Day 8 (Monday)

So what happened on Monday ?

Well, it was my first day back a the office after riding in the national rally.  In the morning I had a doctors appointment to finally cure this “ear” problem I’ve had for a while now and then in the afternoon, I had to go down to Coventry to meet with a client to go through some tax papers.

Sonia had a busy day too – gym in the morning, spa in the afternoon. Lol !!

It was the first day of Wimbledon and the defending champion, Andy Murray successfully negotiated the first round.

Yesterday evening, I started booking hotels and ferries for my next trip.

What else happened ?  Oh yeah, over in the USA, the IBR continued …….

 

So first things first, Robert sent this message :

“No, I will NOT buy a Triumph !!!”

Mmmmmm …… Lol !!

 

So, whilst I was at the doctors, Robert rode the “Tail of the Dragon” road again, bringing him lots of points.  He is beginning to tire now after 8 days on the road and he was not really awake for the first three hours so rode nice and slowly.

He went eastwards through Tennessee and made a detour through the mountains to bag a big bonus, but that included 8 miles of gravel road – not welcome when you’re tired.

Of course, he had the usual issues with the bike – and it’s now becoming more frequent.  As soon as the fuel becomes too low in the main tank and the pump has to “work hard”, the problem returns.  The “useable” range of the bike before top-up fuel is now needed is down to 100km (60 miles).  He then adds fuel from the auxilliary tank and off he goes again.

He discovered a new “string” of five points on the road, adding more points to the route but it has become very hot again as the USA heat wave moved north. He is slowly “cooking” …….  I wonder what a “Medium Rare Bavarian” actually looks like ?

On the positive side, he doesn’t have to keep stopping to put his thermals on !!!!

It’s around 2.00 p.m. when the bad heat starts and that just slows him down so he stopped for his rest break earlier than expected in Harrisburg

Tomorrow, early in the morning, he will tackle New York (city) before moving north east into New York state.

The extra couple of hours rest time has given Robert the ability to check his planning to ensure no last minute mistakes.  He has less than 3 days riding ahead of him.  He is nearly there ……

Tomorrow (Tuesday), he has one time restricted bonus to ensure he makes and then he begins to head for the finish and the “Holy Grail” of that three digit membership number …..

Day 7 (Sunday)

Nearly up to date again …..

He only has 10 magic 12 rallies to ride now …….

He had an early start to the day and headed back over to Memphis, Nashville & Knoxville where he thought he deserved a 4 star cozy hotel with good bar food ….

WHEN HE GETS THE EXTRA LEAVE FROM WORK NEXT YEAR FOR OUR TRIP, HE CAN TAKE ME THERE.

Who knows, with the relaxing of the German law, we may be a married couple by then ….

As has been the case for the last few days, the Honda worked fine in the cool, but as soon as it became hot, the problems returned – at least he knows how to sort it and be back on the road very quickly. He ran into a huge thunderstorm In Nashville, which was very welcome.

He’s removed the side panels off the bike to try to keep the pump cool and this has helped apart from the fact that his legs are now slowly cooking – I had this in 2011 crossing Texas.  it’s STILL an unpleasant memory, 6 years on ….

And then he helped to further worsen relationships between the USA and Europe ….

He tied the sidepanels onto the luggage rack of his bike – except they had no intention of staying there and nearly hit another rider as they made their bid for freedom ….

I wonder what Donald Trump will “tweet” about that ……

At least the thunderstorm proved that his electrics are waterproof, even without panels.  Of course that’s because no-one had the opportunity to sabotage them (like a “certain Bavarian” did to my Tridents electrics last year …… )

After 1400 km, he called it a day as he thinks he has a cunning plan (who does he think he is, Baldrick ? Lol !!)  that should give me easily finisher status.

Leg 3 is all about the multipliers and if you apply them cleverly, you get lots of points.

With the lack of pressure for anything other than a finish now being the goal, he tells me he feels like he is on vacation – obviously a rather shitty vacation though !!

hey have fantastic cheesecake here! This morning, I just planned for the first two days, I wanted to leave as early as possible.

 

Right, that’s just about bringing everything up to date other than (and I may have already mentioned this), ROBERT – BUY YOURSELF A TRIUMPH ……..

 

Keep those messages of support coming (and spread the word).

He is nearly there – just 4 days to go (4 German Butt Rallies, back to back ….. sounds easy doesn’t it ?)

 

 

 

Remember this was written a couple of days ago …..

