Gerlach - Circle Of Honor/IBA Memorial

EricV

Premier Member
IBR Finisher
#1
Much of this was posted on the old forum, but doesn't seem to be here. Searching for Gerlach found very little. The following is historical information about Gerlach, NV, the IBA Circle of Honor, aka - the IBA Memorial. (Pinned by Ira)

Gerlach exists at the frontier of the Black Rock desert. It's always
been out there on the fringe of the modern world, close enough to
venture to, but far enough away to allow everything you left behind to
drop away, carried off on the wind, with everything else unnecessary,
unwanted, unneeded...

Various groups have found Gerlach before and after the LD riders. Hippies & Hipsters with
Burning Man, Rocketeers & Astronomers for the vast openness and stark purity of the
night sky, Speed demons looking for the next Salt Flats and the next
record, and so many more. Hunters have always known that big bucks lurked
out among the hills too. Every year they come to hunt, hope, drink
and tell stories. Not so very different from the riders that venture
there as well.

Here is a little background on why Gerlach has become a mecca for LD
Riders. Some of this has been my research, other parts were passed on
to me by Peter Sutherland, who was the one that got the IBA Memorial
started and did the original work with help from many others.

The memorial is located just North of Gerlach, NV on County Road 34, approximately 1.8 miles
after turning off State Hwy 447 as you head North out of Gerlach. You
will be angling RIGHT onto CR-34 just after leaving Gerlach, then
looking for a normal green street sign that says Guru Road on the LEFT
side of the road. Up to this point it is all paved.

The GPS co-ordinates for the Memorial are: 40.681903 -119.360822
or:
D/M/Seconds: 40º 40 53.97 -119º 21 38,86

Google Maps link -
https://www.google.com/maps/place/40°40'54.9"N+119°21'39.0"W/@40.6816055,-119.3614253,252m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x0!8m2!3d40.681903!4d-119.360822

Guru Road is not paved, but most vehicles can manage it w/o issues if
it hasn't rained heavily in the last day or two and no rock slides have occurred.
If you see standing water, you may want to exercise caution and consider walking in from
the pavement. (you can either park at the entrance to Guru Road or
along the CR-34 farther down, across from the Memorial). Guru Road is
quite interesting in it's own way, with many, many stones carved by
Dwayne 'Dooby' Williams as sort of his own art project, way of thanking people
and rants against the things he perceived as wrong in the world.

The IBA Memorial is a short distance down Guru Road, up a short
incline and has its own turn out off of Guru Road where you can park.
There is a path from Guru Road as well, but it's not always that
smooth. You will pass the Elvis art piece, notable with it's cape of
soda can bottoms hog ringed together, (many missing now, I'm afraid),
and the red picnic table at the IBA Memorial, just above the circle of
stones.

Worth noting is that Bruno's Country Club is the only place in Gerlach
to get a room or food to eat. The food is good, but the rooms are
more for hunters and others out playing on the Playa and rather basic
and dated. There is a re-modeled section now, after a fire in one of the
hotel buildings, so some rooms have improved. The Shell
station there has 24 hour pumps that accept credit cards, and gas is
available in Empire a few miles South on Hwy-447. Best to gas up in
Fernley before driving out 447. There is a large Love's just off the
exit from I-80.
-------------
Edit 12/30/19 - From the North on CR-1, which is what NV-447 becomes when it enters CA there is 24 hour gas in Cedarville, CA, both a no attendant set of pumps at Cedarville Station at the corner of main and Hwy 299, and just up 299 at Rabbit Traxx Truck Stop and Mini-Mart. The next main point of civilization is Alturas, CA which has a big Chevron station and some restaurants.
-------------
Also worth noting is that there is a toilet at the BLM station on
CR-34 just after turning off Hwy-447. It is visible on the left
before you make the sweeping right turn on CR-34. It is a pit toilet,
but nearly always very clean and stocked with TP. It's by itself on
the left side of the road just before the main office building.

Bring bug spray, water, a hat and clothing for cool weather or hot.
Anything is possible in Gerlach. The desert gets cold at night.

