The 2009 Iron Butt Rally

The Agony and the Ecstacy

Leg 1 :  Why, oh why ...?

The buzz among the riders, staff and volunteers grew as kick off time crept closer. The weekend was filled with paperwork; the odometer check; compulsory seminars on how to manage the media, and on safety during the rally; video sessions where one (jokingly) states that one is "already crazy" [and acknowledges this!] and [seriously] fully understands the implications of exactly what is about to happen to one's life and sanity over the next eleven days and nights; a camera check, where the image resolution size of each rider's camera is checked to ensure it is the required 640x480; the goodie bag is received.

On and on, with new people to meet, old friends to greet. No time even for butterflies to form in the tummy. It's all go, go go!

Technical inspection followed, which was pretty simple for me as I don't have an auxilliary fuel tank, although the inspector, IBR veteran Greg Roberts, couldn't find the BMW stamp on the exhaust, but as it is the original OEM exhaust, there was no problem. Registration papers checked; driver's licence checked; bike insurance papers checked for accident CSL limits of at least $500,000; personal/travel insurance papers checked for evacuation cost limits of at least $500,000. A valid/legal helmet is required, and inspected. Finally, it's all done. Time to socialise.

I'm in orange, bottom left, behind the rally poster.

Looking pensive in the middle

After the obligatory group photo, Sunday afternoon's riders' meeting brought forth clarifications of rules and all the additional information we would need to run the rally. Rallymaster Lisa Landry spoke of the absolute importance of our main priority in this rally - getting back to the finish safely! For the duration of the rally Lisa carries with her, at all times 24/7, the folder containing the riders' personal contact information sheets, hoping she will never need to refer to them. Safety is definitely the overriding requirement of all riders in the IBR.

Then we were each issued with a yellow thumb-drive, specially numbered and encoded for security of the information, which contained all of the GPS waypoints for the first Leg in 3 formats - .gpx, .gdb and .txt, so that everyone would be able to utilise at least one format with their preferred mapping program/s. The scramble was on, as people raced to their rooms and plugged the drives into their computer to see where the bonuses were located. But, at this early stage, we didn't know what the bonuses were or what their point values were - just their locations. All would be revealed ... I worked out a rough route that looked good.

The riders' banquet on Sunday evening was buzzing, with more than a few tinges of nerves amongst the participants. At last, Bob Higdon mounted the podium, said his piece in his inimitable fashion, including that the rally's bonus theme was "crime scenes", then commenced the distribution of the rally packs. My name was called - rider number 009! What an exciting moment! To actually have an IBR rally pack and flag in my hands! But we weren't to open the packs until told. Oh, the agony of sitting there waiting until everyone had their pack!

Only then could we open the pack, and peruse our destiny. Mike Kneebone [owner and President of the Iron Butt Association] spoke in general terms of the bonuses and the complexities of some, explaining "sucker" bonuses and what problems to look out for, such as the inability to book for motorcycles on the ferry going to the high point Chappaquiddick bonus. Mike had given me just one piece of advice when we spoke briefly at the Tulsa National Meet last August- "Go where the big points are. That's where we want you to go". So why didn't I listen to him then, and take his advice now, instead of being lulled into staying away from Chappaquiddick? I'm still wondering! Stupid, stupid, stupid!!

I hate heat and humidity - so, naturally, I stupidly mapped out a route down to Florida! How could I be so dumb?? I would pay for this stupidity!

 

DAY 1 : Monday 24th August

We were warned to be at our bikes not later than 8.30am, for the final odometer reading, then a rider meeting at 9.45am.  At 9.55am, Warchild (Dale Wilson, Chief Technical Inspector) first sent off the two old RE5 Suzuki rotaries (as they harked back to the first rally 25 years ago in which some RE5s ran) down the curving hotel driveway lined thickly with the rally bikes and nervous riders, to huge cheers and applause from assembled riders and spectators alike. It was a brilliant feeling to be part of such a moment. Now I just had to negotiate the tight left hand turn from the parking spot at the edge of the driveway. No way did I want to drop it! Oh, the embarrassment that would be! Dale walked along between the assembled rows, pointing at each rider, who must depart immediately. I was one of the last dozen or so bikes to leave. Phew! I made it out and onto the roadway without drama, amid the continuous cheers and waves from those lining the road. What a spectacle it all was!

Waiting for the start, beside Ken Meese.

