Monday, August 30, 2010

"Cheater" Post...

So, I don't have my ride report done yet, there are just so many great stories!.  So, I thought I would at least give quick access to the reports written during the rally by Iron Butt staffers Tom Austin and Ira Agins... if you've already read them, they are still entertaining... if not, ENJOY!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Pack up the kids Ma! Reporting from IB5000 HQ

It's a lovely overcast and less humid morning in Spartanburg, SC at IB5000 headquarters.  Got in last night after a 10 hour drive of my own, but it's nothing compared to the fast feet Kirsten has been making to try and pull enough points to finish.  Sitting in the hotel lobby I can watch riders pull in to the check-in area outside.  People have pulled up some chairs and are just chatting and waiting for their friends and family members to arrive.  As the riders dismount, road worn and tired, most have very big smiles.  Already saw some good friends who are set up at the scoring tables.  (And heard some complaints from a couple riders about the decaf coffee in the urn outside the scoring room - I mean REALLY - these people have just ridden several thousand miles!)  The rookie rider who hit a black bear (yes - black bear) is here with his happy girlfriend.  He totalled his bike, but is fine.  So, apparently is the bear, who was stunned but got up and walked away after a few minutes.  The young man flew here to be able to attend the conclusion of the rally with everyone.  He's gotten several hand-shakes and slaps on the back.

Kirsten is making her way here and I think picked up another good bonus location early this morning.  Riders start to get penalty points by 10:00 a.m.  That's about 1.5 hours away.  And we'll find out the overall results at this evening's banquet. 

Will post some more pictures later.  Stay tuned!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Day 4 - Rest Break

Talked to Kirsten briefly last night at the beginning of her rest break.  She's doing well - and thankful for the 1 ft. curb outside a BMW dealership late one night that provided a perfect "pillow" for an Iron Butt nap.  She was going to take a little time to try and figure out how she's doing on points, but then sleep.

Ride is going well - seeing beautiful country.  Had a huge rainstorm that flooded the streets in one state as she was going through town.  Moving was ok, having to stop and put her foot in water that was over her tire rim was not fun.  It's an RT, not a GS, but it's scrappy!

Here's to the miles between Day 4 and Day 5 finish Saturday morning.  Keep sending those mental good vibes!
Kirsten during her Coast to Coast to Coast IBA ride last year.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Day 3 - Check out the choices!

Day 3 IBA Report

Check out the Leg 2 bonus choices on page 2!  Considering Leg 1 covered the blank part on this map, this rally is giving riders the choice - let's say opportunity- to see the USA in 5 days.  And Kirsten, back on the road, is doing just that.  She's needs 9,200 points on this leg, and needs to make up 1,000 points from Leg 1 in order to finish the rally.  For those who don't know, you can ride the whole rally, get to the end, and if you didn't get enough total points, you could still be listed as DNF- "did not finish."  Kirsten's goal all along has been to finish this rally.  With the number and location of the "OK" messages from her SpotTracker, I think she's on her way to that goal.

Thankfully you also get points for a mandatory rest break bonus!

If you read the IBA report, you'll see how the room cleared in a matter of minutes after handing out the Leg 2 locations.  I gave some volunteer assistance to this year's Mason Dixon 20-20 Rally and experienced that room-clearing moment.  It's very strange to go from the high excitement and anticipation level of all those riders, to the quiet click of the last coffee cup spinning on its saucer.  The best part is at the final banquet when they all return and you hear how this one rally was really like 65 different rallies all rolled into one - because each rider rides their own ride. 

Today's photo is of Kirsten and her ride when it was brand new.  The RT is now a little more banged up and decorated, but still the seat that will bring her home.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Leg 2 Begins

Kirsten called late last night, safely back in Denver.  She didn't make it to the shop before closing, but they came in a little early this morning to check over her bike before they opened.  That allowed her to get her rally pack and do some routing before getting the green light that her new tire was fixed and ready.  And so she's rolling again--on Leg 2! 

