Bob is off and riding again. This time he is riding in the 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.
The Iron Butt website has ride results, and a daily journal at www.ironbuttrally.com/IBR/2005.cfm.
Thursday August 18, 2005
Motorcycle Bob has spent the last two weeks preparing the Zebra for another ride. A&S BMW has carefully examined the bike and changed tires and fluids and stuff. Bob added a fuel cell to extend the range between fuel stops and added more driving lights. This 2005 Rally will be bittersweet. His post-polio is really taking a toll on him and so he believes this will be his last Rally as a rider/competitor. The recent death of fellow IBR Rider Ron Smith was emotional for many of the long distance (LD) community. In memory of Ron, many of the riders have/are contributing generously to the PolioPlus program thru Bob. Ron was a big supporter of Rotary's effort to eradicate polio. Polio is so close to being wiped out that it is hard to believe that an an outbreak in Indonesia just occurred. It was brought by an outsider. With DNA testing and other technology, the origin of a strain of the virus can be determined down to the village it originated from. Even more reason to stay vigilant in our immunizations of all children until it is really gone.
And so when Bob headed out at 9am he left with a positive attitude and the continued goal of awareness. (And finishing the rally and coming home in one piece.)
He stopped at his parents home in Auburn, and then headed east. He filled up in Sparks, Nevada and then made his way to HWY 50. The loneliest highway in America happens to be quite beautiful. The road has been re-paved and it is smooth and great riding. Except when a doe and her fawn decided they were taking ownership of a piece of it, and traffic came to a halt. Thanks to Tobey Stevens for the fuel cell. Bob has a range of about 350 miles now. Thanks A&S, the bike is running like a dream.
Now, what do we do about the stupid drivers? The ones that decide to make a lane change whether you're in that lane of not! Bob found that with the extra driving lights the road is lit up like daylight. Try to imagine this former CHP motorcycle with a lighted sidecar, upper and lower additional driving lights coming down the highway. He must look like a UFO at very low altitude flying straight at you.
In Scipio, Utah Bob pulled in to the Super 8 Motel to get a room for the night. The manager did not seem pleased at all when Bob went into the office. In fact, he said he was sick of motorcycles/motorcyclists and maybe Bob should just keep going!!!!!!!! Bob suggests that all bikers beware and avoid this motel.
He rode another 100 miles and found a more hospitable motel.
Friday August 19, 2005
The Lone Star Motel provided a good nights rest for ole Iron Butt Bob. Back on the highway, Bob rode through Utah's Canyonlands. He said he always forgets how beautiful it is- like an ocean floor, without the water of course. The highways were great and the weather was not too hot. About 45 miles outside of Denver, everything came to a halt. It seems that there was a mighty big problem ahead. 23 miles of traffic backup, to be specific. Bob took a 31 mile detour around the mess and ended getting back on the highway just ahead of a lumber truck that had spilled 2 x 4's all over the road. Fortunately, Bob also missed the hold up from the airplane that tried to land on I 70 and crashed instead.
Bob arrived in Denver at the Doubletree Hotel, this years Rally Start and Finish. After checking in, Bob met up with fellow riders and went to dinner with friends. Certainly the "war stories" were the topics of discussion. The stories are not lies, but no one but LD riders would believe them. Anyway, they had some laughs. Then Bob found an unmanned piano. After some songs and entertaining, they all headed off to find their rooms and dreams of finishing well in the Rally.
Saturday August 20, 2005
Bob slept in a bit this morning. He met up with John Bolin who brought another fuel cell for the Zebra. I think this one holds 7 gallons. Anyway, John, Bob and Jim Owen obtained the parts and assembled and installed the fuel tank. Special thanks go to Jim and Bob St. George for their hefty contributions to PolioPlus in memory of Ron Smith ($1000.00, and $2500.00). There is a special camaraderie amongst the LD riders. While they compete with each other in the rally, they all step up and help each other. You may remember the trouble Bob had with a certain tire on the Centennial Ride. LD rider Bill Thweatt was the good Samaritan that sent Bob a tire. Well, guess who came to Denver? Guess who refused payment for the tire? Bob and Bill settled up with a beer.
