The 2023 IBR poster was revealed this morning in the lobby of the host hotel. It immediately went viral on the internet and the speculation started in earnest. Riders are always looking for clues to the rally bonuses, some of which tend to be “Easter eggs” in the poster design. This activity is not helpful for planning the rally, but it never fails to create much speculation … and a bit of amusement for the rally staff. As Jeff says, “A mind is a wonderful thing to play with.”
The Saturday before the rally is always busy, for staff and riders alike. We’re sandwiched between two weddings at the hotel over the weekend. What is a better combination in the lobby and meeting rooms than fancy weddings and a bunch of motorcycle riders who look like they’re wearing astronaut gear and range from the ‘daisy fresh’ end of the olfactory rating scale to ‘how many weeks have you been wearing that jacket?’
Because I still don’t have a better description of how the registration process looks, I am going to re-use an analogy I wrote several years ago: My granddad and my dad were beekeepers, and it is fascinating to watch a hive of honey bees working to achieve their goals. The busy motion in and around a hive seems random to the untrained observer, but under the orchestration of the queen, each bee has a purpose and is determined to accomplish that purpose. The result of the successful completion of this process is sweet honey, but disruption of the flow can get you stung.
Sitting back and taking a look at the seemingly random movement of riders and rally staff around Rally headquarters today reminded me of the motion in and around a bee hive. Lots of activity occurring that might seem random to the hotel staff or other guests, but every staff member and rider was focused on specific goals and getting those goals accomplished as quickly as possible. As with the bee hive, when everyone completes their task properly, the result is sweet. But not reading the rules, or not having everything in order, can be painfully frustrating.
Riders had a two-hour window to grab breakfast at the host hotel before getting in line to start the registration process. At 7:00am, riders began getting their registration packets, paperwork, and banquet tickets from Lisa and Jeff. Pro tip: after getting your packet, go to the station with the shortest line first. The riders were free to move to any of the following stations for processing by a dedicated and experienced group of staff volunteers:
- Tech Inspection Station: Nancy Oswald, Dale Wilson, Brian Roberts, Jim Bain, Jim Frens, Jon Good
- Odometer Check Station: Lisa Stevens, Tim Masterson
- Camera Card Formatting Station: Dave McQueeney, Ira Agins, Jim Fousek
- Video/Media Station: Cathy Davies, Maura Gatensby, Pat Blewett, Dennis Bitner, John Ferber, Roger Van Santen, Greg Blewett, Bob Rippy
- Insurance/Waivers/Medjet Station: Ed Otto
- Spotwalla Tracking Station: Nancy Collins, Chris Sakala, Jason Jonas
- Emergency Contact Info Station: Bill Thweatt
When each rider has been cleared through all of the process stations, they go through a final check-in with Jeff Earls. The registration process started at 7:00am and by 3:00pm all of the veteran riders were done. The rookie riders had also completed everything they could do today before 3:00pm. The rookie riders still have a mandatory meeting to attend tomorrow, which will give them an opportunity to get themselves in the correct frame of mind for the challenge which awaits them. After the meeting, they will complete their registration process with Jeff. Being done with the Saturday registration process by 3:00pm certainly confirms the registration process went very smoothly and efficiently.
But as always, there were a few exceptions. Marc Beaulac did not reset his trip meter for his first odometer verification run. Being the cooperative guy he is, he volunteered without hesitation to do the loop again. He was not the only one, there were a couple of loop repeats needed by other riders. Eric Buskell realized he needed to stop and get fuel on his first odometer verification run. Like Marc, Eric had no issue with volunteering to run the loop again to get an accurate odometer reading. In past rallies, we have had instances of 25 or 30 riders needing to re-ride the route due to being directionally challenged, or failing to read the route correctly and making wrong turns, so having less than five re-dos this time is somewhat encouraging. Hopefully it bodes well for a smooth start on Monday, when over 100 bikes will need to successfully roll out of the parking lot in less than 5 minutes. No stalls, no drops, no domino falls, please.
To say that the rally hotel parking lot always contains interesting bikes would be an understatement, at best. Where else do you see a vintage BMW K-RS with a Smart Car diesel engine stuffed into it? Ted Capling has the most unique bike in the rally. Is it the only bike in the Hopeless Class? Maybe, maybe not. It will be interesting to find out. His vanity plate: IBDZL
How about a Ninja 1400 with a car tire on the back wheel? We will see if Paul Meyer has solved the rear tire wear problem on one of the highest horsepower street bikes available.
Andy Regnier is riding the first-ever Husqvarna to start the IBR. It is a Husky Norden 901. We had a KTM finish the rally in 2019, so there is hope for this entry to carry Andy to the finish.
While the rally staff did not see any bikes which would obviously be classified as hopeless, there may be a few riders who could be classified that way. Did that comment actually make it past the editor? If the very smooth and easy registration process causes a rider to lose their cool, we are not sure they are ready for what is going to happen during the next two weeks. Word.
At least three riders initially failed tech inspection due to displaying stickers advertising products or services. Bzzzzzztttt! The rally rules clearly state that this is not allowed. After all, this is not NASCAR. Kirsten Talken-Spaulding somehow skated by with this infraction in previous rallies (probably by talking sweetly to the tech crew to distract them from their solemn duties), but she was caught this time. Maybe it was having Chris McGaffin as her pillion who broke the spell? Who knows, but she was not alone.
Kerri Miller, Robert Koeber, and Ben Ernst were all snagged on this same detail. Reading comprehension still counts. Apparently, Ben was the most prolific offender, in terms of quantity of unacceptable decals. The tech inspection staff uncharacteristically took pity on all these riders and allowed them to place painter’s tape over the cherished decals, instead of peeling them off.
The registration tags on the rally bikes are from all over the world. Some of them are personalized with cool names. It is always interesting to walk through the parking lot and read the vanity plates. However, one rookie rider, who shall go temporarily and uncharacteristically nameless in this daily report, was noted by the tech staff as possibly being a bit presumptive with his vanity plate. Having “IBR 23” when the rally has not started yet? Hmmm. Finishing is never a guarantee, but hopefully it will work out.
It was also observed that one bike left a significant pool of oil at the odometer check start/finish line. The staff had several bikes departing and arriving at the same time and did not see which bike dumped the oil on the ground during the few seconds it was stopped there. They were unable to determine if it was engine oil, transmission oil, or final drive oil. The rally staff would encourage all riders to take a close look at their bikes, sooner rather then later, to determine if your bike is the one dumping oil. No one needs to have this happen to them during the start on Monday morning.
Tonight may be the last full night of sleep some of the riders get until the end of the rally. Tomorrow night, after the traditional Sunday evening start banquet, the riders should all be in rally mode, balancing the need for rest with solving the routing puzzle to produce a good bonus-gathering plan for Leg One. Riders will have at least three options to choose from Sunday night:
- Door #1: Choose to get maximum sleep, but possibly miss out on planning time to optimize and maximize their bonus point opportunities.
- Door #2: Spend too much time optimizing the route plan, so that they do not get enough rest to actually ride the plan they created.
- Door #3: Recognize when good enough is good enough for leg one, save the file, and get enough rest to be able to ride the plan.
Which door would you pick?
Iron Butt Rally©
Photos: Tobie Stevens and John Harrison