 

Robert has decided to go northeast, visiting some points from Leg 1 and he will go to New York – but during the night

He feels after the first two days of Leg 3 that he should have enough points to be a finisher already

New scoring rules : Full House: three of one, two of other category, last one gives quadruple points

But – will the bike survive?

 

As many of you will already know, Robert has dropped to 50th place

WHO CARES !!!!!!!

He is on course for a finish – that is ALL that matters …..

 

….. but first a quick and (very) recent update from Robert.

I spoke to him les than an hour ago – I guess it must have been about 5.00am  on Day 8.

He’s fine and the bike is doing “okay”.  He’s still having a few issues with the bike (he’s told me that next time, he’ll be using a nice reliable bike – something like a Triumph … ), but his route for leg 3 has taken that into account.  Now, the sole target is to finish.

Do not be surprised if on day 9 you see him on his Spot starting to move towards the finish.  He’s done the calculations and can probably arrive on Day 10 and still have enough points for a finish.  As soon as he knows he’s got enough points bagged, he will take no chances  as he knows that fuel pump could give up at any time …..

Right, now I’ve told you what’s actually happening now, he’s what’s been happening over the last two/three days (and remember these were written “at the time” so may have been overtaken by events ….)

 

Day 6 :

His day started well, continuing his trip to the planned bonus point, through Kansas and Oklahoma.  He was more than one hour early at the timed bonus, a gruop picture in a big whale but he had previously cut my sleep bonus by one hour to make sure that he would be thereon time

Then it got hot again …….  Two hours later, the bike “conked” (again) and he had the same trouble as on Thursday.  He did manage to get to the checkpoint on time though

However, the biggest news of the day was this message I received from him …..

“My theories were obsolete….it IS a failing pump at heat….”

No shit, Sherlock – and just as I said …..  But, look at what he said again, he admitted he was wrong ….  A German, no, a Bavarian admitting he was wrong.

THIS IS THE BIG STORY OF THE 2017 IBR.  

In years to come, people will have forgotten who won …..  People will have forgotten about the heat and the storms …..  People will have forgotten the concept of the rally …. Hell, people will have even forgotten who was the USA President at the time of the rally ….  No, all they will remember is “that time a Bavarian admitted he was wrong” Lol !!

Okay, serious stuff again …..

His route did not bring very many points because he wanted (no, needed) to avoid the heat. Going to Colorado area gave him at least a couple of days relief from it.

This rally has now turned into what I faced in 2011 – a battle for survival …..

He did not lose any points again, but he made a bad error in the planning for leg 2 (understandable really as he had “other” things on his mind – a failing Honda …..

NOTE TO ROBERT : BUY YOURSELF A TRIUMPH ……

In short, get four bonuses of different categories and the fourth one counted triple. His route was based on that. However, he overlooked that the first combination had two of the same category….a bitter pill to swallow and cost 2500 points…

The call in bonus however had worked. In total he only got 12400 points, under the finisher mark but his good 1st leg means he is still on target.

Now the task for leg 3 is clear – get just enough points to be a finisher. The issue is the fuel pump, it is clear that is struggles in the heat.  The forecast sees rising temperatures everywhere. He thinks the best is to escape to the Northeast, but even there, temps will be above 30C

At the checkpoint, there were plenty of people offering to help.  Allen Dye thought he had a replacement pump and they decided to change the pump as he assured Robert that he could get one, but it was the wrong model pump.

He has to continue therefore with the one he has fitted …..

Now it is all about survival.  He hopes to “escape” quickly to the northeast, maybe riding at night. He doesn’t want to kill the pump.

He really appreciates your comments and support – so keep wishing him well, but as he says, for all of your kind words, you cannot understand what this is about.

DO NOT LET THIS PUT YOU OFF FROM WISHING HIM WELL THOUGH !!!

Apart from the pump issue, he is fine. Mentally good, physically as well. He knows that he will not get much sleep at the leg 2 checkpoint as he needs to leave early tomorrow

He does have a few health issues – rashes due to the heat and a painful irritation of the outer right ear due to the earplugs and he may have to ride without ear plugs for a while…But in principle he is relatively fit after day 6.

So the next few days will be about disaster management. Just getting out of the brutal heat that will come in the south and the west and to keep the bike running.

It’s not over until the “fat lady sings” ……

He expects to drop considerably in the ranking, but this is no longer a concern. Just get to Minneapolis with enough points, that’s all ……

NOTE TO ROBERT : BUY YOURSELF A TRIUMPH ……

 

3rd leg planning and day 7 reports later ……

 

…. I’m back and the latest report will be up will be posted before lunchtime today

Good Morning …..

