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.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Hooked Up and Ready to Ride

I have wrapped up the Aux Tank install. The fuel line, vent hose, and grounding are all hooked up. I have a basic black cover and foam padding for it right now, but this will be updated and improved. The transfer works well and the set-up looks pretty good with the bags on both sides. The first picture shows the installed fuel line to the tank (I did add a hose clamp after the picture was taken). The second picture shows it all back together with the black cover and bags hooked up.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

When in Doubt...

So the tank was mounted up and looked good but there was a problem, it moved too much from side to side. After talking with other engineers and riders I had a list of possible solutions to try. I started by first adding reinforcement cross-braces, that helped some but in the end added more connections and more complexity, which was not good. Instead I started over, but this time I used some lessons learned from the first brackets. First change was to double the angle thickness to 1/8". I then doubled the number of connection bolts at the angles and also increased the bracket length to extend to the bottom of the seat edge under the passenger hand holds. The combination of these three changes resulted in a mount that is now completely flex free! It is so solid now that I can easily rock the bike on the center stand by holding the tank. Not bad IMO and the design is still clean and easily removable. I have added 2 Camelbak backpacks to the sides of the tank, next up is a backrest pad and cover for the center section..

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Tank

When I first decided to apply for the IB5000 I had thought that I wouldn’t make any changes to my bike, as I have improved it for 3 years now and I am very happy with it. I talked with Amy about this and others, and how in all my readings, one of the biggest mistakes other riders make is to get into the IBR and then go crazy with changes and additions to their bikes. This, in many cases, ends up adding issues and problems which have a variety of reasons and excuses. I figured my bike is just fine, after all it’s a Goldwing, and I have a very good routine for being efficient. However, I still wanted to be sure, so I asked and talked with those that have been there done that. The one farkle I don’t have is an Auxiliary Fuel Tank, which was unanimously recommended by IBR/LDR veterans. I decided that having some of the most experienced riders tell me this is a must have, I really had to go back and make a change to my bike.

Riding a Goldwing is a great advantage because it has been around for awhile, has excellent reliability, and almost every change or farkle has been added to one or worked out by others. There are 4 proven Aux Tank set-ups, each with pluses and minuses. They are as follows:

1. Mount a Jaz Fuel Cell on the passenger seat
  • Advantage: lowest Cost, simple, proven
  • Disadvantage: trunk access, fittings are expensive, lose passenger seat
2. Mount a Fuel Cell in the Trunk, either a Jaz or Tour Tank
  • Advantage: doesn’t draw attention, maintain passenger seat
  • Disadvantage: fuel is very high on bike, lose trunk storage
3. Buy a Custom Fuel Tank on the passenger seat
  • Advantage: optimized to bike for capacity and maintains trunk access
  • Disadvantage: expensive, at least 2-3 times more the a Jaz Fuel Cell
4. Have a Tail Dragger Fuel Tank made
  • Advantage: low on bike, maintain all storage and passenger space
  • Disadvantage: most complex, requires fuel pump and proper set-up

So, if money was no option I would go with a Custom Fuel Tank for the passenger seat because these are ordered and arrive ready to install. Since cost is a factor for me I had 2 options, either a commercial fuel cell mounted on the passenger seat or one mounted in the trunk. The trunk has some advantages I like, but after talking with others about it, I really didn’t want to lose my trunk space as it is my main 'working space' in a rally. I also recognized that a Jaz Tank was a problem for my trunk access and that most LD Riders have to remove the passenger backrest pad to allow the trunk to open fully. This really bothered me and was something I wanted to avoid. I then realized that a 4 Gallon Tour Tank with an 8” diameter could be mounted low enough on my passenger seat to allow the trunk to fully open with little to no interference. The only problem I saw was that I had never seen this set-up before so I would be charting new territory in my mounting approach.

With a plan in place, it was time to get serious. I used all my Christmas money to fund this addition and my wonderful wife took care of ordering everything for me to put under the Christmas Tree. I want to add, I wasn’t allowed to open it till Christmas; but after all the kids' gifts were done and the normal gifts exchanged, I did open it, and it brought a huge grin to my face. I immediately went outside and placed the tank on my passenger seat using towels to support it in the location I planned to mount it.

It was so cool-looking; I dragged Amy outside to admire it. This was, of course, lost on her, as she said it looked like I had a bomb strapped to my bike now. It was therefore nicknamed the "H-Bomb Tank." I tested out the position and felt that I had a very good solution; the tank was still allowing full trunk access and looked like it would provide a good backrest with some padding, which was something I have been thinking of adding.

