IBR 2017 Ride Report_Part 1 (Legs 1 & 2)

Martin Little

Premier Member
IBR Finisher
The Iron Butt Rally 2017 is over and I’m now back home and resumed working life. It’s taken me some time to gather my thoughts and start to put pen to paper for a Ride Report, but here we go.

Pre Rally – USA East Coast to Minneapolis.

After three years of preparation, we arrived in the USA with a plan to collect my never-before-ridden Rally bike (MJ, the R1200RT) from fellow LD Rider Dan Simmonds on the east coast. From there we were going to spend a leisurely week making our way to Rally HQ in Minneapolis in time for technical inspections on Saturday, leaving Sunday free for any last moment adjustments.

Happily, things went according to plan! The RT was collected and we spent time with Dan sharing some great back roads (and some great food!) in and around Pennsylvania. We had also arranged to spend some time in Washington DC which we thoroughly enjoyed and we were treated to some great local hospitality from LD riders Bruce and Janet Edwards, thanks guys!

Before we knew it was time to head westwards for Minneapolis on the RT. The bike ran beautifully on our ride from Washington DC to Minneapolis, where Bec and I finalised my preparations for the Rally including fitting the aux fuel tank, having the bike serviced by the local BMW dealership and some night hours riding to check out the suitability of the standard lights. I had fretted over spending precious additional funds on installing auxiliary lights on the RT, and in the end decided I couldn’t justify it.

Out doing some night riding prep. MN.

Tech inspection went well on Saturday with the only real queries being on my obscured compliance sticker on my Shoei Helmet (sticker obscured by Senna Bluetooth battery) and a question during my odometer check as I leave my GPSs in metric while the RT is imperial being a USA bike. These queries were satisfactorily resolved and before I knew it I was through tech inspection and ready to Rally!

Final preparations ahead of Rally Start - Nutrition packs. (Thanks Alicia!)

Sunday morning and afternoon was spent in Rookie and Rider briefings ahead of the pre-start banquet. Rally packs were handed out at the banquet and every rider disappeared to commence planning their route for Leg 1. The rally theme was a “North American Safari” with a twist for each leg. Leg 1 allowed a multiplier to be added to a string of bonuses. Collect 3 of a kind and the points on the third bonus collected were doubled. While this sounds easy now, at the time and with the fog of action settling in, working out one’s route to collect strings of bonuses took some effort planning, let alone riding one “perfect” route.

The Rally Theme - North American Safari

Rally Leg 1

Team OZ - ready to Rally!

Monday morning saw some very tense and tired people. My support crew Chief, (Bec) was a picture of calm, keeping things well-grounded for me and before I knew it Warchild was giving me the signal to ride and I was away on Leg 1. My overall Rally objective was to be a finisher and collect my IBR number, so my route was conservative in recognition of this. I was keen to collect a bonus quickly so headed North West to photograph the crow at Belgrade, MN before heading directly to the group photo location at Rothsay, MN. This was a time constrained Bonus and I arrived approximately 30 minutes early, which allowed the luxury of a quick snack and a moment to gather my thoughts. The group photo was taken right on time by the efficient IBR staff followed by a mass exodus out of the parking lot.

There seemed to be a few other riders all heading west and this continued to my next bonus at Jamestown, ND before I headed north to the Canadian border via Dunseith to collect the photo of the Wee’l Turtle, made out of 2,000 steel wheel rims. I crossed over into Canada with little fuss, the Canadian Border official accepting my explanation of going into Canada to take photos.

Crossing into Canada Day 1

The ride up to Glenboro and then across to La Riviere was uneventful. I collected the bonuses and right on dusk pointed the bike southwards back to the border. On the way back and in the gathering night I ran into about 2 miles of roadworks with deep gravel which kept me on my toes. I don’t mind gravel surfing but I have a general rule of “never at night”. Unfortunately this time I had little choice: it was this or retrace my route back through Glenboro. The last 50 miles to the border was through forest and I was now quietly wishing for auxiliary lights, (‘oh well, can’t do much about that now!’). I rode according to my available light and before too long rolled into US Immigration at 11:15pm where I was selected for a “random” inspection of bike. Random? There’s only me, myself and I here? Not to worry, I used the 20 minutes with the US Border official to unpack & repack the bike which I found strangely therapeutic. I was sent on my way and rolled back into Dunseith, ND just after midnight and grabbed a $45 room at the truck stop. Needless to say I was asleep quickly.

