No Spot?


Some last words….if I can’t find a solution, I probably can’t activate the spot track today. I am short of data volume and need to save the data volume for the pictures I have to send. My provider had technical issues and I can’t extend the volume. Great, isn’t it?

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The puzzle


So the technical inspection and the odo ride went well. After that I filled up the bike with 40 litres of petrol and returned to rally HQ. I hadn’t checked the tyre pressure! The built-in pressure sensor indicated only 2.6 instead 2.9 bar. The close-by petrol station didn’t have any pump, so I had to look for a different station. I first had to get some coins for the machine. But instead inflating the tyre, it was more and more deflated. Together with the shop clerk I discovered the source of the problem: the nozzle was too short for my modern valve. With only 1.2 bar in the rear tyre, I limped back to the HQ where Bob Clark borrowed me his little 12 V pump. Thanks, now I’m ok!

The rider meeting was quite interesting…A totally different format:

All bonus points locations with all the nine thematic categories of the Brit Butt Rally 2018.

81 locations, divided in 9 regions and 9 thematic categories. Apart from the points value of each point, you get extra points for more locations in the same region or the same category. A difficult nut to crack….I’ve put together a challenging route, but I don’t reveal yet where I’ll be going…just follow my SPOT track.

I’ll start at 6 a.m. in the morning.

At the start of the 2018 rally season – the Brit Butt Rally with the new K1600GT


It is quite a while since I last published something. It’s not that there was no material, oh no, quite the contrary. It is just that publishing means a lot of work. Writing a report of the Iron Butt Rally 2017, for example. But as the quote says:“when a man says he will do something, he will do it. It’s not necessary to remind him every six months“.

So I showed up yesterday here in the rally HQ in Leicester after a quiet ride up from Belgium. Had dinner and some chats. This morning I had some extended discussion with John Young about our planned trip to Japan next year. As the registration is not open yet, it still gives me some time to write before the busy afternoon begins.

This year’s Brit Butt Rally is somewhat different. First of all, I’ll be on my new bike, the BMW K1600GT.

The new rally beast.

It does the same thing as the Pan European – a comfy ride, a very balanced bike, heavy but steady, a great tool to cover large distances. With the difference that the BMW is so much more dynamic – if you want it to be. I’m looking forward to riding the British country roads this weekend.

The neat auxiliary tank

Then there is a new rally format. Instead taking pictures with a digital camera at the bonus point locations and presenting them at the scoring, pictures have to be taken with a smart phone and be sent immediately by e-mail. This change did not go down well with some riders and I wonder if this a reason why there are a relatively low number of participants. Let’s see how this goes. I do prefer the old, traditional style, though.

The weather forecast is quite good and as every year I hope to be able to go up North to enjoy riding in Scotland – great scenic roads and no traffic. By midnight I should know more. Now, I’ll have to register, present the documents, do the technical inspection, do the odometer calibration ride and return to the room. After that, there will be the dinner with the subsequent riders meeting where instructions will be given, the rally books will be handed out and the files with the bonus point locations will be sent. After that, we will be sitting in our rooms, trying to develop that cunning route that gives the maximum points….

After having won the rally three times in a row, I am in a very relaxed mood. I just want to have fun and enjoy this brilliant bike. There is the usual auxiliary tank and the additional LED lights that make night rides fun, but the only thing that is missing is the comfy Russell Day-Long seat that makes 36 hours of riding absolutely painless. As it is still in production, I will have to suffer a little, but this is nothing I could not handle.

This year, I have decided to provide a public track again, you can follow my GPS track from tomorrow morning onwards (6 a.m. British Summer Time)…

So, let’s see if this registration has already opened….more news later!

Iron Butt Rally 2017 – the results


The ceremony is over…as predicted, it was a very special event with many stories and stunning performances at the bottom, middle and top of the standings.

As already mentioned, I had a lot of issues and did not ride the rally in a competitive, but rather in a „holiday“ mood. I had tons of long rest breaks in nice hotels. I finished one day early and had too chose my route based on the temperature forecast. Considering all this, the 32nd place out of 87 finishers and 106 starters is a very good result. Had I not have to stop rallying so early, a finish around place 20 would have been possible. And this without pushing anything. I can be very happy about this result, it even gives me an unexpected, official „silver medal finish“.

The finisher plaque – I will get the name tag later 🙂

The link to the standings is here: http://ibr.wvi.com/ibr/_2017/finalstandings.pdf

I’m back!


Hi everybody, I’m back at the „barn“, i.e. the rally finish. I was there 20 hours too early as the bike gave me some additional problems. I arrived basically with a dying Honda; I had to coast the last 30 miles on three cylinders and had almost no power left when I entered the parking of the hotel. After a rather „short“ route of only 9000 miles in about 10 days.

