Dusty Butt turned Muddy Butt equals Unfinished Business

Scott Parish

Premier Member
I have long wanted to attempt a Dusty Butt after several years ago coming across the original ride reports of the group that completed one in 2003. In fact – the desire to do a Dusty Butt influenced my last bike purchase of a 2016 BMR R1200GS Adventure. As most of us – I had a series of rides I want to complete in order. Last year I finished the last two rides preceding a Dusty Butt (i.e. 48/10 Plus and SaddleSore Triathlon (1 mile swim, 10 Kilometer run, 1,000 mile ride in 24 hours (FYI-not an official IBA themed ride)). Thus – the main priority this year was attempting a Dusty Butt. I had been corresponding with another IBA member – Ronald Harms about teaming up. Ron lives in Iowa but was out in Los Angeles for work this year and I drove up so we could meet in person and discuss plans. Ron is a super nice guy and knows his way around a motorcycle. He has been scouting a route in Iowa. Unfortunately, Ron and I were not able to sync up a timeframe to make the attempt together; and I was leaning towards wanting to follow the route completed by earlier US Dusty Butt riders which is one long circular route starting in Kansas and looping through Colorado and Nebraska before finishing back in Kansas. Ron was favoring an approximate 300 mile loop route in Iowa where you would cover the same terrain 3 times. From a strategic and safety perspective – familiarity with the surface and terrain makes sense; especially once it becomes dark. However, I think covering the same ground multiple times takes away from the challenge and devalues the accomplishment somewhat (just my opinion). I expressed to Ron I had limited availability and was hoping to make an attempt prior to July. Ron was still working on a few issues with his bike; but sent me the GPX files from the 2003 and 2008 route the riders used starting in Goodland, Kansas. I reviewed the route in detail spending 8 hours on a Saturday using Google Earth Satellite imagery to trace every mile of the route to ensure the roads were still intact and/or paved. Everything looked good in terms of total distance paved vs unpaved; fuel stops etc. I called the gas stations at each leg to verify hours and identified at least one back-up for each location. The only issue I had with the route was getting it to my Garmin Nav V intact. The route is complicated with over 500 waypoints with so many back roads. I had never encountered this before; but apparently my Garmin will break up any route with more than 29 waypoints into smaller segments. With time being a real issue; it was not feasible to stop every 20-30 minutes to activate another segment. There are eight individual legs to the route; so I went through each leg and changed as many waypoints to shaping points as possible to get below the 29 threshold for each leg. Once that was done I reloaded to the GPS successfully as individual routes; but the mileage changed significantly. For example – the first leg in Basecamp indicated 174 miles; but on the GPS it now read 129 miles. The routes appeared identical; but I was uncomfortable with the difference. After trying several other tricks I reached out on FB and received a suggestion to load the legs on the GPS as tracks. I did this and everything looked good; but tracks on my GPS for some reason were not displaying current position which would make navigating difficult. So rather than converting the track to a route in Basecamp; I did it from the GPS. This seemed to smooth out the mileage difference versus my previous attempt of loading routes. Now instead of the first leg reading 129 miles; it read 170 miles. Each subsequent leg was the same with a reading of 2-4 miles less on the GPS versus Basecamp. I had enough cushion to be comfortable with the difference; but was still worried I would need back-up navigation. I loaded each track on my small Garmin eTrex 20 and adjusted the visibility as much as possible. The eTrex screen is small and would be difficult to navigate by; but at least it was something. I like to use my phone for point to point routing on IBA rides and rallies. Unfortunately, that was not possible for this ride. I took the GPX file and opened in Google My Maps to make a few updates; but with over 500 waypoints it was not possible to open the map on the My Maps app and follow directions to the next waypoint. However, For Search and Rescue; I frequently use a navigation app on my phone called Maps.me. It is a really good app I have relied upon many times in the back country as it works well whether you have mobile coverage or not. I had never loaded a file to the app so it took some time to figure out; but once done – it is quite simple to save the GPX file to a KML format in a cloud server; and then open the file from the app. What I then had was my color coded route displayed on my phone. It will not give directions; but it does a good job with the current location triangle in relation to the desired track. In fact – during the actual ride; I found Maps.me not only provided a sanity check; but I relied upon it a my primary source of truth as Garmin wanted to route me differently a couple times each leg.

