2021 IBR – Day 6

 Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue

I assume readers have had the opportunity to peruse the standings and if you are familiar with past rallies and competitors you noticed that something is different. There are a bunch of new faces on the leader board. Oh, some of the experienced vets are still leading but there are some surprises in this group. One thing to note is how bunched up they are. There is barely 4,000 points of difference between the top 20 riders’ scores.

Most riders took the northern loop through Montana in the first leg. The leaders tacked on a run through Nevada and the Pacific Northwest. Jim Owen did one better. He didn’t turn around and go directly to Nevada after the Golden Spike bonus; rather, he traveled a couple hundred miles north and picked up a big bonus at the breeder reactors before heading to Nevada. He was able to visualize the nice route up through Arco, Idaho and back through Twin Falls, Idaho to Wells, Nevada.

Michael Brooke, in second place on a Hayabusa, is an IBR rookie. He placed well in several west coast rallies the past two years and in the Heart of Texas rally earlier this year, so he is not untried. His route to a second place standing after the first leg is unique. He swept Nevada and headed to Southern California for a big bonus. He then snagged state bonuses across the bottom of the country and back up to Washington D.C. It will be interesting to see if this pays off, because once those rallywide bonuses have been claimed, they are off the table in subsequent legs for that rider. Like Jim Owen, he is a pilot and accustomed to following checklists and using strict processes. They are good at time-distance problems, skilled in computer usage and data manipulation, which helps tremendously with decisions and execution. What many people probably don’t know is that Michael is the son-in-law of IBR notable Tom Melchild. Tom surely told Michael his #1 rally rule: “You will never win a rally from a jail cell.” Tom would know. Michael’s planning was on display from the start of leg 2, as he was the first rider out of the hotel and on the road after the 4:00 am rider meeting. I’m sure Tom is smiling down on him.

Michael Brooke and his oh-so-clean Hayabusa (where is that 11.5-gallons aux tank?) …isn’t that just so blue?

Steve Giffin is another rookie rider. He has some IBA certs and has some rallies under his belt, but this is a big step up for him. Steve had a big ride on the first leg, doing the northern loop plus Nevada and the Pacific Northwest. He is evidently skilled at bonus collecting and following instructions because he vacuumed up most everything along his route and turned it into points.

Steve Giffen at checkpoint 1. 

Dan Duval is riding an FJR on his first IBR. After picking up the group photo bonus at the Golden Spike, he ran through the center of the country back to the eastern bonuses where he might be more comfortable. He collected bonuses in New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio after sweeping up all the state bonuses along his path.

Dan Simmonds is a rider who has delivered on big Iron Butt Certificate runs. He’s completed more consecutive Bun-Burner Golds (1,500 miles in a day) than anyone and has a myriad of other mileage accomplishments. His path on leg one left him near the bottom of the pack, but he is out there throwing down the miles, swimming in deep water, waiting to find a school of little fish.

A contemplative Dan Simmonds planning his next route.

Finally, I want to mention Andy Regnier who took the northern loop. He did not add any of the western flourishes that many of the others did, but he did run an extremely efficient route, missing nothing on his way. He swept the northern targets then added bonuses in New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia. 

Ken Aman came into the checkpoint with a failed zipper on his riding jacket. A call was put out and Joanna Southwood, spouse of IBR rider Tom Southwood, was at the checkpoint delivering items for Tom. Joanna drove the six miles back home and returned with a jacket that would fit Ken. Ken, who had gone to bed Thursday night with no solution, woke up to a serviceable jacket he could borrow thanks to Joanna.

All these riders, and the whole rider list in general, put in some big miles in the first 3 ½ days riding between 3,000 and 4,900 miles. The upper number is a pace that they cannot maintain for 11 days. Yes, I know, some have done many back-to-back 1,200-1,500-mile days, but that was not rallying, that was not planning a route, it was not bonus collecting and taking time to get scored and resting when told. Every IBR includes some new names that come out hot but fade as the days and miles become longer. I highlighted here some of the promising, young, and smart riders, by no means the only ones in this field who have a good chance of doing very well, but there are some cagey old vets hanging out in the top 20 (really anybody in the top 40 could catapult to the top with a single good leg) ready to pounce when they see an opportunity.

Sharks in the water… Jim Owen and Wendy Crockett

You can see from the SPOT page (available at https://ironbutt.com/ibr2021/index.html ) that the riders are concentrated in the Northeast and around the Great Lakes. It’s a short time to the next checkpoint in Huntsville, Alabama this Sunday at 8:00 pm. Riders only have some 65 hours to circle around and catch fire in a bottle. For big-mileage riders, it’s like boxing with a competitor who keeps grabbing and holding you when you want to back off and throw a haymaker. For riders who like confined spaces, the scale tilts in their direction, for now.

Jim Owen made a comment during scoring that the weather had been simply perfect (had to be for him to run that 4,500 miles) and I told you yesterday that was about to change. Not so fast Mr./Ms. Smarty-pants scribe. That weather front is hanging from Kansas City back to Chicago and just sitting there, dumping as much as 6 inches of water on those poor folks, but it is not moving in on our core group of riders as I thought it would. But have no fear. We are finishing this thing in Provo and I just saw a heat wave is going to set records from the Pacific Northwest down through Texas in the coming days. Now we’ll see who listened to Mario the Evaporative Cooling Genie.

We’ve had generally good weather so far on this rally, the riders have been well-behaved (I did not see a single argument at scoring), and I saw a top-secret picture of the Rally Staff yesterday all sound asleep with heads nodding like my Michelle Kwan bobblehead doll as they moved the circus south. Speaking of well-behaved riders, staff was disappointed to hear that Ken Meese  needed to withdraw for a family emergency. Ken was running an exceptionally good rally, and we all wish Ken the best and hope to see him back in the future.

Scoring went very well in Carmel and I want to give credit to the scoring crew at checkpoint #1:

Rider Scoring:

Jim Bain

Lisa Stevens

Chris Sakala

Brian Roberts

Joel Rappaport

John Frick

Geoffrey Greene

            Greg Roberts 

Tim Masterson
            Chris Sakala

Dennis Bitner


Photo Card Check:

Tobie Stevens

Jim Fousek

Dave McQueeney

Ira Agins

Rider Check In and Odometer:

Bill Thweatt

Donna Fousek

Greg Blewett

Rick Martin

Rider Herding in Scoring Room:

Pat Blewett


            Scoring Compilation:

            Kathy Engholm


The service provided by these unselfish volunteers gets the riders scored quickly and into bed, where they should be. I have been around the IBR for a long time and have never seen scoring go this well. Hopefully we can repeat that here in Huntsville on Sunday night because these riders are going to be tired and in need of a good rest before the home stretch.