My Iron Butt 5000 Rally

This is the blog that I started for friends and family to follow my Long Distance Riding preparation and competition in the inaugural Iron Butt 5000, a 5 day 5000 mile motorcycle rally. In May 2011, Mike Kneebone for the IBA announced there would not be an IB5000 in 2012, but instead that the IBA and Team Strange would be sponsoring the But Lite 6IX in 2012. So that makes this blog a bit of Long Distance History, so I've decided to leave it as it is for historical purposes. I will create other blogs as I have new adventures and rally competitions.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Ride Report - very long

Friday, August 20, 2010
“I’m cooked.” I said
“Where are you?” said Amy
“Some place in TX, I’m stuck in another construction hold up,” I replied.
“How far to Spartanburg?” asked Amy
“About 800 miles, I’m not sure I can do it.” I confessed.
“What time do you have to be there by?” she asked.
“10 AM tomorrow morning,” I said.
“Honey you have plenty of time, get off the bike, eat something, cool off for awhile. Then get back on that bike and get to South Carolina,” replied my wife.

I ended up taking 3 more breaks in addition to 3 gas stops for those last 800 miles, just trying to cool off and get to SC. It was the hardest, longest ride I’ve ever done before. I was not happy, I was not having fun, and I was ready to be done. I’d been up since 4 AM and had already ridden 500+ miles, bagged my last bonus and was ready for the end. What was amazing I wasn’t tired or sleepy, just very miserable and hot. Soon I would be in Alabama and within 2 hours of my house. Since Amy wasn’t in Alabama but was waiting for me at the hotel, I didn’t turn north but keep going east.

Thursday, August 12, 2010
I was ready to ride to the start of the IB5000 in Denver, Colorado, the bike was clean, everything was working, I even got to see my son off on the bus to school before I left. John also asked for Fish to come on my trip so he makes some appearances in the pictures!

The cockpit ready to go, I added the borrowed second GPS the night before, power only connection for a back-up.  It was nice to have the 2nd GPS to play alternatives off of during the rally and to have some trip data / details up.

 It was a beautiful day, nothing to look forward to except a leisurely two day ride to Denver. As I headed west from Madison, I realized that I was riding in all new areas to me for the first time. I headed north and crossed into Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri and Kansas.

 It was hot, but my Camel Backpacks strapped to my Aux Tank were working great.

 I was not on the clock and decided to take my time and stop when I felt like it. The weather was clear until I hit an amazing rain storm south of St. Louis. The rain was intense and heavy, more then anything I had ever seen before, but my new BMW waterproof gloves worked great, and my gear keep me dry, no leaks. What was really wild was that as I crossed the Mississippi on I-64, there was an intense rain and wind that literally blew the Wing from the far right lane to the far left lane. If I could have stopped I would have but there was no place to pull over to get out of the wind, so for that short section I rode the bike leaned into the wind trying to maintain my lane position. I don’t get scared very often on my bike, even with Boston / NYC drivers who never see me, but that time I was very scared. The wind and rain stopped as suddenly as it started and the skies were once again clear, blue and welcoming. Originally I wanted to try and cover most of Kansas on day one, but by 9 PM I decided to stop for the night and tackle the rest of flat state the next day.

Friday, August 13, 2010
Another beautiful day greeted me. The weather couldn’t have been any better, the temperature was cool and comfortable, the road was construction free, and the morning sunrise from behind me was inspiring. Granted riding across Kansas isn’t exactly motorcycle nirvana, but the view and beauty was worth the lack of exciting riding.

 I made it to the Mountain time zone and stopped for my breakfast, which was excellent and served by a friendly waitress. Soon after I crossed into Colorado, which started out pretty much like Kansas.

 But as I rode into Denver, I watched the mountains rise up in the distance. I've flown over these mountains several times before, but this was a first seeing them from ground level and it was impressive.

 The Marriott parking lot was already full of LD Bikes when I pulled in.

