Iron Butt Rally 2009 Journal

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Bob is off and riding again.  This time he is riding in the 2009 Iron Butt Rally (IBR). The Iron Butt Rally is held in the United States every two years.  It is an 11 day, 11,000 mile plus marathon ride.   Motorcycle Bob is phoning Mrs. Motorcycle Bob (Patti) and she is writing the journal.

August 19,  2009

The early morning found Bob and I on the way to Sacramento Airport.  Aerospace technology whisked Bob to Atlanta via Phoenix.  The first leg of the trip he was bumped up to first class.  Must be rough duty. Fortunately,  there were no dramas on either leg of the journey.  Upon arriving in Atlanta, Fred Pescatelli met Bob at the airport and chauffeured Bob to his  Hampton Inn in Marrietta, Georgia.  Bob had made arrangements for another friend to pick him up, but those plans changed.  So, it was time to go to plan B.  Get on line and ask for help.  Fred was the first of eight responders, and so the two met and became friends.  After checking in, Fred and Bob enjoyed "burnt ends" at the World Famous Williamson's BBQ.  Bedtime  22:45,  no motorcycle miles.

 Now we move to tomorrow morning (that would be Thursday).  This is a story.  During the Iron Butt Rally of 2005, Bob had some difficulty with an alternator belt somewhere in Kansas City.  A  call to the BMW  Anonymous Book found Brian and Karen Burdette.  They drove over 100 miles to bring a new belt and changed it out for Bob ( while Bob tried to get some needed sleep) in a downpour on the side of the road.  Well, as it happens, Brian is in Atlanta on business this week.  So, in consistent BMW friendship, Brian contacted Bob and offered to pick him up and take him to Atlanta BMW bright and early. 

 Bob Wooldrich is the owner of Atlanta BMW.  He has been kind enough to accept the motorcycles being shipped (trucked)  to the other coast.  Bob will wait until the truck arrives.

Many thanks to Bob and his dealership for helping the riders from Northern California riding in the 2009 Iron Butt Rally.  This rally is truly going to be a huge challenge.  You'll  find out very soon.

 

Thursday Aug 20,  2009

The aforementioned Brian Burdette arrived and picked up Motorcycle Bob at about 8:30 this morning.  Off to  Bob Wooldrich's Atlanta BMW where, as they arrived, lo and behold, there was "The Truck",  with motorcycles being off-loaded.  (Now, there's a photo op!)   The awesome mechanics at Atlanta  BMW changed Bob's alternator belt and adjusted the throttle control and other stuff.  Done by noon, with many thanks, and much appreciation, Bob then headed out to Spartanburg, South Carolina.  The Beginning of the 2009 Iron Butt Rally.

 The non-stop ride to "The Start" was uneventful.  Upon arriving the temperature was 95 degrees F and 95% humidity.  "I'm dripping wet and there's no rain in sight".  So Bob checked in to the hotel and got out the heat.   The plan was to check in, rest, triple check the packing of the bike and prepare for the tech check as soon as possible. 

 Well, as we know, plans are meant to be changed.  Especially when there are IBR riders to talk with.  So "visiting" ensued with Dennis Bidner, Lisa Landry, (She's the rally master), Ira Haggins, Jeff Earls, and Mark Crane.  The  prospects of what "might be" on the Rally were the at the top of list of discussion topics.

Sad news.....Dusty Miller of Tallahassee BMW recently passed away from liver problems.  He had been a very supportive BMW Dealer for Motorcycle Bob, and a great guy. 

 Dinner was a bacon cheeseburger at the hotel.  The BBQ Dinner the previous night was less expensive, and much,  much better.  (Hey dude, you're in a Hotel.) 

Fellow IBR friends, riders and bike shippers : Alan Barbic, Mark Crane, and Dave Legnoski's plane was late due to being 5kLBS. OVERWEIGHT. They finally arrived this evening.   Unfortunately, they also had to endure the ATLANTA  RUSH HOUR TRAFFIC.

I'm told that there is no other like it. 

