Roger & Kathy

15,704.8 miles (door to door)

Download the GPS Track Google Earth file

(If you download the Goggle Earth file, it will animate the track)



GPS Track

The IBR challenge started about three years ago Kathy and I had the opportunity to watch the “Hard Miles” DVD, I remember saying at the time “we could do that”, but didn't think much more about it. A year later we watched “Hard Miles 2” I must have watched it at least 3 or 4 times, (the first sign of the rally “virus”). Kathy chimed in with “You really should apply”; I think my comment was “are you nuts?” or something like that.

During August 2010 we received an e-mail saying that registration was open for IBR 2011, after about one second of thought Kathy and I decided to apply as a team. The application was simple enough but when it came to the bio section, asking about previously rally experience, we realized that our experience was somewhat limited, that is to say ZERO. So, I looked for any possible justification for the reviewers to approve our entry, the Ultimate Coast to Coast ride was a first thought but the bio still seemed ridiculously empty. So… I took a gamble and put in a section about Kathy and I being current Skydiving World Record holders, problem number one – it had absolutely nothing to do with riding motorcycles, problem number 2 – if any of the reviewers happen to be veteran skydivers then they would most likely fall of their chair laughing, and then throw the application in the bin. Overall I didn’t think the application stood much of a chance of surviving any real scrutiny.

After submitting our application we heard more and more comments that there were likely to be thousands of applications and the chances of either of us being selected were slim, our chances were further reduced since we were applying as a team and would withdraw if only one was selected. Several BMWNEF members told us that they had applied many times without success. Kathy remained confident but I thought the odds were stacked against us.

To my surprise I received the e-mail at the end of September saying that I had been selected, I immediately asked Kathy is she had also been selected, she said she had not, we were despondent. It was several days later that Kathy discovered that her acceptance e-mail had been redirected to “junk mail”.

We immediately began preparations for the IBR and began with the first of a long list of mistakes, I made a spreadsheet of the total cost involved. The bigger items were $1850 entry fee, $1800 in gas, new tires, 25 hotel nights, major bike service before and after the rally, new radio system, new GPS, etc etc, it came to just under $10,000 ….. each. This is one occasion where ignorance was bliss.

The next item was to get rally experience, fast, so we entered the Cannons and Dragons rally. We learned many lessons and surprised ourselves by doing well (we won). I wish we had a video record of our first bonus, it was a comedy of errors, we must have spent 20 minutes just stopping, getting a picture, and recording our mileage. By the end of the day our bonus stops were down to less than 90 seconds and, more importantly, we discovered that we REALLY liked rallies.

I started working with the available spreadsheet tools for bonus analysis and soon decided that they did not work as I would like them to, so I decided it would be simpler to write my own application to analyze and visualize bonuses (another misake). After a ridiculous number of programming hours "Bonus Processing - Version 1" was ready for our second rally, Cape Fear 1000. We did reasonably well in that rally (3rd and 4th) and learned more lessons, especially how to take pictures and record information in pouring rain, how to ignore tornado sirens, and how difficult it is to get your hands in and out of gloves that are soaking wet. We chatted with Bob Higdon after the Rally and told him that Kathy and I would be riding the IBR as a team, his response was “well, that is doing the IBR the hard way”, he explained that coordinating the rest requirements of two people was going to be a major challenge. I should have given his words a lot more thought.

After the Cape Fear rally I decided I needed a purpose design “Bonus Record Book” to record important bonus information and manage fuel receipts, This turned out to be another mistake for reasons that will become clear later. if anyone needs a “Bonus Record Book”, please talk to me, I have a few spare.

The IBR 2011 was scheduled to start in Seattle on June 20th; we started our ride out on June 9th and called into friends along the way. We arrived in Seattle on the 15th and on the 16th we rode up to Ride West BMW to have the tires and oil changed, the guys at the dealership could not have been more helpful.

As the bikes started arriving in Seattle the whole undertaking started to become very real, both Kathy and I had a definite feeling of “what on earth have we got ourselves into this time?” (we are getting used to that feeling, it seems to occur quite regularly in our lives).

Arrived in Seattle, taking a day off

The day before the start we were sitting in the bar (drinking soda!), and I thought I recognized a gentlemen sitting off to one side. I walked over and started a conversation and found that I was privileged to be talking to Col Bruce Crandall. For those who don’t recognize the name, Col Crandall was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in Vietnam, if you have seen the film “We were soldiers once” he is the helicopter pilot who flew into the LZ 22 times with supplies and to evacuate the wounded. He was very interested in the Rally and gave me one of his coins (military veterans will understand this) and asked me to present it to the winner.

Col. Bruce Crandall

The dinner before the start definitely built up the level of tension and expectation; we received our rally flags (#’s 20 and 21) and then found that the traditional rally format had been completely changed. To be a “finisher” we had to ride to all 48 contiguous states within 11 days, period. Those who wanted to add in the “four corners” of the U.S. were guaranteed a gold medal, and each visit to a capital building earned extra points. There was also a significant bonus for riding to Alaska. This was a huge change to the expected format, fuel receipts – not required, fuel log – not required, the new bonus planning tool – totally useless, the new “Bonus Record Book” – a complete waste of time. Months of mental preparation was completely off the mark. All that was required was an immediate and complete mental reset.

