Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Tale of Two Rallies

To understand Butt Lite 7, you have to understand Butt Lite 6IX - or at least that was the perspective I needed to take.

6IX was an emotional roller-coaster of self-doubt, fear and sadness.  I don't want to be Debbie Downer but 6IX was, for many of us, part of the grieving process.  It was a time to reflect on what Eddie had built and make the transition to something else.  What that something else was, we weren't sure.

But to get to 7, you had to go through 6IX.  Don't get me wrong - 6IX was a blast.  But it was also very difficult.

As soon as it was complete, riders were asking us about Butt Lite 7.  My running joke of "don't ask a woman who has just given birth when she is going to have another baby" became a mantra of sorts.

Within a couple of months, Bart, David & I started the conversations about continuing Butt Lite.  We were in for another go at it.  And we all knew it would be different.  It would be ours.  We had already proven we could put on a multi-day rally and did it in a way that honored Eddie.

Certain Butt Lite traditions would continue - like keeping the checkpoint(s) a secret until the rally packs are handed out, traveling around the country in a mini-van in a pathetic attempt to score more points than any of the riders and most importantly - finding bonuses that may or may not cause the rider to pause and reflect on some deep, existential level or to simply shake their head and mutter, "those bastards are crazy as hell".  And just when they think they have figured out the puzzle we've created.... all the pieces get tossed out and a completely different puzzle is presented.

Going into the planning we made some location decisions fairly quickly.  With the 30th Anniversary of TeamStrange, we all agreed that Minnesota needed to play a starring role.  Minnetonka was the second choice but turned out to be the better choice for Rally Headquarters.

As planning was underway our friend, long distance riding legend, Ardys Kellerman died in Alabama.  We wanted to include her in the rally by using her home dealership as the checkpoint.  Austin was perfect in other ways.  It was the southern opposite of Minneapolis sitting on I-35 and it created a nice circle for legs 1 and 2.

Bart headed west and south to work on leg 1.  David & I covered leg 2 and all points east of I-35.

Whispering Giant #4 - Colquitt,  GA
Wandering around southwest Georgia, I came upon a huge, wooden carving of an Indian head in Colquitt.  It was just sitting on the side of US 27.  I stopped to investigate, got the way-point, took the picture and once back home did some research.  Come to find out Hungarian artist, Peter Toth, had carved over 74 similar statues in all 50 states & Canada.  He identified with the plight of the American Indians & created the sculptures to honor them.  He is still living and carving at his studio in Edgewater, FL.

And just like that, a rally that appeared to have a bowling theme became one with an underlying American Indian theme.  36 Whispering Giant locations were featured, 6 on leg 1 & 29 on leg 2 which included a nice, valuable combo bonus.

Pedrow bags the Giant Bat in downtown Austin
Another Butt Lite tradition was continued - no over-arching theme... just lots of mini-themes thrown in & continued from one rally to the next.  Indians, lynchings, religion, crime, catastrophes, dog graves and the always popular, giant bat.

As we all converged at the Sheraton Minneapolis West in Minnetonka, I was as calm as I've ever felt.  Our planning had been meticulous.  The three of us had exchanged more than 7,000 emails during the last two years.  If a detail was overlooked, so be it.  All that was left to do was to execute. 

An odd couple of Strangers
Because we were based in Minnesota, getting volunteers had been the easiest part of planning.  There was no shortage of Strangers in the area who were willing to spend their July 4th weekend with us.  Registration and tech inspections went smoothly.  A couple of paperwork issues were resolved quickly; the one or two fuel-cell setups that needed to be analyzed.  Victor even got to use the sound meter on some non-stock exhausts.

Finally, it was time for the starting banquet.  Attrition had arrived in the weeks leading up to the rally and we had quickly dropped from 71 riders to 59 starters.  Rally packs were handed out and they discovered a route that would take them west & south to Austin, TX.  And they had 70 hours to get there.

Rider 61 gets a send off hug

I take my role as the fretful "Rally Mom" seriously.  More than anything else, I want our riders to be safe.  As they prepared to leave the Sheraton parking lot on Sunday morning, complete with the rain we had ordered up in advance - I made my way to each bike.  I don't know why I feel the need to do this but, do it, I must.  It calms me.

At 8:00am, July 6th, the riders made their way out of the parking lot.  Another tradition - no fanfare.  Pedrow watches the clock, 8am strikes, the riders are allowed to leave.  Simple as that.  Butt Lite 7 had officially begun.