Now that the crisis of Leg 1 is over, I can't really talk about her location or planned route - IBA regulations.  I can say that she's doing well and seeing beautiful country.  I got an "OK" message from her SpotTracker a little bit ago- which is so much nicer to receive than the "HELP" message.  I suggest that you peruse the official IBA daily reports for your entertainment.  Kirsten is featured in today's!  Certainly not the standing or feature mention she was hoping for, but you'll be impressed with the photo.  (And hopefully her skill at staying safe in spite of it all.)  Day 2 IBA Report

Her mom, after viewing that photo, sent me this one, saying perhaps it captured the spirit of the RT's experience over the past couple days.

I should remind Kirsten to pack the shopping cart and hand truck next time......

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Have Tire - Will Travel!

As of 5:00 p.m. Eastern, Kirsten is back on the road!  She has a new tire and is making her way back down to the Denver BMW shop for a full safety check (especially the front brakes that the bent rim was slapping against as she was trying to move to the side of the road).  She's still trying to beat the clock and get from the shop back to the IBA rally check-in by the time limit for leg one.  If she does, she can take a breath before receiving the Leg 2 waypoints at 5 a.m. Mountain tomorrow morning. 

I know that she'll post more (and photos - "you won't believe it when you see this tire") after the rally.  But I MUST thank several people.  The two guys who were on a hay run, saw her on the side of the road and helped her pick up the bike and gave her the name of a tow company.  The tow truck driver who got both rider and bike back into Casper and then told the receptionist at the hotel, "This young lady just got this bike to the side of the road with no front tire and didn't drop it!  That's impressive!"  Bill from Canada pretty much orchestrated the rescue mission I understand.  (If you're in SC this weekend, I'm SO giving you a hug!)  The BMW dealer took a full front wheel assembly off a used RT, put together tools and instructions, and gave it to an IBA volunteer.  He then strapped it all on his Goldwing and made the 4-hour one-way trip up to Casper so they could change her tire.  The folks at the motorsports shop in Casper, I'm sure helped in this.  And a HUGE Motor Maid thank you to Ruth and Mary who were in Casper and gave Kirsten a cool living room couch and company to await the arrival of her tire saviour.  And on the homefront all our FB and rider board friends who posted ideas and support.  To all of you and all the others I don't even know - I thank you... and Kirsten's mom thanks you!  It's hard to be half a country away when all this is happening.

And this was just Leg 1.  Imagine the full 11 day Iron Butt Rally.

Before I close today, I want to give you the post I wanted to blog yesterday.  In the midst of traveling, preparation, attending the IBA conference and everything else, Kirsten found time to send me this yesterday!
These beauties were delivered to my office - a wonderful surprise as she was just heading out.  Here's a smile and hopes for a much less eventful Leg 2!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Not the First Post I wanted: ASSISTANCE NEEDED

Kirsten called about 7:30 Eastern and a truck threw a board, which hit her tire and bent the rim.  She's fine, didn't go down, but the bike high-sided when she put it on the stand (because the tire was blown with a bent rim!).  Just talked with her again (8:15 p.m. Eastern) and the tow truck is there.  She's getting towed back to Casper, WY, but she needs a new tire for her 2009 BMW R1200RT.  Lisa posted to the LD Riders board and I put on Facebook for the folks in case you're reading (here or there).  There's a Honda shop and a scooter place in Casper, but not sure there's anyone there to assist or to have the tire needed. 

If you are in the area of Casper, WY and have an idea, or can assist, give her a call directly if you have her number.  Otherwise, if you're on FB, send me a personal message - Jennifer Talken-Spaulding.  Don't think there's a good way to share personal numbers securely through this blog.

Good news - she's fine.  Bummer - she was doing great in the ride so far and this is a real set back.  She's still hoping to get a new tire and get back on the road tonight so she can try and salvage Leg 1 and get back to Denver on time. 

Mr. Happy Goes to Denver via Kansas

Since the first part of the trip from home was more or less an exercise in "sit there and twist that" abilities, I won't dwell on the wonderful ride that included beautiful scenery and a bit of warm weather (at one point, the bike gage read an air temperature of 101 degrees). My goal was to get in the vicinity of Kansas City.

My Garmin 550 hadn't been receiving XMradio for some time and I'd eliminated the special antenna as the issue. So, since Olathe, KS was more or less along the way, I figured I stop by and see if there was anything they could do for me. Well, in less than two hours I was back on the road with a new Zumo 550 that had all the data from my misbehaving one transferred to it, including all the latest maps. Awesome! When I asked the technicians if I could be cheesy and ask for their picture, they kind of smiled and agreed. Coming back from the bike, I had my camera in one hand and Mr. Happy in the other. The look on the 6 foot plus guy I handed him too was awesome. When I got in the picture Ryan said, "Oh, she's going to put him on." It was priceless and so was their service. Thanks guys!