(Above - Screen Shot of Maps.Me Page with route)

With routing figured out - I submitted my time off from work and targeted June 29th or 30th as the day to make the attempt. I had to make some arrangements to get from San Diego to Goodland. At first I thought to just ride; but my wife Michelle wanted to come along which I felt was a good idea to have someone local in case something happened considering what happened to Tim Roush a few months ago during his Dusty Butt ride. Since Michelle wanted to come (and I wanted her to come); riding 2-up did not seem practical if something happened to the bike during the ride attempt; therefore we decided to drive. I reserved a U-Haul trailer for 6 days giving us two days travel each way and a couple days in Goodland in case we needed to stretch the days for weather. The last tire swap I put on a set Motoz Tractionator and had about 2 thousand street miles on them. The tires still looked brand new so I felt they would be fine as I consider them a 60/40 street/dirt tire. Otherwise; the bike was ready to go. The only thing I did was remove the side and top panniers and just pack a small tail bag with basic tools, air compressor, battery jump etc. and a tank bag with other ride necessities.

(Above - Ready for departure)

For gear I brought both my normal Aerostich suite and motocross equipment and would decide which to go with once in Kansas. Michelle and I with one addition (Stella our Golden Retriever) departed home on Wednesday June 26th. We stopped in Santa Fe, NM that night and arrived to Goodland, KS on Thursday June 27th at 3pm. We got checked in to the motel and I unloaded the bike. During the drive I kept checking extended weather forecasts for the Midwest and noted a high pressure system was bringing intense heat over the next several days with possibility of rain coming in on Sunday. With our weather window tightening up; I decided I would launch on Friday June 28th versus waiting around until Saturday and chancing rain early Sunday morning.
Since I was unfamiliar with what type of terrain to expect and I wanted to check for correct tire pressure – I got on the bike and went to the gas station I would initiate the attempt from to ensure the receipt contained all the necessary components and ride some of the first leg. I have a fair amount of off road experience; but it has always been on smaller motocross bikes. I was a bit nervous how I would handle the much bigger Adventure and had frequently considered picking up a KLR for the Dusty Butt attempt. However, after about 50 miles on dirt; I really loved how well the Adventure absorbed the irregularities of the surface. The tires provided good feedback and I was able to maintain a 65 mph pace for about an hour before turning around and heading back to the motel. Given the conditions – I decided to wear motocross equipment which consists of a fully integrated spine, kidney, chest, forearm, and elbow and shoulder piece along with shin/knee guards and full height motocross boots. I wore full leg length and long sleeved base layers as the daytime temperature would be 98-100 with 30% humidly. During my test ride I was perfectly comfortable wearing a regular motocross shirt over the upper body armor; but would require a light jacket at the start and after dark riding.

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(Above Left - Feeling good and well protected; Right - Leaving the motel as quietly as possible)

As well as keeping Ronald updated; I was communicating with another IBA rider Steve Carter who lives in Kansas and Michelle and I had met at the last HW3 rally. Steve is one of the nicest individuals you will ever know and wanted to meet me the next morning at my planned departure of 0400 for a sendoff at the gas station despite it being a 2 hour ride for him. Sure enough – when I arrived to the gas station a few minutes after 4am; Steve was already there. We talked for a few minutes; took a quick picture and off I went into the dark. Right away Garmin wanted to act up. When opening the first leg route; I had an option to select next destination beginning or ending which is something I was not expecting. I selected end; and immediately the route changed despite my having the automatic reroute setting turned off. I stopped and changed the next destination to start; and that seemed better as it had me make the first dirt road turn-off correctly. I was glad I had done a short test ride the previous afternoon so I was aware of where the first turn-off occurred. This also was my first indication to rely upon Maps.me as a primary source for routing.

(Above - Steve Carter seeing me off)