Arlene with Rider 11
During the planning, we all wanted to have a bonus in Niobrara, NE.  Our history runs deep there but it was proving difficult to manage the logistics of a timed bonus that would include both the Two Rivers Saloon and Arlene Liska.  The Two Rivers was under new ownership with new Sunday hours.  We finally opted to have a simple, 24 hour, "take photo of your bike in front of the Two Rivers" bonus for 500 points.  But just a week before the start, we found that Arlene really wanted to be a part of it so the decision was made to give out an extra bonus right before the riders were scheduled to leave on Sunday morning.  For an additional 500 points, take a picture of Arlene in front of the Two Rivers.  They could combine the requirements in one photo for the full 1000 points - Two Rivers, bike, Arlene & flag.  42 riders adjusted their route and made the trip to Niobrara.  Arlene was thrilled and so were the rally masters.

As the riders struck out to the west, the rally van pointed south.  We bagged bonuses as we went and managed to show our Australian staff member some memorable sites.  A pig farm in Iowa, another tribute to American Indians in Wichita, the bombing memorial in OKC and the beautiful landscape near Mount Scott.

For the first time, Butt Lite had a Spotwalla page for the rally masters so we could watch where the riders were.  We also provided a public page for spectators to stare at and ponder who was going where.  Watching SPOT became the best form of entertainment in the rally van.  Bart was able to provide very colorful, play-by-play analysis of Leg 1 routing.  We watched as Rider 61 went for the big, far bonuses - Gerlach & Amboy.  For Leg 2, the van riders mostly got to hear me give constant updates on where Rider 17 was.  In what we are sure is a first in LD rally history, one of the rally masters is in a relationship with one of the riders.  It made for interesting conversations in the months leading up to the rally.

Me:  I'll be out of town for a few days.
Rider 17:  Oh, where are you going?
Me:  I can't tell you.
Rider 17:  Oh.  Ok.

It was actually a fun game - he didn't want to know anything about the planning and I didn't want to tell him.  And as with all the other riders, I was remarkably calm throughout the rally.  Very little fretting took place.  We had 3 tumbles, all with minor injuries.  As pointed out in a previous posting - the help our riders received when they were in need was overwhelming.  Above and beyond doesn't quite do it justice.  Many, many thanks to Ira Agins and Shane Smith.  You exemplify what makes this little community so special.

We arrived in Austin on Tuesday afternoon and met with Robert Krull of Lone Star BMW/Triumph.  Robert & his team could not have been more welcoming and helpful.  He stayed up all night Tuesday  to make sure the food was ready, the scoring area was set up and the riders had places to rest as they arrived in the dark.
Rider 17 takes a nap on the cozy floor of Lone Star

Scoring went smoothly thanks to David's efforts to make it as automatic and simple as possible.  It was completed within 4 hours. 

Leg 2 was handed out with a warning from David to look at it carefully before leaving.  Another Butt Lite tradition - routing on the clock.  The riders can leave at any time once the route sheets are handed out and the rider meeting is over.  Most heard him.  Some did not.  There were three bonuses they needed to be aware of before getting too far down the road - make a purchase at Lone Star before 10am for 500 points, pick up another 500 points at the Branch Davidian complex in Waco and then go bowling from 12:30 to 3:00pm at the International Bowling Museum in Arlington for 2500 points plus your bowling score.  Some bagged all three... some did not.

As we watched the Spotwalla page on Wednesday afternoon it was obvious that only a couple of people were tempted to go to Florida.  One of them was Rider 61.  He also gobbled up the Okefenokee combo bonuses.  His lead going into leg 2 seemed to be safe.

The rally van headed due north up I-35 while the riders took more scenic routes.  We arrived back at Rally Headquarters on Thursday night and began to wait for the riders to come home.

Scoring started at 4:00am Saturday, the 12th.  By the time the penalty window opened at 6:00am all riders were accounted for except two.  They joined us before the window closed at 8.

Another special bonus involved the Onward Store in Rolling Fork, MS.  This is near the site where President Teddy Roosevelt refused to shoot a tethered and injured black bear during a bear "hunt" resulting in the creation of the Teddy Bear.  Lyle is a huge fan of President Roosevelt.  Riders were asked to purchase a Teddy Bear at Onward Store & bring it to scoring for 509 points.  25 bears were collected and will be donated to SafePath Children's Advocacy Center in Marietta,  GA.  Children at SafePath are in transition from being removed from an abusive situation into foster care.  They have nothing of their own - but a simple stuffed animal goes a long way in calming a scared child.  Something Eddie & Lyle knew well.

In an effort to clean out my basement of years of unused TeamStrange rally swag, a raffle was held during the cocktail hour before the finisher's banquet.  $600 was raised for Eddie's Road.  My thanks to Paula Behm, Lynne Carey & Kevin Kocur.

