Checkpoint 2 is at the Sheraton Tech Center in Denver. The weather is awesome! However, not all of our riders have been enjoying their local weather conditions. Riding for days in the rain is a challenge. Everything eventually gets soaked, even with the best gear. As long as a rider is moving, they can stay pretty dry with proper gear. But stopping, opening bags or panniers, collecting bonuses, taking photos, working on the bike, fixing a flat, or just about anything other than riding on the highway results in getting soaked. Feet soaking in wet boots for days can be a serious problem. Hands being soaked and cold are uncomfortable and can hinder control operation. That tired iron butt doesn’t feel like there is much iron left after sitting in a puddle of water for several days, even with great gear like LD Comfort undies, although having a several spare pair and changing often can make things much better.

As we have often noted, points tend to increase as the rally progresses. Point values for bonuses available in Leg 2 were around 100% greater than the values available on Leg 1, effectively doubling the potential value of Leg 2. To be a finisher, the rider’s target for the end of Leg 2 to be on track to become a finisher was a total of around 36,000 points.

Group bonus photo:

Dennis Bitner reported that all riders were signed in at the photo bonus before 10:55am. The bonus was the birthplace of Kool-Aid in Hastings, NE and was worth 3,668 points. 37 flags were there to collect the points.

An update on the photo bonus from Leg 1: The bonus was located across the street from the Coffeyville, KS newspaper office and a reporter came over to see what was happening. Staff member and IBR Vet Dennis Bitner gave the reporter a brief interview and we are checking to find out when it will be published.

Wolfe Bonham was on the way to Santa Monica. He found himself on a corner in Winslow, Arizona and realized he was riding the struggle bus, instead of a flatbed Ford. His ankle was swollen and he had a case of trench foot from riding three days in the rain. He stopped for fuel and a paramedic truck pulled up to the pump next to him. The medics were asking about the bike and all the farkles, so Wolfe chatted with them for a few minutes. They were interested and friendly, so he asked if they had any meds or treatment for his ankle and foot. They got his boot off, saw the condition of his foot, and immediately proceeded with treating him and getting the ankle wrapped. He reported feeling better at the checkpoint. While Wolfe may think of medics instead of a girl in a flatbed Ford the next time he hears that song, he is unlikely to forget Winslow, Arizona.

Wolfe also had a close call when braking outside of Denver. He suddenly found he had no rear brake and a super sensitive front brake, which almost caused him to crash. Once safely stopped, he found that a tool container became dislodged from his motorcycle and jammed itself between the frame and the rear brake caliper, damaging the caliper and causing the rear brake to fail. The local BMW of Denver dealership was closing when he called them for assistance. They were only a half mile from the checkpoint hotel. He let them know the situation and that he was on the clock in the IBR. They agreed to stay open to get the bike repaired so he could make the checkpoint on time. He not only got a repaired bike and a free t-shirt, he made it to the checkpoint on time and is good to go. He said they were the most friendly and accommodating dealership staff he had encountered while traveling. Wolfe is looking forward to the media blackout being over at the end of the rally so he can give BMW of Denver kudos on social media. Note, there were no tools in the tool container when it caused the damage and resulting brake failure. Wolfe is into mead and found an interesting bottle of it somewhere while bonus hunting. It fit perfectly in the tool container. Not sure where the tools went. Don’t worry, the mead survived the chaos intact.

Rider Update: Kerri Miller was about 40 miles west of the checkpoint with a flat tire. That was the bad news. The good news? Mike Loomer, aka Mr. Wendy Crockett, was on his way to the checkpoint and was within about 4 miles of Kerri when Wendy contacted him from the checkpoint. He found Kerri and helped plug the tire. Mike followed Kerri to the checkpoint, where a new tire was installed. The answer to “How many people can it take to change a tire?” was apparently answered in the Sheraton parking lot. There is a rumor that Guinness may have been contacted…

Rally staff opened scoring early this afternoon, just after 4:00pm local time, to start processing riders who arrived early at Checkpoint 2.

Ben Ernst found that his rear tire was worn more than expected at the checkpoint. His friend, fellow Texas rider and IBR vet, Matt Wise was doing a ride plan which was easier on tires than Ben’s plan. As a result, Matt’s rear tire showed very little wear. They both ride BMW GSA motorcycles. They determined that Ben’s tire should have enough tread remaining for Matt to finish on it and Matt’s rear tire should get Ben to the finish. The solution seemed obvious to them, so they agreed to swap rear wheels to avoid losing sleep time trying to access and mount a new tire. The nice thing about the BMW single sided swing arm is a rear wheel removal is just five lug nuts, so the swap is super quick and easy, NASCAR style. The only issue is Matt found a nail in Ben’s tire right after doing the swap. Fortunately, when removing it, he found it had not gone deep enough to puncture the tire, so neither plugging nor tire replacement was necessary.