As we all know – planning a ride is all about time and distance. I had determined it necessary to maintain a moving average of 50mph throughout the attempt to offset the 8 necessary documented fuel stops/DBRs. It would be close; but I felt I had about an hour or two cushion. However, what I did not really account for is how challenging it is to maintain 50mph on a dirt road where surface conditions are constantly changing especially at night. Fortunately, I was a little familiar with the first 50 miles of this section and knew it to be fairly consistent hard pack with a thin layer of sand on top as long as you stayed along the outside rut as the sand was significantly deeper in the center. I had my first encounter with wildlife in the first mile with two large white-tails standing on the road which had me quickly locking up the brakes. For lighting – I have a pair of LED Rider LX40 spots along with a pair of the stock BMW auxiliary lights and the main LED headlight. I was feeling confident in the amount of light I could throw down the road; but quickly realized at night on a dirt road with wildlife all around – 50mph was not going to be safe. I didn’t have to wait long as sunrise was shortly after 0500 and I was able to pick-up the pace.
I will not breakdown each leg; but suffice to say each leg; each road, presented different surface conditions. There was hard pack dirt where it was very easy to maintain 65mph average followed by hard pack with a very rocky top layer, to long sections of sand. In some places where apparently the road washes out frequently; it appeared crushed asphalt was mixed in which felt like riding on marbles with very little control. Cattle guards and dirt road intersections require added throttle to lighten the front tire as the dirt in these areas can be very different and/or rutted. I was making great time once the sun came up and was adding to my bank of time. I was thinking I might even finish the ride early enough to get a few good hours of sleep the next morning before the sun came up. It was blazing hot and humid; but I never took notice of the heat or any discomfort as the ride requires maximum concentration. Even using the drink tube from my Camelbak required additional effort as riding one handed even for a moment on dirt can be disastrous; but I did manage to drink throughout the day. I wear a 3.5L Camelbak and carried another 1.5L in my tank bag. I ended up drinking 5L during the ride and still only needed a bathroom break twice.
I had several close calls with wildlife all day. Despite it not being an active time of year for deer; on a least 10 different occasions I locked up the brakes for deer either on the road or right next to the road on both sides which leaves you unsure which direction they might run. As the sun set later; the deer activity increased. Many of the areas are open grazing and on at least four occasions I had to stop for cows on the road and slowly herd them off blipping the throttle and horn. At one point I came along a herd of bison which I was unwilling to blip the throttle too much as they are enormous as you get close. Fortunately they moved on quickly enough. I also came upon a lone mule standing directly in the center of the road and true to their nature; never moved as I slowly made my way around him. I also had a rattle snake strike at me as I was coming down the road and noticed something curled up in the center and did not recognize it as a snake until my front tire was passing. I had bird strikes galore – too many to count as the birds love to stand in the road and take flight as you approach. I took hits to the head, chest, arms, shoulders etc. I was still pulling feathers out of the bike days later from hits to the windscreen, light and radiators. One rabbit broadsided me knocking my foot off the beg; a quick look behind me and the rabbit appeared to have knocked himself out; but was apparently able to shake it off as this happened on a section I had to double back after getting gas and he was gone on my second pass.
I was two hours ahead of schedule when I finished the 6th leg and had finally lost the light when I entered Julesburg, CO. The station was closed; but the pumps were still on as promised and thankfully producing good receipts. The 7th leg was by far the shortest at 58 miles and I had estimated it would take no more than about 75 minutes to complete. I was feeling really good after taking some water and set off. I quickly realized now that it was full dark I could not maintain a 50mph average. It was probably more related to lack of light; but it felt like the roads were less maintained. I was barely maintaining a 30mph when I came along a section which evidently a thick layer of sand had been added recently. Sand is the nemesis of a 600 pound adventure bike. Since it was completely dark; I could not get a sense of how deep or how far the sand section went. If it were day; I would have stood and applied more throttle; but at night – everything feels different and within a couple of minutes the bike fishtailed one direction while I went a different. I’m not sure what score the East German judge would give; but I did execute a front roll followed by sideway tumble and concluded with a backward flip which somehow left me a few yards behind but facing the bike. I was not shook-up; but was rather irritated at why so much sand would be applied along the section. It was deep; I mean several inches of lose sand. I struggled getting enough footing to lift the bike; but was able to get it upright although facing the wrong direction. It was defiantly not graceful nor great technique as I finally turned around and paddled my way through the sand almost dumping the bike several more times along the way. The sand section seemed to go on forever; but realistically it was probably less than a quarter mile. However, it further eroded my confidence as I kept hitting sand sections which repeatedly lifted me off the seat.