Ryan, me, Mr. Happy, Brad, and Javier
From there we traveled north to catch Route 36 across Kansas and on to I-70 into Denver. There was all kinds of road art along the way.  This pony express rider seemingly randomly placed along the road inspired a stop in Marysville, KS where the first Home Station of the Pony Express still stands.

While there are a few Relay Stations and Home Stations still in existence, this is the only one still where it was when it was used during the 19 months when the Pony Express ran.

Mr. Happy and I learned that horses can go 15 miles or so at a hard gallop without hurting themselves, so there were relay stations along the route from S. Joseph, MO to Sacramento, CA about every 12-15 miles. A rider would blow his horn to alert the relay station that he was near and then take just two minutes to change horses. It was at this point that the guide told me that's why there were no women riders... they obviously have never seen an Iron Butt woman take care of business. The trick is, don't wear a one-piece riding suit :)

About 12 hours from St. Joseph, MO would be this first Home Station where the rider would end his tour and another rider would take off for the next leg or the 10-day run, 15 days in the winter. There were 150 stations along the express route. While most of the mail was government, a person could send a letter for about $5 and in 1860-61, that was big money. But it wasn't the cost that killed the service. After less than two years of service, the transcontinental telegraph line was completed and the need for the riders was no longer needed. During its short run, the Pony Express had 500 horses.

We got to tour the museum and see some cool, local stuff, some of it even related to the Pony Express, but for $4, it was worth it. The original stable was still dirt floor and you could get a feel for what the conditions were like for the boys.
Mr. Happy didn't really want his picture taken as a bronco rider, but I tried to get him to think of it as fun.  He kind of thought it was just sort of lame.  Ah well.
"Mr. Happy, look up at me!"

New batteries installed!
Not so happy now :(
We left Marysville and continued along Route 36. My job was to safely pilot the bike. Mr. Happy was supposed to press the track and okay buttons on the SPOT. He did that just fine, but forgot to check the batteries.

So, if you all noticed a break in the track, that's when MH missed the red warning light. Putting in the special lithium batteries and we were back in business.

As you can tell, we rode at a leisurely pace. In the Iron Butt Magazine Ron Ayers talked about long-distance riders enjoying the things along the road just as much as others, it's just that we are like speed readers, making our way without a lot of stops. Long stretches on the road each day are not about speeding. They are about not taking long stops and going for many hours. But like I said, I was in no rush, so less than a half hour or so out of Denver, MH and I took a hotel and called it a night. The morning was rather slow as well, but we were at Iron Butt HQ early after running a few errands in town. You see, I’d packed a bag for Jennifer to bring down to South Carolina for the closing banquet and such and I’d packed for the rally, but I forgot to pack cloths for the National Meet. With just a single pair of pants, I was styling.

Well, it’s just 15 minutes before the mandatory rider’s meeting so I’m going to have to cut this off. Passed tech inspection yesterday and finished out my paperwork this morning. Now it’s time to get our marching orders, including a safety briefing, and our rally packs with our first group of bonuses.

I going to have to sign off for a while.  I don't know that Jennifer will get much info from me during the rally.  But know I'm thinking of you all and doing my best to both have fun and be safe.  So for now, I'll need to be your shadow rider.

Here’s the link to the most recent official IBA report:

To go directly to the reports, go to the Iron Butt Association website ( and click on the reports in the “News” section on the right.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Reports Begin...

For those familiar with past Iron Butt Rallies, you already know there is an official "reporter" giving daily progress reports of the ride.  Well, Tom Austin, noted IBA author, has published the first report.  They are well written and wonderful reading, often including riveting tails of rider's trials and tribulations.  A quick read has already given me some key information for my route planning... see if you can figure out what that is.

