As an update to info about the "CP"....Checkpoints.....I can tell you that I just returned (yesterday) from a ride down to Gallup, NM.....then up to Rawlins, WY.....then up to Great Falls, MT.....for the purpose of inspecting each Checkpoint location, discussing the Checkpoint operations with the Checkpoint Captains, going over all the rules and "grocery list" with each of them. 😀
Here is how they all play out: 😯
As you ride North, from the Start...to CP # 1.....then CP # 2....then CP # 3....and finally to the Finish CP in Calgary......each and every CP along the way gets better, and better as you ride North. 😎
That means that CP # 1 will be better than what you found at the Start.
And CP # 2 will be better than CP # 1.
And CP # 3 will be better than CP # 2.
And Finally CP # 4 in Calgary will be better than CP # 3.
What do "I" mean by...Better ??? 😮
Now only will the entry into each CP be improved as you ride North, but the parking lots will be better at each one.....the experienced manpower will be more knowledgeable as you ride farther North, the "weather" will be better as you ride North, etc, etc, etc. 😀
So...if you don't like something at the last CP....it only gets BETTER at the next CP.
NOW...here is IMPORTANT info, so PLEASE read this very carefully....PLEASE:
For CP # 1, in Gallup, New Mexico......this is the ONE and ONLY Checkpoint where "I" have concerns about riders ENTERING the CP area. I will do my best to spell it out for all of you here, so PLEASE read these words, spread the word, and heed my words, as it will help you if you pay attention. If you don't heed my words.....it is a possibility that someone "may" fall down and scratch their bike. 🙁
Upon approaching the town of Gallup, NM....when you make the exit off of Interstate 40, to go into Gallup, the exit you are taking will put you onto US 491 at the top of that exit. You will be instructed to turn LEFT onto US 491.
From the moment that you turn LEFT onto US 491....and start riding North on US 491.....it is exactly 1 mile before you need to be in the LEFT lane, and put your LEFT turn signal ON.....so you can turn LEFT off of US 491, and onto the side street.
There is NO street sign showing it is Hamilton St. that you are turning onto. But there will be MANY signs marked as 3FC...and the big yellow banner for the 3FC checkpoint will be clearly visible. Every effort known to mankind will be made to assure that YOU can see the turn, and see the 3FC banner, so that you make that turn.
If you read my words, then as you approach the 1 mile mark of being on Northbound US 491....you will be in the Left lane, and turn ON your Left Turn Signal, so that by the time your odometer reads 1.1 miles...your bike will actually be making that LEFT turn onto the side street.
Okay, once you make that left turn onto the side street, the High Desert Cycles motorcycle dealership will be immediately in front of your face, on a small knoll, but it is 100 % impossible to miss seeing High Desert Cycles.
But...CAUTION...this is the one and only location on the entire list of all Checkpoints where I sense a problem may occur. 😮
You can either choose to PARK your bike right there, on the very wide side street, just below the knoll that High Desert Cycles sits up on, and walk the 100 paces up the knoll, to where the CP is officially located, or.....you can ride your bike up the knoll, and park in the large parking area up there closer to the CP.
There is a LOT of parking area on the wide side street, that would allow for 100 motorcycles to be parked down there. It is safe, clean, clear, and an easy walk up the slight knoll to the CP.
"IF" you choose to ride your bike UP the slight knoll to the CP...which I suspect 73.14159 % of you will do that......be 100 % aware of the road surface...stay to the LEFT of the roadway when going UP that slight knoll...and most important...when you ride UP that slight knoll, do NOT stop immediately at the top of the knoll, but ride farther up and around in the very large parking lot, so that other riders behind you will have a clear path when they ride UP that slight knoll.
Here is MY concern.....on the roadway going UP that slight knoll, the LEFT side of the roadway is paved, and fairly decent. The right side of that roadway is broken up, has pot holes, and is more gravel/dirt than it is paved.
Secondly...right in the middle of the rise of that roadway going up the slight knoll is a CATTLE Guard...and I mean a real....Montana or Wyoming style Cattle Guard, not a silly painted on cattle guard like they might use in California.
That real Cattle Guard is across the full width of the roadway.
My point: ALL riders should stay to the LEFT on that slight knoll, keep on the paved portion of the roadway, and roll right over the Cattle Guard, and not be encumbered because some other rider ahead of you got to the top...then stopped their bike....looking around as to where they should park, while you are left stranded in the middle of the Cattle Guard, as the rider ahead of you consults with their "smart watch" to ask their bluetooth linked "smart phone" about where they should park their bike.
PLEASE........PLEASE think....and act as if every one of you were extremely experienced riders, and you actually gave a darn about the rider behind you.
If you ride up that slight knoll......ride ALL the way up, and keep riding, until you find a huge parking lot that is wide open...then stop your bike.
