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Iron Butt or Rockhead? You decide!

by MotoDiva

Are you smarter than I am? If you haven't done an Iron Butt ride and don't intend to you certainly are!

If you aren't familiar with the Iron Butt Association you can visit their website at The Iron Butt Association is all about safe long distance riding and they, rightfully so, bill themselves as the World's Toughest Riders. I did a 1000 mile ride in 24 hours. Why would anyone want to do this you may ask. Don't ask me because I've done it and I don't know why. I was asking myself this for the last 500 miles of the trip. I think the reason they call it the Iron Butt Association is because nobody would want to be a member if they called it the Rock Head Association! My first clue should have been that of the 14 riders that went on this ride I was the only woman. Not because I think woman are less capable of men but because I think that we're usually a little smarter then men when it comes to these kind of challenges. Guess where this puts me on the scale...

I rode with my husband, Brian, (this was a mutual decision and I was in no way pressured by my partner to do it would have done any good anyway!) and another riding friend of ours, Frank. We started out in Bellingham, WA at 8 am on a Saturday and had to ride to Ontario, OR and be back in Bellingham by 8 am Sunday. I have a Yamaha V-Star 1100, my husband has a Honda VTX 1800 and Frank has a VTX 1300. We're all pretty aggressive riders speed wise but I'm not as fast as they are through the twisties. All the riders did finish but our group was the last in a 7:29 a.m. This is not a race, just an endurance/distance ride. The other groups did not stop for lunch but I'm diabetic and when it's time for me to eat, I eat. They, the other 11, pretty much snacked as they were gassing up their bikes. We also

stopped almost hourly as the temperatures were 95-101. I'd soak my t-shirt and it'd be dry within 10 minutes. The first 500 miles were fine if you don't mind riding through hell (I don't as I grew up in Missouri). For the first 1/2 of the ride I could see all the things we were driving by and not able to stop and check out. I crossed the 49th parallel, a building shaped like a teapot (I was NOT delirious at this point), the Oregon trail and the Lewis and Clark trail. I'm not sure what else we passed, it was going by pretty fast. I couldn't see anything but pavement from about 11 pm to 4:30 am. This contributes to the monotony. The last 500 miles were very difficult for me as my mind, not butt, was numb. (I've got to much padding to have a numb butt and I don't think I got rid of any of it on this trip, which, I think, is grossly unfair.) To me there is something inherently wrong watching the sunset from your motorcycle and then watching the sunrise from said motorcycle. I was so tired at 2:30 am that I was unable to maintain a constant speed so we stopped at a rest area in Yakima, WA. to take a break. As we parked the bikes at the rest area Brian and I were laughing as the sign posted in the rest area said "Watch for Rattle Snakes" (honestly!) Gives you a sense of being able to rest doesn't it? I laid down, or up, on a picnic table for 30 minutes to rest and clear my mind. After that I felt much better and knew I could go the remaining 200 miles or so. When we got back and were checked in I found out that all the other riders seemed to feel about the same as I did, why do this? Of course, everybody is tired and it's hard to remember why you've taken on a challenge like this after being on your bike for 19-23 hours.

If you're an Iron Butt rider and you enjoy doing these rides I salute you and admire you, but(t) you and I have really different DNA. I like to challenge myself but I like to feel like the it was a worthwhile challenge. I am a pretty confident person and feel that I can do anything that I set my mind to but this just was not rewarding for me. My riding buddies, on the other hand, are thinking about the 1500 mile ride.

Lessons I've learned (or think I've learned):

  1. If I were doing it again I'd ride a straight 1,000 miles instead of turning around at 500 miles or I'd do a loop. Then you could ride back at a more leisurely pace or have different scenery.
  2. When you drop your helmet at the gas station instead of trying to catch it let it fall. It's better for the helmet to hit the ground then letting your bike fall 3/4 of the ways over while trying to catch helmet.
  3. People really do wear bikinis when riding in places other than Sturgis...
  4. I'm at least smarter than the woman riding in the bikini even though I didn't look as good as she did. (This woman was a passenger and was leaning against the sissy bar with her legs up over the drivers thighs and was resting her nicely pedicured feet on the gas tank. The man she was riding with had on boots, jeans and a long sleeve shirt. What was she thinking? I'm scared for this woman!)
  5. I now fully appreciate the line, "There's no place like home, there's no place like home...."
  6. Do not ride through a desert like area.
  7. Start really early.
  8. Wear padded bike shorts under your pants.
  9. Sheepskin is comfortable to sit on.
  10. Sometimes a wet t-shirt is a good thing.
  11. Take Aspirin.
  12. Wear earplugs. (this is a Biggie)
  13. Wear gloves with gel pads and take extra gloves.
  14. Take cash for gas. Debit/credit cards are limited as so many gas stations are now linked to the same system and you can only use your card twice in 24 hours without having to get overrides, thus wasting time.
  15. 'There ain't nothin I can't do...'
  16. I will never do another Iron Butt ride.

Sorry if parts of this are unclear but my little gray cells are still befuddled. I also want to Thank those people that sent positive energy and prayers my way. A big Thank you to one of the finest people I've ever known and a true blue friend, our official Iron Butt sponsor, Pam! I love that woman! Also, thanks to my Buddy AerOwe (another true blue friend) who I think still wanted to do the ride even after I told her how hard it was. What do I get out of this ride other than the questionable satisfaction of knowing I survived? Why, a certificate and patch of course....

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From MotoDiva:
"I grew up riding behind my Mom. We'd go riding in the hills in Missouri in the evenings after the heat of the day had passed, evenings are still my favorite time to ride. I've been riding for several years now and at this time I have a Yamaha V-Star 1100. I like riding with one or two other bikes, sometimes it nice to have another heartbeat along to appreciate the ride. Sometimes it's nice to take it all in by yourself. Rubber side down and smile side up!!! Onward....." You can find Dee visiting the
Women Who Ride (WWR) forum.

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