I was also carrying around Alan Sheppard’s quote from Mercury One- “Dear
Lord, please don’t let me fuck up.” Some how that was the most appropriate
quote to have after the meeting.
The starting banquet commences the what’s what of
most rallies - same true here. Bus
35 was my designation for the next 11+ days. Yellow Crime Scene lanyards,
matching ID tags and flags. This year’s IDs rode up a lot - at least mine
did- more often than not as I would be in a near
panic to locate it through my gear, I would find the ID at the nape of my
neck with the lanyard draped down my back - not sure if I found annoying or
amusing, but it was better than the 07 lanyards that left me with a rash of
some type. I nearly hurt
myself laughing over the negative bonus point locations; not like this
past Cape Fear 1000 where the lowest score won and negative points were to
be had, but these were sizable numbers of negative points - so much so, I
was tempted to get one and intentionally screw it up somehow so I would get
no points for a negative bonus. Bwha!
Two Basic Choices- Martha’s Vineyard or Florida (a few variations thereof for this one).
I looked at Florida for about an
hour after fixing my beta version of the newest release of e-Boni (I wound up fixing it on every leg, that’s why it was
a beta). While tempting, it didn’t yield the point total I was after. At
the riders’ meeting, we were told that to be a finisher we’d need 9000 points
on the leg and gold was about 30% more than that (or 11,700 for those bad
at math) - to me this was my minimum, gold level. Therefore, my route had
to be at least 12,000 points; better yet, 30% more than gold or about 15,200.
I settled on a high 14 route with a few optional stops; no one has ever won
the IBR on the first leg (Shane Smith got very, very close in 01), but numerous
riders have tanked it on the first leg when they over reached. I also knew,
historically, the points got higher as the rally went on - the legs were longer
and the miles would be tougher.
At the start, Dale moved
us off the HQ parking lot in an extremely efficient matter with a parade
of bikes heading for the BMW factory museum and
Amigo - the first bike to ride the entire length of the Pan American Highway. The catch was it was only
available from 10:30 onward; the trip took all of 20 minutes. Upon my arrival,
several riders were already on their way back to their bikes despite the fact
it was merely 10:25. Oops. I patiently waited outside the museum with a
few other riders for 10:30 to appear on my camera - I actually heard one rider
exclaim, that the real time is irrelevant, it’s whatever time his camera has
that counts. My yellow brick of a camera is 2 minutes slow - so I moved inside
the museum to view a display of Izettas
- including a very rare 2-door,
4 seat model. After stalling long enough, I grabbed my pic
and I headed northeast for my next stop, Kensington,
MD where the DC “sniper” claimed one of his victims.
Despite being within a mile of the house when I hit Baltimore, I couldn’t not “go home.” I had to make it to Wilmington
before nightfall for my last bonus of Day 1. I had planned to be at the Jackson
Pollock house at daybreak, and it occurred to me as I rode east on Long Island,
that IF I could find a room in East Hampton, I probably couldn’t
afford it. So I pulled up about an hour short of the house at a Travelodge
for a mere $100; not the most I’ve ever spent for a rally room, but not bad
considering where I was and where I was heading.
Day 2 started with a long, frustrating attempt to get the Pollock
house in “daylight.” I knew I had a ferry to catch and the clock was ticking.
I broke my personal record for the most number of photos taken to obtain a
bonus - now stands at 14. After finally being satisfied with the results
of the second to last and last pics, I headed for
the first of seven ferries on the day - the two short Sag Harbor ferries before
the long one over to New London.
I made the Orient – New London Ferry with 7 minutes to spare. Aboard, I made
a few phone calls, tried to nap (didn’t work) and did some basic math on my
arrival to the Martha’s Vineyard ferry. According to
the website, getting off the island was going to be the real issue - every
ferry was booked solid until 6:30pm in the off island direction. Motorcycles
are first come, first served and crammed into whatever spot they’ll fit.
