Thursday, December 8, 2011

Cletha's 2011 Iron Butt Rally

When I submitted my application for the 2011 Iron Butt Rally I thought I had a clue as to what I was getting into.  After all, I had completed a number of rallies including the ten day MERA10n10. So, I was feeling a bit cocky.  Butt, when I received the "Congratulations" letter from Lisa Landry my heart sped up and my palms got sweaty.  The thought entered my mind, "What have I gotten myself into now?"  YIKES, I'm going to ride the IBR!
So, in preparation of the IBR, I purchased a new BMW F650GS because I wanted something lighter and more manoeuvrable than the Gold Wing.  I spent months prepping the GS, adding a custom seat, aux lighting, fuel cell and a host of other farkles and ergonomics.  I didn't dare add up the cost of the bike preparation.  Heck, it was the IBR and frankly, I didn't care.  I wanted my bike set up as best as I could for this event.  I then entered every rally I could before the IBR.  Unfortunately, because of the timing of the IBR for 2011, I only had a few rallies before the Big Dance.  But...those practice rallies really paid off.
In addition to getting the bike ready, I obtained the E-Z Pass for speeding up the toll booth process in the East and the Oklahoma Pike Pass.  I purchased new waterproof boots and a Schuberth C3W flip face helmet. 
The June start date was rapidly approaching.  I made arrangements to have a service and to have my tires changed when we arrived in Seattle for the start.  Eric and I had decided to have a flower sniffin ride to Seattle and take a few days to get there.  We were scheduled to leave Ivins, UT on Wednesday, June 15.  However on the Sunday before, we received an emergency phone call from our local Emergency Services and were told to stand by to evacuate.  What????  Wildfires were closing in on the neighborhood.  We could see the flames not too far from the house.  Ack!  We immediately sprung into action and packed the bikes.  I suggested to Eric that he turn the bikes around so they were headed out of the garage in case we had to make a sprint for it.  Damn the house....I did not want to miss my opportunity to ride the IBR!
With the fire scare we decided to just go ahead and leave early.  In retrospect, this was a very good decision.  Our house came through the incident unscathed and we had a marvelous, relaxing, sight seeing, flower sniffing ride up through Nevada, Oregon and Washington to Seattle.
Upon our arrival, you could just feel the buzz of excitement.  The IBR staff was already there as well as a number of riders.  The parking lot was starting to fill up.  It was lots of fun to see old friends and meet new ones.  It's always cool to put a face to a name you've read on the LDRider List or one of the forums.  The accommodations were really nice except there was no flat parking, it was all sloped.
On Friday the 17th of June, we rode down to South Sound BMW in Fife, WA for the new tires and service.  A couple other IBR riders were there was well, Dean McCurdy and Wayne Boynter.  So we all hung out and had lunch.  When I went to pick up my bike, the service department pointed out a potential issue with the water pump and some seepage.  I panicked and immediately asked if they could just switch out one from a new bike.  Well, after discussing the issue with the service manager, we decided to do nothing.  Best decision I think.  While there, I bought a pair of waterproof gloves and boy, oh boy, I'm sure glad I did!
Back to Rally Central and another evening of socializing and speculating on what this IBR would have in store for all of us.  Saturday was tech check and odo check.  I managed to get through both with no issue.  Before I knew it, it was time for the newbie meeting which was mandatory.  Jeff Earls gave a presentation that mainly focused on being safe, being smart and coming home.  It was somber and serious and I believe most of the riders took it that way.
Sunday was more tech check and odo check for those who hadn't completed this task on Saturday.  After filling up the main and aux fuel tanks, I mostly just hung out and watched the proceedings.  Walking past all the bikes, looking at farkles, kicking tires, telling lies and feeling the nervous tension build.
That evening was the start banquet and riders meeting. 
Here I am with Wendy Crockett at the start banquet.  Wow, we look so fresh and eager.  I think this was the last time I looked so fresh during the entire rally!

We enjoyed a nice meal but I know most of us were anticipating getting our rally packs.  I was delighted, no thrilled, when Mike Kneebone announced the ride would be a 48 state plus format.  Whoohoo!!!!!  I was pretty sure I could manage a 48 state ride.  As other reports have stated, the minimum to finish was a receipt from each of the lower 48 states.  Additional bonus points could be gathered by taking a photograph of a state capital, hitting all four corners of the lower 48, snagging Hyder, AK, rest bonii and call-in bonii.  Rally packs were handed out and again I was delighted at the pack.  A beautifully bound "Passport" that had a page for each state and places to write in the mileage and date of the bonus you were claiming.  Nice...
When my name was called and I received my rally pack, it hit me....I was really going to ride the Iron Butt Rally.  Yup, little old me, all by myself.  Yup, that's a BIG DEAL!  Following the meeting, I hurried to my room to begin planning.  I'd had the foresight to bring paper maps and that was really helpful to me.  I plotted my route basically on the paper map first then loaded the GPS with the places I wanted to go for receipts or capital photos.  It only took a few hours to get the first leg planned.  I decided to not plan the entire ride and overwhelm myself so I was satisfied and ready for bed.  Of course, I was pretty wound up and sleep wasn't going to be easy.  After all, tomorrow at 10:00 would be the official start.  YIKES!!!!
Monday morning dawned and I was up and ready to go long before I needed to be.  I made last minute preparations such as filling my hydration bottle, stashing tank bag food and checking over all the gear and bike one more time.  The parking lot was full of riders and spectators and the tension was palpable.
The tech inspection folks made a last sweep of all the bikes and wrote down starting mileage and gave us a sticker to prove we'd been through the last check before start.
 Here you can see Warchild making a final walk-through.

Here is a fantastic Steven Hobart photo of riders and bikes minutes before the start.

 A final kiss goodbye with a good luck, have fun and be safe thrown in!
Warchild preparing to do his thing.  A very brief rider's meeting was held in the parking lot where Dale reminded us to be smart, be safe and come home.  Just look at that face!  If you've never had the opportunity of a Warchild start, you don't know what you're missing.  He focuses those beady black eyes directly on you, points a forefinger at you and waves you out authoritatively with the other hand.  You had better be ready to move and move quickly or he'll stop you and make you last to leave.  People quake in fear of this moment!  I was no exception.
John Young on his Triumph was the first to leave the parking lot.  John and I would play leap-frog a number of times during the rally.

Only a dozen or so bikes had left the start when I was given the go by Warchild and go I did.

First a speed bump.....
This was an incredible experience.  People were cheering, clapping and calling out, "Go Cletha, Go!"  I felt like a rock star :-)
 Then a sharp right turn.  I can't really begin to describe the feelings of the start.  I was excited, focused, determined and HAPPY!
 I felt rested, well-prepared, eager and on my game.  I felt like one with the bike.

