23 Iron Butt Rally Preparation

Martin Little

Premier Member
IBR Finisher
Yesterday I participated in the Lobo Loco mini rally. I managed in the allocated eight hours to grab 19 bonuses plus 10 town bonuses and just over the 350 km minimum requirements.
It was a good way to practice my bonus gathering procedure. I am still not 100% happy with my ZumoXT and it's rerouting ability and will use my 590 when I go off course.
With three weeks to go before I head off to the states I am hoping for one more outing to practice gathering night time bonuses with my rally camera and flag.
Good update Jeff, keep up the practice, see you in a few weeks!


Premier Member
A warning from an experienced Rally Rider's book:

At 5:30 a.m. we left the hotel parking lot and stopped at a gas station a few block away. The station was closed but the pumps were powered up and we filled up at different islands. After I put the nozzle back on the pump I realized that the printer on the pump was out of paper and I wasn't going to get a receipt. I started fussing loudly about the damned receipt and having to take a picture and document the station. I was irate and cussing like a sailor as in a split second I had tripped from happy-go-lucky to pissed-off.
Then, from the other gas island I heard Bill yell "The rally is over." "It's over." "You - don't - need - a - receipt."
He was laughing so hard he could barely get the words out. He was right of course. But, after years of training, setting a regular routine for fuelling, and just ending the IBR where a receipt can make or break you, it is truly hard to return to the everyday. I grinned at Bill, climbed on the R60, and we headed east.
pages 203-4
Getting over the rally took time. Just like the angst I felt when I didn't get a receipt for gas in Spokane, I had tuned myself for the rally and the training took quite a while to wear off. It was over a month before I stopped waking up in the middle of the night in a panic thinking that I had overslept and needed to get to a bonus. Several times I was out of bed and half-dressed before I realized that Susie was telling me that "The rally is over and you are home." Sometimes she had to say it a few times because I was busy dressing, trying to remember where I was back down to go to sleep again while still convincing myself that I really was at home and not having a dream during the rally.
I was worried about everyday things like how long it took me to eat lunch since I was used to a three-minute-meal. Sitting in a restaurant to eat was a long luxury that made me flat-out nervous. It was December before life returned to normal.
Hopeless Class Joel Rappoport p 207


Premier Member
IBR Finisher
In '11 my lovely bride (454), decided to push on to the finish instead of get a room at the end of the IBR. She had called me previously, telling me she was going to find a room around 10 pm. So imagine my surprise when I am awakened at 3am and told she's downstairs at the entrance to the finish hotel. After winding her down a bit, I got her to bed in the hotel room. Scoring doesn't open until 8am.

About 7am she sits bolt upright in bed and cries out "what state am I in? I have to get to the finish!!" It took several minutes to calm her down and explain she was at the finish and even though it was daylight, she had an hour before scoring opened.

After my IBR in '13 I forced myself to stop getting fuel receipts, which really helped curb the desire to log every one, etc. I don't think I've gotten a fuel receipt, other than while on a cert ride, in almost 10 years now.


Premier Member
A comparison that comes up when explaining the IBR is that more people have climbed to the top of Mount Everest in a single year than have finished the Iron Butt Rally in its entire history. Four hundred and twenty-three climbers made it to the summit of Mount Everest in 2009. Four hundred and three riders have finished the IBR since its inception in 1984.
The first day I was at work after the Rally I was talking about the ride to several folks and one asked me how I had done. I told him that I had finished. He asked where I had finished in the standings and I said 59th to which he exclaimed, "You spent all of that money and time just to finish 59th?"
I was going to explain that a person climbing Everest didn't care whether they were the first person at the summit that season or the last as they were standing on the top of the world. I was going to emphasize the grand adventure I had been on. I was going to speak to the challenge of covering eleven thousand miles in eleven days. Instead, I just looked at him, grinned, and said "Yes." Bill Thweatt was correct when he said "Some people just don't get it!"
Hopeless Class Joel Rappoport p 208

jeffrey gebler

Premier Member
IBR Finisher
Damn fine looking rally bike Jeff! Also, it would have been cold in North Dakota last night, its freezing here in Minnesota.
Yes Martin it was cold in North Dakota last night but nothing compared to this morning starting in Fargo and making my way through Minnesota and Wisconsin. Temperatures started at 8 degrees and didn't get above 12 with rain throughout the day.

