Wandering Ganesha

2015 Iron Butt Rally – Part 1: Lift-Off!!!

… To Sleep, to sleep, perchance to dream… – Bill S.

I woke. The room was dark.

I’m no longer young. Getting up in the middle of the night to wander to the bathroom is a part of my life. A sad, sad part of my life.

I looked at my phone to see how many minutes I had managed to sleep.

5:03 stared back at me. 5:03… Wait… I went to sleep just before 11:00. Let’s see… carry the one… base 12 math eluded me in my groggy state.

Mother of GOD! I had slept 6 hours!

It was 5 AM and I had been asleep for 6 hours! I never sleep before a rally. I mean, I have my midnight rule of stopping route planning, but usually I just lay in bed and wait till morning. My mind races with all the possibilities of routes, competition, things I forgot to do, etc. But not this time. This time I had slept more than I usually do.

I lay there for a while. No need to rush. Start time was 10:00 AM. Bike Impound started at 8:00. I had 3 hours to get ready and get fuel.

An hour later I was showered, and ready to go. By 7 AM I was pulling out of the lot and crossing the street to fuel the bike. Bike fueled, GPSs, and ODOs reset to zero and back in the start line by 7:30. By now the parking lot was a hive of activity. People were making last minute adjustments and trying to get their heads into the game.

I went in and got some breakfast. All that was left was the egg breakfast burrito. Not a fan of eggs, but I figured the protein would be a good thing to eat before the rally. And it was Albuquerque so there was some spicy peppers in it so all was not lost. I’m always a little trepidatious eating the food before a rally. I’m waiting for the day when an entire rally gets food poisoning from the dinner before the event. Man would that suck. But hey that’s just the optimist in me talking.

Al Holtsberry - Photo by Steve Hobart

Al Holtsberry – Photo by Steve Hobart

By 8:30 I was back out to the bike waiting for the 9:00 AM ODO/rider check-in. By good fortune, I happened to be lined up next to Al Holtsberry. Al was rider number 79, who at the age of 79 was attempting to become the oldest rider ever to finish the IBR. He was a veteran with 3 finishes out of 4 starts. It was great to talk to him about is prior rallies and hear his stories. Made the pressure of waiting for the start a whole lot more enjoyable. Al was riding a Yamaha FJR, his prior bikes had all been BMWs, but his one DNF was due to the final drive on his BMW failing. With over 3 final drive failures behind him he wasn’t going to risk anything to get his finish. Although I was a little worried by his vintage riding suit that did not look like it offered much (any!) protection from either the elements or worse. He had an Aerostitch in his side bags, the vintage suit was just for warm weather.

Get your motor running - Photo by Tobie Stevens

ODO check time – Photo by Tobie Stevens

By 9:05 my ODO had been checked and my tag was punched. Nothing left to do but wait. Or… I went up to my room and took a nice long cool shower. I was tense and had been sweating like crazy as it was hot in the parking lot. Washing that all away helped me wash away my nervous energy.

9:40 back in the lot.

Dale preaches to the faithful - Photo By Tobie Stevens

Dale preaches to the faithful – Photo By Tobie Stevens

9:45 Saftey brief starts

9:55 safety brief over.

9:59 on the bike. Engine running.

10:00 Dale Warchild sends the first rider down the chute. I’d had dinner with Danny the first night that I’d gotten to Albuquerque. Danny was a rookie and other than his bike being a Harley Davidson he seemed like he had all his wits about him. To be the first rider he had to win the crazy hair contest. His hair cut had me questioning my abilities to accurately judge sanity. (This photo does not do justice to how bad a cut this really was. I will from now on forever call him Opie.)

Danny Dossman - Photo by Steve Hobart

Danny Dossman – Photo by Steve Hobart

10:02… Dale is pointing at me. I need to be ready to go. I am ready to go. Now in 2013 Dale gave me the go sign as the rider in front of me (and behind him) was busy fishtailing and almost crashing into a line of riders. All I have in my head is not to be that guy!

10:03 I’m out of the gate!

Leaving Albuquerque - Photo by Steve Hobart

Leaving Albuquerque – Photo by Steve Hobart

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