Thursday, June 30, 2011

Day 11– E Pluribus Unum

Ok everybody, this country is big. I mean, I spent over 8 hours flying across it this morning, looking out the window the whole time at the beautiful landscape that made up pretty much the states of Leg Three, and I’m telling you- it is a big space! Watching the progress on a digital map has got nothing on flying over it while thinking about the rally. It made me reflect on all those riders out there, who from 30,000 feet, seem very small and alone.

Then I arrived at the final checkpoint, Ontario CA. There were already a few tired riders here a day early, and the IBR staff walking around saying this waiting is the hardest part. I heard, “it feels like I should go boil water for birthin’ this baby,” more than once. Everyone is talking about routes, being cagey about talking about routes, and analyzing everyone’s routes. It’s been wonderful to catch up with friends, and meet people for the first time that I’ve known about through rally circles. Floating around the lobby are IBR staff and volunteers, friends and former top and #1 finishers of the IBR. I haven’t left the hotel yet. These riders are not small and alone – they are incredible and have made big accomplishments in this rally and in the IBR. Out of many – one. Many routes, one rally. Many riders, one IBR. E Pluribus Unum.

Kirsten is doing well. She has just ridden through what she said was the scariest wind storm she has ever ridden through. Weather band radio was beeping warnings- find shelter now- 60 mph winds—of course she got the warning after she was already through it. (Didn't want to take her hand off the handlebars to turn on the radio.)  She’s feeling good and riding like hell. She has just gotten some more water, cleaned her windshield and put more V8 is the tank bag. She said, “There’s no fricking way that I’m not riding the ride I picked out for myself!” That’s what’s expected on the last day of the Iron Butt Rally. My nerves are just holding out for a smooth next 14 or so hours. The riders must be at the checkpoint by 10:00 a.m. (Pacific time) Friday or start accruing penalty points. I can’t wait to see the gathering crowd because there will certainly be more than one rider coming in at the squeak of 10.  As I've been saying all week - Leg Three will be very interesting.

My favorite rally picture of Kirsten.
State Tally for Leg Three (47 of 48): Florida (for the capital), Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah and Wyoming (again), Nevada, and sometime by tomorrow morning- California for 48.

State Tally for Leg Two (36 of 48): Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, (District of Columbia), Virginia, West Virginia (again – this time for the capital bonus points), Kentucky, North and South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

State Tally at End of Leg One (21 of 48): Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Day 10– DAY TEN!

This will be a quick post tonight. Tomorrow is a travel day for me –although I’m using the winged version to fly to the finish. Riders have to be at the checkpoint by 8:00 a.m. Friday morning. I’m looking forward to posting from the IBR rally final checkpoint!

Kirsten’s still moving, so the troubles with a pulsing front end (possibly warped rotor) and the very expensive helmet that is now pinching uncomfortably (very uncomfortably), are at least something she’s dealing with but haven’t stopped her yet. My feeling is that it’s the pure German stubbornness that will push her through Day 10 today and Day 11 tomorrow. Progress is good, finish is better!

Just to show that I believe she comes by this honestly, here’s a photo of Kirsten's mom in Jeff Massey’s fantastic sidecar rig after a spin around the Morton's BMW open house parking lot.

State Tally for Leg Three (43 of 48): Florida (for the capital), Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and New Mexico.

State Tally for Leg Two (36 of 48): Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, (District of Columbia), Virginia, West Virginia (again – this time for the capital bonus points), Kentucky, North and South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

State Tally at End of Leg One (21 of 48): Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Day 9– You Never Ride Alone

The theme of this post here on Day 9 is friends. Kirsten’s tired. I’m tired. And I know that all of you are tired just from keeping up on the updates! This rally, as has been said before, is not only about the riders – it’s about you, me, everyone that forms the support network that makes this ride possible. 

The postings here and on FB have been so supportive – and often humorous! Two of you came to the checkpoint yesterday for cheers while a third tried to catch her in Raleigh (and just missed the blur). A group from work mailed a letter to checkpoint two with inspiring quotes such as, “I hope you still think this was a good idea.” Today, I’ve had no less than four messages and a couple phone calls wondering why Kirsten’s spot stopped for so long and if everything is ok. (She left checkpoint two pretty much after receiving the Leg Three packet last night, and drove all night. The stop today was a rest break thank goodness!) I was in an all day meeting at work, yet I got an update about her location from a friend. And I met up after work with George – fabulous George and his wife- who just arrived from the FL checkpoint. He passed off Kirsten’s spare helmet and riding clothes (which I’m bringing out to her for the trip home). I gave them both a huge hug. They stopped to meet up with me in the middle of a thunderstorm, after a 12 hour drive, before they even went home.

