THis is from the LD Rider list and is too well written not to share
"How I learned to ride a long way for no particular point(s).P
I'm the rider who rode through the heat, humidity, occasional thunderstorm, to Key West, in the first leg of the 2005 Iron Butt Rally. I'm the rider who smugly took the photograph of the lighthouse, and returned to Denver. I'm the rider who's rally world fell apart, when H Marc viewed my photograph, and asked, "Where's the rally towel?" 14,001 points, safely ensconced in my melon's mathematical section, disappeared, while my gastro intestinal tract involuntarily quaked. I can't explain the inexplicable, I can only say, "yes, that was me."
H Marc was truly a gentleman. Of course, he was not sleep addled, and could well do the math that I was having a particularly difficult time with. Never mind the next bonus he looked at, the sleep bonus, was also inaccurately completed. 3,155 points. Poof.
Not a good way to finish the first leg of the Rally.
Some other things about the Leg 1.
Never mind I lost my riding partner in Atlanta on the way out to Key West.. He got ahead of me in traffic, communications got bungled. He, being the caring sort, pulled over at a rest area, and waited for me. Me, being focused on Key West, rode right by him and carried on. Moustache to the wind, eyes on the prize.
Early in the next morning, I wobbled up to a red light in Miami. I had just fueled, in prep for my ride to Key West. It was hot, and humid. I was a bag of sweat inside my 'Stich, and decidedly uncomfortable. Up beside me rolls another GL1800, piloted none other than Terry Pipes. We met briefly in '01. We met again, albeit briefly, in '03. He was my savior this hour, keeping me entertained for the ride to Key West. We shared a hotel room, however, I wanted only a brief rest, then to take The Photograph, and carry on. He was using Key West as his sleep bonus. I should have as well.
What a memorable sight, riding behind Terry. In the swath of his headlights was the viaduct, his silhouette smack in the middle of the halo like glow. Ahead of us, a thunderstorm developed. A large lightning flash framed him in a beautiful corona. Ah. Now *that's* why I'm here.
After Key West, I trailed north, via Georgia and the *shudder* Sleep Bonus, and then onward to Fontana Dam. Bliss. I was rested, feeling good, the humidity was within human safety standards, and while the road was littered with all kinds of two wheeled detritus, by and large, the slower riders were courteous enough to let me pass, as I did for the faster sport bike riders.
Then, back to Denver for my Meeting with H Marc.
I'm so relieved he was so much the gentleman. Thanks Marc.
Second Leg had me teamed up with the other Canadian, a Flare Red Wing rider, Bill Watt. We planned a high point route through Wisconsin, Michigan to approach the Maine checkpoint from the north. Oops. Made the ferry photo op (accepted!) in time, however, while refueling at the Shell station in Lido, the realization sank in. We could not achieve our lofty goals, and still make the Maine checkpoint in time. We wandered to Milwaukee, hopped on the Muskogee ferry, planning and napping along the way.
While we made the Maine checkpoint, I was bagged.
Then American Express decided to make my life miserable, by treating me like a novice member, rather than a 24 year member. We're going to have words, American Express and I.
I was having difficulty, feeling I could not continue, particularly continue and garner enough points for a "finish," which was 60,000. I had uh, significantly less than that.
Lisa, and Mike both spoke to me. Rather than Evil Lord Kneebone, and the Rally Bastard, I left with the distinct impression they were coaching me along, and assisting me in the finish. Off I went to Bath, Maine, for a gas bonus, and to catch up with Bill Watt, for the third leg. More miscommunications, and I missed him at a gas station, but we met later, at yet another lighthouse.
Side point: I was born in Quebec, and although I haven't lived there for over 40 years, my cherished memories are that of my Dad loading up a 9' x 12' canvas tent, and driving through the night to camp at an Ocean side campground in Maine, owned by the Kennedy family. I seem to recall they were related, in some distant way, to the other Kennedy family, of some fame in the 60's. My Dad's big joke was to set up camp in the dark, set up the cots in a perimeter inside the tent, and drive his Mini Cooper inside the tent. To back it out in the morning hours once the other campers were awake, and wondering when this big tent arrived. Maine was a favourite spot, not only for the local seafood available, but time by, in, on, around the ocean. A Mr. White, who owned a fishing type vessel, outfitted for cruising, would take my family out occasionally, and I recall as a 5 year old lad, sitting on his lap, piloting the diesel powered vessel. Bath, Maine, was nearby, and when we tired of "camp food,' of crab, lobster, periwinkles, fishes of all sorts.....we would head to Bath for a sit down meal. Tough going, I'd say. So to be riding through these areas imbedded in my past was a treat, and pause for emotional reflection. I had just signed the documents for the final distribution of my parents estate the day I left home for Denver.
Part 2 ........
Maine, New Brunswick, a sleep bonus, and onward to Prince Edward Island. The Bridge is a treat.
On a motorcycle.
The concrete medians are high enough to obscure the view of the water surrounding the Bridge, but aha, on a motorcycle, I could glance in any direction and see the Island, the ocean, or the mainland.
Traveling with Watt was no mistake. His brother owns a Canadian Tire store in Charlottetown, and this is like his own back yard. Ah, the value of local knowledge.