As I was still technically in the rally, the social media curfew still applied to me so I still had to remain quiet. This morning, I went to the scoring and got all my points except some 500 penalty points for a lost emergency contact tag that came off the latch of the hanger I was wearing for 11 days.

I got more that 55000 points for Leg 3 – this was the minimum points value to be a finisher of the WHOLE rally. Adding my points from Leg 1 and 2, I have about 85000 points. Considering the fact that I had a very relaxed rally in a non-competitive mood with lots of long rest breaks, a bike I had to nurse, numerous petrol stops, technical problems and a very close shave to get to the finish – this is a very good result, it should give me a mid-field result and finally the desired three-digit membership number that only IBR finishers can obtain. In about one hour from now, the banquet will start, followed by the ceremony.

Thanks for your support and your comments – I was reading them daily and they were a good read. Yesterday, I added quite some drama to the game…I left at 2 a.m. for the last 1100 km….I filled up every 90 – 100 km, but soon I realised that the stuttering was not due to the fuel pump. As it got worse and worse, it became more clear that the bike was losing one carburetor ( at least that’s how it felt). It got worse and worse and I went the last 30 miles on three cylinders only. The bike was slowly dying and had no power left. Finally, with the last power the bike had, I entered the parking of the finish and had done it! I couldn’t have done another 10 miles….this was a close shave! Maybe the E10 petrol (10% Ethanol) was killing my old carburetors? It’s a possibility…The bike was picked up already and is on the way back to Europe.

Apart from the scoring today, I basically was chatting with other riders, veterans, staff etc…there are so many stories and dramas to exchange…you’ll hear about some in the following official bulletins.

I also want to say a big THANK YOU to (quote) „this fat, balding, middle-aged, accountant from the UK“ that did a great job in entertaining you during the last days: John Young. He also helped me to stay focused on the main objective of this rally: to become a finisher. This worked almost all the time except on Wednesday when I nearly ruined the project by changing the plan and turning north into Michigan.

THANKS FOR ALL, MATE!!!

And now off to the banquet where new tales of heroism, boldness, despair and drama will be told….

Before the riders meeting


Soooo, in one hour from now, there will be the riders meeting, very early at 2:30 p.m. I had to attend the rookie meeting (haha), as I was considered „technically“ a rookie (no previous finish). It was a very good presentation by route master Jeff Earls who reminded the audience what will be ahead of us the next 11 days. I took notes of ideas for the rookie meeting of the Alpenbutt Rally later in July.

Jeff stressed many things that confirmed my views on this rally: the only objective is to arrive safely at the finish and to be (hopefully) a finisher. That’s all. After my DNF in 2013, that’s the only goal for me. I know that many people in Europe think that after my track record in Europe lately, I should do very, very well in the Iron Butt Rally. Well, this is absolutely nonsense. This is a totally different story. As they say: „you only know what the IBR is about when you have ridden it“. So I will try to stay as relaxed as possible in Leg 1 and Leg 2. I want to have a good time and I don’t care which standing might come out of it in the end. Period. The weather waiting for us will be an enormous burden. Fatigue and exhaustion will build up over the 11 days which could get very dangerous. And I agree with Jeff Earls, in the end it doesn’t matter which place you achieved; being a finisher is a huge achievement. There are only a handful of guys who can win this and they’re completely nuts. That’s not my thing. I will stick to the speed limits, for this reason I have installed the cruise control on the bike. I want this to be a ride of a lifetime and not be ruined by some over-pacing.

I don’t know if I will be able to post more tonight or if I will be barred from social media already. In this case, talk to you in 12 days and I wish you fun with the entertaining posts of John Young. However, I must warn you: you might be exposed to hard-core British humour, you better be prepared for it…. 🙂

More info under

http://ironbutt.com/2017ibr.cfm

PS: I got interviewed yesterday 🙂   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_vJImjTJss&sns=fb

 

Adapt – Improvise – Overcome (part 1)


Yesterday morning, I packed my stuff and moved 10 miles north to the rally hotel. I checked in and started to exchange all the broken spare part that still needed to be changed after the drop of the bike during the Brit Butt Rally. I mounted a new right mirror together with its housing. I installed the fixed, big 2×7500 lumen LED Sevinas that Gerhard had brought from Clearwater Lights for me. I also swapped the clutch lever switch so that the cruise control will work again.

European riders at the Bauhaus Brew Lab

I spent the rest of the afternoon chatting with other fellow European and American riders. I convinced a pack of people to visit a special place in the evening: The Bauhaus Brew Labs, a small microbrewery in Minneapolis.