Really, I can’t say enough about the network of friends and family that make each rider’s ride possible.

The other things that help are those odd reminders of your friends. For example, one of our Motor Maids riding buddies always comments that Kirsten stands up on her pegs and rides down the road. In a long line of bikes, all of a sudden, her head will just pop up out of the pack, have a look around and then go back down. (In reality, it’s that iron butt needing a stretch.) So in honor of this phenomenon, our friend gave Kirsten an appropriate riding buddy – a little plastic prairie dog who is currently mounted next to a GPS in her cockpit.
The field has dwindled by two more riders. People are now making tough decisions for themselves, their stamina, their bikes, and the point values for the final leg. Today's IBR report explains the spread better than I can. I will just comment that Jim Frens is an incredible rider that we have had the pleasure of meeting in other rallies. The finish should be very interesting.

Kirsten is currently in 5th place.

State Tally for Leg Three (41 of 48): Florida (for the capital), Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana.

State Tally for Leg Two (36 of 48): Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, (District of Columbia), Virginia, West Virginia (again – this time for the capital bonus points), Kentucky, North and South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

State Tally at End of Leg One (21 of 48): Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Day 8 – Shhhhhhh, She’s Sleeping

Kirsten did a couple “Iron Butt Hotels” (i.e. propped up on the bike, or a curb, picnic table, wherever you can rest for a few minutes) last night. She arrived in Jacksonville, FL this afternoon, got her tire switch completed and bike restocked for the last leg, and then through scoring. Good news – she got all the points available on this leg!  And my spies at the checkpoint sent me a text to say she looked good. But, it took her longer than she thought it would. So after 4 p.m. this afternoon, she was finally going to sleep until the rider’s meeting tonight at 10:00 p.m.  She wanted me to send a huge thanks to Jim Boone and Calvin Eichner who met up with her at the checkpoint for personal well-wishing!

Jacksonville, FL

The toll of this multi-day ride is becoming clearer. Today's IBR report mentions the various errors riders made during the call-in bonus. And there are three people now out of the rally, including an experienced rider who won the IBR 5000 last summer. He’s doing better, but went home via MetJet after hydroplaning his bike just outside of checkpoint one.

All indications are that, per normal, the IBR staff is going to switch it up a bit for the final leg. Remember that visiting all 48 states is just the BASE route. That is what riders must do to be considered a finisher. To be competitive for a top 20 or top 10 finish, riders must gather state capitals, or other bonus points (Alaska, Four-Corners, etc.) in addition to getting all 48 states. Today’s IBR report notes that there are three separate paths to the podium, so we expect the final scores to look very different than they do at the moment. However, Kirsten realizes she’s not competing against anyone, just doing the best ride she can. This is NOT a race. It’s a rally. And at the moment, she’s trying to gain back some energy to go for Leg Three to the best of her ability.

Points at the end of Leg 2: 3,693
Points at the end of Leg 1: 4,992
Total Points so far: 8,685

Miles ridden in Leg 2: 3,067
Miles ridden in Leg 1: 5,044
Total Miles so far: 8,111

State Tally for Leg Two (36 of 48): Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, (District of Columbia), Virginia, West Virginia (again – this time for the capital bonus points), Kentucky, North and South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

State Tally at End of Leg One (21 of 48): Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Day 7 – One Week, 6500 Miles and Counting

Baseball is good – audio books through the helmet are nice too. Satellite radio. Math problems. All these keep Kirsten occupied on her long miles. And often, like yesterday, it’s just a good twisty road and beautiful country.

Mr. Happy fixing the SpotTracker
during the IBR 5000 (Aug '10).
The ride through Vermont and Maine mountains was fantastic. At one point she said to herself, “Seriously? I was in Washington State on Monday and now I’m in Maine?!” She feels like she’s just riding around, having fun and then it hits her, “I’m riding in the Iron Butt Rally. No! Yes!” These are the conversations you have in your helmet – or with Mr. Happy. Mr. Happy rode the IBR 5000 with her and is along for this ride too (although significantly more dirty than seen here).

