I set the tone for my inaugural Cal24 rally early.  Thursday, to be precise -
the night before I was to leave for San Jose.  I’d been waiting for a new
controller to arrive for my heated gear for over a month, and it finally
made its appearance about 16 hours before kickstand-up.  Conventional
wisdom says that changing your bike in the weeks before a rally is ill
advised, say nothing of hours before.  But this was a straight-forward install: no cutting, no difficult mounting or routing.  The controller was already fused with battery
terminal eyelets already installed, so all I had to do was connect it to my battery.  What could possibly go wrong?

Over the course of my evening, I installed my controller (yeah!) and found that my Tire Pressure Monitoring System no longer worked (crap).  I found that while
installing the controller I had accidentally disconnected a wire at the TPMS switch (yeah!) which didn’t fix the problem (crap).  I found that the disconnected wire had
caused a blown fuse (yeah!) and now my controller and my TPMS both worked (yeah!) but my amp didn’t (crap).  A few different fuses serve different parts of my
amp circuit, so after checking several wires I found that a wire had been pulled out of the fuse box when I swapped out the other fuse (yeah!)  Now my amp switch
would light up (yeah!) but still no audio (crap).  I eventually tracked down the problem to one of the wires I had previously checked (yeah!); when I'd pulled it out to
check the fuse, I managed to pull the wire out of a connector (crap).  I didn’t have any more of the particular connector I needed (crap) but after some impressive
MacGuyvering I managed to restore my bike to the same condition it had been in before my easy ten-minute controller installation began five hours earlier (yeah!).

Disaster averted, I set out for San Jose the next morning.  My ride was relatively uneventful, although I was surprised that my husband Mike hadn’t called to confirm
that my SPOT tracking page was working as we had discussed.  With my fuel cell I was able to make the trip non-stop, and I arrived to find about 200 missed calls
and texts from Mike.  Apparently my SPOT hadn’t been tracking properly, and he began to worry when I didn’t answer my phone for hours.  My Zumo showed that
my phone was connected, so I couldn’t figure out why it hadn’t alerted me of any incoming calls.  Of course, my old Zumo had failed the previous week and this new
replacement Zumo might still need the Bluetooth settings fine-tuned.  I set Mike on the task of figuring out what the problem might be so I could go check in and get
through tech inspection without having to worry about it too much.  I rolled into the hotel around 1pm and my inspection started right away.  Everything went fine, but
it seemed to me that one of my fuel cell fittings was a little shinier than it should be.  It had never leaked before, and when I touched it my finger seemed to come
away dry, so I didn’t worry too much about it.  I went ahead and did my odo check, and by the time I came back the shiny spot had turned into a full fledged leak.  
Dagnabbit.  I’d deliberately not packed a ton of tools, figuring that anything requiring major tools would be too much for me to recover from on a 24-hour rally
anyhow.  Luckily everyone around me chipped in some tools and Alex Harper had the fuel-rated thread tape I needed, so within about 45 minutes I had pulled the
tank, re-taped the joint, reinstalled everything and was once again leak free.  Thank goodness I got that out of the way!

While I was wrapping up my fuel cell install, Mike called and shed some light on my phone situation.  He had discovered that our new phones were not compatible
with the Zumo.  It was sheer luck that they recognized each other at all, but there would be no way to get everything fully functional unless I got a new phone.  That
would have been nice to know before I was sitting at the starting line, but since the phone and Zumo both showed a good connection and I was able to make calls, it
never occurred to me that I might be missing incoming calls.  He had also called SPOT, who swore that sometimes the tracking and on lights would flash in unison as if
tracking when it was just sending out an “OK” message.  For five straight hours.  I wasn't buying it, but hopefully SPOT would see fit to track properly the next day.  

In retrospect, maybe I should have run away when I was assigned rider number 13.  I drew a kind of shamrock/snot puddle thing on my flag (I’ve been told that my
artistic "ability" leaves something to be desired) hoping that might counteract any bad omens that might accompany my new number.  No biggie.  I’m not particularly
superstitious, so I figured the combination of the shamrock and my lucky necklace would work together to cancel out the 13 and leave me back on level ground.  After
getting everything sorted out downstairs, I finally checked into the hotel and made my way up to my room.  I wanted to make sure my computer was charged and
everything was ready to roll for the next morning.  I saved a new Streets & Trips file with my custom pushpins, saved an Excel file with appropriately named tabs, and
attempted to connect to the internet.  After an hour of troubleshooting I still wasn’t connected and it was time to head down to the rider’s meeting.  The meeting went
fine, meaning I managed not to fall in the pool or break any bones, and when it was done I headed straight for my room and another hour or so of troubleshooting.  I
finally sorted out the problem and got my browser functioning properly, so around 9:30pm I went to bed knowing I had everything in order for efficient routing the
next morning.

