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Long Distance Riding Iron Butt or Endurance rides.

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Old September 3rd, 2010   #1
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Default My Iron Butt 5000 rally report

Ok, I'm going to write about this now that most of the painful memories and aches and pains have subsided a little bit.

It will be done in installments as I don't have time to write a long report in one sitting.

First, a little background on my Endurance Riding history. I started this obsession back in 1997 when my buddy, Randy Carlson, started bugging me to get a bike so that I could go riding with him. I mostly rode dirt bikes and then only during our annual Deer hunting trip with my father.

Randy loaned me a book by Ron Ayres called, "Against the Wind". It got me hooked on the sport and I bought a brand new 1998 Honda ST1100 and decked it out with every farkle you could think of including a Ron Major designed Auxiliary Fuel tank. I slowly started riding various IBA individual rides until I thought I was ready for a rally.

My first rally was the original Butt Lite 5000 rally in 1999 put on by Eddie James and Adam Wolkoff (founders of TeamStrange). It was a 5 day rally and it was a hoot!

I did several other one day events and was a volunteer helping out in the 1999 IBR. My name then got drawn to ride in the 2001 IBR. I was one of the crazy guys that chose to go to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska directly from the start. I didn't quite make it to Prudhoe Bay due to the weather and timing but, I did capture the Denali bonus which got me a gold medal as a finisher.

I rode and organized several more endurance rallies after that. I had a wreck in 2002 during one rally I was putting on and that slowed me down a bit. Also, my job got outsourced to India which put a crimp in our income. This sport is expensive.

Fast forward to 2009. My health was improving, our income was improving, and I decided that I wanted to ride in another rally put on by Adam and Eddie. I was going to once again put my name in for their Butt Lite rally but, then the announcement came that they were going to host the Inaugural Iron Butt 5000 rally (a smaller 5 day version of the 11 day rally).


Well, it was a no-brainer to me. I put my name in and I got drawn.


I had to put off getting my bike ready until after my daughter's wedding in Kauai. That went off with one hitch, theirs. ;-)

Then, it was time to start putting together all the gear I'd need and get my bike really. I was under a tight budget with only 2 months to prepare so, I had to be ruthless and only get what I absolutely needed. So, I made a list of what I wanted and then eliminated what I didn't think I absolutely needed.


I ended up getting a reconditioned Garmin 478 GPS, an auxiliary fuel tank from Roy Fletcher, a dash shelf from Roy Fletcher, a map organizer from Steve Brings in UT, and a second-hand Russell Day-Long Saddle. I had been testing several makes of tires and finally settled on a pair of Avon Storm Ultra II's. I also had to pick up a digital camera and a Netbook. I settled on an Olympus Stylus 9000 camera and a reburbished ASUS Eeepc.

Paige Ortiz from AeroFlow windshields happened to be developing a new summer version of his windshield for the ST1300 and he asked me whether I would be interested in testing it out. I immediately jumped at the offer as I figured it was going to be damn hot in Denver and the other places that they might send us and I was right. The summer shield would allow for a lot more cooling air flow to reach me.


I also enlisted Mark Reis' aid in wiring up my PIAA 910's, the GPS, and a HeatTroller for my electric clothing.

And that was about all I did to get ready. For me, it would pretty much be a bare-bones rally. I wouldn't have a CB or a radar detector or two GPS's. I would have an onboard hydration system and my 478 GPS had an XM Radio plus weather. I also had heated grips.


I renewed my AAA membership and stocked up on maps for all the 48 contiguous states plus Canada's provinces. I practiced my routing skills using the digital files from the 2009 Iron Butt Rally. I also got a hold of Microsoft's MapPoint software in leu of Streets and Trips. MapPoint had the same user interface as S&T but, it could handle additional data fields like points and time of day and import that info into the routing s/w with different colored and sized symbols. The other riders went to a lot of trouble to develop and learn to use various 3rd party tools to do this. Well, MapPoint did that pretty much automatically and basically saved me about 1/2 - an hour's worth of work.

Still, as I was going to find out, choosing a winning route was not easy.

(stay tuned for more...)
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STOC# 929, IBA# 218


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Old September 4th, 2010   #2
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Default Re: My Iron Butt 5000 rally report

A very sad bit of news hit us like a ton of bricks a few months before the rally was to start. Eddie James, one of the rally masters was killed in a senseless accident on a freeway in Georgia. Some nimrod had stopped his van in the middle of the carpool lane to fix a flat tire. He had plenty of room to pull off into the shoulder area out of the way but, chose not to. Eddie was returning home after some meeting and was following a large truck. The truck suddenly veered out of the way around the obstructing van but, Eddie didn't have a chance to react. Witnesses say he didn't even get a chance to slow with his brakes.

