Counting back the hours…


When I logged into my account, I was stunned: to this point, the blog has 239 hits today! And the day is not over yet! This topped the record back in 2011 when I reported during the Africa trip. Thanks for your interest!

I received a lot of good wishes from many friends, but also from people I don’t know…be it via the blog, in the bike parking from the many spectator, from other riders, from rally staff, or from people on the street who wave at me to stop!

I went to the Walmart today and bought some food and water. I couldn’t get a pre-paid phone card there, this was already tricky in Canada. So I will reply that the data roaming will work. I had planned so many things around my electronic farkles, but as often, I might not really use them, including the radar detector. I’ll just stick to the speed limits and that’s it.

I also bought me a E-Z Pass, a transponder for the tollways system in the Eastern States and activated it. I filled up the tanks and everything should be prepared now. I followed the advice of Jeff Earls during the rookie meeting yesterday and I will leave half of the luggage back here. The stuff is already in the panniers, and the bag including the spare tyre that I will leave here are also prepared. Maps are unfolded on the bed and the electronic devices are prepared for the routing this evening/night. At 4 p.m., there will be the rider meeting with the banquet. The riders will be presented one by one and the layout of the rally will be explained. Then the rallybooks will be handed out and the riders disappear in their rooms to do the planning of their routes for the next 4 days (leg 1). Tomorrow morning we have to be in the park at 8 a.m. and will start at 10 a.m. Leg 1 ends on Thursday, July 4th on 8 p.m., right here in Pittsburgh. There will be a bank holiday in Canada (1st) and in the USA (4th), heavy traffic is expected and the weather forecast for the Northwest predicts rain, rain, rain. I plan to take it easy and to ride some 3000 mls, the top riders will surely do some 5000 mls.

I took some pictures in the car park this afternoon:

Little XBR playing with the big boys :-)

Little XBR playing with the big boys 🙂

The bike of Ken Meese, one of the top riders and a candidate for top 3

The bike of Ken Meese, one of the top riders and a candidate for top 3

CIMG0941 CIMG0942 CIMG0943 CIMG0944 CIMG0945 CIMG0946 CIMG0947 CIMG0949

 

Hopeless class status achieved!


This morning, I had a light breakfast and started my day of registration. I got me my registration papers that should lead me throughout the day. My first stop was a video recording of my statement that I understood all the risks of the rally and was aware of all the liability issues. Second stop was at technical inspection of the bike. Apart from some comments about loose cables (that have no function) my bike was approved, also my insurance and bike documentation. Good! I am getting a lot of positive reactions about the selection of my bike, the Americans can hardly imagine you can do long distance riding with a bike with less than 1000cc. My next stop was at the camera station, my memory cards and the settings of the camera were checked. Next was the odometer check. We had to ride a 50 km route on the highway to calculate a calibration factor. During the ride, the bike went perfect. I had received a lot of friendly offers for help with the carburetor, but at the moment, there is no problem anymore. One reason more to be relaxed. I removed the fuel tube and cleaned it, just in case. Finally it was time for the compulsory rookies meeting. We made aware what is ahead of us. This will be nothing we have ever experienced before. It is challenge to ride 1 to 2-day rallies, but no comparison to 11 continuous days of about 18-20 hours riding per day. This really serious. We were presented the statistics of rookies in the last years: DNFs (did not finish), accident, hospital stays….to remind us this is no piece of cake and that the most important task is to return safely to the finish here in Pittsburgh. Anything else is less important.

In the end I had to pass the final station with some of the most important guys. My emergency information sheet was not there and also my notarised liability waver. I sent it by e-mail, but apparently they had waited for the originals. Finally, this was accepted. I sorted the issue about my Spotwalla track with Mike Kneebone, the IBA president and thanked him for his invitation in person. I had to answer final questions by Ira Agins and after asking, he told me that I was granted the status of being in the „hopeless class“. Yes! My first achievement! I will start the rally on Monday morning!

I didn’t have time to get to the Walmart again, so tomorrow it has to be. I attended a reception for all riders plus the subsequent dinner. I was with the other riders of „Team Europe“ and had many chat. Tomorrow is supposed to be a relaxing day, however, I’ll be busy with the visit to Walmart, preparing my gear, my luggage that I will take with me, the luggage I will leave here…and at 4 p.m. there’s already the rider’s meeting!

