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LD Hack
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Posted: 06 September 2010 at 4:33pm | IP Logged Quote LD Hack

IB5k – Perspective from one member of “Team Lyle”

 

This rally was dedicated to Eddie James, the rallymaster of Butt Lite rallies and many Team Strange Minnesota 1000 rallies. The fact that there is a group of long distance riders concentrated in and around Minnesota is solely because of Eddie. His rallies have a personality of their own, and I was so excited to see he was to be rallymaster for the Iron Butt 5000. His untimely death is a loss to all, including those who are members of Team Strange, and also to the rest of the long distance riding community who were about to experience an “Eddie James rally”. Somehow, Iron Butt staff and Lisa pulled it together, and organized the IB5k after Eddie’s death. I commend the effort and sacrifice it took to do the work they originally planned for Eddie and his staff to do. It’s a sign of their dedication and commitment to the IBA and this riding community.

 

Prior to Iron Butt 5,000 rally, I called Jim Winterer, asking when he is traveling to the start at Denver. “Friday,” he said. Same for me, so we decided to meet in St. Paul on Thursday night and leave for Denver on Friday morning. Thursday evening arrives, Jim calls me at home, “Where are you?” “At home,” I forgot I was supposed to be at his house on Thursday night. I needed to get going fast. I had just mounted the second tire, but I still needed to pack my gear. I leave my house before 5 AM next morning, and I’m at Jim’s house before 10 AM, ready to head for Denver. Jim humors me and appears to not be bothered. We’re off to Denver.

 

Our ride to Denver goes fine, nice cruising trip, until two or so gas stops from Denver. It’s then that Jim asks me, “Do you want to ride IB5k as a team?” Since Jim and I have ridden as a team in several rallies, and even several times as a three man team with Rich Buber, including Iron Butt Rally, it’s a logical question. However, my bike has 130,000 miles on it, it’s a BMW with a final drive reputation, my final drive has not failed, yet… It definitely would be fun to share the ride with another rider. But there are big penalties now for teams. Finishing this rally is also a ticket in to IronButt Rally 2011. “Maybe, I need to think about it. It would be lots of fun,” I said.

 

Arriving in Denver 600 miles later, I’m still undecided. John, Derek, Peter, and several other Team Strangers said, “It’s really risky you know.” The fact that finishing IB5k is a ticket in to IBR-2011, it’s a huge risk. But why not? I’m still undecided. I tell Jim to stop talking to other riders about it, and I stop too. We both ride a similar pace, and we are both good at route planning. We also get along, despite the flaws that Jim has from my perspective and despite my own flaws from Jim’s point of view. Finally, it’s decided, we are “in” as a team, but for leg one – for now. During the night prior to the rally start, the name “Team Lyle” crosses my brain, named after Eddie’s bear. Presenting the team name to Jim, and he approves, so “Team Lyle” it is.

 

Following the “last supper”, also known as the start banquet, we are given the rally pack for leg 1. Retreating to our room, we enter waypoints and come up with a best route based on the Viagra bonus, “open from 12 noon to around 10PM”. West of the Viagra bonus, we had a couple bonuses near Butte in our route. Timing was a problem, until we reversed the route to counter-clockwise. It worked, probably, so long as we could get from Butte back to Denver in time. The return was long miles, but was on interstate highway with only two bonuses along the way. Both bonuses were close to the highway. The speed limit is 75, so we should be able to average 60 mph on this last part of the leg. If we can do that, we should do fine. But can we? We’re really screwed if we get way behind schedule. Jim was worried. I was anxious.

 

We inform Lisa, plus Dale “Warchild” that we are riding as a team, and that we want to leave one after the other. We need to ride together. Dale is amused and quickly realizes the opportunity we offer for razzing and abuse. He shows us the “special signal” he’ll use when it’s our turn to depart. We’re set to go. Time comes for our turn, Dale gives us “the signal”, and “Team Lyle” is rolling.

 

We head north on I-25 to Casper, then off on Hy 20 and Hy 120 towards Cody. There are a couple bonuses along the way that we pick up. We continue to the Red Lodge bonus and the Beartooth Pass westbound. This is the first time I’ve ridden the Beartooth Pass westbound. On the way up the hairpins located east of the alpine meadows, I saw it, “the beartooth shaped mountain.” Despite having ridden the Beartooth twice before, both eastbound, I had never seen this mountain before. It was prominent from the hairpins on the east, across the alpine meadows, and back down the west side of the pass. I finally understand why this is called “Beartooth Pass”.