Official IBA daily report #1 of the 2010 Iron Butt 5000 (pdf file format)

Soon I will be knee deep in the rally and will hand over the keyboard to Jennifer.  If it turns out that she is not able to post during the rally, we'll try to provide links to the official IBA daily reports.  And hopefully I can give a ride report after the finish.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

... Mr. Happy meets Giant Prairie Dog

And so, in our previous story Mr. Happy (MH - if you'd like to suggest a better name, feel free, but remember, this is a "family" website) let me know in no uncertain terms that he wanted to meet the giant prairie dog we saw while traveling down a rural Kansas road.

With nothing better to do but kill time on my way to Denver, I thought, "Why not? This could be fun."

Slowly we approached the stoic looking rodent. I wondered if we should make some kind of plaintive gesture to ensure the creature knew we meant no harm, but one never quite knows when they haven't seen an episode explaining the intricacies of giant prairie dog behaviour on the Discovery channel.

Mr. Happy & P-dog
Making our way up the hill in a cautious but determined manner, we soon realized P-dog (as we found out he likes to be called) enjoyed entertaining company. Soon he was holding MH and they were carrying on like old friends. I, on the other hand, was just cooking in the mid-day sun and requested to we continue on our journey west.

But this was not MH's first adventure. It started in Olathe, KS when I stopped at the mothership for all Garmin GPS units. But that's a story for another post.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Meet my Riding Buddy...

While I don't usually ride with anyone other than Jennifer, since she couldn't come, she wanted to make sure I wasn't by myself for thousands of miles.

Meet Mr. Happy

Yes, if you've never been a consumer of Aerostich stuff you might not know him, but he gets around and knows how to travel long distances.  So, I'll be sharing my ride reports with him.

As a bit of a teaser, let me leave you with this.  Going across Kansas Mr. Happy started to yell at me to stop and turn around.  Now mind you, we were travelling at highway speeds on a simple two-lane road, but thankfully there was no one behind us... actually there was no one anywhere to be seen.  What could MH be yelling about.

"I want to meet him."
What?  "Who are you talking about," I asked.
"Him" and I followed the trajectory of MH's stubby little arm to see what he was pointing at.  And there, in the distance was the biggest prairie dog I'd ever seen.  So I made a u-ie in the road and got as close as I dared.

Stay tuned to find out what happened next......

Sunday, August 8, 2010

T-minus 8 Hours

and counting.  The bike is packed and I'll depart when Jennifer leaves for work.  She'll head north to DC and I'll head south to pick-up I-64 to head west.  My first target is Kansas City, KS.  I'm headed straight for the U.S. Garmin HQ to see if I can get my GPS fixed.  We'll see.

With a bit of timing luck, I'll get some nice shots as I travel across country. 

Check out the "Ride to IBA" SPOT tracker --->
to see where I am throughout my trip to Denver, CO.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Rock Steady!

This morning was rockin! Just after 7:00 Jennifer and I began our last run together before I head for Denver, CO on Monday. Since just after returning from the Iron Butt 5000 rally we'll be running a relay 1/2 marathon, I wanted to run at least 6 miles to have firmly planted in my brain that I *CAN* do it.

So, we were off to our favorite local national park, Prince William Forest Park. Along the forested road with the left half reserved for pedestrians and bicyclists, we headed out. Less than eight months ago we began running amidst some of the worst winter weather the east coast had seen in decades. Following a training schedule that started us with 30 second jogs followed by 60 seconds walking, we progressed. The first time we jogged for a solid 90 seconds, that minute and a half seemed to last forever. But today would be different.

After completing a warm-up walk of 0.3 miles, we began our jog and before we knew it, we were a mile down the road. After two miles, Jennifer suggested we run three and a half miles before turning around. Copy that! And so we jogged a solid 3.2 miles (+ the 0.3 warm-up) before we turned around. Jennifer had to adjust a shoe and so we lost a little bit of our average speed, but we'd done the 3.5 miles at a respectable 5.5 mph (11 minute mile). Just before we reached five miles total Jennifer could feel the effects of the longer run and walked a brief 1/10 of a mile before jogging on. With the temperature rising and humidity of the day building, we still put in a decent jog. In the end, we both finished strong. We eventually traveled a full 7 miles with less than 3/4 of a mile walking (including the warm-up walk at the beginning). Jennifer pumped out the last 1/4 mile at nearly a full run and crossed the "finish line" at 78 minutes! At just under 5.5 mph, we couldn't be happier and I feel strong as I get ready to travel across country.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

To Track or Not to Track...