This hit a lot of people very hard. Eddie was a good friend to a lot of us and was one of the reasons I had signed up for this rally. Last year, I had spent some time with Eddie at the finish of the 2009 Iron Butt Rally and met his fiance, Lisa Erbes. They were the perfect couple, both with great senses of humor. About a week later, Eddie and I met for dinner at Cafe Veloce to talk about old times. At the time, I didn't know he was going to be organizing the IB 5000 rally and asked him if he was going to put on another Butt Lite rally as I really wanted to enter it. He hemmed and hawed. Then, he regaled me with tales of tricks from his past Butt Lite rallies that were truly devious and then we finally got around to talking about the 2001 IBR. We were both in the 2001 IBR and were heading for the same bonus at the same time. We hooked up at the Sunnyside bonus and then I led him to Seattle. I had to stop to pick something up from my house and Eddie continued on towards Alaska. That was the last I saw of him during that rally until the finish so, we didn't know where the other had gone. Comparing notes, I found out he had the same plan as I but had carried it out in a different order. He went to the Denali bonus first and then tried for Prudhoe Bay. I tried for Prudhoe Bay first and then, when the weather stopped me, I hit Denali. Eddie was stopped by mechanical difficulties.

It was a very different atmosphere at the IB 5000 rally without Eddie around.

I spent the first 3 days before the rally attending the IBA National Meet in Denver and getting my bike inspected and my paperwork taken care of to get Registered for the rally.

Lisa Landry and Mike Kneebone have a great group of volunteers that are very organized and thorough. They're strict, though, as several of the newbies found out when they arrived without the proper paperwork or equipment.

Our odometer check ride was pretty easy. Just south on the freeway for a few miles, get off and turn around and straight back. The odo check helps the rally staff correct your actual mileage as most stock odometers are off by a bit.

I was surprisingly calm during this time as I've been through this before but, I could tell that some of the new guys had a ton of butterflies. Speaking of which, I met a lot of great folks there both in the rally and just there for the Meet. That's one thing about this sport that has always attracted me - the people.

Sunday night soon arrived and with it, the Pre-rally Riders' banquet at 5:30pm. Good food as always and then it was time to get the game going. Lisa Landry had Lisa Erbes (Eddie James fiance) hand out the rally packs.

They handed out the packs in the order of your IBA #. Apparently, I had to lowest number (218) and received my rally pack towards the last. I was very used to being last having a last name that started with "Z" but, this time, there were two people without IBA #'s yet who were after me.

Then, we were released to plot our courses for the first leg.

(continued with details on leg one...)
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Old September 9th, 2010   #3
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Default Re: My Iron Butt 5000 rally report

Now, my goals for this rally were four:
  1. Come out of it alive.
  2. Finish.
  3. Have fun.
  4. See if I could still do this stuff.
Well, I accomplished 3 out of four... at least to myself.

Most of you probably know that these rallies are like big scavenger hunts. But, you probably don't realize that they have progressively gotten more complicated. Reading comprehension is a big part of it.

There are a variety of ways to present bonuses and each rally master is a little different. Eddie James liked to do humorous things in his bonuses but, he also liked to trip up riders if they didn't read carefully.

One story he told me at Cafe Veloce was about a large bonus where you had to take a picture of a giant bat. Now, the one he wanted you to take a picture of was a baseball bat but, not even a block away was a costume store with a giant flying rodent type bat hanging outside of it. Take a wrong turn or go too far, and you can just imagine what fun the rider would have at the scoring table. That was Eddie James.

Lisa Landry, however, was more calculating and liked to use timed bonuses. They would be setup in a way that it was very difficult if not impossible to get from one bonus to another to a third in the time allotted. For example, there might be enough time to get 2 of them but, not the third. Almost, but not quite. Some riders might try for it and then find themselves time barred at the finish.

Imagine putting these two "styles" together and then throw in huge distances.

That's what this rally was like.

When I got back to my hotel room with the rally packet, I immediately started setting up my little ASUS Eeepc netbook and loaded the rally files onto it. I made working copies and then started to prepare the files for loading into my routing software, Map Point.

Map Point is a piece of software by Microsoft that I wasn't really familiar with until Andy Kirby mentioned to me that he had used it during the 2009 IBR. I got curious as to why that and not Streets and Trips and Andy told me that it was because he could use it to display different colored symbols based upon the point value ranges. This piqued my interest quite a lot and I started experimenting with it (since I work for MS, I can get it for free and not pay the $250 retail price). It turned out that not only could one display different colored symbols and types of symbols but, one could also put in more data (like times and dates) and have them pop up when you mouse-over the waypoint.

Now, Map Point was supposed to be my "secret weapon" as it should (in theory), speed up the file loading process and give me extra time to plan by eliminating the very time consuming process that other rally riders had come up with (i.e., the EZBake tool, etc.). It would eventually turn out to be my undoing but, I'll get to that later.

Let me explain first how the file prep and loading process worked for me.

The rally master provided us with 3 files (a .gdb, a .gpx, and a .txt file) which we could use however we wanted. They had the Latitude and Longitudes for each bonus location on them coded with the 3-letter code and a symbol.

I don't like Map Source so, I didn't need the .gdb file. The .gpx file was used to load directly into your GPS but, I wasn't going to do that either.