                                                                          Photo:  thanks to Michael Jordan, Virginia

                                                         On my way out of Spartanburg!                                           

The first bonus for almost all riders was the BMW factory, at Greer, about 20 minutes from Spartanburg, and the Spartanburg police had kindly blocked off the roads as we headed for the interstate, making it much easier to negotiate the suburban streets. I waved to bystanders as much as I could, particularly to the police officers blocking the intersections, thanking them for their assistance. Bikes weaving in and out of traffic along the interstate, although there was no real reason to hurry, as the bonus wasn't available until 10.30am.

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BMW Visitor's Center              666 points                Monday, August 24    10:30 am to noon
1400 Highway 101 South
Greer, South Carolina
N 34 53.417 - W 82 10.540

Park in the visitors’ lot nearest the coordinates and walk approximately 100 yards to the museum entrance.
Once inside, take a photo of Ed Culberson’s 1981 R80G/S, Amigo.

Category: Failure to keep making one of the more reliable Iron Butt motorcycles ever built.
(Just had to highlight that!!)

In 1985-86 Amigo became the first vehicle to travel the length of the western hemisphere nearly from pole
to pole. Ridden by Ed Culberson, a retired Army officer and chief MSF instructor, the motorcycle survived
unimaginable hardships during the journey, including a 12-day trek through the Darien gap. That unfinished
section of the Pan-American Highway, 67 miles of trackless jungle between Panama and Colombia, had
never previously been traversed by anyone except on foot.

Date: ________ Time: _________Odometer: ________ Code: BMW Approved: _________

What a mad scramble, trying to get close to the old R80GS known as "Amigo" !  Eventually, Ken Meese took my photo while I held the flag.  My first IBR bonus was in the bag, more or less, as I still had to complete the necessary details on the bonus listing paperwork back at the bike.

Time to settle in and do some riding, to the next bonus, at the McCrays Tavern, down in Lawrenceville, Georgia.

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McCray's Tavern              208 points                    Anytime
100 N Perry St
Lawrenceville, Georgia
N33 57.388 - W083 59.376

Take a photo of the exterior of McCray's Tavern.

Category: Attempted murder.

Pornographer Larry Flynt, on trial for an obscenity charge at the nearby courthouse, was gunned down and
paralyzed by a sniper after he and his lawyer had eaten lunch near here on 3/6/1978.

Date: ________ Time: _________Odometer: ________ Code: LAW Approved: _________

Couldn't park close, so several of us parked down the street a ways, and helped each other out, holding flags.  McCrays is the creamy-orange building in the centre.


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O'Kelly Memorial Library              209 points                Daylight hours only
363 Conyers Rd
Loganville, Georgia
N33 50.282 - W083 54.177

Take a photo of the front of the library.

Category: Witchcraft.

Laura Mallory demanded that local schools remove Harry Potter books from their libraries because in her
analysis (not having read any of the books) they are an "evil" attempt to indoctrinate children into the Wicca
religion.

Date: ________ Time: _________Odometer: ________ Code: LGV Approved: _________

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Macedonia Cemetery              399 points                     Daylight hours only
Woodlawn Rd (west of FL-121)
Macclenny, Florida
N30 15.430 - W082 08.023

Take a photo of the stone bench at the rear of the
cemetery (bearing the inscription ―II Timothy 4: 7 & 8‖).

Category: Theft.

A woman became so upset at thieves who were stealing flowers from her husband's grave that she
installed an infrared, motion-activated camera under a park bench that was aimed at the gravestone.
The next night the thieves stole the camera. The case remains unsolved.

Date: ________ Time: _________Odometer: ________ Code: MCC Approved: _________

 

7.30pm.  I hit the wall!  It was so hot and humid down in Florida, even in northern Florida.  It really knocked me around something dreadful! Although I'd been drinking heaps and heaps of water during the day, in retrospect I may possibly have been heading towards dehydration and heat exhaustion. My back/spine was aching and so sore due to the excessive heat, and tiredness overcame me, as I hadn't slept much the night before, plus all the excitement continually building over the weekend and the start combined to wear me down.  I decided to have a break, and eat.  It just so happened there was a Super8 motel out the back of the Dennys restaurant, where I forced down my standard on-the-road meal of bacon, eggs and toast, with coffee.  The motel bed was screaming at me. By the time I got into the reception area, I was literally hanging onto the registration desk to stay upright, after staggering in from the bike.  But the bed was comfortable, and I set the screamin' meanie for 1.00am. I went out like a light, down for the count.

DAY 2:  Tuesday 25th August

Waking easily, I felt great, totally revived after several hours in air-conditioning, and was on the road by 1.25am.  It was wonderful riding through the warm balmy night, south along the coast. The next bonus was available anytime, then the following one was a daylight only, so this worked out really well with my schedule.