And then, we were done.  49 riders ultimately finished.  A good bit below our one time registration of 79 riders.  All finishers received a lovely, used bowling pin as a reminder of what they accomplished.  Rider 61 held on to his lead and took home First Place and a paid entry in the 2015 Iron Butt Rally.

And the questions about Butt Lite 8 began....

Thank you, Bart & David.  I love you both.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

The View From Down Under

Submitted by Colleen McPhee, official foreign correspondent for Butt Lite 7:

Bloody hell where do I start?  I have just had one of the best weeks ever.  I got to travel in the rally van.  I traveled through 5 or 6 states.  Can’t really say for sure because I never really knew where I was, arriving at the check point in Austin. 

I can’t say thank you enough to everyone in the Van.   John Pedrow for his ongoing, rolling commentary about different roads,  sites and different things all along the way.  It was very interesting and I kind of understand how all the highways and interstates work.  Although I think you should watch the road more than the old tractors and cars sitting in paddocks along the road.  But thank you for getting me back to Minnesota in one piece. And I now have a new respect for the rumple strips on the road. 

Bart, your rolling commentary throughout leg one on all the riders and the routes they were taking was so amusing.  I do hope that at least one of those riders went the way you thought they should go. 

David,  I am going to miss you answering the phone… “hello ,  hello, hello,hello,hello.  Damn phones. 

Lisa, who sat in the very back of the van so that I didn’t get car sick. 

I got to see some of the bonus stops and collect points for the rally van.  Some fabulous places and views.  Things that I would never get to see otherwise.

The team took me to see the memorial for the Oklahoma bombing site.  I cannot convey how that felt to see all those chairs lined up for the people who died. 

I think my favorite stop was the bowling museum.  Watching the guys bowl in their 'stitch, out of the their stitch, mmm that one not a great look but very funny.  Some can bowl.  Some definitely can not.  Then Lisa and I - Australia versus America.  I believe Lisa’s words were.  “I am going to whoop this Aussies butt”.    Not going to happen.  Lisa 41  Colleen 47. 

I am very proud to say that I managed to corrupt my American friends, who now know what a carpark is.   They wear sandshoes and if you hit your knee you cuss by saying bloody hell.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Butt Lite 7 route sheets and data files

The route sheets and GPS data files for Butt Lite 7 can be found here:


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Final photos, finishers to winners. See the full gallery at this link.

Butt Lite 7 Final Results!

Pos  Rider   First         Last          L1 Score L1 Miles L2 Score L2 Miles Total Score Total Miles
1      61    Josh          Mountain        20112    4409     20028    3415     40140     7824
2      25    Troy          Martin          15190    3562     15779    2839     30969     6401
3      21    Mike          Heitkamp        12982    3182     17592    3217     30574     6399
4      38    Brant         Moteelall       13586    3375     16498    3196     30084     6571
5      24    Steve         McCaa           13102    3269     16798    2984     29900     6253
6      12    Michiel       Kerkhof         14740    4087     14030    2917     28770     7004
7      58/59 Todd & Diane  LeClair         13370    3439     15297    2801     28667     6240
8      27    Daniel        Roth            11648    3090     16847    2969     28495     5059
9      6     Jeff          Wilson          12958    3176     14875    2721     27833     5897
10     4     Jeremy        Loveall         12631    3023     14897    2794     27528     5817
11     16    Gerhard       Memmen-Krueger  11463    3154     15359    2370     26822     5524
12     40    Rick          Snyder          11354    3255     15162    2505     26516     5760
13     60    Michael       Phelps          10989    3134     15148    2412     26137     5546
14     66    Andrew        Hall            13812    3504     11678    2733     25490     6237
15     67/68 John & Nadine Huval           10950    3176     14448    2642     25398     5818
16     70    Eric          Edelman         10688    2706     14347    2107     25035     4813
17     18    Steve         Diederich       11351    3012     13399    2586     24750     5598
18     41    Olaf          Moon            12897    3225     11614    2247     24511     5472
19     7     James         Burriss          9446    2689     14720    2345     24166     5034
20     17    Jim           Winterer        12309    3358     11784    2509     24093     5867
21     48    John          Frick            9209    2857     14801    2502     24010     5359
22     34    Mike          Langford        11265    2641     12410    2203     23675     4844
23     35    Sanjay        Dixit           10548    2678     12986    2323     23534     5001
24     22    Mike          Myren           14086    3509      9167    2543     23253     6052
25     69    Lyle          Monroe           9832    2667     13311    2654     23143     5321
26     39    Paul          Slaton          10462    3024     12544    2348     23006     5372
27     65    Don           Duck            12188    3045     10445    2516     22633     5561
28     23    Chris         Comly           11102    3075     11390    2631     22492     5706
29     42    Jeff          Johnson         11293    3140     11191    2371     22484     5511
30     11    Dace          Park             7838    1718     14403    2006     22241     3724
31     5     Bruce         Jansen          10894    2965     11186    2612     22080     5577
32     10    Kevin         Smart           10365    2793     11605    2565     21970     5358
33     9     Danny         Dossman         10948    2898     10259    2394     21207     5292
34     62    Beth          Madson           9052    2894     12138    2129     21190     5023
35     46    Dave          Bourdeaux        8794    2644     12191    1979     20985     4623
36     55    Thomas        Spearman        10522    2781     10069    1854     20591     4635
37     45    Larry         Meeker          10177    2938     10351    2336     20528     5274
38     43    Brian         Church          12413    3485      7423    2130     19836     5615
39     29    Theodore      Black           10180    2972      9080    2397     19260     5369
40     1     Jonathan      Tan              7552    2251     11307    2126     18859     4377
41     26    Dave          Legnosky        10382    2667      8166    1660     18548     4327
42     2     Martin        Cover            8383    2613      9914    2078     18297     4691
43     33    Adrian        Scudella         9605    2916      8066    2241     17671     5157
44     32    Tony          Hudson           7568    2640      9852    1879     17420     4519
45     51    Don           Bourdeaux        7293    2432      9990    1348     17283     3780
46     36    Mark          Collins          8796    2050      7920    1709     16716     3759
47     14    Martin        Little           4304    2002     11665    2264     15969     4266
48     49    George        Doughty          9454    3320      4769    2106     14223     5426
49     64    Paul          Partin           6349    1852      6037    1847     12386     3699
       44    Eric          Bray             DNF
       13    Gregg         Lenentine        DNF
       19    Scott         Thornton         DNF
       63    Kenneth       Trass            DNF
       3     John          Coons            DNF
       30    John          Bailey           DNF
       47    Mark          Crane            DNF
       52    George        Barker           DNF
       56    Ian           McPhee           DNF
       57    Andrew        Regnier          DNF

