My Iron Butt Story starts with an ending. On July 9th a few minutes before midnight my 2013 Iron Butt Rally came to an abrupt end. 80 miles west of Austin, Texas I cleaved a deer in half with my 6-month-old Triumph Tiger Explorer. The rear half of the deer was turned into shredded venison, I was a lot luckier, my bike somewhere in between.
I had spent over two years of my life preparing for the Iron Butt Rally. I’d placed top 10 in Butt Lite 6 so I could get into the event. I’d ridden multiple Burn Burner Golds to get used to the pace that I would need on the rally. A month before the rally I rode from Pacifica, CA to Atlantic City, NJ – 3030 miles – in 47 hours; making me one of a handful of people that earned both back to back Bun Burner Golds while also getting a coast to coast in 50 hours or less. Before the rally, I had nothing but good luck; on the rally, I had nothing but bad. It all ended along a farmers field in the hill country of Texas.
That night I told my wife that I was done rallying. I was lucky to be alive (I was doing 75 when I hit the deer). I wanted nothing to do with rallying again. I wanted to see my kids grow up. I was no longer selfish that night.
Of course in the morning, I was back to my usual self. No more self-pity, I had a dream, one that I was not going to let die so easily.
I entered Butt Lite 7. I had never applied to get into the Iron Butt Rally. Rumor is that if you crash on the rally they want you to sit the next one out. The top 10 finishers in Butt Lite get to go to the rally without being drawn. I felt confident that I could repeat my 2012 Butt Lite 6 performance. In July of 2014, I finished 5th in Butt Lite 7. I wanted to prove to myself that I still was a top rider. I wanted to be able to say I got into the IBR on what I can do, not by the luck of the draw.
In the Spring of 2015 I was once again trying to get my head where it needed to be for the torture that lay ahead. It wasn’t working. On a practice run, I dropped my bike in a parking lot. A helpful bystander picked up my bike with me. While doing so he cracked the subframe that holds on the lights. A few weeks later the bike was repaired and I was on another practice run. In the dawn hours entering Death Valley, I hit some rock fall, cracking my front wheel and denting the rear. Lucky for me Top 10 IBR finisher Wendy Crocket has a bike shop in the area. After a 150 mile tow (thank you NorCal AAA!!!) the bike rested comfortably at her shop awaiting parts. With only 3 weeks left to go I was scrambling to get wheels lined up.
My only luck leading up to the rally was that I got to know Wendy, her husband Mike and their wonderful baby girl Tess. My bike was repaired the weekend before the rally, so I was going to make it. But I had not done a thousand-mile day in a long time. I hoped that with all the bad luck leading up to the rally it would be behind me and I would have a trouble free event.
I took a very relaxing 3 days to go the 1100 miles from SF to Albuquerque. I did a lot of thinking, about the event, what I wanted from it, and what I need to do to get that. I’m competitive, this, of course, is no shock to people that know me, but I’m also not one that can’t have fun if they are not winning. My overriding thought was that I needed to finish. That, above all else, if I walked away with another DNF it would haunt me, just as the last two years had haunted me. Sure I’d like to do well, but not at the cost of not finishing.
I arrived at Albuquerque with my goal firmly set in my mind. Don’t worry about the standings. compete well, honor the spirit of the event, and FINISH!