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The Last Resort        504 points           Anytime
5812 S Ridgewood Ave
Harbor Oaks, Florida
N29 06.645 - W080 58.400

Take a photo of the exterior of the bar.

Category: Serial murder.

Aileen Wuornos, America's most prolific female serial killer, was captured here on the evening of 1/9/1991.
At the time of her arrest she and her girlfriend were living in Room 8 of the Fairview Motel a few hundred
yards south of this bar. The room contained a three-dimensional replica of The Last Supper.

Date: ________ Time: _________Odometer: ________ Code: TLR Approved: _________

Horrible colour, but, well, it was taken at 2.30am, after all!

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Winn-Dixie                1,306 points               Daylight hours only
6600 Hypoluxo Rd
Boynton Beach, Florida
N26 34.336 - W080 08.904

Take a photo of the Charleston Mall sign.

Category: Robbery.

Lucinda Brayne*, then 17 and on probation from an unrelated offense, stole $164 from a Girl Scout's
cookie stand that was operating near the Winn-Dixie supermarket in this mall. Caught, she confessed, but
objected when told that she'd have to return the stolen money. Asked if she were sorry, the blond said, "I'm
not sorry. I'm just pissed that I got caught." Not long thereafter Brayne was arrested again for skipping out
on a bill from Denny's. There's obviously a future for this kid in Hollywood or Congress.

Date: ________ Time: _________Odometer: ________ Code: BNB Approved: _________

I encountered my first bonus problem here.  The bonus listing said Charleston MALL, but each of the entrance signs proclaimed it to be Charleston SQUARE.  Rather than ring Lisa at such an early hour for clarification, I decided to take photos of each entrance, and hope for the best at the scoring table,

It was still virtually dark when I arrived, too early to take the photos, so tootled around locally till I found a Maccas, pulled out the laptop and reappraised my route plan while having a cup of tea.  Things were going well, overall, so I decided to add in another bonus, and head for Miami, to go alligator hunting!  But no way was I going all the way down to Key West!  I'd been down there last year.  Once was enough!  I got the two photos of Charleston Square, and set sail for Miami.

On the ride out to the resort from the interstate on secondary roads, I spotted a dear little deer, so tiny and fragile looking, but I'm sure it was an adult, as it looked just like a miniature muley.  Fortunately, it was across a wide canal, so no danger. It was the first deer I'd seen on the rally ...

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Miccosukee Resort                  1,525 points                              Daylight hours only
Jct of US-41 and FL-997
Miami, Florida
N25 45.766 - W080 29.145

Take a photo of the dock behind the hotel with
the signs ―Danger Live Alligators.

Category: Attempted theft, escape.

Police responded to a call that two men were breaking into cars in the hotel's parking lot. Upon arrival they
captured one suspect but another escaped and, despite signs warning of the presence of alligators,
jumped into a retaining pond. He began to swim away, but was quickly dragged under water and killed by
one of the pond's reptiles.

Date: ________ Time: _________Odometer: ________ Code: MIC                   Approved: _________

I hadn't seen any other riders since early the day before, but caught up with a couple here at the alligator bonus.  Originally, I'd gone right around the back of the property where I came upon the 2 riders and their bikes.  But after checking out the view they were photographing, I wasn't happy, as it was not a DOCK, just a walkway type of thing, and I could see the dock across the stretch of water.  So I jumped back on the bike and went right around the resort and parked near where the right photo could be taken.  Unfortunately, I parked in the wrong place apparently - a huge, open, vacant parking area - and was accosted by the rapidly approaching security guard, who basically told me off, then took pity on me and took down the barricade so that I could ride right to the dock.  Bewdy!

Now to head back north to pick up a few bonuses located in relatively close proximity, on the general heading of the first checkpoint at St Charles, IL.

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Orlando International Airport           556 points                   Daylight hours only
Blue satellite parking lot
Orlando, Florida
N28 26.539 - W081 18.826

Take a photo of the entrance to the satellite
parking lot (you do not have to enter the
parking lot itself, and we will give you wide
latitude on this bonus photo).

Category: Attempted murder.

Astronaut Lisa Nowack assaulted her romantic rival for the affections of a fellow astronaut early in the
morning of 2/5/2007 in this satellite parking lot (near Station C in the blue lot). Nowack is a hero to many in
the endurance riding community for having driven non-stop from Houston, Texas to Orlando while wearing
a diaper so as to minimize bathroom stops.

Date: ________ Time: _________Odometer: ________ Code: ORL Approved: _________


Another (unknown) rider pulled in just as I was packing up to leave.

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Veterans Memorial Park            713 points                  Daylight hours only
E Broad St (east end of street)
Titusville, Florida
N28 36.815 - W080 48.267

Take a photo of the Project Mercury memorial sculpture
near the men's room at the far (eastern) end of the park.

Category: Solicitation for prostitution.

Conservative state representative Bob Allen (R) was arrested on 7/11/2007 in a men's room in this park for
offering to perform oral sex on an undercover policeman for $20. Allen's excuse was that the cop was a
large black man and since everyone else in the park was African-American, Allen was just doing what he
had to in order to survive.

Date: ________ Time: _________Odometer: ________ Code: VMP Approved: _________

Met up with Andy Kirby and another rider (David Nelson?) at this bonus.  While attempting refuelling in the town, I discovered that my BoA VISA debit card had been stopped!  Panic!  Onto the cell, rang the bank's fraud section, answered myriads of questions, detailed what I was doing and that I could be going anywhere in the States or Canada, possibly charging small amounts in several different states in a day, etc etc. We'd been told to make this call in several pre-rally communications.  This was the one thing I'd forgotten to do prior to the start of the rally.  Fortunately, it was soon fixed up, and there were no more problems during the rally.

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Gator Joe's            418 points                 Daylight hours only
12431 SE 135th
Ocklawaha, Florida
N29 02.457 - W081 55.740

Take a photo of the exterior of Gator Joe's bar.

Category: Shootout.

In what still is the biggest shootout in FBI history — a four-hour battle with several thousand shots fired —
Kate "Ma" Barker, the leader of a gang that included Alvin ―Creepy Karpis, was killed with her son on
1/16/1935 in a lakefront house just to the west of this bar.

Date: ________ Time: _________Odometer: ________ Code: GTR Approved: _________

Met more riders here, including Art Garvan, who introduced himself.  Started spitting rain just before I left.  Made the first call-in bonus of the rally.

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Call-In Bonus - no specific location                   250 points       Available August 25, 2009              Noon – 11:59:59 pm Pacific
Call xxx-xxx-xxxx and leave the following information:

Your name, your rider number, your location (city/town and state/province), the last bonus you scored, and
the bonus you are headed for. While it is not required for this bonus, if you have a quick story, please leave
it also!

Time: _____________ Odometer: _____________ Code: CI          Approved: ______________


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Emerson Alumni Hall              317 points                    Daylight hours only
1938 West University Ave
Gainesville, Florida
N29 39.126 - W082 20.961

Take a photo of the building entrance.

Category: Inciting to riot.

On 9/17/2007 at a public forum on campus Andrew Meyer was questioning Sen. John Kerry when Meyer
dropped a vulgar word and his microphone was cut off. Police moved in to remove Meyer, who continued
to shout and protest his eviction. Police warned they would stun him with a Taser if he didn't calm down.
Meyer then shouted, "Don't tase me, bro!," a plea that was later named by the Yale Book of Quotations as
the most memorable words of 2007. They tased him anyway.

Date: ________ Time: _________Odometer: ________ Code: EAL Approved: _________

Met another rider here, but can't remember who it was.   Saw a couple of other riders lurking about, trying to get the photo, made more difficult by the heavy peak hour traffic.

Pouring, teeming rain while travelling north up I-85.  Sheltered from it under the large roof of a gas station as I got fuel, as cars and trucks had been sliding off into the medians of the interstate all around me!!  Just my luck that the servo didn't have ANY food at all, just packets of sweets!  But an icecream filled the gap nicely.  Ahh well, won't be killing two birds with one stone here, that's for sure. Rode on through the now much lighter rain for a few hours, then got a motel not far from Atlanta, after riding through the night, as it was much cooler. IB Pete (another rider) was already in residence.  The receptionist commented "Oh, just like the other rider we've got here" when I said I wanted the room only for a few hours.

DAY 3 : Wednesday 26 August

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Floyd/Chatooga county line on US-27/GA-1               646 points             Anytime
(aka "Martha Berry Pkwy")
100' NW of S Little Sand Mtn Rd
Armuchee, Georgia
N34 24.932 - W085 14.068

Take a photo that shows both the Chatooga County
and Mile 0 signs at this location.

Category: Reckless driving, flight, improper passing, leaving the scene of an accident.

On 9/5/2007 on US-27 between Summerville and Armuchee Justin Patterson, 22, reached speeds of 154
mph on his 2002 Suzuki Hayabusa. He was trying not to be late to the Georgia State Police barracks to
pick up his Class M motorcycle license. How did that work out for you, Justin?