 

We get to the Viagra bonus before dark, well before the closing “around 10PM.” There were quite a few riders parked in front of the bonus, socializing. “Why,” I wondered. This is a rally, and time is of the essence. Team Lyle didn’t have time to spare. We had to get to Butte, with a motel sleep along the way. The sooner we get to a motel, the more we can sleep. The two bonuses near Butte were daylight bonuses, meaning they opened around 6:30AM next morning. With the distance we needed to ride on the second day from Butte to Denver, we needed to be at the two daylight bonus at dawn, rested and ready to ride. Based on our plan, we needed to average around 60 mph from Butte to the end of leg 1 at Denver. Do-able, but no time to doddle.

 

The plan works fine. After the two dawn bonuses near Butte, we haul down the interstate, and pick up the two remaining bonuses along the way.

 

Jim and I don’t have radio communication, so we can only use hand signals (tap the gas tank for “need gas”, point to the highway sign for “my gps/map says to exit here”). Our most complicated communication utilized very brief comments at a stop sign or stop light. All our “on the fly planning” is communicated in brief words at brief stops. Gas stops, although busy, we do communicate a bit more. Jim was telling me something complicated as we were many hundreds of miles from Denver. There was this “casa” bonus in Denver, a taco spot. He had been there. He absolutely did not like it, not one bit. He described it as a taco spot from hell, and the Nazi serve staff took your credit card and spent what seemed like days getting your receipt back to you. We weren’t going there. I kept receiving brief snippets of why we weren’t going there for the whole afternoon of our ride from Butte to Denver. I heard the gory details about Jim’s previous experience at that bonus during ButtLite, the details of the story extended over hundreds of miles. Gas stops, stop signs, stop lights, the two bonus stops, the message was clear. We weren’t going there. And so it is, we didn’t go to the casa bonus.

 

Arriving at Denver, we get organized and scored. We’re scored as a team. The scorers check to make sure we both claim the same bonuses and rode the whole leg together. We pass. The big smoke stack at Anaconda, we are told, “You need to take the photo from the parking lot.” Yes, that address is on the instructions. But the instructions say “take a photo of the smoke stack.” We did that, from the side of the highway. The smoke stack and our rally flag are clear in the photos. The instructions do not say you have to take a picture of the smoke stack from the parking lot. Nor do the instructions tell you to go to the parking lot. In the end, we fulfilled the requirements for obtaining the bonus and are awarded the points. We don’t loose any points at the table.

 

After scoring for leg 1 was tallied, we even did pretty well for points. Neither Jim nor I had expectations for doing really well. There were quite a few better riders in this rally. We were both in it for having fun and doing the best we can.

 

We decide to continue the foolishness and ride as a team for leg 2. We tell Lisa, as required by the rules. Team Lyle retains its heart beat. Our ticket in to Iron Butt Rally 2011 is once again at risk.

 

After a long sleep, leg 2 bonuses were given out at 4AM. We get them coded and loaded on to Streets and Trips. A few big point bonuses, and a ton of small point bonus spots. Time restricted bonuses are located at various places. We look at a few options. The big point bonus located at the Mendocino lighthouse in California is out. It’s too far for us to ride in the time allowed. There is one big point bonus west of Denver in Phoenix. I did that bonus during a ButtLite rally, but with Phoenix it was difficult to get Bob’s Java Hut in Minneapolis. Jim came up with a route centered around Niobrara and Bob’s, then tentatively head east to New York. I was looking at a few options involving Phoenix and Live Oak Resort in Texas, both big point bonuses. The points on my route weren’t looking very good for the miles and pace we can ride. Minneapolis seemed to be the best option for the pace we ride. I asked Jim if there were time restricted bonuses on his route to Minneapolis. Yes, Niobrara, and Zanz in Mankato. At the time of the morning that is was, Niobrara was do-able, and Zanz required us to make up 30 to 45 minutes. We needed to be gone 30 to 45 minutes ago. Time to roll. We’ll plan the rest of the ride when we stop for sleep prior to Bob’s Java Hut in Minneapolis.

 

Our goal now is to try to make up time in order to get to Zanz’s before they closed, then be at Bob’s when it opens in the morning, after a sleep. We need to time all this so we don’t hit Minneapolis rush hour traffic.