I was up at 3:30am to plot the rest of my route for Leg 1 and back out on the road at 4:30 heading south to the first bonus of the day. Saw a few deer grazing on the roadside and I was grateful for sunrise when it finally arrived. The first BP of day 2 was at Turtle Lake, ND just two hours down the road and then it was onward to The Enchanted Highway via I94 for the next bonus point. The wind was up and by the time I arrived at Regent, ND for this bonus point the wind was very very strong. Team Winterbes were just finishing up this bonus (Covey of Pheasants) as I arrived. It took me some time to take the photo due to the wind and then it was back on the road heading south to Lemmon, SD. Another Rally rider on a FJR passed me along this section of highway, we exchanged waves and I watched him slowly disappear into the distance. Riding into Lemmon I waved to Jim and Lisa as they were leaving. They look to be on a similar route for the day, making their way southwards. I collected this bonus which was really cool: a cowboy riding a dinosaur, before continuing onto Cactus Flats SD. The wind was ferocious by now and made taking the photo of the Giant Prairie Dog at The Ranch Store very difficult. Mission accomplished I was about to jump back on the bike when a family approached me to take their photo beside the Giant Prairie Dog, (‘sure! no worries’). We spent a few minutes taking photos and then they waved me on my way.

Turning east for the next bonus, it dawned on me I had mixed up the order of the just-collected bonus with the next one and I was now backtracking slightly over ground I had already covered. Hmmm, a mistake made this morning when mapping out the days route. I weighed up not collecting it as the points were relatively minor and it was out of sequence for a string but in the end decided to ride the distance out and use the time to collect my thoughts. Arriving in Pierre, SD to collect the dinosaur bonus a fellow rider was just leaving. We gave each other a wave and I got on with taking the photo, ably assisted by the service station attendant who came out to make sure I was “doing it right”. She told me I was about the 8th rider for the day.

From here I pointed the bike south into Nebraska, covering distance to my next scheduled bonus at Wichita, KS, which I planned to take after I had completed my Rest Bonus. As the afternoon wore on into early evening I focused on finding somewhere I could collect my Rest Bonus and rolling into St Paul, Nebraska I found a motel that looked suitable. The first question I asked the motel manager was “what kind of receipts do you issue” to which his answer was “do not worry sir, your lovely wife will not know you have been here”. Hmmm, Ok!?!?! Eventually he understood what I was looking for, electronic receipts were confirmed and I paid for my room before adjourning for the 8 hours. I was up before dawn, collected my receipt confirming the end of the Rest Bonus and trundled down the road to Cairo, NE. This was a daylight only bonus and I had to wait till there was sufficient light to take the photo of the pyramid and camel. (Well, when in Cairo?). Onward to I80 where I turned east, then took HW 81 south to Wichita, where a Troll awaited. The morning was overcast and threatening rain but none eventuated. The temperature continued to rise as I rode southwards and by the time I arrived in Wichita, it was very sunny and hot. This bonus was a sculpture of a Troll in a Pipe and the photo proved difficult to take with the bright sunlight. Job done, it was back onto the Interstate heading south to Stratford, OK, for the Hand & Butterfly Sculpture.

Cairo, NE. Waiting patiently for daylight to take the Bonus Photo

Once that was collected it was onto Checkpoint 1 at Allen TX. I lost track of where I was but I was riding some great back roads as I crossed into Texas, thankful to be off Interstates for a change. I rolled into Allen in the late afternoon to stop the clock and get scored. My leg 1 total was 11,459 points (nominated target was 10,000 to be on track as a finisher) which I was well satisfied with, especially as I had lost the thread of things….so to say.