It is a very warm welcome here, people are impressed that riders from other continents show up here, despite all hurdles. And a 500cc thumper get’s some extra attention, of course 😀 .

Before the storm...

Before the storm…

...the luggage also still needs to be prepared...

…the luggage also still needs to be prepared…

Many people think that the poster shows the (still unknown) motto of the rally: planes, trains and cars.

Many people think that the poster shows the (still unknown) motto of the rally: planes, trains and cars.

 

Arrival in Pittsburgh


Well, was could possibly go wrong? Usually the things one does not expect…

In the morning, I left somewhat later than planned as the cup of tea I took in the room was so strong I felt like a hit in the stomach. Woah. I left the hotel, turned onto the Rainbow Bridge over the Niagara Falls and I was already at the border. I was sent into the big building. I carried my document box and I was asked several times what was in there. I showed it finally to an officer…look, only papers, papers, papers, and…oooops, a copy of a swiss army knife…and a letterman. The officer took the two items from me and then I was admitted to the upper floor. I was interrogated about many things, whereabouts, when, where, why, who. I had expected this, after all I carry some picturesque visas in my passport, such  as. syrian, libanese, iranian, egyptian, moroccan and many more.

„So, what did you do in Syria?“ „The same as here – tourism“. „But why Syria? Couldn’t you just go to…France?“ „Well, I do go there..a lot“.. Again, the officer was interested how many leave days I had. Do I sense same envy there? I was finally interrogated by a second officer, had to leave my fingerprints and finally received my visa. After one hour, I was already on the road again. I didn’t put on my rainsuit and I regreted it half an hour later. There are little possibilities to stop and put on your rain gear. Finally I stopped at a service area and dressed properly before I got even more wet. But what was much more annoying…was the carburator problem. Well, that’s my guess.I had problems to go 65 mls, sometimes only 60 mls uphill. Over time, it got so bad, that I couldn’t do more than 5000 revs/min. A nightmare! And this time, it was independent from the front or rear tank. 2000 kms without problems and now it’s that bad? I was deeply frustrated and tried to think of a plan B. Could I get another bike for rent for the rally? I wouldn’t be able to do the rally like this? Suddenly, sunshine was back and I stopped for a drink. The bike behaved really bad. OK, let’s at least get to Pittsburgh. At 25 mls left to Pittsburgh, the bike suddenly made WROOM and accelerated like normal…more than 80 mls! This stayed until I arrived at the Marriott Hotel near Pittsburgh. This leaves me really clueless…I tried to fumble around at the bike, but I was interrupted by a heavy thunder storm. I finally said hello to Phil, Gerhard, Michiel, Kevin and Lyn from Europe. All arrived well, despite smaller incidents (lost sat navs, stolen tankbags). I also didn’t visit the Walmart due to bad weather. Tomorrow then.

So, what to do? I have cleaned the fuel filter (plastic chunks) and will investigate more tomorrow. I have recalibrated my objectives: arrive well after the first leg back here in Pittsburgh on next Friday. From there on, let’s see. At least I want to start the rally. What comes then…let’s hope for the best. You can also finish with this handicap, but I would require lot’s of luck and a massive amount of patience.

 

Last stop on the way to Pittsburgh – Niagara Falls


This morning, I drove to the bike and fixed all the luggage. I returned the rental car in the airport and I had to take leave of MJ who returned today. I returned to the bike by shuttled, put some petrol – and I was on the road. It was a very short stint today, I had booked a hotel in Niagara Falls on the Canadian side of the Falls. The riding didn’t take very long, however, I experienced similar problems as during the Brit Butt Rally – limited top speed at 70 mph (116 km/h) and this time I have no clue what is the reason, seems to be independent from the tank. However, it also stopped again and everything was back to normal. I’ll check the tubing in Pittsburgh again. But in the very worst case – I’d have to take it more easy. John Young has demonstrated that you can finish an IBR with a 60 mph cruising speed…right, John? I had very often small problems during my long travels, but in the end I always ended up where I wanted. So, no worries, all will be fine.

