Revised 12 February, 2008
St. Louis, Missouri
August 20th to 31st, 2007
My 1978 Honda GL1000K3 At The Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest in California
During the 2007 Iron Butt Rally, 29 August, 2007.
Click on picture to see this picture on the cover of GWRRA Wing World magazine April, 2008.
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2007 Iron Butt Rally
Ode To A Kick Stand
In April 2006 I sent in my application for the 2007 Iron Butt Rally (IBR) not expecting to be chosen in the lottery drawing. But in June 2006 I got an email from Lisa Landry, the IBR Rally Master, saying if I rode the 1978 Honda GL1000 I listed on the application I could enter as a 'hopeless class' entrant, no different bonii or special rules we just have to ride the bike we agreed to ride on.
The next 14 months couldn't go by fast enough, I was anxious to ride but I also had a lot of work and practice to do, the last three months went by way too fast.
Friday August 17th, 2007
I left for St. Louis early Friday morning, I wanted to collect a few National Park Tour (NPT) stamps on the way out but Lisa Landry the Rally Master gave us notice to get there Saturday and get through tech inspection so I cut the list short, Fort Necessity National Battlefield near Uniontown, PA then south to New River Gorge National River in Glen Jean, WV, that's the bridge on the WV quarters. New River Gorge Visitor Center (VC) also had the stamps for Gauley River NRA, Bluestone National Scenic River and National Coal Heritage Area.
I then headed for Chesterfield, just west of St. Louis; I soon decided to do a non-documented SS1000 for the day since I had only ridden 1300 miles in the last 2-1/2 months and I was getting ready to ride close to 11,000 miles in 11 days so I needed the practice. I got my 1000+ miles in and stop about 50 miles short of St Louis so I could ride in during the day time on Saturday morning.
Saturday August 18th
After I parked my bike in the rear of the Doubletree Hotel in Chesterfield in the area that was roped off for us, others riders and well wishers came by to say hello and welcome. I got to meet the infamous Voni and Paul Glaves. Voni is known as the lady in red, always in red and Paul is the MacGyver of Long Distance (LD) riders, if anyone can fix a bike in the middle of the night with only a paper clip and chewing gum Paul is that man.
After checking into the hotel I got in line with the other riders waiting my turn. A tech inspector was assigned to me and we walked over to the bike, such items as registration, insurance papers, verify VIN number, aux fuel tank installation and other farkles (add-ons to a LD bike) being securely attached. I guessed he looked at other things too like tires but it was mainly a general look see. I wish I had recorded names since I'm bad at remembering them.
Next came the odometer check, we had to put our front tire in the center of a storm drain grate and ride a predetermined course to compare our odometers to a calibrated unit so our final mileage could be adjusted. So off I go out of the hotel onto I-64W, as I approached the Spirit of St. Louis Airport a Boeing VS-22 Osprey tilt-rotor helicopter was taking off and had already rotated its wings to the forward flight position, blades coning forward from the power being pulled, very cool, I had never actually seen one in person. I made the turn around and headed back to the hotel, following the printed directions except I missed the left turn from the far left lane taking the other left turn lane instead, okay I messed that up, so I just got back in line and the tech inspector changed my starting mileage. This time not a problem, pulled up to the grate again, got my ending mileage recorded and the tech inspector did the math and recorded my trip distance, he also noted my trip odometer reading since you reset everything including your GPS's to see how they match up. I then went back to the tech inspection tent to get signed off when Mr. 'Warchild' the chief tech inspector said there was a problem with my odometer readings, the odometer had me going 17.5 miles while the trip odometer had 16.5 which was also what the GPS's had. A 1 mile correction for every 16.5 miles would be one big correction factor. Warchild asked me if I mind running the odometer check a third time, no problem, this time I did not need the printed directions and why I did not use the GPS to find my way back to the hotel the first time I do not know, nerves I guess. Well as I was riding back east on I-64 I was reading the mileage readings on the tech form tucked in my map case and I noticed there was a math error in the tech inspector calculation and the 17.5 should have been 16.5. The third odometer check everything read 16.5 miles, I then pointed out the error to Mr. Warchild which quickly caused a meeting of the tech inspectors to discuss the mistake. The actual calibrated distance I heard was 16.3 miles. My odometer showed 3,518 miles for the first leg, I was credited with 3,475 miles. The map case was the Rally Book made by Linda-T; it kept everything dry and had a large window to see thru, no more folding rally sheets just to get them in the old map case.