Planning in progress....

We decided that given the change in format our first priority was to finish, in other rallies a mistake on one bonus would not be good, but was not necessarily a disaster. We were well aware that in this rally one mistake, on one receipt, for one state, could result in a DNF. We quickly dismissed the idea of riding to Alaska, and then looked at the four corners. Three were easy but Key West could be a problem (we have ridden there numerous times and spent hours sitting in very, very long lines of traffic), overall we decided to forgo the four corners bonus and try for more of the capital buildings.

When all the bikes were lined up ready for the start it was quite a sight, everything from Gold Wings, RT’s, GS’s, to a 1974 Triumph Trident, (the Trident made it to the finish).

The start in Seattle

The first leg started in Seattle at 10:00 am on Day 1 and ended in New York on Day 5. We rode through Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, & Michigan before taking a short cut through Canada to get to New York.

When we tried to get a hotel in Bismarck ND, we were told they were all sold out, “all” meaning the entire town. We eventually did find a room and when we arrived we were told that 10,000 people had been evacuated from Minot due to flooding, we felt a little guilty for taking one of the rooms. As we rode through North Dakota we saw evidence of the flooding, they were several dips in the freeway where the water was being held back by sandbags on both sides of the road.

Leg 2 from New York on Day 6  to Jacksonville on Day 8 took us through Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Rode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. It was during this leg that we realized that there was no way that we were going to be able to ride through the night, Kathy’s physiology simply did not allow it. We had planned a route that took us to Atlanta and as we rode into the night it became clear to me that to continue we would be risking Kathy's safety, at that point we abandoned the bonus and stopped for the night. (Bob Higdon’s words kept running through my head, I had failed to plan a route that took into account our individual sleep needs – big mistake).

Seeing familiar faces from BMWNEF at the Jacksonville check point gave us a real boost – thank you!

Running for a bonus picture in NH

Leg 3 from Jacksonville on Day 8 to the finish in California on Day 11 went through Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Arizona and finally to California.

The ride through Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico started to really eat into our energy reserves, the temperature was around 100 deg, all day. We were stopping frequently (every 2-3 hours) to refill our camel packs and cool off. I had 1/2 gal of water and ice and it was no where near enough, our bikes will have a real hydration system before the next rally.

We had scheduled our call-in bonus phone call on the afternoon of the assigned day and within the required 12 hour window, as defined by the leg information packet. We stopped to get something to eat and I looked at our bonus book to my horror I realized that we had missed the call-in window, by 30 minutes. This was a major blow and really took the wind out of our sails, Kathy tried to pick up a soda off the table and it just dropped out of her hand. We decided to make the call anyway. As it turns out, the bonus book and the leg information packet gave different times, so we were calling at the start of the window defined by the leg information packet as we planned, but we didn't find that out until after we arrived at the finish. A good job that we made the call, we nearly lost 500 points.

On the last day we rode to Phoenix, arriving just after lunchtime, the thermometer on the bikes read 113 deg F. We kept all the vents on the jackets closed, visors closed, and squirted water inside our jackets as we rode, it worked, to a point. As we arrived at the capital in phoenix we were greeted by a reporter and camera crew, I thought “wow – fame at last”, then they asked if we were aware that the capital building had a rodent problem and how did we feel about it.  I excused ourselves as quickly and politely as possible and took the bonus picture. As we are riding away I told Kathy that what I should have said was “That building is infested with politicians, we feel sorry for the rodents”. It gave us a laugh and took our mind off the heat for a while.

Arriving at the finish at 1 o’clock in the morning, there were several riders and staff there to greet us. We had mixed feelings, happy to be finished, but not so happy that the rally was over.

After a short sleep we collected the required documentation and got in line for final scoring.

The award ceremony and banquet was very enjoyable, we were informed Bob Higdon is now to be known as “Sally” Higdon, apparently he took one look at the 74 Trident before the start and said “If that bike makes it to the finish you can call me Sally”, well, he did say “call me Sally”. Less amusing was Mark Crane’s story, he was in third place as he arrived at the finish line, right up until the point that he collected together his documentation for scoring and realized that he had failed to ride through Mississippi.

We rode a total of 15,704 miles door to door (26 days), the rally was 9,836 miles in 11 days (for us).


GPS track - door to door

We placed 48th and 49th and, most importantly, we are now “IBR Finishers”.

The day after the finish we took our bikes into Brown BMW for a tire change and service; again we received first rate attention. The 3 day ride back to Florida was probably the hardest of the entire trip, after the rally adrenaline had worn off the 900+ mile days in 100 deg temperatures were brutal. We would have given ourselves an extra couple of days R&R in California but Kathy’s daughter Emily had returned from Afghanistan the day we left for Seattle and her leave was over the day we planned to get back to Florida, so we set new records (for us) driving back across the US. It turned out that Emily had to return to Ft Hood earlier than expect so we met up at 02:00 in our hotel in Louisiana.

The bikes (2011 BMW R1200GS Adventure & 2010 R1200GS) ran flawlessly throughout the trip, no problems of any kind.

It has become clear to us that the Long Distance riding community is a very small group, a family in many ways. We are very fortunate to have made a lot of new friends.

We enjoyed every minute of it! and, to answer the obvious question – YES, we are looking forward to IBR 2013.


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