Unfortunately, Giel Kirkhof had to drop out of the 2019 Iron Butt Rally because of issues with his GPS units. His misfortune became our good fortune as he decided to spend a few days with us before returning to Greenville, SC for the IBR finish.
The three of us left Tupelo, MS on a fine, sunny Wednesday morning and we headed up the Natchez Trace toward Nashville, TN. I called this part of our adventure the Turtles, Turkeys and Deer Ride. We saw a lot of turtles along the Trace, mostly slow but one that was moving very quick to get across the road. Turkeys, lots of turkeys! We had to stop for a large flock with about 2 dozen babies. LOL, the adults hurried across the road while the babies ran the other way into the woods! And then, the deer! Only one but that was enough. It bounded out of the woods right beside Eric and me. Eric was ready to hit the throttle and I was prepared to panic stop. Fortunately the deer thought better of jumping into the road and turned back into the woods. Yikes!!!
We made a couple of stops along the Trace to take a break and enjoy the views. Our first stop was at Holly.
There is a beautiful picnic area down below the road with several tables, trashcans and a small stream.
Our next stop was the infamous overlook with the steep 900' trail down to waterfalls. We chose not to take that trek this time. Again, with a nice picnic area, restrooms and gorgeous views.
They have a couple of retail stores on the property and I scored a magnet for our garage fridge and a couple of stickers for the bike.
Next morning we again pointed toward Greenville making a stop at another fine food establishment for lunch - Waffle House, lol. It was Giel's first time. I like Waffle House ... sometimes. This happened to be a pretty decent one, it didn't stink of rancid grease when we entered and the floors were clean, hahahaha.
I happened to be in the hall when Wendy Crockett came in to stop the clock. Looking very happy, very tired and VERY DIRTY. Love our Wendy!!
It's not just rally riders, there are plenty of fans here too! Everyone was so excited to see the riders coming in. The hotel lobby was a buzz of activity all day. Riders had to be scored within one hour of stopping the clock. Riders who came in during the penalty window only had 15 minutes to get scored after stopping the clock. Eric Jewell who arrived well into the penalty window, like only a minute or two to spare wasn't aware of the 15 minute scoring time. I found him in the prep room with ONE MINUTE to get to scoring. Hahahahaha, I rushed him into the scoring room and he was safe!
Things got pretty quiet after scoring. I imagine most riders were taking a hot shower followed by a long nap. The banquet would be held later that evening with social hour and adult beverages starting in the afternoon.
Craft and his lovely bride.
Each rider was called to the front to receive their plaque and bound Rally Book. Each rider was unanimously celebrated and applauded on their outstanding accomplishment! My hands hurt from clapping and I cheered for every rider! WOOHOO! WAY TO GO! YOU PEEPS ROCK!!! Wowza, these riders are simply phenomenal and so very humble. My tribe ;-)
One Rookie, Lew Ballard, later related to me that he thought he had finished the IBR but when his name wasn't called time and time again he began to think that maybe they had re-checked his score and he DNF'd. Wasn't he surprised when he was called out as number 15 finisher! WAY TO GO, LEW!!!
Now, down to the final top ten riders - Jeff Earls did the honors.
Dylan Spink, IBR vet, on his hopeless class 1983 Honda Silverwing took 10th place. Kevin Gardner, Rookie, took 9th place. Paul Meyer, IBR Rookie, came in 8th. James Owen, two time IBR winner took 7th and Billy Connacher, IBR vet was in 6th place. Eric Bray, IBR vet was in 5th place and Craig Brooks, IBR vet garnered 4th place.
Ohhhhhh, Ohhhhhhh, more Ohhhhh's! The top three. I can't hardly stand it!! I'm on my feet at the back of the room, holding my breath. There are only three people up there.
Okay, most of you already know the outcome. But, dang, it was so freaking exciting. Steve Gallant, a ROOKIE came in THIRD! Yippee!!! Dude, way to go. I had the pleasure of meeting and scoring Steve at the Rock 'n Ride Rally earlier this year. Such a humble, kind, gentle soul. Can you imagine? Getting third place in your first Iron Butt Rally? Nope, me either. Congratulations, Steve.
Now it was down to two riders. Mike Heitkamp, IBR vet and Team Strange rider and our dear friend, Wendy Crockett, another IBR vet. Mike was on a BMW R1200GSA (the same bike I ride) and Wendy was riding her 14 year old Yamaha FJR. OMG, stop the presses! First time EVER a WOMAN WON THE IBR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Yes, Wendy won. Congratulations to Mike Heitkamp. Maybe 2021 will be his winning year and he had a stellar rally. Come on, second in the IBR is nothing to snicker at. Good job, Mike.
BUTT, WENDY WON THE IBR!!!!!!!!! Heck, tears came springing out of my eyes as I jumped up and down and yelled WOOHOO!!!!!! (I wasn't the only one with tears on their cheeks!).
Oh FUCK! It was just that frickin' good! You go GIRL!
Wendy's finish photo! (LOVE)
The father - daughter team of Marty Cover (IBR Vet) and Lisa Rufo (IBR Rookie). Both finished and are very happy about that after a few mishaps along the way. Congrats!
Here is a break stop at Hartwell Lake in Georgia. Beautiful place to take a rest.
We had the great pleasure to host Margaret Peart, Tazmanian (Australia) IBR Vet both before and after the IBR. Here she is after 40 hours of sleep (lol) ready to hit the road and head west before going back home.
So, that's a wrap folks. We had a fabulous time both at the start and again at the finish of the 2019 Iron Butt Rally. We had the honor of hosting some IBR legends at our little Tupelo home. We had a great ride to and from Greenville with no mishaps other than Taco Bell (lol). We are thrilled our friend, Wendy Crockett, won the 2019 IBR. And, we had the best time, hanging with the best peeps ever!
There is simply nothing like an Iron Butt Rally. If you ever have the opportunity to attend a start, checkpoint or finish, do it, you will not regret. It is simply fabulous!
Massive thanks to those that make it happen.
Cheers and thanks for following my blog!