Most of us will never road race at the top levels of competition, it just isn’t in the cards, the young guns seem to have almost supernatural skills on the track, but all of us can ride and sometimes we cover a lot of ground in the course of a day and if we hear about a rally where long distance is involved, we might think, “Hey, maybe I could do that.” Well, … maybe.
Dean Tanji just completed Hard Miles 2, the story of the 2009 Iron butt Rally, an every other year event that tests a rider’s skills over an extremely long distance. It’s a whole lot more than just riding long distances, though, the rally is a sort of scavenger hunt, on steroids, it takes brains not just endurance, plus mechanical and repair skills for the inevitable issues that crop up in the course of a marathon like this. Last year the rally consisted of 3 legs, the first throughout the eastern U.S. and Canada, the second leg the middle and the third went out west, although the boundaries overlap a lot. When the legs are unveiled to the competitors, they get to see the huge numbers of potential locations where they must arrive, take a photo, perhaps buy a small souvenir or arrive in a small window of time in order to get the allotted points. There are far more locations available that cover huge distances making it impossible to reach them all, so you have to choose among them and plan your route carefully. Not only must you arrive at the end of the leg within a certain time, you must have enough points to be considered a finisher, hopefully, accumulating enough to keep you ahead of the others, as well. Hmm, should you start out going north to Martha’s Vineyard or south to Key West? Riders averaged about 2500 miles on the 3 day leg one, a nice warm up to the following 2 legs, of 4 days each.
Competitors ride all sorts of motorcycles, the usual BMWs and Gold Wings of course, Moto Guzzis, Kawasakis and a Suzuki RE5? Yep.
The Hard Miles 2 DVD is very well done and a follow up to Hard Miles which told the story of the 2007 Rally. If you saw the first Hard Miles DVD, you have an idea of what you’ll see on this one but they’ve made many improvements and it is much like you would see watching coverage of an event like the Iron Man Triathlon, only a lot more interesting for riders.
The Iron Butt is an amateur event attracting riders from all over the world from all walks of life, there are no big sponsors, no prize money, no umbrella girls, no crew or chase vehicles; the original concept was one rider, one motorcycle and one task, however, couples can compete
now in their own separate category. As noted in the comments below, couples compete along with everyone else.
Right from the start where you see some of the rider preparations and the high spirits of the competitors to the gradually changing look on each of their faces as the rally goes on, you’ll see what an incredible challenge the Iron Butt is. Stringing together 16+ hour days, averaging 60 mph, managing sleep and rest bonuses while trying to keep your edge. Because strategy is the key, riders are all over the country on any given leg, at one point on leg two, at the same time, competitors were as much as 2000 miles apart going for bonuses in what they hoped would be a winning course.
Without going into all of the details or giving away some of the twists and turns of the competition, I’ll tell you straight out, I enjoyed this video a lot and I highly recommend it.
Link: Hard Miles 2
Related: Hard Miles – The Iron Butt Rally