This isn’t a conventional full-detail report, but mostly a beefed version of a few e-mails I sent family & “close friends” during the rally pecked from my iPhone or laptop, and a few things I was either thinking or wish I’d written in the rally. It’s important to note while I was really focused on the solo part of the rally and in strict adherence to a rule about “going dark” in the rally online publicly, but the reality is that over the years I’ve accumulated a core group of supporters and watchers that worry about my progress in this challenging of a rally. I’m permanently tethered to them in spirit, but also connected to them in areas of solid 4G as well as jonesing for them in remote areas with bursty of 3G. Just knowing they knew what I was up to was in important part of me doing well in the rally mentally as well as any place I might finish.
DAY 0: 12:45 EDT “The Calm Before the Storm”
Last email before riders meeting. I feel great!
See Tobie’s pictures at tobie.smugmug.com for daily photos of the 2013 Iron Butt Rally. Check out the motorcycle category, then choose the Iron Butt Rally 2013 gallery. Will update daily with new photos. Also go to Iron Butt website for more photos too.
Higdon should start reporting soon at http://www.ironbuttrally.com/IBR/2013.cfm
DAY 1: 09:17 EDT “Headed to New York City!”
Route planned. East to NYC, up towards Montreal and maybe as far as a museum near L’Islet. Back through Montreal to Toronto…maybe Niagara. Up to Sault Ste. Marie, down to Detroit, and back to Pittsburgh.
Lots of variations with similar points and bail outs in this leg. Green = 24 hour, yellow = daytime, red have restricted hours. Trick is making bonus clusters work while there’s daylight.
The packet I was working from is at http://ironbuttrally.com/IBR/2013/Leg1BonusListing.pdf.
I was the first one to leave the starting line! Photo courtesy of Tobie Stevens.
DAY 2: No Report
Snagged Grumman Aircraft F-14 Tomcat on a stick in the middle of Long Island, morning bonus of a steamship in Vermont, Bomardier plant near Montreal, and Big Chute in Ontario as part of the Trent-Severn Waterway.
DAY 3 05:01 EDT – “Hanging Out in the ‘UP’”
Beautiful morning in the UP. (that’s the Michigan “Upper Peninsula” to you non UP’ers) Riding my plan…mostly. Traffic in Ontario region bad yesterday and bailed out on two smaller bonuses to make a bigger one by nightfall.
Snapped attached photo at 6:30 of Lake Superior. About to cross Mackinac bridge…it’s LONG!
Snagged Brooklyn Bridge Monday JUST before dark.
Headed to Henry Ford museum for 16 photos and cluster in Detroit area this afternoon. May snag Niagara tomorrow…
Looking forward to 8 hours of sleep plus this evening!!! 1920 points to sleep!
Plan to get to CP early tomorrow. Front bike nose is loose a little. Bent a light…dumb story. Dang Quebec and radar detectors illegal made me do a pre-border duct tape covering session and tipped bike over on the side of the freeway. Nobody saw me, but I feel dumb, picking mud out of my lights, and had to re tighten some bolts..
Feeling good and seeing America…
DAY 4: 08:33 EDT – “My First Time to Niagara Falls”
I’ve been in Niagara Falls since 8:30 p.m. last night. I had an 8 hour rest bonus, but since the bonus closed 1/2 hour before I arrived…I have to wait until 9 a.m. to ride the “Aero Car” for 999 points. Then headed towards Pittsburgh…and past the CP…..I’ll scoop up some small 100 point bonuses along the PA turnpike.
I feel good…well rested. Back’s a little sore, but it’s because my throttle lock wasn’t tight enough. I’ve tweaked it a bit by adding an extra piece of Velcro I had wrapped around a power cord. I think it’s an elegant and permanent solution! I should be able to lean back and relax a little more often now.
I wonder if Higdon using my SPOT track as a sample for the daily dispatch is a good thing? He doesn’t call me out by name, but it’s obviously mine. I enjoy the idea of him watching me make a big spiral. Today I’ll blow his mind, take a right, and even cross my own GPS track path.