There was two pairs of riders who were related, a father/son and mother/son each riding their own bikes. 'Little' Arlen Brunsvold Jr. and his father 'Big' Arlen Brunsvold Sr. and Karol Patzer riding in her 4th IBR and her son Tony DeLorenzo.
Saturday night the BMWMOA sponsored a great meal in the hotel restaurant and provided us with a cool t-shirt too boot.
Sunday August 19th
On Sunday the members of the MTF, Motorcycle Touring Forum, was meeting at Grumpie and Lily's house in St. Louis for brunch. I left the hotel early and stopped by the U.S. Grant Historic Site for that NPT stamp before heading for Grumpie's. After a delicious hot breakfast and talking to some of the other riders and MTF members I left for the Gateway Arch for the two stamps in the book store inside the Arch, parking in the parking garage. There is free parking at a church in the park but church services had the parking lot closed off.
There was 97 riders who started the 2007 Rally on Monday August 20th, 33 DNF (Did Not Finish) for various reasons, 9 did not accumulate enough points, some got back after the 9AM Friday August 31st dead line, several for mechanical problems, several just gave up and withdrew, and several had accidents damaging bikes and some bodies putting them out.
The Rally was divided into two legs; we got the bonus location sheets for the first leg Sunday night along with our Rally Flags. My number was 82, number 1 was the only past winner that was riding this year, George Barnes. We all retired to our hotel rooms to load the bonus locations on the 38 pages of red paper into our laptops using mapping software such as Streets & Trip and MapSource and plan our routes, then upload them into our GPS's for the 10AM start the next morning.
I never heard the actual theme of the Rally; ten of the bonii in the first leg were motorcycle related, the Kansas City H-D Visitor Center, Buell Motorcycle Co. in East Troy, WI, the Harley-Davidson Plant in Milwaukee, Harley-Davidson Motor Company Vehicle Operations York, PA, Honda Plant in Marysville OH, the Motorcycle Mural in Paducah, KY, BMW of NA Headquarters in Woodcliff NJ, Reynolds Motorsports in Buxton ME, Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum in Leeds AL, and Hoagy Carmichael Hoagy's Heroes garage/pub in Moundsville WV. Hoagy's was only available on August 20th from 6PM to midnight and worth 5,099 points so for those going east it was worth stopping. A couple of the riders said they knew Hoagy and just had to go see him.
The Big Bonus that was doable on Leg 1 was Percé Rock in Quebec Province in Canada, it was worth 33,000 points, you need 70,000 points to be considered on a finishers pace on the first leg. They handed out tide tables for Percé Rock because part of the requirement was to get a picture of the bottom of the stairway to show that the tide was out, the other picture required that you walk out to Percé Rock and take a picture of the rock. Hopewell Rocks also in Canada was another bonus that tidal charts were handed out. Your Rally Flag must be displayed in all photos unless the instructions say otherwise. Riding 1,800 miles one way hoping to be there at the right time was not in the cards for me. You would bag other bonii on the way there and back of course. But there was no way I was going to go 1,800 miles one way and be back in 4-1/2 days or 108 hours, I was not going to risk being that far away. Leg 2 was another story.
There was a 6 hour Rest Bonus that had to be started and completed on August 22nd worth 7,155 points, a Call In bonus worth 2,000 points where some time on August 22nd you called in and reported a) your name, b) your rider number, c) city/town and state/province you are calling from, d) where your last bonus was, e) what is your next bonus, and f) optional, a quick story to share. A fuel log with receipts that meet all of the requirements a) city/town and state/province, b) date, c) time, and d) volume purchased, gallons/liters was worth another 10,000 points. These added up to 19,155 of the 70,000 points needed for this leg to on a finisher pace. There were also three higher medal levels, Bronze (80,000), Silver (90,000) and Gold (100,000).