I liked to use the .txt file and import it into an Excel spreadsheet first. There, I would edit it in a couple of ways which I'll show you.

The generic .txt file we got from the rally staff looked like this:
Name Latitude Longitude Symbol Note
AFT 42.724267 -110.933450 Waypoint
AJO 32.375333 -112.872667 Waypoint
AME 41.131150 -105.397930 Waypoint
BAK 35.266533 -116.072833 Waypoint
BGS 46.123217 -112.931450 Waypoint
BOB 33.509633 -111.921750 Waypoint
BRG 34.472667 -114.346333 Waypoint
BSF 40.762633 -113.895700 Waypoint
BTT 45.986567 -112.476567 Waypoint
CAB 39.705706 -105.231042 Waypoint
CAM 48.827010 -113.417942 Waypoint
CAS 39.741420 -105.070620 Waypoint
CHP1 34.070333 -115.307883 Waypoint
CHP2 34.076200 -115.146433 Waypoint
CNR 36.998983 -109.045167 Waypoint
CWG 34.058267 -118.440583 Waypoint
DAV 36.220350 -116.726617 Waypoint
DEV 44.586854 -104.706702 Waypoint
DON 39.323633 -120.232100 Waypoint
DPP 37.630320 -119.084287 Waypoint
ETT 37.532400 -115.242483 Waypoint
FFZ 33.924500 -118.353000 Waypoint
GCD 33.229517 -108.264783 Waypoint
GPP 31.880500 -112.817550 Waypoint
GRC 36.052317 -112.105517 Waypoint
GST 36.580650 -118.752000 Waypoint
CP12 39.625457 -104.900178 Waypoint
This is just a small sample. There were about 50 bonuses total in Leg 1.

After I imported the .txt file into Excell, I would edit it to look like this:
Name Latitude Longitude Points DateTimes
AFT15 42.724267 -110.93345 386
AJO5 32.375333 -112.872667 426
AME15d 41.13115 -105.39793 198
BAK8 35.266533 -116.072833 36
BGS11d 46.123217 -112.93145 284
BOB4 33.509633 -111.92175 184
BRG4 34.472667 -114.346333 176
BSF13 40.762633 -113.8957 64
BTT12d 45.986567 -112.476567 364
CAB10r 39.705706 -105.231042 58 7am-7pm
CAM11 48.82701 -113.417942 908
CAS10r 39.74142 -105.07062 54 11am-9:30pm
CHP17 34.070333 -115.307883 138
CHP27 34.0762 -115.146433 138
CNR14d 36.998983 -109.045167 282
CWG7r 34.058267 -118.440583 262 8am-dusk
DAV9 36.22035 -116.726617 436
DEV15d 44.586854 -104.706702 238
DON6d 39.323633 -120.2321 198
DPP9d 37.63032 -119.084287 828
ETT13d 37.5324 -115.242483 268
FFZ6r 33.9245 -118.353 212 10am-10pm
GCD13r 33.229517 -108.264783 374 8:30am-5:30pm
GPP4 31.8805 -112.81755 302
GRC5d 36.052317 -112.105517 1022
GST8 36.58065 -118.752 667
CP12t 39.625457 -104.900178 250 Tues 5pm - 10pm
Notice that I've added some things to the 3-letter codes and a couple of new columns at the end of each line. I got this information from each bonus in the rally packet. First, I've added a page number to the 3-letter code (so I can quickly look up the bonus in the packet).

If the bonus was good anytime of the day, I didn't add anything else to the 3-letter code. However, if it was a Daytime only bonus, I added a lower-case letter "d", for "day", to the end of the code.

If the bonus was time limited, I added a lower-case letter "r", for "range", to the code and then I would add a Time/date value in the last column such as "10am-10pm".

If the bonus was not only time limited but only good on a specific day, I added a lower-case letter "t", for "time-limited".

This process took me between 15 and 20 minutes to complete. Then, I saved it back to a .txt tab-delimited file. This would then be imported into my Map Point software using its Import data wizard. During this process (which only takes a couple minutes), Map Point will ask me several questions:
  1. Delimiting character (I chose "tab").
  2. Column headers (Map Point matched Name, Latitude, and Longitude automatically. All I had to do was specify Points and DateTime data types. For Points, I chose "Other Data". For DateTime, I chose "Name2".
  3. Then it asks you what map type you want. I chose "Multiple Symbols".
  4. It then defaults to map on "Points" and Latitude & Longitude. I left the defaults.
  5. Finally, you get to choose what type of colored symbols you want to use. It starts out with 3 ranges based upon the points you've entered in the .txt file but, you can add more ranges. I went with 5 and for each one, I selected a different size and color and shape for the point range. For example, for rally large points, I selected the largest black square symbol. For the next lower range of points, I selected a large Red circle. Next I picked large blue circles,then smaller red circles, and finally small light purple circles. But, you can use whatever makes sense to you.
Here's what it looked like when I was done:
Attached Images
 
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STOC# 929, IBA# 218


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Old September 9th, 2010   #4
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Default Re: My Iron Butt 5000 rally report

So, you can see that there are several large, black squares spaced around the map. Those were the big bonii. Now, I immediately threw out the large ones in WA State as I knew how long it took to get there and back and we only had 38 hours (which wasn't enough time).

