There are days when the scribe must sigh deeply and report on things which are unfortunate. It is particularly unfortunate to have to post such things when bringing you news of Day 02. But this is not the first time, nor is it likely to be the last time the scribe is faced with such a task.

Lisa Rufo and Molly are recovering after a deer strike totaled their motorcycle, but they are out of the rally. After making sure Lisa was released from the hospital and all was well, Steve Rufo is continuing the rally solo. He has unfinished business. Steve had entered the 2021 IBR but was unable to ride due to having back surgery before the rally. He will have a penalty assessed for their team not staying together, but still has an opportunity to become a finisher. Continuing without the rest of his team was no doubt a difficult decision, but we wish him well.

Gerry Arel had an accident on his GSA in South Carolina and is out of the rally. He is in the hospital with some broken bones. Medjet is arranging to transport him to a medical facility near his home in Connecticut for the recommended surgery. SCHP and an eyewitness reported Gerry’s front tire hit some construction debris during a rainstorm, and the bike went down hard. Gerry was somehow able to scamper to the median and out of traffic. He called the RallyMom yesterday and apologized for causing her to have to open the Red Book. We are very thankful he is in good spirits and getting the care he needs to recover. IBR Vet Dan Crowley unselfishly drove several hours to be with Gerry at the hospital, something for which we owe him a debt of gratitude. Gerry’s awesome wife Nikki rushed to the airport and is now on scene, allowing Dan to head back home.

Troy Martin rode his Triumph Trophy off a curb and damaged the oil sump, creating a leak. He patched the leaking aluminum with some J.B. Weld and is back on the road. So far the repair is holding.

Rob Griffith had a fuel pump failure on his GoldWing in North Carolina. The pump has been replaced. Rob is making his way to the checkpoint.

Too Much Too Soon?

Conventional wisdom holds that going too hard on the first leg of the IBR is not a good idea. Traditionally, the number of points available per mile ridden increases throughout the rally. The point values available on Leg 3 will typically dwarf the point values available on Leg 1. Ideally, riders still need to be relatively fresh on Legs 2 and 3. However, should they bite off too much from the menu on Leg 1, they might not be fresh enough to route efficiently or ride their plan effectively. In light of that, a conservative approach would seem more appropriate.

Reality is a bit more nuanced. Riders competing for a gold medal finish, especially those in the hunt for the top ten, cannot really afford to pass up points on Leg one. Having noted that, they still need to allow for enough rest to be fresh and ready to plan their routes at the first checkpoint.

It is also a harsh reality that riders looking for a top five finish are operating at an entirely different level and every point they can collect on every leg is important. Riders who breathe that rarified air tend to push the envelope from the start. But even they need to manage time carefully.

There are often bonuses with big point values placed in locations designed to tempt riders to take a big bite which they may ultimately find too difficult to swallow. These are usually referred to as “sucker” bonuses. The points may suck the rider in with dreams of a big score and when it is too late to recover, they find the difficulty of collecting it simply beyond their capability. Maybe it is too far away for the time available. Maybe it is in a difficult to access area which required triple the amount of time to collect it than they budgeted in their route plan. Maybe it is on a rough dirt road which becomes a muddy mess after a rain. Maybe it requires hiking across a land bridge only available at low tide … and low tide occurs after the time a rider would need to leave to get back to the checkpoint. Maybe it is doable, but not if the rider spends too much time collecting smaller bonuses on the way. Maybe it is doable, but is it smart and how does it impact the rest of the rider’s rally? Maybe it is just not doable at all.

In any case, rally architects have a habit of inserting such temptingly shiny baubles into their rallies to see who will reach for them. I would not say it is for sheer amusement, but it probably contributes to the term “rally bastard” being tossed around by certain riders. In addition, what might be a “sucker” bonus for a rookie might be entirely doable for a top tier rider.

Do the top tier riders sometimes bite off more than they can chew? Yes, they do. And sometimes, so do riders who are just looking to finish. Can those elite riders pull off a massive ride that sets them up for a point lead going into Leg 2? Yes, that is possible. Can those riders create an impressive point lead on Leg 1 and then find themselves too fatigued to ride their plan on Leg 2? Yes, that is also possible.

It remains to be seen if any of these scenarios apply to Leg 1 for the 2023 IBR riders. As this report is being written, there are a few riders who appear to be far enough out to place their arrival time at the first checkpoint well into the penalty points. It will be interesting to see how their rides and bonus claims work out if they can get to the checkpoint before being time barred.

As always, we watch and wait.

Other riders are taking the more conservative approach and are on track to arrive at the checkpoint hotel well ahead of the opening of the checkpoint window. Rookie riders are usually better off following this strategy, for multiple reasons. They should be able to get enough points to hit the finisher target for Leg 1 and still arrive with a time cushion at the checkpoint, which reduces stress. They can arrive with time to rest and sleep before the next leg bonus list is handed out. They should then be well-rested when planning their Leg 2 routes, assuming they don’t spend their rest time hanging out in the lobby talking to everyone they see. They should also be rested to start riding the second leg and collect the higher valued points.

Tuesday was a travel day for the rally staff, moving the rally work room from the hotel in Pittsburg to the hotel in Tulsa. Some of the staff made the trip riding, some were driving, and some were flying. There are always issues with any form of travel, but everyone made it to Tulsa. The preparations for the riders to arrive Wednesday evening began late Tuesday night. We will post more details of the Tulsa checkpoint in tomorrow’s update.

There is a group photo bonus Wednesday, north of the checkpoint, and we expect a lot of riders to show up for an easy 1632 points. They must sign in before the deadline to collect the points and be in the photo.

It is disturbing that information about this bonus, and information from another bonus, was posted to social media on Tuesday. That information could have only come through a rider in the rally to the person who posted it. The integrity standard for this group is simple: Do not do anything during the rally about which you would be unwilling to stand up in front of your peers and admit to. The rider meeting at the checkpoint, where the Leg 2 bonus list will be distributed, should be interesting. It is also disturbing that a rider posted a photo of bonus information to Facebook on Wednesday. The rules are clear on these things, and they were covered in depth during the rider meeting. What are these folks thinking?

We posted the following update on Monday under the headline “Rally 101”:

“At 1:07am, Landry received a photo text, showing flag 88, hanging on a pole in Bar Harbor, looking so sad and abandoned by its hapless rider. Oh well. 
Then, at 3:01am, another rider came upon the lonely flag and texted the RallyMom, asking if should they bring it back. Really?!
When no text response came from a sleeping Landry, and no phone call to verify the basic rules of rallying, at 3:07 the rider announced in another text they would bring it back to Tulsa… The riders have managed to connect and they are working on a handoff location to return the wayward rally flag to its owner. Hopefully, this will be resolved without further disruption.”

Unfortunately, Dan Duvall not only chose to take a rider’s flag, costing the rider hours and aggravation, he also chose not follow Jeff Earls’ specific instructions on how to proceed. The scribe predicts the next rally will incorporate a new rule and painful penalty for similar transgressions.

John Harrison
IBR Scribe
Iron Butt Rally©