Although I know you all have fun just watching floating dots moving around on maps, there may be a prohibition to open SPOT trackers during the Iron Butt 5000 rally.  If that's the case I'll need to password the IB5k link.  If so, I'll follow-up with info on who I'm allowed to share that with and such.

So, here's the good news:
* Regardless, you'll still be able to follow the "real time" feeds of my travels to/from the start/finish
* I should be able to post the tracker map after the event so you can see my completed  (oh please, let me be a finisher at least) ride of the IB5k.

I'm back on the '07 F800ST (shameless plug, it's for sale) today for my commute.  Why?  Because momma's gettin' a new pair of shoes, fresh Michelin Pilot Road 2 tires.  Plus, I made the appointment for the 42,000 mile service once I return!  Yeah Morton's BMW :)

Friday, Saturday, & Sunday will be packing.  The zumo was updated with the latest maps last night.  Things are clicking along.

Monday, August 2, 2010

A Week Away...

and I'm just a wee bit nervous and excited.

This weekend included drilling out a water cooler to add a drinking hose. It takes a fraction of the time to fill and will keep me from wearing anything on my back (good safety improvement).  While that means I won't be able to blow air into a camelbak, arch my back, and squeeze the bite valve to send a stream of water down my back, I won't be leaving myself to roast.  As I did for the 100CCC, I'll strap a cooler onto the passenger seat where I can have V-8 juices iced and at my fingertips.  The newly drilled hydration system will also fit so it'll have ice on the inside and out.  Then, I can dip my hand into the icy water and then pat myself down to get a little Iron Butt AC going on the bike :)

One thing that will be missing is an auxiliary fuel cell.  I got focused on other things to get "the" system I wanted so now I'll just have to go without.  Not a killer, but here's what I'll have to add to the mix when I'm routing.  A lot of folks say, "Don't worry.  You won't really ride 250 miles without stopping anyway."  While that may be true (and more often it's not), the real issue is not being able to find a station when it's needed.  At ~50mph I can stretch out my fuel to go 300 or so miles.  If I'm out west somewhere or in western Canada and am able to actually tank-up at 10pm... (quick bit of math: 300 miles/50 mph = 6 hours) will I be able to find a station open at 4am or even before in order to top up and keep going?  So, my routing will need to take into account even more when I'll need fuel, if there are stations there, and if the station will be open when I need it.  It's all part of being in rally mode.

Those who followed along on the 100CCC ride will recall the stellar job Jennifer did posting trip reports.  I'm hoping to be able to check in with her to share stories along the way, but know that it might not be possible.  So, here are a few things to look for.

I've already set-up my tracker pages >>> just over there on the right of the page.  Until I start traveling that portion of the ride, you'll get a message that there are no posts if you click the link.  That's normal - it's not broken.  Also, the association usually does write-ups daily during the rally.  I'm guessing they'll be doing them this time and posted on the Iron Butt Rally website, but I'll try to post any updated information I receive on following the event.  While I don't expect to see my rookie name anywhere in them (and I don't want it to be listed for all the wrong reasons), it is great reading and I highly recommend it to anyone who's interested in this kind of insanity.  The past year's rally reports were listed as required reading for the IB5k.

Finally, I'm compiling a list of folks I can call while on the road.  During the 100CCC it was great knowing that Richard was working night shift and I could call him at all hours.  And I did, just to hear a friendly voice and to be reminded that I can do it.  Sage advice, a listening ear, that kind of stuff is important.  So, if you are someone who'd like to be on the call list, drop me a note.  Assistance with the rally is prohibited, but me calling to whine, cry, or cuss is not!  Since this is an open blog, please don't leave any phone numbers in the comment section.  If you think I've got your email, I'll contact you off-blog to get call information and times you're available.  If you know I don't have anyway to contact you, please go to my facebook site and send me a fb message with the info.

Thanks for being there and thanks for being a part of my preparations.  The wait is almost over!

August 9:  Leave for Denver, CO
August 11-14: IBA National Meet
August 15: Iron Butt 5000 Rally check-in and tech inspection
August 16: Inaugural Iron Butt 5000
August 21: Final Check-in, Spartanburg, SCAugust 22; Head home :)