I finished my rally prep today with just under 3500km in the last 56 hours. I ran the Lobo Loco rally in Iowa and then up to Minneapolis to do a practice rally using the 2021 Minnesota 1000 rally pack. Routing on the clock and 1200 miles and 20 bonuses across North Dakota.

A few minor adjustments to the bike and a couple of last minute purchases and I am ready to head to Pittsburgh on Thursday.

jeffrey gebler

Premier Member
IBR Finisher

2023 IBR Preparation.

The IBR prep started for me over 18 months ago when I got the letter from Lisa with the news that I had been accepted for the 2023 IBR.

I knew that I would need to purchase a rally bike in the USA, but this would have to wait for another year.

In the meantime, numerous to-do lists were prepared, and these were added to over the next 18 months. At times, it seemed that for every item that was crossed off, two more were added.

As this was going to be only my second multi day rally, I knew that I needed to improve on my routing technique and IBA member Murphyau was glad to help. Over the next year, Steve put together numerous E-rallies for me to practice my data entry, transfer to Basecamp and route planning in Basecamp. He also put together a couple of one-day rallies including rally packs for me to get out on the bike and practice using my rally camera, flag and score sheet.

Another IBA member, Tabledrain, has been a big help over the years as he has always been willing to pass on his extensive rally wisdom and knowledge.

I have not fully recovered from my 2022 accident on the way to the ACT Insanity ride 14 months ago and feel that I have lost some mobility in my leg, so six months before the rally I started doing yoga several times a week to improve my flexibility and core strength. At this time I also gave up all caffeine as I knew its effects would be greater when I needed it during the rally.

I rode a Goldwing in the 2019 IBR and knew that I would not want to do that again. As comfortable as Goldwing's are, they do not seem suitable for a 6' 6” rider who likes to stand quite often when riding. I also had to skip quite a few bonuses in 2019 that required off-road riding which is something that I was not comfortable doing on a Goldwing.

I have been riding Super Teneres now for over 10 years and knew that was the bike I needed for this rally. So six months ago I posted a message on the private IBR Finishers email group about my need for a Tenere rally bike and as luck would have it, the very same day IBR finisher Andy Regnier said he had one that he would sell to me. He was also kind enough to store it for me and to fit on the numerous parts that I had to send before my arrival so that my new bike would be set up the same as my bikes back here in Australia.

My wife and I arrived in the States at the end of May and I flew directly to Minneapolis to pick up my new bike.

After having time to visit with family in Wisconsin I needed to get more used to the bike and also get used to riding on the wrong side of the road. I went to Iowa to visit with other members of my family and to participate in the Lobo Loco Rally. I hastily put together a route that had me riding around Iowa chasing war themed bonuses. It certainly was not my best effort but with no local knowledge, I had enough points to be considered a Finisher.

I had planned on participating in the Minnesota 1000 Rally but it had been cancelled a month prior. I knew that I needed some more practice, so after the Lobo Loco Rally I went to Minnesota with the rally pack from the 2021 Minnesota 1000 and had my own rally. Twelve hundred miles later with bonuses scattered across North Dakota, I was happy with the setup of the bike and ready for the ride to the start of the IBR in Pittsburgh.
geographic center of North America bonus from Minnesota 1000

I arrived at the start hotel four days before hand which gave me time to catch up with some old friends and get a few days of rest before the business part of the rally started on Saturday. I also had time to fit new tyres to the bike. I have been using the Mitas E-07 for quite a few years but have read good reviews on the Dunlap Trailmax Mission and took a gamble on these tyres that they would go the distance for the rally. Tech inspection went well with the bike passing with no issues and my paperwork was in order so I was pretty much finished by noon which gave me another 26 hours before the mandatory riders meeting the following day.

Leg 1

The rally packs were distributed immediately following the evening’s Start Banquet and after the rush back to the motel room, it was good to see what the Rally Master had in store for us.

I wanted to avoid the US East Coast, so I picked a rather conservative route to the south and then along the southern coast before going north to the first checkpoint in Tulsa.

After another good night's sleep and an early breakfast, I was at the bike well before the 08:00 odometer check and the mandatory punching of the emergency contact card that had to be worn the entire time.

Warchild had some encouraging words 15 minutes before the start, and at precisely at 10:00 all the 18 months of preparation was about to come to reality.

My first stop in South Carolina was about 7 hours after leaving the start. The forecast of rain certainly was true with heavy downpours which had me sitting under a few bridges until some visibility was restored.