One of the "rules" of riding the IB is that if you see a fellow rider in trouble, you stop and help. There are many examples of this on the Iron Butt Rally website logs. There is some good reading there.
Back to the day at hand. After checking the bike again, Bob then started the process of checking in for the Rally. It is quite an involved process. The bike is checked out and inspected. The insurance, registration documents are checked. Identification tags, Rally number and instructions are given to the rider. It was a two hour process. However, Bob did have time to get a haircut. He may look ragged when he finishes, but he'll start out looking sharp.
After the rigors of checking in and visiting with other riders, Bob joined friends for an informal dinner. The hotel has cordoned a portion of the bar just for the IB Riders and personnel. There is some bonding going on tonight. But Monday morning they will all be competitors, vying for a personal best.
An earlier time for bed tonight. Tomorrow things start getting more serious. Lots of speculation about where the bonus points will be. Will they be going to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, or Key West, or Raddison Canada, the top of Pikes Peak to the lows of Death Valley. Where will the points take them?
Start: Monday August 22, 10 AM the riders will be given their final instructions and off they go.
Checkpoint 1: Back in Denver, Friday August 26th, 7-9 pm
Checkpoint 2: Monday August 29th, 9-11 am
Finish Friday Sept 2nd, 8-10 am
In this type of rally, the riders are to be at the checkpoints at the beginning of the time "window". Once the window opens, points are taken for every minute a rider is late. At the end of the window, any rider who arrives is time barred (out of the Rally!).
Sunday August 21, 2005
As Gilda Radner used to say on Saturday Night Live, "It's always something". Somehow or other, Bob's shifter linkage managed to break. So Bob and John Bolin managed to hunt down parts to make the repairs. They filled up their bikes with fuel and Bob changed the final drive oil on his bike. Then a rainstorm drove people inside for the afternoon, which was okay since there was a riders meeting to attend. At this point the rally riders are given final instructions, rules and answers to questions. Some changes this year include the following:
Bob is rider # 22. I like that number. The rally starts on the 22nd and we were married on the 22nd. That works!
The starting banquet was at 5:30 pm. I would imagine that there were some antics, jokes and story telling. Lord High Kneebone, aka Mike Kneebone, probably presided over the business part of the dinner. The bonus routes for this first leg really settle down to two or three major scenarios. One is to ride to Seattle and travel down HWY 1 and visit light houses for the bonuses before going back to Denver. Another is to ride to Key West and back. Third is to ride up into New Brunswick. While there are other routings, the riders have to now figure which is the most feasible for them. They take into account, traffic, any time of day requirements (lighthouse open 2-4 pm), weather, road conditions, maximum number of possible points, hiking in to get the required photo or proof of visit, and a myriad of other things. Tomorrow at 10:00am the riders head out, each in their own direction. Some will ride together for a while or for the whole rally. Some will only be seen when they ride in to the checkpoints. Sleep well rally riders!!!!!
Monday Aug 22,2005
"And the madness begins" is what Bob told me at 6:45 am this morning. Everyone is on tip toes and in annnnnticiiipaaaaationnnn.
Headed for Key West and bonus points in between, He, (Bob, rider #22) called from 100 miles outside St. Louis at 10:15 pm their time. It was warm and humid, and the day had been full of rain. He was on his way for more mileage and dreams of palm trees.
More, sooner or later. Give me a break, it's just the beginning. He, Bob, will wake me in the middle of the night, with more info. A good first night
Tuesday August 23, 2005
At 10:15 pm last evening Bob called from outside of St. Louis. All seemed well and he was planning on riding a while longer and then find a motel for a few hours.
This afternoon about 3pm he called from 100 miles north of Atlanta. He sounded good, and said he was going to Homestead, Florida tonight. Then, on to Key West. So, I guess the no news is goods news theory will prevail.
Late breaking from MB (Motorcycle Bob). At 7:45 pm he called from the Florida State Line. Seems he and John Bolin picked up bonus points by riding to Fontana, NC and through Deals Gap (aka the Dragon's Back), just a quick jaunt of 11 miles and 318 switchbacks. The plan is to ride straight to Key West and watch the sun rise on Mallory Square, or somewhere.
