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.