Monday August 20th, Start of Day 1 and Leg 1
At 8:30AM we had to stage our bikes in the inbound area, facing inside of this giant U we formed so we could all pull out and leave in 10 or less minutes. It started to rain, hard at times, all of these bikes with a lot on new tires on a recently resealed parking lot, be careful we were warned. Our starting odometer readings were then recorded, we were then free to do whatever we needed to do until the rider meeting at 9:45. We then all mounted our bikes, geared up and were ready to go. At 10AM as Warchild pointed at each rider we pulled out of the inbound area one at a time, I was hearing other riders yelling at me my kick stand was down, a quick kick and up it came. I never felt nervous but I must have been a bit. There was Dean Tanji and his crew filming the event, local news crews, spectators, and Rally Staff all clapping and cheering us on, I remember Lisa Landry in front looking at each of us with a smile and clapping as we rode by her, sending her charges out.
The first bonus location available was two part, worth 3,565 points, go to the Gateway Arch, park in the parking garage and get a printed parking receipt, and go inside the Arch and get a Polaroid photo of the mural titled 'The Builders'. All photos are taken with a Polaroid instant camera so no editing can be done. Most riders did this bonus as it was only available for the first three hours of the Rally. There was a lot of time wasted here, going thru security on the north entrance, some were smart and made the walk to the south entrance and got in quicker. Lisa Landry, Mike Kneebone and Dean Tanji where in the Arch before I got in by going to the south entrance and they left the hotel after all the riders had left.
On Day 1 I got the Arch and 5 bonii in downtown Chicago. The first was the Route 66 marker, even hitting Chicago during rush hour the GPS took me right there with only minor trouble. Then I headed for the Centennial Fountain to get a picture of the Water Arc shooting water across the Chicago River, this is done the first 10 minutes of each hour, I missed the time frame so I headed for Millennium Park for the self portrait in the reflection of Cloud Gate 'the big silver bean'. The GPS doesn't work for beans once you get among all those tall buildings and I had a terrible time finding my way back to the Water Arc, I never ride up on curbs but when I got there Tom Melchild and Alan Barbic was parked on the sidewalk as there was no street side parking, I pulled up next to them. After getting my picture I was coming off the tapered curb, there was a loud bang as my bike hit the curb, I must have bent the sub-frame where my kick stand is attached, more on this later. One last large bonus in Chicago that I would have forgotten about if Alan and Tom hadn't mention it, the Centennial Park Buckingham Fountain water show available after 8PM, the first 20 minutes of each hour. The last bonus was a gas receipt from Chicago. I spent close to 7 hours in Chicago, way too much time, besides rush hour traffic that kept me from navigating around a city I had never ridden in before and loosing GPS signal because of the tall buildings and not believing the GPS when Betty (the voice in the GPS) kept telling me to take I-94W to go north to Milwaukee, okay she was right, there was also heavy construction on the I-55/I-94 highways. A few city maps will be in my tank bag next time.
I then rode to Milwaukee for the night to get the Harley-Davidson plant where a photo of the 1903 H-D in the lobby was required and then to the Buell plant for a photo of the orange Ulysses in that lobby.
Tuesday August 21st, Day 2
On Day 2 after getting the H-D and Buell bonii I headed towards Grand Marais, MI in the Upper Peninsula, the Pickle Barrel House was worth 10,123 points, one of the two big bonii in my route. Then taking the Mackinaw Bridge I headed south to Indiana. The bike was starting to lean a bit when parked, I found a pipe coupling at a gas stop and used it under the kick stand so the bike didn't lean so much, the bike is a little top heavy with the aux fuel tank full and all of the stuff I'm carrying. I have been carry around a 50 ft piece of parachute cord for years because it's always listed on list of what to carry but never knew why, paid for it self during the IBR. I then rode until stopping after midnight Central time to take the 6 hour Rest Bonus in Comstock Park, MI. I could have stopped an hour earlier as I had crossed into Eastern time zone but did not realize it.