The lighthouse. The bikes and the Rally Towel.
I checked the photo.
I checked the instructions.
I checked the photo.
I checked the instructions.
Once satisfied, we left, and headed toward the northern coast of New Brunswick.
Interesting to see the Acadian flags, flying at every home.
I'll allow myself in "grrrrr," in the direction of Lisa Landry, and her instructions for a lighthouse. The instructions said East. They should have been West. The instructions said "Lighthouse Road." They should have said "Light Road."
I got off my bike, and approached a women retrieving her garbage can from the end of her driveway.
"Excuse moi, je chercherz la maison du....."
"I don't speak English," she tells me. "My husband is just around the corner, he speaks English, and will be here shortly."
I'm flummoxed. She's speaking perfect English, to my rusty, and imperfect French. I decide she doesn't want to speak to me, sees me as a threat of some sort, or as a final conclusion, decide that this is New Brunswick, and for a Western Canadian, This is Beyond Quebec.
Her husband shows up, and advises the only lighthouse is to the West (Lisa!) and off Light Road (Lisa!).
I remount the bike, key up the microphone to contact Bill, whom is on his independent scouting mission, to have him tell me he's located a Lobster fisher, who is leading the way.
We have the lighthouse, and head west to Campellton NB.
Zut allors! We bag that one too.
Fatigue sets in, hunger has grabbed a hold, so we retire to a pizza place for a bite, and consider our next move. Bill has enough points in hand for a Medal finish. He has merely to sleep, and troll at a sedate pace to Denver. I have not enough points in hand for a modest finish.
The cell phone comes out, Lisa is on the line. The conversation is mostly one sided, going like this,
"What are you doing? Dining in a restaurant? On the Iron Butt? Get your ass on your motorcycle and ride. Now. Right now."
"I'm not sure I ca......
"Don't waste time. Get on your motorcycle right now. I expect you to get the Soo, and Sioux Falls South Dakota and points in between."
The line goes dead.
Bill is fatigued, but not stupid.
He tells me to get my ass in gear.
Around midnight, I'm full of gas, (both kinds, that pizza wasn't very kind to me) and relatively alert. Through Quebec in the dark, I'm secretly applauding myself for making such good time. Despite the construction, and the deer. Bucks, does and fawns.
Katrina's last gasp landed squarely on Montreal. I arrive at the early edges of rush hour. It's raining heavily. Very heavily. I miss the miniscule turn off to Ottawa, and the road to the Soo. I ride around Montreal yet again, on the ring road, and finally escape that rainy ring of discomfort. I curse Quebec. I'm unhappy they don't mark the road to the Canadian Capital with a sign, that says Ottawa. I curse the rain. I don't have a leaky Roadcrafter, but I curse it anyway, as water has found it's way up my pant legs, into my armpit vents, and down my neck.
In Pembroke, I'm in need of serious rest, so grab 3 hours in a hotel.
Later that night, I'm sleeping like a baby in St. Ignace. I had decided to forego the Soo locks bonus (some 300+ points) to ensure I get to Sioux Falls in daylight for *that* bonus. (3000+ points)
Arising before sunrise, I score my rest bonus, head to my first lighthouse, successfully photo (the camera is on its' last legs) the bonus. Including bike, flag, and lighthouse in the rear. The flag. Oh yes, there is the flag.
Oshkosh, and the ride west to Sioux Falls.
Trolling into the parking lot of the Falls, I meet Rick Mayer, who had built a seat for my previous bike, a BMW. He holds my rally towel, while I click the camera. Then, a sit down dinner of Chinese food, before the last ride to Denver. (sorry Lisa, yes, a sit down dinner of Chinese food)
The road to Denver is long, as Rick and I are both battling fatigue. We stop. I appreciate his being there, as a 'foil.' We chat at the stops, joke, smile.
He regales me with a tale of being "mooned," by a young female wearing a G-String.
Later, turning over this tale in my head, I ask, why? Why he, the married man, gets this, while I get angry truckers and spinsters driving off the road in Kansas.
The Denver Finish.
Dennis Bitner scores me, with a little humour, a little seriousness, and I'm delighted to learn I'm actually going to be a "finisher."
Relief is spelled D-O-N-N-A and the massage table.
Yes, I'm surprised my name was not called first.
Yes, I'm still delighted to have a finisher's plaque.
Yes, I'm still a little bit disappointed with my errors.
But what a ride!
Tobie Stevens has me gasping for breath, when we're discussing our rides.
"Don't feel bad Mike, at least you weren't that rider that went all the way to Key West and didn't display his rally towel."
"uh, that was me Tobie."
If he had been drinking milk, it would have come out of his nose, for a certainty.
Good to see all my friends associated with this sport, even though I occasionally wandered around in a daze and forgot my manners.
I hope, I think, they'll understand.
For me, the rally begins with the first communiqué, months before the ride.
For me, the rally continues, as I awoke with a start, in my own bed, wondering why it was oddly familiar, and should not have been.
I occasionally think of where I need to be, and at what time.
I'm still not sure what day it is.
I still cherish the excitement of being far away, on an unfamiliar road, and meeting another rider. "One of us."
Even though our communication is merely a wave, and nod of the head, it still feels good.
That ache in my shoulders feels good.
I feel good.