Friday, November 16, 2012

IBA International Meet With a Surprise Ending!

 As some of you may know, my little BMW F650GS died on the way to the End of Days, Zombie Apocolypse Rally in Ely, Nevada, leaving me stranded in BFE.
No, its really dead.  You know that dead smell?  Well, my bike had that going on big time.  Ended up with a tow to the Las Vegas BMW dealer where she sits today waiting for a new engine and radiator among other bits and pieces.
So.....the plan to ride our bikes to the IBA International Meet was canceled and instead we packed up the Chevy Blazer to make the run to Denver from St. George, UT.  We got about 10 miles from home when I felt and heard a thump from under the driver seat and then I heard a whirring noise.  Yikes!  I immediately pulled off the road and Eric got out to take a look.  Nope - nothing hanging down or falling off.  Hmmmmmm........

I decided to turn around and see if we could limp home.  It was totally the transmission.  Not a good month for me and motor vehicles.  We managed to get the Blazer home and tucked into the garage and headed into the house to start calling for a rental vehicle.  We scored with Budget who gave us a very nice, brand new Jeep Grand Cherokee with all the bells and whistles.  So, we moved our stuff from the Blazer to the Jeep and we were finally on our way to Denver!

As it turned out, we needed an SUV for all the stuff we took to Denver - but more on that later :-)

We had a pleasant drive to Grand Junction, CO where we planned to spend the night.  As we pulled into the El Palomino Motel we spied an FJR with a Tanji cell, aux lights and an Oregon plate.  Who could that be?  Certainly an LD Rider, he had all the appropriate license plate backers and stickers.  About this time, Eric gets on his cell phone and calls - this is how the conversation went:

Eric:  Hi Paul, you wouldn't happen to be in Grand Junction tonight are you?

Paul:  Well, as a matter of fact, yes we are.

Eric:  Staying at the El Palomino Motel?

Paul:  What the f.....(turns around and looks out his room door and waves to Eric)

So cool, it was Paul and Esther Peloquin making their way to Denver.  We had a delightful visit.  I don't know why it still surprises me, but you meet LD Riders everywhere!!!  Good fun.

The next day we pulled into the Marriott Denver Tech Center parking lot, the host hotel.  Now, we had a ton of stuff in the Jeep and didn't really want anyone to know what we had so after a brief conversation with the hotel manager, we were directed to the employee entrance to unload the car.  Worked wonderfully!

We checked in at Meeting Registration and got our swag packs complete with very cool T-Shirt, pen, pin, list of attendees, maps and meeting schedules.  Oh boy, looks like a great event.  Folks were starting to trickle in.  We arrived on Tuesday but meetings didn't start until Wednesday.  We hung out in the restaurant and bar and visited with the folks who were already there.  Greeting old friends and putting faces to names we knew.  Jolly good fun.  My grin lasted all week long!

Wednesday started with "Can You Route Like the Big Dawgs" for Eric.  Unfortunately, he didn't last long as he didn't have the maps for Basecamp loaded on the computer.  Lesson learned :-)  No problem, Lunch at MotoGear Outlet was next on the agenda and Kathy Allen rode along in the Jeep with us.  We had a lovely lunch of BBQ pork, potato salad, chips and cookies.  Thanks MotoGear.  Smart move on MotoGear's part....nice discount for IBA folks and they scored.  While I was there, I witnessed at least 4 different people purchase full Klim riding suits and other stuff as well.  Wish that stuff fit me, it's awesome and I want it bad!

Back to the hotel for more mingling and visiting.  Thursday started with a number of seminars and meetings.  I attended the Hoka Hey Winner by Will Barclay.  Very enlightening.  Will won both the 2010 and 2011 Hoka Hey rides and is a very interesting person.  His talk was candid and informative.  Many followed the Hoka Hey and we all got third or fourth or fifth hand reports.  This was straight from the winner and I was surprised.  Will entertained us with his take on LD riding - learning what most of us have already learned about hydration, staying on the bike, good rest and mind games.  To say he had a good ride is a gross understatement.  He truly had the ride of a lifetime and now has a clue about LD riding and rallies such as the 10n10 and the Iron Butt Rally.  I had a chance to visit with him a few times during the Meeting and was delighted at how open he is and that he was having fun hanging with us weirdos.

Here are some photos of Will's Hoka Hey bike.  Notice the custom saddle bags which he designed.  Very cool.