As of this morning when she reached a very special B&B in Virginia (Hale Talken-Spaulding), she had ridden 6500 miles so far. After a two hour rest break (1/2 hour bike stuff and eating a hot breakfast, 1.5 hour sleep), she was off. Since then, she’s gotten West Virginia and Kentucky, and is still riding before a planned three hour rest break later this evening. People have asked me how long it takes to ride over 1,000 miles a day. At a reasonable pace (high speeds wear you out faster), it’s about 18 hours of riding and she plans about 5 hours of rest each day.

The weather doesn’t look too great for the last of this leg tomorrow – thunderstorms all day in Jacksonville, FL. Riders have to be at the checkpoint by 5:00 p.m. (Monday). This is a short rest. Rally packs for the final leg will be distributed at 10:00 p.m. Then riders will decide how much to route, sleep, or just hit the road again. Leg Three ends in Ontario, CA on Friday morning. There are a lot of states and big bonus points on the table for the final leg. IBR watchers know that everything can change in the scorecard on Leg Three. Chris Sakala (IBR 2nd place 2005 and 4th in 2009) advises: start strong, finish stronger.

State Tally for Leg Two (32 of 48): Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, (District of Columbia*), Virginia, West Virginia (again – this time for the capital bonus points), and Kentucky.

* The District of Columbia is not a state. But Kirsten and I have been well trained by the home rule advocates in DC after these many years (the DC license plate says “Taxation Without Representation”). In a nod our DC resident friends, Kirsten grabbed DC this morning, even though it’s not part of the rally. (Personal note – I think IBR should have given extra points for the U.S. Capitol after all these state capital grabbings!)
First Woman to Receive Motorcycle License in Washington DC
Lincoln Memorial

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Day 6 – Who ARE These People?

This is day 6. This is the day that pushes Kirsten into the longest endurance ride she has done (second to the IBR 5000 last summer of 5 days). Kind of like Sam said in the hay field, “If I step one more foot, I’ll be the furthest from home I’ve ever been.”

All the Iron Butt Rally veterans say that you never know what it’s like until you ride one. You’ve read about it, watched the videos, talked with people, but until you’ve tested yourself and your trusty stead on this adventure, you really don’t know.

I thought I’d give you a little insight from the IBR rally reports as to who is riding this adventure along with Kirsten. There are usually 100 riders, but economics caused several people to back out from this rally. There were 87 riders who began in Seattle. There are currently 86 riders still rolling – one had an accident that took him out of the rally a couple days ago (he’s fine, his bike is not). There are 29 IBR veterans running this rally, including several of the top finishers from the 2009 rally (the IBR is held only once every two years). There are 6 two-up teams and riders from all over the U.S., Canada, Germany and Australia. Thirty-two riders are true rookies with no previous Iron Butt Rally or IBR 5000 experience.

Kirsten is one of 24 veterans of the first-ever IBR 5000 last summer, but a rookie to the IBR. Another is Brian Bray – a very nice young man who did not finish (DNF) the IBR 5000 because he hit a small black bear in Montana during the rally and totaled his bike. He walked away – all the gear all the time! Brian said the bear got up after a minute, they both looked at each other, and then the bear ran off into the woods. He flew out to the finishers banquet and I remember his huge smile and all the hand-shaking and slaps on the back he received. The IBR staff say they’re still disappointed Brian didn’t get a photo of his rally flag on the unconscious bear.

Kirsten the day she bought the RT (aka Rally Bike!) 
Shout out to Morton's BMW!
Kirsten is one of six women piloting her own bike. Another is friend Nancy Oswald. Nancy is a strong rider who finished 20th in the 2009 IBR. Nancy is working on the additional Four-Corners bonus points for this rally. This is an interesting tactic to watch because it won’t be clear until the very end where this puts the rider. All the bonuses gathered during each leg are available at the checkpoint – except the 4-corners, which requires the rider to get all four corners of the U.S. (designated by specific town). If you don’t get all four, you don’t get any of the points- therefore, we won’t know until final scoring where these riders really stand in the overall scorecard. There could be huge jumps all over the board.