 I had a plan and knew where I was going.  I grew up in the Seattle area and knew of some shortcuts and quick roads thus missing all of the I-5 and I-405 traffic mess.
 I had my Bambi Voodoo Mascot Doll tucked in a pocket on the aux fuel cell cover.  Bambi's job is to keep critters out of my way.  It worked :-) (Thanks Joe Zulaski!)
 I was on my way.  I had just started the 2011 Iron Butt Rally.  Wow!  I decided to not attempt Hyder or the Four Corners.  My goal was to finish and collect whatever additional bonii I could along the way.  Finishing was my target.  If time allowed, I would gather a state capital.  I also determined to get all the freebie bonii such as rest breaks and phone ins.

I headed south on I-15 to State Hiway 18 that flows directly into I-90 which I picked up and headed east.  Moving along nicely I was surprised at the sudden stop on the freeway.  Heck, only an hour or so into my IBR and I'm delayed.  Imagine my surprise when fellow rider John Young pulls up beside me and asks if its okay to split lanes.  I said no, only in California.  He asked what the fine was and I replied that I really didn't know but didn't want to find out either.  He just laughed and said if he got stopped he would plead ignorance and lay on the British accent and he tootled away, splitting lanes.   Hahahahahaha.  I was amazed and amused.  Good for John.  Me, being the obedient thing I am, stuck it out until the traffic cleared the road construction zone.  John got a head start on me but I had a feeling I'd be seeing more of him.

I rode across Washington and into Oregon for a fuel receipt at Umatilla where I spy Steve Aikens but don't have time to visit.  Turn around, cross the bridge back over the Columbia River and hop on Hiway 395 to I-90 and through Spokane.  Just shy of the Idaho border, I grab a Washington state receipt.  Sticking to I-90 I rode through Idaho, stopping again for a receipt and into Montana.  My goal for the first night was Helena, the state capital of Montana.

Everything was going fine except it was starting to get dark.  The weather had been fine, a bit cool but I had my electric jacket on so I was comfortable.  I followed Dave McQueeny for about 100 miles.  What are the chances of that happening?  But, I needed fuel and that was the last time I saw him.  Side note - I had to stop twice to clean the bugs off my visor, windscreen and headlight.  The bugs were unbelievable!  Yippee for Plexus.  It was long after dark by the time I got to the Hiway 12 turn-off to Helena.  I'm deer and critter paranoid and I thought to myself, here I am in the middle of Montana, known for its big critter population, it's pitch black and I still have 90 miles to go.....aarrgghhhh.  But I pushed on.  I had only planned about 650 miles for the first day since we didn't start until 10am.  I wanted to have a fairly regular schedule and planned on a motel by 11 or 12 every night.

I pulled into Helena but was too tired to find the capital.  However, I could score capital points if it was after dark and I simply got a receipt.  I found a motel and walked over to the Albertson's grocery across the street, got my receipt and high tailed it back to the motel for a nice warm bed.  While I was collecting my receipt, Greg and Pat Blewett pulled up in the motel parking lot on their Gold Wing.  Nice!  I wasn't completely off track if another rider was showing up at the same place.  Little did I know, but they had scored both Washington and Oregon capitals before showing up in Helena!

I felt fairly good about my first day on the IBR.  I'd collected receipts from Washington, Oregon, Idaho and a capital receipt in Montana.  But, I'd only gone about 650 miles.  I knew I'd have to get up early and scoot on.  I got up the next morning feeling fresh and ready to go.  The Blewett's were packing up about the same time as I.  I headed off on I-15 to pick up I-90 east again.  Montana is a BIG BIG state.  It seemed to go on forever.  I made a stop about 10 am for some coffee and a break.  Turned out that I did this almost every day.  I'd get up early, slam a coffee and head out only to get sleepy about 10 or 11 and need a break.  I learned to listen to my body and took the needed break.

Somewhere in the long stretch of Eastern Montana, I stopped at a rest-stop for a sorely needed break.  As I was puttering around, stretching, eating, smoking, another IBR rider pulled up and ran for the restroom.  You can spot an IBR rider almost a mile away.  When he came back out we introduced ourselves and I was pleased to meet Wallace French!  What a treat to meet another IBR rider.  This is a solitary event and every time I met up with another rider was a highlight in my day.  Thanks, Wallace!

At Billings, Montana I stayed on I-90 to Wyoming.  As soon as I crossed the Wyoming border, I began looking for a place to get a receipt.  I passed numerous IBR riders going the other way so I knew they had the same plan as I did, just dip in and back out of Wyoming.  When I came to the first opportunity for a receipt, I pulled in, gassed up and had to go inside for a receipt.  As I approached the counter, the woman was already holding the receipt out for me.  I laughed and asked her if a few other riders had been through.  She laughed and said yes and she knew by the look of my bike and gear that I would want one too!  Sweet :-)  That was quick.  Back on the bike and return to Montana to catch I-94 east to North Dakota.

I entered North Dakota with a goal of Bismarck, the capital.  Shortly after entering North Dakota, it started to rain.  I donned my Frogg Toggs and chugged on.  I was happy about purchasing the waterproof gloves in Fife, WA.  They worked. They still work.  I love them :-)  I finally arrived at Bismarck after dark.  It was raining and everything was flooded.  I wanted to get a room there but was told all the rooms were taken by flood victims.  Nice...not.  I grabbed a Bismarck capital receipt and headed east on I-94 in the rain.  Wait, it got worse.  It was pitch black, the roads were flooded, the wind was whipping and it was flipping freezing.  Are we having fun yet?  The next available lodging might be in Jamestown or might not be, about 100 miles.  After a miserable ride, (you know, the kind of ride you have to crack your visor to see and the wind drives the rain into your helmet and hurts like hell? still can't see and semi's are blowing spray all over you and it's pitch black and there is no place to stop? - Yea - that kind of miserable).  I pulled into Jamestown around midnight - still raining.  No rooms to be had except in a flea bag motel.  Fine.  I rode to the flea bag and got a room.  Yes, it was truly a flea bag.  Ick......but it was dry and warm.  Note I didn't say clean.  I have to laugh, the towels in the bathroom were like used Goodwill kitchen towels, all mis-matched.  Oh well, I had a room.  And, the manager let me park in a non-space right in front of my room.  Thanks!  Later I found out that Brian Bray stayed at the same motel and he thought it was a crack house motel. Yup, that bad.  I also learned that Kirsten Talken-Spaulding stayed at the first hotel I stopped at.  She ended up sleeping on a sofa in the lobby.  The good thing about the stop in Jamestown, I got my freebie rest bonus.  Full points for 4 or more hours of rest.