Wednesday August 24, 2005
Bob experienced sunrise in the Florida Keys this morning. He sounded cheerful and energetic. He figures he has some 25,000 points so far. The winds are kicking up and a storm is on the way. His current plan is to head back to the mainland and take a sleep bonus. Yes Virginia, you can earn points for shutting your eyes for the right number of hours. Those IB people think of everything.
The sleep bonus is on hold for the fury of Katrina. A sidecar mounting bolt decided to give up and so Bob visited a Home Depot and bought extra bolts. However, some riders saw his motorcycle pulled off the road with the sidecar in the air and no Bob. They were concerned and called in to Rally Master Lisa. Bob called in to say he was fine, bike is great, sidecar in repair. So.......while competitive, they are a tight knit family. I hope Bob finds a calm Rally Master Lisa in Denver, and not another hurricane!!
There were some 5,000 entries for this rally. 100 riders were "drawn". 90 started in Denver.
Wednesday August 24, 2005
Motorcycle Bob had a very busy day. Just south of the Seven Mile Bridge the sidecar bolt decided to give way and create it's problem. Super State Trooper Ben helped out Bob and even got his hands greasy and dirty in the process. He went above and beyond the call.
Then, later, in search of dry land and sleep, a van full, full, full, of Mexicans, passed Bob and then went totally out of control. Flipping end over end, with people and stuff, or junk, flying out of the vehicle from every which way. The van at one point grazed Bob's sidecar and finally rested a mere 20 ft away from Bob and the Zebra. The adrenaline kicked in and Bob grabbed his crutches and went over to the smoking van and started helping pull bodies out of the van. The police arrived and after 3 hours Bob was relieved and allowed to continue on. The van didn't have enough seat belts for all of its passengers, whether or not they were using them.
Bob was fried and found a Hampton Inn in Haines City, Florida for his sleep Bonus.
Dennis Cunningham, friend, IB Rally Finisher, sidecar rider, etc. will be meeting Bob at the first checkpoint in Denver, with some shocks for Bob's sidecar, will be a wonderful sight for tired eyes.
In 2 1/2 days Bob has covered 2800 miles. However, there are some more bonus points on the way back to Denver that look interesting............
Thursday 25 August, 2005
Motorcycle Bob called with this report. He left Haines City early this morning. LD rider and friend "Skert" met up with Bob and led him through Atlanta rush hour traffic. Thank you Skert.
So far today it's been good riding. Bob says that at least a couple of times a day, usually at a fuel stop, people recognize the bike, or the Rotary logo, or know about PolioPlus or the Iron Butt Rally. He is amazed at how nice people are.
His plan is to ride straight through to the checkpoint in Denver and get some sleep before the time window opens. It's exciting to watch the riders arrive and hear of their experiences. Each rider will go through the check in procedure, refresh themselves, and then wait for the riders meeting to receive the next leg's bonus point list on the way to Maine.
Point standings for the leg will be posted on the website and we will be looking for #22.
Early Friday August 26,2005
Bob didn't like riding through the fog at all. However the no-notice rain storm was a lot of fun. You know the drenching kind that just dumps lots of water. It also turns a sidecar into a very leaky, not very portable, fiberglass pool. Nature did provide the evenings entertainment of fireworks, very loud thunder and megawatts of lightning.
Bob decided to pull in for a couple of hours of sleep somewhere in Kansas. He asked me to call him at 4am for an additional wake-up. At five am he called and said his alternator belt broke and he is against the clock now. The search for a replacement and the time to replace it are ticking away at the time left to make it back to Denver. This may be the end..........
Late Late Friday August 26,2005
While Bob was in the Riders meeting, Dennis Cunningham and friends were changing sidecar shocks, tire, electrical stuff and sent Bob to bed while they finished up. Currently Bob is in 49th place in a field now of about 80. The lead rider has about 37,000 points. Maine is about 2,000 miles and Bob plans on sleeping tonight and heading out in the morning.
Saturday, August 27, 2005
Bob is eager to scoop up some bonus points on his way to Maine. His revised plan is to go to St. Louis, catch a bonus and a sleep bonus. Then to Harrisburg, Pa., for another bonus, and on to Maine. We'll see how it goes. Lets hope for smooth sailing, as he is an Admiral in the Nebraska Navy.