The large one up in Montana near the Canadian border might be possible and it was worth 1110 points.

There was a large one at Gerlach, NV too for 1302 points and I decided to see if it was possible. After working that possibility for a while, throwing in a few other smaller bonuses along the way, I decided that it wasn't a good choice and started looking at the bonuses closer in and down south. There was a big one in the Grand Canyon. I had even been to that very spot in 2002 when I was on my way to the start of our '02 Rendezvous 5 day rally from Mexico to Alaska. I decided to see if I could put together a route that included that bonus as it was worth a whopping 1022 points.

It was kind of a toss up between that and the one up in Montana but, I had just come from Montana and thought it might be nice to see the Grand Canyon again. THIS would be my big mistake for Leg 1 - not checking mileages and points totals for the one up in Montana.

I tried various alternatives and finally arrived at one that had me riding 2073.6 miles for a total of 3680 points. Here were the bonuses I was going to try for:

HEL - for 90 points
TWY - for 682 points
AFT - for 386 points
SLC - for 362 points
GRC - for 1022 points
CNR - for 282 points
Plus the 260 point gas log bonus would give me a total of 3680 points.

IF I could get to them all on time. The nice thing about this route was that the Salt Lake City bonus was the only timed bonus in the bunch. All the others were good anytime. I liked that idea as nothing ever goes according to plan, at least for me.

This would be no different as I was about to discover that there was a lot of construction along my planned route and two places in particular would be really big time-wasters.
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Old September 9th, 2010   #5
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Default Re: My Iron Butt 5000 rally report

Now, another of the cool things about Map Point is that when you "mouse-over" a waypoint, it will pop-up a little window displaying data. In this case, it showed the Points and any Date/Time data that I had input. See the picture below.

This really helped me while I was doing "What If's" because it saved me the time it took to look back in the rally packet for that information. Later, however, it would also bite me BIG TIME in the butt in Leg 2.
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Old September 9th, 2010   #6
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Default Re: My Iron Butt 5000 rally report

So, here is what my planned route actually looked like in Map Point:
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Old September 9th, 2010   #7
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Default Re: My Iron Butt 5000 rally report

Now, with the 2010 version of Map Point, I had the capability to export this route and the waypoints to a .gpx file which I could then load onto my GPS using a 3rd party program called GPSU.

It only takes about 30 seconds to export the file and then another 30 seconds to load it into the GPS. Then you have a choice of running the route or, just using the GO TO function in the GPS to point to the next waypoint you want to go to from wherever you are.

If you use the route, the GPS will tell you your ETA for the next waypoint in the route and what your final destination's ETA is (at least that's what my Garmin 478 GPS does).

So, I loaded the route and all the waypoints into my GPS and started packing up my gear that I was taking with me on the bike. We would be returning to the same hotel after leg 1 so, I just kept the room and left a bunch of my stuff there.

I think I was done around 8:30pm or so and I decided to check my email to see whether my wife had sent me any status messages about my dad. He was going into surgery to get a new valve transplanted into his heart. He had waited till the last minute to tell me this so that I wouldn't worry. But, I was worried now and wanted to know how he was doing. I had contemplated cancelling my trip but, he told me to go saying, "It's not like you could do anything by staying here if anything went wrong. Go have fun".

My wife also was sending me text messages from time to time with updates. We got really spotty cell phone coverage where we live but, I could reach her on the home phone if she was home. I talked to her that night for a while and then I set the alarm, called the hotel desk for an early morning wake up call, and went to bed. I got about 8 hours of sleep that night. We had an early departure and I wanted to be plenty rested.
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Old September 10th, 2010   #8
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Default Re: My Iron Butt 5000 rally report

Before I describe the first leg of this rally, I wanted to pause for a minute to compare just how different these rallies now-a-days are from back in 1997 when I first got into this sport.

I mentioned that Ron Ayres' book, "Against the Wind", is what got me interested in this kind of riding. In it, he says the following:
"How fascinating it would be to track the routes being ridden by 55 riders, with numerous combinations of bonus locations to chose from," I thought. I imagined we had been issued tracking devices that kept Steve Chalmers and Mike Kneebone informed of our locations in an Iron Butt Central Operations Center. Colored lines traced our routes as we traveled them across brightly lit plasma display screens mounted between our handlebars, as Martin Hildebrandt had installed Pan-Galactica. In the Central Operations Center, Steve and Mike watched our progress as the lines slowly meandered across a giant map of the United States projected onto the wall."
Well, just 15 years later, you can do that and more and they did just that in the recent 10n10 rally - anyone could follow along and watch the riders' progress via a SPOT tracking website called, SPOTWALLA, which Jason Jonas put together a few years ago.