Up before dawn and ready to roll.  Still raining.  On with the gear and on the bike.  Off to Minnesota!  Sticking to I-94 heading east I roll through North Dakota where it rains cats and dogs the entire time and enter Minnesota.  Yippee! Another state.  Slogging along I finally get to St. Paul but forgo the state capital. I'm a bit behind schedule and need to make up some miles.  I grab a receipt for gas, make my call in bonus and head on toward Wisconsin.  About a mile into Wisconsin, I make a stop at McDonald's for food and a receipt and spy Brian Bray.  I also spotted Steve Aikens at the gas station next door.  At this point the weather had cleared up and the sun was shining.  I shucked some clothes and headed back to Minnesota.  Through St. Paul for a second time and still not copping the capital, I headed south on I-35 to South Dakota.

Of course the rain started again.  Heavy rain with some nice bits of hail thrown in.  Oh yes, some thunder and lightening as well.  I also had some pretty strong side winds blowing me all over the road.  Great weather, I was getting wet.  Hey, my hands stayed dry and so did I for the most part.  I was a bit smarter today and put the pin-lock visor on so I could see and not fog up.  My gear worked.  My bike though, was not so lucky.  The GS has very little weather protection, especially compared to a Gold Wing.  I think it was somewhere in South Dakota that my electronics gave it up.  My XM radio just simply quit working.  Next to go was the audio for the GPS.  Silence in the helmet.  Hmmmmm.  I totally love my music when riding and now I had none.  And, even worse, I had no voice instructions on the GPS.  Damn.

The weather in South Dakota was intense.  I was determined to not let the weather slow me down.  Last year on the 10n10, I let the weather dictate my moves.  That was NOT going to happen on this ride.  I just pushed through.  I grabbed a receipt in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and kept on heading south on I-29 where I grabbed a receipt for Iowa and aimed toward Nebraska. The ride down I-29 was fraught with flood issues.  You just couldn't get there from here.  A very long detour ate up too much time.  I stopped at a Subway for a sandwich and spied Tom Loftus fueling his bike.  I stayed on the Interstate as long as possible but at some point it was simply closed.  The flooding was incredible.  Wow, everything was underwater. I finally got to Lincoln, NE after dark but no rain.  I stopped here for the night.  Coming into Lincoln, I leap frogged another IBR rider until I got close to the airport where I spied motel signs.  I signaled to exit as did the other rider.  We both took the exit and then rode to the motel row.  I stopped at a lovely Motel 6 but I think that rider chose a nicer motel as I didn't see them again.  I got a capital receipt, checked in and went to bed.  I'm sure it was around midnight as that seemed to be the routine.

Up early again, hey,no surprise, I'm riding the IBR after all.  I think I rode 8 days back to back of over 1,000 plus miles.  I really picked it up from the first day of 650 miles.  So, from Lincoln, NE I headed toward Topeka, KS and scored the capital.  From there it was Kansas City, MO.  LOL.  As I rode into Kansas City, I made a wrong turn and ended up in the center of the Events Center. Heck..  Not where I want to be.... Remember, the GPS is now silent.  I finally figured out a way to get out of that mess and back on the freeway.  Whew.  Back on I-70, I headed east across Misery.   Oops, that should have been Missouri.

Of course, my plan was to head to Jefferson City for the capital, but Mother Nature with all her flooding said NO.  I wended my way through  St. Louis, got my receipt, and then headed toward Illinois. But.....not without drama.  Damn, I was on the freeway going through Missouri when I was stopped by road construction.  Waiting for things to move on, a trucker hollered out the window that my chain was looking loose.

Hmmmm....Damn.... I stopped at the next exit at a McDonald's.    Took a look at my chain and called my sweetie while wondering if this was to be my last stop on the IBR.  Between the two of us, we found a dealer about ten miles away....Lincoln MotorSports.  I gave them a call and told them my situation.  I wrote down the directions and took off as smooth as I could.  I had to ride about 10  miles or so out of my way, nervous every second, hoping to get to the dealer safely, chain slapping the center stand every bit of the way.  I managed to find the place and pulled up to the garage door.  They were ready for me!  They were curious as to what I was doing and did I really ride from Utah?  Alone?  Uh, no, I rode from Seattle :-)   I gave them a brief overview of the IBR and suggested they check out the website.  They treated me like a rock star!!  The bike was put on a jack and the chain was adjusted in about 5 minutes.  Just long enough for me to get a potty break.  I was back in the IBR!  I was elated!  Thank you guys at Lincoln MotorSports - they are awesome.  I was given a Lincoln MotorSports ball cap and a hearty good luck as I departed the dealership and pointed the bike toward Illinois where I scored a state receipt.

Pushing on I rode I-64 to grab an Indiana state receipt.  Just as it was reaching dusk I spied my first forest rat on the side of the road.  Oh ick!  That  got my nerves on end.  I was starting to feel tired and still had quite a ways to go before I felt I could stop for the night.  Somewhere in Indiana I stopped for fuel and a coffee.  I asked the clerk what time it was and he said almost midnight.  What???  I then asked what time zone I was in.  Heck, Eastern.  I'd just lost an hour and I still wanted to get to Frankfort, Kentucky for the capital before calling it quits for the day.  I cut my break short and slogged along I-64 toward Frankfort.  It was pitch dark and I was still spooked by possible critter encounters.  No music, no audio on the GPS.  I talked to God a lot.  I talked to myself a lot.

I made it to Louisville and decided I didn't have time to get the capital at Frankfort.  I rode into a convenience store/gas station in downtown Louisville.  Upon parking the bike, I noticed two bicycle cops with a man handcuffed and sitting on the curb.  Nice.....I needed a break so I grabbed a coffee and pondered my next move.  I was getting tired but wasn't in the best place to stop for the night.  So, back on the Interstate north on I-71 to Cincinnati, in the rain again.  My plan was to get a motel on the outskirts of the city but that wasn't in the cards.  No motels.....I rode through the city to the other side when I realized I was dead tired and simply had to stop.  I took an exit with a gas station and store at the top.  I filled up the bike and got my receipt for Ohio.  I was standing outside the store having a banana and coffee thinking I'd be okay after a bit of a rest.  It was about 2 am or so.  Lucky me, a drunk man started staggering and lurching toward me.  I just turned my back.  He passed me and turned around, looking at my bike while staggering.  Good Lord, no thanks, make him go away.  I didn't want him near me or my bike.  I ignored him and futzed about the bike.  He walked away.  Good.  Damn, then he came back.  This happened three times.  The third time he approached me I dug my whistle from the chain around my neck and held it up to my mouth.  His eyes popped and he staggered off.  This is the first time I felt threatened in anyway and I didn't like it.  I'm glad I have the whistle.  It was effective without even blowing it.