I picked up a few of the low-value bingo bonuses on my way to Atlanta and had to put on my best Australian accent to talk the valet parking attendant into letting me leave my bike in his car park while I walked to the bonus

Several hours later it was time to get a motel room for a couple of hours as the next bonus in Florida was daytime only.

The forecast for Day 2 was for rain but I had no idea what I was in for. The rain was quite steady from the start as I made my way south to Florida but at dawn, when the sun was supposed to be coming up, it got so heavy that I could barely see my GPS so I watched the right side of the road through my slightly open face shield to keep on the road..

I knew that there was a town about a couple of miles away so I went on the nearest road to the town and found myself on a dirt road with quite a few drainage channels that had me riding in water well above my boots. There was nowhere to take cover as I was surrounded by lightning and the sound of thunder but I eventually made my way to the town and the relative safety of a petrol station.

When the rain subsided enough I made my way to Cedar Keys for the first bonus of the day and by the time I made it back north to I-10 the sun was out and I was able to start drying myself off as I made my way to New Orleans. All too soon the rain and wind were back and crossing the Lake Pontchartrain Bridge was an interesting experience. I made the New Orleans bonus just before 16:00 and was able to avoid most of the rush-hour traffic.

I then went north to my next bonus at Hot Coffee, Mississippi before taking full advantage of our first rest bonus in Jackson, Mississippi.

The following morning I was in and out of Memphis by 06:30 before a low-value bonus in Arkansas and then off to the group photo bonus in Kansas.

I was at the Leg 1 checkpoint by 16:15 and ready for scoring by the time it opened an hour later. The scoring process was quite easy and the staff are there to help you succeed. A couple of low-value bingo bonuses that I had picked up outside of Atlanta were rejected as the receipts had the city but did not contain the state, a lesson for later.

After scoring I checked the bike over and filled my hydration system with ice and water. After it was time for a hot meal, the first one since leaving the start. I did not want to be unsociable but the provided meal with lots of vegetables and salad was taken up to my room where I could quickly eat and get as much sleep as possible.

Leg 2

A 03:30 alarm had me down to the meeting room for breakfast by 03:45, then the riders meeting at 04:00. A few stern words were spoken by the Rally Masters for some breeches to protocol before the Leg 2 packs were handed out.

On the way back to the room, while waiting for the elevator, I skimmed through the pack and saw that the two big bonuses were in Santa Monica, California and Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Not wanting to travel in Los Angeles traffic and growing up 15 minutes from Manitowoc my decision was made by the time I got to my room.

This hasty decision was not a good way to look at this leg and I do regret my choice as I now believe I could have ridden more efficiently and scored higher if I had chosen the western route to California.

I think I had my route worked out in less than two hours and was on the road around 6:30.
I think this was leaving leg 2.

By this time of the rally, I had a good routine with fuel stops, and bonus gathering and I was quite happy with my prepacked tank bag food which kept me satisfied and not needing to stop for meals..

I was still uncomfortable with all the freeway riding, as I live and work in a small town and live in a State with no actual freeways, so the idea of all the freeway riding in built up areas that was required was somewhat daunting to me.

My first bonus for Day 1 of Leg 2 was a four-hour ride to a small café in rural Kansas before a seven-hour ride to the next couple of relatively low-value bonuses outside of Minneapolis. My earlier than expected departure from the checkpoint had me reach these bonuses 90 minutes ahead of schedule and I had to contend with rush hour traffic in metropolitan Minneapolis.

With one more bonus for the day to gather, I headed four hours north to Ely, Minnesota which towards the end was mainly two lanes with quite a few small towns to keep things slow moving.

I grabbed a few hours' rest in Duluth which set me up for Day 2's ride into Wisconsin.

After the relative warmth of the south, I was surprised to find the temperature in Northern Wisconsin cold enough to require my heated jacket. I made this leg's big bonus in Manitowoc ahead of schedule and was relieved to find numerous riders here and that I was not the only one to not go west. Having grown up in this area and not being back for almost ten years I was tempted to take some time to see a few old sights but realised it was not the best time for reminiscing. Plenty of helmet time had me vowing to go back once the rally was over and I did that three days after the rally had finished.

My next bonus was in downtown Chicago and I thought that as it was the middle of the day I should be able to get in, take the required photo and get out relatively quickly. This was not the case as traffic came to a stand-still 7 miles from my exit. My Garmin XT came up with an alternative route and I managed to grab the bonus but the ride out was as slow as the ride in. Another lesson learned!

