Sunday, August 19, 2012

IBA International Meet 2012

So when I finished the Butt Lite 6IX in Denver I found myself at the Iron Butt Association’s 2012 International Meet. OK, it wasn’t a surprise or anything. I had already registered for the event months earlier and Reagan had made her travel arrangements to meet me there.

This was the first such event either of us had been to and frankly we didn’t know what to expect. Well the small group of 300+ people were the exact polar opposite of a clique. We couldn’t find people there that weren’t friendly and happy to visit with us. After all everyone there was into long distance riding and motorcycling, we instantly had a common interest.

With the Butt Lite stuff out of the way on Thursday, we had Friday and Saturday to focus on the IBA meet. Well that is except for worrying about the clutch master cylinder that had failed toward the end of the rally. I tried calling 2 different BMW shops to take a look at it. Finally BMW of Denver was able to look at it and picked it up on Friday. Sure enough, they confirmed my suspicions that the clutch master cylinder was shot. The only problem was they couldn’t get one until Tuesday and I really didn’t want to stay in Denver until then. So I called the folks at Max BMW in New Hampshire and with 15 minutes to spare Drew got the part out the door, Fed Ex Saturday delivery. Thank you Drew!

Now I was able to focus on the seminars. Yet somehow I managed to run into people in the atrium and we’d start talking. Thus I missed most of the seminars, but I got to talk to lots of people and make new friends. Remember this event was an “ANTI-clique” of people.

The dinner on Friday was good and the keynote speaker was Lee Parks. That guy seems to really understand the mechanics of riding a motorcycle but it was clear from the tale of his SS1000 that long distance riding really isn’t his cup of tea. None the less, it was a great story to hear. After dinner though I was exhausted and skipped spending time at the bar.

Saturday, I was able to catch a few seminars before I found out that my bike was fixed. Hoooray!!!! I had a way to get home. Steve Aikens and his wife, a couple I had met just that weekend, graciously gave me a ride in their rental car over to the dealership. It was only 3.2 miles away but trust me, that would have been one long walk at an elevation of 5,000+ feet.

Upon returning to the hotel, I shed my gear and got ready for the afternoon sessions. These sessions were all about the 2013 IBR. First there was a Rookies Only session where we had a chance to talk with 2 rookie finishers from the 2011 IBR. That was great but my mind was trying to process everything they shared with us and I wasn’t able to formulate too many questions.

The next session was with ALL 2013 IBR participants. That meant they let the big dogs in. And that’s when the tone of the staff made a very obvious change. No longer were they the kind, gentle, helpful group of people. Instead we got the message that they were in charge and this was their rally. Of course we also found out where and when the check points are. They are going to be at ………

Really??? Did you think I was going to tell you before I and all the other participants had gotten their hotel reservations. Nope. I can say that the first check point and the start point are at the same place so that’ll make staging gear and stuff a little easier. The staff also clarified the use of Spot trackers instead of fuel logs. Hoooray for no fuel log. That helps to cut my fuel stop times down.

With the meeting done, we all went to the bar. Some of the best visiting was done at the hotel bar. And with $3 pints of beer who could complain. It was great to see the who’s who of past IBRs walking around; Jim Owen, Ken Meese, Dave P, Kirsten, Bob and others. If you saw someone with a name tag and a 3 digit number you knew, they were a finisher of a past IBR.

Saturday night’s closing banquet was fun, 2 guys from “across the pond” entertained us with their talk about getting ready for the 2011 IBR. It was very entertaining. The surprise at the end though was totally unexpected. Two members of the group got married, right there at the International meet. That was pretty cool. After the celebration though I was beat and retired to my room.

Sunday I was up early and got packed so I could leave around 7:30am, just after Reagan left for the airport. After being off the bike for a few days I struggled to get into my routine. Finally I thumbed the starter and pulled out of the parking lot. The GPS wanted to take me east on I-70 but I knew I-25 south was the better ride so I ignored the GPS and headed south.

The first hour of the ride, I felt wobbly. When I stopped for gas I thought I was going to drop the bike. It wasn’t anything wrong with the bike, I just didn’t seem to have my balance. With a few hundred more miles though that feeling disappeared. I finished the 1,050 mile ride home just before midnight on Sunday. So that was a SS1000 in 15.5 hours. Funny thing now, riding a 1,000 miles in a day just doesn’t seem like anything special.

I almost forgot to mention, after riding in the Butt Lite I had made up my mind that I was giving up on the Olympia gear. I planned to go with an Aerostitch 1pc suit. After all that’s what it seemed everyone wore. I mentioned this to someone I really respect and he agreed that the product was really great and that he owned a 1pc and a few of their 2pc sets as well. He surprised me though when he said if he bought something new today, it would be from Klim. Lucky for me they were there as title sponsors. And what about Aerostitch??? Not there…..

I’m now the proud owner of their 2pc Badland Pro gear. I was really impressed with the technical features of the gear. And Reagan was impressed with the laundry instructions for it. We were told to toss it in the washer on the gentle cycle and then put it in the dryer on medium. That’s right in the dryer on medium.

All in all we had a great time at the meet and met a bunch of wonderful people. It’s definitely on our list of events to attend in 2014.

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