odometer recorded for later use we’re off and headed to New Jersey for our next string of stops. Our instructions were quite clear that the scorers would have to be able to see the face on this big character. Tall as it is we rode right past it and had to circle the block. We pulled in at the fire station where he’s located and a fire department volunteer asked why so many motorcycles were stopping to take a picture of their “Smoke Eater”. We spend a few seconds explaining the rally and get our picture. The wind was kicking up and you can see in the first photo that our rider number is not clearly visible. We’re permitted 2 pictures at a bonus so without deleting this I take another with Dianne making sure to hold our flag so it can’t blow up again. Mounting up to leave we’re amused as another rally bike pulls in. We chat briefly with Andrew and Ashley inquiring how she is enjoying her first rally just like Dianne. Aiming slightly further north we head to Mount Mitchell and a view of the New York City skyline. Our target here is an eagle statue clutching a piece of steel from one of the World Trade Center buildings. The rally book instructs that the piece of steel must be clearly visible in the eagle’s talons. The bonus is in a park and supposed to be available 24 hours. We’re here during daytime so while it doesn’t affect us some riders later will find the entrance blocked off as the park closes at dark. This is the furthest north we intend to go so turning now towards the Jersey shore we’re off to see the Boss about a guitar. This 8-foot replica of Bruce Springsteen’s guitar is in the corner of a front yard in Belmar, NJ. Easy to spot we take our picture and head off to find some fuel. Once more as we’re arriving we pass another rally bike leaving and as we depart another is trailing us by only a minute. Heading down along the seashore our next stop involves some salt water taffy. This huge piece of candy is located outside of a shop aptly named Oh Fudge. We spot a familiar BMW going the other direction as we approach and once more laugh at how so many of us seem to be playing leap frog on this event. The next few stops will be familiar territory for me as I’d just visited them last year. First up a lifetime collection of vintage glass insulators displayed in a most peculiar way. Mounted everywhere around the property the instructions called for a photo from the furthest corner away from the driveway. Turning west we head away from the beaches to go look for some carpet. How a 16-foot-tall Viking relates to carpet sales isn’t clear but that’s our target. Photo taken we record time and odometer and we’re off to the rodeo. The New Jersey Cowtown Rodeo that is. I remember my mom talking about going here to the rodeo years back. There’s no rodeo action tonight but there is a rather large brown cow and after taking its picture and thinking how full one might be after consuming all of that we realize we might need to see a doctor. This doctor’s bag is stands about 20 feet high and 15 feet across. I’m hoping he’s not a proctologist. I ponder if he might be a veterinarian as we head to Baltimore thinking this next creature might be his patient. The Cateraptasaurus stands 19 feet high and weighs over 6 tons and is made from old pieces of construction equipment. The dealership he calls home is closed by this time so we park on the shoulder of the road and get this picture. If he’d attacked our bike we’d need to take a bus. Maybe we’d wait here until one comes by. The BUS stop shelter stands 14 feet high and is self-explanatory. In downtown Baltimore the city has a First-Friday thing going on and traffic for the time of day is heavier than I’d anticipated. The smell of various ethnic foods wafting from local restaurants remind us that it’s been about 12 hours since we’ve had anything more than beef jerky or a granola bar. We’ll need gas soon and I suggest somewhere that also offers food. We’re heading south now towards Virginia and as we take Route 301 south through Crofton we hit traffic that begins to eat into the small lead on our plan we’d managed to accrue. A Royal Farms location provides the perfect opportunity to let traffic thin out. I fill up the tank as Dianne stretches her legs then we head inside to order some fried chicken. Greasy deliciousness fills our bellies and we enjoy a brief respite from the brake lights and car bumpers we’ve been dealing with for the past several miles. Back on the road as darkness envelopes us the automotive traffic herd thins out and I’m able to wick up the throttle in an attempt at making up some lost time. An interesting sight as we’re heading to Urbanna, VA and a bonus stop is a seeming glow of light in the distance ahead of us. Drawing closer we can