“Oh I can just feel the anticipation in the room,” said Rally Master Lisa Erbes when she took the podium at last night’s finisher’s banquet. Indeed. The room was full of excitement as riders, family and friends gathered. This was the largest Butt Lite rally masters said to cheers from the room. There was illness and lots of mechanical issues that riders overcame during the week. And just 130 miles from the finish, a deer decided to take Marty Cover out of the running, totaling his bike. But Marty and his daughter and rally partner Lisa Hecker got themselves together, rode two-up on her bike for a bit, got a tow truck, and got back to the checkpoint in time for Lisa to finish and get scored. Marty was fine and present for the rousing cheers he got at the banquet.
Aussie Ian McPhee helped a bird move along on the circle of life. At highway speed in between bonus locations a small bird smacked Ian head on, slamming his face shield shut. “Thank goodness it didn’t get caught in between your face and your face shield!” I said. “No,” Ian went on, pointing to his lap, “it landed there!” He tossed the bird off, wishing it well on its next path, grateful to not have gotten bird beak in his eyes. ATGATT (all the gear, all the time) my friends - despite the mishaps, these committed riders rode the safest Butt Lite yet.
Riders really liked this ride. Miles of twisty roads, incredible scenery. I heard many times, “this was my best motorcycle ride, let alone rally, ever.” And it was a challenge. Rally master Bart Bakker said he tried to throw it all in, challenging rides, tempting bonuses- this was one of the toughest rally packs they’ve put together and they were so pleased that riders enjoyed it.
An interesting note in the Butt Lite VIII final standings (which will undoubtedly be analyzed by rally-watchers for weeks to come) is that there were both combo bonus-getters, and those who rode for big points and no combos in the lead at the end. The top 20 finishers were an international crowd and the top ten were a group of competitors that looked at each other and thought – heck, it could go any which way.
|The Top 10 Finishers, Butt Lite VIII, waiting to see where the trophies will go.|
But in the end, the top two remained the top two, with shifting in spots below. Troy Martin rode an incredible Leg 2, finishing with 10,000 more points than rest of the field in 1st place. Kirsten finished with 6,660 miles (a hell of a ride) and 49,757 points in 2nd place. Later, after the cheers and photos, in the quiet of the lobby, Troy said he kept thinking about the 2,200 points separating him and Kirsten after Leg 1 and rode as if she was on his tail. She said that every time she’d get to a bonus and find out he had been there she just shook her head knowing he was having a great run. And that is another great thing about this group of highly skilled riders, there is a genuine excitement for the ride they are on and the good rides of their competitors.
|Troy Martin and Kirsten, #1 and #2 Finishers|
Things are quiet now; Rally HQ has disassembled. The rally van with the Team Strange crew left early this morning. By breakfast, half of the rider parking had cleared out. We walked to a delicious breakfast down the block, and then came back to more lobby story-telling as the final few are packing and taking aim for routes home. We have a couple days of flower sniffing here in the Denver area, and the skies are clear and the mountains have snow. And the mental debate about 2017 rattles around. Top 10 finishers have an automatic spot in the 2017 Iron Butt Rally. We hadn’t planned on 2017, but… we’ll see. For now, it’s a good day for a ride and I brought my gear. I can almost taste the anticipation.