Wandering Ganesha

2015 Iron Butt Rally – Part 1.1: Day 1 Starts

Ok. I was on the road! My route is loaded! Let’s do this!!!

On the road! - Photo by Tobie Stevens

On the road! – Photo by Tobie Stevens

Down the road with an awesome police escort, straight onto the freeway. I can hear Steppenwolf screaming in my brain.

Time to get to work here. Let me see… first stop is… the Group Photo! What an awesome way to start a rally. I knew it wasn’t really worth the points, but I built leg one around it. I mean it was going to go down in history and I wanted to be part of it! Hmmm… it was 220 miles away and you had to be there by 2:15, and it was one time zone away, so I had 5h15m. The GPS was saying I’d be there in… Oh… well… So I had a little time to kill, or I could drop my speed to 42mph. Now I knew the night before that I’d be there early. But I guess I didn’t really look closely at how early it was.

I remembered there were some bonuses that were along the way so after a little on the back of the bike route planning I quickly detoured. First stop would be El Malpais National Monument! Just a little south of I-40 and It would still leave me plenty of time to get to the photo. On the way there I passed many riders. I had started at about 30th out of the gate, but some hadn’t gone the same direction. My speed is carefully calculated to be well within the rules, and low enough that most officers won’t even raise an eyebrow. However, it did appear to be faster than most other riders. As I pulled into the parking lot at El Malpais one rider was pulling in as well on a BMW GS. He stopped close to the visitor center, but I pulled in further away into some shade. I had no idea what the bonus photo was so I knew it would take me a little longer to figure things out.

ELMA – El Malpais National Monument
79.2 miles traveled. Arrived 11:01 Departed 11:06

El Malpais National Monument

El Malpais National Monument

The other rider pulled out a minute before I did. As I was leaving at least 10 other riders were already there. I felt bad for some of them as they parked near to me, and my location was less than Ideal. My photo was kind of far away and crummy.

Off to the next detour: El Morro National Monument! Pretty soon I could see the BMW rider in the distance. He was faster in the straights than I was, but slower in the corners. He was also willing to follow cars for longer than I was so I quickly passed him by. He decided to keep pace with me however and we continued on to El Morro.

As my BMW GS rider and I were cruising to victory via El Morro I looked in my rear view mirror and noticed that there was a van that was closing in fast. Now I know people think that IBR riders are riding like crazed fools at warp 9 all over the country. At the riders meeting, Mike Kneebone had explained that the IBA was not going to tolerate excessive speed this year. That with the Spot tracking they were going to calculate speeds and penalize people heavily for speeding. This didn’t impact me at all as I don’t do crazy speeds. Some people I ride with might disagree, but that’s only because they use their speedometers to look at the speed. Which seems natural, until you ride with a GPS. I’ve never ridden a modern bike that didn’t overestimate speed, usually by a good 6-8%. So if your speedo says you are going 65, your probably going 60. And if you’re riding with me your speedo will say 71 when we are doing 65.

My GS companion and I were on a fairly twisty mountain road. Sure there were straight sections, but I didn’t have the cruise control locked on at all times. Slowing down for the curves was of necessity. But yet here was this van… closing fast. I slowed a bit to make it easy on the Van to overtake us. The somewhat battered white Ford Econoline with DirecTV logos was a blur as it passed us. My ego shrugged it off as I knew that: A. he was probably a local, born and bread in these hills and had memorized every twist and turn of the road since he was suckling at his momma’s breast. B. I think I saw Koni logos on his shocks as he flew by. On further reflection not only Koni shocks but non-DOT race spec Pirelli’s too.

Mindful that Mr. Kneebone had not tasked Bob Higdon with keeping track of DirecTV installations we let the Econoline disappear into the distance.

Soon enough we arrived at El Morro! Lo and behold the GS rider was not some unknown soul! It was my fellow SF Bay Area rider Andy Mackey! I asked if he too was off to the Group Photo bonus. Nope, he was going north from here. He didn’t think the group photo was worth the points. I agreed but said I had to do it, that I wanted to be in the rally report on a good note for once!

ELMO – El Morro
45.7 Miles since ELMA Arrived: 11:45 Departed 11:48.

El Morro National Monument

El Morro National Monument

I left before Andy and was back on the road heading west. Off to the group Photo!

Let’s see I had detoured significantly. So a quick GPS check to see what time I would arrive there by. Hmmm… it was 11:48, but add an hour for the TZ, so I have 3.5 hours to get there, and its 112 miles away. Great! Let me just set the cruise control to 32mph. Oh… you can’t set it that low? Maybe I should stop and take a look and see if there are any other stops I can make.

Man, I should have spent more time planning this out… Riding a slow easy route was going to take some work!


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