From Ira Agins:
Around 1997, Jan Cutler (co-owner of Reno BMW and LD riding legend)
organized a weekend in Gerlach. There were maybe 20 of us.

The weekend consisted of riding and games on the Playa, hanging out at
Bruno's, a big banquet featuring Bruno's famous ravioli, and a bonfire
and commercial fireworks after dinner back out on the Playa. At the
bonfire, it was also a time to remember some of our friends that were
no longer with us (I actually still have a video of part of that
campfire). We ended up doing it every year since (by invitation, as
it always has been).

As anyone who has been to Gerlach and the Playa will tell you, it's a
very special and magical place. Over the years, it became more than
just a dot on the map. It became some kind of spiritual place for LD
riders (note: I think we were there before Burning Man moved to the
Playa).

I don't recall the exact circumstances under which the memorial was
created. It's on BLM land, like all the other interesting locations up Guru Rd. (aka
Guru Lane, but it's actually Guru Rd. and I have the photos to prove
it :)). I know that Mike has looked around for a piece of land so
that we're not at the mercy of the BLM, who could decide to bulldoze
it any time they wish.

From the beginning, we had a rock garden for those no longer with us.
Over the years, it's become disturbingly crowded. It is all
maintained by a Caretaker, to whom we are more than grateful.

Ira Agins
Iron Butt Association

From Eric Vaillancourt, (2nd Caretaker 2007-2015):

The IBA Memorial just North of Gerlach, NV is a special
place, just at the edge of the Black Rock desert. In some ways, not
much ever changes, in others change marches on as it always does. A
fellow named Dwayne 'Dooby' Williams lived in Gerlach and way back
around 1978 he started carving stones and placing them out along a
dirt road that came to be known as Guru Road, or just 'The Wonder
Road'. Some of these rocks held political statements, others just a
shout out to a friend that treated him right. Over time, he also
installed several art installations, each with their own theme and
meaning. Some are simple, like the Weather Rock. If the rock is
white, it's snowing, if the rock is wet, it's raining, if the rock is
at an angle, it's windy, etc. Just a rock tied to a stump by a length
of cord, but simple and accurate in its own way. Others are more
esoteric, like the Imagination Station, (in Dooby Vision), and some
are simply a tribute to someone he admired, like the Elvis art piece.

Somewhere along 1996, Long Distance riders were looking for out of the
way places to gather and have some fun w/o attracting too much
attention. The Black Rock desert is wide open and Gerlach is a good
jumping off place. Guru Road was discovered and it was a fitting
place to stop at and reflect, and sometimes howl at the moon as well.
When a friend was lost, riders would often get together here and share
stories, mourn their friend and perhaps do a little drinking and
howling as well.

The memorial came to be after a discussion with the BLM and Dooby
Williams family, (he had already passed away), and it was decided that
if we maintained a similar style, the Bureau of Land Management would
not object. Dooby's family felt that we understood and respected what
Dooby had done, and gave their blessing as well. A circle of rocks
was formed with a backhoe and this place came to be known as the Iron
Butt Association Memorial, or simply, the Circle of Honor. When a
rider passes on that is know in our community, a stone is carved with
their name and placed in the Circle of Honor. In part as remembrance,
but also so that when we gather, people will share their stories and
memories of that person. It's a catalyst in a way, so that one memory
to another, we share with both those that knew them, and those that
never got the chance to know them. In that way, they live on, story
upon story, so they will never truly be forgotten.
---------------
From Peter Sutherland, aka Snarly Harley who started the Memorial
and maintained it for the first ~10 years.

In 1996 Peter Sutherland and several other riders were shown the rock
carvings of DeWayne Williams on Guru/Dooby Ln., in Gerlach Nv. Their
guide was Rick Morrison and it was he who suggested we, IBA, should do
something. Shortly after Jan Cutler suggested Peter get permission, before
anything is done.

Bruno Silmic put Peter in touch with DeWayne Williams daughter, in Reno.
He told her that the IBA were thinking of doing something on Guru Rd.
When he told her what the IronButt riders were all about, she said go
ahead, her father would like that.

The location was agreed upon with Rick Morrison, because it was off
Guru Rd and it was up on a hill. View property !!


