In a couple of hours, the riders will come back to Albuquerque and finish Leg 1 of the Iron Butt Rally 2015. This was only the beginning, but already at this early stage, first riders will have dropped out. Actually, when I watch the spotwalla page right now, I wonder if all of them will make it in time. Hurry up, boys and girls!
In 2013, in the morning of the fourth day, I could leave late before 7 a.m. because I had plenty of time to arrive at the Ford Museum in Detroit. On my way there, I stopped at the Buick Gallery and Research Center in Flint. Yes, THE Flint that was in the centre of “Roger and me”, the film which started Michael Moore’s career as a documentary director.
The closer I came to Detroit, the more the decline of the automotive industry with its impact on the cities became visible. Take the potholes in the road, for example. I took a picture of an anchor at the Dossin Great Lakes Museum on Belle Isle. The funny is, it is actually visible on Goggle Earth! My next stop was nearby, a memorial at the banks of the Detroit River. I did not want to enter the pedestrian zone, even at this early hour, so I had to walk a bit. I wouldn’t care too much in Europe if I don’t bother any people, but in the US…
A couple of minutes later, I arrived at the Henry Ford museum. It was THE location to visit on Leg 1, giving a massive amount of points. The twist was: we had to take pictures of 25 artefacts! 25! And the trouble is: you have to find them in that big museum! In the next 90 minutes (after a hefty 20$ admission fee) , I had quite some fun, this was a real scavenger hunt now. At least a dozen riders were running around in the museum trying to find all the cars, motorbikes, planes, trains etc. This had a certain slapstick touch to it. But like on the road, riders help each other. So we managed to find the iconic artefact somewhat quicker. The European connection with Kevin and Lyn worked quite well.
Some of the stuff to be found the car in which JFK was shot, the first bike to cross the USA, the first “Otto” motor (it looked more like a steam engine), classic car models, the bus where Rosa Parks set the spark of the black civil rights movement, speed record rockets, a replica of the Wright Brother’s plane, an entire DC 3 hanging in the air (!) and and and…
Finally I had my pictures together and I could plan the rest of the afternoon. I concluded that I had enough time to follow the Lake Erie up towards Cleveland and beyond. I took a picture of a horse carriage in Ohio and wondered how I could pass by all this places in only a couple of miles: Milan, Berlin Heights, Florence, Birmingham. Again, where was I? I went up to Erie and took a picture of a ship in the harbour.
Tricky, if there’s a fence in the middle and the flag has to be on the picture as well. I met Phil Weston, IBA UK’s president and we exchanged a few words.
I still had some buffer left and decided to go to the first oil well drilled in Pennsylvania somewhere in the hinterland. I arrived well on time at the hotel in Pittsburgh, registered myself and went to my room to prepare myself for the scoring. I had to wait a while because many riders did the same. First anecdotes were exchanged and the waiting time was used to get some hot meal from the buffet. Finally it was my scoring time. In the big hall, many scorers were waiting at the tables. Impressive. First, my pictures had to be extracted from my card. It was a rally rule that the resolution of the camera had to be very small. I had particularly bought a small camera that still had this possibility, but it turned out that these settings were lost after I had used the zoom for the first time! Gulp! And now? Luckily all my pictures were accepted despite the large size. I moved on to my scorer who was also my technical inspector before the rally. Everything went smooth and in the end I leave the scoring table with all my points! None lost! I had successfully finished Leg 1! Everything I hoped for after my fuel problems. We would only get the rally books for Leg 2 in the next morning, but the preparations started right away.
I went to fill up the bike and discovered a tyre shop that would open at 7 a.m. the next day. Perfect! To my surprise, my rear tyre was already worn! After half of the estimated distance! I couldn’t explain this, was it the rough tarmac? Only later, a lot later, I discovered back home (I carried the tyre always with me, as a spare tyre, just in case) that my tyre dealer had made a mistake and sold me a front tyre instead the needed back tyre…..Truth is stranger than fiction. I needed to prepare all my stuff for the next day and to quickly take care of my bike. I wanted to fix that throttle problem, so I took off the throttle rubber and cleaned the handle bar. From now on, this should be solved. It was already dark and I still needed to prepare everything, including some personal hygiene. I realised that there’s not a single minute to relax in the IBR – you’re under stress during 11 days. Time was flying and finally my luggage was packed and my rally planning devices prepared for the next morning. Finally I crawled in my bed. Now, get some sleep for the alarm clock will go off at 5 a.m.
No way. The brain would not come to a rest. Sleep! SLEEEEP!
Brain says: no.
This went on for a while until I finally fell asleep….until I was woken up again at 1 a.m. by the !*^%”?£!!! iPad that makes an annoying noise when it’s fully charged. The same game again. My conscience did not make the situation any better: I knew Leg 2 was a killer. 2500 miles in about 60 hours! From Pittsburgh to Sacramento, California in one go. For a small bike like the XBR, this was really the ultimate test. So, get some slcchhhrrrrrrrrrrrr……