2003 Ironbutt Rally

PHOTOS - With Captions


31JUL03 Thu

-Getting prepped for the Ironbutt rally. Still have to change my tire and all maintenance on the FLH. Now that the time is drawing near, I am hearing all kinds of sounds coming from the bike and feeling all kinds of weird vibrations. Pre-Rally Jitters.

01AUG03 Fri

-A long time ago I called the shop in Florida about getting my tire changed for the IBR. They said no problem, you are on the list we will have a tire ready and you can come in anytime. They said they understand the Ironbutt Rally and would take care of me.

-Fast forward to today. They called to say they would like to schedule a time and order my tire. Saturday is all booked up, what time are you coming in on Friday?????????? I said sometime after 4am on Saturday and would be leaving around noon. They said they might be able to squeeze me in sometime late Saturday afternoon!!!!!! We came to the agreement that 8-8:30 am Saturday morning is a good time. I think I will be bringing tire irons!!!!!!

02AUG03 Sat

-Packed and prepped for the ride. Changed rear tire, bled rear brake fluid, changed rear pads (still had 50% life left)

06AUG03 Wed

-Left for IBR after work @ 4pm @ 88,007 miles on the bike. Stopped in Lockhaven, PA.

07Aug03 Thu

-Stopped in Sioux Falls, SD. Hotels are scarce due to Sturgis Bike week happening. There was a guy at the hotel that had ridden from Sturgis (around 400 miles) and said he was tired from the ride. I told him where I started. He was shocked to say the least. I told him where I was going and he could not believe it. I got the last room available for $70. Should have taken a different route.

08Aug03 Fri

-Got to Missoula. Checked in and rested. Got there @90,625 @ 6:30 local (8:30 EST) so 50 hours and 2,618 miles or 52.36 mph avg - Slow and Relaxed

09Aug03 Sat

-Did all the check-in stuff and changed my own oil at the local HD shop, one of the few that allow it. They actually encourage it by having a changing station out back. Safety check, odo check, media seminar, legal stuff etc.

-That night I went with out Paul Pelland, Todd Witte and his friend and we got back very late. So much for resting.

10Aug03 Sun

-Realized I was missing some things. I had a bunch of stuff in plastic bags at the hotel, water bottles, road food and other junk plus the broken, possibly repairable cassette recorder, all my phone numbers, Calendar, and a bunch of other stuff. The cleaning lady thought it was all garbage and threw it all out. Nothing especially valuable, but still.... The Hotel gave me a free night for my troubles.

11Aug03 Mon

-Start of Rally. Odometer = 90,691 Left at 10am (12pm est) - out quick, they really had things in control. Hazy day - forest fires all around the area. Went to Sunnyside, WA, for the next bonus. It was cool - about 65 degrees. The ride to Washington was slow, 4 lanes of traffic, lots of cars

-The rest of the day was warm dry and blue skys in Washinton, nice day. During the day I took various routes including 395 south to Gerlach, NV area. Once night fell it got very cold.

12Aug03 Tue

-Early morning about 40 miles north of where I was going to turn east to get to Gerlach I saw Lea Myhra from Canada on the side of the road. I had already seen riders sleeping at gas stations along the way. Lea had run out of gas, Mike Hutsal went into town to get some gas. Mike was in town at the local gas station that was closed. He had called the emergency number and a cranky old guy came out to get him some gas out of a commercial gas pump. No receipt or anything. Expensive too.

-I was low but opted to go for the next open station about 50 miles south, after the turn off to Gerlach. I got there and got gas then paid $70 for a crappy hotel for about 4.5 hours sleep.

-Froze my tail off on the way to Gerlach. Did not put on my long underwear or anything under my suit so I froze. It got into the loewr 40's. Northern Nevada does not have much to offer but it has some phenomenal roads. Twisty and fast. No cops and from what I am told, they don't care how fast you go.

-Went to Gerlach - got there a little after the bonus opened. We were to see Joe Denton who would give us a GPS coordinate and we were to go out on the Playa to find a special thing with our number on it. Fun but took a while. I got to my coordinates and looked around then started riding in circles around the point, rode out then back to my coordinates. I was not in the same place. Minor inaccuracies in the GPS caused me to be in a different spot. I got off and walked in increasing circles until I found it. IT was a round medallion about the size of a silver dollar with a number on one side and a picture of the bad guy from the matrix on the other.

-On the playa, a Harley got stuck and had to get a tow truck. Paul Pelland dropped his bike and Mark Keiker did also. Keiker broke his clutch or something and could not get the bike into gear. He ended up fixing it with a coffee can and his leatherman.