Friday August 21,  2009

A very laid back day, with volunteers, staff and riders showing up. Bob's story of the day was the trip, or adventure, to WalMart.   Now how exciting can that be? Well, with Bob, you never know.  Fellow rider, PolioPlus supporter and friend, Bob St. George, was talking with our  Bob.  They decided that Our Bob would make a run to the local Walmart to pick up some supplies.  Nothing, unusual about that.  So where is it? (The store, I mean. )  Ask someone local, which is what Bob did.  ( A male asking directions?)  

The chosen local said that "ya jess go up the road here two lights, and it's jess a couple minutes. Ya  can't miss it."  The couple minutes turned into 13+ miles, and yes, you can miss it.  The next neighborly gentleman said, "Just follow me".  It turned out to be a "Super WalMart".  "It must be as big as 2 or 3 Costcos! "  Shopping completed, though. 

Back to the hotel for a bowl of chicken gumbo, that was so good it required a second bowl.

Sunday August 23,  2009

Sunday the Eve before DAY 1, 2009 IBR 

For non veteran rally riders (the newbies), today is full of nerves.  It's a day of checking every last thing until the first of the rider meetings. Veteran riders are asking themselves if this really is insanity or just fun. " Hopeless class" riders are praying for a finish of any kind. 

Each rider was given a computer memory stick with a listing of all the GPS co-ordinates of the bonus locations, plus a few bogus locations.  Riders then started identifying and locating these bonus locations. This is the time that speculation runs rampant, and nerves really are twanging.  You might think it was a bluegrass jam around the hotel.   At a later riders meeting, they will be given written instructions and "legal" bonus locations.  The written word is the "bible". They will be given last minute instructions and their rider numbers.  

A kick off banquet is at 5:30pm.  While the Long Distance Rider community is very friendly and supportive of each other, there is definitely a competitiveness come tomorrow morning.  So dinner will be social and fun, but after the written word is given, everyone heads for their computer to start putting together a strategy.  This is a rally, not a race.  It tests endurance, concentration, thought processing, and time management.  Oh yes, and the ability of the machine to take a real beating.   

Our Bob is Number 33. 

Thank you for sponsoring Motorcycle Bob:

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    Scruggs Environmental Control Systems

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    Buckley Parnell Heating and Air Conditioning

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    Stage Nine Productions

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    Guy Guilfoy, MD  (The surgeon that keeps Bob in one piece.)

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    Rob DeBruin, MD (The doc that keeps Bob moving forward.) 

 The last word from Bob was at 6:30pm saying that things were really getting hectic and I would hear from him when it was possible.

Monday Morning August 24,  2009  

A last minute phone call from Motorcycle Bob came in at 6:30 am our time.  He was ready.  He felt good, the bike was ready, and  he had planned out his first leg.  He said that one of the bonus locations was Martha's Vineyard, but since the President was supposed to be there, the consensus among the riders was not to chance the delays and detours.  So......where to go....we'll find out at the next check point.  ( St. Charles, Illinois ). 

At this point, I will not be expecting to hear from Bob very often.  He sounded really good this morning.  Very confident in himself and the bike.  He told me to thank every one who has helped make this last IBR possible.  Special thanks to Jon Greene, the Web Master and fellow Rotarian whom Bob met on the NID to  Ghana in 2000. Jon and Martha have been great friends ever since.  They are both wonderful Rotarians from Sparks, Nevada.

 Tuesday August 25, 2009

Some time in the early hours (I think it was 2:15 am!) Bob called and asked me to call him at 6:15 am.  He had his alarm, but he wanted to make sure he would wake up.  He had gotten a room for some sleep.  He said it's only day 2 and he "stinks like a racehorse".  Sleep was more important than cleanliness.  Getting the room was an experience.  When he asked how much the room would be, the innkeeper said $149. That was not going to fly and Bob retorted that he could stay at a Hilton for less.  "Well, if you go in to the casino and sign up for the players card, the room will be $70." 

