I wrote this for the MTF website but thought some of you might like to read it on BCSB.
Well I thought I would sit down and type up a few notes on the IBR.
First of all it was a lot of fun to be in the Rally and I was not certain that I would be able to participate until 3 weeks before. I developed acute bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome in March , went through 2 months of physiotherapy and then in early June early July had both hands operated on (3 weeks apart)
Prior to the Butt my only ride was a weekend trip to Calgary (third week of July) a ride to Seattle and then my ride to Denver.
I arrived a few days early to make sure I did not have any other issues to work out pre butt and that I could in fact do the ride at least to Denver.
My bike had been basically set up as had my packing load in March when I was prepping for my aborted 48++ ride so I was well set up and I had simply read all of the old IBR reports from the IBA website and done one route form the 03 Rally. I had also spoken to a few IBR veterans on the phone thanks Julie, Jake and Jason from the MTF list and other than that I was simply going to ride my first Rally.
I never had any doubts in my mind that I would finish the Rally my biggest worry was what kind of bonehead mistakes I would pull off and perhaps cause me to "screw the pooch"
The other advantage of arriving early was getting adjusted to the altitude (a change in altitude often makes it difficult for some people to sleep)
My riding partner on quite a few IBA rides and the last two 3 Flags Marc Prymack showed up to just hang out, help me with the last minute details and keep me on plan.
Friday night while others were still enroute we went to the James Taylor concert in Denver a nice break and it took my mind off the Rally.
Saturday and Sunday were fun and I tried t keep out of the parking lot chatter and the heat and rest. Sunday night the packages were handed out and the logical ride for me was to run to the New Brunswick lighthouse and back.
I chose this because:
1. The type of ride would suite my riding style (not much saddle time lately)
2. I have ridden in NB before
3. a lot of the roads would be familiar
4. I have a high security border pass and the US / Canada border is a 2 minute issue for me NEXUS
5. I needed some seat time on my bike
So off we go.... just after I get on highway 6 ( 10 minutes from the start a transport truck swerves into my lane as I am passing him and forces me into the curb gutter ( full ABS chatter and no fall down..) (I took a 15 minute time out) and go a cold drink
Off we go again. I ran about 1300 miles and got a room outside of London Ontario. The hail storm, rain and cold I rode though on the US plains was quite something ( I had on all my electrics pants jacket, heated seat and grips and was warmly dressed and was still cold)
Outside of Cornwall Brian Boberick and George Barnes caught up with me and I had just met Bill Thwait a few miles back we rode almost to the lighthouse together. The Short cut we took in had a few sections of hard pack and a couple of loose gravel and I was falling behind so I told George and Brian to roll on and Bill and I (he was getting tired) stayed back.
I rode to the lighthouse after getting lost a few times (GPS’s are not really mapped out very well in that area) grabbed my sleep Bonus and headed back. I rode with Rick Martin and two other riders though Montreal and pulled off for Gas just inside of Cornwall and some sleep in Belleville. I got gas again near Bowmansville and as I was gearing up I saw Rick sleeping on his FJR so I rode by him just as he woke up and we rode back to Denver together. We were stuck in the Chicago traffic and decided to blow off the bonuses due to traffic issues. My wrists were getting really sore by then and the more time I could spend on cruise the better. Denver rolled into sight on scedukle and I checked in slept and ate
I changed my strategy and it was an error. My initial plan was to just ride to Maine and rest. However my pal Michael Smeyers had had a lousy leg one - ride to Key West and forget to have your Rally towel in the picture and then screw up you gas log. Topping it off he and his riding partner got mixed up and lost each other in Atlanta. His riding partner later had mechanical issues and missed the Mine checkpoint window. Michael in the 2001 IBR gave up his rally to stay with an injured rider and go with him the to hospital etc. Michael is a great guy and I wanted to return the favour and help him out, besides we are pals and you should help out your pals.
We started north for the Michigan lighthouse and the ferry crossing but we were not an efficient riding pair and after getting the Ferry Bonus we realized that we were very close to being time barred in Maine.
I am quite pleased how we extracted ourselves from this mess. I had laid out a ride east to a family wedding for my wife and I this summer before my hands acted up and the deal was “no Chicago" There are ferries across lake Michigan. I called Marc my key asset in the Rally and he got us on the 6:00 am ferry and then we were a 2 hour ride to Sarnia and back across the 401 through Montreal ( there is a pattern developing here) and then down the secret Vermont interstate into Maine.
In Vermont the fog was thick and the GPS was showing us slowing dropping out of the time window, yet it was dark foggy rainy and in Moose Country, I got on the cb and called out to truckers heading south for animal sightings. A trucker named Sean from Maryland was coming up behind us, talked to us told us to relax and when there was a passing lane we let him by and he pulled us along at the nighttime trucker's speed for 3 hours. Without this we would have been time barred.