Wednesday August 22nd, Day 3
Day 3 started sitting at the hotel waiting for a severe thunder storm to pass then heading for Mentone, Indiana where the sun finally came out after 2-1/2 days of riding in the rain or on wet roads. After I got the photo of the Mentone Egg, I did the Call In bonus then headed to the Honda Plant in Marysville OH. Some time in the last 24 hours I had gotten myself confused and thought I had to be back in St. Louis the next day, I was forgetting that each day of the Rally ran from 10AM to 10AM not ending at midnight. I kept asking myself how I blew this; I won't even have 2,500 miles when I get back. So I started looking for daylight only bonii which normally carry a higher point value. I dropped the Longaberger Basket bonus since I would have to go east; the next stop was the Futoro Alien Spacecraft House in Carlisle, OH. Then south through Cincinnati, I hit Cincinnati during rush hour and my air temp gauge was reading 100 degrees. I had a full 2-liter thermos to drink from, the extra ice from the 7-lb bag I filled the thermos with I put in a zip-lock bag and stuffed it inside my jacket; I also had drank an energy drink which was a mistake. I was feeling a little nauseas. The traffic jam finally broke and I was moving again for a few miles then came to a complete stop again, now I knew I needed to get off the road, there was an exit I could get too and pulled into a Big Boy Restaurant, as I walked in I could feel all of energy drain out of me, heat exhaustion. I spent two hours there cooling off and eating a meal.
It was getting too dark for any more daylight only bonii, there was a 24 hour bonus just 4 miles away in Newport, KY, the World Peace Bell. Then thinking I needed to start making my way to St. Louis I headed towards Nashville.
Thursday August 23rd, Day 4
I got to the Opryland Hotel about 1AM, go in, take my picture and then went back out to the bike. I always used the time on the GPS that is set to Central Time to record my bonus with, I wasn't sure what the date was so I pull out my cell phone, okay Thursday August 23rd…Wait a minute its only Thursday not Friday I was headed back to St. Louis 24 hours early. I have time to go to Biloxi, MS to garb the 10,100 bonus there and the 5,678 bonus in New Orleans today…I'm back in this. I pick up one other bonus in Nashville, Ryman Auditorium, but passed on the third to get heading south. I gassed up in Nashville but forgot to claim the 6-point bonus at scoring.
I stopped at Barber Vintage Motorsports in Leeds, AL, someplace I would love to get back too and the Boy Scout Headquarter Statue of Liberty a few miles near by in Birmingham, AL and then headed for Biloxi. I see another rider heading north, its Rebecca Vaughan, the first rider I've seen since Monday night, it puts a smile on my face and an extra twist in the throttle. She had gone to Key West, Florida and was working her way back I found out later.
When I got to the Hurricane Katrina Memorial in Biloxi, I saw two other riders leaving it. When heading back to I-10 I saw another rider heading towards the Memorial, I'm feeling good about my ride. I find Bourbon Street in the French Quarter, take my picture but the heat is working on me again so I quickly head over to the Super Dome for another bonus, got off the bike and remove my riding gear. My thermos has ice in it but no water to drink, I walked to the NO Saints office building, tell the security people I need to get some water, they took my thermos and filled it for me. I took a picture of the Superdome from where I was parked but the dome on the Super Dome was not real clear, which was required in the photo, I had to get up on I-10 to get the photo. I then headed back towards St. Louis, it didn't take long but I hit the wall and needed sleep. I found a hotel and figured I need to get going by 4AM and I would have plenty of time to get to St Louis and bag a few more bonii on the way there. When I walked into the hotel my left big toe was hurting, the first night of the Rally I thought I got water in my left boot riding in all that rain. I tried to dry my boots in the hotel that night and changed my socks. But now when I took my boot and socks off the callous on my left toe looked like uncooked bacon and sore, is this athlete foot I wondered, this could be trouble. By morning the callous was looking better and not as sore. Since I had not been riding in rain for several days the only thing I could thing of was my feet were sweating a lot. I wear support stockings to prevent water buildup in my calves and a regular pair of cotton socks. I decided to ditch the cotton socks the rest of the Rally and had no more problems with my feet.
Friday August 24th, Day 5
I have until 7PM to get to St. Louis. A bonus in Greenville MS, Doe's Eats Place, I saw another rider while leaving. Then the Graceland Mansion and the Pyramid in Memphis and I was heading back to the barn. There was an outside chance I could get to the Motorcycle Mural in Paducah, KY for a high value bonus but the heat was on again and I decided to stop and cool off at a truck stop, I worked on getting my paperwork in order also. I stopped to fill up about 70 miles south of St. Louis, in the time I got gas a cold front came in dropping the temperature at least 15 degrees and I had to ride the last 20 miles or so in a thunder storm.
