A Chronicle of My Adventures on "The Patriot"

Fortitudine Vincimus -- "By Endurance We Conquer"
ride hard, ride far, ride safe

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The 2013 Iron Butt Rally: 11,000 miles in 11 days

Ninety individual riders and six two-up teams began the 2013 Iron Butt Rally on Monday, July 1, at 10 am.  As described on the Iron Butt Association web site, the Iron Butt Rally is the ultimate competitive motorcycle endurance ride. Held in August/September every other year in odd-numbered years, it covers a minimum of approximately 9,000 miles in North America over an eleven-day period. Points are accumulated by arriving at checkpoints within the allotted time and by visiting optional bonus locations between the checkpoints. It is not a race, but rather a test of planning, preparation, strategy and tactics, riding skill, and endurance.

Their amazing 11-day journeys took them well over half a million miles throughout the United States and Canada. I was one of 30 to 40 observers and family members waiting at 4 am Friday morning, July 12, for some two-thirds of these riders to cross the finish line at the Cranberry Township Marriott. Those who arrived after 8 am lost 20 points per minute, up to the arrival deadline of 10 am. After 10 am, riders became a DNF (did not finish). Once a rider crossed the finish line, his or her odometer reading was recorded and their official time was stopped. Then each rider had to sit with a judge to validate the scores for bonuses they collected during their ride. We learned at the banquet that night that there were 67 riders (five with spousal pillions) that successfully completed this event of a lifetime. Even as an observer, I learned a lot about fortitude and perseverance while listening to the stories of the finishers, and not surprisingly, I also learned a lot while listening to the stories of the DNFs. To give one a sense of the magnitude of the accomplishment of finishing the Iron Butt Rally, reflect on the route of the top finisher, Derek Dickson, who accumulated 92,524 points while traveling 11,799 miles in 11 days on a 2005 Yamaha FJR1300:

On my way home Saturday from Cranberry Township, I stopped by Somerset County, Pennsylvania to visit the Flight 93 National Memorial. It was a very somber visit to sit in a light rain and imagine the bravery of the passengers and crew of Flight 93. During a break in the rain, I captured a quick photo of "The Patriot" at the entrance to the memorial:

Overall, it was a good ride from home to Cranberry Township at a leisurely 625 miles round trip. Maybe "The Patriot" will attempt the 2015 Iron Butt Rally!

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