Robert is moving – which is good.

Yesterday, the bike had less problems in the cool air of Colorado and the even better news is that the IBA world is now aware of Roberts issues and hopefully, there’ll be answers and a solution waiting for him when he gets to the Leg 2 checkpoint later today

Now, I’m going to go missing for 30 hours or so as I’m off to ride in the ACU National Rally – an 18 hour, 600 mile “ish” very mild scatter rally here in the UK – “easey-peasey” compared with what Robert is facing over there in the USA …..

Well yes, ….. apart from the fact that the bike I’m riding. my X75 Hurricane, has a “useable” fuel range of around 50 miles …..

I will be visiting lots of fuel stations over the next 30 hours or so ….

I’ll update you all on Roberts progress tomorrow by which time hopefully, he will have a bike that works and will be planning his leg 3 route

 

Update …..

As Robert has got into the cooler air of Colorado, the bike is not misbehaving quite so much.

I’ve spent most of this months profit for my firm in telephone conversations with him today ….. but I am now trying to get him some technical help at the checkpoint.

The plan is, if possible, to rest during the heat of the day and ride through the (relative) cool of the night, get the bike back to the checkpoint and see what can be done …

Bloody Hondas !!!!

 

 

Robert is very tired after the first day of leg 2

His ride was good, but the bike continues to give problems.  The engine has now started cutting out in the cold as well as in the heat

At one stage whilst crossing the Texas Panhandle. he had to push the bike 400 metres to the nearest tree – the only shade around.  In the heat that Robert will be riding through, you cannot imagine how energy sapping that can be.

Purging the fuel pump helps in the heat, but not in the cold.

At the start of the day, everything went well but as the bike began to give problems, Robert began to suffer and worse still, he still does not have any idea of what is causing the problem – there’s just no clear picture

He is struggling but somehow he needs to get through this leg, score as well as he can and give himself as much time as possible once back at the checkpoint to try to solve the issue.  Leg 3 will have very big points value and as long as he is still in the rally and assuming he can get his bike running correctly, he WILL be able to score the necessary points to get a finish by the end of the 11 days, of that I am sure.

BUT – he has to get to the end of this leg, score as much as he can and get to the checkpoint so that he can sort this problem

This is a low point for Robert – he’s tired and probably a little bit angry with both himself and with his bike.  If necessary, he can probably sacrifice any great plans for  “leg 2” and just get to the sanctuary of the checkpoint.  The longer he leaves himself to sort the problem, the better.

He can still get that finish – but, he has to get the bike working properly ……

 

 

….. but I’ve just realised that I haven’t given Pepa (Roberts better half) a name check yet in my reports …..

So Pepa – this one is just for you !!

 

I know that Robert reads this blog each night.  (He doesn’t want his mobile filling up with messages – that is for emergencies only)

Give him all the encouragement that you can.

It might not seem like it to you, but when you are on your own, riding in the IBR, supportive messages really do help – even from 7000 miles or so away …..

So any “lurkers”, hit the key board for him ….

So, lets just review where we are …..

Most of you will by now know that Robert is in 11th place after Leg 1

The moment I found this out, I was on the phone to him, stressing that under no circumstances must he try to either hold or better that position.

It is great that he has had such a good first let, but ONLY because it will relieve some of the pressure on legs 2 and 3.  No-one ever asks WHERE you finished in the IBR, they just ask IF you finished the IBR.  Whether Robert finishes 11th or 111th, IT DOES NOT MATTER.

I know that I am beginning to sound like an old woman here, but I suspect, that no-one currently reading this has ever ridden the IBR.  Most of you will never have ridden a multi-day rally.  A few of you may have ridden a 36 hour rally and some of you will have ridden a 24 hour rally ……

Robert is ONLY 3 days into an 11 day rally. He still has one and a half IBA European Tours to do, he still has five Brit Butt Rallies to do or, he still has eight German Butt Rallies to do …….. Think about that …….Then imagine at the start of one and a half  ET’s or five BBR’s or eight GBR’s you are sitting on a bike that is not running 100% ………

That is the position Robert finds himself in ……

HE MUST PROTECT HIS BIKE !!!!

 

Right …… so these are Roberts (very sensible) thoughts ……

He knows that this is a very tricky leg to plan.

Key West is massive in points, but also crazy – it’s 1000 miles down and 1000 miles back ….in heat, in traffic, very few places to overtake, lots of cops …….