 Since I was 2 days early for the start, and my roommate Jim Abbott was still several hours behind me I ended up visiting and wandering around the lot looking at bikes and talking with several riders. Shortly I found fellow Minuteman 1000 rally veteran, Peter Delean , and his bike in pieces. This was not a good sign as I knew Peter was in the IB5K and found out he was rear ended on his way to Denver the day before.

They had already been at work for most of the morning and he had a lot of helping hands. I asked Peter if he needed anything, like parts or duct tape and offered up my super sticky duct tape that will hold anything. The work that his crew put in on that bike all day resulted in a bike that was almost impossible to tell it was as badly damaged from the accident the previous day. It was impressive and inspiring to see the helping hands that came out for Peter.

Saturday, August 14, 2010
Another perfect morning greeted us and after some breakfast, Jim and I decided to make some supply runs and then a ride to the top of the Rockies National Park.

 I was having headset problems, again, and decided to pick-up some ear phones in case I lost all headset functions during the five day rally. After hitting the local Best Buy, I talked Jim into a 'short' ride to the Rocky National Park. We set off with no plan and only a sense of direction (head toward the giant mountains). We rode the entire park on US 34 crossing several summits and I think the max elevation was in the 12,000 feet range.

Our short ride turned into an all day one with traffic being a big driver but in the end it was worth it to see the sites and be a 'tourist' for at least one day!

Sunday, August 15, 2010
This was the day! I was pretty excited to find myself in the IBA lines for my first ever IBA Rally! I've read all the reports and listen to the advice of those who have come before and decided to get up early and be one of the first in line for Tech inspection. It went much easier and faster then I expected. My Aux Tank had already been inspected by Tom Austin in Jacksonville in January so I felt I was all set. My inspector found nothing wrong with my tank and my registration matched my bike so I was off to the inside lines after I finished my odometer check ride. How many lines were there, I really don't remember, it was a lot and a bit of a test to find them and get in the right order. In the end I was well prepared and had no issues or go backs to address. I finished around 11:30 or so with plenty of time to sit back and relax and visit with other riders.

Prior to the dinner there was a mandatory riders meeting to receive additional instructions and our flash drives with the leg one bonus locations on them. Jim and I headed back to the room and loaded them up to check for any issues. We had none, and I started setting up my eboni spreadsheet with the data and then loaded the file to just see what the layout was of the locations. Keep in mind this was just the electronic locations, we did not have point value, availability, or exactly what would be required for each location, that didn't come till after the dinner that night. Still it was pretty obvious some of the locations were familiar, and we were either going to be going north or south for the points. Since we had time we spent it setting up the computers and laying out our stuff to plan and mark our rally books up.

Off to dinner and more time to meet new faces and riders. Jim and I ended up crashing a Team Strange Table of riders from the Minnesota area. It was a blast and they were full of a lot of great stories and chatter. The meal was top notch and in no time we were being handed our rally flags and packets. After some brief time reviewing the details and checking page counts, everyone headed out to plan leg one.

After spending about 20-30 minutes entering the rally book data into the eboni file and converting the file to MapSource file I was ready to to start planning a route. My goal was to finish the first leg well rested and ready for the much longer second leg. This is a conservative approach and one that is highly recommended for those with no multi-day rally experience. I wanted to make about 10% more then the minimum points needed to be a finisher to have a bit of a cushion. My routing style is to look first at the big points and see what a straight out-and-back route would be. From that I judge it based on time, miles and what else can be added to increase my points. The big points were also big miles away, including Gerlach which I really wanted to go to. In the end all the big rocks were just too many miles away for my conservative approach for my first multi-day rally and with just a few more stops and a lot less miles I would have a solid score and some good rest. One thing I learned this year from my Minuteman 1000 performance was that I could push myself well over 24 hours with no sleep, but would pay a big price afterward requiring significantly more down time to fully recover. I decided leg one was not the place to push my limits and I would save myself for that last push at the end.

Looking at the points, it was pretty easy to get a good route going north and circling back to Denver. The southern route would have been good too, but I decided I wanted to avoid the heat as much as possible on Leg 1. Leg 2 was sure to me a hot ride so I figured getting a good score in the north and staying cooler was a good plan. My plan was straight forward and if I hit my options I would have 2,242 points for leg 1 in under 1,500 miles.