The 58 mile 7th leg took me 2 hours to complete. I arrived to Paxton, NE at 11pm. I was still feeling confident with 5 hours remaining on the clock and the final section of 150 miles back to Goodland. It was an easy calculation that I needed to just maintain a 30mph average and I should make it with a few minutes to spare. I wasted no time in Paxton. I fueled, pulled receipt, recorded odometer reading and took pictures on my phone and uploaded a picture to my Spot track and was quickly back on dirt. It was nearing midnight and I was running the time/distance calculations in my head. I had just passed the town of Elsie and traveled nearly 30 miles from Paxton. Everything was right on track; confidence was high and I felt I was maintaining a safe speed of 30mph. The road was in good condition with farmland on both sides. Suddenly the dry road became a deep muddy mess. I have been on slip-an-slides less slippery. One second I was riding along on solid ground and the next second the front end of the bike washed out throwing me off the right side face first into the mud. While 30mph doesn’t sound fast – it was plenty fast to create significant momentum in the mud. The bike was sliding behind be and knocked me sideways and flipping me on my back. I was able to kick the bike away from me as each of us went off the road and down into a ditch. I came to rest right next to the bike and quickly got back on me feet and stood the bike up. Fortunately the bike came to rest on the upward side of the ditch and it was not too difficult to stand up. Unfortunately, the ditch was steep and the mud thick. I was unable to power the bike up to the road. I pulled the rear tire out of the rut it was digging and removed my tail bag and tank bag for weight; but was still not able to get the bike up. I thought about lowering the tire pressure; but was already running them fairly low and didn’t think it would gain me much. It appeared to me that water canon sprinklers from either one or both farms on each side had saturated the road earlier. The mud was thick and slippery. I didn’t see any other signs of tracks going through the mud. I spent about 15 minutes trying to figure out a way to self-extract; but nothing was working. I called Shelly to let her know what happened; that I was fine; and the bike appeared to be ridable if I could get it out of the ditch. Shelly called the State Police with my location while I called 911 for a local response. I let them know I was not hurt and required assistance getting my vehicle out of the ditch. While I waited; I set-up my rescue strobe light we carry in Search and Rescue as it can easily been seen miles away. Despite providing exact coordinates and details about my location – it took an hour before a County Sheriff’s Deputy arrived. He parked about a 100 yards up the road before the mud section. He walked through the mud gingerly and finally asked how things were going. I told him everything was fine if he could help push the bike while I tried to power it up to the road. He told me they are not allowed to help and offered to call a tow truck; but said the tow truck would not arrive until morning as they were having trouble finding a tow truck for another disabled car and I would be second. After handing him my driver’s license; he wanted to see my registration and proof of insurance which are locked under the seat currently caked with mud. While he went back to sit his is car and run my information; I called my roadside assist. It didn’t take long to realize regular roadside assist was not going to be overly helpful getting assistance on a back country county dirt road. Once again – despite providing exact coordinates; they were having trouble with my location. They needed cross roads and landmarks. Seriously – cornfield on my right and cornfield on my left. More than 90 minutes has passed since I went into the ditch. While I was on the phone with road assist and the County Deputy apparently taking a break in his cruiser; a State Trooper pulled up. Thank goodness Shelly called the State Police because this guy was all business. He walked up; made sure I was okay and took a look at the bike. He asked if it was ridable and I said yes. He walked back to the Sheriff’s Deputy and told him to come help move the bike. We turned the bike to a different trajectory and with the two of them pushing; I was able to power the bike back up to the road. It was now 0200; I had 2 hours left on the clock and 120 miles of dirt road left to the finish. I had walked up the road and it appeared the mud section extended only few hundred yards. However, I knew there was no way I could maintain a 60mph average over the next two hours and was unsure if I might encounter more muddy sections with a different outcome. My primary goal for the ride was to be safe. I had been down twice and had numerous other last minute saves. I thought about continuing and changing to a Dusty Bun Burner where I could try and pick-up the extra 500 miles during daylight; but the bike and me were caked with mud and I had a feeling I had already dodged a bullet a couple of times – therefore I decided I would pull the plug on the attempt. I had covered 942 miles in the first 20 hours. I would like to say it was a hard decision to pull the plug; but it really wasn’t. I was speaking with Shelly and communicating with Ron and Steve the entire time I was waiting for assistance. If I could have extracted the bike within the first hour; I would have continued; however, too much time was lost and I was unwilling to push the envelope further. The bike appeared to be okay except for a very pronounced misalignment of handlebars I was able to correct somewhat with hard bash against the left terminal stop. The paved route back to Goodland was still going to take 2-3 hours. The deer seemed to be everywhere so I maintained a 45mph speed. By 0430 I was still about 30 miles from Goodland. The adrenaline which had kept me going all day; along with the intense focus required of the ride - left me completely exhausted. I was cold with the mud all over and having trouble concentrating. I called Shelly and said I needed to take a break and stopped at a closed John Deere dealership. I took my helmet off and lay down on the concrete next to the bike and quickly went to sleep. I woke up an hour later feeling much better. It was now light and I was back in Goodland in less than 30 minutes. Shelly met me with the truck and trailer at the local car wash. I cleaned up the bike and myself as well as possible and loaded the bike on the trailer. We went back to the motel; showered, slept for the better part of the day; and got an early start the next morning for San Diego.