-The next bonus was the Ironbutt Circle of Honor on Dooby lane. Just a photo.

-Went straight to Primm Nevada after going to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. This is where Dennis Kessler almost burned down himself and the forest after his bike lit up due to a fuel leak.

-I was going to get bonuses south of Vegas and in Vegas but time was getting short and I was tired of the heat.

-Odo: 92,489 at Primm a 1.5 hours early

-Got to Primm, NV @7:19pm local (10:19 est) at 92,489 or 1,807 miles since MT.

-Got coupon for a free buffet but the buffet closed before most of us could get there. We were told it would be good for a discount for dinner but they would not give us one. I got a great prime rib dinner cheap $5.95. Rooms were also cheap, under $20.

-My plans had been to get a room and some sleep prior to the closing of the checkpoint.

-When we checked in we were handed a letter that said we could choose between the red pill (route) or the blue pill (route). The letter made the red route seem really hard but the only way to win. It seemed like you had a high chance of not finishing. It also made it sound like we were not going to be told anything more. That was what Mike Kneebone was going to do but all the grumbling made him decide to give us a little more info.

-Getting myself all worked up and all kept me from getting any sleep before the bonuses were handed out. Mike took up a ton of our time doing this foolish single file line to decide which pill to take. We needed sleep and he was doing this. The Evil Lord Kneebone.

-I took the red pill. Ideally I would have left right then and headed for California to meet David Barr but I needed some sleep. Paul Pelland loaned me a bed in his room where I got about 3 hours sleep.

-The blue pill was going to be run like a regular rally. The red pill you had to go to Pat Widder's vacation home near Lake Isabella after getting bonuses. From there you would get a route sheet for the next part where you would go to Ira Agins house in Sata Fe New Mexico. At any point you could say screw it and go to Florida.

-The checkpoint was at Whiskey Pete's. One of the riders commented that it is pretty bad when after riding all these miles, we look and smell better than most of the clientele here. Lots of welfare checks spent here.

-I was in 22nd place here.

13Aug03 Wed

-I got up early and headed for California. I went to Mono Hot Springs, down a twisty one lane road.

-When I got into High elevation a couple days ago, I lost my rear brake due to bubbles in the line. I don't know if it is heat or elevation or a combination.

-In Mono Hot Springs I bled the brakes and got them back.

-On the way out I was having a blast. I ended up following Mike Hutsal on the two lane twisties. He finally got tired of being followed by a big pig Harley so he turned up the wick a little. I kept up until the road got rough with a bunch of tar snakes, then he lost me.

-Picked up some brake fluid on the way to Pat Widder's house.

-I took the mostly highway route, which was a lot longer but ended up getting to Widders about the same time as Paul Pelland, who left at the same time. He took the great road, but it was so tight and twisty that he could not make good time. I had thought I took the slower route but I did not.

-I was early so I decided to go to the Ponderosa Pine. I read the instructions and it looked quick enough. When I got out to where I though I would need to turn or something, I read the instructions and realized that there was still a long way to go. I went back to Widder's house. Great food, beef, veggie salad, all kinds of stuff.

-Most riders only went to Mono Hot springs. Eddie James was pissed off at himself for going for the sucker bonus of multiple bonuses.

-I met David Barr and we talked a little. He was there with his young son and young wife. He gave me lots of encouragement.

-got the bonus sheet. One bonus was to go to Goose Bay, which would not be a winning run and would be difficult.

-Another run was to Bella Coola on the British Columbia Coast. Road closes often for trains and construction. This was a winning run. Either of these two you would skip Florida and go to Maine. This run did not guaruntee a win though. If you were not fresh in Maine, you could end up out of the top ten, as Mike Hutsel found out.

-The regular bonuses were to go to Bryce Canyon then to the Burr Trail at Capital Reef then Bullfrog Basin, Monument valley etc. then to Santa Fe.

14Aug03 Thu

-Rode to Primm Nevada and got a Room at Whiskey Pete's the same place I slept last night. I got 4 hours or so of sleep.

-On the way my speed sensor failed and I had to replace it. It was super hot out and I think it was the heat that killed it. I put in a used one that I was not sure about. It worked for one exit then I had to put in my spare. I no longer have a spare.

-I was going to go to the Burr Trail but thought there was too little time. I backtracked and went to Monument Valley then to Santa Fe. Took me the same amount of time going across the northern part of Arizona as it did for another rider who went farther south to the highway. In after thought, I think I coud have done the Burr trail.

-Rode through Farmington NM then down 510 or 505??? south towards Albuquerque and over to Santa Fe. Between the high elevation and the high headwinds I had trouble maintaining the speed limit. I just kept wide open throttle and let the bike speed up down hills and slow down up hills.