So he’s not going there.  Instead he’s heading west to Colorado, again planning to have an easy ride with lots of rest breaks.  (Let the rest of the fools burn themselves out)

He does have to go across the pan handle of Texas where he will experience temperatures well into the forties, but it’s going to be hot everywhere in the south and once he’s through that, he can escape some of the worst of the heat in the Colorado mountains

Day one of leg 2 is a very unpressured day for him – just in case (actually probably when) the bike gives problems

He’ll be returning back to the end of leg two on a more northerly (cooler) route

The points values are ramped up for this leg – if four points categories of 4 subsequent BPs are different, the fourth one counts triple …. a tricky calculation to make

 

Back to me again …..

Earlier, I mentioned that I spoke to Robert once I’d found out that he was sitting in 11th place.  After we’d had a chat, I tried to think of what sound advice and great wisdom I could offer him and leave him with.  I decided on this …..

DO NOT F*CK THIS UP !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

….. including pictures of Robert ……

https://goo.gl/photos/zkZPy9xfMftpmRWu8

 

 

 

Well, leg 1 is done and dusted.

Robert arrived at the checkpoint well before the cut off point

He lost no points at the scoring and got what he feel is a good score given that he had a relaxing ride – bike issues apart.  The scores will no doubt be announced in due course on the IBA IBR pages and it would be wrong of me to post them here, but you may be surprised at some of the people who have not scored as well as him …..

Over the course of the first 3 days he’s managed to take almost 15 hours of  rest breaks and tells me that he feels good and not too tired – unlike many of the other riders ……

The day 3 ride itself was good – perfect weather and the bike initially ran fine.  As those of you who have his Spot link will know, he passed through those famous “country music cities” Nashville, Jackson and Memphis and he says that he needs to come back some day (well, Mr Koeber – extend your break next year and you could ride to them with me !!!!!!)

He even managed to pick up BP’s that he hadn’t originally planned to do

But, the “bad” news is that the bike has again given problems – I knew he should have used a Triumph …….

As he crossed the MIssissippi and the bike cut out – again.  He was already riding with the tank filler cap open in case it was an air lock but the bike wouldn’t start

He got himself off the highway, and a friendly Harley rider (is there such a thing ? I thought all Harley riders were “bad-ass mutha-f*ckers” Lol !!) stopped to help.   Whilst he was unable to help, he at least directed Robert to the next gas station.  Robert has noticed that the problem doesn’t happen if the tank is full ….

At the road side, he gave the bike a quick check :

  1. Checked the fuel pump – working
  2. Disconnected the automatic fuel tap – no change
  3. Disconnected the fuel filter – bike started !!

He filled up quite close by was on his way but didn’t use the auxiliary for the remainder of the day

As the main tank capacity dropped to 1/3 full, the bike sputtered again – so he now fills up every 160 miles to keep the bike running

Given the temperatures (32C) – which actually is not that hot given what he’s about to experience – he has concluded that the problem is probably vapour-lock, due to the heat.  There’s little he can do about it, other than try to find “cooler” routes.  If the aux tank works, then he can switch to putting petrol at 450 km instead of 600km which is the only thing that helps.  He has also discovered that the flow from the auxiliary  tank was obstructed which was probably soft tubes due to the heat, but he has managed to get it flowing again

Given the huge range of BP’s available, he should be able to re-plan a route to keep him out of the real heat of either the Mojave to the west or the deep south to the east of Texas – but that obviously isn’t good for scoring – HOWEVER, THAT IS UNIMPORTANT.  THE SOLE OBJECTIVE IS TO FINISH AND ANYTHING ELSE IS A BONUS.   If Robert finishes in last place (and he won’t), then this rally is a success.  Nothing matters other than to come back to Europe with his 3-digit number.  There will be other opportunities to show the USA what he is capable of …..

This next leg may present a few challenges with the bike – it will be the hottest of the 3 legs and so ALL Robert needs to achieve this leg is to score enough points to still be on target for a finish and most importantly, still be in the rally by the end of the leg ……

So, let’s leave on a positive note …….

Robert says that the Pan is so much more comfy to ride than the XBR – not shit, Sherlock !!!

 

 

Are you all shy ?

Mmmmm …..

The bike stalled and cut out again today …… thankfully it’s going again

More to follow later …….

 

Day 2 has gone well for Robert and he is now about an hour into an 8 hour rest break – he is ahead of schedule at the moment.