 On the way to Key West, one of his bonus points was the monument to the seven NASA astronauts that perished. Another was a BMW Museum. Along the way Bob has seen many of the "big dogs" heading the same way. There were some nasty storm cells around the Miami area and lots of police in Key West. 

4:30 P.M.  While trying to negotiate a wet bonus location Bob fell and his rally flag dropped into the alligator infested water.  He had a bungee cord with him and so with the use of it and one of his 5 foot arms, he managed to retrieve the flag in the nick of time. Bob 1 Alligators 0.  If you lose your flag, your rally is finished.  There is no recourse.  You just call the rally master and you're done. 

Heading north the rains have become so bad traffic has slowed to 5 mph.  Lots of accidents along the side of the road, and fortunately none with our riders. Bob is soaked completely through.  I hope he doesn't  rust.  His GPS got so wet it quit.  That is the one with all the bonus points in it, and the one  that's supposed to be weather friendly.  In loading the points manually into his other GPS, he made an error, and lost time going to the wrong location.

 At this point, he just wants out of the torrential storm and head for the Check Point.  This is the one outside of Chicago in St. Charles.  We'll see if he can scoop up any bonuses and check in on time.  He says the bike is running well and he is feeling really comfortable on the bike. 

 

Wednesday August 26, 2009

 No word from the man for hours on end.  I even tried to call him at 7 pm (9 pm St. Charles time), but no response.  Finally at about 8:30 our time, Bob called and said that he had arrived exactly on time at 9:00 pm and was in seconds of receiving negative points.  Wheeeew..........made it.

Bob said he figures he may have the most miles (2,900+) for the least bonus points (7,800).  Additionally, he may have the record for the most number of GPS units in one leg of the IBR.  If I have it right, he started with a primary and secondary unit.  Both ended  up failing (due to rain storms). Time to get on the phone and call for assistance from friends. Dear friends, thank you for your efforts on Bob's behalf.  Thank you "Skert" for the 3rd unit.

Then, Bob Wooldrich  from Atlanta BMW, shared a GPS unit with Our Bob. ( I'm not certain what happened to it.)  Lastly, there's always Target. So, far it's still working. 

 

Thursday August 27, 2009

The riders were given their leg 2 bonus point locations at 4:00 am.  Bob is currently at 90th position.  Finishing is what counts in this major rally.  And so it's on to the next checkpoint in Santa Ana, Ca .  

I also want to let you know that I erred about losing the rally flag.  If you do lose it, then when taking documentation photos, you have to be in the photo.  That can be quite tricky sometimes

 Thursday: Late Edition

 8:30 pm  Clear Lake, Iowa

 Bob is GPS happy.  Friend, fellow Long Distance rider and columnist for the BMW magazine  Paul  Glaves, performed magic on the GPS that Bob Wooldrich had loaned Bob.  So Bob left St. Charles a happier rider, even though it was raining when he left, and their were toll booths every 50 feet, construction everywhere and speed bumps.  It really wasn't that bad; it just seemed like it was. 

 He rode out of the rain and visited 5 bonus locations in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa.  One of them was the home and museum of Frank Lloyd Wright.  This was the scene of a very heinous crime by one Wright's servants, while Wright was out of town.   

I guess that I have another purpose in life........an alarm clock.  At 5:00 am I get to wake him up!!!  Fortunately for Bob, it will only be a phone ringing.  

The rally creator this year, Bob Higdon, has spent five years riding and compiling the data to put this rally together.  It seems to me, that while this on is the most challenging rally yet, it is also a very informative one.  Unfortunately, the riders don't have the time to  take advantage of these locations.

Friday August 28, 2009  9:30 p.m.

 Bob called from La Crosse, Kansas.  Sometime you should ask Bob about his Kansas stories.  Today he went to the Hobo, Museum in Britt, Iowa.  It was closed due to school opening.  I've no idea......However, Bob may be the only rider with the required "stew" (?) from the museum for documentation.  Then the Jesse James House in St.Joseph, Mo.