 With a plan in place I loaded up my bike that night for tomorrow morning.

Monday, August 16, 2010
I actually sleep very well and woke up relaxed and ready to ride. Jim and I had a light breakfast and proceeded out to the parking lot to sit and wait for our departure. Lots of talk, seemed like a nice split of riders heading north and south. I heard a few of the top riders were also heading north, which always gives me a good feeling that I might have picked the right route. One highlight of the morning was talking with Amy and letting her know where I was going. This was actually pretty funny because I really did not remember the details of the bonus locations I was heading to, and she really wanted to know more the the 3 letter code! I broke out the rally book and gave her the city and state and she got pretty excited looking them up on the map seeing the beautiful areas I would be covering. It really made my morning listening and talking with her and her excitement also got me even more excited about my adventure.

Soon it was time to suit up and wait for the signal from Warchild as he controlled the exit of 64 bikes, all heading to the interstate.
Picture provided by Fleeter!

 One thing with the IBA staff is they have these details worked out and everything went smoothly and in no time I was with a fairly large group heading north out of Denver. I continued north on I-25 to Wyoming and headed to Hell's Half Acre off US-20.
Yes the flag is backwards, but it doesn't really matter for a rally photo.  Mounting the flag in my truck so it was ready when I open it is a tip I picked up from Cdog.  I always open the rally book at bonus locations, reread it and fill in the details, as Michael Kneebone said you rode to the location make sure you get the points!

 So my first bonus in my first multi-day rally was Hell! It wasn't a lot of points but it was a cool location. Pictures just don't do it justice and the landscape looked like it was from an aliening world. One of my favorite cheesy sci-fi moves Starship Troopers was shot at this location which made it cool to be my first bonus.

Back on the road I continued west on US-20 heading to Thermopolis. This was worth some good points and would require a bit of backtracking after I snagged it but it was worth it.

The ride through Wind River Canyon was unbelievable, and I got to do it twice!

 I was fairly lucky for the most part as I managed to get in front of the traffic before the construction delay’s on this road, which were single escorted guided on some dirt roads. The dirt didn't bother me since I had been practicing riding dirt roads all summer, but the delay was chewing up my time.  I originally had planned to be in Salt Lake City before 10 PM to capture the bonus and have some time to to look at adding some additional bonuses. Wyoming was beautiful, but there was way too much construction, it was very frustrating watching the time tick away knowing it would be very difficult to make up the lost minutes unless something changed for the best soon. I continued on heading to Afton, WY.

 Still more construction delays and more time lost. My estimated arrival time was very close to 10 PM for Salt Lake City now. Heading to Afton was a beautiful ride, with the exception of the more aggravating construction. I was having an amazing ride on amazing mountain roads and beautiful scenery. And then, it got worst.

Another construction hold-up and this time it looked bad. Dirt would have been great, gravel welcomed, but no, instead we had mud, deep, sloppy, mud. I arrived along with 2 other IB5K riders I had been playing leap frog with for the past several hours, Peter Behm, and Joe Zulaski. We chatted for a bit and waited forever to attempt to make the 6 mile ride. 3 other bikes arrived with us, not in the rally, they all decided to turn around. But us IB5K riders had places to be and schedules to make.

We rolled out at the back of the group of cars, trucks and RVs. This totally sucked but at least I could sort of aim for the tracks of the cars. Joe took the lead on his ST1300, with Peter on his FJR1300, and I was just fine with the rear and letting the wing crawl through this mess. This was bad, very bad, worst then any thing I had every ridden a bike in before. I was having flashbacks to my MM1000 adventure and did not want to drop and get my Wing stuck on my first day of the IB5K. I was sliding everywhere, so giving any throttle was a very delicate affair. Forget steering with the handle bars also, I pushed left and right on the pegs to try and coast in the different directions. Joe and Peter where moving a bit faster then I and every time I tried to close the gap the back wheel slide sideways so I went back to letting the bike and weight do the work for me. Then it happened, Joe was down. It happened so fast that I didn't even see it. Peter was the first to stop and as I coasted up they had the bike up. So we started out again, this time with another heavy construction truck escorting us. The driver told me that there was one more bad spot and then we should be fine. I went slow, very slow and it showed, but I didn't care. Joe slowed down and keep me in sight and I really appreciated it. We made it out and after a few miles the mud finally came off my rims and boots. But the 6 mile mud road had pretty much put getting to Salt Lake City before 10 PM impossible. So I had to make some decisions. It was still a haul to the I-80 and no points to grab along the way.