I grabbed two more boni on the way to the ferry
- I had hopes of making the noon ferry but arrived to find the authority boarding
a “freight ferry” that wasn’t on the schedule - what a catch. The short,
but expensive trek to the Vineyard produced predictable results; a painful
ride to the ferry over to Chappaquiddick and a more painful ride back to the
terminal. At a weirdly shaped intersection, I happened across Alan Barbic
(on his 6th IBR) and Thane Silliker (who
invented the TC75 ride, the evil bastard). We ride into the Dike
Bridge together; I noticed one of the “fishermen”
isn’t really fishing, so I wonder if this is a boni
spy we’ve been coached upon. We head back to the weird intersection - I let
both Alan and Thane know that the next ferry off the island is at the Oak
Bluffs terminal. Thane and I catch that ferry - we’re not sure what happen
to Alan. Fearing a team might be forming (teams are a new feature in 09 and
can be very painful point-wise if formed and broken) Thane and I compare notes
about our next stops. Thankfully, we are running this leg backwards of each
other, however we are both heading to a bank just “mere minutes”
away from the ferry terminal in Woods Hole.
Yea right - once I got into that rats nest I should have bailed. It was
a 58 point bonus and in the grand scale of things really shouldn’t matter.
Stupid stupid stupid. This would
not be the biggest mistake for me.
Jill, that bitch inside of my Garmin, routed me
on this really odd path to get to the next bonus in Connecticut. I have no idea why she did it, but
I figure her “loop” cost me about 30 minutes and I should have over ruled
her upon discovery; I would later over rule her numerous times. There were
a few daylight only boni in suburban NYC including the Lou
Costello statue featured on the Sopranos, so I grabbed what I could and
headed west on 80 toward the next day’s goal - East Liverpool, Ohio and the
sites where Pretty Boy Floyd was killed,
laid to rest, etc.
When I arrived, there werea
bevy of other riders working their way through the Bed and Breakfast for the
and keyfob. From here, the leg isn’t over for me,
I have to get the trash place, and ride into southern Michigan
for a swing across the lower tier to on the way to the end of Leg 1 in West
Chicago. I arrive in the rain, to my goal - cut the windows close, but not
too close. I round up my stuff, go through it all and once satisfied I get
in the queue for digital downloads. Somewhere along the way, I get skipped
and lose my place in that line. This is despite Bob Higdon’s clipboard and
his “Miller, don’t’ fuck with me” attention getter. Dutifully, I sat on the
stairs and waited; 4 hours later, I’m finally scored and off to bed. 3:45am
comes awful early for the Leg 2.
Packets out, back to the room to dissect the goods.
This time 27000 points are needed with the same 30% premium. It’s fairly
obvious, that a swing west to the Hobo
Museum (a big rock) is required before heading to
Shane Smith’s house in McComb(really big rock) on Friday;
this is where I made my mistake. There was another big rock, sitting one
hour with Miss Laura at her bordello turned museum, that
I had put in for the same time as Shane’s. Turns out, I had coded Shane’s
5a to 4p and not 5p to 4a. Major mess up and it would cost me. I
went defensive after discovery and glomed up everything
I could along the trip to the checkpoint - I tried for the Barbed Wire Museum
but could do no better than 7 minutes late on its closing time, so I bailed
several hours short of arrival.
The stop at Shane’s was amazing. True hospitality is a rare treat and his
family put out the spread. What a great place; you can hardly tell it was
all new since Katrina. I asked Shane if he has plans to start doing the crawfish
boil again, now that his competitive riding days are mostly over. He said
he’d seriously consider it; I hope he does, I didn’t get the chance to attend
one in the past.
In retrospect it was quite obvious I had messed up - I double-checked the
Miss Laura bonus since it didn’t make sense, but never rechecked Shane’s.
Also the routing was quite clear - Hobo, some other stuff to fill out the
time, catch Miss Laura first thing and head to Shane’s.
From there, you could head to a big rock in south Texas or northwest to the Barbed Wire Museum. Either way, it yielded
the correct number of points; mine didn’t. The absolute highlight of the
leg was the ride out of Prescott towards the Salton
Sea (another bonus). A delightful mountain road where every
cage yielded to the big yellow school bus as I thrashed down the mountain.
If it weren’t for the IBR, I would have turned around and
done it all again for fun. I suspected the road was going to be a
good one so I saved a chip just for this section of road. At the Salton Sea
it is a mere 115d;
in about 30 hours it will be 37d. The evening of day 11 would be much, much
colder. More on that later. I get the news that Salty
has had a catastrophic blow out and is in a Las Vegas hospital as a result;
man that sucks.