Conventional wisdom would hold that stopping at home, or elsewhere, to visit with one’s spouse or significant other is almost always a bad idea during the IBR. Especially when a rider is tired and in need of comfort. More than one rider over the years has stopped at home or at a hotel to visit with family or a spouse and overslept, missing a bonus or checkpoint. They just decided to drop out of the rally and stay comfortable, rather than resume a trip while exhausted, or riding several thousand more miles in the heat, or cold, or rain. Bob Bowman has apparently made a habit of spitting in the face of this conventional wisdom. In his last IBR, he stopped in Kentucky to have lunch with his wife and managed to tear himself away from her to continue riding. In this rally, he stopped on Leg 2 to meet her again for lunch, this time in Minnesota. He again managed to tear himself away from her to continue to the checkpoint. He let me know that his route for Leg 3 will take him just a couple of miles from his grandchild, so he plans to stop there too.

John Coons was riding at night, near the I-57/I-80 interchange in Chicago. He was short on time to get to a Schoop’s bingo location, which was about to close. Riding in traffic, he hit a large pothole and heard a “thunk”. He caught a glimpse of one of his phones bouncing off the bike. He marked the location with a waypoint pin, but did not have time to stop and look for the phone and still collect the bingo receipt. After riding the 25 miles and collecting the Schoop’s receipt and a photo of the bike and flag at the location, he backtracked 25 miles to try to retrieve his phone. No way he is going to find it, right?

Except John is a police officer. Crime scene investigation is his specialty. John has a reputation of staying on scene and finding things no one else can find, not giving up until everything pertaining to the case is found. He almost immediately spotted the phone, which was amazing since it was face down so he could not see the screen light up when he called it from his other phone. It was missing the protective case and mount, just sitting there on the shoulder of the interstate, on a bridge no less. On retrieval, he found the screen was cracked from the impact, but it had not been run over, and it was functional. He still needed to find the pink Otterbox case because he needed the mount to re-attach the phone to the motorcycle (at least until hitting the next massive pothole). He turned on all his driving and fog lights and rode slowly on the shoulder for about 400 yards, but he did not see anything. He rode to the next exit, turned around, and rode back to the location. Then performed the same search on the other shoulder. He found the case about 300 yards from where the phone was found. With just a 50-mile round-trip backtrack and some dedicated, sharp-eyed searching, John had his phone back on the motorcycle and functional. He has always been a never-give-up kind of guy. With such amazing results, maybe he should have been looking for bonuses in Vegas?


Volunteer and IBR vet Gary Huff checking in the riders in Denver as they completed Leg 2.

When riders sit down at the scoring table, they are asked if they have everything they need to be scored. Once scoring begins, they are not allowed to go and get anything they may have forgotten, overlooked, or dropped on their way to scoring.

Unfortunately, Steve Eversfield lost the rest bonus at the scoring table. He had receipts for a rest bonus in his packet, but they were for the Leg 1 rest bonus. He also had receipts for he Leg 2 rest bonus, but they were in his hotel room. He had put the wrong receipts in his packet and did not realize it until he was at the table and scoring was underway. As a result, he was not able to retrieve the correct receipt. A painful loss of 4,800 points.

Scoring at Checkpoint 2 was completed by 9:00pm.

James Owen did not have a fall, but he did manage to twist his ankle and was having difficulty walking on arrival at the checkpoint. He planned to ice it and elevate it overnight.

Lionel Ramos had some assistance in the parking lot with an aux fuel tank pump swap. The original one failed, but he had a spare so it was just a remove, disconnect, install, connect procedure to correct the problem.

A few riders arrived looking pretty fresh and rested. But a lot of them resembled the proverbial “fried meat on a stick”. Fortunately, almost everyone looked rested and ready by the time they departed on Leg 3. Quite a few riders had tire changes and other maintenance scheduled for the Checkpoint 2, before starting the very long Leg 3.

Sometimes even the bike needs to take a nap. The result of loaded bikes on warm soft asphalt. Some riders might prefer to be loaded with a warm, soft cookie right now…

John Harrison
IBR Scribe
Iron Butt Rally

Photos by John Harrison, Tobie Stevens, and Steve Gallant