 I made my way to Evanston, WY and found a hotel for the night. Joe beat me to the same hotel and he was already checked in and unloading his bike. I checked in, grab my stuff and hit the room for a shower, quick route check, and chat with Amy.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Stopping in Evanston left me within 1.5 hours of Salt Lake City so I was in no rush to get there for the opening time of 8 AM.

 As it was I made it to to the Walmart still too early, and it turned out the store was open 24 hours. Nice trick, if you didn't pay attention I could see people making a mistake and thinking they could buy the soap since it was open. I knew better and waited till 8 AM to buy my bar of soap. It was another one of those funny rally moments, as I waited, a small group of rally riders began to show up looking for a bar of soap to buy. I walked over to let them know where the single box of soap was. Then the questions came, well how do we know it is a bar of soap in a box, it says buy soap in a box, what if it is dishwasher soap in a box? Since I was the only one with a cell phone on me I was elected to call Lisa for clarification. She said she would accept any soap type as long as it was in a box. Enough said I had mine and headed to the check out line. My receipted showed 8:00.36 AM, not bad for timing!

Back on the road I headed back to Wyoming to bag the Ames Monument.

 It was another beautiful day and a great ride even if it was a lot of interstate riding. Ames Monument was down a dirt road, it wasn't too bad, and I stopped when I was close enough to grab a photo.

 I headed back out and toward Denver. I ended up getting to Denver with several hours to spare and decided to bag the three bonus locations around the city. First up was Red Rock Amphitheater, this was a buy something bonus but I still took a picture.

Then it was a hike up 373 stairs to the top of the Mother Cabrini Shrine. It was very windy and I was afraid my flag was going o blow over the edge.  The view was inspiring, but I didn't have a lot of time to reflect for long.
 After the long hike up and down I headed to Casa Bonita, which was a real restaurant featured in a South Park episode.  Grabbing these bonuses cost me some time, heat and rush hour traffic, but they were all fun and I really liked seeing a bit of Denver before I headed east.

I arrived back at the Marriott about 5:45 PM and stopped the clock and got my stuff organized for scoring.
I made it through scoring without losing any points, something I try very hard to do. My biggest mistake was showing up at the check-in table without my flash drive to turn in, they let me go back upstairs and retrieve it since I hadn’t officially started to score. It was time to hit the bed for a good night of sleep, and be ready for the early morning rider meeting and when we would be handed out our rally packets for leg 2. At 2,242 points I thought I had a pretty good score, considering 1,900 was the finisher’s level. Maybe I would crack the top 20 or so…

Wednesday, August 18, 2010
After a very good night of sleep, one of the best I had, Jim and I were up and ready for the rider’s meeting and to get started on the leg 2 plan. We headed downstairs and grab some breakfast and then filed into the riders meeting. It was fairly short; I think they only called out the top 10 finishers and their scores. At that point I realized I wasn’t even close to the same level of competitiveness, as the top 10 scores were all over 1000 points above mine! I just didn’t see how I could bring my game up to that level, especially since leg one was fairly straightforward and relatively similar to a 24 hour rally. No time to dwell on the what ifs and should haves now. Jim and I bee-lined it right back to the room; we were not interested in wasting anytime checking our position now.