-Wondered if I was going to make it in time. I made it 1.25 hours before the bonus closed and I was very tired. Should have gotten sleep at Ira's but I did not think I was ready to sleep.

-Left Santa Fe at ODO: 94,423 I was going to try to ride through the night and get to Florida really early, maybe hitting Delacroix, LA on the way. I thought I was not too tired but I was very tired.

15Aug03 Fri

-I had to stop to zip up my jacket so I got off an exit. There was a dead end road I thought might be private enough to get some sleep on. It was dusty and VERY remote. Decided not to try it. The entrance ramp to the highway was a dirt road going by some real weird trailers etc. Space aliens live here for sure. I am glad I did not try to sleep there.

-Decided to get some sleep on the way. Stopped at a rest area and slept next to a picnic table for about 2 hours. I don't feel tired, but I am having trouble focussing. The buffeting of my helmet does not help. It might actually be the cause of my lack of focus.

-It's funny, but when you ride for many hours, sometimes an entire day without seeing another IBR rider you begin to think you are way off the mark. Maybe way late or you picked a real stupid route. Then, just as you arrive at a bonus, you see rider after rider. Sometimes they are not even close to following the route you picked, but there they are. Bryce, Monument Valley, Mono Hot Springs etc. were all like that.

-A lot of people went to Bella Coola and one or two went to Goose Bay.

-This route had three choices. 1-go to the Aerostich Very Boring Rally then to Maine, few points but good if you had a breakdown. 2-go to upper Alaska, skip Maine, you won't beat those that went to Bella Coola but you get big points. or 3-go straight to FL with a couple of possible bonuses. I picked #3, should have gone to Bella Coola.

-287 south towards Dallas/fort worth.

-95,043 I went to Keller Texas to get photo of Kneebones old bike bike an RD350 in Keller, Texas. I wanted to get to Delecroix, LA but I was running too late. I could have done it but I would have gotten no sleep. It was worth good points.

-Traffic around Dallas/Fort worth sucks. 2:15 pm EST

-Not feeling well, stomach complaining.

-Trying to ride with someone else is tough, especially sport bikes. I want to set my cruise, they change their speed all the time. I need to think about passing, they will slow until they see a good chance then zoom.

-This rally has us on lots of high speed curvy roads. There are some really great roads in northern Nevada. Montana has some areas that are truly crappy. Rt 12 south out of Missoula is supposed to be one of the best anywhere.

-There are traffic jams in every little crappy town. Development is happening everywhere. Even monument valley is getting developments and malls and lots of traffic.

-One bonus on this leg was to go to the Very Boring rally in Minnesota at the Aerostich factory and take a picture of the winner of the ugliest suit. This one only made sense if you had a breakdown and had to skip Florida.

16Aug03 Sat

-I rode through the night. Intense fog last night across the panhandle of Florida. Decided to have a little mountain dew while in the fog. Had to drink it to stay sharp in the fog. I got into the Floida Checkpoint at 4:30 AM Wanted to get lots of sleep in Florida. Got 3 hours sleep, woke before alarm.

-Kind of a let down that the riders that are likely to win are up north and I am riding on these boring roads with no hope of winning and little chance of getting in the top ten.

-just made a BBG 1,500 in 24 hours.

-Mars is closest to the earth than it has been any time in thousands of years. Great view during the night drives.

-Got the rear tire changed. The shop had the tire, got me in right away. They had an old man do it. The first thing he said is that he hates working on Harleys. He could not get the tire off, couldn't raise bike, couldn't do anything, I had to tell him how to do it then he cross threaded the shock bolt. I took tire back off. Charged me $165.30, no labor for putting it on the bike.

-I headded for the Florida keys. Usually a sucker bonus, but made the most sense to me.

-Key west bonus was big, might get NY city or near blue ridge points or NC coast. I should be leaving keys area before midnight.

-I was in 14th place at the Florida checkpoint.

-I feel well rested and very well. The roads are boring though.

-Then I crashed.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


I sent out after I got back about my the crash, sent to friends.

News of my recent demise have been greatly exaggerated.

Well here is the scoop on me.

If you have been following the Ironbutt website, you have read that I did not finish the rally. I crashed in Florida.

I am currently at home, resting per doctors orders. Here is the story, and injuries.

The first two legs of the rally were interesting and I was doing well. I will probably write about it at some point.

I got to the FL checkpoint early enough to get some decent sleep. I was placed somewhere in the teens. I would have been third if I had made the Delecroix, LA bonus, but that would have eliminated sufficient sleep so I bypassed it.

