Iron Butt Association and the Long Distance Riding Community

Sport Touring Corner

By Norm Kern

Now that riding season is in full swing and we don't have to limit ourselves to short rides to keep from freezing, it's a good time to talk about Long Distance (LD) riding. Some will question the topic appearing in this column, so first a little background.

Sport Touring Corner is for riders who view motorcycling as a sport, and that includes developing skills and discipline, exploring and stretching limits. Long distance riding, both competitively and as a pastime, is a way to explore one's endurance, requiring discipline and many other skills as well.

The Iron Butt Association

Riders who share the passion for long distance riding feel a kinship and special brotherhood for each other. That strong bond is one of the primary attractions of the Iron Butt Association (IBA), which has over sixty thousand members worldwide. 

The IBA, which bills itself as the "World's Toughest Riders," is a membership based sanctioning organization that puts on several rally events each year and certifies a variety of distance and endurance rides.

The only way you can join the IBA is to complete the entry level ride, called the Saddlesore 1000. The ride itself is of your choice of time, location and route, but must be at least 1000 miles in length and be completed in less than twenty-four hours. You must document it with another person not on the ride signing a witness form at the start and finish. You must also document your ride, logging mileage and keeping fuel and food receipts for the start, finish, and all stops in between.

When the ride is complete, submit your paperwork, along with the application form and a $40 fee. If you have followed all the rules and properly documented your ride, you will receive a certificate and membership. The membership is for life, but if you wish to pay an annual fee to become a premiere member, you will get a newsletter, discounts and other special privileges.

How to do your first Saddlesore 1000

How hard is it to ride 1000 miles in a day? Not difficult at all if you do it the easy way. First, pick the right time of year. I like early-mid May when it's not too cold or hot. Check weather to make sure you won't be riding in rain or high winds. Use interstate highways and stay away from big cities and dense traffic.

Take a CamelBak for hydration and snacks you can eat while going down the road. Stop for gas every 150-200 miles and take a 15-minute break. Don't stop for a meal until you've gone at least 700 miles and make it a light one.

Start your ride about 3-4AM. If you average 60 MPH including regular gas stops, you'll be done in less than seventeen hours, plus however long you spend dining, so total time is about 18 hours. You'll be done at 9-10PM.

If you are smart, your route goes West for the first part, North or South for a while then East back home. That way you are never riding into the sun. Do the route in a loop rather than an "out and back," which is a bit harder to get certified.

I've done four of these with friends over the years. It's a lot of fun; there are always stories to tell, like the friend who was late to the start, and rushed out the door to get going. His feet were killing him all day until one of us noticed at a gas stop that he had gone over 700 miles with his boots on the wrong feet!

In addition to your own sense of accomplishment, you'll have lots of friends who just can't believe you could ride a THOUSAND MILES in a day!

Other IBA Certified Rides

The Saddlesore 1000 remains the entry level ride, but there are lots of longer and more difficult ones. The Bun Burner Gold is 1500 miles in less than 24 hours--a very challenging ride! There are multi-day rides as well. The 50 CC Quest is coast to coast (2345 mi from Jacksonville, Florida to San Diego, California) in less than 50 hours. The 100CCC is two 50 CC Quests back to back!

The Iron Butt Rally

The Iron Butt Rally is a competitive event put on by the IBA in odd numbered years usually in August. Riders apply to enter and only about 100 are accepted for each event. This is a grueling event that lasts 11 days, with riders often traveling over 11,000 miles. They earn points by riding their motorcycles to various "bonus" locations, which are tasks or destinations with point values. Riders must provide evidence by taking a photograph of an object or scene or perform some other required action.

The rally has usually run in three segments, with checkpoints at multiple points in the U.S. Riders are given a list of bonuses with locations, times of availability, and varying point values. There are far more bonuses than can be earned in the time allotted during a leg, so each rider must figure out their own route and which bonuses to attempt while still having enough time to reach the next checkpoint before it closes.

Finishing positions are awarded based on the number of bonus points, provided the rider makes all the required checkpoints within the prescribed time window. Gold, silver and bronze medals are awarded to finishers based on their bonus points as percentage of the winning bonus score.

Themes are often employed, such as visiting U.S. states and their capitals, gateways and arches, etc.

If you are interested in the Iron Butt Association and its rides and rallies here's a double opportunity for a first-hand experience:

First, check out Pat Mogavero's MSTA "Rally of Historical Proportions" July 6-8 event in Georgetown, Kentucky. It includes a one-day LD type event with bonuses and points that you can try for yourself.

Second, on Sunday morning July 8, the seven-day TeamStrange Butt Lite IX Rally official start is at a nearby hotel. Most of the riders are the same veterans who ride the eleven-day Iron Butt Rally. Many of us will be going there from Pat's Rally of Historical Proportions to see the riders and their bikes take off. Should be exciting

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