I was starting to get nervous today: now I’m on my own and every minute I’m closer to the start, THE question is more and more evident: What on earth have I gotten myself into? It’s not the sheer distance, it’s not the little time, it’s not the conditions that await me, it’s not the fact that I have almost no tolerance for problems…..it’s the combination of it all!

During the last 10 minutes, the rain still caught me, but I noticed that my cleaned gear was very well treated with a water repellent. I checked in the hotel and made a quick to the Niagara Falls just around the corner. A lot of water, but a lot less spectacular than the Victoria Falls I had visited in Africa two years ago. But worth a (quick) visit.

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls

As Johannes always complains that there are too few pictures with the XBR on them: XBR in front of Niagara Falls

As Johannes always complains that there are too few pictures with the XBR on them: XBR in front of Niagara Falls!

My first task tomorrow morning will be to cross the US border right here in town, then head for Pittsburgh!

Some important information: The official IBA bulletins will be available from Friday/Saturday on under

http://www.ironbuttrally.com/IBR/2013.cfm

The official public SPOT site with the locations of all riders will also be linked there.

My personal SPOT track is protected with a password. If you want to follow my track in real-time, please send me an e-mail on time (e.g. before Sunday noon) to hutzlmandl(at)t-online.de and I will send you the password. Sorry, but the IBR rules are like that!

Let’s see if I can get some decent food in this town….

Holidays are over, Pittsburgh here I come


Last week passed quite quick and after a couple of relaxing days in Canada, we are back in Toronto and our common holidays come to an end. We had rented a huge Chrysler (I like to call him ‚Big Daddy‘) for a comfy ride, but the main reason was that it has a large trunk: all the luggage plus the complete luggage for the IBR plus my complete motorcycle gear had to go in there. So we have visited Montréal, Québec and Toronto, with Québec probably being our favorite. Where Montréal seems to be an American city with a European touch, Québec is like a European city with an American touch. At least the Old Town. It was probably the highlight of this short trip. I can’t resist to share this anecdote: when standing on the historic citadel of Québec ( the only one in Northern America), looking down to the St. Lawrence stream that converts into a fjord, a US tourist asked the guide: „Is this the US, on the other side of the river?“. The tour guide stayed calm and replied with a very subtle amusement in his voice:“ No Ma’am, the border would be some 2 hours driving from here“. The historic part of the city is very beautiful, even for European standards. The French spoken in the province of Québec gave me a hard time, the accent is quite different from the French spoken in France, sometimes I had to ask a lot to repeat the last sentence….

Ville Basse, Québec

Ville Basse, Québec

Chateau Frontenac (actually it's a hotel)

Chateau Frontenac (actually it’s a hotel)

It was quite hot and humid these days, with heavy thunderstorms in the evenings. But today, we got a nice, sunny day in Toronto, going up the huge CN tower, visiting the Steam Whistle micro brewery and the St Lawrence market.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Let’s hope the breakfast was not too heavy this morning…

This is a real big Willie!
This is a real big Willie! CN Tower, Toronto, 557 m. We were in the upper ring (447 m)!

Toronto downtown

Toronto downtown

I admit, I didn't expect this...(St. Lawrence Market)

I admit, I didn’t expect this…(St. Lawrence Market)

I have now prepared all my luggage for tomorrow, the first real (short) riding day on American soil.

Well here goes ……


This is me here, aka John Young.

Having just read the introduction that Robert has given me, I’m not that sure whether I’ll be able to live up to the billing he’s given me.  However, I really do consider it an honour that he’s asked me to do this for him.  Perhaps we are entering a new age of Anglo-German relationships ?  Anyway, here goes …….

So, the Iron Butt Rally what’s it all about ?

Well, for now, all I’ll say is that here’s a statistic to „chew on“ – more people have been to space than have completed the Iron Butt Rally.

Lot’s of people attempt this rally (which is run every two years) and lots of people fail.  Many of those DNF’s (did not finish) are riding „bang up to date“ modern machines, generally 1000cc plus, equiped with ABS, Cruise Control, variable suspension, etc etc etc

Robert is riding a 27 year old Honda 500cc single …….