Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Iron Butt Association - Iron Butt 5000 Long Distance Rally - I am In!

I was absolutely thrilled to find out that I was fortunate enough to be drawn for next years Iron Butt 5000 rally starting in Denver, Colorado and ending in South Carolina.  The IB5000 will be 5 days and approximately 5000 miles (over 8000kms) plus my distance to and from the start/end locations.  

A successful finish on the IB5000 results in an automatic entry to the 2011 IBR.  I am taking my entry into the IB5000 very seriously and have started my preparations including getting the FJR farkled just the way I like it, practicing my routing techniques and getting in better physical shape.  The next 6 months of preparation will be a lot of fun.

Below is a portion of the email sent to me by Lisa Laundry of the Iron Butt Association:

 November 10, 2009

Congratulations!  Your application was drawn for entry in the 2010 Iron Butt
If you are new to the Iron Butt, you can expect to ride through blistering
desert heat, numbing cold, pounding rain, painful hail and blinding snow on
some of the worst roads North America can offer.  Ask any IBR veteran and
they can give you some idea of what is to come.  If you really want to stir
them up a bit, ask them about the Charcoal Kilns in Death Valley in August.
On the other hand, the pain you inflict on yourself will soon be forgotten -
at least this is the only logical explanation I can offer as to why an
average of 70% of veteran IBR riders choose to return for a second year of

My New Bike - 2007 Yamaha FJR

Although I loved my Yamaha FJ1200, it is not a great rally bike. So with future rallies in mind, in October I purchased a gently used 2007 Yamaha FJR 1300 with 3300 miles.  Imported the bike from Kentucky which saved me about $3,000.  Unfortunately, while trailering the bike back to Canada, I hit a deer near Lima, Ohio with our relatively new 2007 Toyota Sienna....ouch.  My 4th deer collision!

Over the next several months I will be upgrading the FJR to make the perfect Long Distance Machine.

Rendez-Vous 2009 - Long Distance 12 hr Rally

Sept 11, 2009 marked the start of my second motorcycle rally, the Rendez-Vous Rally.  The Rendezvous is a 12 hour rally that starts and ends in Saint-Jean-sur Richelieu, Quebec (South of Montreal).  Let me start off by saying that this is an amazing rally.  The Rallymaster, Kevin Craft, goes out of his way to ensure that all have a good and safe time.  If you have never done a rally before, make sure to mark this one on your calender for next year!

Friday evening started with the mandatory riders meeting where the rally books were handed out.  No need for a camera in this rally.  Reading comprehension is important in any rally and this one was no exception.  A week before the start of the rally, a bonus listing was posted (i.e. general location and points value).  I had decided prior to the start of the rally on a route that took me to the Eastern Quebec townships and looping back via some southernly bonus locations with one bonus in Colebrook, New Hampshire.  At the riders meeting we were informed of a deja vu bonus for getting both Franklin bonus locations (QC and NH).  This was worth an addtional 500 points and I should have reconsidered my original route.  However, as this was only my 2nd rally, I did not want to add uncertainty by creating a completely new route.  The bonus sheet also indicated that one of my planned bonus locations could be a bit rough and that a "dual" sport was recommended!  This location was worth big points but I quickly deleted it off my route as I had no intention of taking the 92 FJ 1200 off road.  In hindsight, I should have attempted this bonus as others on equally large bikes had done so!

I went to bed around 11:00 after entering the bonus locations into my laptop and then uploading to my GPS.  I was very comfortable with my chosen route and slept well (very different than my first rally in the spring, the Minuteman 1000, were I did not sleep at all).  The riders meeting was scheduled for 5am and at 5:30am we drove up to the starting line and started a day of good fun.  The first stop "Carignan" was worth 1035 points  and everyone went to that location to have each of our pictures taken and from there everyone seemed to head off into different directions.  My next bonus stop would not be for several hours.  The early morning ride along the Trans Canada was amazing.  It was a bit cool with the temperature hovering around 7 degrees C but my electric vest kept me comfortable. Occasionally there was thick mist to ride through.  I love riding in the early hours!

My first technical problems occurred only a few hours into the rally.  The power to my GPS stopped working (later determined to be a broken pin in the cradle).  Fortunately my Garmin Quest GPS has a battery backup but I knew that it would not last the day.  I spent the rest of the day leaving the GPS off as much as possible (a good thing because by the end of the rally I was basically out of battery juice!).  This was my second rally and in both rallies I had experienced problems with my GPS.  I promised myself that I would have multiple GPS options on future rallies.

I bagged my first few bonus locations without problems.  However, by about the 3rd bonus location I realized that I had been too conservative in my route planning as I was about 1 hour ahead of schedule!.  I stopped and started looking at other bonus locations that I could add to the ride.  I occasionally met other rally riders but for the most part the roads had very little traffic.  The weather and scenery were beautiful and I was enjoying every minute of my ride.  At the Johnville bonus I bumped into Michael Boucher who I had gotten to know at  at the start of the rally.  Michael was riding a ST1300 and would ultimately place 4th on the rally. We would leap frog each other for the next several bonus locations.

I ended up riding about 25 kms on some gravel backroads.  The gravel was very loose and I had to take it easy around some hilly corners.  Arriving at the next bonus location, a graveyard, I bumped into Michael again.  Apparently, he was able to get from the previous bonus location without riding the gravel!  I recorded some information off a gravestone where a tree trunk was starting to raise the stone.  From there it was off for a quick stop across the border into New Hampshire.  The border crossing was much different than the larger crossings that I am familiar with  (i.e Sarnia/Port Huron).  This crossing was a small building in the middle of town with houses on both sides.  The US customs border card came out and asked if I was one of those "rally" riders..... apparently I was not the first to cross!  He wanted to know why I was going to Colebrook to buy a pastry from a bakery before heading back to Canada..... I answered that I had no idea but that it was some kind of sick joke from our crazy Rallymaster.

I rode about 20 minutes to a small French Bakery to pick up some "Madeleines".  I actually bought two packages and had one for lunch....hmmmm delicious!  Got on the bike and rode to the nearest gas station for my fuel bonus.  The fuel bonus was to buy a certain minimum amount of gas between specific times.  I was able to just cram in the required amount of gas.  As I headed back towards the border, I passed the bakery again and waved at Michael who was just going in for his Madeleines purchase.  At this moment it dawned on me that I  had not gotten a receipt for the pastry purchase.  The pastries are in very specific packages that identify the bakery and location.... I convinced myself that this was adequate and continued to ride on.  Later I would regret my decision.  "Repeat after me 100 times..... Always, always, always get a receipt!"

The rest of the ride I was picking up as many bonus locations as possible....albeit bonus locations worth little points.  My well thought out route was useless when I threw out the Glen Sutton location that was worth a huge 525 points...all because of the "dual sport" recommendation.  No guts no glory..  I should have simply taken the chance on riding a few rough roads.

I was back to the hotel with about 15 minutes to spare.  I went back to the room to complete the important paperwork.  At the scoring table I was disappointed.  I gave up 485 points. 280 points for not getting a receipt from the bakery and 205 points for incorrectly spelling a name off a sign ie.  Kevine not Kevin...Yikes.  Oh well.....it was all great fun.

The awards diner was incredible.  Great food and amazing door prizes.  I found out that I had placed 11 out 22 riders.  It would have been possible for me to place in 7th position if I had not left 485 points at the table.  However, scoring and paperwork is a huge part of a rally.  I really need to pay much more attention to the details to improve my rally position.  1st place went to Cameron Sanders from North Bay Ontario.  Cameron has won the rally 3 years in a row!  Congratulations Cameron!!

After the rally we had the privilege of having Jennyfer Audet and Jacques Titolo give us a presentation on their finish at the Iron Butt Rally 2009.  It was amazing to listen to the challenges of an 11 day rally.  I had watched the start of the IBR in Spartanburg SC and had seen Jennyfer and Jacques start the rally.  It was interesting to hear their experiences. Their presentation only reaffirmed my desire to one day participate in a future IBR.