2021 IBR – Epilogue

 I Have Said Enough

I honestly am just out of breath after writing 15 daily reports. I think I covered most of the salient points about the rally and managed to cover what the top 10 riders did, moments after the results were being announced. I just want to make a few observations:

Observation #1:  One of the reasons I have little to say now is because we started something new this year with the Flash reports. When something important came up, we got it out right away in the form of a Flash report without it having to be written by the scribe. I think the best example was Lisa’s announcement on the last day that all the riders were accounted for and safe. Everyone was looking at SPOT and while we all think that system is the bees knees it has some shortcomings and operator errors. Lisa’s announcement was the brainchild of Kathy Engholm, and I am sure it put a lot of minds at ease who were seeing “active” SPOT tracks long after the rally had ended. Much better than putting it in the daily report and then waiting hours to post it.

That simple change helped the scribe to stick to a schedule rather than waiting for an update on any single incident. It helped to get the daily reports out on a regularly scheduled basis and kept me from having to “work in” some breaking issue.

Observation #2:  We did not do as well on our “unfinished business” riders this year. I said there were three who wanted to make good on their inability to finish in 2019. Of those three (Marc Bialt, Tom Spearman, Stephen and Tamara Vook) only Marc Bialt managed to exorcise his demons. It was not reported because it happened late in the rally, but the Vooks, sadly, encountered tire problems which led to other issues and could not make it back to Provo before the checkpoint closed. The good news is that they made it to the banquet, were fine, and were planning to ride home and get their application together for '23.

Observation #3:  Michael Boge on the little KTM 2-stroke did not make enough points to be a finisher. I can tell you Michael is a favorite of most everyone, staff, and riders alike and we were all terribly disappointed he did not have the points to finish. That said, it was a magnificent effort to push that thing around the USA, through thunderstorms, desert heat, over mountains, with no kickstand. I heard he was changing oil daily. Not sure that is true but when Michael is ready, there is a big story in there for him to tell. Meanwhile, look for that bike hanging in a Zip’s Burgers nearest you!

Observation #4:  I spent the whole last report telling you about what the top 10 riders did but as I said before every rider has a story and some of that you can tell from the last leg standings. The last leg of the Iron Butt Rally usually has some big movement that never gets mentioned, and this was no exception. I tried in these reports to only accentuate the positive and following that rule (mom said “If you can’t say something nice…”) I would like to call out those riders who made big jumps on the last leg. They showed great fortitude.

Bucky Dent:  26 places from 55th to 29th

Marc Bialt:  24 places from 57th to 33rd

Andy Mackay: 16 places from 65th to 49th

Marcus Reynolds:  15 places from 53rd to 38th

Andy Hall: 13 places from 33rd to 20th

Lyle Monroe:  12 places from 58th to 46th

Eric Buskell: 11 places from 42nd to 33rd

Jim Burriss:  10 places from 40th to 30th

Chris Comly:  10 places from 38th to 28th

Marty Cover:  10 places from 47th to 37th

Lisa Rufo:  10 places from 46th to 36th

Justin Long:  10 places from 23rd to 13th

Big Kudos to all those who reached down and ran hard on that last leg. Especially those who made big moves in the top ½ of the field. It is hard to jump over those riders as most of them are still trying hard for position. Those towards the bottom of the list tend to put a higher weight on their risk during that last leg and back off a notch so it is a bit easier to jump places there if you are willing to keep charging. Also note that almost all those people making a big jump were veterans. They held something back for that least leg knowing how long 11 days really is.

Observation #5:  Next is the mileage put on by the riders in this rally. By my calculations we had 6 riders top 13,000 miles with Mike Brooke nearly crossing 14,000. There were another 25 with over 11,000 miles. The average miles per rider was 10,745. By any statistical measure (median mileage 10,923) this rally was high mileage.

Observation #6:  Now for my biggest observation. Our field of rookies: I will tell you that I had doubts about some of these folks over the past year, reading some the posts on the IBR private forum. We had 29 rookies at the starting grid of this rally and 23 of them finished. Three of them finished in the top 5, and 6 in the top 20, while the 6 DNFs is just about in line with overall IBR statistics (about 80% of the field normally finishes). That is a spectacular showing as the rookies rarely crack top 5 and the DNF rate usually exceeds the field.

The night after the IBR I was watching a documentary on the life of Ronnie Coleman. Ronnie was an 8X Mr. Olympia bodybuilder. It struck me how the Mr. Olympia competition is like the IBR. It is a niche sport, the competitors are a very close-knit community, they will help each other get better, and they seem to have “generations”. Dorian Yates was the champion 7 times before Ronnie Coleman assumed the championship for the next 8 years then Jay Cutler came along and held the championship. All of them had a different set of competitors that pushed them to reach higher plateaus as the sport evolved.

I see parallels in the IBR. During the late 90’s we had the Major, Eagan, Morrison period, followed by the Barnes, Smith, Hoogeveen era and then the Owen, Earls, Jewell era. Of course, many of these people spanned different eras as you can find their names down the list a bit in their early attempts. Now we have three new rookies who crashed into the Owen-Crockett party to announce themselves with a flair. I am not ready to declare the start of the Brooke, Ernst, and Giffin era, nor am I saying Jim and Wendy should come run wheelchair rallies at the assisted living facility with me, but these young guys are pushing the most recent podium finishers to dig a little deeper. As in so many other sports, long-distance riding’s newcomers are young, they have new methods, and they are hungry. Best of all, while having breakfast the morning after the rally I heard at least 5 rookies declare how ready they were for the NEXT IBR! I remember just wanting to fly home and never see my bike again after the IBR, but these people are ready to go. We could use another 30 just like them for 2023.

Observation #7:  Finally, I could not leave without mentioning one of the biggest missing pieces of this IBR. Our international contingent was not able to travel this year due to pandemic restrictions and the playing field was limited to the lower 48 states. It takes an unusual person to spend 11 days riding 900-1,000 miles a day on a motorcycle. It takes a VERY special kind of nutjob to fly halfway around the world to do that, most likely on a rented or borrowed motorcycle. People this venturesome usually have an oversized personality scripted for the IBR. I am thinking of Paul Allison, Fazer Phil, Margaret Peart, Giel Kerkhof, Gerhard, and Maura (like Cher, they only need a single name) who all add so much to the event. We look forward to seeing all of you again.

Thank you all for following along this year. I hope the reports, scorecards, bonus listings and SPOT tracks have made following this 2-week activity as enjoyable for you as it has been for me to report. From all the staff, we will look forward to seeing you again in 2023.