#148b Following the IBR

Fleeter Log #148b
IBR Start / Minneapolis
2009 August 21 - 26
Entire trip here on Spotwalla 

The Iron Butt Rally (IBR) is only run once every other year. 2009 is one of those years. The 2009 start is in Spartanburg, South Carolina with the first leg ending in St. Charles, Illinois. My plans are to see the rally riders off in Spartanburg, then be in St. Charles to greet them as they arrive there. At that point, I will leave the rally riders to continue the rally by zigzagging their way to southern California for the of end leg two, then to make their way to the finish in Washington by any way other than the straightest route.

Day 3 - Sunday
August 23, 2009
0 miles
Spartanburg, SC
The way the rally works, in short, is much like a scavenger hunt using the USA and Canada as the playing field. Each rally rider will be given a book of bonus locations the night before the start. They will have the next several hours to make sense of the hundreds of bonus locations and pick out a handful that they think will give them enough points to stay in the game and still allow them to get to the checkpoints before being time-barred (disqualified). Oh, and they need to get a good night's sleep before starting what many have described as being the most challenging 11 days spent on a motorcycle.

The theme of the 2009 IBR is Crime Scenes. Each bonus will have a connection to a famous historical crime.
Official group photo of the 2009 IBR entrants.

Riding boots getting a professional spitshine before the "big dance"!

Day 4 - Monday
August 24, 2009
394 miles

Spartanburg, SC to Clarksville, TN

Nervous tension hangs in the air as the ralliers make last minute preparations minutes before the 11 day rally starts.
Final adjustments were being attended to as the rally entrants hovered around their long distance motor machines in the start area. I mingled close enough to take some photos and wish them luck, but was careful to stay out of the way and not distract them from their pre-start routines.

The two Suzuki Rotary Engines were given an honorary 5 minute early start. Then at 10am the field of 100 were sent from the parking lot one at a time. Rally Official Warchild walked the line and deliberately pointed to each entrant to give them the okay to release their clutch and begin the grueling 11 day IBR. Within eight minutes the parking lot was empty. 102 riders have achieved their dream of being an IBR participant. Their next goal is to qualify as an IBR Finisher. And a few will even strive for a podium finish.

Videos of the start from YouTube:

As the riders head out to find their first bonus, I head to my hotel room to upload the videos to YouTube. There are many IBR fans across the country hungry for news of their sport, but unable to tune into CNN for coverage. I will feed the hunger. As the videos are uploading, I pack and wait...and wait, and wait. I call the front desk to ask for a late checkout. Finally, the upload is complete. Within minutes, I am loaded up and riding out of Spartanburg.

When I stop for the night in Clarksdale, Tennessee and get online, I find that the IBR Start videos I uploaded to YouTube has had over 2,500 views ... in less than 12 hours. I told you there were IBR fans out there hungry for news of their sport!

Day 5 - Tuesday
August 25, 2009
425 miles

Clarksville, TN to Bloomington. IL

Though we are both in search of " interesting bonus" locations around the country, my riding style is very different from the mass start of riders that left Spartanburg a few hours ahead of me yesterday. My touring is much more relaxed and of slower pace. I take the time to see what is passing me by as I ride the back roads in search of interesting stuff.

Today, I make my first "interesting bonus" stop at Fort Donelson NMP in north western Tennessee in hopes of getting a glimpse at the Bald Eagles that I've heard hang out there.
I made it all the way to the end of the park's road, but no eagles showed themselves to me today.
Leaving Tennessee, my route takes me through the Land Between the Lakes. I've often heard of the unusual stretch of terra firma between Lake Barkley to the east and Kentucky Lake to the west, but this is the first time I've passed through this National Recreation Area ... another "interesting bonus".
Then there are even times that I find some unusual sights while running down the freeway. But, usually not. Freeways are usually boring; must be true if these tires earned the only "interesting bonus" label in 300 miles worth of freeway.

After an "interesting bonus" stop in Symsonia, KY to see a friend, I spent much of the rest of the day on the freeway heading to Bloomington, Ilinois for an overnight stop on my way to St. Charles, Illinois.

Day 6 - Tuesday
August 26, 2009
150 miles
Bloomington. IL to St Charles, IL
Just a hundred miles into the day put me in downtown Joliet where I find my first "interesting bonus" stop of the day. Here, I park at the front door of the Joliet Area Historical Museum, then run inside to the gift shop to collect an ink stamp for my collection. 

I'm not taking time to find a parking place and touring the museum today. I'd rather stay close to the GS and spend time riding north along the I&M Canal to the small town of Lockport and my next "interesting bonus" stop. 

The Gaylord Building is at Lincoln Landing in downtown Lockport. It is home to historical exhibits featuring the canal, President Lincoln, ... and another ink stamp.

I arrive in St Charles and get checked in just before the rain starts. Then I head a couple miles down to the St Charles IBR Check-In location at Pheasant Run Resort and wait in the rain for the IBR ralliers to start rolling in. Fortunately, the rain came in waves so we were able to wander around in the parking lot and welcome the weary (but pumped up) riders roll in over the next several hours.

Close up example of a rallier's cockpit. Possibly the most important item on day 10 and 11 will the reminder note of important things to remember -- rally flag, camera, receipts, fuel log, etc.

The parking lot slowly emptied as the ralliers headed inside to the scoring table, then a well-earned shower and rest before receiving the next set of bonus listings in the  hours before daybreak.

I cleared the area and headed back to my motel about 10:30pm in a light rain. I checked the weather when back in my room, and learned that the bigger storm was headed our way. Unlike the ralliers, I will have the option of sleeping late in the morning while the rain hammers away outside.

Copyright 2009 Fleeter Logs

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