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2007 Iron Butt Rally, Day 6
At 4:00 a.m. this morning, the 35-page bonus listing for Leg 2 of the
2007 Iron Butt Rally was handed out. There are 134 separate bonuses to
choose from. The standard caution to riders printed on the first page
was never more appropriate:
"IMPORTANT CAUTION: The following Potential Bonus locations are like a
restaurant menu. If you order everything on the menu and eat it, you
are going to get sick and perhaps die. Please pick and choose bonus
This morning, most of the riders were having trouble with the menu.
Three hours after the bonus listing had been distributed, only a few
riders were on the road. Even routing guru Jim Owen spent more than six
hours planning his route.
Eric Jewell got out of the parking lot before Owen, but then returned in
less than half an hour. I asked Eric if something was wrong with his
bike. He said the bike was fine, he just decided that he needed to
spend more time working on his route. Eight hours (!) after the bonus
listings had been distributed, Eric finally got back on the road. He
was not the last rider to leave.
In the history of the Iron Butt Rally, never have riders had so much
difficulty planning a route. This was the bonus listing from hell.
There are 6 days and 4 hours between when the Leg 2 bonus listings were
handed out and when the final checkpoint opens next Friday at 8 a.m.
That's 148 hours. At a 1,000 mile per day pace, it's 6,167 miles.
A quick scan of the bonus listing shows the highest point bonus is
Deadhorse, Alaska (Prudhoe Bay); a whopping 161,014 points. Trouble is
that the round trip to Deadhorse is 8,300 miles, 800 miles of which are
over the treacherous Dalton Highway, otherwise known as the Haul Road.
Given the roads involved, the required 1,350 miles per day average pace
is almost certainly beyond the reach of even the top riders. Forget
The second highest bonus on the list is Homer, Alaska at 142,501 points.
Homer is a 8,000 mile round trip, requiring about a 1,300 mile per day
average. To average just four hours per day off of the bike, you would
have to maintain a BBG pace (63 mph) while on the bike, riding over less
than optimum roads. No one has ever averaged 1,300 miles per day during
the Iron Butt Rally.
If your name isn't George Barnes, Homer, Alaska should probably be
considered a sucker bonus. If you name IS George Barnes, it should
probably be considered a sucker bonus. But several riders are bound to
try it. I'll be surprised if Dick Fish isn't one of them.
The remaining 5 figure bonuses include the following:
Hyder, AK, 42,345
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Watson Lake, Yukon Territories, 28,230
Lick Observatory at Mt. Hamilton, CA, 24,057
Two Harbors, MN, 18,674
Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, CA 18,567
Cape Royal, AZ (on the rim of the Grand Canyon), 12,978
Mono Hot Springs, CA, 12,667
Vancouver Island, BC, 12,234
Mt. St. Helens National Monument, WA 10,878
Glacier Point in Yosemite Park, 10,234
Unlike the other Alaskan bonuses, Hyder is clearly doable. It's about
5,600 miles, requiring an average of 900 miles per day. The question is
whether it makes sense in combination with other high point bonuses.
Adding Watson Lake in the Yukon Territories increases the round trip to
about 6,000 miles. That's a relatively straight forward ride that many
of the better riders in the field can do, but 70,575 is not enough
points given the multitude of relatively high point bonuses available in
the lower 48 states.
Adding Split Rock Lighthouse State Park (near Two Harbors, MN) to the a
route based on Hyder only increases the round trip to about 6,104 miles
while adding 18,674 points. With the points for the rest bonus, call-in
bonuses, fuel log, and return of the rider ID tag, the point total is
115,049. The fact that the suggested "finisher" level for Leg 2 is
120,000 points should be a clue that this route is not adequate.
The better option is a route that requires more planning and a lot more
bonus stops, including many of the bonuses below 10,000 points.
Building a route around the 24,057 point Lick Observatory bonus near San
Jose, California is going to be a popular option. The ride to the
observatory and back is 4,168 miles. That requires less than 12 hours
per day of riding, leaving lots of time to go for other bonuses.