DAY 5 07:30 EDT – “They Call Me ’6 Putt!’”
(made it to checkpoint fine, 13th after 1st leg, and received next leg bonus packet)
Rookies make such mistakes, not pros like Matt. It was akin to watching Tiger Woods six putt from 20′.
Bob Higdon’s Daily Report:
Rookie mistake on first leg. . I’ll learn from it.
Doing combo bonus now that REQUIRES all 34 Pony Express monuments. I have to make it just west of Marysville, Kansas by 30 minutes after sundown. I estimate that as 9:15 Central time and will have many of the top riders…I think.
This is a STRONG field of riders! I think the last leg will be dramatic.
Westward like a Pony Express rider!
The packet is at http://ironbuttrally.com/IBR/2013/Leg2BonusListing.pdf.
Matt aka ’6 Putt’
DAY 6 08:52 EDT – “Redemption?”
Another critical bonus was at sun up this morning. Just Tim Pawlowski (FJR rider) & I got at first light. (I’d find out later that Eric Jewell snagged too)
And only I turned left to go add a picture on Pike’s Peak.
Picture courtesy of Randy Bishop. He shot a picture of me shortly after bagging the Pike’s Peak bonus…I even waved as a motorcycle rider going the other way with camera in hand was unusual!
So, another tight bonus before sunset tonight! I add 9000 points …if I pull it off. Watch 38 miles
south north of Rock Springs, Wyoming at 8:56 MDT. Green spot icon = success.
Last nights bonus pic attached.
DAY 7 04:09 EDT - “Into the Known…Not Quite Knowing”
Just cleared Salt Lake City. Saw Eric Jewell at the pre-dawn bonus downtown.
Made bonus last night north of Rock Springs, WY…barely. Surreal weather, sunset, and landscape.
Oh…and snagged Pikes Peak! Plus several others. 10,000 extra points to make up for my six putt. Take that Higdon!
I don’t think Crane made the Wyoming bonus in time….he didn’t look happy near Casper when I passed him.
I show 880 miles left with 16 hours…which sounds easy to me, but it includes Lake Tahoe on a Sunday in the summer. Plus 2 lane road to Sacramento. Plus I have to do 20 bonuses perfectly right. Plus even more extra bonuses in the area if I have spare time.
Sun coming up behind my shoulder..heading into open desert.
See ya in Sac.
When I first rolled into Sacramento…my favorite picture of the whole rally. Thanks Tobie!
Day 8: 10:20 EDT – “Headed Home!”
My mention of Eric Jewell was prophetic (heard he and I moved up to #1 and #2)…I just didn’t know he went to Pike’s Peak as well.
Two basic choices this morning. PNW or to Death Valley/Arizona/Texas/South/Humidville. I’d like to say I analyzed the latter to the nth degree, but I KNOW I wouldn’t survive the heat. I feel good right now, but heat would kill me. North is right for me…plus it’s my back yard!
Packet is at http://ironbuttrally.com/IBR/2013/Leg3BonusListing.pdf.
Headed to Wallowa Lake by dark to take a pic of the tram. I know a shortcut others might not see. 8:40 according to GPS.
Then Astoria in morning, then north to BC (some options I might be able to tweak)
Eric is the finest sportsman there is..he and I got 1/1 in SPANK 2010….he won by 500 points out of 125,000…and I helped him win by steadying his bike in a 60+ mph wind at the top of my. Hamilton. I’d love to see him win, but I’m going to do my best to beat him.
BTW, I may be 298 points less in leg 1. BB4 (see packets http://ironbuttrally.com/IBR/2013.cfm) had hours till 5, but I got there after and gate was still open. Other rallies this is OK, but not in IBR as we were told (or reminded) this morning on another bonus. I “confessed” as soon as I realized.
Or Wendy…watch her! And 4 or 5 others in the top 10 too. Leg 3 is where it gets interesting.
