IBR 2017 Ride Report_Part 2. Rally Finish (Leg 3)

Martin Little

Premier Member
IBR Finisher
Rally Leg 3

Leg 3 saw the points values change again for each bonus and the thread multiplier change to require 5 bonuses (2 of kind and 3 of kind (a full house)) with the 5th bonus value multiplied by 4!

There were some big points on offer!

After a quick assessment and check of the weather map I decided to head west, with a key anchor of the Leg being the group photo bonus scheduled for Day 11 in South Dakota. I rode out of the Hotel parking lot waving goodbye to Bec and pointed the bike west towards Santa Fe via a few Texas backroads.

First up was a bonus near Frockmorton TX. The 22 feet tall rusty steel longhorn bull stands on its own on the side of the County Road. Three hours after leaving Allen I pulled up beside another rally rider, Jeff Wilson on his RT1200 who was just finishing up, had a quick chat and we both continued on with the business of collecting bonuses. Then on towards Lubbock for the mammoth statues on the outskirts of town. While I was taking my photos I attracted a few more curious looks from holiday makers, (‘don’t you know it’s nearly 100 degrees out here and you’re wearing all that gear, aren’t you hot?’)

From Lubbock it was on to Albuquerque, with the terrain gradually becoming more interesting as I left Texas behind and crossed into New Mexico. What didn’t change was the heat and by the time I took the on ramp to I40 the temp was well above 100. I shouted myself some ice and a cold drink at a truck stop and continued on, heading into what looked like a major thunderstorm. This didn’t eventuate and as the late afternoon came to a close I pulled off I40 into Albuquerque and collected the bonus near the New Mexico Museum of Natural History. Once done I rode northwards to Santa Fe, passing a few other bikes leaving SF heading south or west. Santa Fe was busy and access to the statue in Burro Alley looked difficult, but I managed to sneak a park right there among the crowds, snapped the photo, wrote up the log and was gone in search of somewhere to sleep for a few hours. (I had decided to sleep for a few hours and get riding again in the early morning when it was cooler)

Dinner time in Santa Fe, NM

Day 8, I awoke to the alarm at 2:00am. It took me a while to get myself moving but after a snack and a drink I rode out into the cool morning air and headed for Blanding Utah. The stars were out and away in the distance lightning flickered on the horizon. The lights of Santa Fe behind me I headed south on I25 and quickly settled into my routine. 40 minutes later I took the off ramp to Highway 550 and headed west, climbing into the New Mexico Mountains towards Farmington & Shiprock, NM. There was little traffic around and I had the night to myself. I stopped briefly to add an extra layer: it got a lot colder with the altitude! With the approaching dawn I saw a few deer near the side of the road but nothing too close until I snuck a peek over my right shoulder at the sunrise and turned back to see a reasonable size deer standing right on the edge of my lane looking at me. The deer doesn’t move and just stands there watching me ride past, at almost arm’s length. In my mirrors I watched the deer turn and wander back away from the road.

Day 8 Route - It was a big day (Dubois WY didn't happen)

After cutting across into Colorado and then into Utah, I arrived at the Dinosaur Museum in Blanding. It opened at 10:00 am and I was 15 minutes early. There was an elderly gentlemen pottering away and he turned out to be a local who has lived there most of his life. After regaling me with the local history he then did his best to convert me to his favourite local religion but was not deterred too much when I explained good-naturedly that repenting my sins would take more time than either of us had! The Museum finally opened and I’m in and out to collect the photo of the feathered dinosaur, it was quite impressive! The staff are amused that I was in and out so quickly but seemed to understand as I wave goodbye and ride out of the parking lot heading for Price UT.

The roads from here onwards were semi-familiar as Bec and I spent 4 weeks last year hiking around the SW National Parks. I was tempted to stop in Moab (I love that place) but kept riding on through, past Arches NP which had queues out to the main road then on to I70 for a brief stint heading west before taking Highway 6 to Price. Arriving at the Bonus to take the photo of the UtahRaptor, the staff are not the least bit fazed by my appearance and readily point me to the right location and then wish me luck as I run back out the door. Next stop was the Dinosaur National Monument near Jensen UT.

Arriving at the National Monument, I caught the bus up to the Exhibition Hall where the bonus is located. The bus driver was very helpful and knows exactly what I needed to do. He’s had a few riders through over the last 2 days and is well versed in what needs to be done. He then patiently waited for me, knowing I will only be minutes and ensures I’m back at the Monument Centre quickly, what a champion! He gave me some advice about the road conditions ahead as we shook hands in farewell. What a character. I took 5 minutes in the carpark to grab a snack and review my route ahead, I’m aiming for Afton WY near the Idaho Border, where I will take my Rest Bonus.

Sometimes I just had to stop and take a nap....these rest areas were great!

Heading north I motored along the fantastic Highway 191. The road follows a narrow canyon through the Ashley National Forest past Mt Lena to Red Canyon, where Highway 44 plunges downhill with the scenic Green River vista unfolding many hundreds of metres below me. Phew! By the time I arrived in Manila near the Wyoming border I felt exhausted from all the corners, (nah, just kidding! What a road!)

Crossing into Wyoming the road became even more scenic with snow-clad mountains in the distance as I made my way northwards through Mountain View and Kemmerer, into Idaho to pass through Geneva ID and then back over into Wyoming for the last hour into Afton. The sun is setting, it’s almost cold and the scenery is stunning as the road follows its way through valley after valley. Right on sunset I arrived at the daylight-only bonus of the Elkhorn Arch on the main street of Afton. Photo snapped and log written up, I headed for my motel, exhausted. After nearly 1,600 kms for the day I needed sleep badly. The motel and service station were nice, I scored a great room and the best part was the service station didn’t open until 6:00 am (I used all of my rest bonus)!

Rest Bonus - Afton WY. Must follow the same routine...repeat, repeat, repeat

Day 9 dawned clear and very cold. I was awake at 4:00am and used the time to recheck my route for the day: 4th of July! I’m heading north into Idaho and then Montana before turning eastwards. I was packed and at the service station at 6:00am patiently awaiting the attendant to open up so I could collect my receipt. I was the first customer of the day, as I handed in my key and collected my receipt for the end of the Rest Bonus. Job done, I rode north through the Elkhorn Arch heading for Idaho. The sun is up and the scenic countryside was slowly warming up with mist drifting across the farmland.

An hour later I pulled up in Alpine to put another layer on, I’ve under estimated how cold it is here and was starting to suffer. A couple of guys coming out of a nearby diner stopped to check on me and to shoot the breeze. It’s 4th of July and they’re in holiday mode. This lifted my spirits and I got back out on to the highway, must keep those wheels turning. Crossing back over into Idaho on Highway 26, I enjoyed the ride as the road follows the shoreline of The Palisades Reservoir, it’s actually a big lake and very scenic. Not much traffic around either! That changes as I ride into the outskirts of Idaho Falls to take Interstate 15. The holiday traffic was out and its super slow before I got back onto I15.

Heading northwards in Idaho. Me myself and I....the solitude was glorious

Not too much later it’s off I15 onto Highway 28 headed north up what looks like an old glacial valley to Salmon, ID. There was snow on the mountain tops and the scenery was awesome. Hardly any traffic and I felt like I’m the only person around for miles! Rolling into Salmon, there wasn’t too much happening and I had no problem getting a park outside The Owl Club for my next bonus photo. Hmm, I do wonder why the Owl Sculpture is riddled with arrows. Strange. I stopped to refuel on the outskirts of Salmon, only to spend 15 minutes in a queue waiting my turn to pay. The truck stop was seriously understaffed and there was rampant confusion among the few staff that were on. I rode out in a black mood, stewing at the lost time. Continuing north on Highway 93 up into the mountains I crossed into Montana and couldn’t help but feel better as my sense of perspective returned. I was very tired and it’s starting to show constantly at my irritation at small things that normally I wouldn’t care less about.

Yes that's snow on them mountains.....Montana. I felt better riding through here

It’s was a long 6 hr ride to my next bonus at Fort Benton Montana, just ride and enjoy the scenery while rechecking mentally my route and thinking of other options. At my next refuel stop I provide the entertainment to the staff who all love my accent and after paying then going to the bathroom I come out to find 5 of the staff waiting for me. They all want me to talk and we joke and laugh for a few minutes before I extracted myself graciously and walked back to the bike. I roll into Fort Benton for The Shep Memorial, snap my bonus photo and write up my log. I love the story of Old Shep the faithful dog and I take a few minutes to quietly savour the peacefulness of the memorial with the Missouri River in the background. I felt very relaxed as I rode southwards out of Fort Benton MT heading for my next bonus in Casper Wyoming.

The Shep Memorial. Fort Benton MT, with The Missouri River rolling past

The story of Shep, Fort Benton MT.

It was late afternoon/early evening and as I made my south towards Billings I have a good 6 more hours riding ahead of me to Casper WY, with an ETA of close to midnight. I mulled over the accommodation options for the evening, 4th of July and decided to err on the side of caution. I hadn’t slept out rough so far on the Rally and I wanted that to continue. Satisfied with my day’s ride I pull stumps near the Wyoming state line and score a motel with a decent bed. I slept like a log till about 3:00am when my eyes fly wide open. What else to do but ride! I enjoyed another beautiful sunrise in very pleasant temperatures. Life was great out here in the wide open spaces of Montana and Wyoming at 5:00am on Day 10 of the Rally.

Sunrise in Montana

Sunrise in Montana

The weather forecast for the day had warned of extreme temperatures with very low humidity, well they were right on the money this time. By mid-morning it was stinking hot, with more to come. At the Tate Geological Museum in Casper taking the bonus photo and writing up the log was real effort. There was no shade and no point in taking my riding gear off. Job done, it was onwards to Douglas WY for the Jackalope. Douglas was only a short 45 minute scoot down the Interstate where I collected the photo no problem.

I should have topped up my water supplies then but for some dumb reason didn’t. From here it should have been an easy 2-3 hr ride to Hot Springs South Dakota but it turned into one of the hottest/driest rides I’d ever done. The temperatures were well into the high 110’s, there was zero humidity with a hot drying cross wind. About an hour from Hot Springs I ran out of water and by the time I got to the Bonus location at The Mammoth Site I felt terrible. My leather gloves had dried out and gone stiff as cardboard, and processing this bonus was a mental struggle. Once done I did the unthinkable and stopped at a Dairy Queen (don’t judge me) to cool off and replenish my water supplies. I took the opportunity to have a cheese burger and chocolate milkshake, boy did they taste good sitting there in the cold air conditioning of the Hot Springs SD, Dairy Queen. I needed to cool off…..when ordering my cheese burger I had almost blown a fuse when the attendant had asked me if wanted alphabet options everything with that. (I just want a cheese burger and no I don’t want mega options with that)

More snow, Wyoming looking towards Yellowstone. Don't be fooled by the snow, it was 114+ with nil low humidity

Getting back on the bike was hard but I did and rode out heading east towards Pierre ND while starting to think about where I would stop for the night. Rolling through Rapid City SD, I jumped onto I90 to head eastwards and was happy to see the signs on the side of the Interstate for Wall, SD. We had stayed here back in 2014 and on impulse when the off-ramp came up to Wall I took it and scored a motel room with air conditioning right on dusk. The receptionist at the motel summed up my day nicely when I walked in…”sir you look like you’ve had a tough day!” Guess what I feel like it! Day 10 had left me feeling stuffed, and I was asleep before my head hit the pillow for the 2nd Rest Bonus of the Leg.