(NOTE)....there is a thin layer of gravel all around the upper parking lot...maybe as much as 1/2 inch deep, and that is it. But on the lower parking area, in the wide side street below the knoll, it is all clear paved surface, with no gravel) 😎
If you will all do that, no one will be left stranded in the middle of the slight knoll, and everyone will make it UP, and across that Cattle Guard, and find ample parking up close to the CP tables.
But, you could choose to avoid all that drama, and park down below, and walk the 100 paces up the slight knoll to the CP tables. I mean, you do need the exercise anyway....after all that sitting on the bike for hours and hours...right ?
Leaving CP # 1, you will exit that small side street, and turn LEFT across the 2 lanes of oncoming traffic, to ride North again on US 491. There ARE several gas stations up ahead, as you ride North on US 491, before you have to turn off it. One station will be within 5 miles, on your left. Another one will be another 15 miles ahead, again on your left.
IMPORTANT note about CP # 1.....they are a small(ish) motorcycle dealership, selling new Yamaha's and Suzuki's. They also only have ONE bathroom...and it is a small bathroom, inside the office area of the dealership.
My point: Make a decision to either stop and get gas...and use a bathroom...BEFORE getting to CP # 1.....or AFTER having been at CP # 1.....so that we don't inundate the only bathroom they have, and cause a problem.
(remember...all things get MUCH better as you ride North to other CPs)
In my opinion, and from all my experience, having been to CP # 1, and having seen the layout of the town on Gallup....where things are...etc.......I would make it a point to stop BEFORE hitting the Checkpoint....get a full tank of gas, use the bathroom, and maybe even get something to eat at a real restaurant....before hitting the CP. Because all things after that CP, are few and far between. You will have far fewer choices available to you, after you leave CP # 1.
Take care of "business" before you hit CP # 1.....and you will be much happier.
At CP # 2..in Rawlins, WY.....you are going to think you are in paradise, and have entered Disneyland, when it comes to facilities and amenities at this CP.
First, it is at the Best Western hotel...with a huge sign that is visible from a long distance. Second....the 3FC yellow banner is mounted on the large/tall posts for the BW sign, so that is also visible from a long distance. Third...this CP is manned by one of our own, Rich Behounek, that has ridden on seven (7) of the 3FC rides.
Rich knows what he is doing, is 74 years young, and will be a true asset to have working CP # 2.
I ask all of you...PLEASE..take a moment to THANK Rich for his volunteering to work CP # 2 this year, rather than riding the 3FC as he usually would.
The parking lot is very easy to pull into.....a million places to park your bike, although most of you will park up close to the entrance area, walk right inside, down a hallway, right past the two excellent bathrooms, and around a corner into the air conditioned room where the CP tables will be.
As a CP worker, this place is a dream, as it is clean, air conditioned....all supplies given to us by the Best Western hotel, so we thank Casey and Robin for all the help they are giving us on this.
After you have been at CP # 1....CP # 2 will feel like an E-Ticket ride at Disneyland.
Frankly, it doesn't get any better than this for a CP location, or for the CP workers.
OR...does it ? Because CP # 3 in Great Falls, MT is going to be a party. 😀
CP # 3 is located inside the dealership at Big Sky Harley-Davidson, right on the main street of Great Falls. This is another one that is almost impossible to miss. It is on the LEFT side of the street as you enter town, from the direction the route is taking you. But the large 3FC yellow banner will be hoisted HIGH on the H-D sign posts, just below the actual Bar & Shield emblem of the H-D logo sign.
Brian Moen is the dealership owner, and he has offered to make this a "party" weekend, to host us, but to also draw in buying traffic for his own products, so he is thinking of having a barbeque, have the local media there, etc.
The parking lot is HUGE, easy to get into, easy to get out of, etc.
The official CP tables will be immediately inside the front doors, and to the left. Clearly visible from all directions, lots of food, good bathrooms, do NOT scratch any of the new jewelry sitting on the showroom floor (as in...new H-D bikes)
The owner of this dealership is experienced with this kind of thing, and he promises to make it an event. So...have fun !
I will be at CP # 1 an hour before it opens, and stay there for the first hour of operation, then I bee-line it up towards CP # 2.
I will be at CP # 2 an hour before it opens, and stay there for the first hour of operation, then bee-line it up towards CP # 3.
I will be at CP # 3 an hour before it opens and will be there for several hours...meeting and greeting most of you that come through on Sunday.
But don't be in a hurry, as they are also open on Monday, so there is a lot of time to make it from CP # 3 in Great Falls, MT to the Finish CP in Calgary, that is only 325(ish) miles away.
The Finish CP in Calgary is manned by 3FC veteran and former Finish CP Captain, Bob Van Nes, so he knows what he is doing also. That Finish CP is "inside" the Deerfoot Inn and Casino, so hide your playing money until after you have checked-in at the final CP. 😀
If ANY of you have ANY questions, ask me here, or send me a personal e-mail to email@example.com, and I will always do my best to give you the best answers I can. 😎