The sidecar tire self destructed and he found a shop with a suitable replacement.  Back on the road, he had to bypass one of his planned bonuses.

If you read or saw the Bridges of Madison County,  the Roseman Covered Bridge, in Winterset, Iowa was the next stop.  His last bonus for the day was the Garmin Headquarters in Olathe, Kansas.  No, he did not go in and discuss the issues of GPS units and the weather.  Much as he had reason to.

The only non riding time he allowed was for fuel and answering "What's PolioPlus?"

Now is a "rest" bonus until the early hours of the day. 

The bike is running "beautifully" and he is feeling good.

 

Monday  August 31, 2009 pm:

 I have not abandoned my duties, honestly.  I left Folsom at 6 am on Sunday morning to meet Bob when he arrived at the Checkpoint in Santa Ana, California.   After I checked in to the hotel, I took up my position as "Iron Butt Rally Groupie" in the dwindling shade outside in the valet parking area of the Double Tree Hotel.  As the afternoon wore on, more riders arrived, as well as fellow "groupies".  Several of us wives met each other and enjoyed  the wait together.  Deborah Fitzgerald brought water, folding chairs and lots of family.  It was great. The cheering section was in full force.  It was a wonderful opportunity to get to know some of the other "IBR Widows".  The afternoon dragged on into evening. I had not heard from Bob since Saturday, but I was going on the presumption that no news is good news.  That worked until about 6:30 pm..........But, I digress and back to the Journal.

 

 Saturday: August 29, 2009

 With the GPS issue resolved, and no more torrential downpours, the day looked good for Bob.  The bike was running well.  The sidecar was back in motion.  The rain was now a bad dream, and there was lots of heat and sunshine.  Why not? It's August in the Western States!

He finally called.  He asked if I was going to the Santa Ana checkpoint.  I told him, because he does not like  surprises, that I was planning on it.  "So, would you like to drive the Corvette down?"  That was a big "Duh?"  Who wouldn't?   "Would you bring the wheel and tire from the other Vetter sidecar?"   OK ...  I packed up my gear and loaded up the 'Vette.   He had a feeling ...

 

Sunday August 30, 2009  early evening and the phone call.

 Hi! Where are you?
"About 30-40 miles out on 91."
That's good!
"Yeah, but I had a blow out on the sidecar tire and BMW towing will only  take me to a BMW dealer."
Well, I have the spare and stuff in the car, and Reinhardt has a jack ready for the swap. Why don't we come out and fix it?
"OK"

 So, we headed out to find Bob, at an underpass on the 91.  What a car the Vette is!  It knows where to go all by itself (almost).   We found him, changed out the wheel, and he was back in the saddle. The rim had no rubber anywhere. There was no tire debris.  He made it in to the checkpoint well ahead of penalty points.  (They started at 9pm.  If you’re not in by 11pm, you then become "time barred".) Then it was re-hydrate, organize documentation and scoring. Eating some good carbs was in amongst the routine.  Finally, about 10:30pm it was sleep time. 

 

 Monday August 31, 2009

  3 am came awfully early.  Time to rise and ........go to the riders meeting and get the next leg of bonus locales and instructions.  Sit at the computer and plan the last leg.  Then, get out of So Cal before rush hour traffic.  The fires around Los Angeles were smoking up much of the eastern side of So Cal. It was not a pleasant site..  By 6:45 we were both headed out, going our own ways.  It was home for me and somewhere in Utah, Nevada, Colorado, Idaho, California, Oregon, Washington, and or British Columbia for Bob.  All before the checkpoint closes on Sept 4 in Spokane. 

 

Monday evening: Blanding, Utah

 Having left the smoky skies of So Cal early in the morning, Bob found the entire Mojave area heavy with smoke and very hot.  His bonus highlights for the day were  Mt. Meadows Memorial, Utah- the site of the largest and worst mass murder prior to 9-11, in U.S. history.  120 men, women and children were slaughtered in 1857. 