After checking in and stopping the clock, I finished getting my paperwork in order and went in to get scored. I lost 500 points because I wrote a number wrong on my fuel log. I was just happy to be back and all of the bonii I did get were accepted. If a bonus is not accepted it is referred to as 'leaving it on the table', I know one rider who lost over 30,000 points in the second leg because he didn't document two bonii correctly, but he still had a Gold Medal finish. Then my scorer, John Harrison added up my points, 75,782, I was amazed how well I had done. When the list with rider position came out the next morning I was in 59th position. After the Rally was over an efficiency chart, points per mile ridden, was made, I was in 18th spot on that chart for Leg 1, not bad for an old fat guy on a 29 year motorcycle.
I had called Lisa, the Rally Master, on day 3 and asked her if someone could cut me a piece of wood 2x4x4 with a hole drilled in so I could attach a piece of cord to it so I could retrieve it after I balanced the bike and put the kick stand up. It was easier and quicker then the small round pipe end. Someone gave me the block of wood when I pulled in at the end of the Leg 1, sorry I don't remember his or his wife name, but thank you.
I had planned to change the engine oil between legs but I just topped it off, looked the tires over and tried to get some sleep. Everything was working so no maintain was needed; some riders had pit crews to change oil and tires.
So Ended Leg 1.
Saturday August 25th, Day 6 and the Start of Leg 2
Leg 2 started at 4AM Saturday August 25th with an rider meeting, Mike Kneebone, the president of the Iron Butt Association and Lisa Landry the Rally Master each had a small speech before the red bonus sheets where handed out. Mike talked about a few of the riders, besides the top 10 he also mention three of the other riders including me. I was told that meant he was impressed with our effort, which also meant he challenged us to do even better on the second leg.
So back to our hotel rooms to enter the 38 pages of bonii in the laptop and plot our route for Leg 2. It was 10AM before I left my room to load up, there was still 1/3 or more of the riders still at the hotel including David Derrick who was in first place, David is from New Jersey and I have been at other events with him, he told me to follow him, I told him to go a head I will he right behind him, ha! ha! Dave's second leg kind of fell apart. Brian Roberts was having some kind of problem with his rear wheel as I mounted up and left.
Leg 2 meant going to California for everyone, my route was taking I-70 and bagging the bonii along that route. First the University of Missouri at Columbia, since most were using Garmin GPS's a stop at Garmin in Olathe, KS. I found a nicely folded Rally Flag #42 and a Polaroid Camera laying on top at Garmin. I called Lisa to let her know incase the owner called her, but leaving it there like you suppose to do. Art Gavin pulled in, we talked abit, we were both heading for Chalk Canyon next which was a daylight only bonus, we would not get there in time so I made a side trip to King City, Missouri. I then made my way across Kansas heading for Chalk Canyon, KS. Some time during this the Emergency Contact Information Card we were wearing on a lanyard broke and came off, this would have cost me 4,000 points at the finish. After getting off I-70 I slept a few hours at a grain elevator that also had 24 hour gas pumps.
On Leg 1 I had a detailed list of my planned bonii, only making changes as time and condition dictated. On Leg 2 since the planning was done on the clock I only did a rough list and deciding each day what bonii I was going for, a big mistake, I should have spent the extra hour before leaving the hotel.
Sunday August 26th, Day 7
I made my way to Chalk Canyon and the "The Hole in The Wall" in Kansas, very cool. The GPS was giving me different direction then the Rally Book. Then I made a big mistake, Denver was next on my list but I noticed that Greensburg, KS was not that far away according to the GPS. Greensburg was hit by a 1 mile wide tornado back in May 2007 and only a few buildings survived and some of them only the red brick walls. Good points, 4,791, but it cost me some 190 miles of extra riding to get back to I-70 where I had gotten off to go to Chalk Canyon. I had it on my rough list but changed it for the way back and had forgotten why I changed it. And now the heat was building not 100 degrees but very warm and I'm having trouble staying alert. I had to stop several times and take short naps.