Cracking open leg two I quickly realized the real rally had begun. Bonuses were everywhere across the USA from the far northwest coast of CA to the far East coast. There were tons of dots from north to south and everywhere in-between. It took me about 30 minutes to load my bonus codes into the eboni spreadsheet and start to look at route possibilities. One big bonus, 9,000 points immediately jumped out during the coding process and Jim and I both paused long enough to discuss it a bit. My straight shot plotting put it with way too many miles for myself, especially since a combination of two large bonus and a few smaller ones could get the same score with far less miles.

One very cool thing about rooming with Jim was that we were able to play off our alternatives to each other as we looked at our routes and knew our capabilities. Jim is very competitive, he has placed 1st place in the Minuteman 1000 for the last 3 years now and always places in the top on the east coast rally’s. We actually road in the Minuteman 1000 the same year we both earned out IBA number, which was why our flags numbers in the IB5K were right next to each other. I’ve been pretty inconsistent over that same time and this year I think I got lucky and also finally had a few things click in my system that helped me improve. I’ve gotten better at ‘seeing’ a route faster and then making a decision to go with my first instincts. I and Jim realized that after almost 2 hours of planning we were taking way too long to figure out a route. This was more complicated on such a large scale and doing it on the clock was hard. Enough already I said...time to make a decision.

My instincts were that the north route to Java Hut Minnesota bonus was the one to ride. It had only one large point bonus, but a ton of small bonus locations to grab. The miles were doable and I had a reasonable plan for at least the next 2 days, so I started to make my cards up and check the details. It was when I was about half way done I realized a fairly large bonus location I had to get was a daylight only restriction and that I needed to have left an hour ago to make it (a side note I believe Jim made this bonus as he was looking at a different sequence of bonuses than I). Okay, John this isn’t impossible, take the southern route to AZ, TX, AL, GA and SC. Ya it would suck big time with the heat, ya it sure looked like it wouldn’t be as interesting to ride I-20 across TX, but with just 3 bonus stops and the freebies (fuel log, rest, call in) I would have the points to finish easily. So I said screw it, my rally cards took 5 minutes to make and I was out the door heading to AZ within 15 minutes.

One thing about this rally that was unbelievable was the weather. Once again the sky was blue and the clouds were puffy. The temperatures were very comfortable, and I only wished there was a way to save the cool temperatures because by this time tomorrow I’ll be in 100+ degree hell. As I left Denver behind, I headed toward Four Corners for my first bonus, which was not Four Corners but was instead a post office down the road from Four Corners. This was pretty funny because Four Corners was a bonus on leg 1, and now going back this way again was a good route for big points.

I rode for most of the day on the best 2 lane roads I’ve ever seen. I crossed over the mountains and enjoyed 70 mph speed limits, it was amazing. I got to the southern end of Colorado before I saw another rally rider. It turned out to be fellow Minuteman 1000 veteran Kurt Dix. We rode together for quite awhile and had one heart stopping moment with a local police car, but he ended up pulling over the truck that was in front of us!
I decided that since I was riding right by the entrance to Four Corners I would still swing in for a photo stop. 

The post office down the road was my only bonus for today as my next bonus was Steve Kafka the next day in Phoenix. It was a fun, quick stop, and interesting place to see in person. I headed back out for the short ride to the Post Office and took the required rally photo. 

At this point, I and fellow rally rider, Kirsten Talken-Spaulding, were stuck in construction hold up hell. Kirsten had some bad luck on leg one with a damaged front rim to her bike and ended up starting leg 2 needing to make up almost 1,400 points, plus the required points of Leg 2 to be a finisher. We talked a bit and she would be heading to Steve’s but first had to go to NV and CA to make up the points. I had been playing with a ride to Las Vegas, as it was worth 378 points which was tempting. In the end I decided that I didn’t really have to push myself this early in leg 2, especially since there was a ton of points in GA that I could grab if I felt up to it.

Weather and temperatures held out all the way to Phoenix, when the temperature, at 9:30 PM went up to 97 degrees! It sucked big time and I started to fear what it would be like tomorrow. Once again I hooked up with another Rally rider, this time Joel Rappoport on his very nicely set-up FJR with some wonderful HIDs to light up the night. Joel and I head to Steve’s place to scope it out and then found a hotel to start our rest bonus in for this leg. This was the most expensive hotel I stayed at and the room was boiling hot as I do not think they turned the AC on in it all day. I took a shower and was still sweating as it pretty much took all night for the room to cool off.