That's just one of the changes. I remember getting an email from Ron back in 1998 after my first IBA ride. I had written a ride report in which I described using a Garmin StreetPilot GPS as a running map and he wanted to know if I found it useful. I told him it was very useful. LOL

Well, now-a-days, everyone uses them and it is now probably impossible to ride an IBR without one. Back then, they passed out paper rally packets with detailed instructions on how to get to a bonus plus, what to do when you get there. Now, they hand you a computer jump drive with Latitude and longitude coordinates on it plus a smaller paper rally packet with only the instructions on what to do once you get there. You are expected to know how to load those coordinates into a computer to do your routing.

Speaking of that, Ron didn't even use a computer back during his 1985 IBR (at least, I don't think he did). They used paper maps. However, that soon changed with the advent of s/w packages like Microsoft Streets and Trips.

But, even in the 2001 IBR, most of us were still using paper maps along with routing s/w. It wasn't till later that more and more riders starting actually loading coordinates from their computer into their gps for their planned routes.

We used Polaroid cameras exclusively for bonus pictures until 2002 when some of us Rally Masters started experimenting with digital photos. I allowed digital photos to be used in our '02 Rendezvous 7 day rally from Mexico to Alaska. However, it really didn't catch on for a few years after that. Back then, it was a logistical nightmare plus, some people were worried about riders modifying their photos electronically.

Now, it is getting to be the norm and I don't think anyone used a Polaroid camera in either the 2009 IBR or the IB 5000 this year.

Riding gear has changed a lot. Back in 1985, about the only option for an all weather riding suit was an AeroStich RoadCrafter. Oh, some riders wore a bunch of other types of suits plus a rain cover but, none were as good as the good, old RoadCrafter or Darien. Now, there are all kinds of options but, the Aerostich suits are still one of the preferred options. I used an AlpineStars DryStar jacket with Fieldsheer Mercury riding pants, myself. I still use the same boots, though - good, old SIDI On-Roads.

Many people like to listen to music while riding. Back during my first Saddlesore and BBG, I used what most people used - a Walkman tape player. During the 2001 IBR, I used a brand new MP3 Jukebox player that held a whopping 2 GB of music. WOW! It was the size of a couple of packs of cigarettes placed end to end and was very susceptible to vibration.

This rally, I had the smallest version of the iPhone that fit in my pocket and held 8 GB of music. I didn't even use it because, my Garmin GPS had XM Radio and I listened to that the whole time.

Back in 1985, a 1000 mile day was considered a lot in a rally. Although, many people had done 1500 mile days but, probably not in a rally while chasing bonus points. In 2001, one of my goals was to do 10 straight 1000 mile days for what is called a "10 in 10" certificate. I didn't accomplish that but, I knew that I could have if I had to as I had trained for it.

Before that, back in 2000 (I think), a guy had broken the 2K day barrier which many of us thought impossible at the time. Sometime in there, a rider did back to back BBG's (1500 mile days). Wow! Since then, Dale Wilson has done 7 consecutive 1500 miles days. Now THAT record may stand awhile but, you never know.

In 1998, Ron Ayres rode to all 49 states in a little over 7 days. A year or two later, Rick Morrison did the same thing in a little over 4 days. I think that record has since been broken too. The point is, the endurance envelope is always being pushed outwards and technology marches on.

Between 1999 and 2002, I rode IBA type rides all the time slowly building up my stamina and pushing my endurance further and further. Back in 2001 and 2002, a 1000 mile days didn't seem like much. Now, however, it was hard for me. Since 2003, I had pretty much dropped out of the LD riding scene and hadn't done many long rides. Last year, I did do a Saddle Sore down to L.A. to get a set of RaceTech suspension installed on my ST1300 and to see if I could still do a 1000 mile day. I made it but, I was pretty wiped out.

This was a big change and one that would effect my route planning because, I still thought, in the back of my route planning mind, that I could do 1000 mile days. I was used to setting up routes that way in Streets and Trips when I organized rallies and when I rode them. I would find out along the way that I would need to adjust that type of thinking. As a matter of fact, I think that adjusting my route would be my theme for this rally. ;-)

My plan for leg one meant I had to ride 2076.3 miles in 38 hours. Pretty ambitious for an old has-been like me. But, one of my goals was to see if I could still do that sort of thing. And, I also found that my competitive juices were flowing.
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MSF RiderCoach
STOC# 929, IBA# 218


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Old September 10th, 2010   #9
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Default Re: My Iron Butt 5000 rally report

Monday morning found me raring to go. Got up early, took a shower, checked out the weather reports, loaded up my bike with my gear, filled up my hydration bladders with ice and water, and grabbed a quick breakfast.

A few last minute words from the rally staff and then we were released one at a time by Dale "Warchild" Wilson. I was in the middle of the pack.

When I was finally released to go, I rode out of the parking lot with a hearty yell of "Wild Hogs". I dunno, I just felt like I was going on some crazy trip across country with a bunch of lunatics.