Sunday August 28,2005
Two bonuses in the St Louis area. One for sleep and another for a photo of the
bridge with a bend. Now it's on to Harrisburg PA and Buxton Maine for the
checkpoint. Bob is in good spirits.
Sunday night, August 28, 2005
Tired ole Bob picked up the bonus in Harrisburg. It was the train bridge that you can see from all over the city, but to get to is a maze.
With four hundred miles to Buxton, he still has a ways to go and it's all thru deer territory.
Monday August 29,2005
I last heard from Bob last night, when we discussed the "plan" for the morning. Morning came..........and someone did not call. So I finally called the Checkpoint in Buxton Maine, to find that Mr. Mutchler had made the checkpoint and had left. Guess it's a good thing for him that he's on the other side of the country.
Friend Bill McKenna in Augusta Maine forwarded some photos of Bob at the checkpoint. So ole, Iron Butt Bob is out there riding somewhere, eventually headed west to Denver, with bonus points who knows where.
The Iron Butt Guy rode from Harrisburg Pa into the Checkpoint in Maine on a rear tire that was going flat. The tire and oil were changed at Reynolds Motorsports. Bob caught a little sleep and then when the new bonus listing was handed out, he left again.
Seems that Bob and Heidi Still had the same idea as our Bob, to go to NY City for the Brooklyn Bridge Bonus. They got to NYC and spent 3 hours getting to the right location for the photo. Then on to West Virginia and more bonus points.
Motorcycle Bob and I connected on Wednesday afternoon. Cell phone service was non existent in many places for both of us. Bob was in Kansas somewhere with a slipping clutch. He wanted to meet up and unload as much stuff as he could get by with. We decided on Idaho Springs, on the eastern side of the Rockies. Bob and the Still's left for Las Vegas to photograph the other Brooklyn Bridge at New York, New York Casino/Hotel. Pop, Alice and I headed on in to Denver for the night.
Thursday morning the folks and I settled in to the Doubletree for the finale. We met and visited with staff and riders as some of the early arrivals made it in. Bob was finally leaving Las Vegas about 2pm when he called to say his clutch was really bad. He had no fifth gear and fourth was getting iffy. From Richfield east it was very slow going. He crossed the Rockies with a top speed of 30 mph and 25 on the uphill grades. It took all night to get to Denver. We were concerned that he might get stuck in rush hour traffic. He managed to get in about 5:30 am. The Zebra barely limped into the driveway. It had to be pushed in order to park it. But he finished-and that was what mattered the most. He was a sorry sight for sore eyes, or a sore sight for sorry eyes, or something. He looked exhausted but he was smiling.
All the riders that were still in the rally arrived safely back in Denver. There were no major injuries. 100 riders drawn, 90 started, 72 finished. Needless to say the Iron Butt Bonding began. Filthy bikes were everywhere. As the afternoon wore on, speculation about winners began. When the banquet began at 5 pm there was a buzz about who the top dogs were. The meal began. There always has to be some housekeeping announcements. Judy Kaplan read a poem she had written about the Rally. Bob gave a brief presentation about PolioPlus. The generous Iron Butt Riders donated over $4500 for PolioPlus.
And then finally the awards were presented. No one knew who placed where, until the names were read. Bob finished 65. I doubt anyone had near the mechanical problems he managed to overcome. For first place finisher Shane Smith, from McComb, Mississippi, it was a bittersweet victory. His family had to evacuate during the Rally. His wife told him to finish the Rally and not to worry, the family was fine. Their home suffered some damage from the hurricane, but not as much as others. When the water came back on the pipes broke upstairs. Twelve hours of flooding...........
Many comments of "this is my last rally", were heard throughout the evening and the next day. Yeah, right. Some will make good on that statement. Time will tell for others. As for Bob; the long cold slow night before the finish was going to be his last. The next day however, there was talk ..........., well, we'll see
Remember to check out the Iron Butt website for ride results, and a daily journal at www.ironbuttrally.com/IBR/2005.cfm.