(Above Nebraska mud is thick enough to hold a 600 pound bike upright)

I plan to tackle this ride again early next June. Why June? Well – June has the most daylight hours and on this ride you need to maximize every available daylight minute. However, June also on average receives the second most rainfall yearly in Kansas which means you need to plan a weather window in your timeframe. April has one of the least amounts of average rainfall; but then you have to balance that out with less daylight hours and more spring related deer activity…take your pick. Also – my MedJet policy runs out at the end of June so if I attempt the ride again I might or might not need renew MedJet (but it is always a good thing to have anyway if you travel by motorcycle more than 150 miles from home). I also will not do the ride again alone. I was lucky I was not injured and had good communication throughout the ride. However, there are sections minimally maintained and rarely traveled. If an individual were injured at night and unable to make contact – it could be the next day before help arrived. Therefore, I definitely recommend this ride not be attempted alone. Tim Roush did his DB in April alone; hit a deer during the day and was severely injured. He was unable to activate his spot or make a call. He couldn’t move and the bike was on top of him. Fortunately, within 30 minutes a couple of farmers found him and activated EMS. Tim’s experience was very much on my mind when I made my attempt and was the main reason which prompted me to get a MedJet policy as I donated to his GoFundMe campaign to pay for transportation back home to Jacksonville. We use teams of three in Search and Rescue and this would be the number I would want on the ride. Three people afford the opportunity if one is injured; one can stay with the subject while the other goes for help. Or, if one person must stop due to mental/physical fatigue; or a non-emergency mechanical failure – the other two can continue together. If I would have had at least one other person on the ride with me – I would most likely have been able to get the bike out of the ditch. However, a group can only go as fast as the slowest rider; so careful consideration must be given to experience and equipment when teaming up. While I had my trepidation of attempting this ride on a heavy adventure bike; it absorbed the terrain so well I was able to maintain a great moving average speed during the day. Yes – had I done the ride on a KLR; I most likely would have been able to get it out of the ditch on my own. However, it would be exhausting to try and maintain 65mph average speed on dirt all day on the smaller bike. Is it doable – absolutely and if I had a KLR or something similar; I would be tempted to make an attempt on a smaller bike. The longest leg on this route is 170 miles; so if you have a bike with a 200 mile range it will not be a problem to complete without carrying extra fuel. The other important item to consider when attempting this ride is moving average difference between day and night. If you calculate a 50mph moving average like I did; you must maintain at least a 60mph average during the day because your speed will decrease at night. It is not an exact 50/50 in time split; but the important lesson is to make hay while the sun is shining and you will likely travel 10mph less at night then you think you will i.e. I thought 40 would be reasonable; and it was at times. However, there were plenty of other times where 20-30 was all I was able to maintain. I could have started earlier and rode more hours in the dark while at my freshest; but I’m not sure how much that would impact the outcome or not. Physical or mental fatigue was never an issue during the ride as I said because of the level of concentration required. I don’t listen to music during regular rides; but sometimes sing to myself. For this ride – singing was not even possible as there was never a dull moment. This was one of the most enjoyable rides I have attempted despite not completing. I really look forward to the next attempt and believe me – it was tempting to go again the next day or head back out next month. However, I think coordinating with a couple other riders will make all the difference on the next attempt. I was expecting to finish the ride and took my traditional celebratory drink in a cooler to have at the conclusion. Unfortunately, I have some unfinished business and therefore was not able to partake. The can is marked and I cannot wait to take a drink next year.




Premier Member
A great, honest reflection on a tough ride. I can very much relate to your comments about the levels of concentration required; never a dull moment indeed!
I also think your reasoning on tackling it again with other riders is very sound. We found a way to make three work very effectively, but that was more by luck/ circumstance than sound logic like yours.

Good luck next year!


Premier Member
What Ben said. It would have been so easy to let wounded pride dictate your actions, but you made a smart call.

I didn't get the dusty butt until my second crack, third if you count Ed, Thommo and I getting washed out by the weather 6 months before we actually pulled it off.

All the best for your unfinished business!