The Sunday night Start Banquet featured chicken or pork, with sides and salad, plus great dessert choices. It was all very tasty and no one should have indigestion as a result of the food. However, some riders may be ralphing, instead of routing, as they try to digest the contents of the rally packets which were handed out at the end of the meal.

This rally is shaping up to be perhaps the best rally Jeff Earls has ever designed. His latest puzzle should allow a rookie to come up with a plan to collect enough points to be on track to finish. There are not a huge number of bonuses available to pick from in Leg 1, so evaluating route options should be somewhat simpler, compared to having a hundred or more.

There are also several options for experienced rallyists to consider for big points. But there is a twist for all the riders: a bingo card for riders to fill out along their chosen routes by getting receipts from certain restaurants. The bingo points are not as great as the bonus points, but could become critical as potential tie breakers for competitors who are close in total points. All bingo locations for the ENTIRE rally were given to the riders today. All bonuses available on Leg 1 were distributed, along with point values. 

To this rally vet, at least regarding riders looking for a respectable placing somewhere below the top ten, it appears having a more conservative bonus collection plan with some bailouts might be better than having a big bonus route plan with limited bailouts, especially on a leg as short as Leg 1. The points for Leg 2 and Leg 3 are expected to increase, perhaps significantly, so finishing Leg 1 without being exhausted from reaching for too much seems like a good idea. But there seems to be something for everyone, which is part of a great rally design and the signature of a great Rally Architect.

But before getting too deep into the rally details, let’s back up and review what has been happening at the Rally hotel today.

Because the registration process was completed on Saturday, many of the riders enjoyed a somewhat relaxing morning visiting with old friends, making new ones, and even enjoying the great weather. The Rally Mom must be saving the weather card for later. Although, there have been news reports of 100mph wind damage in Tulsa, OK within the past 24 hours.

The mandatory rookie meeting took place at 10:00 a.m. Arriving late or missing that meeting carried a penalty of having to attend a second meeting, which would start AFTER all of the other riders departed Monday morning. Only one rider missed the meeting. Jim Craig will be having his rookie meeting on Monday, slightly after the other riders leave at 10:00am.

All riders attended the mandatory rider’s meeting at 2:00 p.m. The same penalty assessed for missing the rookie meeting also loomed over the rider’s meeting and proved effective, as everyone was present to hear some serious straight talk from Dale Wilson, Bill Thweat, Lisa Landry, and Jeff Earls.

Tobie Stevens assembled the riders after the meeting for a group photo. Most riders headed Dale’s advice and re-positioned their bikes in the parking area during the break between the meeting and the banquet.

The names of the riders who picked up their packets and are expected to start on Monday morning, their rider numbers, steed of choice for this rally, IBA #, and home location, are listed on page 2023 IBR Riders.

There are currently 42 BMW’s, 24 Hondas, 16 Yamahas, 11 Harley Davidsons, 4 Kawasakis, 4 Triumphs, 2 Victory motorcycles, and one each Suzuki, Indian, Ducati, Husqvarna, plus a homemade BMW/diesel expected to start the rally. The most prevalent bike model of choice seems to be the BMW R1200/1250 GSA, followed by the GoldWing 1800.

These tires will not be looking quite as fresh in just a few short days …

The riders were anxious to get the banquet started and just get on with the evening. Anticipation was running at full steam as the riders speculated on what manner of mayhem was about to be revealed. Jeff did not disappoint them.

Rally Chef Jeff Earls was in character as the food theme was revealed and the riders received their packets containing a smorgasbord of bonus opportunities after the banquet.

The visibly anxious riders did not hang around to socialize after receiving their instructions. The game is on now. Efficient evaluation, strategizing, and smart routing choices are their priorities, before getting a few hours of rest. It did not take long for Lisa to start receiving calls for help from riders. Unfortunately, the night before the start is not the time to realize one is unable to get GPS data uploaded to their mapping program. Nor is it the time to realize one may not have practiced their routing skills enough to be proficient under the pressure of the relentless clock.

It is a tradition for Lisa, Jeff, and your scribe, accompanied by Tobie and his camera, to visit a few riders after they have had some time to evaluate their rally packets. It is always fascinating to see the different approaches to planning and get some feedback from the riders.

The 2023 IBR start is imminent, and we wish the riders safe adventures and all the best!

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­John Harrison
IBR Scribe
Iron Butt Rally©                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Photos by Tobie Stevens