Snapshot of a day....

Night before last I had serious doubts about my routing decisions for the final leg. No matter how I played with the numbers, the routing software kept coming up as too many miles to make the daylight bonus deadlines in time and too much time to make it back to the finish. I decided in the wee dark hours of the night to collect a handful of Chester, IL bonuses, head to St. Louis for a couple of bigger bonuses there and then play it safe and slog up the interstate to MN and call it done. After all, it's only my first multi-day rally and only my second rally ever. Finishing, in and of itself, is success.

So, I started yesterday in Chester, IL collecting photos of Popeye character sculptures and then headed out to the middle of nowhere, nearby on Kaskaskia Island, to get a picture of the "Liberty Bell of the West". Standing there looking out over the landscape, in a beautiful place I've never been, I realized that there were more beautiful places I've never been....

I started playing with my GPS. Apparently, when I was using the computer and getting "impossible to do it" numbers, there must have been an extraneous route point plugged into the routing software adding in about 250 extra miles. According to the GPS, under the shade of a big old tree, I actually could just barely make the daylight only bonus that I needed to make the northern route worth risking a late arrival. Further, by dropping a couple of indirect bonuses along the way, I'd get in later than I'd hoped but well within the arrival window and probably before the penalty window.


Decision time - head for the barn and be happy to finish or go for it and know I'd brought everything I had even if I didn't make it back in time?

I swept north. There were beautiful places I hadn't seen yet that needed seeing.

The Capo ran great - we'd found our sweet spot.

I made it from Chester, IL to Ottawa, IL via St. Louis's beautiful Calvary Cemetery and a bread trail of bonus locations and gas stops. Ottowa was the bonus I needed to put together a valuable combo. I'd made it with time to spare - two hours before sunset and "only" 450-ish miles to go for the start of the 4 a.m. Finish Window. Breathing a sigh of relief, I took a moment to just sit by the river and appreciate a beautiful place I'd never been to, that I wouldn't have seen if I'd guaranteed my finish and headed for the barn from St. Louis. In fact, I'd have been on the outskirts of Minnetonka around that same time had I done so.

Instead, in that moment of quiet, somewhere across the river, an a cappella quartet starting singing old, old hymns. My heart was lifted and my spirit soared as their voices drifted across the river. Here was an unanticipated reward of far greater value than an arbitrary bonus. I was so entranced, I just sat a spell and let the magic wash over me. I was reluctant to move forward into the sunset, both of the ride and of the day, not because I was tired - in that moment I was not the least bit tired - but because I was content. I knew, in that moment, that there was no other place I needed or wanted to be. So, I sat for a bit and just enjoyed it, the peace, the grace.