Check-in goes much smoother as I don’t get skipped this time. 3:45 still
Mired in 38th place, I do the math.
40,000 points to be a finisher, total 76,000 for the rally. So far the leaders
have been running about 50% more than the finisher level. If 76,000 is
needed to be a finisher, the mid-teens should be enough to challenge for the
tops spots, maybe even a podium finish. I have 44k points, therefore I will
need at least 70,000 plus to achieve that goal, my long stated goal, a podium
finish at the IBR.
Now the hard part - find a 70k route. Fully one third of that total was
located on/near Lake Superior (Little Bohemia, Gay
Bar and Thunder Bay); roundtrip 4200 miles. One third was also located in
BFE Yukon Territories, but there were scant few points to gather on the 5400-mile
trek. One sixth was available in “administrative bonus points” (call-in,
fuel log, rest etc). The catch was to fill in the other half. Using the
Big Rocks First rally rule, I went for the biggest rocks I could on the way
to the Lake. My plan was to spend Wednesday gathering
up the Lake rocks and then head west as far as possible before the time ran
out on the rest bonus start (must be started on Wednesday).
Now the really hard part- riding the damn thing.
I ain’t no Jim Owen or
Jeff Earls, although the route I have selected is pretty much what they wind
up riding. I count on my wits and ability to grind out miles when I really
don’t want to grind out miles. I would also be routing on the fly like never
before - how can I squeeze in that one more big rock, where can I shave off
some time, etc.
Day 8 - I depart the checkpoint around 6am local. Traffic is starting to
thicken up with the morning commuters. Jeff Earls and I work our way through
traffic; he has hinted that I’ll see him in Utah (the Mountain Meadows Memorial). Somewhere east of town, Jeff
departs the freeway and I won’t see him again until the finish. At first,
I was concerned; so much so I later asked one of rally staff if his status
was “OK” since he made no hints that he was planning to stop on the way to
Utah. Turns out, he was after another
bonus along the way - Brooks Robinson to you and me then. I “sit there, twist
that” all the way to the Mountain
Meadows Memorial and am surprised to find Bob Mutchler
and Dean Tanji of Abracadabra. Dean has the coolest body armor - it
looks like an exoskeleton
in segmented parts. I couldn’t pull off the look, but he does. One the
short gravel road in, I noticed a set of tire tracks that head sideways -
I comment that looks like someone might have went down. I find out later
Derek Dickson was the rider who crashed and fractured his collar bone as result.
His rally was over - and he was having a splendid ride- the cruel days were
starting. Leaving the Memorial and heading for a sunset
arrival at Dead
Horse Point in Canyonlands Park,
I choose to skip the tempting semi-big rock south of there and the teeny pebble
directly on the path to Canyonlands. I cannot afford
to blow sunset on the next bonus, no matter how tempting anything can be along
the way. There is a major forest fire along I-15 and smoke is hanging in
the air all the way across Colorado;
you could actually still smell the fire hundreds of miles to the east. My
nightfall goal was to get to the I-70 exit for the northward section through
the mountains, via Rand, on the way to possibly pick up Crazy Horse and Devils
Tower before dead heading to the Lake. These were my first optional boni.
I got a good night’s sleep and hoped to bag both, if time permitted.
Day 9 - I started the ride north in subfreezing
temps. My trusty Widder was still hanging in there
despite having the telltale signs of a catastrophic meltdown on the horizon.
The “junction panel” was very hot and actually starting to burn my skin through
my riding gear. I resorted to duct taping one of my lightweight gloves over
the panel and kept on plugging away. Richard Buber and I catch each other
just short of Rand.
He has some photos to show me; he got hit by a hawk. Well, his bike got hit
and the photos showed this large raptor wedged in the small gap between the
windshield and the body of his bike. If it wasn’t so sad about the loss of
this majestic bird, I would have shit myself laughing.