Thursday August 19, 2010
I woke up way to early, again. I really wish I could have slept in but my mind was ready to go, even thought Steve Kafka wasn’t open till 10 AM. I geared up and packed the bike anyway, went down and got my end receipt for my rest period and chilled out at the hotel breakfast. It was at least better then the last motel breakfast, but certainly wasn’t $40 better! I talked with Amy a bit and got caught up with the family, which was pretty nice to do while not moving! As I waited a bit, Joe Zulaski showed up at the check-in desk. For those paying attention, Joe and I had already bumped into each other at the hotel in Wyoming and the mud road from hell. He had rode in and was looking to score a room for the rest period, unfortunately I had already checked out of my room so I couldn’t give him my keys. About the same time Joel showed up looking for breakfast, I told him I was all set and I was heading over to Steve’s early and that I would meet him there.

As I had hoped, I pulled into Steve’s first, before anyone else had! Success, I would be first for at least this one time in the IB5K! I found some shade and proceeded to strip off my gear and get comfortable for my wait.

 I talked to my Dad some and told him about the great riding in Wyoming and Colorado, the beauty of the desert, but the heat right now sucked! As I waited outside, Steve’s neighbor showed up and invited me into his office to cool off. It was very funny to learn that Steve had sent a ‘memo’ around to the building occupants to give them a heads-up on the rally riders. They all were riders and thought this was pretty cool, most wanted to know about where I had been and where I was going next. After a bit the owner showed up and started setting up a covered tent! I went outside and Joel had shown up also, and we helped move the covered tent over our bikes. About that time Steve came in and was full of energy and enthusiasm. He had a huge smile and was very welcoming and excited to see us there! After being on the road for a number of days that kind of joy and excitement is a great pick-up. Steve also started to set-up a tent so Joel and I again helped. Shortly after the tents were up Chris Sakala showed up, seeing some of the big dogs of the IBR at the bonus was a great feeling. Chris was in this rally to win, and he was very competitive. I believe he had made it to California the night before and road to Phoenix early in the morning, that was way more hardcore then I was ready for.

The day before, when I made the decision to head to AZ I decided I would try calling Steve and booking a reservation for 10 AM. In the last IBR, rally riders were told that a certain ferry did not offer motorcycle reservations and it was a first come first serve space available thing. At least one rider called and made a reservation, for a car! I thought this was great and figured I’d give it a try on this bonus as I really wanted to make Live Oak as early as possible which meant getting in and out of Steve’s fast was very important. I left a message with Steve and later in the day he called me back. He seemed pretty tickled that I was talking to him on the bike and informed me he couldn’t do reservations, but he was planning to open early. Our connection got pretty bad so I couldn’t ask him if this had been approved by Lisa. In the morning I called Lisa and let her know what Steve had told me. I pretty much already knew her answer as it wouldn’t be fair to others that planned around the 10AM opening time if I and others got in and out early. Still I had provided some entertainment as Steve had called Lisa about the reservation request and I believe the rally staff enjoyed a good laugh about it! Lisa and I chatted, which felt a bit weird because I really didn’t want to be one of those riders who were a pest. But it was fun to share with her my ride and experiences since I still had some time to kill to10 AM.

Steve was ready to go and had Kool Ties (and they do work great) set-up for us and his paint was out for the custom pen striping logo. He told us he had decided to change the logo up a bit and was excited to see it on a bike, I was first up so he started with mine. I went for the trunk because I felt the front fender would get torn up with the miles I still had to do, and also this was cool, so a big one on my trunk seemed like a good salute to Eddie James. I call it the Wing's Tramp Stamp!