Of course, I did move on, collected another bonus. But, I also took the time to take a picture of a couple of orange barn cats who were wondering what this silly motorcycle person was doing at their barn. I also took a picture of a scarlet sun sinking into an emerald field in yet another beautiful place I had not seen before as I finally turned toward my last bonus of the day. I spent yet another hour sitting around the train tracks in Rochelle, IL, waiting for a train, talking to the train spotters before journeying through the night towards dawn.

The surprisingly rally worthy non-rally bike, a 2006 Aprilia Caponord, ran steady and strong delivering me safely at 5:03 a.m.

It was a very, very long day but, what an amazing, amazing ride.

Thank you all for being a part of it, even virtually. You've no idea how valuable it is in the wee dark hours of self-doubt to know that friends, even ones you haven't met, yet, are out there, in the darkness, as part of a greater web that connects us all to an inner strength we didn't even know we had.

Also, a big thank you to the organizers. What an incredible gift you've given us.

All riders expected at the finish have arrived, any rider not expected to make the finish is a-okay and the fretful southern woman breaths a sigh of relief. Scoring is in full swing, breakfast is being served and the wait for the finishing order begins. As always all the photos are here.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Here's a few Google Street view photos that I just pulled off the interwebs last night of the Leg 1 bonuses just for your personal enjoyment.

Here's a link to all the bonuses for leg 1 that I pulled off the internet last night in the same order as the rider packet, follow along. It'll be a nice diversion from refreshing the Spotwalla page.

Butt Lite 7 Rider Location Tracker

Heading Home

The public tracker tells the story.  The riders of Butt Lite 7 are heading back to Minnetonka.

We have a scorer's meeting in a couple of hours.  Scoring will begin at 4:00am.  The penalties start at 6am, the window closes at 8am.

One more rider update - Eric Bray was rear-ended 40 miles from Baton Rouge, LA Thursday morning.  After being checked out, he was released.  Once again folks rallied, calls were made and Shane Smith, 2005 Iron Butt Rally winner, showed up to take Eric to get his belongings off his bike and took him to a hotel until he could get a flight home.

It won't be long now....

Rider #3 Ride Report

Submitted by John Coons:

My rally got off to a great start.  Cloudy so the sun wasn't bothering me, enough rain so it was cool riding.  I headed for Dennis' house in Iowa, planning to hit Souix City and then get to Niobrara before the 1430 window closed.  John Frick and I spent most of the day riding in close proximity to each other, and it was good to be riding with a friend.  I was on target to make Niobrara so I decided I had time to jump off the freeway and get the points for Sgt. Floyd's grave at Sioux City, IA.  John was behind me and followed me off the exit.  I often take routes that are not suggested by my GPS, so was cutting through a residential neighborhood with John in tow.  I slowed to make a right hand turn, put the bike into first (25mph speed limit in the neighborhood) and when I let the clutch out there was horrible clanking noises and the bike decelerated along with the noise.  I came to a stop and John pulled up and asked if I was okay.  I knew whatever that noise was couldn't be solved by another rally rider and I told him I was fine, go ahead.  I see later that he made Niobrara in time, good for him!

I nursed the bike up to a shady spot and began to take stock in my situation.  No leaking from the final drive.  Clutch seems to work.  In all the gears it still made the horrible noise coming from either the swing arm housing or the transmission, couldn't tell which.  

I called up my Dad, Charlie Coons, who has been the miracle worker who keeps my 94 R1100RSL going down the road.  It's got 180k on it now, which is far less than John Frick's 250k, but with my lack of funds and rallying coming behind other family priorities for money this is the bike I stick with.  Besides, I really do like riding it.  

Dad listens to my description and thinks it's probably the driveshaft.  He gets out the BMW Anonymous Book and calls someone listed from Sioux City.  Jim Johnson says he will go get a friend and be right over.   I call Jack Backer and ask who he knows in Sioux City who could help me.  Jack has been home sicker than a dog for a while, and had finally passed a kidney stone the night before.  He sounded like hell on the phone, like someone had beat him up.  He said Frump lives in Sioux City.  I know Brian Hase "Frump" from rallying,  both LD and BMW, and gave him a call.  He called me back shortly and said he would be right over.  As fate would have it he and Jim own a trailer together.  They both arrived and we loaded up my bike in the trailer and took me over to Chuck Swenson's house.  Chuck has a lift and all the tools needed, specialty ones too, for removing the rear swing arm.  Thing is, Chuck wasn't home.  He was traveling in MN somewhere, but happily agreed to let me use his shop.  Frump had the code, and soon enough the bike was on the lift being disassembled.  You can see pictures Frump took of the process here:

I was told later that night that Sunday was one of the hottest, most humid days they have had there this summer.  The shop didn't have air conditioning, but it had a fan, and the breeze was fantastic.  Chuck has a million dollar view west over Sioux City from his shop and house.  Truly a wonderful spot.  But we sweated our asses off in there.  Frump kept apologizing for not helping more, but there was only really room for one guy down next to the bike.  He was great moral support, ran for tools, parts, and water, and I couldn't have done it without him.

