About the Iron Butt

About the Iron Butt Rally

The Iron Butt Motorcycle Rally is an eleven-day, eleven THOUSAND mile endurance ride. That’s a thousand miles a day, on average. That might not be so daunting on a car, but on a bike it’s grueling. Think of this — if you want to get just four hours of sleep a night, you must AVERAGE fifty miles an hour for the other twenty hours of the day. That average has to figure in meals, gas stops, traffic, construction, and extra bonus sidetrips that can add points to your score and hundreds of miles to your odometer.

As the Iron Butt website explains it, the concept is fairly simple: “The rally consists of five checkpoints located around the perimeter of the United States. In order to be considered a finisher of the event, riders must be present at each of these checkpoints within a two hour window.”

The checkpoints are located at the four corners of the country. 2003’s rally, which ended several days ago, routed riders from Missoula, Montana, to Nevada, then to Florida, to Maine, and back to Missola. With optional bonus trips to places like Labrador, over 550 miles of dirt road and back again. And that’s a SIDE trip.

Ouch. In a nice Douglas Adams touch, riders are each issued a towel with their rally number on it, and validate their bonus trips by draping the towel over the landmark in question and having their photo taken with it. Very hoopy.

Having finished a nice, leisurely ride to Maine and back, I’ve been reading with admiration the harrowing stories of the 2003 Iron Butt Rally. Warning: don’t click the link without an hour to spend reading!

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