There was a logjam getting onto the freeway for a few minutes but, once I got on it, it was balls to the wall heading north. It was fun for the next 45 minutes or so jocking for position with the other riders between regular morning rush hour traffic. Kind of like foreplay before the REAL contest began. One or two riders would jump ahead or pass other riders and then in a few minutes, that would change again.

Pretty soon, though, traffic got thinner and we all settled down to business. I had decided to ignore the bonuses close in by Denver, especially the one up on St. Cabrini. I had fallen for that one during the original Butt Lite rally. It's quite a climb and the air is really thin. Besides, they didn't put hardly any points on it. Not worth the effort. I HAD thought about visiting Casa Benita again. Our Fencing coach had treated us to dinner there after a Fencing match back when I was a Cadet at the Air Force Academy in C. Springs. It was a really cool place laid out like a small Mexican town with rocky cliffs outside. You would load up with food buffet style along the streets of town and then walk out of town to find a seat. There was even a cliff diver and a small pond below him. But, I didn't think the points were worth the time it would take.

I originally ignored the Ames Monument bonus to the west of Cheyenne too. It was only 198 points and I was after larger game. I would keep it in mind, though if I needed a backup plan later.

My mind was on the 682 point bonus in Thermopolis mostly. That and the 1022 point bonus near the Grand Canyon. I had been to both places in the past. I scouted Thermopolis for one of my own rallies coming home from the 2005 IBR finish in Denver. As a matter of fact, I had ridden the same road I was taking now except for a brief side trip to the Devil's Tower. I was ignoring the Devil's Tower bonus this time because it was a time eater and not enough points.

At Cheyenne, I saw a few riders peel off west but, one stayed with me heading north towards Caper. I would later learn that it was Peter Delean on his FJR. Peter had had a bit of trouble with a cage on his way to Denver and had done some inventive duct tape work to repair the damage.

We rode along together enjoying the scenary and then, I saw Peter slowing up ahead for some reason. I wasn't sure what he was doing until I saw a sign that said, "Hell's Half Acre" and remembered that that was a small (very small) bonus on the rally pack. Then I saw the actual commemoritive sign just off the road about 20 feet. Before, when I was route planning, I had ignored it because the points were so small and I didn't know how far off the road it was. But, seeing it was only 20 feet, I slammed on my brakes and made a quick U-turn to come back to it.

I quickly said "hi" to Peter, got my camera out and snapped the picture with my rally flag hanging out from my tankbag (where I had secured it with its two clip rings). I did my paperwork right then (I always do it right there on the spot so that I don't forget), put the rally flag and camera back, secured everything and got back on the road. Peter was a bit ahead of me but, I soon caught up.

It wasn't far to Shoshoni, the turn off to Thermopolis. I saw I needed gas and pulled into a Shell station with Peter. Guess he needed petrol also.

Last time I was in Thermopolis, I had come in from the north. I remembered that it was a pretty ride but, the southern entrance to the town was even better. There was some construction but, not too bad. The nice thing was that there were nice gentle sweepers winding along a canyon. A genuine fun ride into town.

And the coordinates led me right to the bonus, which was a statue of a man and a donkey or horse. Anyway, the instructions said to take a picture of the statue. Peter was there and soon Michael Boge, a friend of mine, showed up too. I held Michael's rally flag and he held mine while we took each other's picture. Peter was already packing up and heading out to the next bonus.

As I headed out following Michael, I noticed that Michael and Peter left town headed west. I figured that they must be going after the bonuses in Montana. I turned back south and headed out the way I came in towards the next bonus in my plan, Afton, WY. However, if I had known what I was about to encounter, I might have turned around and followed Peter and Michael.

The construction going out delayed me more than coming in. Basically, I got stuck behind a bunch of slow-assed Harley riders along who were more than content to just putt along. At one of the construction stops, I rode up the shoulder of the road past the Harley riders so that, when I got going again, I could actually pass some of the RV's ahead. That worked like a charm and I was soon canyon carving again. I reached Shoshoni again and turned right towards the west and Riverton.

Things were going great until just after Morton where I hit some more construction but, this time, they had shut down the whole road and were funnelling cars up a one-laner with a pilot car. Oh great! I was fourth in line behind some big semi's and I could see that the construction was all really dusty gravel. We had been sitting there in 90 degree heat for about 15 minutes when I finally got fed up and rode up the center turning lane to get in front of the semi in front of me. I pulled in behind a smaller pickup to await the pilot car, which we still couldn't see. It was absolutely ridiculous. We sat there for a full 1/2 hour to 45 minutes waiting for this stupid pilot car in 90 degree heat. Finally, it came followed by a huge dust cloud of traffic.

Finally, we started moving and I could feel the air flowing over my sweat-soaked arms and shoulders, cooling me off. The gravel was still not packed down and so, it was a little dicey on a bike. Not bad, though. I just stood up on the pegs and kept my speed steady (which was hard to do because the other cars ahead of me kept varying their speeds. But soon, we were out of the construction and I was able to pass the cars ahead.

Smooth sailing, I thought. But, past Dubois heading up into the mountains, it started to get a bit nippy so, I pulled over and got out my zip-in jacket liner and heavier gloves. Back on the road again, it wasn't long before I had to stop for, you guessed it, MORE construction. However, this time it was gravel. That would have been a blessing. Nooooo, this time it was wet, sloppy mud for 6 miles over the Wyoming Centenial Scenic Byway and the Togwotee mountain Pass.

The flagger lady told us that it had just rained and that we would have to wait for the pilot car. I groaned, not another pilot car. I asked her how long the wait would be and she told us "about 1/2 hour". Another groan.

It was closer to 45 minutes. She advised us riders (there were 3 of us now, all rally riders) to find an alternate route if we could. Well, I wasn't going back. That would totally blow my whole first leg.

So, when the pilot car finally showed up followed by a bunch of RV's and a couple of Harley riders. I was more than ready to go. It took the Harley riders (who were at the back of the pack) quite a long time to ride the 100 yards down from where we first saw them. I think one rider was actually walking his bike while sitting on it fer crying out loud.

We finally got going but, we had to wait for all the cars and RV's behind us to go first. They didn't want us to fall in front of them and get run over. Yeah, like a car going 5 mph wouldn't be able to stop in time. (eye roll)

I was first followed by a guy on an FJR and then a guy on a Goldwing. Everything was going pretty well until I got a little bit over-confident and started to speed up a little bit. Suddenly, my bike's rear end started sliding to the right. I rode it out and then it started coming back to center. I thought I had recovered but, it didn't stop at center and instead, started sliding to the left and then it kept going and I was suddenly down in the mud.

Dammit!

I got up, careful not to slip and fall, and turned the bike off, unplugged my earplugs from the GPS, and started trying to right the bike. But, I couldn't get any traction with my feet in the mud trying the butt to the seat pickup method. The FJR rider came over as did the Goldwing rider and we soon had my bike upright again. I thanked them and examined my bike. Mirror cover had popped off but, that was easy to fix. It just popped back on. The bent foot brake pedal was going to be a bigger problem but, I could adjust my riding to accomodate that. Good thing I had only been going about 10 mph.

The FJR rider (I never did get an opportunity to find out his name) took the lead after that and I pulled in after him with the Goldwing rider bringing up the rear. The Goldwing rider didn't look very confident and was going really slowly. He started falling way behind and the FJR rider wasn't slowing. I thought I'd better slow down and keep an eye on the Wing rider in case he went down and needed help. So, we progressed through the 6 miles of muddy hell that way - strung out over about 50 yards. We made it through, though.

All in all, that little construction site had cost us a good hour to an hour and a half. That combined with the other construction and I saw my Grand Canyon plans sinking into the sunset. This did not bode well.

Finally back on pavement again, I slowly increased my speed to allow any remaining mud clinging to my tires to work its way loose. I didn't want to get aggressive in these twisty mountain roads too soon and have my tires slide out. That would be ALL I needed. Soon, we were out of the mountains and I passed the FJR rider waving as I went by and we headed into the Teton National park towards Moran Junction and the Afton bonus.
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STOC# 929, IBA# 218


Last edited by zldrider; September 11th, 2010 at 02:59 PM.
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Old September 13th, 2010   #10
zldrider
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Default Re: My Iron Butt 5000 rally report

It sure was a pretty drive through the Teton National Park area. I saw lots of game including a mother Moose and her calf. Didn't have time to sight-see, though. Kept the pedal to the metal and kept going. Passed a lot of cars.

In the back of my mind was the thought that the time wasted at the construction areas probably killed my chances of making it to the Grand Canyon bonus but, I kept slogging onwards towards the Afton bonus.

Jackson was an interesting town. Very scenic and full of tourists. It was getting into the late afternoon by the time I got there. Somewhere outside of Jackson, I pulled over to change out of my warmer gloves and take out my jacket liner that I had put in before the mountain pass. I was getting a bit too warm. Both the FJR rider and the Goldwing rider passed me. I waved that I was ok.

We finally made it to Afton. We were supposed to take a picture of the Arc of Antlers across the main street in town. You couldn't miss it. Got that picture and was soon under way again. However, about an hour later, I needed to stop for gas and to wake up a bit. It was getting into the evening and I was getting a bit drowsy. I stopped somewhere before the turnoff to Evanston, WY to gas up. I also replentished my beef jerky supply and my mint gum, got a Red Bull to wash the jerky down with and I think I also ate a Hostess Cherry Pie. Quite a meal. ;-)

While I was there, I made my Phone-In bonus call to Lisa explaining where I was, what my last bonus was, what I planned to do for my next bonus, and a few other details like what happened at the muddy construction site. This gave the rally masters an idea of where I was and what condition I was in. I would later call back to add some details and as insurance in case my first cell call didn't quite get through.