1997....Now the IBA have the site, time to move fast, get something
started.

Several ideas came to mind. Honor those we talked about at the
Gerlachfest who have since passed and somehow convey to others what
the IBA was all about.

There was a nice flat spot at the top of the hill, now the Circle of Honor. A
few rocks were moved in to form a circle so one would have a place to sit
and talk. Later a few, carved rocks were placed in the circle.

1998 Brono Silmic, (of Bruno's Country Club and Casino fame), sent his
ranch foreman down to the IB sight with a backhoe. In six hours he had
dug up some huge boulders to fill in the circle.

The carved rocks were done by Peter Sutherland in Kirkland at the house
during the fall and winter months. He would make three trips each year,
early spring, July and then the week before Gerlachfest.

Some rocks were chosen just because of there shape, then carved......thus
Africa, a close tie with Ron Ayres? :>)
----------------
Some info that I, (Eric V), sent to Mike Kneebone in 2010, responding to
his request from Peter and I about history of the Circle of Honor:

In 2004 Peter posted on LDRider list about doing a work party at the
Memorial and he received an email from, Eric Vaillancourt, (me). I had
read some of the history I could find on the web and saw pictures where a
picnic table had been present in the past. I had a heavy duty picnic table
that I wanted to donate to the Memorial.

At the time I worked just outside Portland, OR for Stanley Works Hydraulic tool division, so showed
up in Gerlach with the table all right, as well as some heavy duty
equipment that could drill into the rock.

Peter had been wanting to step aside from the memorial project and I
worked with him for a few years getting to know the routine and Peter.

Some addition from a email I wrote on this subject to Mike Kneebone in
2010 regarding my personal history with the Circle of Honor:

Around late 2004 I was first becoming involved with the IBA and LD
riding. I picked up some references to Gerlachfest and quickly learned
where it was, and that it was invite only, but nothing more.

I asked about Guru Road on LD Rider list and got a curt response from
one of the old timers to Google Dooby Williams if I wanted to learn
more. I did so and discovered the history behind Guru Rd and Dwayne
Dooby Williams' work there. I also found some pictures online of Guru
Rd and a few of the IBA Memorial that showed that a picnic table had
once been there. Having been to Guru Rd, I knew that there was no
such animal present at that time.

I next asked what happened to the picnic table at the Memorial and got
some bits and pieces of how two low cost tables were located at the
Circle, but one vanished quickly and the other apparently was damaged
during use as a Iron Butt Motel. At this point Peter Sutherland
responded off list to give me some more details and we began email
correspondence about Guru Rd and the IBA Memorial.

Peter mentioned that he wanted to do a work party and posted a request
to the LDRider list. Sadly, it didn't get much response. Whether it
was due to time conflicts or lack of interest at the time, I simply
don't know. I talked with Peter about donating a picnic table to
replace the ones that had disappeared.

We seemed to agree that it was a good spot to have one, both for
people to sit and reflect upon the riders that have passed, as well as
being simply an icon of LD riding, the "Iron Butt Motel" that so many
riders have made use of at one time or another during a Long Distance
ride.

With that in mind I agreed to meet Peter for the work party date and
bring some tools. I work for a hydraulic tool manufacturer, so
brought a hydraulic power unit and various tools such as a pavement
breaker and rock drill so that we could try some ideas Peter had for
the site.

I attempted to source a heavy duty picnic table that would withstand
the harsh elements at the edge of the Black Rock Desert, only to
discover that while they existed, the cost was prohibitive for my
budget at that time. I elected to donate the picnic table from my
house instead. The bird in hand, so to speak. It was stout, having
been made by a carpenter friend years before.

Peter and I met at the Memorial and managed to complete our work
quickly and enjoyed working together. I felt that Peter's ideas of
what the Memorial should be were sound and well motivated. It was
easy for me to share what he started and I offered to continue to help
any time he needed it.

In 2007 Peter asked if I would take over the caretaker position
and I agreed to do so. Sometime after that I built two benches and installed
one at the Circle and one at Ground Zero. The Ground Zero bench was a
simple affair intended to perch upon, not for a rider in gear to sit on for any
length of time. It was vandalized within a year and I later removed it. The larger
bench at the circle remains to this day. Both the bench and the picnic table are
chained to posts planted deep in the desert floor.