By now, I realize there is no way I can ride the bike any further, I'm thoroughly exhausted.  Fortunately, there was a motel right behind the store and I got a room.  I'm pretty sure I was sound asleep the second my head touched the pillow.  I managed to get up just before dawn and on the Interstate heading north.  Originally I was going to score Columbus, Ohio for the capital but I was behind schedule and was fretting about missing the checkpoint in Buffalo. So, I rode up I-75 with Michigan as the goal.  Oh, it was raining again!  Nothing but a long slog in the rain for this portion of the ride.  As soon as I crossed the state line, I looked for an opportunity to grab a Michigan receipt and turn around.  Back south until I hit I-80 where I turned the bike east.  It was pouring as I entered Cleveland.  Traffic was thick through the city and the road surface was lousy.  A few pucker moments and then thankfully, I was on I-90 eastbound for Pennsylvania.  Just before crossing the state line, I spied John Young parked under an overpass working on his bike in the rain.

Yes, more rain.  And road construction.  I was getting worried about making the checkpoint in a timely manner and the long delays of stopped traffic on the Interstate just compounded by worries.  I spied a couple of bikes lane splitting so I fell in behind them.  We got to the front of the line :-)  My first time lane splitting - it made me laugh out loud.  Good thing there were no cops around.  I realized later that I was riding with Rusty Bachman, a Utah 1088 rallyist who was headed to the IBR checkpoint!  I grabbed a New York state receipt prior to arriving at the checkpoint.

Finally, there was the checkpoint hotel and I was so grateful to get there on time.  As I entered the hotel to find the check-in, Lisa Landry ran up to me and said something to the effect of "You're okay, thank goodness!  You need to call Eric."  Hummm?  What's up with that.   Of course I was okay.  Apparently, somewhere in Ohio I had stopped for a break in Lima and being used to the Gen I Spot, I pushed the button to send an okay message and then pressed the track again when I left.  Well, the Gen II doesn't work that way and I had stopped my tracking.  Everyone thought I was broke down or worse in Lima, Ohio.  My bad!  I called my sweetie and told him what had happened and that I was okay at the checkpoint.  But......we need to sort the chain issue pronto.  Eric had arranged a new chain and folks to help me at the Jacksonville checkpoint.  I thought I could make it.  I had been lubing the chain regularly and it seemed to be holding up after the adjustment in Missouri.

So, with calls made, I went inside to get scored.  Everything went smooth and I got all the bonus points including the call in and rest bonii.  However, I lost 50 points because I had changed camera batteries and it automatically resets to a default resolution and I didn't change it to the required resolution.  Lesson learned.  That did not happen again!

I was elated, I had completed the first leg and got all the required states and a few extra bonus points to boot.  Yeah baby, I was a happy camper.  The IBR staff had arranged food for us so I took advantage.

At the New York checkpoint - scarfing a banana.

A few reflections of the first leg...I quickly learned I had to ride harder and smarter.  I needed to stay alert, smart and safe.  I needed to make wise decisions.  This pretty much became my mantra for the entire IBR - Be Alert, Be Smart, Be Safe.  I paid attention to my fatigue alerts and stopped when I needed to.  I was ultra-cautious about traffic and had my defense system on high alert.  Riding a bike for 17-20 hours a day, for day after day after day, in a lot of serious bad weather takes its toll and I acknowledged this.

It wasn't all slog and rain.  I stopped at a rest stop somewhere.......and had a fellow run up to me and exclaim, "I know what you're doing, I know what you're doing, ride safe!!!!  I'm watching this online and it is soooooo cool.  Damn, I just met an IBR rider!"  That was a huge pick-me-up moment.  What good fun.  At another rest stop somewhere......I chatted with an aging hippie who was driving a tie dyed VW van wreck.  I later learned the Blewett's encountered the same character at the same rest stop.  Yeah...there were many good times!

We received our Leg 2 bonus sheets at 4:00 am on June 25.  I spent just over an hour mapping a route (on a paper map), loaded up the bike and took off just as the sun was coming up.  Of course, it started to rain!  I pulled over at a truck stop to don the rain gear and saw fellow riders Nancy Oswald and Bob Joers.  I left the truck stop and a few miles later it really began to pour.  I passed a parked LD bike on the freeway and spied it's rider off the road about 50 yards standing under a tree, waiting for a break in the rain.  Yes, it was raining that hard but I was determined to not let the weather stop me so on I went.

My first stop was Albany, New York's capital.  Wet cobblestone street on a slope - ick - took me forever to get parked and snap the required photo.  There must have been a half dozen other riders doing the same thing.  Photo done and off to Vermont.  What a beautiful ride.  The rain finally quit and the views were incredible.  I'd never been to the NE except Boston on business.  This was fantastic.  I ended up taking a back road around Lake Champlain.  Unfortunately, the bridge was out and I had to ride a few more miles out of the way only to get on a free ferry across the lake.  Oh bliss.....beautiful weather and I'm crossing Lake Champlain with my trusty F650GS on a ferry.  Oh man, this is what I'm talkin' about.

I pulled up to the capital in Montpelier and got my photo.  I kept passing another IRB rider, each of us going in opposite directions, several times in this area.  I have no idea who it was but it was nice to see him! Then it was off to New Hampshire for the capital at Concord.  The weather remained decent but all the "Watch for Moose" and "Moose Kill" signs made me a bit nervous.  Buzzing along I rode up to the capital and snapped the requisite photo.  I think it was here that I ran into Kirsten Talken-Spaulding and she made the comment, "Why am I not surprised to see you here?"  Hahahah, I had seen her in Albany and now in Concord.  Little did she know that she was riding circles around me.  It struck me as a very funny moment.

Next on the agenda was Maine.  I really wanted to get the capital but too much time had passed so it was a quick in and out for a state receipt at a gas stop.  Back on the highway I aimed the bike toward Massachusetts. Easy score of a gas receipt and on to Rhode Island.  I actually went to Providence, the capital but missed the picture and receipt.  It was late and dark and this is where I had the worst traffic ever!  Guess it was Saturday night party time as the drivers were crazy, speeding, changing lanes with no signals, cutting people off.....Horrible and it stressed me.  I couldn't wait to get out of there so simply blew off the capital bonus.  Once out of Providence I grabbed a Rhode Island gas receipt and headed toward Connecticut.  I was terrified I would miss one of these small states.  Hey, I'm from the West where the states are BIG and you can't miss them.  Here, in the North East, well the states are much smaller.  I was keeping my eyes open and I managed to get them all.  I stopped in Connecticut sometime after mid-night.  I considered going through Manhattan that night, but thought maybe not a wise thing to do.  I'm tired, it's late and the drunks are out on a Saturday night.  Got a motel and called it quits for the day.