He started the day after a long sleep in a library in Cincinnati (sorry I was 24 hour early in my report yesterday about when he would be arriving there) where he had to take a picture of a VW Beetle-Dinosaur.  Germans are naturally drawn to VW’s ……

He’s had good weather today as he rode through the Appalachians

He is now in Tennessee and tomorrow he should be at the first leg checkpoint in Texas (visiting Memphis on the way)

There appears to be one rider at least who is following a similar route to Robert as he has met this rider continually over the first two days – I do hope that my favourite Bavarian has not found himself another “partner” as I will be jealous …… Lol !!

So, he’s on target, taking plenty of rest and should arrive at the checkpoint early – which is all good ……

BUT – on the afternoon of day 2 he had a problem with the bike – or rather the bikes fuelling system.

The bike stalled, the cause being low pressure in the tank (again – he’s had this before) but he dealt with the issue and was soon on his way.

Now, this is actually a good thing.  The fact that he’s had this problem and has successfully dealt with it will (even if only sub-consciously) increase his confidence.  I know this feeling as back in 2011, I was almost waiting for the first problem to occur with my bike.  Once it had and it had been dealt with, I can remember thinking “is that the best that you (the bike) can throw at me” .  Now of course it wasn’t as I had far worse later in the rally to deal with, but the point was that having dealt with the (relatively easy) problem just increased my belief in getting a finish.

At some stage over the next 9 days, Robert (as indeed will all of the riders) will ask himself “Why am I doing this ?  Why am I putting myself and my bike through this ordeal ? Can I really get to the end ?”  He is going to hit “the wall” at some stage in day 5 or 6 or 7 or 8 or maybe earlier ……. that point when you realise that you been on the road “forever” and against the clock and it seems like that you still have “forever” to go …..  Little victories like solving this fuelling problem, no matter how trivial are then the things that you look to for “moral” support.

So 2 days into an 11 day rally and 1 day away from the end of the first leg.

So far so good ……

However, I am reminded of a story told by Steve McQueen to Yul Brynner in one of the scenes in the film “The Magnificent Seven”.  It concerned a man who fell from the top of a very tall building.  As he fell past each floor, people inside the building could hear him saying “so far, so good. so far, so good ……” Lol !!

 

I spoke with Robert, late on Monday evening (very early on Tuesday morning here in the UK – yes, it looks like I too am going to suffer during the IBR …. Lol !!).

Day 1 objectives have been achieved and he is now taking a 6 hour break.

Full update later today

 

 

He’s away ……

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This has the “official” daily reports on there (not as good as mine obviously !!)

It also has the public SpotWalla pages

http://ironbutt.com/2017ibr.cfm

 

Right, he’s finally away …… and so for the next 11 days you’re all mine !!

Seriously though (and this will probably be the last time for a while) I feel very honoured that Robert has asked me to do this again.  It was surprising the first time he asked me to keep his blog for him during the 2013 IBR as I had only known Robert for a couple of years,  but since then our friendship has continued to grow and so it’s a real privilege to be back here “in the hot seat” again.  This blossoming of our friendship is all rather surprising to me as (1) he’s German (well, okay Bavarian) and (2), the biggest crime of all, he rides a H*nda.  Of course, this didn’t stop a Polish hotel receptionist asking last year if we were “partners” (in “that” kind of way) – but that’s another story  ……..

There’s not much to tell at the moment as Robert has only been on the road 4 hours or so, but I did have a long “fatherly” (well I am just about “biologically” old enough) conversation with him yesterday about making sure he finishes.  I know that Robert wrote about this yesterday, but no-one should necessarily expect Robert to be up there near the top places.  He’s right – until you’ve ridden in the IBR (and I bloody well have so there !!) you cannot begin to imagine what it’s like.  Robert has the additional pressure of already having one IBR DNF behind him, so it is really important that he gets a finish and his “3-digit” IBA membership number.  To anyone that doesn’t know about this, the first 999 IBA membership numbers are reserved for riders who have finished an IBR.  After 17 rallies, they are still only up to about number 500 or so – it’s a rather “exclusive” club !!

Anyway, he’s now off on leg one which will take him to Texas.  He’s chosen a relatively safe route for this first leg, allowing himself plenty of time for rest breaks.  If he wants to risk things, leg 3 is the time to do it and not on the first leg.

For those of you that have access to his private Spot link, don’t be alarmed if you see him going in circles, it is part of his leg 1 plan.

Cincinnati is his next planned rest break – but that’s a good 36 hours away at the moment

That’s all for now ……