Last stretch of an 18.5 hour/1020 mile Motorcycle Ride
Our Iron Butt ride consisted of a little over 500 miles to Bowie, AZ and a little over 500 miles back to Las Vegas, NV. We had stopped in Bowie, and taken pictures of each other in front of the Post Office since there was no gas station in the town for us to get dated/time-stamped receipts.
After being on the road home for a couple of hours, the sun was starting to go down and it was getting darker, so at one of our stops I changed my dark visor for my clear visor. At our stop in Surprise, Arizona, we took a longer break for a snack. I also took more Aleve, as, was starting to experience some pain in my thumbs and parts of my wrists from resting my weight on my hands for so long.
When we left Surprise, it was night time. From then on we knew the road ahead, though not a major road, was not heavily traveled and therefore not well-lit. I was told that I and SID would be leading through this next stretch of road as we were the only ones with HID headlights. By that time, I was feeling a little fatigued so, I was glad to be able to get up in front and have more to look at. It seems no matter how much I look ahead of riders when riding behind, I tend to get bored and fatigue faster. When I’m up front, I have more to look for and pay attention to, so I am automatically more alert. I was also honored that the guys would trust me to be one of the leaders. I never really knew how these guys viewed me as a woman rider, and right or wrong, I often feel that I have to prove my riding abilities more so than a man does. So, when I am trusted to be up front, or when a man compliments me on my riding skills or the lines I choose, I don’t take it lightly.
Once we got through the darkest, unlit roadways, Seraph pulled ahead and took over the lead again. The rest of the ride back was as uneventful as the ride out, which was a good thing. We had decided that once we got back to 95/515 in Henderson, NV, we would all start splitting off to go our separate ways home. While it would have been nice to have one last celebratory stop, we were all so tired and had various aches and pains, it made more sense to just head home without further delay. Right about 12:30am Sunday morning, I got off the freeway at the Flamingo Rd. exit to get to my house and stopped at the gas station by the Smith’s grocery store to get gas and my final receipt. My friend Dave was there to sign my witness form, but otherwise the gas station was deserted. It felt a little odd, yet somehow fitting. For such an accomplishment, I almost felt as if there should have been a crowd waiting to cheer me on at my final stop. Yet at the same time it was really perfect, because, while there were other riders around me for the entire trip, it was essentially a solo journey. It was me and my motorcycle, and I didn’t talk to any other riders except at the stops. No matter how many people are on an Iron Butt ride, it is really a journey that each person takes individually and makes it their own.
When I arrived at home, I just went in the house, and crawled into bed. Unpacking the bike and anything else that needed to be done could wait until the morning. I awoke in much better shape than I expected. I slept until about 9am, did some chores around the house, then had a barbecue to go to in the afternoon. I had told my friends I would most likely arrive in my truck after having done the IBA ride and I thought I wouldn’t want to ride the bike again after that. However, I felt fine, and…. You guessed it, I rode the bike to the barbecue and to work all the next week, and every day since then.
When I got back home from the barbecue, I took the time to complete the forms necessary for the Iron Butt Association Certification so I could mail them in on Monday. I already had the witness forms completed, so I just had to complete the application itself, my mileage log, organize the gas receipts, provide a map, and write out a check for $45.00 to cover the cost of the verification process, certificate and other goodies they send out. The IBA requests that the receipts be copies, not originals, in case they are lost, so I taped them onto pieces of paper and made copies. I also entered the addresses of the gas stations into mapquest to create a map to include with the package.
I was told by others that have done Iron Butt rides that it takes a few months to hear back from them. I think because we did ours in March, which is the off-season for many regions, our certifications were processed quickly. I received an email from Michael Kneebone of the IBA after about two weeks, letting me know that my certification was processed and I would be receiving materials in the mail soon. My package came approximately two weeks after that e-mail. If you do your own Iron Butt ride during more popular riding months though, expect at least a 3 to 4 month wait for your materials to be processed.
When you send in your verification materials, you can order additional items, but the standard package comes with a pin, license plate back and certificate, as well as your first issue of the Iron Butt Association magazine. They also send you a printout of the roster where your name shows amongst other riders who completed IBA rides around the same time. Once I was notified that my submission was accepted I also ordered some stickers and a key chain, as well as the “Saddle Sore 1000” license plate back. I also ordered a smaller, yellow “Saddlesore 1000” pin.
Looking back, the Iron Butt ride really was a turning point in my riding. Riding 1020 miles in 18.5 hours is bound to have an effect on anyone. Prior to the ride, I had routinely ridden 500 to 700 miles in a day and it always felt like a really long ride. Since the Iron Butt ride, I made one trip to the San Jose, CA area and another to the Central Coast (San Luis Obispo area). Both were over 600 miles… and both went very quick and were no problem at all compared to what that same length of trip felt like prior to the IBA ride. Someday I will do another IBA ride, just for the challenge of it, and perhaps I will work up to do doing the official Iron Butt Rally. For now though, it’s back to daily riding to work, weekend road trips and occasional track days.
If you have not read part 1 and 2…
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