As of right now – end of Leg One – Kirsten is in 7th place.  This is far better than her standing at the end of leg one of the IBR 5000- last place. (Loyal readers will remember she lost her front tire during the first day of that rally, recovered, rode a blistering leg two, and finished 36th out of 53 finishers.) Our friend Roger Sinclair and the other two riders who went to Alaska at the beginning of Leg One are in 1st, 2nd and 3rd places with an incredible ride.  Click here to see Kirsten and these riders at the 4 a.m. rider's meeting this morning.

Today, Kirsten rode in some of our favorite parts of the country. I got an “ok” message from her tracker near a favorite spot in Vermont. Makes me smile and she sounded excited and ready to go last night. I keep telling her about your posts and she keeps saying it means a lot to know you’re following along. Makes her smile too.

State Tally for Leg Two (25 of 48): Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts.

State Tally at End of Leg One (21 of 48): Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Day 5 – Checkpoint 1: New York

Being sent by a road crew on a detour of freshly-laid, inches-thick gravel in Missouri on Day 4,
Dropping the bike and taking a gouge out of the left side case,
Installing crash bars BEFORE the ride and riding the rest of the next two days to make it to the check point with time to spare – priceless!

Mmmmm - fresh tires.

A near-midnight call last night gave me the update, but she was already well near the end of her Day 4 ride heading into Ohio. A little sore, and with a story about the guy who helped her pick up the bike that made me laugh almost as much as Mike Allen’s story about “swimming suit” riding gear, she persevered. Biggest disappointment was leaving the points for Kentucky’s capital on the table in favor of getting into the checkpoint early enough to have a good look over of the bike. (Wise decision I say.)

Thanks George!  Shout out to Beemers Uber Alles!

So – appointment with a fabulous have-trailer-will-travel mechanic got everything good to go for Leg 2. She’s got a fresh set of tires, fresh final drive fluid and restocked food stores. (Dried fruit: awesome, cashew clusters: sick of ‘em.) She’s resting and ready for the release of the second rally packet at 4:00 a.m. tomorrow (Saturday) morning. Then it’s routing and on the road again for the states now available for Leg 2. This is a short one- riders have to be at Checkpoint 2 in Jacksonville, FL by 5 p.m. Monday. So those of you driving around New England, the Appalachians, or the Atlantic coast this weekend – give space and a nod for motorcycle riders! These riders will be doing all that in just three days.

Points at the end of Leg One: 4,992

Miles ridden: 5,044 in 99 hours (including rest breaks).

State Tally at End of Leg One (21 of 48): Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Day 4 – Around the Horn

Being a Michigander, I’m pretty pleased to see Kirsten has made it around Lake Michigan today (via the southern route!) – makes me feel like she’s a little closer to home. I’m sure she’s just thinking – get in, get receipt, picture, odometer, and get out again! When we talked last night, she was pretty tired, but after a good long rest, it appears her batteries are recharged. Five more states today and counting.

In other good news, if you’ve been watching the IBR dailies, you’ll see our friend Roger Sinclair (farkle king of Kirsten’s bike) is back in the 48 states after making the trip up to Hyder, Alaska at the beginning of this trip. I seriously thought he was crazy – but he’s beatin’ feet back across the states to make it to New York tomorrow.

The end of this first leg is near Buffalo, NY. Riders must be at the checkpoint by 8:00 p.m. tomorrow (Friday). Kirsten’s hoping to get there a little sooner, hug friends that are working the checkpoint, get scored and get to sleep. IBR mantra – if you’re not riding or routing, you should be sleeping.

I think she's doing great, making smart decisions. She said she’s stretching at gas stops and rest breaks, and eating all the protein and carbs she packed. Nutrition is key to keeping up your energy and endurance. We learned this especially while training for a half marathon last year. She planned ahead and brought what she needed and has plans to restock at the checkpoints. As our trainer said, “proteins burn in a carbohydrate flame.” You need both to keep moving.

Tally (17 of 48): Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Day 3 – Big Horned Sheep and Black Eyed Susans

At the conclusion of Day 3, Kirsten has already traveled over 3,000 miles and captured 12 states. She woke up yesterday with dragon-breath as temps were in the low 40s and the mountains were snow covered. She saw some impressive big horn sheep and antelope along the road, and drove by a beautiful field of black eyed susans. She said the sunrise was fantastic.