Despite my aversion to small boni in this rally,
there is one in Laramie
that is only 4 blocks off the route through town. I feel compelled to nab
it. A quick route check indicates that Devils Tower is possible so I program in Devils
Tower, Crazy Horse and Trent, SD (daylight only) for the remainder of
this section.. Jill routes me up 25 (which runs
sort of NNW) and then across 20. I recall the old Laramie Trail parallels
I-25 to the east and runs more north-south than the interstate does. So what
the heck, I give it a try. At first, Jill is sarcastically sighing “recalculating”
at me every few minutes as I blow off every u-turn she forces at me. Eventually,
she gets with the program and says I will save about 10 minutes. WY-270 (the
old trail) is a heavily travelled truckers route
and boy do they roll along at speed. Near Manville, I head east on 20 to
85. Not sure why; 270 continues north for another 30 miles or so before joining
the main highway (US-85). Hello Dean
Tanji and what in the wild, wild world of sports
are you doing out here? Turns out he intends to set up shop at Crazy
Horse figuring its proximity to the interstate and high value would make
it a popular stop for the Tuesday riding crowd. It was. Unfortunately, I
got all of this information as we sat waiting for pilot cars to guide us through
construction zones along 85 - four of them. Needless to say, Devils
Tower got dropped like a “pro-family” southern governor with a “soulmate”
from South America. This would be the last optional
bonus I would have to drop; in fact, from this point to the barn, the only
bonus I would not get that was planned as one about 30 minutes or so from
Trent and only because it was a daylight only and I arrived there well after
the threshold. On the ride up, i keep hearing and feeling things hit my boots.
At first, it has to be pebbles from the recent tar n chip job, but there is
no corresponding "tink tink" off the bike- in fact, there is only
the 'thuchk' against my boots. Finally, i see the culprits- grasshoppers.
I must be slaughtering thousands of them.
Day 10 - I knew this night was going to be tough after leaving Trent.
It would require near constant movement to make Little Bohemia at the appointed
hour - 7am local (in this case Central). I took a few naps along the way and felt fairly
refreshed for the start of the last “easy day;” three stops and then ride
west on the Trans Can Highway. About 1 mile short of Little Bohemia, I see a
familiar face trying to flag me down - Jim Owen is warning me the employees
at the restaurant are “unbelievably uncooperative” and makes us wonder who
did what last evening that pissed them all off so much. We know that some
riders headed straight for the Lake and had planned to Hoover up everything they could on the way to Spokane. Seeing Jim gave me hope - not that Little
Boh would go well; I knew it wouldn’t so I was prepared to
call Lisa as soon as I got there. But seeing Jim made me realized I was on
the right path; Jim is one of the best riders I have ever met. He’s smart, he’s smooth and brutally efficient. If you’re in a
rally and run across Jim, generally, you’re thinking the right way. Upon
arrival at Little Boh I see Mike Hutsal, one of my favorite Canadians. He’s trying in vain
to get the bonus requirements (staff actually walked right by him without
even acknowledging his presence - how’s that for uncooperative?). As soon
as the helmet was off I had Lisa on the phone explaining that Mike and I were
at the restaurant and there was no way in God’s green earth that the staff
was going to give up a precious business card. She said “You know the drill,”
to which I replied - “Pics of the restaurant
and the gate
- will that be enough?” “You betcha.”
You have to love Lisa; as ‘rally mom’ she has
to tend to her flock of 101 chicks. When we’re out on the road, sometimes
our brain turns to mush - we get stupid. We forget things. In 07 I lost track
of what day of the week it was. This year, I left my wedding band in the
checkpoint’s hotel room. I called her and asked for a major favor; could
she somehow rescue my wedding ring? She told me this is kind of phone call
she actually likes taking from a rider - I guess the other choice is “I’m
out,” so yea, I guess it is a better choice.
Mike and I leave the restaurant at the same time - we’re both heading to
the Gay Bar on the UP of Michigan. I suspect we are on the exact same route since we both plan
to hit Gay, Thunder Bay and the Manitoba boni -
as Mike called it “heading home” (he’s from Winnipeg- go Bombers). I check
my GPS and see that there are a few ferries that cross over Lake
Superior; maybe there is a way to shave some time off the Gay->TB leg.
I wave Mike onward to prevent a team from forming. Team play by riders comes
with a hefty penalty and I’m not sure if Mike and I have the exact same routes
– so we separate to prevent the penalty application. In the next small town,
I make a few quick calls about the ferries (passenger only - darn), take a
short nap and then head towards Gay. I see a string of bikes heading south
including Jim Owen, now about 40 minutes in front of me and Mike 20 minutes
in front. That’s fine with me.