The next morning, I was up early and on the road.  I was pretty paranoid about going through Manhattan on the bike.  I've been to Manhattan many times and love the city.  I just don't like the idea of riding my bike through it!  Oh, easy peasy.  No traffic to speak of at that hour and the weather was cooperating.  What a confidence builder.  Before I knew it, I was on the New Jersey turnpike and before I knew it, my chain was slapping the center stand of the bike.  Oh My God!  There is absolutely no place to pull over, no shoulder, nadda.  I was certain I was going to die, my chain would catch on the center stand and break and throw me off the bike into traffic.  Yup, this was it.  I managed to limp into a service center, the only pull-offs from the turnpike.

I parked about mid-way between the car park and the trucker parking and surveyed my situation.  I wasn't going another foot on that bike with the chain in that condition.  It was soooo stretched.  Heck.  I called my honey in somewhat of a panic and told him the situation.  I knew I had a chain waiting for me in Jacksonville, but I was in New Jersey.  I didn't have the correct tools with me to tighten the chain myself.  Yes, that was dumb.  But, it was what it was.  It was also Sunday and all the dealers were closed.  Most of them are closed on Monday, too.  So, there I am in the parking lot thinking my IBR is over.  I'm as far away from home as I can get and I'm alone and my bike isn't going anywhere.  WTF am I going to do?

As I pondered my options and after calling everyone I knew in the area for help to no avail, I decided to chance it and ask strangers for help.  So, I waited patiently next to my bike for a likely subject.  And then I spied him.  Walking across the parking lot toward the trucks was an enormous black man.  Me, being who I am, just pointed at him and said "Dude, yeah, you Dude! " Man, was he surprised! He stopped and looked at me and I then said, "Do you have a big old wrench that will fit this nut?"  He walked over to the bike, he must have been 8 feet tall and built like a wrestler.  Yikes!!!!  I told him my dilemma and he told me he might have the right wrench and would be back in a bit.  Okay, maybe......I waited what seemed like a long time and he didn't return so I started scoping out other victims.  No love.  I asked several people but nobody had the correct wrench.

About that time, the big black dude comes across the parking lot pushing a dolly with a box full of tools.  Oh boy!!! Maybe????  I explain to him what I'm doing, the IBR, and that my ride is over if I can't get the chain fixed enough to get me to Jacksonville.  He introduced himself to me as AJ, who drives for Allied.  Turns out AJ was a dirt biker and knew all about chains.  Hahahahaha!!!  Thank you God.  We had the bike on the center stand in no time and AJ had my loose chain adjusted in about 5 minutes.  Hallelujah!!!!

While AJ and I were working on the bike, I told him that I was was praying a lot as I rode down the turnpike.  I was terrified that I would have a horrible experience and I just kept praying to get to a safe place.  And....not only do I get to a safe place but here my angel AJ shows up to help me back on the road.  AJ then told me that the night before, God told him to stop at this service center and spend the night.  He was supposed to be here.  Think what you will but this was a true experience.  I gave AJ a huge hug and then shook his hand as I slipped him a hundy.  He was shocked as sh*t as he totally did not expect any payment.  He was a true gentleman and helped a lady in distress.  He was my angel that day.  Thank you AJ!!!!!  You saved my IBR!!!!

Within minutes, after grabbing a New Jersey receipt, I was back on the turnpike and headed toward Delaware.  Now, remember, all my audio is out, I'm on the east coast and haven't a clue where I'm going.  I scored a Delaware receipt at another service center on the freeway and moved on toward Maryland.  Got a gas receipt at a sketchy gas station in Maryland and figured West Virginia would be the next stop.  This meant I had to get off the freeway and figure it out.  I took a two laner and stopped at a gas station, thinking I'm in West Virgina.  Got a receipt and realized I was in Virginia!  So, I asked the attendant how far to West Virginia and she said about two miles down the road.  Off I went, got my West Virgina receipt and headed back toward the freeway.  I ended up riding a significant amount of miles on two laners but it was absolutely beautiful.  The sun was shining and every bike in the Virginia's was out for a ride that Sunday.  Although I went right by Richmond, the capital of Virginia, I opted to skip it.  It didn't have big points and I'd lost time in New Jersey with the chain issue.  I just wanted to make progress to Jacksonville at this point.

Following my paper map, I got back on I-95 south and felt such elation as I crossed the state border into North Carolina.  Whoopee!  Another state.  I just grabbed a receipt, made my call in bonus and kept it headed south toward South Carolina.  Skipped Raleigh thinking I might get Columbia.  Not going to happen.  I finally reached South Carolina and realized it was time to stop.  I found a nice Day's Inn and crashed for the night.

The next morning I grabbed my South Carolina receipt and pointed south again on I-95 toward Georgia.  It is the most glorious feeling to see a state border sign.  Another milepost, another goal, another step closer to the checkpoint.  Things are going well for me.  My chain is holding up, I'm lubing it regularly and the checkpoint is in sight.  I might just make it!  There's the Georgia state line.  I grab a receipt and head toward the checkpoint.  Yes, yes, yes.....I might just make it. 

I believe it was right around here that I stopped at a roadside rest stop and who should I find?  The Fremder's, Carol and Jeff were stopped having a coffee and a rest.  We chatted a bit.  It was awesome to run into them.  I hadn't seen another rider since Connecticut.

Next state sign was Florida.  Hooray.  Checkpoint in sight!

I got a bit turned around in Jacksonville and it took longer than it should have to get to the hotel but I had plenty of time before penalties accrued.  The only GPS info was written and in the busy traffic on the freeway, well, it wasn't always easy to push the button and read the instructions.  But I made it.....I actually stopped and had a real restaurant meal.  I stopped at a Denny's and had breakfast.  The whole nine yards.  I probably stunk and I knew I was rather gross.  People stared and little kids hid but I was happy to have real food.  I haven't mentioned food much because I didn't eat much.  Lots of tank bag food, granola bars, chicken jerky, pretzel and cheese snacks.  Some candy.  A donut and a banana here and there.  Not great food at all.  So the Denny's breakfast was marvelous!

As I finally pulled into the Jacksonville checkpoint, my chain was slapping the center stand again and I was again terrified that I'd have a horrific accident before I could get it parked.  God was with me again as I pulled into the parking lot of the hotel.  Yes!!!! I made it.
First available parking spot had my name all over it.  You can see the rust and dust on the wheel from the chain.  Yes, I'd been lubing it daily but all the rain and stress....well...the chain wasn't up to it and now it was truly dead.  No more adjustment space left.

Eric had made arrangements for Jim Boone to bring me a new chain and breaker tool.  Fortunately, Jon Kohler and some other folks who were chain savvy were there as well to give me a hand.  I had to stand by my bike during repairs as per IBR rules.  These folks are absolutely the best ever.  They just jumped in and got the job done.  A huge big Thanks to Jim, Jon and everyone else who helped me.
Jon Kohler wrenching on the bike, feeding the chain through.  Fortunately, my sprockets were in great shape.  Just the chain had stretched beyond belief!
Here I am pondering the situation.

My astonished and anguished look when I realized how bad that chain was and that I made it safely to Jacksonville.  I'm lucky that nothing serious happened.  Lesson learned and learned well.  Thank you Bruce!
Here I am reading the specs to Jon as to tension on the chain.

We finally got the chain issue sorted out, I grabbed some food provided by the IBR staff and took a stroll around the parking lot to chill out.  As I walked along I encountered another IBR rider who expressed his sympathy for my loss.  What????  OMG, he had no idea that I didn't know.  He was saddened to be the one to tell me of Ken Morton's accident on the Utah 1088 somewhere in North Dakota.  I was stunned...."No, no, no", I said.  "You're messing with me."  Well, upon reflection, of course nobody would give this kind of news as a joke.  It must be true.  I could not believe it.  I did not want to believe it.  When I began LD riding and especially Rallying, Ken was a huge mentor of mine.  He was my champion.  He encouraged me and gave me tons of advice and support.   No, no, no.  But unfortunately, it was confirmed and my dear champion, Ken, was gone.  I'd missed him by minutes in Buffalo.  He sat with me at the start banquet.  Damn.......I began to question my IBR ride.

Even more devastating was the fact that Eric was Ken's room mate during the Utah 1088.  I was bombarding Eric with cries for help with my chain while he was dealing with Ken's death.  My chain was nothing, Ken was everything.  Thank you Eric.  I'm so very sorry you had all of this to handle.  You are my world.

Then I realized, that Ken died doing what he loved and, yes he will be and is sorely missed, but he would want us crazy LD riders to continue doing what we do.  So I determined to finish this ride for me and for Ken.  I went to bed, confused, upset and not sure what the next day would bring.
Finally, I get to put the bike to bed and me as well.  Prior to fixing the chain, I had gone through scoring, getting all my states and call in bonus as well as a few capitals.  Leg 2 was good for me!  I also had the opportunity to help out fellow IBR rider, Ms. Kitty, Nancy Oswald.  I passed her in the courtyard and she had a sliver in her finger.  She had a pair of tweezers but couldn't get the offending bit out.  I grabbed the tweezers, turned her finger in the sunlight and plucked out that little irritating bastard piece of whatever to give her some needed relief.  Yeah, a good Samaritan gesture on my part.  That helped my sad mood.

Bonus points for Leg 3 were handed out at 10 pm.  I got my pack and went back to the room where I spent about an hour or more plotting the final leg to Ontario, CA.  I went to bed and slept well.  I was up fairly early, but noticed most of the riders had already left.  Oh well.  I packed up the bike and left the hotel just before sunrise.  I was headed to Tallahassee, Florida's state capital.  I had a new chain and felt confident as I left the checkpoint.  It was an easy ride to Tallahassee and I exited the freeway onto surface streets toward the capital.  When I got there, I could not find a place to park and ended up turning into an "Employee Only" parking area with a guard.  I told the guard what I was up to and asked where I could park.   He was so kind and suggested I park a few feet from his guard shack, get my picture and come back to collect the bike.  Nice!  About the time I finally got turned around and parked, guess who shows up?  Yup, Ms. Kitty.  So I told her to park next to me and off we went for our photo op.

While walking toward the capital, I asked Nancy why she was there so late as I knew she had left the checkpoint at least an hour before I had.  She said that as she was riding along, she spied a field full of deer and decided to stop at a truck stop until daylight - that risking a deer strike was not worth the extra hour or so.  I think she made the right decision, knowing that she had close moose encounters on the previous leg.  We got our photos and Nancy was on her bike and gone before I had my helmet on!

Heading west, I continued on Interstate 10 toward Alabama.  There was no way I was going to get the capital of Montgomery.  I just stayed on I-10, grabbed an Alabama receipt and continued west toward Mississippi.  I scored my Mississippi receipt and headed toward Louisiana.  Somehow I made an error and ended up going through New Orleans instead of taking I-12 which would by-pass the Big Easy.  Rut Roh...never was a beautiful mistake.  Yes, hot and humid at this point but dang, I got to ride through the bayous!  What a great ride.  Too bad it took a bit of time.  I didn't get to Baton Rouge, the capital, but ended up turning north on I-55 heading toward Mississippi again.

I had to stop here and get a bag of ice.  It was HOT and HUMID and I was HOT.  I bought a bag of ice and filled two baggies full and stuck them in my pants pockets.  After I filled my hydration bottle with ice, I stuck the rest of the bag down the front of my shirt.  Bliss......Back on the highway.  Not too long after this stop, I spied Greg Barrett and Chis Ogden taking another route.  Oh No! I thought, they are going the wrong way.  Yikes.  Turns out, they cut off about 1/2 hour of my route and got to the next place ahead of me.  Yes, the GPS with no audio wasn't helping much.  Oh well, no worry, I was on the right path.

I was moving along nicely, traffic was decent and although it was hot and humid, the ice check made a big difference.  I stopped at a freeway rest stop somewhere in Mississippi and chatted with a rider who was not on the IBR but was kitted out for LD riding.  As we chatted, the clouds began to gather and I knew a rain storm was in my plan.  Did I put on my rain gear?  No.  I thought it would just be a summer shower and I could ride through it.  Well, yes, I rode through it but damn, did I get wet.  It was a huge downpour and hit sideways with the wind.  My left boot filled with water to the point of several inches of water in the boot.  Nice.  I finally rode through the squall and arrived at Jackson, the capital of Mississippi.  I found a parking place and walked up to the capital with my boots squishing water.  I asked a woman to take my picture and that was a fiasco.  My camera is not difficult to operate but she had a heck of a time.  I should have just set the timer or put my flag out and taken the picture myself.  That took way too much time.  As I was leaving, another IBR rider was just arriving.
Leaving Jackson at rush hour was an interesting experience.  I managed to get myself back to the Interstate and headed north on I-55 toward Memphis, Tennessee.  I don't remember where I stopped for the night, but it was before Memphis.  When I entered the hotel lobby, there was a young college gal at the front desk.  As I checked in she asked if I was afraid traveling by myself, especially on a motorcycle.  I laughed and said, "Just look at me, I'm wet, tired, dirty and I stink.  I don't think anyone is going to bother me!"  I think she got my point.   I was soaked from the rainstorm in Mississippi and  I dried out my boots as best I could with a towel and the hotel hair dryer.  I placed them upside down on the heater and hoped for the best.  My feet were not happy - they were wrinkled and wet.  This is one time I questioned what in the heck I was doing.  I was tired, hungry, stinky, sore....but damn, I was only days from finishing the IBR.  Oh yes, that kept me going.

Early the next morning, I made my way to Memphis.  It was a really short shot through Tennessee so I was keeping my eye out for an exit so I could get my state receipt.  I took an exit and found a service station with a convenience store.  Woohoo.  I needed gas, coffee and food.  I gassed up the GS and parked in front of the store.  Went in, grabbed a coffee and a donut and went out to the bike to enjoy my breakfast.  Hmmmm....a few sips, a few bites and I began to look around.  Perhaps this was not the best place to stop.  West Memphis is, well, a slum.  My bad.  I threw the coffee into the trash can along with my half eaten donut and got on the bike.   All the while, interesting characters watching me and making me feel uncomfortable.  Heck, I was hungry and wanted that coffee and donut.  Oh well, back on the Interstate toward Arkansas.

Yup, I rode right by Little Rock and didn't stop for a photo but instead, kept slogging toward Oklahoma.  It really began to heat up as I entered Oklahoma.  By the time I got to Oklahoma City I think it was 119 and road construction slowed traffic down to a crawl.    I-40 was a sweltering bed of hot asphalt.  I kept an eye on my bike's temperature gauge fearing it would overheat.  Traffic finally got moving smoothly and I slogged along toward Texas.  I knew I was getting fatigued because I made several small errors.  I had stopped for fuel and forgot to put my earplugs in.  So, I took the next exit and put in the earplugs but forgot something else.  I knew I needed a real rest stop so as soon as I spied a convenience store, I pulled in.  I needed ice in my jacket and in my water bottle and I simply needed to stop, cool down, eat something, rest.  As I pulled into the parking lot I spied a familiar white Goldwing.  Hey, it was my buddy, Dennis Powell!  I sat at the Subway with Dennis for about 1/2 hour, resting and cooling down.  It was scorching hot, wicked hot, kick-my-butt hot. Butt...I wasn't near my goal for the day and it was still light out.  Back on the bike with my jacket full of ice I hopped on I-40 thinking I might stop in Amarillo for the night.

Nope, flew past Amarillo and took a quick break at a rest stop just after crossing the New Mexico border.  Whoopee!  Another state closer to my goal.  I was getting fatigued yet again.  The heat really took its toll on me.  I looked for a room in Tucumcari but no love so I pressed on after a lengthy rest stop at a gas station/convenience store.  I rolled into Santa Rosa after mid-night and got a room at the Best Western.  Hey, I was exhausted and felt I deserved a step up from the Motel 6.  Imagine my surprise when I went into the room to find a visitor there already.  YIKES!  A scorpion in the middle of the carpet!!!!! Whomp!!! I stomped that bastard quick as a blink of an eye.  Then, just to make sure, I moved my foot back and forth and stomped again.  Yup, he was dead.  I quickly got out of the stinky gear and fell into bed.  You know, it never occurred to me that he might have relatives living in the room with him.  Glad I didn't think of that until days later :-)

Feeling somewhat rested, I was up early the next morning with the intent of hitting the 4 Corners.  I stopped in Gallup, NM for gas and a coffee.  While gassing up, a drunk Native American man came up to me and started to ask for money or something.  I just pointed to my helmet and said "earplugs, I can't hear you man, please leave me alone."  He walked away but came back.  Damn, he said something that I couldn't understand so I ignored him and went about my business.  He kept getting closer and closer and I finally said very loudly, "Go away, leave me alone!"  There were several people nearby - just kind of watching what was going on.  He turned and walked away.  Good.  I finished with the gas pump and mounted the bike only to see him standing directly in my path, almost straddling the front wheel.  This is the second time I felt threatened.  I said very loudly, "Leave Me Alone and Get The FUCK Away From Me!"  Then, I picked up my whistle and put it in my mouth.  He left and I didn't actually have to blow the whistle.  Hmmmmm.....Gallup was not a welcoming place.

Off the Interstate, I headed up Hiway 491 towards Four Corners.  I had a pleasant ride, the weather was nice but not scorching like the day before.  As I neared Four Corners I could see a massive dust storm in the distance and the wind was picking up.  I arrived at the Four Corners monument the same time as Colin Goodall and we took each other's pictures and got New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah in one stop.  We left together and turned the bikes west directly into the dust storm.  The sky was black with dirt.  The wind was ferocious and I had a hell of a time keeping the bike on the road.  There were BIG ditches or drop offs on either side of the two laner and I was working hard to keep it straight.  Several miles down the road I pulled into a Native American Trading Post and took shelter.  Colin and I waited there about 2 hours but the storm didn't blow over and it didn't get better.  About this time, Jeremy Lovell pulled in to check on me.  He had spied my bike as he passed so he turned around to make sure I was okay.  What a guy!  He actually did this several times throughout the IBR.  Whenever he would see me stopped, he would pull in and make sure everything was okay.  Wow!  Thanks Jeremy.

I was getting uneasy about spending so much down time and burning daylight so we decided to make a go for it.  Back on the bike and into the bruising sandstorm.  Although I was in full gear and full-face helmet, that sand hurt.  Rocks flying in the air would hit my hands or legs.  Ouch!!!  It seemed like a million miles before we were out of the sandstorm.  But, I imagine it was only 100 or so miles.  In Flagstaff, Colin headed toward Phoenix to score a capital and I pointed west again on I-40.

Somewhere shy of Kingman, AZ I took a gas and rest stop.  I was getting tired but wanted to get Nevada before I quit for the day.  I rode to Laughlin, NV and encountered massive road construction on the main street through Laughlin.  Very slow........I got my receipt and took the back road to Needles, CA.  That was a mistake.  By now it was pitch dark and the road is very narrow and in extremely poor condition.  I had to go slow....I finally got to I-40 and had the most miserable ride of my IBR.  Heavy truck traffic, no shoulders, pitch black, potholes and rutted street surface - it sucked.  I was tired and couldn't see very well so I would just get behind a big truck and go slow.  Sometimes the trucker would get tired of me doing that and he would slow down to 40 so I would pass and try again.  There are no exits to speak of on the section of I-40 from Needles, CA to Barstow.  I really needed to stop.  Every ranch exit was full of parked semi trucks.
I finally found an exit with a gas station and motel.  Yes!  I can get a room and finish in the morning.  Well, the motel only had 6 rooms or so and they were all taken.  The gas station was doing grandstand business with all the boaters, campers and others getting a head start on the 4th of July weekend.  It was a zoo.  I filled up with gas, got a coffee and parked my bike across the street from the station, in the motel parking lot.  The coffee didn't help and I was kind of dizzy.  I really needed to rest.  I looked around but no place felt safe.  There was just too much activity and merry-making going on.  Hell, nothing until Barstow.  I hung out for almost an hour.  I called Eric and told him I wouldn't make Ontario that night but was going to Barstow for a room.  Munching, smoking, walking around.  I finally forced myself to get back on the bike with the thought of a motel in Barstow.

I repeat, the stretch of Interstate 40 between Needles and Barstow sucks rotten eggs.  Especially at night with no moon.  I actually went back and rode it in daylight and its almost as bad during the day.  Anyway, again following a semi, I crawled along the freeway toward Barstow.  Finally, I hit Interstate 15.  Whoopee!!!!  I never thought I'd be happy to slog on I-15 but I was :-)  The road immediately opened up to three lanes with nice wide shoulders!  I didn't even stop in Barstow.  I was so happy to be off I-40 and on I-15 that I just wicked it up and shot on down the highway.

I took a quick break in Hesperia for gas and considered getting a room.  But then, heck, I was only a little over 100 miles from the finish in Ontario and I'd rather face LA traffic at 2 or 3 in the morning than at rush hour.  So, back on the bike for the final push to Ontario.  I rolled into the parking lot of the Double Tree Hotel, the finish, sometime after 2 a.m. oh joy....there were folks waiting outside to cheer me in!  Wow, that was awesome!!!!  I just finished the IBR.  Yup, I did.

Grinning ear to ear, I remembered that I hadn't told Eric I was coming in to Ontario.  Ooppss!  I called him and he got out of bed and came down to the parking lot to welcome me and help me get my stuff to the room.  It was incredible to have a welcoming group.  I finally made it up to bed around 4 or so.

The next morning I woke up and realized it was daylight.  In a panic I sat up and shook Eric and said, "Shouldn't I be riding?  Where am I supposed to be today?  Shouldn't I be riding?  Oh hell, it's daylight, I gotta go.  Oh man, I'm soooo late.  Shouldn't I be riding?"  He assured me I was finished. "Finished?" I asked.  "Yes, you are finished.  You finished the IBR!  You don't have to ride anywhere today."  "You're sure?"  "Yes, Cletha, I'm sure.  You don't have to ride anywhere today."

I probably asked him five times.  It didn't seem real.  I'd just spent the past 10 days riding around the country like a maniac.  Thousand mile days, up before dawn, bed after midnight.  It didn't seem right to not get up and ride.  It's like the ride had become my job.  It was what I did.  I ride.  I ride far.  But not today.  Today I needed to get scored for the final leg.  I was pleased to not lose any points on the last leg.  I hadn't gotten any capitals in the last leg butt.....I finished.  I got all 48 states and all the freebie bonii along with a handful of state capitals in legs one and two.  I finished :-)   Bwahhahahaha. I finished!

Here I am at the finish and this smile pretty much says it all!  Well, after a good rest, shower, shampoo and real food I almost feel "normal."  Jerry White snapped this shot of me next to my bike holding the MERA Rock.

The finish was just as good as the start only different.  There were lots of folks there to cheer on the riders.  And, it was simply awesome to see my fellow IBR riders and hash over everyone's ride.  I was saddened to hear of Ken Meese's accident and that of a few others as well.  Fortunately, everyone recovered from their mishaps.
Warchild doesn't look nearly as intimidating at the finish as he did at the start.  However, Dennis York is looking pretty menacing.  Maybe he's practicing for Warchild's job.

That evening was the finish banquet.  I was still in la la land and everything seemed somewhat surreal.  Following the meal it was time for the awards.  I was thrilled when my name was called as a finisher.  I finished in 69th place.  Not the finish of my daydreams as I slogged along but the finish of reality.  A good finish.  I never imagined when I started LD riding in November 2009 that I would be a 2011 Iron Butt Rally rider much less a finisher.  I was ELATED.
The best finisher, in FIRST PLACE, Mr. Peter Behm.  Congratulations to Peter and to every rider.  We all did something fantastic and unforgettable.

I rode 9,069 miles in less than 11 days.  I rode 8 days in a row of 1,000+ miles.  I rode through rain, hail, floods, scorching heat and blinding dust storms.  I mostly rode in silence and navigated the United States with paper maps.  I met a couple of weirdos but dealt with it.  I met tons of wonderful people.  I met angels.  I learned a lot about myself.  Never once did I want to quit.  Quite the opposite, I wanted to continue, to prove to myself that I was up to the challenge.  I was never afraid but I had a lot of conversations with God.  Lisa Landry told me I would have the highest highs and the lowest lows and she was spot on.  The highs were euphoric and the lows were devastating.  I saw incredible scenery and realized I can do anything I set my mind to.

I started this report stating that I thought I had a clue. I didn't. Every rally is unique and the IBR was no exception. I encountered new and different challenges and pushed my limits further than ever before.  It was truly an experience of a lifetime.

Thank you to all the IBR staff, the IBR volunteers, the IBR riders, the IBR spectators and arm chair supporters.  Thank you to my wonderful Eric.  All of you make the Iron Butt Rally what it is, a monumental event.


  1. Great read Cletha. And Congrat's on a fantastic rally. RenoJohn

  2. WOW, amazing story. Great accomplishment.

  3. I waited a while for this, Cletha.

    It was worth the wait. Cherish the memories, and get that chain seen to :)


  4. Great write-up of a truly historic ride. Amazing feat, something to be extremely proud of.

    Thanks for letting us come along!

    What's next?

  5. Great job! Thanks for sharing :-)

    Are you riding 2013?

  6. best hid light kits come in a variation of color temperature. Color temperature is measured in Degrees Kelvin (K) which depicts the color of the light source.

  7. Great report, Cletha! very similar to our ride, we were only a little apart most of the time!


  8. That was an awesome read. :D :clap
    Thank you.