In addition to the daily reports which focus on the riders and rally, we are publishing “appetizers” and “out-takes” and “soup to nuts” during the rally, as time allows. Hopefully, these additional items on the information buffet reveal some of the behind-the-scenes happenings that don’t make it into the daily reports. Whether stories of hilarity within the staff, background info, historical perspective, exceptional volunteer efforts, or perhaps unforeseen “opportunities”, we hope they are adding to your IBR culinary experience.
In the months leading up to the 2017 rally, I accepted the task of being the rally scribe for the first time. While contemplating riding a staff keyboard for two weeks, instead of my rally bike, it became clear that composing daily reports about the IBR would be quite different from the enjoyment of reading the talented musings of my predecessors. Some very gifted writers have applied their talents to relate the details of the Iron Butt Rally, as well as entertain the long distance enthusiasts who follow this epic event every two years. I am the first to acknowledge that I do not type in the rarified air occupied by prior scribes. Perhaps the thing I most have in common with them is that I have loved being a small part of the IBR for the last couple of decades.
Each scribe has brought their own style and unique perspective to this task. Each one has also struggled through the fog of limited information to cover the riders and events for posterity. Or if not posterity, at least for an LD community who wants every possible detail, preferably as it happens. It might also be fair to say that pouring perspective through a keyboard while riding in the middle seat of a crowded staff van at 75mph on the slab in a thunderstorm, when encountering turbulence at 30,000 feet with the fasten seat belt sign on, or when there is almost no information coming into rally central about the condition of the riders, has never been an easy task.
No pity party here though. One only needs to think about the tired and lonely rally riders who may be suffering in damp boots, fighting soggy spirits, and struggling to properly prioritize conflicting issues on Day 9. As precious minutes evaporate from the clock, riders may have to choose between adjusting their route for the most remaining bonus opportunities or getting the sleep that their body and mind is craving. Either way, the relentless clock needs to be stopped before the checkpoint window closes… not to mention the challenges of avoiding large critters, riding through bad weather and/or heavy traffic, or nursing a failing bike through the last 600 miles.
Smart riders know that they need rest to ride safely. They have learned to recognize the signals that make it clear when their priority needs to be rest. Whether they have to stop and rest, or find themselves able to get an extra bonus or two, IBR vets would probably agree that riding in the rally with soggy boots would still be preferable to riding a keyboard! There really is nothing else like the privilege of participating in “the big dance”.
Nevertheless, we are trying to bring you as much information as we can process about the riders and events of the 2023 IBR, without giving away information which could potentially affect the outcome of the rally. I use “we” because getting the story of the rally out is a cooperative effort. The riders, staff, volunteers, and spectators all make contributions to the 11 days of details which stream through the scribe’s keyboard.
For those of you who do not know me, a somewhat late introduction might be in order. I was on the editorial staff for the IBA Magazine from the beginning, but I am not a writer by trade or training. I am a Senior Engineer for a civil consulting firm in Alabama. I am pretty sure that I am the first IBR scribe to type with a strong southern accent. Hopefully, all y’all have been able to follow along without an interpreter.
I served as the scribe again during the 2019 rally. While I managed to volunteer at a couple of locations in 2021, I was not able to commit enough time to serve as the scribe. I am thankful that a good friend of mine was able to step up and handle the scribe duties in my place. I am honored to return for the 2023 rally. We are striving to bring the rally experience to all of you who are following your friends and family members as they chase their dreams.
When I am not consulting on large scale civil projects, helping out with IBA functions, or riding dirt bikes, racing mountain bikes, riding centuries on road bikes, or rock crawling Moab in my Jeep, I host the Annual Last Ride of the Year at the Stagecoach Café in Stockton, Alabama (which has been going strong for 26 years), guide tours as a docent at the Barber Museum, and serve as the Director and Head Coach of the OMHS Mountain Bike Team, which won the Alabama Division 1 State Championship for 2023.
I have been a member of the IBA since 1996. I have worked as a volunteer during every IBR since 1997, except for 2001 and 2011, when I was fortunate enough to compete. As a rookie, I managed a gold medal 18th place in 2001 with a ride to Denali in Alaska on Leg 3. I finished 12th in 2011, which was an improvement over my attempt 10 years earlier, but still somewhat disappointing after making it into the top 10 standings at the last checkpoint. Watching the trials and tribulations of the current riders brings back a lot of memories of what it is like to be a competitor in the IBR.
During the 2015 rally, in addition to sharing rally van driving duties with Sergeant Hobart as we chauffeured the RallyMom and crew across the country, I also managed the newly revised scoring process. It was redesigned for that rally by Tom Austin to be more rider focused. We were successful in getting most of the riders processed much more efficiently, which allowed them to allocate more time for rest. The riders are our priority and rest is a valuable commodity during the IBR.
OK, enough about your scribe. As much as we need the generous volunteers and appreciate the enthusiastic spectators, the IBR is all about the riders. These folks typically commit almost two years of preparation for the event of a lifetime. The entry fee may seem steep, but it pales in comparison to the cost in time required for a rider to properly prepare for 11,000 miles in 11 days on a motorcycle.
Those who take their prep seriously tend to do well, sometimes even better than they expect. Those who fail to take their prep time seriously may find the wheels coming off their big adventure in a variety of less-than-pleasant ways. And those who fail to listen to the wisdom, directions, and advice of the RallyMom, do so at their own peril.
We hope all of the remaining 2023 riders and pillions have a successful adventure, returning safely as finishers of the 2023 Iron Butt Rally.