I get to Gay, take my
photo, click click, get out of Gay and start
the loooooooong ride to Thunder Bay - Daylight Only
but I don’t forget, despite being well west of where Gay sits is in the Eastern
Time Zone - BOGGLE. The ride is basically uneventful; the RCMP border agent
has some pointed questions beyond “Are you carrying any tobacco or liquor?”
She keeps asking about firearms; she asked three times about guns. Guess
us bad assed bikes do have a reputation for our guns. She asked me my destination
and where I planned to stay - Thunder
Bay for the evening, the Travelodge there, I don’t have reservations I tell
her. Satisfied, she whisks me through and I’m in the land of clicks, colours
and litres. In Thunder
Bay, I ask a local what time the sun sets - oh about 8:30 or so eh. Hmmm,
I can get pretty far west on the highway before hard darkness falls and that
gets me out of moose country quicker in the morning - goal for the rest bonus
Kenora or Dryden, depending upon how I feel and
the time of day. The rest bonus must be started by midnight. I opt for Dryden,
snag a receipt for some food at 24 truck stop and trundle next door to the
hotel for a room. 6 hours later, I repeat the process, fuel up and set off
into the early morning glow. Just before I depart, I see a ST1300 head by
- wonder who that is? (Jim Owen is on a RT, Jeff
Earls rides a GT. Hmmm). After a few hours of leap frog, I realize it’s my good
riding buddy Eric Jewell. Eric and
I have been in this game together since Buttlite
III (earlier for him). We laugh - “we are not a team” we proclaim. I call
Lisa to proclaim that we are not a team although I suspect we have the exact
same route from this point to the barn - I mean the exact same route. Why
else would you be in Dryden, heading west in the pre-dawn hours.
Day 11 - I stop in the MB-ON welcome center to make my call-in bonus and
start the rally camera for the last day. In jest, I had a small sign made
up “Welcome to the Cruelest Day. Day 11, 2009 Iron Butt
Rally.” Little did I know how prophetic that would be.
I get the Winnipeg
bonus pretty smoothly and on the way to Portage
la Prairie for the Viking
ship. I haven’t seen Eric since we split up near the provincial border.
There is the one last “must have” in Saskatoon.
From there I can continue west to Edmonton
to two semi-big rocks with-in a few minutes of each other. The math says
I can be up to 1:40 late and still have enough points to make the trek worth
it - so off I go. Not more than 10 clicks from the Viking ship, Eric buzzes
by me; honest, I haven’t seen him in like 4 hours and there he is all the
sudden, again. In Saskatoon traffic, tada, there he is - we’re
laughing “we are not a team, dammit.” I stop for
fuel just outside of town and Eric plods west. Just about dark in an impending
Edmonton, I find Eric again - this is getting laughable. I ask if he’s
done the other bonus; he said no - we’re not a team dammit
as we laugh again. Eric is leaving the insurance
agent as I pull up. We agree to see each other at the diner in the morning,
since there are exactly 2 more stops to the barn: Calgary and Zips Diner (5-7) in Sandpoint. I figure
at this point there is no way we’ll meet before then. Choosing to stretch
out this tank a bit (needing 2 fuel stops to make it comfortably), I bypass
the ever present and visible fuel in Edmonton and press
south towards Calgary. I learn something
real important - in the Archives of Wisdom it says to buy gas before you need
it. In Canada, buy gas
when you see it; lets just say the Points of Interest
Garmin dataset for Canada
is weak at best. The warning light is on - I pull off an exit that says “all
services available” in East Jabip
or whatever town it was. 10 clicks later (I set my GPS to kilometers so I
could follow along with the roadsigns) I pull into
the “town” to find the only two gas stations are “card only” stations. I
don’t have a card for these stations (fleet fuel and COOP). I flag down a
local - “Howdy, where can I buy gas?” “There’s an Esso
station just down the road a few clicks - they’re open all night” is the reply.
Lesson learned. This stop cost me half an hour - that’s precious nap time
I could have used later.
Oddly and laughably, as I’m hanging my rally flag on the pawn
shop in Calgary - guess who rolls
up? That’s right - we are not a team Dammit - Eric
Jewell. This is getting too funny. I warn him that I’ll be stopping at the
7-11 I saw on the way in; I want a cup of coffee and not to follow me there.
