The morning after the Iron Butt Rally finish is a decidedly calmer time. Folks have slept for one thing. The thousand-mile stare is gone, replaced with an almost wistful look. It will be two more years before many of these folks will gather again. Realization hits home. The conversation turns to routes "back." Chris Comly will be heading East, by way of California. Steve Snell and his wife Ginger will be visiting friends as they make their way home with the rally bike getting a well-deserved rest on the trailer. And as easily as one may ask, “do you take cream or sugar?” Eric Bray asked Kirsten, “are you heading back on 70 or 40?” (I-70 through Denver and Kansas City or I-40 through Albuquerque and Memphis for those of you who don’t regularly think in thousand-mile distances.)
61 finishers, who took routes as varied as their minds, skills, and software could dream up. Have some fun and turn on this music and watch the Full Rally Animation provided by Jason, the father of Spotwalla. You can read the IBR daily reports, and even view the finishers’ scorecards, for some excellent insight into the many routes to the finish that Rallymaster Jeff Earls provided.
After riding 12,524 miles, Kirsten achieved a Gold Medal finish in 12th place! The top ten includes friends and IBR veterans, including the winners of 3 previous Iron Butt Rallies. The top 4 included 3 rookies, and for the first time in 20 years, the winner of the 2021 Iron Butt Rally was a rookie rider, Mike Brooke. Mike held onto his first place standing from the end of Leg 2, and added huge combo bonuses to finish over 14,000 points ahead of 2nd place Ben Ernst. (Ben attended the banquet wearing a t-shirt that said, “I LOVE it when MY WIFE let’s me ride my motorcycle”...looks like that has worked out well for him.)
After the drama of the final standings, you could hear a lot of talk about 2023 in the room. That’s always a good sign. This rally had something for every rider, and it was appreciated. There were several IBR vets back to see old friends that started to think they may toss their wheels back in the ring. We shall see.
Tomorrow Kirsten and I will head for home, with some stops to visit family. I’ll be flying, covering my 1700 miles with United. It feels like cheating, but I love flying across the country on July 4 after a rally and seeing all the fireworks from above. Kirsten will head out on tires she swapped yesterday after making it through the rally without a tire change. Although the group Spot tracker is no longer live, you can envision one more burst out of Provo. Karen Earls said this morning that the rally staff loved watching those Spots at the beginning of each leg, “It’s a perfect firework!” Indeed. Here’s to safe travels home as these riders, once more, go their own way.