She’s been seeing other IBR riders on the road – a typical occurrence, although you can never be sure who you’ll meet. She’s seen Chris Sakala and team Jennyfer Audet and Jacques Titolo among others. Even though the field’s wide open, most are riding the big roads to make time. But not all the roads are great. Last night between ND and SD, she was on a road that she said deserves more than a few expletives. The gravel parts weren’t great, but the slick red clay mud was even worse. And then there was the detour at the end, and the full hotel after that. So – push on, rest a little, and at the end of the day today, she’s going in for a nice long rest.

One fantastic addition to the bike for this ride is what we affectionately call “the eyes of God.” When she flips a switch on the console, the entire front of the bike lights up and you can hear the “AAAAAAAA!” These help her spot those deer in the dark, and keep her focused forward during the nasty parts.

I shared with her all your good wishes posted on FB and here on the blog. It means a lot to her to know everyone’s following along!

Tally so far: Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota and Iowa.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Day 2 - A Rest Break and a Couple More States

Many people have commented on the number of miles ridden in a IBR - 11 days, 11,000 miles as advertised.  If you read yesterday's official post by the IBR staff, you'll note that they believe that competitive riders in THIS rally will cover something like double the miles that finishers of previous rallies completed.  You do the math.

But blog followers should also know that rally masters insist on a safe rally and give bonus points for sleeping- usually a fair number of them.  Think of it!  Sorry boss, I'll be late to work today, I need a few more bonus points....  In the IBR 2011, a rest bonus must be 4 hours minimum and riders get an extra bonus point for every minute over 4 hours.  Nice.

So - with the smiley face text I got at 1:30 a.m. this morning, Kirsten started grabbing more points!  Three states down and she got off the bike for awhile - always a good thing.  She's collected more states today and is progressing across those big western spaces.

Here's the starting line smile - somewhat rested and excited - in Seattle yesterday.

Monday, June 20, 2011

And She's Off!

Hello Followers! Jennifer Proxy Blogger here! 

So Kirsten called last night and the conversation went something like this:
K- "what the heck?!"
J- "what?"
K- "there is no fuel log!"
J- ....stunned silence.... "what do you mean?"
K- "seriously - no fuel log, and we basically have all the bonus locations!"
J-....more stunned silence, and a realization that I'm breathing the in and outs of rally mode almost as much as she is.  Shock!  No fuel log?!

So the big news of the IBR 2011 is kind of an old school, "level the playing field" type of rally.  There is no fuel log, but a passport to put a receipt in for every state visited.  And in order to be a IBR 2011 finisher- you MUST visit every state.  Bonus points if you get the state capitals!  If you're following along - read the official daily reports from the IBR staff.  In true rally fashion, they teased the riders a little last night with some information at the rider's meeting and then the rest of the rally packs after the banquet.  Kirsten said it was like Christmas when you can't open the presents until everyone's finished dinner and people are taking very, slow, bites (family - you know who you are!).

So plotting and mapping post-dinner began.  For a great article on this process, read Jim Owen's (IBR 2009 winner) article in the Spring 2010 Iron Butt magazine- like I did during dinner tonight.... see what I mean.  It's a sickness.

This morning - last minute packing before bike impound and lots of shaking of hands and good-lucks.  Check out the fresh rally book on the top of the case - just wait till we see it at the end!

So she's off along with all the other IBR riders on Day 1 of The Big Dance.  This will be a LOT of miles over the next 10 days.  She'll have been in all 48 states, and hopefully a fair number of state capitals too, by the time this is done.  So... what are YOU doing in the next week and a half?

USA States and State Capitals

Saturday, June 18, 2011

And So the Pre-Rally "Fun" Begins

What do you do when you've got a little time on your hands and you're in the Pacific Northwest?  Go to Canada of course!