Date: ________ Time: _________Odometer: ________ Code: AMU Approved: _________

Saw several more riders here, coming and going.

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Courthouse Square               214 points               Anytime
1475 Market St
Dayton, Tennessee
N35 29.709 - W085 00.722

Take a photo of the historical marker on the courthouse square.

Category: Illegally teaching evolution.

The trial of John Thomas Scopes, accused of teaching evolution in contravention of state law, was held
here in July 1925. Scopes was represented by Clarence Darrow. The prosecution was headed by
fundamentalist Baptist William Jennings Bryan, a three-time candidate for president. The marker notes that
"Scopes was convicted," though that hardly was the end of the story.

Date: ________ Time: _________Odometer: ________ Code: DAY Approved: _________

Despite walking the total perimeter of the park, I couldn't see this sign!  It was market day, with vehicles displaying their farm produce drawn up along the edge of the property, so in the end, I resorted to asking the stall-holders where it was, holding out the bonus list showing the photo.  It was only 20 metres or so away!   Heaven knows what they all thought of me!

Got confused with the GPS directions (or lack thereof, as it was playing up again) going to the next bonus, with the clock ticking down, thinking I was wasting time as it was taking so long to get there, so eventually dumped it and turned back when about half way to it.  Little did I realise ....

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Brushy Mountain Prison                 124 points                          Anytime
TN-116, about 0.8 mi north of Petros
Petros, Tennessee
N36 06.263 - W084 26.913

Take a photo of the sign with wording "Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary / Established 1896" at the
entrance to prison.

Category: Prison escape.

James Earl Ray, assassin of Martin Luther King, Jr., escaped from here briefly in 1977.

Date: ________ Time: _________Odometer: ________ Code: RAY Approved: _________

A working prison, located out in the bush, in delightful country surroundings.

That was it - the bonus hunting was done, as I was running out of time, or so I thought!  The checkpoint window in St Charles, an outer suburb of Chicago, was open from 9.00pm-11.00pm with penalties accruing from 9.00pm until the cutoff, and the dreaded DNF [did not finish], at 11.00.01pm. In this rally, if a rider did not make it to a checkpoint within the window, it was over - all finished, no second chances.  I had to get back in time!  However, for months, ever since we'd received the information about the checkpoints, I'd hammered it into my tiny brain that I should arrive at the CPs by 7.00pm, to allow for any problems.  It totally skipped my thought processes that 7.00pm was only a target.  I was convinced it was THE latest time by which I had to be back. So I did a fairly fast run north to I-80 then west to St Charles, encountering rain for part of the way, which slowed traffic a little on the interstates.  Then there was late peak hour traffic passing Chicago, and I needed fuel right at the crucial time.  I was going to be arriving in penalty time, for sure - so I thought!!

To make matters worse, my GPS has an uncanny knack of almost always deciding that waypoints were on the opposite side of the road to what was really correct.  So I'm looking out to the right, as the GPS said, while the Pheasant Run Hotel was actually over on the left, so ended up going in loops looking for the hotel, but got there eventually.  Voni Glaves was there to meet me with a huge hug, but all I wanted to do was run to the check-in table, thinking I was late!  DÓh!  I had two hours to spare!  I could've got a few more bonuses in that time, had I realised, as I rode past several on the way to Chicago, but discarded them, thinking I was out of time. Poor Ira and Donna on the check-in table must have thought I was going bonkers, frantically asking how late was I and how many penalties had I incurred!

Photo:  Voni Glaves, Texas

At the Leg 1 checkpoint.

Dinner was provided, and eaten while completing all the paperwork in my room.  It was looking good to be slightly above the minimum finisher score of at least 9000 pts.  Phew! People were sprawled around and sleeping everywhere, on the floor, on chairs, leaning sleepily against walls, waiting and waiting, wanting to get through the scoring process quickly, as the next bonus listing was to be handed out at 4.00am. It was a bit of a log-jam, really.

The scorer to whom I was directed was Helen Austin, a lovely lady who gently eased me into the scoring process.  All went well - the gas/fuel log, the call-in bonus, the photos.  No penalties of any sort.  It was done.  I'd scored 9155 points, so above the minimum required.  What a relief!  When the score sheets were tabled and posted on the 'net, I was in 70th place. I was relatively happy with what I'd done, but knew it should have been better.  And would have been better, had I gone to Chappaquiddick!  The old "coulda-shoulda-woulda" syndrome strikes again!   But I learned some valuable lessons, too, amid mistakes that I won't make again, I hope.

The clock was relentlessly ticking, ticking towards 4.00am.  Time for some sleep.

Go to LEG 2

 

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