We laugh; too friggin funny. According to Jill,
I will arrive at Zips shortly after the window opens and the finish line about
30 minutes early; these times have held pretty constant all day. I even phoned
Jean that these arrival times are probably pretty solid but I would call her
from Zips (1:15 from the finish) to confirm.
Somehow, I catch Eric as we head south. He pulls in for fuel - probably
his last stop; mine is slated for a station about 100 clicks down the road
- already programmed in as a waypoint. Here I ignore Jill again and take
Chris’s rule #3 - use big roads. Jill has me routed down AB-533 or something
to cut the corner off the routes 2 / 3 triangle.
I opted for the big road; in retrospect, probably foolish as it immediately
added 45 minutes to my arrival time - I was now going to be late.
An hour later, my trusty Widder of 8 years croaked
- no heat. The temperature was dropping like a stone – mid-30’s, low-30’s,
finally the 20’s. I had no heat. I put on every piece of clothing I had
to fight off the cold. I stopped every 45 minutes to warm up - I located
24 hour convenience stores along the way just to warm up, buy some hot chocolate
and press on. The cold took its toll on my stamina too; when I left Calgary I was confident I could easily push through to Zips with maybe
a short nap. I wound up sleeping on the bike for nearly an hour as the cold
just zapped what little strength I had left. Only when I saw the Canadian
Customs barrier did I feel better. Our Homeland Security wasn’t nearly as
polite as the RCMPs were - I guess it’s just that
Canadians are better at this than we are. They trust people; we don’t. As
I wait my turn at the barrier, I pull out my passport; the car in front hasn’t
yet moved so I decide to switch my rallybook to the page where Zips is. PLOP - my passport lands
on the ground next to the right side of the bike. Shit. So off I get and
stomp around the bike to grab my errant passport. PLOP, my rallybook
falls off the left side. Aw CRAP. At this point, DHS agents have waved me
up; so with my pile of loose paper and passport I creep to the checking station.
The officer takes my passport and asks not “name and nationality” the usual
question, but “Are you in this Iron Butt Rally thing?” Never, ever lie to
a federal agent; mainly because they have badges and guns. This one has my
passport and I’m still technically in Canada
until I get it back. “Yes, yes I am.” I respond. “Pull around and park -
we have questions for you.” Oh Christ - what the fuck happened? After the
Little Boh incident, I envisioned some idiot rider
pissed off the wrong agent and now he’s taking it out on any motorcyclist
that crosses the border. Basically it came down to this: Davo had had a bad accident just a few miles south of the
border which closed the road. This stretch of US-95 is a major commerce corridor
with numerous trucks waiting to cross both ways - the DHS agents wanted to
know as much as they could about the rally since they
“were not informed” etc, etc. They held me for about 15 minutes before being
satisfied enough to give me back my passport.
Daybreak, the final one on this IBR. I will arrive
at Zips with about 20 minutes to spare and the finish an hour or so late -
still offset by the Edmonton ride.
I phone Lisa from Zips that I should be in around 8. I call Jean as promised;
her phone immediately picks up and I hear muffled voices. Great, her pocket
answered - I scream “Hello Hello” into my phone to no response. I redial - same scenario.
I have to get going - points are burning off at 30 per minute. Not 5 minutes
later, my phone rings; I can hear it in my jacket. It has to be Jean after
noticing my attempts. There is no real place to stop; US-95 is a major construction
zone nearly all the way to I-90; a total pain, lousy with school buses (real
ones) and orange barrels. Yuck. I finally get to I-90; presto. Some dipweed
has used the interstate’s guardrail system to remove this pick-up truck’s
cap and they’ve temporarily closed the highway. Tick Tick
Tick. Jill, give me a detour. “Proceed west 2 miles
and exit right.” “That doesn’t help you stupid witch;
I can’t get past the accident.” I scream at her. She’s ever so patient and
understanding and doesn’t really care what I think of her. As I sit there,
watching my arrival time continue to creep upwards 8:04….8:05… I decide oh, what the
hell, and light my celebratory cigar. I’m not going anywhere, I might was
well enjoy the moment at least. 8:06..........................8:07.....
.........8:08….finally traffic starts crawling…............8:09
we get by the scene - the cap is one place the truck is another. Everyone
seems to be just standing around as if they’re waiting on IBR riders to come
by. 8:10. Hey this is starting to get expensive.