 Mexican Hat, Utah,  with a panoramic photo of the valley. He's looking forward to a rest bonus on Wednesday, a call in bonus on Tuesday and Thursday, and a fuel log bonus at the end.  This is another long leg, and a very demanding one.  The riders are tired, desirous of scooping up bonus points and finishing,  hopefully up at the top of the list, but just "finishing" is the goal.

 

Ride Report Finale

 Bob spent Tuesday  (September 1st) touring Utah and Nevada, while I prepared to ride to Spokane on Wednesday morning.  I didn't really hear from him much, except that he was riding and riding and riding. He was on track to collect enough points to be a finisher.

 Wednesday morning I left Folsom on the Goldwing with sidecar and headed up I-5 to Portland.    My excursion north was warm but uneventful.  Oregon was certainly dry.  They have had a very hot summer.  I reached the Portland area in time for rush hour traffic, so stopped for the night in Oregon City.  Of course the phone rang just as I was dead to the world.  It was Bob. He was outside of Sweet Home, Oregon. headed for Corvallis.  He told me the sidecar had just broken one of its mounts and he had finally learned what riding a two wheeled bike was like; at least for about 5 miles.  He was on Highway 20, a very twisty highway.  After slowing the bike, it finally fell on him. He took his helmet off, only to watch it roll down the road 100ft.   A few minutes later, (but seemed an eternity), two cars showed up and stopped to help. Both drivers were ladies that had some muscle, because they managed to get the bike up, enough for him to crawl out from under it.  The three of them then managed to get it completely upright.  Damage to the bike: a scraped valve cover.  Damage to Bob: a minor cut on his forehead, and bruises to assorted body locales. The sidecar was in bad shape.  Another Good Samaritan (Gray) stopped and fixed a pot of coffee including grinding the beans right there.  In the mean time, a tow truck was called. The Good Sam Club sent out assistance right away. The police showed up ready to file an accident report and scrape up bits and pieces of Bob from the roadway. Guess they were disappointed, and left when the tow truck arrived.  After loading the bike and sidecar onto the truck and retrieving helmet and scattered items, everyone disbursed with Bob and the driver headed into Sweet Home.  It turned out that the driver, Shawn Anderson, happens to build hot rods and said that he could fix the sidecar in the morning, and that Bob could sleep on the sofa in his office.  There really are wonderful people in this world.
{If the good folks who stopped to help Bob would please contact us, we would like to properly thank you, and post your names.} 

When Bob called from the highway, I thought I should head out to help him. I got dressed and started packing. Then I realized I did not know where he was, where he might be headed, and that it was dark (10:30 pm) and my night vision is awful, especially in unknown territory.  There really wasn't a thing I could do at that moment.  So, I stayed put. 

I called Bob in the morning and found that he had managed some sleep and was waiting for Shawn to arrive.  They were going to reattach the bike and sidecar, and Bob would head for Spokane. As it turns out, Shawn brought his helper and the three of them worked steady for several hours.  I headed through the Columbia Gorge and then north to Spokane.  

You can take the rider out of the rallyist, but not the rallyist out of the rider.  After getting back on the road, Bob headed out for more bonus points.  After collecting two more, he realized there was no way he could scoop up enough points to finish. So, extremely disappointed, he started for Spokane.  He arrived about 8 pm, looking a bit ragged, but smiling and joking.  Bed and sleep until 3 am.  Scoring started at 4am.  Then a nice long sleep.  While Bob completed the rally, and personally feels he rode the best rally he has ever done, he did not have enough points to be considered a finisher.  There were too many hours spent chasing GPS units, tire changes, and sidecar repairs.   

The banquet was very elegant, especially since it is Bob's tradition to wear his tuxedo.  Only 70 riders "finished".  The two top riders, Jeff Earls and Jim Owen, are good friends, as well as competitors.   

We do not have final figures yet, but the 2009 IB Rally Riders have donated several thousand dollars towards PolioPlus.  Many thanks to all of you who have helped save children from suffering. 

Is this Bob's last Iron Butt?  He says yes.  However, he still intends to ride other shorter rallies.

 

 

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