The 5:45am riders meeting was quick and to-the-point, so a few minutes later I was running back to my room clutching my bonus pack and a thumb drive harboring
my electronic waypoints.  I tried to process the text file like I’ve done in the past, but I couldn’t get it to load.  It was in a different format than I was used to seeing, so
I tried to modify the file a bit so S&T would recognize it, to no avail.  I tried opening the other two file types provided on the drive, but neither of them would open
either.  Time was ticking by and I knew I was getting nowhere fast, but I’d already invested so much time in trying to get the text file right that I just couldn’t give up.  
I figured once I got that file sorted out it would be smooth sailing, and I knew I must be just a click or two away from getting it right.  Twenty-five minutes into our
hour of free routing time I finally gave up on the electronic waypoints and started inputting the bonii by hand.  I tried to remember to save often, but I got on a roll for
a while there and apparently I forgot.  I was reminded when my f*%king computer froze up.  I’d had about ¾ of the bonii programmed in at the time of the crash, and
I lost all but ten.  By that time it was about 7:15am, 15 minutes after we were officially allowed to leave, and I was still monkeying around trying to make the
waypoints viewable on a map.  I had no idea whatsoever what the overview of the base route looked like, let alone the Dog Bone or thread bonii options.  I just
couldn't sit around any longer, so I decided to use the .gpx file to load the bonii into my GPSs as POIs.  I had to return the thumb drive, so I copied the files to my
desktop before wrapping things up and headed for the parking lot.  I would aim towards the first bonus in the base route and try to formulate a plan on the way.  If
worse came to worse, I would get to the first checkpoint early enough to plan a strong second and third legs.  It was almost 7:30am, but my rally was finally under way.

A few other guys were in the parking lot when I was gearing up, and they all seemed to have experienced problems similar to mine.  Alex Harper was there, and he
mentioned that he used MapSource to view the .gpx file.  I had tried to open the .gpx file by double-clicking, but I hadn’t tried opening MapSource and then opening
the file.  He said, “No, I just double-clicked on the file and it opened right up.”  Weird.  (After the rally I checked out the files I had transferred to my desktop.  The .
gpx file, which my computer had previously claimed could not be opened with any program known to mankind, popped up with a shiny new MapSource logo after it
was copied to my desktop.  Upon clicking, it happily opened the full bonii list without a moment’s hesitation.  Dag.  Nab.  It.  While making a route map for this story,
I saved the .gpx file on a thumb drive.  Even though I created the file in MapSource, it did not show the MapSource logo and would not open until I jumped through a
bunch of hoops to convince it that MapSource was the program for the job.  Interesting. Must investigate further.)  Well, it was too late to do anything about it at that
point.  For now, it was off the Bonus One.
When I arrived at the first bonus at Petaluma Adobe State Park, I found half a dozen bikes parked in a small cul-de-sac
next to a locked fence.  It looked like I was in for a little walk, so I decided to go ahead and plan out the rest of my leg
before I got off the bike.  I wanted to see how much extra time I’d have to stray off the base route, so I started by
compiling the base bonii waypoints into a route file.  That lasted all of about 12 seconds, until I realized that only around
half of the waypoints had survived the transfer into the GPS.  How the hell did I screw that up?!?  It’s not as if I had to
transfer them one at a time; you select an entire file, and the POI Loader moves the contents of the file, in its entirety, to
the GPS.  I’ve always thought it was an all-or-nothing type of affair, but clearly I stood corrected.  I had to manually
enter many of the first leg waypoints, and by the time I was done I was looking at a route that would take me just about
to the opening of the first checkpoint. Hmmm.  Not a lot of wiggle room there, I’m afraid.  I decided I would just stick it
out on the base route, knock out some miles, and pull up the MapSource file for some strategizing at the checkpoint.
                                                            As I was finishing up my route, a white jeep pulled up next to me.  The driver, smartly dressed in his little park ranger
                                                            get-up, gave me a bit of the stink eye and told me I would have to move out of his way so he could get into the park.  I
                                                            smiled sweetly and rolled off to the side of the drive.  He let himself through the fence, chatting with Matt Pflugh for a
                                                            minute on the way in.  When I got off the bike to start my walk, I noticed that the gate had been left open.  Matt saw me
                                                            eyeballing the open road and said, “He told me he wouldn’t let anyone in until 10am.”  More than an hour from now.
                                                            “And to make things worse,” he continued, “I walked all the way in there before I realized I’d forgotten my flag.”  Ooh,
                                                            that hurts.  I looked from Matt to the gate and back to Matt.  “So he told
you not to go in until 10am, right?  I didn’t hear
                                                            him say that.  I’m going for it.”  I hopped on my bike and drove into the park as if I belonged there.  There were a few
                                                            guys walking back out from the park who seemed amused by my
attempt to circumvent the ranger, and they pointed me in the direction of the marker I needed to photograph.
I quickly found the marker and ran over to grab my picture.  The ranger came speeding by as I hot-footed it
back to my bike and he slowed down just enough for me to hear that vein throbbing in his forehead before
speeding off, presumably to lock the front gate.  Matt was making his way back into the park on foot as I
made my exit, so I wished him well and hurried to get back on public roads before I found myself trapped in
the park for the next hour.
receipt and was getting ready to split.  The PCH is familiar territory, so after
snagging my receipt I was able to make up a little time.  I pulled into the bonus at
the Druid’s Hall just behind Matt.  Back on the road, we were both eyeballing the
coast for a place to pick up the Super Mega Secret Bonus.  Before long we came
across Van Damme State Park and spied all of the necessary elements we would
need to pocket a cool 1,000 points.  I jogged down to some kind-looking folks in
swimming attire and pled my case.  The required composition of the picture was
fairly specific, so I yanked my boots off and tossed my camera to Matt.  He
captured me holding my flag, standing knee-deep in the water next to a stranger,
with people (and, in my case, two dogs) dressed in such a way as to indicate the
intent to swim.  Piece of cake.  I returned the favor for Matt, and before long we
were dryish, virtually sand-free, and back on the road.

