The Iron Butt Rally 2015…

….will start tomorrow morning. But this time, without me. I had a place at the start for this year’s rally, but in January, I had decided to pull out of the rally. I had to make a decision and it was not easy. But in the end I had no other choice than to set my priorities. I simply had to save my holidays this year to realize a long-term objectives: developing a multi-day rally in the Alps in 2017. This will take a lot of time and actually while I am typing these lines, I am on my fourth scouting trip. Many more will be needed. But maybe I can follow the rally, remembering what happened two years ago when I was in this place…

I always had in mind to write a report of the IBR 2013, but it never materialized. During the 11 day rally, riders are not permitted to communicate with the outside world, so it was my buddy John Young who posted some news during that period. Anyway, there wouldn’t be time to write a blog post.

The atmosphere is tense before the rally. Some riders are relaxed and easy-going, but most are full of tension and some have already put on their game face. Even I was a bit nervous, although I was not on a competitive mission. With my old XBR500, I had achieved the “Hopeless Class” status and I only wanted to arrive at the finish. I had received a lot of wishes from spectators that were studying bikes in the parking.

In a couple of hours, riders will gather in a large hall in Albuquerque. After some words of the IBA president and the rally master, riders will be called one by one and will receive a big envelope with the rally book and the electronic GPS data. They will rush to their rooms and load the GPS data onto their laptops. I had received all the data for all three legs, but only the first rally book. It took me quite a while to sort and re-name all the data for the first leg. More than 100 points to visit. This looked massive. And then there were the minimum points. After a first, shy calculation, I realized that I had to plan much more ambitious for I would not have had enough points in the end. So I designed a 4700 km ride for the next three and a half days. I discarded NYC and planned to go to Vermont, Quebec, Lake Superior and Detroit before returning to Pittsburgh. It was getting late, but at least the start was only at 10 a.m. the next day. But still, the planning took a long time…and in the end, it’s always the same story: when you’re finally in the bed and should get some precious sleep, the brain is still working and your ideas are spinning in your head….

(to be continued)

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