After filling both the regular fuel tank and the axillary fuel cell it was time to head to WalMart for a bit of last minute shopping (leader line to attach to my receipt bag to lessen the chance of losing it, SeaFoam in case I get a batch of bad gas, and a grease pencil to be able to write notes anywhere on the bike).  It's a good thing the shopping was so close to the gas stop because I pulled in, put down the kickstand, got off and immediately wondered where all the liquid spilling onto the ground was coming from.  My cell was spewing gasoline!  Quickly, I cranked the petcock valve back and forth trying to stem the flow, no luck.  Fuel was still draining from the fuel filter.  Luckily (?) I had experienced this before and knew the filter is the kind you can take apart and clean.  Pop, out comes the leatherman and vice grips and a couple of twists later... no leak.   So, NOW I can head to Canada! (tomorrow I wrap the filter with the clear "rescue tape" I brought with me)

A couple of hours later I was using my Nexus card for the first time and rolling into Canada!
The Peace Arch is a pretty place and packed with people.  But, I've decided there's something wrong with our northern friends.  They have some kind of special trick that messes with your motorcycle.  I got off the bike to take this picture and when I got back on, my radio, GPS cradle and sound system were all out.  Figuring I'd blown a fuse and not wanting to call attention to myself this close to where taking me bike apart in a parking lot might raise a few eyebrows, I just went up the road a bit.  I decided not to go all the way to Vancouver and just headed back south. Crossing back into the states was just as easy as going into Canada.  I just hope this is my experience during the rally.

Back at IBR HQ I began troubleshooting the issue.  Oddly, a fuse had not blown, but the fuse box was acting "funny" - and that ain't a laughing matter.  The two hour drive back had drained the GPS so losing this system is not okay.  I still have to decide if I'm going to try to wrap the system to help it function or if this was just part of the shakedown and won't happen again.

With that, my Friday adventures dwindled and the socializing began.  If you are someone who is a "star" watcher and gets even a wee bit excited at seeing a celebrity, you'd be falling over yourself here.  Most of the biggest stars in long distance (LD) riding are here and I'm here with them.  I know, it sounds kind of nerdy, but I can't help it.  These people are the top motorcycle riders in the world, no kidding.  I find myself wondering what the heck I'm doing, but I know it's partly just nerves.  I am a LD rider.  Soon I'll find out if I'm one of the "World's Toughest Riders."

Saturday is all about registration and tech checks.  Read the first offering by Tom Austin as part of the IBR story postings (2011 IBR Day -3) to get a full picture of the day's events.  I must admit to not partaking of the mani-pedi portion of the day.  The morning was over in no time.  I passed and got done all the items I could as a rookie.  Last year's #2 winner, Jeff Earls checked over my bike - very cool!  And I even got the odometer check on the first try (yes, some people can't follow the directions and have to do it multiple times).

One thing I discovered during my ODO check ride was my right HID light AND MotoLight were out.  Since we can't have a cyclops deity (I call my HIDs the eyes of God) I called Roger Sinclar.  Roger not only installed them, but is here in Seattle and is a rider.  If a ballast was out, I'd be winking my way across country, so we hoped it was something else.  The missing right MotoLight (small fog/conspicuity light) was no big deal as you can get a bulb at the hardware store.  Let's just say I was glad there were not too many people around because there were a few "choice" words spoken.  In the end, pulling the rubber boot around the light found the issue, the connection had come undone.  Good news and something that a few zip ties later had secured into place.

So, I've had sound issues (fuse box), spewing fuel (filter), and lights out (connection & bulb).  That's three right?  I'm done, right?!  Not likely, but at least I'm good to go for now.

Tonight's the mandatory Rookie Rider meeting.  I'll be going to that before I can finish the final steps of my paperwork.  Funny, a number of veteran riders have asked me to tell them about the meeting.  Um..., I wonder how I might be able to mess with them ;)

One of the things I have not been doing right is drinking enough water.  So, a few of us walked to the 7-Eleven and got some provisions.  With so much on the line, I don't want to drink unfiltered, unfamiliar water.  Here's a picture of the rest of my "breakfast of champions."

One more day of writing and then Jennifer is going to have to take over.  I'm reading your comments and REALLY appreciate the well wishes. 

Tomorrow I'll share a few shots of my bike and you'll see the sort of "modifications" I've made to help me through this event.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Girl's Gotta Eat

Okay, okay, so this isn't exactly something you'd find on the Weight Watcher's menu.  When the waitress came to take my order I actually said, "I can't believe I'm going to do this, but could I please order the Meat Lover's Special?"  What I should have done was taken an "after" picture.  The waitress, looking at my plate asked, "Do you want to finish the toast?"  It was the only scrap left.