Rally Leg 2

Leg 2 saw the points values change for each bonus and the thread multiplier changed to require 4 bonuses, each from a different category, with the 4th bonus’s value multiplying by 3.

After I had finished recoding and looking at route options, I opted for an anti-clockwise loop of Texas. I started with a long gallop down to Big Bend NP to make a high value 4th bonus in Terlingua, on the Rio Grande the end of a string. Next up was a ride south east to South Padre Island then up the Gulf Coast to Houston and Galveston and back to Rally Check Point # 2 in Allen TX. How easily that trips off the tongue….

Leaving the Hotel carpark, heading for my first bonus on Greenville Ave near the Dallas CBD I found myself immersed in rush hour. Phew, what an experience! I am used to riding motorcycles in Sydney traffic but this was another level again. I was glad to get off the Interstate/highway to the relative calm of Greenville Ave. Arriving at the bonus I found fellow Aussie Ian McPhee who had arrived a few minutes earlier. We took the bonus photos together and then discussed what Ian’s options were about addressing his blown rear shock. Ian can fix almost anything and if he can’t he knows what to do about it. Within minutes he was sourcing a replacement shock through wrecker, all very calmly and matter of fact, a real IBR veteran in action!

For me it was back into the Dallas traffic to continue my way southwest, next stop Abilene, TX to collect a photo of Dr Seuss’s Lorax Sculpture in a shady park. It was hot but that was nothing compared as to what lay ahead as I made my way further south west to the Rio Grande. The temperature gauge was sitting on 120 F for most of the rest of the day. At a fuel stop I took 15 minutes to have a nap in the air-conditioning and just cool off for a few minutes. Next bonus was the Road Runner at Fort Stockton, TX and I arrived just as Danny Dossman was departing, also heading for Terlingua.

After spending most of the day riding in a straight line it felt quite surreal to take the road from Alpine TX to Terlingua. This section of the ride was one of those rides we live for: many corners combined with awesome scenery which made it well worth the grind through west Texas in temperatures as high as 120 F. I collected the bonus photo of Clay Harry, the goat in the Starlight Theatre, with some help from a few of the locals in the bar and then headed back the same way I had ridden in. I passed a few more riders heading in as I made my back to Alpine in the setting sun, where I grabbed a room for a few hours’ sleep. I felt really jaded and fatigued after a day of riding in such hot temperatures and resolved to get going again about 3:00am to make the most of the cooler night.

The next morning at 3:00am, 86F felt almost cold as I rode underneath a starlight sky, making my way back to Fort Stockton where I jumped onto Interstate 10 to head for San Antonio. Traffic at this time of the morning on the Interstate was light, just me, Interstate semis, and the odd car. I arrived in San Antonio for the morning rush hour, eventually making my way out to the University of Texas to collect the photo of Rowdy the Roadrunner. This meant a 10-minute walk to find Rowdy, which was a much-needed stretch of the legs. From here, it was on to Hildalgo near the Mexican border to photograph the Killer Bee Statue that commemorates where African Killer bees crossed the border into the US. (I’m still not sure how they know the bees crossed exactly here?!)

Then it was back on the bike to find fuel and water before the shortish ride to South Padre Island. I really enjoyed the sea breeze on the bridge out to the Island which was great after the heat and humidity. It was hot! As I was finishing up at South Padre Island Danny Dossman arrived to collect the same bonus. Heading north through Port Isabel I shouted myself 15 minutes off the bike to enjoy a burger in the cool air conditioning of a McDonalds. Desperate times!

Cooling off near South Padre Island, TX

Continuing northwards, I came across a compulsory Border Patrol stop on the highway. When it came to my turn things were going well until question 3, “show me your visa, sir.” My reply of “I have an electronic visa waiver, but no hard copy on me” changed the tone of conversation quickly. I was told to park my bike on the side of the road and follow the officer for further questioning and checking. After my passport was taken, I was told to wait here in this room with these “others”. Time ticked by slowly and I was starting to fear the worst when my passport was returned to me and I was told to continue on my way. Phew! Back outside in the bright sunshine, I was approached by another BP officer, who was interested in the bike only this time. I finally rode away after 30 minutes that had felt like a lifetime.

