~~ "She has so many aliases, you'd think she was a spy!" ~~

Thursday, June 16, 2011

IBR primer

I’m going to be posting (mostly on Facebook and Twitter) about Ken’s progress in the Iron Butt Rally, so I thought it would be useful to do a quick primer here, to get everyone up to speed on what I’ll be babbling about.

The IBR is an 11-day, 11,000-plus-mile endurance motorcycle event, kind of like a scavenger hunt via motorcycle. Bonus locations are all over the US (including Alaska) and into Canada, and have different points, so part of the challenge is to figure out how to get the maximum number of points in the time frame you have. There are also mandatory timed checkpoints that you must make.

About 1000 people apply to run the rally every two years; 100 are chosen. Because there is a minimum number of points you have to get, you can conceivably hit all the required checkpoints and still not “finish.” About 60 people actually finish.

More people have gone into space than run the IBR. More people climb Mt. Everest every year than have run the IBR since its start in 1984.

Ken got interested in rallies a few years ago and began running shorter ones, which happen all over the country during the year. He applied, but wasn’t chosen in the lottery, for the 2009 IBR. Then he won four shorter rallies in a row—something nobody had ever done before. About a month and a half before the 2009 IBR, he got a call inviting him in. His response (as was correct) was “Let me check with my wife.”  ;-)

Everyone else had about a year to prepare. He had a month and a half. And on his very first IBR, he came in 9th.

He headed up to Oregon last week to do final work on the bike in a friend’s shop, then ran the short Cal24 rally to give the bike a shakedown. (Yeah, and he won, too!) Tomorrow he’s off to Seattle for the starting checkpoint, where there will be tech inspections and a riders’ meeting and a banquet and all that sort of thing.

As I did 2009, before he left I took an official “start” picture. Unfortunately, he left after dark, and my camera flash had fun with the reflective material on his jacket…. This was the best I could do.

I will be posting FB/Twitter updates on his progress as I can. I’ll be at an intensive writing workshop for the first 8 or so days of the rally….

Emails of encouragement may be sent to him via email, but please understand he won’t be able to respond. Also, comments on my posts are unlikely to get to him, due to my workshop, etc.

The rally finish is in Ontario, CA, on Friday, July 1, from 8–10 am. If anyone wants to join me there, ping me privately for details!

Edited to add

Ken was still working on the bike in Portland when I flew in yesterday, so he came to the airport to give me kisses.  :-)  So I was able to take a proper "start" picture, which is also more proper because a few hours later he really did leave for the IBR start in Seattle.

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