After spending some time in the garage with cardboard and sheet metal I came up with a mounting solution that seemed pretty simple. I could have made a platform to mount the tank on, using some steel plate; this would have moved the tank up higher and caused interference with the trunk, however, and also, positioned the tank uncomfortably higher on my back. Using a low position had the advantage that the tank was actually in the exact spot to provide lumbar support similar to a car seat with the round part perfectly aligned with the small of my back. So I went with aluminum angle brackets, flat stock, cut and bolted together.

The mount is very solid and overall I’m happy with it right now. However I have been checking the rules and IBA forum on the inspection criteria for Aux Tanks. I have zero movement front to back, as designed, since I’m planning to lean into the tank while riding, but I do have movement left to right, because of some seat foam give. It’s not a lot of movement and if I grad the tank and move it side to side I can easily move the bike back and forth. However I am going to make some further changes by increasing the attachment angles to allow 2 bolts on each leg and adding an additional cross brace on the aft mount to hopefully reduce the racking. I still need to plumb the lines to the tank, but this is a proven approach from others so I’m not as worried about it right now and want to get the mount finished first. Also the snow and ice means a test ride is out for awhile too. Stay tuned for the next update…

Friday, January 8, 2010

And so it begins…

Email from Lisa Landry on November 10, 2009:
“Congratulations! Your application was drawn for entry in the 2010 Iron Butt 5000!”

Those were the words I read with a rush of emotion and excitement that very few understand or comprehend. Heck I’m not even sure how to explain it to others why Long Distance (LD) Riding is so much fun to me and relaxing. Most bikers look at you like you are nuts to ride the distance and non-riders look at you like you must have a death wish or something to ride a bike let alone long distance for fun. So what do you do then? I just live with it and move on. I explain it to my friends and family; some get it, some say they get it, some just nod and move on.

This blog is my attempt to document my first multi day Long Distance Rally preparation and experiences. The blogs and internet seem to be an excellent way to start this type of activity for others to enjoy and follow along. I’ve read a lot of people’s blogs and am always interested in their experiences. In a way it has allowed me to live through others journeys to areas I have yet to see. In this case I hope that others will enjoy my journey and maybe learn a thing or two from me.

I first got interested in the Iron Butt Rally (IBR) in 2001 when I went to the Maine Check point with a group of my riding friends. That experience really hooked me into this small group of riders and I started dreaming of the day when I would be able to join such a limited group. I followed the IBR again in 2003 and 2005 and started to dive more into this group. However I had yet to do the most basic qualification ride, a Saddle Sore 1000 (SS1000), which is a 1000 mile ride in 24 hours or less. I had done some research and had started my plan several times but somehow never got going. Then in 2006 I found out about the Minuteman 1000 rally and the wonderful opportunity to earn my SS1000 qualification at this event. I missed the 2006 event but signed up for the 2007 event. With that June ride, a loop from MA to VT to NH to ME to NH to MA to RI to CT and back to MA, I completed my first long distance ride. When I finished I was exhausted, I was sore, and I couldn’t have been more excited! I learned a lot about myself and my abilities. More importantly I learned I liked it and I wanted more. Since that first accomplishment I have had several other accomplishments I am equally proud of and several failures that I have learned from. I am still pretty ‘green’ in this small group of LD Riders, but I’m learning and looking forward to growing my abilities.
From MM1000 2008

The 2010 Iron Butt 5000 is significant for several reasons. First it is the first time the Iron Butt Association (IBA) has done this rally. The IBA is know for qualifying the LD Rides, like the SS1000, and also runs the Super Bowl of all long Distance Rally’s the Iron Butt Rally (IBR). The IBR is the premier rally in the LD world; it is an 11 day rally that runs on odd years only. It is very competitive to get selected for, as there are literally thousands of applications for the coveted 100 spots. The LD world has numerous other rallies that are run by local rallymasters that most people get their feet wet in. But this is a first time for the IBA to offer a shorter rally format. In addition if you finish the IB5000 you get a spot in the 2011 IBR; if you want it! So although it has not been advertised as a ‘qualification’ rally it does serve that purpose nicely to those that have not done a multi day rally before, like me.

With that the stage is set, the event is August 16 - 21, and I’m a registered participant and can hardly wait. The next 8 months should be fun!