I had Dad on the phone for instructions and we would call him when the previous directions ran out.  You can see the phone balanced on my foot peg in one of the photos.  So I get the rear wheel off, and pull out the bolts that hold the final drive in place and put that aside.  The driveshaft is in three pieces when it is supposed to be in two.  Lots and lots of metal parts and metal powder in the swing arm housing.  So now I need a driveshaft.

Frump says, "I know a guy that has his RT apart and I think he has a spare driveshaft."  Soon he has Stan Stille on the phone.  Stan is in the process of moving to Omaha and everything he owns is packed into boxes.  He doesn't know where the shaft is, but he'll look.  A couple of minutes later he calls back "I've got it, come and get it".  

While Frump runs for the shaft, I am struggling with getting the remaining chunk of driveshaft off of the spindle from the transmission.  It is held on by a captive snap ring and I am having trouble levering it off because I haven't yet removed the swing arm housing.  I find several different prying tools by digging through Chuck's tools and bins.  That alone had me feeling very guilty, but very, very grateful.  None of them are working.  Dad suggest some sort of chain I can wrap around the u joint and then hit the chain to pull it loose.  I can't find anything that looks right, but then I locate a cable that was for tying up Chuck's dog.  I manage to wrap the cable two times around the u joint, and stand way across the shop with the cable stretched out and hooked to itself.  Then I slip something through the cable and start jerking on it with Fump holding the bike so it doesn't move too much.  After a few tries it pops out!

We compare the shafts and they look the same.  All Stan wanted in exchange for the shaft was for Frump to help him move his 60 inch television, which he did while he was picking it up!

So I begin the re-assembly process, and get it all buttoned up.  By 8pm, 8 hours after failure, I had a ride able bike again.  I start planning my new and shortened route to Austin, and something that still looks challenging to me is shaping up.

Dad calls again, and expresses concern about some bearings he fears may have been damaged in the process.  He doesn't feel good about me continuing to ride on it like that.  I almost always defer to his advice when it comes to mechanical things, and I'm sure I didn't take his opinion well.  Frump mentions a test ride to see if it even works, and I think this is good advice.  I take it for a tour of Sioux City's freeway construction and am having trouble navigating the lane changes.  I realized I am very, very tired.  8 hours sweating and stressing in the shop have taken their toll, so I decide no matter what happens I am going to check into an air conditioned motel, get some sleep, then decide what to do.

So I pack up and head to the Super 8, and Frump stops by with a pizza.  He, Chuck, Jim, and Stan are the heroes of the day!

I sleep for awhile and wake up at 6am.  Here is where I made some fatal (to my rally anyway) mistakes.  I can't ignore Dad's concerns, because they are certainly legitimate.  If the bike breaks when I'm farther from home, it will be expensive and time consuming getting it home.  I don't have the financial means to do these rallies anyway, and this is always a big fear.  I don’t' mind taking the chance on unknown risks that the bike will break, but his concern is a known risk and needs to be considered.

What caused his concern was when I told him some of the metal pieces from the driveshaft explosion had gotten into the bearings that attach the final drive to the swing arm housing.  I reported this to him on the phone because in my rudimentary knowledge of bearings I know that foreign objects inside them can cause big problems.  What I DIDN'T realize is what these bearings do.  And what they do is readily apparent by looking at them.  Another signal I was tired and not thinking through to the next logical step in my reasoning.  Had I thought about, or asked, what these particular bearings DO, I wouldn't have been concerned with the tiny amount of metal dust that was inside of them.  I had cleaned them and re-greased them, but it was not a perfect job.  In my head I was thinking of bearings that go round and round at high RPMs, not these that just move back and forth a quarter turn or so.  That was the first mistake.  The second mistake was not realizing I was 280 miles away from Dad's shop.  I could have slept for a few hours, and ridden to Dad's house.  He could have inspected the used shaft and bearings to his satisfaction, and replaced them with the spares he had in his garage if he thought it was necessary, and I could have been on the road again to Austin by Monday afternoon at the latest.  But that didn't occur to me until Tuesday morning.  

Another factor that didn't help was my wife and children were 130 miles away at the family cabin on Lake Shetek.  So going home wasn't something I was thinking about.  If I was going to quit the rally I would head up there and spend time with them.  If they had been at home I would have left for my house on Monday morning and it would have dawned on me on the ride that I could just go to Dad's house and get rallying again.  