Finally I made adjustments to my clothing so I wasn't so warm and I was able to get to Denver and headed for the Rocky Mountain National Park Milner Pass Continental Divide sign for a 6,320 daylight only bonus. Inside the park there was construction on the two lane road to the Pass, it kept getting darker and darker and at each construction area I had to stop, with 4.1 miles to go it was just too dark, the storm clouds in the area didn't help any, so I just turned around and rode out of the park, a couple of hours wasted. I then headed for Idaho Springs, Co. The road was a nice downhill twisty mountain road, all of a sudden I had no rear brake, and luckily I wasn't really pushing it so I slowed down until I got to a pull off area, with in a few minutes the brake worked again. The fluid level was fine, I had just over used them and had brake fade, note 1st occasion on this leg. I decided it was time to find a hotel and end Day 7
Monday August 27th, Day 8
The next morning I headed for Idaho Springs, got the photo of the statue of Steve Canyon and did my call-in bonus. I next headed for the Tennessee Pass near Leadville, CO. This was a special bonus for me, my son college room mate is a 2nd Lt in the U.S. Army 10th Mountain Division and there was a memorial for the 10th Mountain Division at the location where the Tennessee Pass sign is located. I took some pictures of the memorial to show John when he gets back from Iraq. I was heading for Independence Pass next but decided to keep heading west.
The next bonus was the Dinosaur National Monument at the Fossil Bone Quarry Visitors Center in Utah. The GPS wanted me to jump up to U.S. 40 but I could tell it was raining up in the mountain and I had enough riding in the rain, there was another route, UT 139 and I was hoping it wasn't raining. Well it did rain but it had to be less then the other way, UT 139 was not a fun road to ride in the rain. I got the NPT stamp from the Monument adding Utah to my list. The next bonus was Salt Lake City, I'm a baptized Mormon so I finally got to see the Cathedral even if I didn't go in, then I headed west to San Jose, CA, riding all night. I stop in Wendover, NV for gas but didn't check for nearby bonii and missed Wendover Will; this was the first of two times I rode all night during the second leg.
I had planned on doing the smaller bonii in the San Francisco area and head back to St Louis picking up bonii on the way but with all of the lost time in Kansas I decided to go for the big bonii instead, a major change in plan that was risky.
Tuesday August 28th, Day 9
After a quick bonus in Livermore, CA to take a photo of a light bulb that has been burning since 1901; there was a very twisty 16 mile ride up Mt Hamilton to Lick Observatory, this bonus was worth 24,057 points, the biggest I did. This ride was very tiring and I even started getting a few cramps in my right leg. This was a two part bonus, a photo of the observatory and then be interviewed by Dean Tanji's movie crew that was documenting the 2007 IBR. We all had to be interviewed before the Rally started also, only the top ten got interview at the end.
After the 17 mile trip down the other side, staying in first gear to use engine braking instead of riding my rear brake, I was heading towards Yosemite National Park. I stopped in Oakdale, CA for gas, when I got back on the bike I realized I had hit the wall needing to stop, I also had the 5 hour Rest Bonus to do. I couldn't get a time receipt from the hotel so I walked over to the 7-11 across the street, got a few bananas to put some potassium in my body and got a computer printed time receipt.
After a night of leg cramps waking me up the Screaming Meanie finally went off at 1AM. This was the only time I can say I had any pain or discomfort during the Rally; the Russell Day-Long saddle was superb, even my sore left knee stopped bothering me after the first day. I wanted to get to the first bonus in Yosemite National Park a 24 hour bonus at the Ahwahnee Hotel, 4,567 points, and then be in place at sun up for the photo bonus worth 10,234 points of Half Dome.