After check in I went to get a tire put on and had the old guy they found to work on harleys say he hated working on harleys and that is why he stopped working on them. After he stripped the threads on my shock bolt and wasted tons of time I gently brushed him aside and repaired my bike with the help of a younger, more energetic mechanic. Had to remove the wheel again to get at the threads, so except for mounting the tire on the rim I had to do the tire change myself.

Anyway, I left the checkpoint at the allotted time with the goal of going to key west then I had a number of potential routes laid out, with NY City being the most likely. I was rested and relaxed. Apparently too relaxed.

Travelling down I-75 in Florida, in lane #2 staying with traffic, being passed by most traffic, I was riding relaxed and comfortable and paying attention to traffic. Except, of course, for a few seconds at the wrong time. I don't know where I was looking, I don't know what I was doing. I doubt I was looking at the map since it was open to florida and I did not have to make a turn for another 400 miles. I may have been playing with the GPS, although there was no reason to do so (read above). There is a good chance I was being pestered by a tailgater as that was one memory I had from just prior to the accident. Whatever, I have a good mental picture of the accident from this point.

I focused in on all traffic in front of me stopped dead. There was an accident a half mile ahead with a couple cars smashed into the guard rail. I was very close to the stopped traffic. I turned my head right, saw a gap and headed for the breakdown lane in what looked like a good, high speed swerve. I think I was in good control of the bike at this point. I brushed the side of a car, the bike looked like it was going straight then went into a violent wobble and I went up in the air. The next thing I remember was the emergency personnel asking me questions. The guy I hit said he barely felt me hit his car and it looked like I saved it until the wobble hit me. I suspect that the rear of the bike was knocked off line and the "wobble" was the bike straightening suddenly, basically a high side. This is all conjecture as there were no reliable witnesses and I only have a visual memory of the accident. I don't think I slowed down at all from highway speeds prior to the get off.

As for me, it seemed like I woke from having a bad dream of a bike accident to be looking at two strangers. One stranger asked me if I knew who I was. I told him. Then he asked me if I knew where I was. I looked at the emblem on his shirt and said "Ocala??" He said very good. I asked him if that was in Florida. That got his attention. I told him that I did not know why I was there or how I got there. He asked me if I knew what happened. I knew that I had just woken up from that dream so I told him I must have been sleeping. It still had not sunk in that I was in an accident. I thought I must have been sleeping and dreaming somewhere at a rest stop or something. Then Paul Pelland showed up and I said "Hi Paul". Eventually it sunk in that the dream was not a dream and that the accident was real. I remembered everything on the way to the hospital.

At the hospital, they did the usual x-rays, CT scan and physical. The doctor was pressing on my abdomen and I was complaining about a pain in my shoulder blade/back area. The doctor was about to dismiss this as bruised muscles until the nurse asked him what the name of some condition was. What she was dong was gently reminding him that I had the classic symptoms of a busted spleen. He caught on and ordered a series of tests. Later they pushed me out of the room so they could take care of a guy with a snake bite.

I spent 4 hours in the hallway in the Emergency area before they admitted me. I think they were waiting for my insurance company to give them pre-certification so I could stay there. I spent 4 BORING days waiting to get out. Every morning being woken up by doctors and students and being told that I might get out that afternoon. Then, when dinner arrived I assumed I was not getting out that day. I was in Shands Hospital at the university of Florida in Gainesville. This is considered a very good hospital, it is a teaching hospital.

Karen and Tom from Florida had arrived on the scene of the accident after visiting a friend of theirs at the checkpoint. They took all the stuff off my bike and boxed it up then drove two hours from their home to drop the stuff off. They offered to pick me up, put me up for as long as necessary and to bring me to the airport. They even offered to find me a bike if I wanted to continue the rally. Bikers are great and Long Distance Riders are the best.

Oh, my injuries. I was not wearing my gloves. I had gotten distracted when I was leaving Lake City and did not put them on. I have some good gouges on the top of my hands. I think I was trying to protect my balls. I have a good gouge on the underside of my chin and am now sporting a dumb looking beard since I can't shave until the wound heals. I like full face helmets but on that bike the wind tends to lift the helmet up so I wear a half helmet. Probably not any longer though. The left side of my body above the waist is bruised and very sore. My spleen was 30% bruised, they call it ruptured but as far as I am concerned, if it did not bleed into the abdomen, it ain't ruptured. They said to take it easy for a few months and everything will be healed. Not sure how long before I can ride. They said use common sense. Anyone out there have any common sense I could borrow?