So the lesson learned here is don't stop the problem solving process too soon.  Run all the possibilities out to all the conclusions and you might find a better solution.  Remember that you are tired and might be impaired in that reasoning ability.  Remind yourself to step back and look at it big picture.  I failed at this and I intend to not do it again.

Some have said "Well, you won't make top ten anyway".  And that isn't my goal in rallies.  My goal is to do the best I possibly can with the situation I am faced with.  Rallying is rallying to me, and the fun is in the process of getting bonuses and making goals.  Getting wood is just a nice side affect of being lucky sometimes.  

So I went to the cabin and had a very nice day and evening with my family drinking beer and talking to my friends on the phone who were still rallying.  I had a very enjoyable ride home from the cabin and visited some friends on the way.  

I've been talking on the phone to the rest of the DNF crowd.  We have been making sad clown faces together.  I am heading up tonight to be there for the finish and to cheer on my friends who are still riding.  The good news is my bike is fully ready for next summer's Ironbutt once Dad gives those bearings a look-see.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Rider Updates

There are always challenges on a multi-day rally - which is why we do it.  Our riders are the kind of people who like a challenge - like figuring out the logistics of getting a broken down motorcycle out of an Indian Reservation and back to Atlanta... more on that in a moment.

On Sunday morning, just hours from the start, the drive shaft on John Coons' 94 R1100RS gave up.  Those who know John also know that his father, Charlie, has spent many, many rallies keeping the old 94 in running condition.  After working on the bike for most of Sunday in Sioux City, John made the difficult decision to withdraw from the rally.

Meanwhile, up in Wyoming, Andy Regnier had a minor accident - he was able to ride his bike to the emergency room.  He, his wife & the bike (on a trailer) are in route back home to Minnesota.

Also on Monday, George Barker was involved in an accident in Taos, NM.  The Goldwing was totaled. George was not totaled, and is a walking testimony to All The Gear, All The Time.  George was taken to Santa Fe.  A phone call to IBA Communications Officer, Ira Agins was made.  In short order, George was in Ira's capable hands.  He's been well cared for and will be flying home to Appleton, WI tomorrow.

After a heroic ride on Jungo Road to the IBA memorial site, Mark Crane experienced "ignition component failure" en route to Amboy Crater.  John Bailey had tire issues that just kept causing him heartburn.  Both made  the decision to withdraw.

And then there is our crazy Aussie friend, Ian McPhee.  I doubt anyone prepared more for this rally than Ian.  After claiming the Spider Rock bonus in Navajo country near Chinle, AZ, Ian found himself on a bad road.  This is not an issue for Ian as he is quite experienced riding his 1995 MT 350 Harley along the roads near his home in Lumwana, Zambia.  He's used to bad roads.  Regardless, a large rock managed to destroy both rims and lever the center stand into the bottom of the engine of his R1100RT.  A nice hole in the sump was the result and Ian was stranded.  He walked into Window Rock & began a new adventure.

Ian's phone didn't work on the Indian Reservation, so he borrowed one to call the rally van.  Logistics began - Randy Gabrick worked from Minnesota to figure out how to get Ian from Window Rock to Gallup to Albuquerque to Minneapolis.  This involved a Navajo commuter bus and a train.   Meanwhile, Bob Wooldridge of BMW Motorcycles of Atlanta (Ian's "home" dealer) started working on transport of the bike back to Atlanta.  Ian's disappointment is palpable but he is already working on his planning for the European Iron Butt Rally in September.

Scott Thornton found himself at the same gas station as the rally staff upon leaving the Bowling Museum in Arlington.  Apparently, the harassment from two women speaking in tongues and a cranky rallymaster shaking his cane at him was too much for his fragile state - so last night he called to withdraw.  Ok... just kidding.. he was not that traumatized by us but he did decide some other issues were making it difficult to continue. 

I am struck, not for the first time, by the amazing compassion and willingness to assist that is a hallmark of the long distance riding community.  With a simple phone call, text, email or discussion board post, details get handled, stress is relieved and problems are solved.  Strangers one day are friends the next.  Drawn together by this unusual sport that seems to draw people who not only love adventure but also love making the adventure continue.

All riders are accounted for.  And this fretful southern woman is not fretting.  That speaks volumes.

From somewhere in Missouri...

Lone Star Bowling - The Evidence

Look at the concentration...

Note SPOT attached to the 'stitch

The folks at the Bowling Museum couldn't have been more welcoming to our riders!