The rest of the ride north towards Houston was relatively quiet, hot and humid. I rolled into Wharton TX right on dusk and after discovering the bonus point location was now fenced off and a construction site, I managed to locate an alternative spot to take the photo of the Dinosaur, hoping this would satisfy things at the scoring table. Having ridden just over a 1,000 miles for the day and needing to take my rest bonus, a motel in Wharton was in order. As luck would have it, a motel with a McDonalds opposite it was located 2 blocks down the main street. Perfect for rest bonus receipts! Once that all important start receipt was collected I hit the sack and slept like a log for 8hrs straight.

Rest Bonus Location in Wharton, TX

It was great to wake up feeling almost human again! I was packed and ready to go at 5:00am and across at the McDonalds to collect my Rest Stop finish receipt. While I was in the parking lot, the cleaner came out to check out the bike and talk. It took me a while to understand him as he had a major speech & hearing impediment, plus my accent didn’t help. He couldn’t grasp that I had come from Australia (he kept asking what State is that in) and the fact I was riding “this huge motorcycle” around the USA and he slowly and proudly explained to me how he looked after himself, including doing his bit at McDonalds, starting at 4:30am every morning, which is how he made ends meet. We talked motorcycles, swapped stories and dreams for a while and then he left me in the parking lot as quickly as he had arrived.

I rode away, quietly reflecting on this chance encounter.

An hour later, in the early dawn light I pulled up at my first bonus point of the day in Houston. Jerry Anderson on his gorgeous Suzuki GT750 was already there waiting patiently for sufficient day light to take the photo and we chatted for a few minutes as the sun came up. Saying goodbye to Jerry I headed east to Galveston to catch the big Prawn at Nicks! Early morning Galveston felt really laid back and relaxed and I enjoyed the ride in and out. Photo taken it was back on the Interstate to start making my way up into Texas Hill Country for my next bonus at Lufkin. While I might have felt rested I was starting to feel the effects of accumulating fatigue. After missing two Interstate off ramps and getting flustered in the process I decided I needed to take 5 minutes off the bike. That done I continued onto Lufkin to snap the photo of the Roadrunner statue at Angelina College then turned westwards towards Waco. The ride took me through the Davy Crockett National Forest which was very scenic and offered some occasional shade.

Nicks, Galveston, TX

Arriving at the Waco Mammoth National Monument late in the afternoon I thought I would be able to just snap the photo and go. Not so fast young fella! I needed to join the queue to buy a ticket for the next available tour that would get me into the building containing the bonus I was seeking. After a discussion with my fellow queuers and also people returning from the last tour I calculated the time required and made the decision there was too little buffer available if anything went wrong and considered the points on offer weren’t worth the risk. Bugger! I just ridden 5 hrs for no bonus points. Such is life.

I finally rode into southern Dallas where I stopped to snap the bonus at the Zoo entrance, then it was on to the Hotel in Allen to check in and get ready for scoring. My partner, Bec met me at the Hotel later that afternoon. Not that I was a lot of fun: after scoring I ate and then slept until 4:15am the next morning, while she restocked my food supplies from the local Target. But she did have a pep talk for me next morning (‘You’re doing great now get out there!’) This was a huge boost for my spirits and looking back now helped immensely for the 3rd and final Leg.

I finished this leg with a further 17,500 points and with no real issues to speak of other than scaring myself shitless in the Dallas rush hour traffic and missing a few bonus points in Waco.
Last edited:

jeffrey gebler

Premier Member
IBR Finisher
I have been eagerly waiting for this report. Thanks for sharing the insights of your ride around the states and a little of Canada. Looking forward to the report on leg 3.
I wanted to talk to you about your rally ride in Wilmington but time got away from me. Will you be back in thwe states for the 2019 IBR?


Premier Member
A great read thus far young Martin ..... I found the size and complexity of Dallas International Airport stressful enough without bothering with their roads :D. Enjoying your summary of your IBR adventure and looking forward to the next instalment! :D:D