Butt Lite IX 8 -14 July 2018

Hi all,
Would like to confirm i actually finished on the buffalo. Hermys BMW in PA had all the parts on the shelf to repair the final drive. for an 18yo bike i find that level of parts availability to be unheard of. Also just lucky Bob Lilley( whom i know from the IBR's) works there and he and the parts and workshop guys got me into the shop, stripped, rebuilt and back out in about 4 hours. all the while i am asleep in the lounge so the rest of rally hours was spent chasing as many points as possible without any more time loss.. It is a major understatement to say they saved my bacon..big time. thanks Bob, i owe you about 100 beers.
The total downtime was +/- 20 hours, but to offset that, the 8 hour rest bonus was set in play, there was a few hours sorting out who had what( i was actually at another dealer shop while talking to Bob) and then getting transported to Hermys for the repair to be done.
then when all that was done, i had to ride an hour back to the breakdown location for the rally miles to kick back in.

Martin Little

Premier Member
IBR Finisher
Hi All,

Well the Rally is done and dusted. Many thanks to the messages of support and encouragement from Australia, Europe and the USA.

the RT1200 has been cleaned and ready for hibernation for the next 11 months and we are spending a few days relaxing with friends in Minnesota before we fly home on the 21st.

The Rally was really good, we both enjoyed it immensely and managed to ride some of the best roads available in the USA, including the Natchez Trace Parkway, the Cherohala Parkway in the Smokey Mountains of the Carolinas and the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia where we watched the sun come up on Day 5.

Ride report to follow in the the fullness of time.

Thanks again


Well-Known Member
The total downtime was +/- 20 hours, but to offset that, the 8 hour rest bonus was set in play, there was a few hours sorting out who had what( i was actually at another dealer shop while talking to Bob) and then getting transported to Hermys for the repair to be done.
then when all that was done, i had to ride an hour back to the breakdown location for the rally miles to kick back in.
i thought that might be the case ,
well Done on the 10th place in leg one and the overall result,

congrats to martin & piglette for a great two up ride


Premier Member
Piglet's efforts in putting her thoughts and reports into print have given me a wonderful insight into the trials, tribulations and pleasures of this rally caper. Very well done just getting to the starting line and a successful finish is really top shelf stuff. Well ridden and written !! Awesome work by you both, and also another fantastic effort by Drain to finish up there with the big guns.

jeffrey gebler

Premier Member
IBR Finisher
While I am lazing away and yet to write my Rally Ride report the Pillion Piglet has completed her blog from the Rally and here are the links for reading at your leisure.

I really enjoyed reading Becs blog. Very entertaining and a great insight into a rookies perspective of rally riding.It will certainly be beneficial to me next June.

Martin Little

Premier Member
IBR Finisher
Last year with IBR 2017 complete I asked Bec if she would ride Buttlite IX with me as two up team. I figured that after 4 years of being heavily involved from the sidelines as the Rally Support Chief of Staff, counselor and bottle washer it would be a great experience for her to actually participate in a multi-day rally and also a good experience for me too. Part of agreeing to this was agreeing on what we wanted out of the Rally as a couple and once that was agreed the fuse was lit and the countdown begun.

Well the day arrived when we finally flew out from Sydney into DFW and then onto Minneapolis which has become our second home and the place where the R1200RT hibernates. It was a welcome relief to arrive into the northern summer! We had allowed a week to get over jetlag, finalise preparations and to get ourselves to Rally HQ in Lexington, Kentucky.

Once we were ready we then spent a leisurely two and bit days riding to Lexington, following the Mississippi southwards before turning east Louisville where we had new tyres fitted, before continuing on to Lexington arriving early evening on the Thursday.

On the road to Kentucky..it was warm!

It had been a hot few days riding and on the last hour of the ride we experienced one of those summer storms that dropped the temperature 20 degrees in the space of a few miles. It was a welcome relief from the heat and humidity! Checking in at Rally HQ we then spent time catching up with other rally participants, attending the rookies briefing and attending to last minute preparations.

This summer storm was a welcome relief from the heat & humidity

Part of the pre-rally preparations had included new shock absorbers for the RT along with the new Aux Lights. These all met with approval from the pillion seat. Less so was my failure to procure an alternative pillion seat and while 6 weeks out we had agreed that the existing seat would be fine it was a sore (apologies for the pun) point for the rally, which we attempted to address by purchasing a “stadium seat” from the local Walmart and which did alleviate the issue to an extent.

Group Photo taken after the riders briefing...thanks to Rick Corwinne Photos

All too soon we were at the rally banquet opening our rally packs with last minute instructions from the rally masters before returning to our rooms to start routing! We even got special instructions from the Rally Masters about our BP photos….I was not to be in the photos!

