The Iron Butt Rally (IBR) is the world championship of long distance, endurance, motorcycle riding. It is held every odd year, and covers all of North America. It is billed as "11 Days, 11,000 Miles" and claims proudly that finishers are "The World's Toughest Motorcycle Riders". As of this writing, since the Iron Butt began in 1984, worldwide there have been 403 people who have finished.
The author finished this ride in 2009. He was fifty-seven years old. The motorcycle was a thirty-three year old BMW. It started the 2009 rally with over half a million miles on it. The organizers put them both solidly in the Hopeless Class. This book, which includes 65 photographs and 6 maps, is the story of the author's long distance riding experience, from the time when he considered riding three hundred miles a day an incredible achievement, to his covering over 13,000 miles in 14 days in 2009. The total mileage is 13,000 because after he finished the IBR, he had to travel over 2,650 miles in two days in order to return home and be on time for work. The author rode an average of nineteen hours a day for eleven days to gather points needed to be declared a finisher. One hundred and one riders started the rally in 2009. Seventy finished. Prior to this Iron Butt Rally, the author had been riding motorcycles as his main form of transportation for over forty years. He bought the BMW R60 new in 1976 and it was his only motorcycle for a third of a century. Over that time he decided that riding endless miles was a great way to relax and see the world. Think of the IBR as a giant scavenger hunt covering the forty-nine states and Canada. The riders are hunting for bonuses that are described by the organizers. The harder it is to ride to and from a bonus, the more points it is worth. At the start of each leg of the rally, the riders are given a list of bonuses. Each rider has to figure which bonuses he, or she, can ride to and still be on time at checkpoints. No two riders follow the same route. Bonuses can involve walking across the sea floor at low tide to take a photograph, or a visit to a historical location, or meeting a specific person at a specific time. Wind, rain, desert heat, traffic, illness, or mountain cold does not stop these riders.The author had ridden the same motorcycle in the 2007 IBR, but due to poor planning, inexperience, and dehydration, he lost an entire day during the rally. One can't lose a minute during an IBR, and he knew beyond any shadow of a doubt that there was no way that he could be a finisher. However, he developed a route for the last three days that covered over four thousand miles and seven states to try and gain enough points to somehow be successful. The IBR gives no quarter for bad luck or poor health. He was a DNF (did not finish).During the 2009 IBR the author had good days and bad. Some days were spent riding on beautifully paved roads in perfect temperatures. Other miles were done on gravel roads, or in storms that damned well seemed to approach biblical proportions. Riders must be ready for anything. On day five the author stopped for a few hours sleep at eleven o'clock on a Friday night in Mississippi only to find that his footpeg and sidestand had broken loose from the motorcycle. Unable to ride, and knowing that no one would have parts for a 1976 motorcycle, he thought that his rally was over. Three hours later, with the help of a mobile welding service, he was back on the road and back in the rally.This book is written for those who ride motorcycles for long distances, short distances, and for those who have never wanted to ride a motorcycle at all. It's about the adventure that can still be found by pursuing the love of a sport and a dream.
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