Monday, June 6, 2011

My Name Is Barb, and I'm An Enabler

This past weekend I enabled six riders to complete their first IBA SaddleSore 1000, a motorcycle ride that challenges a rider's resolve and tests their ability to stay in the saddle and ride efficiently.  These six riders are now on their way to becoming members of the Iron Butt Association.  Some are already talking about their next IBA ride.  I love enabling other riders!  I love it when riders who, at one time would have said they could never in a million years even think about riding 1,000 miles in less than 24 hours, finally "get it" and prepare to make their attempt at it.

This event was one of more than a dozen held in cities all over the U.S. and is put on by the Motorcycle Tourer's Forum, an internet-based riding club.  We started planning these events last Fall, choosing locations, identifying site coordinators, getting the events posted on our club's webpage.


Friend and former co-worker Steve came over to my house late Friday afternoon on his Kawi Concours to meet up and ride over together to the Cracker Barrel for our pre-event dinner.  I rode my FZ6.  We had four riders staying at hotels near the starting point for this SS1000, and it's an MTF tradition to have a pre-ride dinner the night before an MTF-sponsored IBA certifiable ride.  So seven of us sat down to a great dinner with good conversation and an opportunity to get to know a few of the riders who will be participating in this ride tomorrow morning.

Because Steve lives in Tomball, the complete opposite side of the city, he stayed over at my house. After dinner and back at the house, we relaxed and chatted over glasses of wine before we both retired to our respective bedrooms to try to get some sleep before our early wake-up Saturday morning.


In the morning we made a small pot of coffee and poured it into two stainless steel travel mugs then headed over to the Buc-ee's gas station one mile from my house, me in the car with folding chairs and tables loaded in the back, coffee travel mugs safely inserted into the cupholders, while Steve rode over on his motorcycle.

We got to the gas station before 5:00 AM, plenty early we thought, but the other volunteer - Lewis - and one of the riders - Tom - were already there.   We quickly grouped up and got Tom signed out and on his way.  He would be doing the "alternate" route, open only to experienced IBA members. 

Soon, the other riders began to arrive and we got them signed out as soon as they were ready to go.  Once Steve and Lewis witnessed their odometer readings, the riders rode over to a gas pump, topped off their tanks, and saved their gas receipts which will serve as their time/location stamp for their start of the ride.  They will need to be back to this same gas station less than 24 hours later to have successfully completed this ride. 

Riders continued to arrive, one by one, and to quickly get their witness paper signed, their gas receipt, and out on the road.  All except a pair of riders who arrived there early but loitered and hung around until the last rider had gone.  We couldn't figure out why they weren't getting on the road.  It was going to be hot this day and, if it were me, I'd want to take advantage of the cooler morning temperatures as much as possible.'s their ride, not mine, and as long as they're signed out before 6:30 AM they can loiter all they want.

After the last riders left, I had two no-shows so tried to call them to make sure they were accounted for and okay.  Then Steve and I rode over to the IHOP nearby for breakfast.  Afterward, he went home and I returned to my house to get on with my day.  I left my cellphone on for the riders, in case they needed to contact me, but otherwise did housework, ran errands, then settled in to watch some movies on TV. 

One of the riders had a SPOT unit so I was able to watch his progress, and the two riders who were the last to leave were updating their location to Steve by iPhone.  From this data I was able to calculate the SPOT rider's arrival to be approximately 9:25 PM and the other two riders at around midnight.  I knew the other five riders would come in sometime within this time window. 

Lewis and I agreed to return to Buc-ee's gas station at around 8:00 PM to prepare for the first riders' arrivals.  Tom, the rider with the SPOT, was the first to return at around 9:30, followed within a short time by a couple more riders.  Soon, five of the eight riders were back, their ending odometer readings witnessed, their ending gas receipt obtained, and then it was time for some pictures and an opportunity for the riders to celebrate their accomplishment a little bit with us before they got back on their bikes toward home, loved ones, a good meal and a comfortable bed!

There was a long gap between the arrival of the first five riders and the next two riders.  But they did eventually arrive safely at a little after midnight.  Once they were signed in, I departed for the house.  Steve stayed back at the gas station to chat with those two riders since they were friends of his.  Lewis had gone home a little earlier. 

The riders were all given my cell phone number and were told that I would be at the gas station until midnight.  If they arrived after that time, they were to get their ending receipt and then call me and I'd be there within 5 minutes to sign their witness form.  I was no sooner in my garage, unloading the tables and chairs when my cell phone rang and it was Steve, letting me know that the last rider had just arrived. 

I drove back to the gas station where Steve was just finishing up signing the last rider's witness form.  So off Steve went towards home...a long ride in the dark after being awake for a very long time.  I stayed to make sure that last rider got off safely towards home and then I headed for home myself .

The riders' receipts and witness forms and logs were all captured digitally using my Canon DSLR camera, so when I got home I took the time to get those images off the camera and organized into folders on my computer before I finally climbed into my own bed.


I enjoy long distance riding, defined as rides that are specified distances ridden within specified time limits.  I have accumulated quite a number of SaddleSore 1000's, a SaddleSore 2000, and two Bun Burner Golds (1500 miles within 24 hours).  I find them fun yet challenging, akin to my love for running long distances and participating in marathons and half-marathons.    I enjoy sharing this love with others, but only a very small percentage of motorcycle riders understand the satisfaction derived from successfully completing these IBA certifiable rides.  So it's a hard-sell, no question about it!  But the looks on those riders' faces Saturday night!  Their excitement, which overcame their physical discomfort or exhaustion, was palpable!   It gave me great satisfaction to hear the enthusiasm and sense of achievement in their voices and to see it on their faces.  So the IBA will welcome 6 new members in the Houston area!


  1. Thanks for being a good witness, Barb. I hope to see you again at either the start or finish of the 2011 IBR.

  2. Barb, the MTF enabled my SS1K back in 2006 or was that 2005, then came the National Park Tours. We are grateful you took some time to be such a great enabler.