Wednesday August 29th, Day 10
As I climbed on the bike it just fell over, that bent sub-frame has now failed and the kick stand is sticking out at 90 degrees. Okay I need some wood, a 6 x 6 x 6 at least, its almost 2AM there is no lumber yards open, nor do I remember seeing one. I called AAA, I have AAA RVplus that covers motorcycles, so I tell them what I need, tow trucks carry dunnage that I offer to buy but I need someone to bring it to me. Well the tow truck driver told the dispatcher to tell me he couldn't help and wouldn't even come out. Just so happen the dispatcher boyfriend was there to pick her up, he heard what was going on, got my cell number from her and called and offered to help. About an hour and half later they show up with some 2 x 6's nailed together, I paid him twice what he asked for and told him I couldn't tell him how much this meant to me. A year and a half of planning and 9 days of hard riding down the drain if he hadn't helped. While waiting for the wood I went over to the 7-11 got a ending printed receipt and borrowed a plastic Pepsi crate that I used to prop the bike up on. Using some duct taped I taped the 2x4 I already had on top of the 2x6's and it worked, shaky but it worked. It's about 4:30 - 5:00am now; I've lost over 3 hours. This is where I made a major and fatal mistake, I should have gotten the laptop out and reviewed my plan route for that day, but I just proceeded with the route I had planned. I should have started heading back to St Louis and picked up a group of smaller bonii to make up for the big ones I was going too, rookie mistake. I called Lisa and told her what was going on and did the second Call-In bonus.
I'm now able to go to Yosemite bag those two bonii, the Ahwahnee Hotel was not a problem, Jim Owen pulled up just as I was walking out of the hotel, we exchanged a few words but he was all business, he was trying to win I was trying to be a finisher. I saw a sign on one bridge pointing out Half Dome, I could not find that bridge again so I ask a maintenance worker, he pointed to a large rock in the background, now I'm getting messed up, the wood block is strapped on my tank bag preventing me from reading the bonus sheets. I forgot to reread the bonus instructions at the hotel, the bonus code was GP for Glacier Point, in my haste Saturday morning I had put the push pin on Half Dome not Glacier Point and the events of the morning was taking its toll. I would have left 10,234 points on the table if I made it back on time.
Then I headed for White Mountain and the 18,567 point bonus at the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. This was another bonus that I did not take the time to really pin point and I lost some time finding the entrance sign to the National Park, in fact MapSource and Street & Trips don't show it. The instruction talked about 13 miles of dirt road after the Visitor Center; it should have said sand, gravel and rocks. I have slip on mufflers from a Road King that I have springs to help keep them in place along with the single hanger, a rock knocked the right muffler off but the spring kept it up and against the header. Several riders were coming down while I was going up, one passed me going up and another rider was still at the top when I got there. There was some photographers taking pictures of the 4,000+ year old trees and mountain scenery, they said they had help fix a couple of bikes, they help me prop my bike on the blocks by adding a flat rock, that rock became a permanent part of my new temporary kick stand. I had stop at the VC on the way up and got the bonus stamp there for my NPT collection but I had my Rally Flag and Polaroid with me when I went in, not sure if this was as far as I had to go. After I finally got off the bike I could not find my Rally Flag, there was only one thing to do, take the picture with my face in it like the rules state, but I was disappointed because I thought I lost my souvenir of the IBR. As I walked back to the bike I saw my flag laying on the ground under the bike, I quickly retook the picture with my Rally Flag, those wasted two Polaroid shots would hurt later. Back down those 13 miles of sand, gravel and rocks. The rear brakes failed again coming down on the paved section below the VC, again I wasn't pushing it. This bonus took almost 4 hours since I turned off the highway, not good. A 2-up team, Jim and Donna Phillips was just entering the park as I left, they didn't hear me yell 'Go Back'.
I decided I needed to see how long I have to get back to St, Louis and the mileage, oops, 1,800 miles and only 37 hours to do it, time to get moving. I had to go in the wrong direction back to Big Pine to get gas first and for the second of three times the bike penned me against the gas pump when my left foot slipped this time on a piece of ice I dropped filling my thermos, it took about 5 minutes to get someone to come and help lean the bike up.
The GPS guided me on CA-168 across the desert to US-95 and Beatty, NV, then Las Vegas. The rear brakes failed again on the twisty roads before I got to a very long straight section. This time I thought I had had it, I was coming out of a left turn, applied power to crest a small hill and preparing for the right turn ahead, I was only doing about 35mph, I down shifted and applied the front brakes until they started to chatter, with desert sand and a rock cliff directly ahead I managed to bleed enough speed off to make the turn. I did the rest of 20 miles of twisty road at 20mph. I stopped at the infamous Beatty, NV for gas. There was a bonus at New York, New York Casino in Las Vegas to take a photo of the Statue of Liberty. Two attempts at 2AM didn't work with the available light plus I ran out of film so I left wasting some valuable time. The GPS has now decided instead of me heading north on I-15 to I-70 it has me continue on US-95S across Hoover Dam to I-40. I would have known better if I was familiar with this part of the US. The mileage turned out to be the same within 10 miles but the allowable speeds would have been higher.