Am I seeing America? Oh yes, I am.
Bonneville Salt Flats picture yesterday morning attached. I wept salty tears in the colored dawn. Several hit the ground and i feel solace they are now part of the Great Basin for eternity.
Matt aka Watkins Express
P.S. You’re a crazy Mofo George several days ago…great bra pic!
DAY 9: 09:19 EDT – “The PNW Island of Points”
I’m in Seattle with 90 minutes until the air museum opens eating at a 32 year old diner called Randy’s…it’s full of Boeing and flying memorabilia. A cluster of bonuses within 100 miles involves ferries, daylight only, and other factors. The weather is great and I’m tired, but I’m not sapped from heat. I looked a little more and if one can hit the daylight only bonuses and 24 hour ones just right…there may be a few thousand more points to snag. It could be very close.
I’m riding MY ride though….and I’m getting back SAFE!
I heard about Eric Jewell hurting his foot. Watching for another report by Higdon and hoping its not bad..hoping he gets back to the finish.
Wallowa was exciting. I did it from Oxbow, ID and it involved goat trails my FJR really doesn’t belong. Credit to Dad making me go up and down steep forest service roads when I was 6 on my dirt bike!
Pictures attached of sunset over the Lake and remainder of route. Starting to aim back east this afternoon.
8 hours of sleep tonight…somewhere NE or E of Vancouver, BC.
EVENING 9 – 21:40 MDT “Revelstoke and Canadian Rockies”
I’m in Hope, BC doing my 8 hour rest bonus. Quick note before I go to sleep. I’ll get up at 4 a.m. PDT and have 2 days and 1 hour to cover about 2900 miles. That’s a stretch of miles…even for me. I gotta wonder a bit about that one SPOT tracks still behind me I have two bonuses here in B.C. (one by Revelstoke and one by Cranbook) and then a GIANT gap before bonuses appear again in Little Falls, MN. Duluth, Milwaukee, Chicago, and then for the barn.
Today was not very many miles, but between traffic, border crossings, more traffic, ferry rides, ferry waits, more ferry rides, and then a seriously distracting city of Vancouver (is every 23 year old woman hot in that town…or have I been rallying for 9 days?)
I feel pretty good for Day 9. MUCH better than the last two rallies. Weirdly, after I’ve lost all this weight and my lower back is sore. Why is that? I’ve resorted to trying to lean back with my feet forward like I’m a Harley rider. It’s either that or hunch over. Lots of little weird things are accumulating. My tire is squared off so it vibrates going down the road. I’d be more freaked out, but had it happen on the other two IBRs. My GPS bracket is loose and flops around when I hit bumps, but at least it hasn’t broken off completely. My XM radio cuts out if I bump the cord wrong. I lost a glove at the airplane bonus in Colorado Springs..so I find myself wearing the one I didn’t lose and one of my mesh ones…very undignified. I’ve lost 2 sharpies and one dried out on the Pony Express blitzkrieg in the Sierra…now I have only a crappy Marriott pen left.
But, my FJR is going to roll over 150,000 miles in the next tank of fuel and just runs like a Timex. I’ve never really bought into the vehicles having souls sort of thing, but I find myself patting it/her/him on the side of the tank occasionally, “Good FJR….good FJR.” The Pony Express theme just struck a chord with me and my bike.
Bill and Susan Watt greeted me at the bonus in Vancouver…with a homemade brownie and bottle of water! Bill was the mastermind of this rally (once his fellow staff reigned in his 500+ bonus locations to something maneagable) and a lot of fun.
Two photos attached. One is by Tobie Stevens as I came in from my monster ride on Leg 2. It totally captures how I felt….. tobie.smugmug.com
The other was on a BC ferry today to Victoria. VERY cool ferries and experience even if it was $90+ plus round trip for 5,000 points.
May not be a report for Day 11…or may be short from my iPhone.
I wonder how friends and competitors are doing? I’m still glad I’m not in the heat. But, I see SPOT tracks and wonder about a couple of them…hoping Wendy is busting a move on me. Whoever it is going to Florida…is an ANIMAL!