This has Aerostitch catalog written all over it.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Lone Star Bowling

The checkpoint was hosted by Robert Krull & the great staff at Lone Star BMW Triumph in Austin, TX.  Lone Star was chosen as the checkpoint so we could pay tribute to Ardys Kellerman.  Lone Star was Ardys' "home" dealership & she was  a regular fixture there.  There is a wall next to the coffee machine (which is so fitting) dedicated to Ardys' many riding accomplishments.

One last bonus on leg 1 - get your photo taken with Ardys' Iron Butt rally flag.

Scoring went perfectly (see Leg 1 standings in a previous post), and leg 2 route sheets were handed out.  During the rider's meeting David offered some advice to the riders - read through the bonus listing before you leave.  Most took his advice.

Buried down on page 5 is a 2500 point, timed bonus in Arlington, TX at The International Bowling Museum & Hall of Fame.  It was available from 12:30pm to 3:00pm on Wednesday afternoon.  Which meant the riders needed to jump on their bikes and haul it up to Dallas almost immediately.

42 of them did.

Once there, they needed to purchase a museum ticket, wind their way through the labyrinth of the museum (which houses some pretty cool stuff), find the mini-bowling lanes and then bowl 5 frames.

Our riders had to know they would be bowling at some point on this rally, right?

Based on our little bowling tournament, the new TeamStrange Bowling League would be made up of the following rollers:

Martin Little - 81
Eric Bray - 75
Brant Moteelall - 74
Larry Meeker - 65
Raven Park - 65

The differences between Leg 1 & Leg 2 are becoming apparent to the riders.  Over twice as many bonuses spread from Texas to Florida to Maine.  Now we'll watch to see who goes where.

Many thanks to the great folks at Lone Star for taking such good care of our riders.  Also to the volunteers who traveled from near & far to help with scoring.  And finally to our crack staff who manned the bowling bonus.

Photos to come.

Dispatched from the rally van heading north on I-35, mile marker 5.

Leg 1 route sheet

Link to leg 1 route sheet:

Link to leg 1 supplemental route sheet:

Standings after Leg 1

Butt Lite 7             Leg 1       
Pos  Rider# Rider                     Score    Miles
1     61    Josh Mountain             20112    4409
2     25    Troy Martin               15190    3562
3     12    Michiel Kerkhof           14740    4087
4     22    Mike Myren                14086    3509
5     44    Eric Bray                 14071    3473
6     66    Andrew Hall               13812    3504
7     38    Brant Moteelall           13586    3375
8     58/59 Todd & Diane LeClair      13370    3439
9     24    Steve McCaa               13102    3269
10    13    Gregg Lenentine           13001    3520
11    21    Mike Heitkamp             12982    3182
12    6     Jeff Wilson               12958    3176
13    41    Olaf Moon                 12897    3225
14    4     Jeremy Loveall            12631    3023
15    43    Brian Church              12413    3485
16    17    Jim Winterer              12309    3358
17    65    Don Duck                  12188    3045
18    19    Scott Thornton            11769    3283
19    27    Daniel Roth               11648    3090
20    16    Gerhard Memmen-Krueger    11463    3154
21    40    Rick Snyder               11354    3255
22    18    Steve Diederich           11351    3012
23    42    Jeff Johnson              11293    3140
24    34    Mike Langford             11265    2641
25    23    Chris Comly               11102    3075
26    60    Michael Phelps            10989    3134
27    67/68 John & Nadine Huval       10950    3176
28    9     Danny Dossman             10948    2898
29    5     Bruce Jansen              10894    2965
30    70    Eric Edelman              10688    2706
31    35    Sanjay Dixit              10548    2678
32    55    Thomas Spearman           10522    2781
33    39    Paul Slaton               10462    3024
34    26    Dave Legnosky             10382    2667
35    10    Kevin Smart               10365    2793
36    29    Theodore Black            10180    2972
37    45    Larry Meeker              10177    2938
38    69    Lyle Monroe                9832    2667
39    33    Adrian Scudella            9605    2916
40    49    George Doughty             9454    3320
41    7     James Burriss              9446    2689
42    48    John Frick                 9209    2857
43    62    Beth Madson                9052    2894
44    46    Dave Bourdeaux             8794    2644
45    2     Martin Cover               8383    2613
46    11    Dace Park                  7838    1718
47    32    Tony Hudson                7568    2640
48    1     Jonathan Tan               7552    2251
49    63    Kenneth Trass              7297    2936
50    36    Mark Collins               7296    2050
51    51    Don Bourdeaux              7293    2432
52    64    Paul Partin                6349    42082
53    14    Martin Little              4304    2002
54    3     John Coons                  DNF   
59    30    John Bailey                 DNF   
62    47    Mark Crane                  DNF   
64    52    George Barker               DNF   
67    56    Ian McPhee                  DNF   
68    57    Andrew Regnier              DNF