There are five relatively high point bonuses on the San Francisco
peninsula that are a must add: Sutro Baths (3,345 points), the
Christopher Columbus Statue on Telegraph Hill (2,567 points), Golden
Gate Bridge (2,453 points), Lombard Street (4,109 points), and the
Palace of Fine Arts (2,452 points). They increase the point total by
14,926 while adding less than 100 miles to the base route to Lick
For those willing to tackle some twisty roads in the Sierra Nevada
mountains, there is a mother lode of 54,739 points available at Sequoia
National Park (8,704), Mono Hot Springs (12,667 points), Glacier Point
in Yosemite (10,234), the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite Village (4,567),
and the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest (18,567).
A route built around Lick Observatory that includes just the bonus stops
listed above is already above the point total for the aforementioned
Hyder-based route and it has far fewer miles.
Will It Be the Rider or the Router?
We wouldn't normally provide this much insight into the makings of a
smart route so early in a leg, but a lot has changed in the last ten
years; riders are getting routing tips from multiple sources. In recent
years, the greater complexity of the bonus listings has increased the
importance of routing skills in the Iron Butt Rally. But there has been
an unintended consequence. There is now a significant number of riders
that is depending on outside assistance for route planning. Within a
few hours of the bonus listings being distributed, electronic files
containing all of the bonuses were moving over the Internet.
Currently, there is a thread entitled "IBR Podium Etiquette" on the Long
Distance Riders list. The question is being asked whether the trophies
should be awarded to the rider or the router this year.
In some cases, the riders are just screwing themselves by taking routing
advice from others. This morning rider Eric Jewell heard spectator Mark
Crane say that the round trip to Deadhorse and back was easily doable
because it's only 5,500 miles. I know Eric is too smart to take such
bogus advice. But other riders are being coached by teams of
individuals that include former IBR winners.
Under the current rules, team efforts are not prohibited, but they are
inconsistent with the spirit of the Iron Butt Rally, as far as many
rally veterans are concerned. For 2009, riders can expect to find
changes that will substantially reduce the incentive for outside
assistance with their routes.
The DNF Total Rises
Four more riders are out today, bringing the total of DNFs to ten. The
Brunsvold father and son team has called it quits. They were in 88th
and 89th place at the end of Leg 1 and almost 20,000 points behind the
pace required to be classified as finishers. They took one look at the
bonus listing for Leg 2 and waved the white flag.
Bob Joers has also called it quits. He was in 82nd place at the end of
Leg 1 with 63,261 points.
Finally, Doug Chapman has decided to head for home to deal with some
family issues. He was in 56th place with 76,026 points.
There is also some additional information available today regarding Bob
St. George, who failed to make checkpoint 1. Bob, who was time-barred
yesterday because of an electrical problem with his FJR1300, limped back
into Chesterfield today. His bike died yesterday, less than 200 miles
from the checkpoint. The aftermarket stator had failed.
What makes this particularly unfortunate is that Bob was having a
terrific first leg. His route was based around Perce Rock. In addition
to the Rock, he would have scored the gas bonus, the rest bonus, the
call-in bonus, Hopewell Rocks, New Brunswick, Moundsville, WV, Buxton,
ME, Todd Witte's house, Prince Edward Island, Buell Motorcycle Company,
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Gateway Arch, Grand Marais, MI, and Campbellton,
New Brunswick. His score of 102,034 points would have put him in 11th
Bob is somewhat depressed tonight; he really wanted to finish. I
suspect he will have another chance some day. Based on his impressive
4-day performance, he will be a rider to watch in a future rally.
Additional information is also available regarding Hans Karlsson. He is
unlikely to be a rider to watch in a future rally. Yesterday's report
indicated that Hans had missed the close of the window for checkpoint 1
and was out of the rally. I apologize for leaving the impression that
Hans had arrived late. That was for the benefit of his wife, in case
she was monitoring the rally via the Internet. In fact, we had no idea
where Hans was.
Hans committed a Cardinal Sin; he failed to call the rallymaster and
report that he would be late. He had no excuse other than he thought it
was "no big deal." He thought wrong.
August 25, 2007
Copyright (c) 2007 Iron Butt Rally, Inc., Chicago, IL