Attempting the MERA 10-n-10 Rally
A few years ago I managed to string together three 1,000-mile days in a row and, I have to say, it was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done on a motorcycle. Which is why Cycle World contributor Alan Rider’s offer to tell the story of a 10-day/10,000-mile endurance rally he’ll be riding later this month caught my eye. — Mark Hoyer
They say you’re not having a true adventure unless you’re at least a little unsure of its outcome. By that measure, I suspect most of us entered in the Motorcycle Endurance Riders Association‘s 10-n-10 Rally are in for a two-wheeled adventure of epic proportions.
That’s because the inaugural running of the MERA 10-n-10 will see all 35 of us crisscrossing North America in an effort to rack up 10,000-plus miles over the course of just 10 days between August 26 and September 5. The payoff (other than the fun we’ll have along the way)? A piece of paper.
But no ordinary piece of paper this. We’re talking about the coveted 10/10ths Award from the Iron Butt Association. To put this attaboy—not to mention the challenge involved in earning it—in perspective, the IBA has given out less than 200 of these awards in the course of its 25-year history. As for how many of us 10-n-10 competitors will ultimately be able to add our names to that exclusive list, well, if we were certain of the outcome it probably wouldn’t be much of an adventure, now would it?
If you’re not familiar with how motorcycle endurance rallies work, the best way to think of them is as rolling scavenger hunts lasting anywhere from 24 hours to 11 days. The rallymaster—in this case Steve Chalmers, the fiendishly clever host of MERA’s Utah 1088 rally I wrote about in the November 2006 issue of Cycle World—puts together a list of “bonus” locations competitors can visit to earn points for things like taking a photograph or bringing a specified item back to the finish line.
The result is a contest that’s won not by raw speed but by wise bonus selection and efficient route planning. The 10-n-10 bonus list we’ve all been poring over for the past week or so is a good example, with more than 300 individual locations—all with different point totals—to choose from. Giving each of us a chance to put together what we think will be the rally-winning ride. Or at least one that sounds both doable and entertaining.
Now, at this point you may be wondering why a bunch of men and women who are old enough to know better would take part in what even endurance rally veterans admit is a downright grueling event. Well, stay tuned as I attempt to answer that question in the pages of Cycle World a few months down the road (here’s a hint: it’s about more than that piece of paper).
In the meantime, check back here every Thursday between now and August 26 for details of what I’ve been doing to prepare both my bike—a 2009 Yamaha FJR 1300 AE—and myself for riding more miles in two weeks than many motorcyclists do in two years.
NEXT WEEK: Fine-Tuning The Feejer