It was now time for Leg 2's rest bonus and I had organised with a family member five hours away in Waterloo Iowa, a place to get a nice meal and a very comfortable bed.

So far for this leg, I had remained dry but before getting some sleep I had a look at the weather which showed some very bad storms crossing Iowa in the early morning, so I decided to cut short my rest break to try to avoid this weather situation.

I was able to get the first bonus in central Iowa but the next one in South Dakota had to wait as once again the rain came down in buckets and the lightning was soon joining the rain. Without the ability to see the road, I found an empty truck wash to keep myself out of the elements. Eventually, the rain subsided enough that I could somewhat see the road but by then I had to cut out the next bonus and get to the group photo in Nebraska by 11:00. The rain finally did stop, and I was able to somewhat dry off, and make the photo bonus in time and then had the five-hour ride to the Denver checkpoint.

Once again I made it to the checkpoint fairly early and was able to be scored relatively quickly with just a few minor coding errors being left at the table. I then picked up my next five days tank bag food that I had shipped a week earlier, checked the bike over and filled up the hydration system.

Another nice meal was waiting for us but again I was unsociable and took my meal to my room to capitalize my time for sleep.

Leg 3 and Finish

Leg 3 started the same as Leg 2 with a 03:30 alarm and a very average breakfast at 3:45 before the rally packs being handed out at 04:00.

I knew that I needed to route better than I did for Leg 2 and this leg had several combos, so I started by looking at a route with some combo points. Key West was a big point option but I could not find a route that would allow me to ride down to the keys at night so I decided on the Road Kill café and the Texas Kolache Trail combos.

I think it took me just over three hours to finalise my route and I had almost a 10-hour ride to my first Road Kill bonus in Montana. I could see that there was going to be some more rain but I was able to avoid it until I was coming down the Rockies into Idaho where the temperature began to drop and the icy rain began to fall.

It was time again for my heated jacket as I made my way through some stunning mountain ranges on my way to my next bonus in Salt Lake City.

I needed some sleep by this time and got a motel room for a couple of hours before I rode to Vegas the following day.

My first bonus for Day 2 of the final leg was in Caesars Palace Las Vegas about five hours from last night's stop which took me on I-15. I am always amazed at this interstate as it goes through the gorges near St.George and I often wonder how they constructed this freeway.

I met fellow IBR rider Bob Lily outside the casino where we both had the same idea to go to the valet parking and ask for help with our bike parking. The valet attendant was very helpful and took us past security and to the bonus location inside the casino. Making my way out of Vegas certainly was harder than getting in but I soon was back on the interstate crossing Hoover Dam and heading east towards Flagstaff Arizona.

It was good to be back in this area as my wife and I lived in Phoenix in the early 2000s and spent some great times riding these roads. The next bonus for the Road Kill café combo was next and located on the historic Route 66 in Seligman Arizona which was another place we had visited in the past.

I have been using a Zumo XT and a 590 for most of my routing along with occasionally running Google Maps on my phone. The two GPS units did not always agree on a route but I would generally follow the one which would get me to the next bonus the quickest. The arrival times usually varied slightly but on the way to the next bonus, the XT had me arriving 4.5 hours later than the 590
Same data entered into both GPS but such different results.

I decided to take the advice of the 590 and made the next bonus in Arizona in about three hours. This was most likely the most scenic road that I had ridden during the rally as I made my way on desolate roads through Navajo and Hopi Indian reservations followed by Keams Canyon on the way after the bonus.

It was soon after this that the XT got tired of me yelling and swearing at it that it decided to stop talking to me and refused to give me any audible directions for the remainder of the rally.

I finally made my way into New Mexico and decided to get the first rest bonus of the final leg just outside of Albuquerque. I took full advantage of the 8 hours off the bike and tried to reroute my ride to get a few of the lucrative Florida bonuses but then decided to stick to my original plan.
Sunrise somewhere in New Mexico.

In 2019, I struggled with Day 8 and this year Day 8 was the same as I rode across a windy New Mexico and then had to face the long hot road down through Texas. The temperature was sitting at 45C as I made my way around Dallas with its extensive freeway system, south towards the first of the bonus of the day, almost 12 hours after leaving last night's rest bonus.