Day 11. I’m awake again before the dawn, and enjoyed a quick snack and drink before heading around to collect my end of rest bonus receipt at the 24 hr servo near the Interstate. A few minutes later I rode out onto I90 east towards Pierre, SD. Today felt easier, maybe because it’s Day 11? I don’t know, everything just clicked, the bonus collecting seemed easier, the bike ran beautifully, the aches and pains seemed normal and I felt like this routine was normal. I was in and out of Pierre SD before the morning rush hour cranked up, with my next stop Lemmon SD to visit the Cowboy riding the Dinosaur. The road undulated across the South Dakota countryside and it felt good. I’m backtracking roads from Leg 1 of the Rally as I recognised landmarks along the way. I’m aiming for the Group Photo Bonus in North Dakota and after not seeing any other rally riders for the last 3 days suddenly they started appearing out of nowhere. Bonus photo taken in Lemmon, I recheck my timing to the Group Photo in ND and as I had a spare hour I enjoyed some fresh fruit and eggs from the new IGA in Lemmon. I can’t have looked or smelled too good as some of the looks from people in the IGA said it all.

Next bonus was on the Enchanted Highway at Regent, the Covey of Pheasants. There were two other riders there collecting the bonus. From here it’s an easy 20 minutes north into North Dakota on the Enchanted Highway to the Group Photo Bonus. Arriving there are 20 odd other riders waiting patiently. My timing was out by an hour, the time zone change doesn’t occur for another 20 miles up the road, despite what Google Maps says. It was almost time to relax, enjoy the company of other riders and wait patiently for the time for the group photo bonus. Close to the correct time the carpark filled quickly and once the photo was taken it emptied out just as quickly. Time to head back to the barn!

It’s only 500+ miles back to Rally HQ and I called in at Jamestown to collect my final planned bonus of this leg. I take the photo of the bonus from down on the gravel road and almost dropped the RT doing a U turn on the road up to the memorial. Phew almost! My plan now was simple, navigate my way back to Rally HQ. A simple task but I was aware I’m tired and need to make haste slowly with no mistakes on the evenings ride back into Minneapolis.

And for me here lies the heart of what it means to participate in the Iron Butt Rally, to manage oneself in completing a series of tasks across 11 days, how easy it trips off the tongue and yet how difficult and confronting the reality is. (Fly into a foreign country and ride on the wrong side of the road for 11 days and nights solving various tasks/puzzles all the time not really knowing where one is going. Sure, no worries!)

So on the last night of the rally, just before midnight I quietly rode the RT into Minneapolis, weaving my way through the maze of roadworks near the Hotel to be greeted by the wonderful Bec and a few enthusiastic supporters who were prepared to be up all night greeting the riders as we made our way into Rally HQ. I was in bed by 12:30 am and up again at 5:00 am for scoring with the results announced that evening at the Finishers banquet.

Back at the Barn...carefully going through the same routine...It ain't over yet!

I am an Iron Butt Rally Finisher!

Happy to be back, What an experience!

Part of the Iron Butt Rally experience is participating with the highest caliber people. Period! From the Rally Organizers, the volunteers, the supporters, both local and also the Aussies who were in MN at the time of the rally, (Phil & Joy, and Martin & Alison) and of course my fellow riders, the camaraderie is beyond something special. My words cannot do this justice.

It's taken me a long time to gather my thoughts in writing this RR, part of that is the post Rally blues, while a large part of it can be simply put down to "i miss it"....I'm not done yet.

Home with a few memories and dreams to start planning for
Last edited:


Well-Known Member
Martin, it's taken me a Little to get around to your double header report. I've been known to dip me lid to members in the past. I feel that after reading Leg 1 and 2 I may have to take it off, and leave it off. Your words both showed me your way and filled me with respect for "an outsider" who had a dream, and fulfilled it. My heartiest congratulations on achieving your "special" IBA number.


Premier Member
Incredible in all respects Martin. I felt confused just reading your navigational guidelines. :D Goodness knows how that really feels across 11 days of personal suffering, pleasure, frustration and adventure. Your report had everything in spades. Sincere congratulations on such an awesome personal achievement. I was sorry to read your comment "I miss it" ...... obviously the heat still affects your even today :confused: I cannot imagine doing this once, let alone again ;) You'll get over it I'm sure!


Well-known Member. Moderator
Thanks Martin, glad to finally make sense of the whole thing.
What a great effort and an excellent result for you both.
Great to see all your photos along the way too.