Worst of all, and the hardest to heal is my pride. It was an at fault accident on a normal road with no extenuating circumstances. No snow, ice, oil, animals, high speed or anything. Just a few seconds of distraction.

My gear? The soles of my boots were heavily worn. My helmet shade visor was ground down as was the helmet. I had just glued the visor on as the snaps were loose. Probably saved my nose. My Darien pants were shredded. There was a hole next to the knee pad where my knee wore through. The pads did their job on impact but slid out of the way during the slide. The pockets of the Roadcrafter jacket were damaged but the jacket would be repairable no problem. I could even continue to use it if I wanted. The insurance company wants the safety gear back before they will pay for them.

The bike is totaled. All painted and chromed parts are damaged, not sure about the frame etc. I have Progressive Insurance. That company is great. Everyone I talked to was a motorcyclist, all understood my predicament and did everything in their power to make my life easier and to take care of me. Even if they were not the cheapest I would stay with them.

Bob Scarface L

End of E-Mail

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

-I was admitted into the Hospital. Shands at the University of Florida. They wanted to give me morphine but I preferred to take as little drugs as possible, especially since I was being told that I would be out soon. I wanted to be able to drive.

-While I was in the emergency room, one of the EMT's stopped to visit. He works also at one of the MC tracks in the area. Cool guy, very concerned.

-Cops gave me a ticket for careless driving $80.

-Tom and Karen Gallo had called Mike Kneebone to let him know what was up. Mike called dad and Irene.

17Aug03 Sun

-The doctors came in early and told me they did not want me walking around. Bed rest for a while. They still sounded like I would be out today.

-Karen and Tom Gallo came by with the stuff they had taken off my bike. When Tom found out I wanted to continue the rally, he offered his wife's Harley to me. The doctor was in the room at that point and did not look happy about the offer. It turns out they were not about to let me out of the hospital, much less ride.

-I was told that I had a 30% Bruised spleen. I was pretty stiff on the left side and had a hell of a time moving around on the horrible bed in the hospital.

18Aug03 Mon

-It was hard to get info out of the doctors, I had to demand to see this guy. They stop in at 7am before you are up to see you but don't really spend any time with you. At 7am you can't think of any questions to ask. When I finally got the guy to come in, I had a list of questions. He said he was surprised and liked to see the list. He said most people don't want to know that much. I tried to tell him that most people wanted all details, they were either too afraid to ask, or could not think of anything to ask at 7am seconds after they are woken up after a night of sleeping on pain meds.

19Aug03 Tue

-Again, woken up by a doctor at 7am. No clear picture as to whether I will be here another night. Did not know for sure until dinner arrived, then I figured I was here for another night.

-All BC riders made it to maine.

20Aug03 Wed

-out of hospital about 1pm. My cousin from Jacksonville picked me up. I was told to take it easy for a couple of months. I asked how easy, they said to use common sense. I asked if they were going to give me a prescription for common sense.

21Aug03 Thu

-flew home out of Jacksonville. Got to NH about 5:45

-I sat in one of the seats where there are three facing forward and three facing back. So you have six people facing each other. There was a big guy in a dark suit next to me and a woman sitting facing me. The road rash on my hands had an ointment on them that turns yellow and looks like a sick yellow puss oozing out of the wound. It is really there to keep the wound from drying up and getting cracked, but it did not look good. The guy in the suit kept crowding me and I had to keep moving my hands to keep from getting the yellow ooze on his suit. The woman across from me kept looking at the wounds. I caught her eye one time and told her it was leprosy. She paused for a second as she tried to decide if I was joking. The guy in the suit stopped crowding me. Then I got into a conversation with the woman about what happened. The guy in the suit seemed to give me lots of room for the rest of the flight.

-When I got off the plane Irene thought I looked like Jeremiah Johnson with my week old beard. It looked pretty ratty but I could not shave near the road rash on my face and I thought it hid the wound fairly well. It took me a few more days before I went crazy and had to shave it off.

-Saw a friend on the way home. He nick named me Mr. Oozy.

-Went home and had a beer. Boy was that nice.

22Aug03 Fri

-There were 23 DNF's in the rally.

27Aug03 Wed

-Over did it last night. I took a pain pill and stretched and such. This morning I am stiff as a board.

-Pain in my shoulder and my rib cage area and right side is still pretty severe. At the hospital they had said that I definitely did not have any broken bones. After almost passing out pulling a tire off a rim, I went to my doctor. Turns out I had a broken collar bone, broken rib and a broken toe. I looked at the x-rays they took at the hospital. The breaks were obvious. I guess being a teaching hospital I guess they still have a lot to learn.