Exit 90, turn right, left catch a light. I can see
the hotel…8:10. make the left into the driveway
there is a huge crowd at the double doors - some one yells “go see Ira inside
now” and I obey. 8:10:50 my clock is stopped. I find Jean, get a
huge hug and kiss; my IBR is almost over.
All I have is paperwork for this leg and then the wait; would it be enough.
I head back outside - there is applause all around. Hmmbee
is a mess. Between the slaughtered grasshoppers, and splatted
mosquitoes, there is a cold night’s worth of hot chocolate all over the right
side of the shelter. I look up - no shit Eric Jewell rolls in, nearly 15
minutes behind me. He had to skip Zips and got minimally held up for the pick-up
accident. That’s just too funny - we are
not a team dammit.
Staff motions me to our parking area - I grab the essentials and head to
our room to complete my paperwork. Total- 73,222 minus lateness penalties
(2100 or so); I’m shocked. That’s a big friggin
number and I suspect will place me high up in the standings.
I get scored - as one of the last riders in, I’m
one of the last scored too. In fact, Eric and I are the last two riders scored.
We’re not a team, dammit. We’re howling at this
Jean and I devour most of a pizza, and I take a quick nap. Groggy, I head
downstairs. No coffee to be had. Groggy, I wander around enthusiastically
greeted by riders, staff and those attending the finishers’ banquet. I need
coffee. Jean tracks down some; got to love that woman. Bill Shaw hails me
- Mike Kneebone needs to see you. Oh crap, what did I mess up - nothing he
says, it’ll be obvious once you’re there. It was - there were 10 of us in
a conference room, lined up against a wall with a horseshoe shaped table facing
us; it felt like a firing squad. There were 10 of us; there are 10 podium
positions. Bill was right, it was obvious. “Try to act surprised” Mike asks
as we depart in small groups to avoid attracting attention (too late).
Banquet Time. Bob again entertains the room with
stories. He’s a funny, funny guy. Finally, we’re down to business. Finishers,
here we come. The longest and loudest ovation goes to Joel
Rappaport on his R60-75/6 that now has nearly 525k on
the clock. Finally, the Top 10. 109,300 got you
into the top 10 - I have 114
or so. Fellow Buttlite IIIII rider Peter Behm nabs 10th in first first IBR
appearance. Ken Meese, also in his first IBR, 9th at 111,100.
20-20 vet Bob Lilly 8th at 111,800. then
me - 7th place, Mike Hustsal in 6th
just 3000 points in front (so the lateness didn’t really matter), Greg Marbach 3000 in front of Mike. Interestingly the gap among
the top 9 finishers was roughly 3000 points. Chris Sakala,
long time 20-20 veteran is 4th. Eric, “we’re not a team dammit”
Jewell is 3rd. It came down to Jeff and Jim; they had been outclassing
the field by so much it could have been either and they both deserved it.
But we keep score and Jim outscored Jeff by nearly 6000 points on the last
leg to take the 09 IBR by 3000. I am astounded. We pose for our group photos
and then off for our official IBR group photo. As we’re standing on the stairs,
I look around. “These are my guys” I proclaim pointing to Bob, Chris, and
Jim. I’m so damned proud of them and so honored to be part of that elite group.
The ride home was almost a complete let down. No more points to chase, not
more clocks to manage, only how far can I get tonight before I get too cold
to continue. I had a long stated goal - a podium finish at the IBR. I have
done that. I rode the longest and hardest I ever had. I put more miles under
my wheels in those last 4 days that most riders do in a year. And, it’s time
to let someone else take their crack at it. There are too many good riders
begging to get in that it would be pigheaded and greedy of me to return.
So for now, this was my last Iron Butt Rally. I wish everyone who comes afterwards
happy hunting and the best of times. I want to thank everyone involved with
making it happen, but especially Lisa Landry for coaching me, saving my wedding
ring and being the rallymaster we should all try
to emulate. Beyond that is my wife Jean who is in a class by herself. I
know the Spot tracker made her days more tolerable, but I’ve put her through
enough hell for a while. I owe it to her to stay home and make her life hell
Finally, I want to wish Godspeed to Davo’s
family; he will be missed.
* some photos on this page are courtesy
of Steve Hobart and John Frick.