For those of you unfamiliar with the ‘Butt Lite’ concept, it may seem like overkill to be talking about preparation for a motorcycle ride 6 months out… So I thought I’d provide a short summary of Butt Lite (BL), based on my past two experiences as a spectator. Essentially, I like to think of it as a six day scavenger hunt (on steroids!) on a motorcycle:
- The night before the rally starts, you get a list of bonuses available for collection, each bonus has a different points value, some are available only at certain times or on certain days (e.g. daylight hours, museum opening hours, only on weekdays) and every bonus has a story behind it.
- The bonuses could be anywhere in North America (though most are usually in the continental US) and sometimes the values of the bonuses change half-way through the rally (you might get 100 points for something in leg 1 but 1500 for the same bonus in leg 2) or based on what other bonuses you’ve collected (extra points if you collect all the points related to alien sightings), or what order you collected them in.
- The aim is to maximize the points you collect over the six days.
There are some other things to consider:
- There are special requirements to collect a bonus (e.g. take a photo or get a receipt)
- You have to complete your paperwork correctly to collect a bonus
- There are bonuses available for taking time off the bike (e.g. To sleep!)
- Depending on how well you operate when sleep deprived, there is a non-zero trade-off between riding more hours/distance to collect more points, and resting to ensure your brain is functioning. I can’t count the number of stories from past rallies where someone has made a mistake collecting a bonus because they weren’t thinking straight or they hadn’t read the instructions properly/remembered them!
- Importantly, if you don’t follow the instructions correctly, you won’t get any points for a bonus.
To be honest, spending hours on the back of the bike isn’t as much fun as it looks in movies. And I’m telling you here and now, nobody looks like Kate Hudson in ‘How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days’ when they take their helmet off. It’s bullshit. Doesn’t matter what you do with your hair, when that helmet comes off, it’s plastered to your head – there are no ‘sexy curls’ going on. Also, the rally is during the northern summer and it gets really hot in all your gear (and not wearing the gear is just dumb: if gravel rash when you fall over walking is painful imagine it at 80km/h (50mph) and if you’re going any faster really all you’re doing by not wearing gear is saving your insurance provider a whole load of cash coz they won’t be taking you to the hospital, it’ll be straight to the morgue).
For me, the attraction of the rally is the strategy behind collecting the bonuses and the opportunity to see some cool places. I’m always a bit jealous when Martin is planning his routes because I want to be doing that part – but it’s against the rules to get help from someone not on the rally so I’ve had to just let him do his thing. Don’t get me wrong, Martin does long distance like a pro and he has done pretty well in previous rallies, but when it comes to routing for bonuses there have been other riders who manage to do roughly the same distance but get quite a few more points. This year I’m hoping we can bring the number of miles down a bit (spending 12-14 hours a day on the bike rather than 18-20) but keep the points collected up, maximising points per mile ridden. The thing is, while I understand the theory, I don’t have the same sense of what the roads are like and some of the other things that will slow us down (like deer and other wildlife) that Martin has – so we’ll have to work out a plan for that.
The other thing I’m looking forward to is seeing interesting places. Lisa Erbes and the other rally masters do an amazing job of finding odd, out-of-the-way things for bonuses. Martin has promised me that rather than just riding up, collecting the bonus and then going again, if there’s something cool to see, we can stop to see it for 5-10 minutes. We haven’t explored the east coast together yet, so it will be a great opportunity for us to do that. And I’ll find out what this rally thing is all about!