With a little sleuth work I found the correct visitor’s center at Point Cabrillo
Historic Park and grabbed my picture.  I’d been without cell reception most of the
morning, so I gave Mike a call as soon as I picked up some bars outside of Fort
Bragg.  Luckily my SPOT was seeing fit to track properly, so as long as he could
see me moving he wasn't too worried.  We chatted for a few minutes while I
fuelled up, then I let him go when I pulled back out on the highway.  I hadn’t been
listening to music or anything on the trip so far, so it took me a while to realize I
had lost audio.  It happens from time to time, so I flipped my amp off and on, and when that didn’t work I restarted the Zumo.  That fixed the problem, so I figured
it was just a hiccup.  When I lost audio again after my next phone call, I realized that the problem was related to my phone connectivity issue.  It seems that my
phone wasn’t completely disconnecting when the other person hung up, and since the phone wasn’t properly connected to the Zumo I didn’t have any of the control
buttons I needed to end a call from my side.  What I had to do to maintain audio for the rest of the trip was navigate through to the Zumo’s Bluetooth controls, drop
the phone, then reconnect again.
My slow progress across Stewart’s Point Road, plus my swim break, together with the normal
time spent procuring bonii, had steadily chipped away at my time cushion around the first
checkpoint.  I’d been keeping a faster pace through the redwoods until I got stuck in the slow
parade of rental RVs.  My original plan had me arriving at the checkpoint shortly before it
opened, but by the time I photographed my bike in the Chandelier Drive-Through Tree it was
evident that I was going to have to drop some bonii if I was going to make it to
the checkpoint before it closed.  The points for this drive-through tree were linked to a second
tree, so I had to pick up the Meyer’s Flat tree or this stop would just be wasted time.  On the
way to Meyer’s I made a quick stop at the Benbow Inn to count windows.  Hundreds of
windows.  Even considering we only had to count the panes on the second and third stories, it
was still a daunting task.  Minutes were ticking away.  Matt pulled up around the same time
                                                                 and we tried hard to stay focused, but we
                                                                 both kept going cross-eyed after a few
                                                                 hundred.  My brain just wouldn't cooperate,
                                                                 and I had to keep moving or I was seriously
                                                                 risking missing the checkpoint window.  I
My second bonus at the General Store (established in 1881) was a breeze, so I headed to Stewart’s Point
Road and began winding my way to the third bonii of the morning.  This road is a bit on the twisty side, and
I just couldn’t seem to find my groove.  After I’d repaired my fuel cell leak I’d left the tank about half full,
just in case the fix didn’t hold.  My tank is well baffled, so it was quite possibly just psychosomatic, but all
my corners felt just a hair off from fully controlled.  And that was before taking the gravel, run-off, and
oncoming traffic into consideration.  Matt caught up with me, then passed me, but I just couldn’t get in the
zone.  By the time I reached the Stewart’s Point General Store, Matt had already obtained the requisite  
gave it my best guess at 316 panes (which incidentally was under the actual total by more than 100) and hit the
road.  I picked up the Hobbit Trail bonus and made quick work of the Meyer’s Tree, then gritted my teeth and
passed right by several more bonii on my beeline to the checkpoint.  Somewhere along the way it occurred to me
that I should have taken a picture of the Inn so I could count the panes later when I wasn’t under such time
constraints.  Oh, well.  Live and learn.
I tried to make a quick phone call on my way into Eureka, but I got their voicemail.  I
went through the steps to disconnect the Bluetooth, but when I reconnected my phone a
minute later it was still connected to the voicemail message.  I tried every trick in the
book, but I could not get the phone to disconnect.  I ended up having to find my way into
the checkpoint without any audio instructions.  I reached the checkpoint with about 10
minutes to spare, and was finally able to restore audio by restarting my phone.  That was a
bit more of a pain in the butt than I wanted to deal with, so I kept my phone calls to a
minimum for the rest of the rally.  I no longer had time to bring my big Leg Two Rebound Plan to fruition, so I settled for choking down a nutrition bar while I
programmed in the basic bonii through the second checkpoint.  I was increasingly disappointed in my performance in the rally, but considering how close I’d just
come to being time barred I was happy to still be in the game.  There were a few bonii in rapid succession – the fishermen’s memorial and the Friend of the Dunes
building – and the World’s Tallest Totem Pole was just a short hop to the north.