begin to hear unmuffled car engines screaming and see the clouds of dust in the air as we pass Virginia Motorsports Speedway, an area dirt track. It’s around 10 as we find our destination, a campground with the gate closed for the night. Parking outside the gate we take a short walk around it through the grass to capture a picture of this big fellow. We’re feeling the time now and it’s off to Richmond and finding a room for our rest bonus. This time I haven’t prebooked a room opting instead to take my chances and so we stop at a gas station thinking I’ll book a room on my phone and I can splash in some fuel to get my receipt and go “off the clock”. Before putting any fuel in I begin searching for a room. Oh crap, it would appear everything in the immediate area is booked full. I find a Quality Inn n the other side of Richmond and it shows 1 room remaining. I book it and we head that direction before I can put in any fuel. I only put in 5 dollars’ worth as I’ll top it off in the morning when we go back “on the clock” to end our rest bonus. The receipt shows 11:48 and my odometer reflects something around 640 miles since we left Reading almost 16 hours earlier. At the hotel Dianne jumps in the shower as I begin to fill out our rider’s log for scoring. I too shower rinsing off the road dirt and fatigue that have covered me and drag myself into bed. The blaring of an alarm sounds far too soon and it’s time to get back to work. Returning to the 7-11 store where only 6 hours and 5 minutes ago I’d splashed in a few drops of fuel I top off my tank as Dianne goes inside to grab us something for breakfast. We’re leaving before the hotel even sets out its breakfast spread and don’t have time to wait for it. Heading into the city of Richmond we’re off looking for some head. A giant head in this case. This policeman’s head is 12 feet tall made of stainless steel and weighs a reported 1300 pounds. As the sun tries to burn through some morning fog we’re off next to find a rooster. Oddly enough when we get to our destination there is a real rooster running around. We snap the picture and depart for another location I’d visited before. This cyborg creation was used in another rally I’d ridden I a few years ago. In Buena Vista, VA the ride over to here allowed us to enjoy some decent roads and even a short section of twisties. Next stop Staunton, VA. Here was a case where reading the rally book was of the utmost importance. The bonus ID for this was GWCN which loosely stood for giant watering can. Reading the instructions revealed that the actual bonus was these 2 giant flower pots located on the other side of the bridge from the watering can. We took our picture then walked under the bridge so Dianne could see the watering can. We’re also back to playing leap frog as there is another rider parked here when we arrive. Off to Waynesboro, VA and a whole lot of love. That is to say a large sculpture spelling out Love using fishing gear. The statue is in a park and as we pull in I spot a bike I recognize. In this case the rider is an IBR finisher who had started in TN! The leap frog game just upped the ante. You can’t ride very close to the sculpture so it’s a short walk allowing us to stretch our legs. We chat with the other rider and as we leave 2 more bikes are rolling in. Next destination is Charlottesville, VA to kiss some butt. The butt is part of a park filled with various art installations and both rider and pillion must be in the picture kissing the butt. I have a mount for my camera that fits on the cap of a water or soda bottle and use this with the timer function to allow us both to be in the pic. It’s finally warmed up. So far since the very start I’ve had a fleece on under my mesh jacket and Dianne has had long sleeves on under hers. At 81 degrees it’s past the time to shed a layer. We only have one more stop to make besides splashing in some more fuel. We backtrack through town to a Sheetz location to get fuel and something more substantial to eat. With the bike and ourselves filled up we’re off to our final stop on the rally. This giant nutcracker head is a repurposed silo. I understand he’s lit up at Christmas time. Our picture taken we’re headed for the finish in Fredericksburg. We roll into the host hotel at just after 1:00. We could have stayed out for almost 2 more hours but there are no more bonuses within reach and I wanted Dianne’s first rally to be fun so I opted not to push the envelope on time or mileage. Our final mileage came in at 948 in slightly less than 23 hours actual riding time. We left no points on the table and after scoring learned that night we’d finished in 12th place out of 32 PA starters. It was great to see everyone and we’re looking forward to the next rally season.