Tomorrow morning will be a big day for 97 riders who will be starting the Iron Butt Rally at 10:00 AM EDT. Over in Spartanburg a group of some of the world's most accomplished long distance endurance riders are preparing for the start of this premier skill rally event, the Iron Butt Rally. This small but very select group have spent this weekend at the rally headquarters hotel going through various inspections, including a tech inspection of the bike, inspection of paperwork (insurance, registration, license) and attending mandatory seminars that touch on such topics as time and fatigue management and how to handle the media.
Tonight the IBR participants will attend a meeting during which time they'll receive the first of three bonus location packets, and then each will retire to their respective rooms to spend a good deal of the evening and into the night working on the best possible route that will maximize bonus points, miles, and time.
No, I'm not an entrant in this event, but I am planning to ride up to the first checkpoint location near Chicago in order to capture photos of the riders as they arrive at the checkpoint hotel. I have met more than 35 entrants in this year's rally, and call more than half of them good friends. I am excited for them yet also feel some nervousness and anxiety on their behalves, since many of them are doing the Iron Butt Rally for the first time.
I have just had my BMW serviced so she's ready to roll. I've finished packing the bike, and now have only a small pile of last minute things to load tomorrow morning just before I leave.
My route will take me to Blytheville AR for the first night, and then up through MO, IL the second day, collecting national park stamps at a number of locations. I plan to stop the second night in Moline IL before continuing into IA for some additional NP stamps in that state before working my way back to the checkpoint hotel near Chicago, with every hope that I will get there before the first of the rally riders. These riders will be focused on surviving the first of three checkpoints, not in socializing, so I will stay as unobtrusive as possible and not be a distraction from the more important rally business.
The riders will check in, turn in their first leg paperwork, and get some much needed rest before they go behind closed doors in a meeting to receive the bonus packet for the next leg. Sometime early that next morning they'll start to roll out of the parking lot to undertake leg two of the rally. I'm not too sure that I'll be out there to see that!
Once the ralliers are underway from the Chicago area, my plans will take me east through IL, IN, and MI for national park stamps, then I'll head south into OH where I'll stop for the night before continuing south through OH, WV and then into VA to Roanoke for an all-women's motorcycling get-together.
Mike is riding with me as far as the checkpoint hotel and then he'll turn around and head back south to Memphis to spend a couple of nights with family before he returns to Houston.
Tomorrow: A "put the miles on" day to Blytheville AR