Thursday, July 7, 2011

Party at Morton’s BMW on Saturday!

Happy surprize – Morton’s BMW, our local dealership, is planning a little party to celebrate the fantastic finishes by Kirsten and Roger Sinclair. They will be hosting cake and refreshments at the dealership at noon on Saturday, July 9. Come and hang with the IBR finishers, see the rally bike, and enjoy a little informal story telling!

Morton's BMW Motorcycles
Fredericksburg, Virginia

Saturday, July 9 @ noon.
Kirsten and Roger after the Finisher's Banquet, IBR 2011

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Interview Tonight: Listen In!

Kirsten will be pausing in her return trip to participate in an online interview this evening! Tom Lowdermilk will be hosting IBR President Mike Kneebone and several riders on his Internet Motorcycle Roadshow tonight, July 5th from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. (Eastern).

To tune in go to and click on the "Listen Now" button.  Past shows are also available on iTunes.

It’s a live show – so you’ll hear it there first!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Rally Reflections

It’s decompression time. Saturday was a mix of stories over breakfast, some people leaving, others taking a much needed day of rest. By Sunday morning it was pretty quiet around the rally hotel. It was nice to have a chance to talk with people still around, but it was definitely starting to feel like the post-after-production party.

Kirsten riding into the final checkpoint.

How do riders make the transition back to “real” life? One said- it’s like the philosopher under the tree dreaming he’s a butterfly. When he wakes up, he doesn’t know if he’s a man, or a butterfly still dreaming he’s a man. Riding a motorcycle for 11 days with the focus on your bike, yourself, and your progress, starts to feel like “going back” is the unreal part. I think it’s the same for family and friends who have also supported these riders in their months (year!) of preparation. So we reflect.

I think of the couple walking around the parking lot looking at the bikes, stopping to see Kirsten’s bug-coated front windscreen and asking, how far everyone had gone. We said about 11,000 miles. Amazed, the guy said, “Wow! That’s like 8 or 10 states!” I said, “actually, it’s all 48 states in the past week and a half, and three people went to Alaska too, so 49.” They were speechless. Then they went around looking with new eyes at the other bikes and riders in the lot.

There’s rider Alex Harper who was in the “hopeless” class of the 2009 IBR on a rare bike that he was asked to ride, just to see if it could be done. He had lots of trouble and ended up riding 3 different bikes to make it through. This year he came with a more ride-worthy bike with the goal of finishing and being back at the final checkpoint for his daughter’s first birthday. He was and she is a beautiful girl who entertained us all at the banquet and breakfast the next morning.

Then there’s the realization Kirsten had about not only finishing the IBR, but being a podium finisher. It’s still sinking in. She leaned over during the banquet and said, “we’re at the finisher’s banquet for the Iron Butt Rally!” THAT was exciting enough! She was ready to go up during the middle of the pack announcements, even though she already knew she was in the Top 10. To receive the crystal 6th place award was amazing.

Kirsten and Mark Crane - both over 13,000 miles-
stopping the clock at 9:59 a.m.
Even more, when Mike Kneebone announced her name and her miles,-13,110- he said,
“welcome to the club.” We realized later that before this rally, only 4 people in the entire rally history had ever ridden 13,000 miles during the event. This rally added 7 more to that elite list, and 1- Jim Frens, who rode an incredible 14,185 miles. These truly are the toughest motorcyclists in the world.

Kirsten’s making her way back home – via Denver and Michigan. She took a 100 mile detour yesterday to go through Kelso in the Mojave Desert where she first learned to ride a motorcycle over 15 years ago. This is decompression time. She’ll visit friends, go to the Motor Maids convention (the oldest women’s motorcycling organization) and finally come home after three cross-country trips in just over 2 weeks.

My decompression started on the flight home yesterday. As we flew across the country, I could see lots of fireworks out the window scattered across the ground from Texas all the way back to DC. It was so interesting to think about these IBR riders who are spending this July 4 having literally just seen the entire country. From 30,000 feet, it was so beautiful to look at those small flashes and at the same time the huge flashes of lightning in the clouds immediately out the window from the plane. There’s what we do, and what is. Happy 4th of July everyone.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Final Results: Iron Butt Rally 2011

[Sorry followers for the late post today – had trouble with the internet connection this morning.]

The finisher’s banquet was just as eventful as people thought it would be. As the final scoring was finishing up yesterday morning, everyone was talking about points, scores, routes and placement between Leg Two compared to what people had done in Leg Three and their anticipated score. After scoring, the IBR staff audit all the top scores again to make sure of the spread and make any adjustments needed. So no one really knows until it’s announced who the IBR winner is.