Thursday August 30th, Day 11
When I got to I-40 I took a 30 minute nap and headed east. I got my spare Polaroid camera out since it had a new pack of film in it. Just before I got to Flagstaff the raising sun blinded me to the point I had to pull over. I couldn't even just rest sitting on the bike because of the kickstand issue. I was sleepy and tired with 26 hours and 1,300 miles to go, doable if I just had a good night sleep but I had been up for 30 hours except for a few power naps. I called Lisa the Rally Master and told her I didn't think I was going to get back before the 9AM deadline. I found a rest stop took a nap, felt great again and headed out if I could keep my pace up I might still make it. I came to the exit for the Jackrabbit Trading Post, got off to bag that bonus just incase I did get back in time. Snap, nothing, the meter says 10 pictures left, then I remember when I loaded the camera it spit out all ten negatives and I had forgotten about it, I was out of film and I had not come across a Wal-Mart in 10 days. So I took a digital photo for the record.
About 200 miles later I hit that wall again, I found a hotel/casino, Sky City at Exit 102, setting the Screaming Meanie alarm for 4 hours that would get me back to St Louis in time for the banquet. Well I got up and decided to go have something to eat; I had not sat down and eaten a meal in 6 days, eating while riding doesn't count. I got sick before I even got back to my room. Now I feel weak, I walked out to the bike to load up before I checked out, looked at the bike and said no way; I went back to the room and slept for 6 more hours. Okay I will miss the banquet also.
Friday August 31st, Day 12
I rode the 1,086 miles back to St. Louis, stopping only to get gas, arriving at 2AM Saturday morning, 17 hours after the checkpoint closed.
To be a finisher you needed 190,000 points for the 11 days, Bronze (210,000), Silver (225,000) and Gold (240,000)
I was one of those 33 who DNF'd. Brett Donahue an H-D dealer in Minnesota finished in 3rd place, the only Harley that finished, on a XLH1200R and the first to ever finish on a Sportster. The drive train was stock but the suspension and front forks were modified for this type of riding. The top 10 bikes were BMW 1st ,2nd ,4th and 5th ; Sportster 3rd ; Yamaha FJR1300's 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th, Honda ST1300 10th. The highest finishing Goldwing GL1800 was 11th, a factory Victory Vision finished 15th. The only Buell Ulysses finished 60th. All 5 2-up teams finished. There was 5 women riders, the top finisher Vicki Johnson was 14th, and this was her third IBR, only one DNF when she failed to collect enough points. Of the four 'hopeless class' riders, one other and myself DNF the second leg, the two oldest bikes finished but did not have enough points to be finishers. The oldest rider was 82 years old, he had mechanical problems and DNF'd on the first leg.
The Iron Butt Rally is an endurance test of rider and machine, if you change bikes during the rally you are penalized half of your points in the standings. There is always at least one rider who goes to extreme ends to finish, a rider on a Honda ST1100 had his front wheel, not the tire but the wheel broke 140 miles from the finish, he borrow a bike from a total stranger to finish, he went from being a top 10 finisher to dead last among the finishers. Brett Donahue on the Sportster had to rent a bike in 2005 to do the same thing. He was on the same Sportster this year with a new 'stock' engine installed.
On the way home, tired, a little sore and disappointed I didn't finished I had the crazy thought that if I was selected to ride the Rally again, remember you have to apply, I would love to do it again. If need be on the same old bike if I could work out a few performance issues, the rear brakes of course and getting the bike to want to run at 75mph hour after hour in those western states where the speed limit is 75mph and those long rides where you need to keep your pace up.
After I got home I replaced the bent subframe. The rear brake pads where worn to the point the wear grove was just visible, a lot of hard braking was done but the brake fade was real also.
About seven weeks later coming home from The Void III Rally I crashed doing enough damage to the bike that I'm thinking about not fixing it but move on to a newer Gold Wing. It would make a nice sidecar rig if its not too damage. Now the old girl is laying outside of my shop on its right side with the kick stand sticking up in the air.
Other Riders Stories and Webshots