I had done some thinking and as I made the turnoff onto hwy 89 to head towards Evanston, I saw the FJR rider pulled over. I figured he was doing some thinking too. It was starting to get darker out and Evanston was about 20 miles still to go on some slower backroads. I figured by the time I got there, it would be about 10pm. I also figured that I was too tired to slog it all the way to Salt Lake City tonight. So, I thought I'd grab a cheap motel room somewhere in Evanston, take a look at my route plan on the computer, and then get some sleep with the idea of an early start in the morning to grab the Walmart bonus in downtown SLC.

I found a cheap Best Western motel (I think) and as I was checking in, the Goldwing rider pulled in too. I said hello and then headed to my room to rethink my plan.

It soon became apparent that I could kiss off the Grand Canyon. Damn, that was going to take a big chunk out of my points. Now, it was too late to head north after those bonii so, I figured I would leave early in the morning, bag the Walmart bonus in SLC, and then turn around and head for back to Denver. I set the alarm and hit the hay. I was out in minutes.

I woke up before the Screaming Meanie woke me. Fear is a good alarm too and I feared hearing that Meanie a lot. Also, I didn't want to wake the whole hotel up with that thing.

I had slept about 4 hours and felt refreshed. Four AM was earlier than I had planned but, I figured that would allow me to avoid rush hour traffic. I got on the road and got to the Walmart in SLC around 5:30am or so. It might have been 6am, I don't remember. It was about three hours before they were due to open, though. So, I stopped at a Starbucks across the street from the Walmart to grab some coffee and a pastry and to check my route plan again. I noticed that there was another small bonus about 90 miles West of SLC on the Bonneville Salt Flats. I had 3 hours to kill and thought, "what the hell?". I packed up my stuff and headed west to the Salt Flats. I made good time and being this early was probably a good thing because, there was a minature city camped out there at the turn off to the Salt Flats. I managed to beat the morning rush to the end of the road where I was to take a picture of the Salt Flats sign. I got it with my rally flag and headed back. Now, there was a line of cars flowing towards the Salt Flats all the way back to the tent city. I had just slipped in at the right time.

Now, I just had to get back to the Walmart, buy a boxed bar of soap and get a receipt, and then head back to Denver.

By the time I got to Walmart, it had been open for about 45 minutes. As I was getting ready to head in, another rider on a GS pulled up. It turned out to be a nice guy named, John Coons. We got to talking and went into Walmart looking for the soap. We found some plus, we picked up a few other items. John wanted to get some power bars and that sounded like a good change from my diet of jerky so, I got some too. I also got some Potassium pills as my back muscles had been spasming all the way from Denver and I thought that they would help. It turned out that they helped a lot for the rest of the rally.

But, as I was going to pay for my stuff with my debit card, the cashier lady said it was declined and the message said to contact my bank. Oh great!

I had enough cash to pay for the stuff so, I did and then I tried my debit at an ATM I spotted in the store. It said the same thing. WTF?

About that time, John asked me what was wrong. I explained. He said it might be that I had been using my card as a debit card at the gas stations. They sometimes put a hold on a higher amount to "cover their ass". If so, it might be that I was out of money in that account. Oh great!

He then offered to loan me $60 bucks cash till I could get it sorted out. That would be enough to get me gas for the trip back to Denver, no sweat. I accepted his kind offer and thought, what a great guy.

John took off, not needing gas, and I gassed up at a station just down the road. I also called my wife and she said she'd check with the bank. I wasn't too worried now as I knew that I would get a paycheck deposited tomorrow automatically. Also, Julie's disability check was due to be deposited the next day. So, all I needed to do was get back to Denver.

And that's where I headed.

One incident of note happened along the way. I was getting drowsy from the heat again as I was nearing Little America in Wyoming. I decided to pull in there and soak down my LDComfort shirt and dew rag. I grabbed another Hostess Cherry pie and some Red Bull and scarfed those down along with a piece of jerky. Since I was at a gas station anyway, I decided to top off my tank, even though I didn't need it. I got a receipt and logged it into my gas log. While doing so, I noticed that the receipt didn't have the state on it. But, it did have a phone number and I figured that there was only one town called "Little America" in America and that was in WY. This would bite me in the butt at the scoring table but, I was tired and not thinking straight at the time.

Back on the road, the water on the shirt really woke me up with air flowing over it. I was back awake and raring to go again. The miles slogged by.

About the time I was nearing another bonus location, a pyramid monument coded "AME", I ran into a buddy of mine, Michael Boge, on his Goldwing. Michael was from Idaho. So, we rode together over the so-called washboard gravel road to the monument. There wasn't any washboards, though. I had almost bypassed this bonus because of that warning and because the points were small (198 points). But, apparently, they had just regraded the road that morning so, it was pretty easy. A little deep in places but not bad. It was pretty windy up at the monument, though.

We soon got our pictures and headed back out to the interstate and towards Denver.
__________________
Joe Zulaski
Redmond, WA
MSF RiderCoach
STOC# 929, IBA# 218


Last edited by zldrider; September 16th, 2010 at 08:03 AM.
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