Kirsten’s afternoon was a mix of bleary-eyed details: get the dinner tickets, get the bike to the shop for service, take shower, finally, lay down for an anticipated 2 hour nap. Just as she was starting to fall asleep, the phone rings and it’s an IBR staff member saying she needs to come back down in 45 minutes. So the nap turned into 30 minutes of hard sleep and then she headed back down to scoring. Turns out it was for a final interview with the Top 10. As she came down the stairs to join the group, the rally master walked by and voiced my thoughts- what a motley crew! Everyone there had ridden an excellent route, but a very hard Leg Three. Now that they had stopped moving, every step took focus!

The banquet was full of stories as rally banquets are- many people, ok everyone, had at least some form of “if only…” that was eating at them. It amazes me how you start off the rally with the whole country and 11 days in front of you and the deciding point can literally be 3 minutes here to start your rest bonus on time, 60 seconds at the finish to beat the penalty points, or just 5 miles and a left turn to get a state and finish the rally. One fantastic rider, who probably would have been in 2nd or 3rd place, missed Mississippi. By forgetting to put a waypoint in his GPS, he didn’t make the turn, and ended up with a DNF- did not finish- after a hell of a ride. He lived every rider’s fear on this rally and came to the dinner showing grace and honesty- and had a couple drinks bought for him!

There were lots of cheers all around as all the finishers were announced – 76 out of 87 who began the rally. Special awards went to those who successfully completed the Four Corners ride, in the midst of this rally. The interesting thing about the top finishers was that each of the probable routes were represented in the top 10- an Alaska ride, a Four Corners ride, and the State Capitals ride. Then we got to the top 10 announcements- 10, 9, 8, 7, and in 6th place on a RT with 13,110 miles and 23,123 points – Kirsten Talken-Spaulding!  Our friend Roger Sinclair was 4th place (hooray for the showing from Virginia!) Jim Frens in 3rd and Eric Jewell in 2nd. And the winner was a total surprise – no one had really calculated on Peter Behm because he finished both Legs One and Two in 13th place. But he kicked it up to high gear in the final leg and rode a 5,000+ mile route that put him on top. Amazing. 

The rest of the evening was storytelling and congratulations. It was a late night and we’re somewhat rested and lingering over breakfast this morning. We’re on round three of riders cycling through the communal table, some off to start home today. We’re going to pick up Kirsten’s bike later today - it deserved its rest too! Today is a day for relaxation. Tomorrow, Kirsten begins the ride back across the country for home…. maybe via the Motor Maids convention in Grand Rapids, Michigan…
.Read the full IBR report of the final tally.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Final Checkpoint: 9:59 a.m.

Seriously! A minute to spare! Thank God. And thank Andy Kirby and Chris Sakala who kept talking to me as we were watching her Spot tracker NOT updating fast enough. Her bike is coated with bugs. She smells (sorry babe, but you do). And with a half of a banana in her, she’s going through her rally book to pull receipts and get to scoring.

Now that Kirsten’s here, I can tell you part of the anxiety this morning was the reports of additional accidents during the last few hours of this leg. Ken Meese (#1 at end of Leg Two) had a major accident last night. He was out of surgery this morning and doing fine. Another friend of ours crashed just 6 miles from this final checkpoint. She’s fine – gave her a hug this morning. We kept saying that we can’t believe it – 6 miles away! A friend loaned her a bike and she was able to ride in to finish, but it’s frustrating. You plan your ride, you make tough decisions, you take care of yourself and your bike…. and then there’s everything else that happens that you don’t have control over. Every rally has its own bit of luck – good or bad- thrown into the mix.

So, the rest of the day is scoring, shower, sleep, service for the bike, and the final banquet. Will be an interesting evening for sure.

State Tally for Leg Three (48 of 48): Florida (for the capital), Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah and Wyoming (again), Nevada, and California.

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.

Final Checkpoint: 9:00 a.m.

One hour to penalty points.  The rallymaster walked by me and tapped her watch - I know tick tock.  These tight finishes make everyone nervous.  She might get a handful of penalty points, but she'll still be fine.  A few friends ready to direct her to the "stop the clock" table.  People are milling around the parking lot now.  Bikes everywhere.  Lots of pacing.

Final Checkpoint: 7:30 a.m.

Ok people, she has 2.5 hours until penalty points at 10:00 a.m.  She has 2 hrs and 26 minutes of riding to get here.  And it's through the Los Angeles area.  I have to stop drinking coffee now.

The rally HQ here has been a buzz since about 6 a.m. this morning.  Riders are coming in - BIG smiles.  Lots of hugs and slaps on the back.  Lots of people asking me how Kirsten is doing, quickly followed by, "boy, she put together a great ride."

There has been another accident, although the rider is ok.  The local BMW shop is here and helping out.  We have an appointment for Kirsten this afternoon for new tires, oil change, and to check out that front wheel that's been a bother on this trip.  When I made the appointment the other day, they said, "tell her the guys from Brown Motor Works said - you go girl!"

More later - I have to go hug a few more friends.