And no, I have NOT been starving myself, but I also know that one of the things I can't do while on a rally is eat a big meal.  This is just one of the things I've learned while preparing to ride in the, "World's Toughest Motorcycle Competition."

Wednesday evening Jennifer dropped me off at the airport just south of Washington, DC to make my trek to Seattle, WA.  For a number of reasons, I shipped my bike out to the starting point of the rally.  Can I tell you, that was one tough hug to end, standing there as planes roared overhead.  Things can go wrong on such adventures, but I'm doing everything I can to prevent the preventable ones!

So, what do you do to get ready?  Last year in preparation for the Iron Butt 5000 (see the post from August to read all about it), Jennifer and I began working out.  I was in fairly good shape last year, this year, perhaps not so much.... I know, eating plates like the one above doesn't help.  So, working out was less of a focus.  This time it's been about the little things to sharpen my abilities and modifications to the motorcycle.  The auxiliary fuel cell (4 gallons) allows me to go further when there aren't stations available, chose when I want to stop to avoid "sketchy" looking places, or to travel over night when stations may be closed.  The "eyes of God" provide light that cuts through the night and gives me a larger field of vision.  Both of these modifications will help me stay safer on the road.

While I've still been running some, my concentration has been on nutrition and hydration.  Running gave me an insight into what if feels like when you're physically tired and strategies for keeping my energy level up.  One of the things I didn't like about last year's ride was how I managed rest.  What I know now was nutrition played a large roll in that mix.  I simply didn't do well in caring for myself.  If you saw what is packed onto the bike right now, you'd know I've got the goods to take care of business this year!  I also gave up drinking caffeinated coffee (yep, that's decaf in the cup) the first of May and haven't had alcohol in a week.

Today was all about preparations and quiet time.  Tomorrow I head to rally HQ and begin slipping into the rhythms of another world.  For truly, those who travel on two-wheels long distances seem to do so on another plane.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Pied Piper Time...

... it's time to begin following along once again - at least I hope so!

Just a month ago this is what my bike looked like as it was fitted for an auxiliary gas tank and additional lighting - two key safety components I did not have during the Iron Butt 5000 last year.  (Note the stock gas tank laying on the floor behind the bike).

At this late date, I can barely believe it, but I'm still doing final packing.  The new dining room table my mom gave us is covered with all the stuff I'm bringing (lots of food).  Yes, it is a beautiful table, but don't worry mom, I put down a table cloth first :)  And then there's the paperwork.  All the stuff I needed to get in order at the house and everything I need to check in on Saturday (yes, this Saturday).  Geez, there are a lot of moving parts to this endeavor (pun intended - sorry).

For those that have followed along on past adventures, you know that I'll be updating the "whats" and "why fores" until the last moment.  And then, our trusted and proven to be more than amusing proxy blogger, Jennifer, will take over and add to the story.  She'll also add information provided by rally staff (including links to the IBR daily updates).

As with last year's Iron Butt 5000 there's great concern for our safety, so we've been asked to curtail our postings and protect our location information.  This year is no different, just twice as long.  Organizers have set up a way for you to be able to get real time information on where all the riders who want to make their locations public are at any moment in time.  Ask Jennifer, she saw a preview of just such a thing during last year's Mason Dixon 2020.  Her one comment?  "It looked like a bunch of ants spread across a map.  The country was swarming with all you riders."  Creepy or cool, that's for you to decide.  Here's the link to the 2011 Iron Butt Rally SpotWalla page -  If you click on it before June 20th you're likely to just get a message saying, "Sorry, no messages to show at this time."  We'll receive our bonus locations mid-morning on the 20th, so I expect folks to start moving by lunch-time.

Of course, I'm motoring around Seattle starting Thursday (June 16th) and will begin posting my location.  BEFORE the rally you'll be able to check in via the usual daily feed link

(  Once the fun begins, that link will go dark, but you can still follow along if you want via a password protected page.  Yes, it helps me to know folks are checking in on me, so I'd like to invite you to follow along if you can: 1) NOT share the link with anyone else since you'll be getting the non-password version and 2) help keep me safe by not giving specifics of where I am.  If that
works for you, send me a note and I'll send you the link.

Oh crap, I've got to finish packing... more later!