 

Our route took us northeast from Denver on I-75. We left the interstate for state roads, heading for Carhenge at Alliance, NE. From there we bagged several more bonuses as we traveled east in northern Nebraska, including Niobrara. Projected time to Zanz in Mankato still put us there after it closed. I checked the Watertown bonus, another timed bonus, but we could not make that one either at our current pace. We just kept rolling, keeping the big picture in mind, namely that we had to be at Bob’s Java Hut in Minneapolis next morning when it opened.

 

Using our stop sign/stop light communication and decision system, we started discussing where to spend the night. My thought was west of Minneapolis. Jim said we should sleep at his house in St. Paul, which is east of Bob’s but close. We continued our stop sign discussions, and opted for Jim’s house. “What about time stamped receipts?” I asked. This was going to be our sleep bonus. Jim told me there is a 24 hour grocery a few blocks from his house.

 

I follow Jim to St. Paul and to the grocery store. It’s closed! No problem, there’s a gas station near by. Also closed, and no pay at the pump. Time is ticking, and we aren’t logged in to our sleep bonus. More riding around and we finally get to a gas station that has pay at the pump. Back to Jim’s home for sleep.

 

We wake up after a solid sleep and look at our route ahead. We head for the second gas slip to document the end of our sleep bonus, then to Bob’s for the big points bonus. Low and behold, there are spectators from “Team Strange” at the bonus, along with several other riders. Bart and several others are there. What a treat! Inside Bob’s, Jim comes up to me. He’s done some scouting. “There are riders headed to Live Oak from here,” Jim says. I hate changing plans during the day. As the mantra goes, “Plan your ride, ride your plan.” Problem is, we might have a bad plan. As a minimum, we need to check this out. It’s not so obvious a route. Out comes the computer, two cups of Bob’s Java on the table, and we re-consider our plan. Yes, Live Oak is better. There is a whole lot of riding distance between bonuses, but it’s still better than our New York plan. Twenty minutes later, we were leaving Bob’s, riding our revised plan.

 

We bag the “Martini Acres” bonus near Hudson, WI, then head south. At Martini Acres, we see John Coons for the umpteenth time. He asks, did you go to Niobrara and Zanz? He’s pretty interested in our route. Don’t worry John, we can’t ride like you do.

 

We get to the Buddy Holly bonus west of Mason City, IA. Both Jim and I have been there before. It involves a walk along a corn field to a memorial to the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly. It’s hot and humid. I take off my helmet and walk, wearing my Stich. Since this is a major opportunity for Jim and me to form strategies, we take advantage of the walk time. Arriving at the memorial, I immediately realize I have my camera and my rally packet, but no rally flag. I head back to the bike to get the flag. Jim does his part of the bonus, heads back to the bike and fixes an electrical gremlin. I remove my Stich for the trek back and get the required photo. It’s still hot. Arriving back at my motorcycle for the second time, and Jim tells me he also forgot something. This is much more serious than me forgetting my rally flag. He left his emergency tag at his home in St. Paul. We are required to have those around our neck at all times. Jim’s really bummed, as I am too. He calls Lisa and explains the problem. She tells Jim there will be a penalty, but she doesn’t know what it is at the moment.

 

Jim tells me we should continue rallying hard, because my points will tell Jim how well he could have done if he had not lost his emergency tag. I’m bummed just as well. It’s not the same when one rider of our team has to take a big point hit. But on we go.

 

As we head south, towards evening, we are too late for the Joplin bonus. We even missed the Coffeeville bonus, a 24 hour bonus. Pretty stupid. We are headed to Live Oak Resort. Our plan is to be there first thing in the morning, when the bonus opens. We can then gather bonuses on the last part of the rally, riding through Alabama and Georgia.

 

We stop for a motel sleep, and set the alarm to wake up with enough time to ride to Live Oaks Clothing Optional Resort near Navasota, TX. Coming out of the shower, I see Jim has his emergency tag around his neck. “When did you find that?” I ask Jim. He looks down, “Oh! There it is!” he says. Unknown to Jim, he was wearing it all the time, between his inner t-shirt and outer long sleeved shirt. Worse yet, he now has to call Lisa and report that he found it, and admit to where it was all the time.

 

Having already been to Live Oak during ButtLite, I was aware of the interesting folks who frequent the “clothes optional” resort. I’ll never forget our host/cook for ButtLite. His jewelry and body piercing were located in a sensitive spot that I will never in this life consider piercing. We spent our required hour at the bonus. The cook wasn’t around, and everyone had their clothes on. We headed out, and ride right past the Navasota bonus, a small 71 point bonus. Another missed bonus. We were right there.

 

We ride all day long, in the hot. We forego several bonuses across Texas and Louisiana because of time and distance. We had just completed a long, barren ride from southern Iowa to Live Oak. Now another long slog. We get to our first bonus in Montgomery, and continue through Alabama and Georgia, bagging the last bonuses of the rally. It is nighttime, the roads are smooth and curvy. The center line is bright and easy to see. Great motorcycling roads. At one stop sign, I tell Jim, “This is really fun riding!” Later on, Jim says, “Eddie probably scouted these bonuses shortly before he died.” We rode through the night. The ride felt like a memorial ride to Eddie, or a gift from Eddie to us. Once again, Eddie was “in my tank bag”, where my route/time sheet is kept. At one point, I was getting sleepy. Being in the lead, I pulled in to a small rural Baptist Church. “I need to sleep for an hour.” Jim tightens his motorcycle chain, and lays out his sleeping pad. I lay down next to the church, in the small cemetery. I love IronButt Motel sleeps. I get humored by the dreams I often have. As I lay my head on the ground next to a grave, my ear touches the ground and I tell Jim, “I hear singing of praise to the Lord.” As I woke an hour later to the Screamin Meanie alarm’s song, I was still smiling, from another dream I just had.

 

We head to the last bonus in Atlanta, Eddie’s memorial. But first, we stop at a Waffle House, the internet persona of Eddie’s fiancée, Lurleen. This is my first Waffle House experience! It’s a bonus too, “Obtain a Waffle House receipt, 25 points.” Receipt in hand, we ride around the cemetery perimeter searching for an open gate, and then head to Eddie’s memorial. It’s a granite bench, with a Danny Laska quote, “It’s only far if you don’t go there.” Lots of riders there, waiting for dawn, the time when we can take the required picture. John Coons has a Dr. Pepper plus a receipt, which he leaves at Eddie’s memorial bench as a symbolic gesture. Eddie loved to drink Dr. Pepper. Jim and I mingle, get the picture, and leave with enough time to finish, but nothing too extra. Another rider forgot his rally flag at Eddie’s bench, which seems so appropriate. As rally rules state, we leave it there.

 

The ride to the finish was so “Eddie James”. It rains really hard in spurts, and my gps quits. The screen changes to “dreaded blue”. Then there’s an accident on I-85 that has traffic tied up. Time is ticking. We get through the traffic congestion, and make it to the finish about 20 minutes prior to the start of the penalty period.

 

We go over our paperwork carefully, and get in line to score. Our friend Rich Buber is at the finish. So good to see him and so glad that he came. “It’s really tough to be here right now,” he admits. I understand totally, but I so appreciate that he came. Rich was registered for IB5k, but he tore a shoulder and could not ride because of it. If he had been able to ride, he very likely would be the third member of “Team Lyle”.

 

Of all the people I miss the most, it has to be Eddie James. This was his rally. He was to be the rallymaster. I’m a protégée of Eddie. An earlier ButtLite, a stupid scoring table mistake I made cost me all the points for one leg of ButtLite. Although I continued the ride, I did not place very well. At the finish, Eddie complimented me for continuing to ride hard. He noticed things like that. In addition, he told me of the pool the staff has on finisher positions. He had me pegged for a good finish. Needless to say, my performance cost Eddie some money in the pool. I was hoping to make that up for Eddie during IB5k, prior to his death. I only hope Eddie was able to re-coup his losses with the “angels pool” while watching this rally from above. Eddie, you taught me well!



Edited by LD Hack on 06 September 2010 at 9:50pm


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AndyKirby
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Posted: 10 September 2010 at 7:32pm | IP Logged Quote AndyKirby

Great ride and write up Mike, thanks for sharing and I'm glad to find out it was John who left the Dr. Pepper 'tribute' at the bench.

It was raining by then so the tears were not so obvious.

Regards

Andy



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SteveGrooms
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Posted: 11 September 2010 at 10:52am | IP Logged Quote SteveGrooms

Great Job, Glad All Went Well



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