It produces a lot of German style beers and seems to be a special meeting place for the younger part of Minneapolis. A colourful place with music from the seventies, an open space where people can bring their own food or buy something from a food truck and drink the beer in the brewery. I tried the Münchner Helles, Bohemian Pilsner and German style Schwarzbier (sic!) and they all were very good. The beer mats/coasters explained German words and how to pronounce them. We really had a good time and a good laugh. We even entered the wrong taxi, but the driver noticed immediately when he heard us talking German. Unfortunately, there won’t be another opportunity to come back to this funny place.

This morning, I got up in a good mood and before going to breakfast, I wanted to collect all the papers I needed for today’s registration day. I looked for my bunch of papers and documents – and found only a part of it! I searched everywhere, no stone unturned, until I had to conclude that I had left back papers in the hotel room yesterday! The problem was: I was missing the contract of my medical repatriation insurance that is mandatory. I started to panic. Without a proof of this rally, I could not start the rally on Monday! I called the Allianz hotline in Belgium…as it was Saturday today, the normal help desk was not open and the medical hotline did not have access to the data base. Then I called the last hotel, they did not have anything, but they promised to ask the cleaning lady and to call me again (which never happened). Now I really had reason to panic. I had been stupid enough not to make an electronic copy of these papers, something I usually do before I go on long trips. Damn! In a desperate mood, I went down for breakfast. I met Lisa, the rally master and confessed my problem. She told me to stay cool, I still had two days until the start tot find a solution. At the breakfast table, I discussed the problem with the other European riders. Kevin told me that he had an insurance from Geos that was obtainable online. Hm, I could try this. I looked up the website and indeed, the conditions seemed even to excel the required ones.

The logo of the 2017 Iron Butt Rally. Is this the roadkill we have to expect???

immediately bought the policy for $175 and was happy that I was back on track. I joined the other riders and passed through the different stations…paperwork, video recording of my acknowledgement of the liability specs, GPS Spot track, rally pack, camera and SD card check….then I met Lisa again and told her my positive news. She said that the insurance from Geos was not acceptable for there were some issues with the transport by airplane. We sat down and I tried to find the right terms and conditions, but I failed. I was too nervous. 

Did I already mention that rallying is an emotional rollercoaster? My mood was close to zero again. Lisa suggested to print the conditions so they could be studied. With desperation, I tried to find the documents online and luckily the computer in the hotel lobby had a printer connected. What I found in the made me hope for a happy ending: the conditions seemed to fulfil the rules so I was slightly optimistic.
However, the check of the insurances would be right at the end of the whole exercise. I had to do the tech inspection next. The bike was checked and everything was fine except the fuel tank. WHAT??? It was not compliant (you bet where my mood was in that moment…). However, the „problem“ was easy to solve…the venting hose that I placed next to my number plate needed to be extended below the number plate. I received a piece of fuel hose and attached it with zippers.

Tape-covered „commercial“ stickers…

Another issue was that the bike had „commercial“ stickers….there are from the previous owner and were Castrol Oil stickers and the name of the bike dealer….I had to cover them with tape….The next thing was the odo route to check the accuracy of the odometer. A 28 mile ride later, I returned back and had finished the technical part. Now I had to do the final part: the SPOT check again WITH some data points in it, the insurance and medical repatriation coverage. SPOT was fine (I had to engage the „show speed“ option), the repatriation was barely looked at (!) and my tourist motorbike insurance received the exemption for foreign riders as a domestic insurance is not legally to obtain with the required insurance limits. And than I had to talk to Jeff Earls, the Rally Master who checked last things and welcomed me as a starter of the 2017!! Yes! I did it! But mentally, I was exhausted. This was an unnecessary stress that normally would not have happened. I needed a rest…But first I filled up the bike and bought some food reserves.

In the meantime, my new wind shield had arrived on time and I mounted it. I had some lunch and after that, Peter tried to help me to get me the North America map in Basecamp on my computer, because I don’t want to connect the GPS device all the time when I want to do the routing. We struggled a long time, but in the end it was Gerhard who had the solution: he gave me his SD card with an old map on it, this seems to work. Excellent. Fewer worries.

Finally we gathered for a self-paid dinner of dubious quality. Some of us Europeans decided to go to the bar instead. So the day is over and tomorrow morning, I have to go to the rookie meeting for I was not a finisher last time. In the afternoon, the rider meeting will take place.

And on Monday morning, I will be among the starters of the Iron butt Rally 2017!

„Gemütlichkeit“ will soon be over…and we will need a lot of „Flüssigkeit“…