 Me with Will Barclay!  I can only say, he rode one hell of a ride.  No, he actually rode two hell of a rides!!  Way to go Will and hope to see you at some LD Rider Rallies or maybe even a big dance or two.
So, as the day progressed, more and more riders arrived and the vendors got set up.

 Linda Tanner's sweet ride!
 Oh dear, what happened to that saddle bag?  Oh no, is it Jim Winterer's bike?  The one that had the call out for help?  Yup, I think that's the one. Good job on a McGuyver repair, Jim!
 Dread Pirate Kermit sticker. Gotta love this rider :-)

 Hahahaha, I spotted this one right away.  All the pins on the windscreen simply screamed out Tim Masterson.  Love it :-)
Klim folks were here....not really, I think it was Motogear with all the Klim stuff.  Let's get some of that.  I think they did well.
 More Vendors....

 Oh my heck, Sal Terranova brought the LS2 Helmet booth. Awesome.  Eric bought a new helmet. We think he will like it very much!
 Oh my heck (Utah).... Mario and Sarah Jane with all the LD Comfort stuff.  Love this garb, it is simply the only thing to wear under your gear!!
Linda Tanner with her most wonderful tank, saddle, aux fuel, etc. bags.  Anything you can think of, Linda will make.  You rock girlfriend!!

  IBPete, nope, I mean Mike Langford.....showing examples of his aux fuel tanks.  This guys knows what he is doing!

Thursday afternoon was spent plugging tires with Brian Roberts' Fix a Flat and watching Maura Gatensby Reshape Your Stock Seat.  It was quite something to see Maura wielding an electric carving knife and attack that seat :-)

After dinner, we attended the beer reception hosted by JC Motors.  Oh, yes, those Iron Butt gals can party! (Photo by Steve Hobart)

Thursday evening was the Butt Lite Awards Banquet and although we didn't attend the banquet, we poked our heads in the room just in time to see the finishers being announced.  Congratulations to all Butt Lite riders - well done!!

Friday started with a general session and a welcome from the IBA.  Unfortunately Mike Kneebone spent most of the Meeting sick and holed up in his room so the lovely Lisa Landry ran the show and did an outstanding job.  The first presentation of the day was Riding the Haul Road by Mr. Alaska, Jack Gustafon.  However, Dean Tanji provided support and would occasionally ask Jack a question.  It was a delightful presentation and gave good insight on what it takes to ride the Haul Road.

I missed the First Responder presentation by Don Arthur.  Too bad, I think it would have been terrific....but I had things to do :-)  I did attend 50 Ways to Screw the Pooch - How I DNFed the IBR.  This was a panel presentation with a Q and A session following.  Another excellent seminar with good advice!  Our first banquet lunch provided an opportunity to see the Denver Gold Rush Awards Presentation.  A good number of folks rode a Saddle Sore, a Bun Burner or a Bun Burner Gold on their way to Denver and they received their certificates during lunch.  What a bunch of lunatics!!!!

Phil Weston (Fazer Phil from Great Britain) presented the Art of Packing Light.  He offered some good tips and took questions from the audience.  I also attended LD Riding on a Budget, yet another helpful seminar.   During the afternoon seminars, Build-A-Bike was going on in the hotel atrium.  Maura had brought her Wee Strom for a Farkle-Fest.  Turns out it was a whole lot more than what was originally scheduled!!

John Harrison, Brian Roberts and Tony DeLorenzo put a ton of hours into getting Maura's bike farkled and running.  It was definitely the main attraction in the atrium.

Maura and team were all smiles when the Wee roared to life!!  Job well done!! (Photo by Steve Hobart)
Later in the afternoon, pretty much everyone went outside to witness Cop Cones.  What a hoot!!  Here are a few photos of some very fine riding.

 And maybe the most fun of all, Laura Boge tackled the course on her scooter and spanked it good!  LOL.

Friday was wrapped up with a Dinner Banquet with special guest speaker Lee Parks.  Another full day on Saturday.  My first meeting was the 2011 IBR Panel Discussion which was lead by Jim Owen.  The panel consisted of Kirsten Talken-Spaulding, Peter Behm, Eric Jewel and Chris Sakala.  Each gave a synopsis of their IBR route and discussed the highs and lows of the Big Dance.  At the end of this seminar, the 2013 IBR riders were introduced.  Wow, lots of 2013 IBR riders were in attendance!!