This bonus in West Texas was the first in the Texas Kolache Trail and after looking back on my routing I realise that this combo was probably not the most efficient use of riding time.

I picked up the second on the Kolache bonuses in La Grange a couple of hours later and then headed south towards Houston to set myself up for the final two timed Kolache bonuses that were only available early in the morning.

A cheap and nasty motel in Klute, Texas gave me some relief from the day's heat but the early morning humidity was brutal as I waited for the clock to reach 04:30 when the bonus in Klute to become available. Then a short ride to Danbury had me waiting until 05:30 for the last bonus in the Kolache combo.

After leaving Texas, I crossed into Louisiana for a quick bonus just outside of New Orleans in Metairie, soon followed by again crossing the Lake Pontchartrain Bridge, though this time with no rain or wind.

I was heading east to the next Road-Kill bonus and found myself once again riding through Mobile, Alabama, a city that looked like it would be worth spending some time as a tourist in the future.

I got the third Road-Kill bonus in the gulf community of Elberta, Al. before retracing my steps and heading north to the very rural town of Burnt Corn Al. for the next bonus.

Another 5 hours of riding through Montgomery and Birmingham had me grabbing the last bonus of the day in South Pittsburgh, Tennessee before stopping for the last rest bonus of the rally.

For some reason my alarm from the previous night decided to go off and not realising this, I had gotten myself ready to depart when I noticed it was still quite dark out. After checking the time on my phone I realised that I was up 3 hours too early and my next bonus was not available until 10:00. I decided to try to get some more sleep but found it difficult as I was anxious to get going on the last day's riding.

Three hours later and not feeling very rested I made my way through the Blue Ridge Mountains to Helen Georgia for the first bonus of the final day's riding.

I continued riding the very scenic but slow-moving at times roads of the Blue Ridge Mountains as I made my way the 9 hours north to the last Road Kill bonus in rural Pennsylvania. I was quite relieved to get this bonus and knew I should have more than enough points for a Bronze or maybe Silver finish.

I arrived on schedule and knew it was only 150 miles to the barn but thought that I had enough in me to grab one more bonus so decided to head further east and get a nice-sized bonus in Philadelphia. I had 12 hours until penalty points started and this extra bonus was going to be 540 miles instead of the 150 miles but I decided that I really wanted a famous Philly Cheese Steak.

The first two hours seemed to progress well despite some delays due to construction but somewhere past Baltimore things on I-95 came to a complete stop with no sign of movement, and the XT estimating a three-hour delay and Google Maps not too far behind.

I had done a little riding on the right shoulder previously and had to go for that action again for the next six miles until I could get to the nearest exit. It was then just a matter of following the local traffic until I was able to get back on the Interstate.

By now, I was close to 90 minutes behind schedule and last night's lack of sleep was slowly catching up to me.

Finding my way to Pat's King of Steak bonus was quite easy but due to the delays there was no time to taste this famous sandwich and into the pannier it went as I made my way back out of Philadelphia.

I had 317 miles to the barn, I knew that I would need one more fuel stop and Google said that I should make the barn by 05:00. I got a few encouraging messages from Tabledrain around this time, which was always good to hear from one of Australia's finest.

Due to my fatigue, I found myself needing multiple short rest-stops at the numerous rest stops along the the highway before arriving back in Pittsburgh a little later than expected at 06:00.

It was great to be back where it all started 11 days ago and to see my wife and family members who saw me off, gave me encouragement along the way and now were welcoming me back.

Scoring took longer than the past two legs but it gave me time for a quick shower and to change out of my very well-worn lived in gear, and as we were off the clock, it was great to catch up with a few other riders while waiting for my number to be called.

I was pleased to not have lost any points during this leg and was ready for some sleep before the Finisher's Banquet.

My final position was 33rd overall, slightly better the 66th in 2019 and this year good my score was good enough for a silver finish. I accumulated 108,049 bonus points and covered 11,071.5 miles.

The Dunlop Trailmax Mission tyres that I took a gamble on, lasted the entire 11,745 miles (18901Km) with plenty of life to spare and I will definitely be fitting them onto my Australian bikes in the near future.
Tyre wear after the rally and back in Wisconsin.

I am thrilled to have been a part of this rally for the second time and cannot say enough about how well it was run.
A big thank you to Jeff, Lisa and Mike and all the hard working volunteers who helped keep everything running so smoothly.
I hope to see them all again in 2025.


Last edited: