Each year during Bike Week the Iron Butt Association (IBA) has their “Pizza Party” on Friday. Truthfully, it is now in Jacksonville since the event outgrew Daytona and is now a full fledged banquet. During the banquet they honor the achievements of Long Distance riders. They have one or two scheduled rides during the event. This year they had their normal 1,000 mile ride in 24 hours (called a Saddle Sore) and they added a 1,500 mile ride in 24 hours (called a Bun Burner Gold) Certificates for completing these rides are handed out at a party prior to the banquet. They also allowed for ride ins, which basically means if you completed any IBA ride they would certify your ride and hand out your certificate during the event. This process normally takes months as it id done by volunteers and the volume is pretty high. Last year I did my 100 CCC ride (Jacksonville to San Diego to Jacksonville in under 100 hours) as a ride in. This year I did a Bun Burner Gold as a ride in. Of course this was done on my Sporty. The original plan was for a friend to join me on the ride and several others to do various other rides on the way down. The weather forecast on Monday prior to the ride called for rain the entire way down so they canceled. Truth is, had the rain been what was forecast I would have probably driven down.
My plan was simple. I left my home in the Philly area Weds, March 11 at 5am, headed west to Carlisle PA, turned southwest down I-81, made my way to Mobile AL, and then turned east to Jacksonville FL. Total distance was approximately 1565 miles. Excluding start and stop fuel stops I made 6 fuel stops and one brief rest stop along the way. Having extra fuel with me is great and is what allowed me to complete the ride. The ride was uneventful other than about 200 or so miles of light rain and some fog. And the bike ran great! My actual start time was 5:25 am, and I rolled into the hotel at 4:20 am, 22 hours and 55 minutes after I started. I felt surprisingly good when I finished. I joined my friends already there for breakfast as they were getting ready to depart on the scheduled ride. I then completed and turned in my paperwork, then took a much needed nap. To me this was just another ride, albeit a difficult one that I was not sure I could do but many who I was spending the next few days with had done. I was to find out later that was not quite the case.
Thursday and Friday I basically hung out with friends, some old and some I had just met. Many of those present had previously completed the Iron Butt Rally which I am competing in this summer so I took the opportunity to garner as much info as I could so I would have an idea of what to expect. I did duck out briefly to run to the Harley Dealer for some oil and a quick lunch at Hooters.
Friday at 4pm we all gathered in the Comedy Club in the hotel for the distribution of the certificates for the event. First up were the ride ins. It started off with the presenter announcing she took great pride in announcing the first certificate, as several of the attendees from PA canceled due to weather and this rider did a Bun Burner Gold as a ride in … on a Sportster. Yes, that was me she was talking about and of course she was referring to my friends who had canceled. Many in the room applauded and those around me slapped me on the back and congratulated me. Keep in mind, I am the junior person in the room as many of those who congratulated me have been doing these rides for years. I have to admit, it felt pretty cool! The remaining awards were handed out and we hung out until dinner.
At 6pm, dinner was served and got our food from the buffet line and grabbed out seats. After we ate the head of the IBA got up to speak. This is always in interesting talk as he first talks about the happenings of the day. There are always some interesting events, this year someone left their cell phone at one of the stops on the ride and another “rescued” it, another lost his flag which was picked up by another rider, another had the final drive of his BMW bike fail and he spent the night talking with an attractive female redhead sheriff’s deputy who insisted she wait with him. He broke down in Ft Meyers, got a cab to the local airport, took a flight to Jacksonville via Charlotte, and another cab to the hotel. Awards were handed out to riders who had completed some notable events such as the person who completed a Saddle Sore in China, another who completed his 30th Bun Burner Gold, and various other riders who had done some pretty amazing things on bikes. Then there is the usual talk about how sick and deranged our group is for doing the things we do. They start off acknowledging some of the basic rides and have those that completed them stand and be recognized. They then progress to the more difficult rides such as (in no particular order) those that completed 2,000 miles in 2 days, 5,000 miles in 5 days, coast to coast in 50 hours, coast to coast to coast in 100 hours, Key West to Prudhoe Bay, 100,000 miles in 1 year, 10,000 miles in 10 days, 20,000 in 20, 30,000 in 30, 48 states in 10 days, 49 states in 10 days, and so on. During that they recognized those who did the Bun Burner Gold, 2 back to back Bun Burner Gold’s, 3 back to back, and 4 back to back. He then said they had one completed as a ride in on a Sportster and had me stand. I was shocked as I did not expect this as this treatment is usually for those who did something “special” and to me it was just a ride on a bike I have 140,000 miles on. Then the Rally Master for the Iron Butt Rally commented that I was riding the Sporty in the Iron Butt Rally that summer. The reaction that garnered was a shock to me. Those around me congratulated me on my ride and others came up to me during the night. Again, many of these riders have done far more difficult rides and I have a lot of respect for them.
Alas, the night ended and Saturday was when most were heading home. After breakfast I took a look at the weather and decided to delay my departure to allow the weather to move through. I opted to head inland on I-26 and then come up I-81 on the way home to avoid the rain. It worked, as I only had 5 minutes of rain and others headed north had hours of it and got soaked. Due to my late start I made it a two day trip and spent the night in Dublin VA. Along the way I made a stop at the 8th Air Force Museum and took a side trip to check out a Tuskegee Airmen memorial at Walterboro SC airport. I got home around 2Pm with a total of 2600 miles on the Sporty in 4 days.
Due to the nature of the ride there were no photos on the way down. Here is the courtyard of the hotel. Nice change from the snow on the ground in Philly when I left.
The view from Hooters
F14 at the 8th Air Force Museum on the way home
And a MiG
And old navigation beacon from the airport. These used to dot the country every few miles to mark the air routes for night flying
Sunrise on Saturday