No report to family and friends. In Canada and cell phone data rates were exorbitant. Chose to head back south into U.S. where megabytes are cheaper.
Matt aka PNW Flower Sniffer
DAY 11 – 04:12 EDT – “Cruising The Great Plains”
Yesterday was a tough aday for the most part. No bonus between B.C. and Wisconsin felt weird. I had to play catchup to get my last possible day bonuses…including a P-38 Lightning. I’ll finish the day south of Chicago and aim for Pittsburgh.
Watched Northern Lights last night …and flaring fires from MASSIVE amount of oil wells across half of North Dakota. Combine being Night 10 of the rally and the surreal expanses of open prairie having oil harvested was a bit like descending into Dante’s 7th level of Hell or riding through The Matrix.
North Dakota Gas Flares – Anamorphic Driving from Andrew Wonder on Vimeo.
Watching SPOT I see some serious riding by several riders and serious points.
Higdon’s report likely will prove to be true, but I’m still going to snag bonuses until the last minute. There are 15 available on the PA turnpike between Pittsburgh and Philip…so I’ll go as far as I have time and turn around. I still have a goal of a Top Ten.
Otherwise, I’m rooting for Wendy Crockett to win!
24 hours 50 minutes to go
NIGHT 11 – “It’s Like Riding a Hardley!”
I blew a shock 530 miles from the finish line. Sseveral text messages I exchanged with several friends after I snagged a bonus at the Harley Davidson Museum in Milwaukie, WI. It was helpful to have moral support the last night.
Milwaukee, WI – 20:01 CDT
I think I’ve lost forks and shock…….I have maybe 5% compression and dampening and no rear travel. Riding on springs…but nothing is rubbing.
Seriously? Suspension trouble?
Seriously. I’m on freeway. Fortunately no twisties left to finish line. It looks like I’m going to have to work to finish this IBR. I refuse to DNF.
So you’re basically good? And rolling?
Yes, but going to have to leave extra following distance behind cars and dodge frost heaves. I think it started last night in North Dakota as I had to adjust my headlights. It’s now like riding a Harley hard tail.
K. Monitor. Report at any time. Clear?
Chicago, MI – 20:57 CDT
Just attempted Route 66 bonus, but street closed down, circling helicopter lit me up like a fugitive, and cops thought I was a terrorist. Won’t let me go past fenced gate. Hopefully picture of gate will suffice.
Front AND rear?? ARE YOU POSITIVE?
Rear absolutely. I think the seal blew. Front may be just affected because ass has dropped 4 inches and headlights pointing into sky. Steering is a bit off. Hoping for 4 a.m. arrival.
Indiana – 01:37 CDT
Made it to Indiana. Unless something else happens I should easily be there by 8 a.m. Gotta adjust headlights at next rest area….couldn’t at gas station in Chicago…sketchy neighborhood and meth head was sizing me up to mug me. Forgot receipt…I hope my SPOT tracks are working.
kk…Text as needed I am HERE for you all night!
Stopping for nap at rest area. 195 miles left. Be there closer to 6 a.m.
(napped 30 minutes and awoken by text from another friend)
Been chatting it up with your mom via email. You are in good shape, but don’t nap too long.
(began riding again)
Pennsylvania – 05:53 EDT
Nap helped. Shock still blown. Back sore doing constant pull-up to handlebars. Indiana was INFESTED with semis and I was only other vehicle amongst one lane traffic for 30 miles. 65 miles left….now there is a clunking noise. I SO wanna be to the finish line.
I made it to the finish line at about 07:15 EDT with 45 minutes to spare before penalty points started accruing.
I place 5th, my best finish ever in the Iron Butt Rally. I scored 85,615 points and rode 11,621 miles.
Of the Top 6 places, 5 riders were on FJRs. And three of those were the bass boat blue 2005 FJR I ride.1
My as-ridden route:
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