The sense of respect for the riders we were remembering by placing a
stone in the circle was strong then and remains so today. Guru Rd is
a reverent place by itself. Sitting at the edge of the Circle of
Honor, looking out over the playa gives one an ideal place to reflect.
Upon the riders with stones there, and life in general. It is a
timeless place, yet full of life to the careful observer. The ever
changing vistas offer a peaceful beauty with a depth and power only
Nature can produce. Few can spend time at the Memorial and not come
away with some sense of awe. Both for the history it represents, and
for the beauty, both stark and effervescent that surrounds that site.

Eric Vaillancourt

............................................................
.......................

RULES> re. the Memorial. Only IBA members names are to be placed in
the, CIRCLE of HONOR. Friends of the IBA that are non-IBA members may
have rocks placed outside the circle. Carved rocks are to be in white letters
as DeWayne Williams started.
---------------------------------------------
Interesting things. DeWayne's Williams son in one of the managers of the
Bureau of Land Management for the RENO area and heads up the , The
Friends of the BLACK ROCK DESERT (Google Black rock desert) a lot of
history and mention of the group that is restoring the Guru location. It
might be a good idea to become a member of , The Friends Of the Black
Rock Desert, via a donation.

It was Peter Williams, BLM, that emailed Peter S. about the slide that
damaged a part of Guru Ln. the day after it happened in 2004.
------------------------------------------------------
This history should be easy for anyone to find here, should they search on
Gerlach. Hopefully it will provide a good background in years to come.
The caretaker position for the Memorial will change from time to time as
life changes for the caretakers. At this time in 2015 it is changing again
to a new caretaker due to my upcoming move to MS and retirement.

The Memorial is about remembering our friends
and sharing their stories so that they may live on in the memories of the
LD community. I have never desired to be in the spotlight because of my
work at the Circle of Honor, nor did Peter. It was just something we felt
needed to be done. Each caretaker will bring their own ideas and changes
to the Memorial, though some things will be consistent over time.

The current Caretaker can out himself here if he chooses. He is a multiple IBR finisher.
Any posts to LDRider or IBDone concerning the Memorial will usually be responded to off list as needed.
 
Last edited:

Amnon Romano

Premier Member
#5
Thank you for sharing.
Visited this passing June, and left my Ultra-Glide where the asphalt ends. So advised for big baggers.
Was totally worth the detour from Umatilla back to Vegas!
 

keithu

Premier Member
#7
Thank you Eric. I was there for Jan's 1997 event. I'm lucky because I live in Oregon and I often stop by the memorial on the way to visit my Dad in northern Nevada. Thank you to the caretakers, it is a special place for us.
 

Paul Slaton

Premier Member
IBR Finisher
#9
Thank you for posting this, Eric. It is uncanny how reading this transported me. All the things you mention are so completely true.

Others have mentioned, and I would like to add my thanks to you for your years of service as caretaker for this meaningful undertaking and for your commitment, leadership, and seemingly inexhaustible efforts to make the IronButt experience better than it might have been for me and so many others.

See you on the road,
Paul
 

TheRoss

Premier Member
IBR Finisher
#11
Eric,

Thank you so much for posting this history!
I love reading about the "old days" and of the long distance riders who came before me.

Thank you for the time and effort you put into taking care of this special place, and thank you to the current Caretaker!
 
#12
I didn't know the Memorial existed until joining this forum. I have passed by the location unknowing of its existence, I could never have visited it as I happened by as people where flowing in for the Burn man festival. It is now on the list of destination points. Perhaps this year. To all concerned Thanks for keeping memories alive...………… I think the IBA should incorporate these sites into a certification, especial, to build the culture. JMO
 
#14
Thank you, Eric. I've been away for a while and was surprised by the new site where my old login credentials didn't work. I think it is vital to any organization to remember those who have gone before.
 

Marc11

Premier Member
#15
It's a special place you can sense as soon as you turn on Guru. It's a place that should be visited, revered and respected.

Leave a gift, but take nothing.