I had errands to run so missed the next meeting on European Touring but made it back in time to attend the Legends Lunch.  What fun!!  We sat with Don Arthur and his wife and had a delightful conversation and meal.  So awesome to put faces with names.  We were lucky to have Ducati Fanatic (Hendrik  from South Africa) and Bob Higdon at our table along with Lynda and Terry Lahman.

After lunch, I watched more Build-A-Bike in the atrium and hung out in the parking lot.  There was some unscheduled action going on out there!  Rick Martin helping Josh Mountain replace the rear shock on his FJR.

 The best place to be if you need help with your bike - any bike!!  Josh was happy with the outcome.
Perusing the parking lot, who do I spy?  Ms. Kitty - Nancy Oswald checking out the bikes.

We managed to get to the Atrium in time for the group photo. (Steve Hobart photo)
Finally, after four days of bikes, fun, people, bikes, fun, people, it was time for the Closing Banquet.  We had the pleasure of sitting with Mike Kneebone, Justin Phillipson and John Bolin.  Following dinner, guest speakers Paul Allison & Chris McGaffin entertained with comments about 11 Days on the Wrong Side of the Road.  However, Eric and I missed this as we made a quiet escape up to our room.

Unbeknownst to everyone but a very select few, Eric and I planned to wed at the IBA National Meet.  We somehow managed to get the wedding gown, tux, two huge boxes of party favors and assorted other luggage and baggage up to the room without anyone seeing us.  Then, for the next four days, we kept quiet.  We did have two incidents that almost blew our secret.

Upon checking in at registration for the Meet we encountered Joel Rappaport.  Here is how the conversation went:

Joel:  Hey you two, great to see you.  You get married yet?  Ooops, maybe that's a  sore point.

Cletha:  Hahaha, no Joel, not a sore point at all.  Life has just gotten in the way and we haven't had time to plan anything.  We did get our rings and hope to get a Ride to Wedding sorted out soon.

Joel:  Hey, you two could just get married here!

Cletha:  (Gasp!) Oh, hahahaha Joel.  I don't think we're ready for that :-)

Little did he know!

The second incident was when Eric took Tobie and Lisa Stevens and Lorraine Hickey to a nearby store.  When unpacking the Jeep, the receipt for my wedding gown slipped out of the pocket and onto the backseat floor.  I saw it and thought I should put that away but promptly forgot.  So......on the way to the store this was the gist of the conversation:

Lisa:  Eric, is there something you want to share with us?

Eric:  No.  Why do you ask?

Lisa:  (Shoving said receipt in front of Eric) What's this?

Eric:  (Not thinking quick enough) Uh, uh,'re sworn to secrecy.

Actually, it worked out very well as Lisa and Lorraine were a huge help in getting the party favors placed at each dinner plate for the closing banquet.  Thanks ladies!!  And....they kept our secret :-)

So, up in the room, we changed into our wedding garb, me in a gorgeous gown with flowing train and Eric in a stunning silver and black tux.  We made it back downstairs to the banquet hall without being seen except by Tim Masterson who didn't give a second glance (he thought it was a skit or something for the closing).

I went through a part of the kitchen to arrive at a door at the rear of the banquet room - hiding behind a curtain.  Eric quietly walked up to the front and stepped behind the audio/video equipment curtain where Lynda Lahman was also waiting. At the conclusion of Paul and Chris's talk, Lisa Landry told the audience that there was one more event and please stay for the video presentation.

Cue the music video of Cletha and Eric - pictures of us and bikes all over the place with Born to Be Wild and Radar Love playing :-)

After the slide show, Lisa asked the audience to please stand for the Bride....hey, that was me!  Terry Lahman opened the curtain and I made my way along the back of the room and up the center aisle, full bridal gown and beautiful bouquet.  What a walk -- folks were agog -- it was quite the surprise!!  My husband to be was waiting at the step to the stage to help me up the stairs.  It was magical....

Lynda Lahman, an ordained minister, officiated the ceremony for us.

We exchanged vows and rings.

Our first dance.

Thanks to Steve Hobart for the beautiful wedding photos and to those who sent me snapshots!  It was a fantastic wedding with about 350 of our favorites folks attending.  Special thanks to Lynda Lahman for officiating.  And a massive thank you to Lisa Landry, Mike Kneebone, Dean Tanji, Steve Hobart and the entire Iron Butt Association staff.

The 2012 Iron Butt Association International Meet was the best ever!!!!!

Geez, I don't know what we can do in 2014 to top that!