 What happened next I blame myself for alone. I told Steve and everyone there early, which at this point was about 6-10 bikes, that Lisa said 10 AM meant 10 AM. Steve said fine that he would hold all of us till 10 AM but would get started on the logos. Nobody seemed to think this was a big deal so I figured it was okay (mistake #1). After about 4-5 bikes were done another rider showed up and asked why all the bikes were already completed? He wisely called Lisa to ask for clarification upon which she told him we were all very wrong and the bonus would not count if we had the logo applied before 10 AM. He actually went to bat with Lisa and asked if there was another option for us, she said she would talk with the rally staff and call us back. I was devastated and had a huge sick feeling in my stomach. Obviously Lisa would remember it was my fault and that I must have blatantly ignored her direction. We waited for her call back and I could see that there were some very concerned IBR vets.

Lisa called back and instructed that everyone had to re-purchase a cool tie at 10 AM and that the logo's had to be redone starting at 10 AM. So with much relief, we all reset our bikes in order and waited till 10 AM. I paid first, again, received my 2nd cool tie, and then Steve started redoing the logo. It took about 10 minutes or so and I was done and pulled out heading for the interstate. As I pulled out I had a lot of thoughts on my mind, I felt really bad about what had happened and how close I had come to a DNF and hurting other riders rally. I was still thinking about this and wondering how Lisa would receive me in SC, when all of sudden my visor ripped off on the left side. This was a bit exciting since I was navigating Phoenix traffic and trying to hold the visor on to keep it from completely flying off. I made it to the side of the interstate and pulled as far over as possible, hit the hazard lights and made my way to the side of the bike away from traffic. Luckily I had my duct tape handy and I grabbed it as the visor would require a replacement screw that had disappeared into the interstate traffic. The repair wasn't pretty but it worked and I was on my way again within 5 minutes.

The next 2 days were going to be long highway slogs I had to make it to the Live Oak Resort in Washington, TX, by Friday 9 AM to give me the maximum amount of time to get to Spartanburg by 10 AM Saturday morning. This should be a pretty straight forward ride, just sit and twist to cross the desert. I was doing pretty good and stopped for some late lunch, which was McDonald's double cheeseburger and apple pies. I have never had a problem with this rally meal before, but my luck just ran out. My stomach said something was wrong. I managed to push on till I needed gas and took an extended break, but I was still not right. The combination of heat and my stomach was getting to me and I couldn't do anything about it. I keep moving and avoided food for the rest of the night.

Crossing TX was very long, but seeing the sky in the middle of the night was one of my fondest memories. It was so black and the stars stretched from the east to the west horizons. I stopped briefly to take it in as I was completely alone in the desert and it felt both amazing and a bit nervous.  The view was inspiring, but my stomach had finally caught up to me and I needed to stop for the night. I ended up stopping after only 792 miles, which was 220 miles short from my plan. This would mean that Friday – Saturday would be my longest rally day ever, with over 1300 + miles to cover in the heat. I was in bed by 12:30. I would have to get up in 4 hours to make the 9 AM opening time.

Friday August 20, 2010
The alarm went off too early and it took me a bit longer to get moving them normal. It is at these times I start to question my sanity. I hit the road and really enjoyed the cool temperatures and wish there was a way to save it for relief from the heat I knew would be coming later. Riding early in the morning is one of those long distance things that is hard to explain to others. The early starts work for me as I am an early riser by nature. What is always cool to me is that I look forward to seeing is the sunrise coming is an event that helps give me a boost of energy and the view is always amazing.

 I made the resort about 15 minutes later then I planned which was pretty good. Live Oak Resort wasn't just any resort, it was a clothing optional resort. I'm happy to report there were no options being exercised for my early morning visit, but I was informed that was not the case as the day warmed up and the guests took advantage of the club house and pool. It was a neat bonus and they pulled out the welcome mat for us rally riders with food, drinks, showers and a cool air condition area for us to chill out for the required hour time. I took the time to get my paper work cleaned up a bit while I was still fairly focused. I still wasn't sure what other bonuses I was going to go for, with Live Oak in the bag, I was comfortably in a finisher’s position. I decided to play it by ear and see how I felt as the day went.My last bonus was an easy photo, not alot of points but on the route.

