This series of posts will describe my experience with my rookie attempt at the 2019 edition of the Iron Butt Rally, an 11 day endurance scavenger hunt on a motorcycle. Since my first taste of long distance (LD) riding back in 1985, I have been hooked on swinging my leg over a motorcycle and chasing the sun across the sky. That first ride, from Lyons, CO to Ft. Worth, Tx aboard my beloved '83 Yamaha Venture, instilled the passion for seeing the most that I could see in just a single day. It was on that run that my riding partner, Will Ferrick of Rider Magazine's Touring Association, introduced me to the Iron Butt Association.
Only years later, and a couple of wives, did I finally make the effort to run my qualifying SaddleSore 1000 to become an official member of the Iron Butt Association, #42146. Since that time, I had it in my mind to run the Iron Butt Rally but life always seemed to get in the way. Fortunately, in 2016 my situation settled into a pattern where I could make an effort to qualify for the IBR. 2017 was out of the question so I set my sights on the 2019 edition.
I knew that the motorcycle that I was riding at the beginning of 2016 was not suited to the sport. I had used it in my first scavenger hunt rally, the Run for the Hills event in Kingsport, TN in October of 2015, and it was clear that a Triumph Rocket III was simply too large and used too much gas to be a competitive mount. So in January 2016 I picked up a left over 15 model Triumph Trophy and proceeded to add all of the items (aka farkles) that a well equipped rally bike normally has. It was a full 3 year project to get all of the farkles the way that I wanted them.
To qualify for selection to the IBR one has to build a riding and rally resume. The 2016 season consisted of a focus on the Tour of Hour rides and building up on "cert" rides including several SaddleSore 1000 (1000 miles/24 hours) and a couple of BunBurner Gold (1500 miles/24 hours) rides. For 2017 I switched my focus to scavenger hunt rides so I signed up for some of the "sprint" rallies including the Rock-n-Ride Rally and the Mason-Dixon 20/20 rally. I scored a 2nd place finish in the RnR and a 5th place in the Mason-Dixon, a fantastic start for a rally rookie.
Since the checkpoints for the 2017 IBR were in Allen, TX, less than 40 miles from where I grew up, I made a point of being at the checkpoint to soak up information about what happens. I was an awesome experience seeing the riders arrive. At that point I was sure that I was ready and would throw my entry into the hat for the 2019 IBR a few months later.
It seemed like it was a really short time and the application window opened for entering the 2019 IBR. With a silent prayer I clicked the Submit button and my entry was sent. Now to wait...and wait...and.
On April 1st (yeah, April Fools Day) I was in the middle of a SS1000 ride for the Tour of Hour when a VIP email notification popped up on my phone. A bit eager I opened the email while rolling down the highway. I'm sure other motorists were surprised to see a fatboy jumping up and down on his motorcycle at 70 mph rolling down Interstate 81. I'd been selected!!!
Now the fun really begins. Although the rally would not be for another 14 months, I got started right away on my prep. "Practice your routing method" was a mantra we received from the Rally Master Lisa Landry.
I also wanted to participate in as many other rallies as I could. Next up was Rock-n-Ride 2018 followed shortly by the Mason-Dixon 20/20 over Memorial Day weekend. The real test would be the Butt Lite IX rally based out of Lexington, KY in July. It would be my first true multi-day rally as it is billed as the 6-day version of the IBR. If we believe that you learn from your mistakes, boy I had a lot of lessons learned from Butt Lite. Lastly in 2018 was the Void Rally based in my hometown of Fredericksburg, VA.
As 2019 rolled around, things started to get serious and more of my time was dedicated to rally prep. My Father passed away in March which re-directed my attention for a while. Not a month later my Mother fell and broke her hip. I'm grateful for my brothers and sister who were able to help her as I am 1200 miles away. I was able to run Rock-n-Ride in April but had to sit out the Mason-Dixon 20/20 as my wife retired from the school system that weekend.
Retirement Party over, it was time to focus on me again says Karen. I had just a few weeks to get things together and pack. I sent out multiple emails at work instructing people to not call me because I would not answer. Karen and I got wills, advance directives and powers of attorney signed off on. I was ready to go.