We lost our sleep bonus and basically screwed the pooch on leg two. Paul Allison, who I met in 03 and was riding one of Dick Fish's bikes, did what I planned and had 2 hot meals and 12 hours sleep. For a rider at my level that was a better plan and had I been better rested I would have had the energy for a far stronger and better thought out leg three and a gold medal finish- however, that is just another lesson in life.
Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda
I did get some great sleep at a motel waiting for the ferry, at Reynolds and on the Ferry just not long enough in a row to get the bonus
Michael was really screwed no and looked like he would not get the minimum number of points to finish. I was sure I would be ok. So we set out together and got the Maine and Maritime lighthouses.
Funny story we were "initially” refused accommodation at a Holiday Inn near Moncton at 2:30 am. The security guard told us the Manager said that they were full (empty parking lot) I was insistent that we see the manager and made the guard go get him (wake him up) (first thing I did was get his card and name)
Apparently I was able to convince him that my firm did advisory work for the Holiday Inn Organization in Canada ( it is true when they ask how my stay was I always advise them it was fine) and I explained to him that I knew that they always kept a "spare room" for VIP's, so I laid my Platinum Amex on the counter ( now remember I had slept in my clothes for 2 nights and was in a dirty Hi Viz stitch) and said when I come back in with my bag I want a nice room.. Voila we had a room. Amex Platinum – Don’t Rally without it
So after we bagged to Maritimes we stopped in Campbellton NB and had a strategy session. I was all set for a Silver Medal Finish and Michael was still a DNF. We talked a little and Michael decided to go for broke and head off for the Northern Michigan lighthouse and the South Dakota Bonus. If he got all of this and did not mess up on any paperwork ( he also screwed that up on leg one) he would finish the rally. He pulled off that ride, it was agreed that he should ride it alone as our sleep patterns would be quite different in the later part of the Rally and the likelihood of both of us failing to finish the Rally would be higher if we rode together. I rode to Denver alone and once again crossed the 401 and Ontario.
Oh leaving Campbellton I rode way too close to a Moose but if I had wanted to I could have reached out and touched it. Damn thay are big and stupid.
At the Border the US Customs guy knew me by name in the special lane and asked me when I would be crossing again.
Funny thing - Peter Leap who I met under funny circumstance on the MTF 100 CC "flagged me" he saw me sleeping in a rest stop on the ground beside my bike, stopped hung his flag on my wing and took my picture. Hilarious. Peter had a terrific ride and is a great guy.
At the Rally Banquet my Wife Susan and I got to sit with Dan Huber and his lovely wife along with my Steve Broadhead, his wife and Michael Smeyers ( who we had to phone to wake up for the dinner)
A special note should be mentioned about my wife Susan who while I was in the IBR rode from Vancouver, BC to Denver on her first solo ride. Susan spent 8 days riding around Lolo Pass, Yellowstone, and the Grand Teton and crossed the continental divide 13 times on her ride into Denver.
Men do not always realize the myriad of other issues that face women who ride longer distances alone, they are a very special breed and deserve our acknowledgement. The women who ride in the IBR are far braver and more resourceful than the men. I can pull over and sleep wherever women competitors do not have that luxury.
My rider coach Marc Prymack was my strategic lifeline and without his help and my brother's I would not have done so well. Imagine having an experienced well rested rider that you can call to bounce ideas off any time of the day or night, Marc rode the butt with me every mile and his friendship and support and that fact that he also was Susan’s safety check in every day took allof the worry out of my 11 day ride. For all of you who hope/plan to ride in a IBR you must have a friend like Marc to be successful.
Riding the IBR was a Laff riot and I never stopped laughing or smiling the whole time but I think my wife's accomplishment was far greater than mine.
My thoughts on the Rally. I had never rallied before but in talking to IBR veterans they all said the same thing the 2005 Rally was more challenging and a harder Rally to ride well in. The minimum number of points and the check in times before you were DNF'd added a little more pressure to the ride. But it also I think raised the feeling of accomplishment for the finishers.
Jim Owen showed real character in his very sportsmanlike arrival at the banquet defeated only by mechanical issues but still honored by all with a standing Ovation for his superb ride.
Shane Smith who I had the chance to talk to before and during the Rally gave a wonderful victory speech that showed in every way the code of good sportsmanship that the IBR exemplifies.
Lisa Landry ran a great rally and all the IBR volunteers and IBA staff made it a memorable experience.
After the Rally Susan and I stayed in Denver Saturday night went out to a baseball game Saturday night and rode home Sunday/ Monday / Tuesday
It was one hell of a ride and I loved every mile of it.