That rested feeling didn't last long as I made my way out of TX...I hit every traffic construction stop imaginable. My gear really hadn't been bothering me the previous day in the desert heat as I had it regulated it to get just enough wind in to cool my skin without baking myself. Unfortunately sitting in the traffic I was now starting to really bake, big time. I called Amy and we had the conversation, and she helped me get my head back in the game. I was sick of TX at this point as I had been in it for way too long and clicking off states is one of those psychological events I like to have. Riding in New England you can easily click off the states, but the western riding was different and it was bigger, much bigger. I finally made it out of TX and entered the next hell hole, the state of Louisiana. I'm not a Louisiana fan, it is mostly because I was tortured as a child by being forced to visit relatives in Monroe, LA. So it is pretty hard for me to be happy about LA, ever. Luckily I was able to click it off and soon I made it across Mississippi and into my new home state of Alabama.
The sun was setting behind me and finally the heat was taking a vacation. I stopped just outside Birmingham at a Waffle House for my first real meal in days. I had time on my hands and needed to rest and decided to order a big breakfast and my first coffee in 3 months. The food was perfect and the ladies working the counter had several questions as I broke out the laptop and rally book and receipts. I double checked everything, made sure all my documentation was completely filled out and decided I was in great shape as a solid finisher without needing any more bonuses. I knew Atlanta area offered some great bonuses and they would be right on my route, but I would have to wait till morning came to claim them which would mean I would have to spend the night outside, grab the bonuses with first light and make that last drive to SC and hope nothing went wrong. It didn't feel like the points were worth the risk of a DNF. I decided I would push on and see how the night shaped up.

Fully recharged and finally enjoying cool temperatures, the ride was a blast. This was my first time in central Alabama and the drive was very enjoyable and I was starting to get the end is near feeling. I sat and twisted the throttle to Atlanta. It was after 12:30 AM when I made Atlanta and those bonuses started to call to me again. I knew there would be other rally riders there waiting for sunrise and I knew that the points would surely improve my position. I wanted to stop, as I wanted to place with a solid finish. But I also wanted to be done, and more importantly I wanted to be a finisher in the first IB5000 and not a DNF. Amy and I had been chatting off and on all night and I was realizing how much I missed her and the kids. In the end the pull to finish and seeing her was stronger than the pull for more points. So I rode by 700+ points and pushed on.
I stopped at another Waffle house and got my second turbo coffee boost. I would make a third stop before SC and finally pull into the hotel at 4:30 AM. There was no one there when I rode in, just me and my bike. The wing was dirty, coated in bugs, grime and mud. I had covered 4,500 miles since leaving Denver and not once did she make me doubt her reliability or ability to get me to my next stop. I leaned back and just sat and enjoyed the moment. I did it, I finished and I had a great adventure.

 I got a couple of hours sleep and checked in with the rally staff. Every thing went well with my check-in and scoring.  The only points I lost were 2 receipts for the Waffle Houses that did not print out a proper receipt. They were extra and not really needed so it was no big deal.

In the end I was proud to be one of the finishers, but I was still a bit disappointed with myself for not pushing it harder for a better position. I could have jumped 10 places if I had bagged the Atlanta bonuses, which turned out wasn't as difficult as I thought, as several riders did just that. I did make it to the end and had a ride that most riders have never dreamed of doing, so I think that counts for something.

Post Reflections:
I wrote this up back in October but it took me awhile to really think about the true experience. I learned a lot about myself and I saw sights, sounds and smells all across this great country. Riding a motorcycle across the country is a must do thing and I plan to do it again, several more times, in my life, as there is just so much to see and experience. I want to thank my wife for her wonderful support and letting me have these experiences. I want to thank the NELDRiders as they are the group that has helped me grow and learn this awesome sport. Finally I want to thank the IBA and especially the IB5K staff for the professionalism and dedication you all have given to this sport. One thing that was high on my priority when I made SC was to find Lisa and offer my sincere apology for the AZ incident. I knew she would be busy, but she was incredibly nice and understanding and I really appreciated it. The experience of a rally like this is an individual one, but it is remarkable to share with other riders during and after. See you on the road.