Opening the rally packs at the Start Banquet

Once back in our room we each turned to our tasks, I started coding in Basecamp while Bec studied the Rally Book and started assessing the options available. Before too long we had the coding complete and a route worked up, including going for the only combo available (the Stadium Combo). With that all important task complete it was time for bed! I was out like a light but I could tell Bec’s brain was in overdrive and it would take her a while to get to sleep.

Day 1 Route Sheet after a night of routing.....

I was up early the next morning, things to do and places to go! I started to make the trips to the bike packing and rechecking things of the list. Once Bec was up we finalised the bike packing, had brekkie we were ready for the mandatory riders briefing at 7:30am. This flew by and then it was a case of standing by the bike waiting for the Rally Master to release the riders for Leg 1.

Waiting waiting waiting.....15 minutes to start time

And then we were off on Leg 1 of Buttlite IX.

Day One. South to Ol’ Mississippi

Our first bonus of the day was only 10 minutes away at the University of Kentucky, in Lexington which was great as I like to get the first runs on the board early to help settle things. Sure enough, most of the other riders had the same thought and it was quite a gathering in the parking lot for the first bonus. It was warm already and a good indication what was to come over the next few days.

What quickly became apparent was our BP collecting routine was not going to work, and it was modified on the fly to work seamlessly for the rest of the Rally. This involved each of us standing on either side of the bike while we wrote up the rally log and carefully repacked flag and camera, ready for the next bonus.

With BP # 1 collected we got on with business working our westwards and southwards towards Oxford Mississippi, our planned destination for the evening. I thought we had a good day working our way through collecting bonuses, including adjusting our route on the fly to include the Natchez Trace Parkway. We had attempted to ride the Natchez Trace back in 2016 but been thwarted by inclement weather at that time. Our original route for Day had been to bypass Natchez Trace but with some on the fly routing carried out by the Pillion Piglet in her role as navigator on the back we realised we could still collect the same amount of points, while arriving at our planned evening destination only 45 minutes later than planned, right on dusk. Good times!

Natchez Trace Parkway..can't wait to come back here again

After collecting our last bonus point of the day at Ole Miss (University of Mississippi), which required us to only record a quote of a plaque, (which I insisted we also take a photo of, just in case) we pulled stumps at a motel just off our planned route right on dusk. I could see Bec was tired and was looking forward to getting off the bike to eat and rest. It felt odd to me to be stopping day 1 at about 9:30pm, so used I have got to going later into the evening but we had agreed our rules as a two up team and this was one of them.

On our way into "Ole Miss"

Dinner was servo food (sandwiches and stuff) which is all we could get close to the motel, but this served as our receipt for our rest bonus and while I had no problem falling to sleep that night, (satisfied with our first day on the clock) I suspected that Bec was going to take some time to fall asleep as her brain was still in rally mode. As it so happened Bec was awake in the evening fretting about the wording from the last bonus of the day, had we recorded it correctly? A quick check of the photo soon confirmed that putting restless minds at ease.

I have to say that at the end of Day 1 I felt slightly out of routine as I still found my place in the two up team. It was a significant thing for me to give up sole responsibility for every detail of routing and riding the rally!

Day 2. East to Alabama and Georgia.

Day 2 dawned bright and early, we shared an early breakfast in the motel and got going early, we had bonus points to collect. I was ready to go about 4:00am but we had agreed to later starts to ensure good rest and as it was I could see Bec was not ready to be up at 5:30am but like a trooper she got stuck into it. Once breakfast and coffee were consumed we were soon back on the bike, collecting our Rest Stop receipt and heading for the start of Day 2 of Buttlite. It was a beautiful day in Mississippi!

Heading westwards Bec came with an alternative route that avoided the interstate and didn’t add much time if any to our day. It was a beautiful way to start the day, cruising through the back roads of Mississippi early morning in the relative coolness of the day. I was in no hurry and kept a close eye on sticking to the stated speed limits, as I had no desire to explain myself to southern sheriff.

First bonus collected for the day was at Mississippi State University, and everything felt better today, we were working smoothly as a team, navigator and rider quietly doing our bit to make sure we did our thing.

Mississippi State University Stadium BP

From here it was back on an Interstate heading for Tuscaloosa Alabama for the next bonus. Mid-morning, we rode past a turn off the Lurleen State Park, which had been a bonus point on Buttlite 7. I felt like I was on familiar territory again!

One of our route options had been to deviate slightly off route to Birmingham Alabama to visit the Barber Motorsports Museum, the points were big and I’m glad we did, it was awesome and I could have stayed there all day drooling over the exhibits and Bec would have loved to stay in the air conditioned spaces but not this day. We had work to do today, and boy was it hot & humid! I could see Bec was starting to wilt but there was no complaining. What a trooper!

Bonus point location at the Barber Motorsports Museum, Birmingham Alabama. "Long Haul Pauls Super Tenere"

From here it was onto Georgia for our next bonus at Auburn University, before tackling the traffic through Atlanta, our schedule had us arriving into Atlanta about 6:30pm and we were mentally prepared for the Google versus Garmin choice for Atlanta rush hour. This was my first experience of Atlanta traffic and thank goodness for Waze/Google as we managed to avoid a massive pile up on the orbital interstate therefore avoiding a 30-minute delay. Once through Atlanta, our day concluded in a gorgeous ride on beautiful back roads onto Athens Georgia to collect the next bonus at the University of Georgia. We had some slight drama here as the bridge from which the photo was to be taken of the bonus was closed for roadworks. So after a phone call to the Rally Masters we took plenty of photos to show the closure.

From here we cruised on into a southern twilight on some gorgeous backroads with the sun setting over the western hills behind us. Days like this! However, there were deer about, so it was make haste slowly to our planned digs for the night, a motel just off the Interstate on route to our next bonus. Once safely checked in, we then walked up the road to have a late dinner at Arbys, before grabbing some much-needed shut eye. This was a bigger day for us, just under a 1,000kms!

Watching the sunset somewhere in Georgia

Day 3. On to the Carolinas and Check Point 1 (plus a parking ticket!)

Day 3 dawned early and after a light brekkie we were back out on the Interstate heading for our next bonus. It was going to be a big day as it we planned to complete collecting our stadium combo bonus and check in at the Check Point.

We collected our first bonus easily in Columbia, South Carolina and then stopped for a much needed coffee at a Starbucks in Columbia where everyone took an interest in our accents. And we got a parking ticket! All of $8! When we saw the value we both burst out laughing as this was the cheapest parking ticket either of us have ever had. (Back in Sydney the minimum starting price for a similar ticket is $120). We have paid it by the way.

I made sure we parked the bike in the shade where we could

Heading north we made our way through the Carolinas for the bonus of Nina Simone (this was quite cool) and before stopping in at the White Squirrel shop to purchase an item for the next bonus. Once done it was onwards and UPWARDS to Cold Mountain (made famous by the book). This was a great ride uphill with many many corners with cooler temperatures.

From here it was westwards downhill to Knoxville Tennessee on an awesome interstate that cut through the mountains while still being a great motorcycling road. Collecting the last stadium bonus in Knoxville, where it was very hot, it was time to head for the Checkpoint via the Cherohala Skyway. We had agreed to add the bonus’s in the mountains south of the checkpoint to our route and had heard the Skyway was well worth the ride.

And so it was! The Cherohala Skyway was one of those roads to ride, words don’t do it justice. Well that was until we had our “Garmin” moment….about 45 minutes up the Skyway we came to a fork in the road. Both Garmin’s said turn right so I did, while checking with Bec on the back, who confirmed that Google says no road here. Hmmmm, well the road is sealed and there are motorcycles coming the other way. What can possibly go wrong?

The River Road before it became a fire trail....

Passing several Harley full dressers complete with pillions the road gradually deteriorated, and deteriorated and deteriorated, until there was no chance of turning around or stopping. The road was now basically a crude fire trail in the mountains and were bouncing from rock to rock making slow progress upwards. Both Garmin’s kept counting down the turn off to the Skyway ahead so I felt they must be right. And sure enough we came slipping and sliding around the last corner to see the Cherohala Skyway ahead of us…..and 100 meters above us as the fire trail continued on underneath a bridge. Bec to her credit did not say a word and shortly afterwards the trail turned back onto the Skyway. (I was quietly fearing the trail would be locked for access from the Skyway, but it wasn’t) The photo of Bec shows here body language, taken right the finish of the trail as it re-entered the Skyway.

The body language says it all...that was some fire trail!

So back on route, we collected our bonus up on the summit of the Cherohala Skyway, including a quick chat with Kurt Worden who was just finishing up as we arrived. Once that was done we had one last bonus to collect in the mountains before we arrived at Maggie Valley to just after dark to check in and get scored. Bec was really nervous about scoring but we flew through it, left no points on the table and we were in bed by midnight, ready for the 6:0am rally packs.

The summit of the Cherohala Skyway.....WOW!

It had been a great day of riding through some awesome scenery, I was feeling exhilarated, although I could see Bec was really feeling the effects of 3 days on the clock and she had no problem falling to sleep.

Leg 2 awaited us in the morning!
Last edited: