We did it! In the two weeks since my last post we have travelled more than 8500 miles (13,600 kms), crossing the continental USA from east to west and back again, including a sojourn into Canada and had some great experiences along the way. We managed to collect enough bonuses and get to both the checkpoint and the finish on time in order to be officially considered finishers, but just rolling into the car park of the hotel in Greenville early on Friday morning was enough for me. It was a freaking hard rally.
I am currently ridiculously sleep deprived and I suspect it will take a week or so for that situation to be rectified. Kiwi is riding the bike back to Minnesota today but I bailed out and am on flights to Atlanta and then Minneapolis. The MJM seat did an incredible job and meant the first 8 or so days were largely butt pain free, but nonetheless I reeeeeally am not ready to get back on the bike.
Kiwi and I are planning to do a joint ‘ride report’ soon, which I’ll share here or at least provide a link to. But I’m also going to share my own thoughts on the ride in a few posts over coming days and weeks.
First off, where did we go? All over! In Leg 1 we hit 13 states: South and North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. In Leg 2 we crossed the border into Canada (British Columbia), then returned to the US back through Washington, Oregon and Idaho, down through Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico and then across Texas and Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and back to South Carolina. In total, we either cruised around or raced through 23 US and 1 Canadian state.
Secondly, the question I’ve been asked most often in the past 24 hours: did you have fun? Honestly, I’m not sure yet. The first two days were incredibly tough emotionally – the adrenaline of planning a route followed by what felt like an interminable wait to actually start the rally meant that I crashed and crashed hard once we were actually on the road. There were many rounds of tears in my helmet and with only 4 hours’ sleep on Monday night, Tuesday wasn’t much better. In short, Kiwi had a basket case on the bike for the first 36 hours. It did get better and I had some great days also, but I’m not sure I’d call it “fun”. Instead, it was an incredible experience and adventure and one I feel very blessed to have been able to share with the one I love more than any other.
Would I do it again? Right now, the answer is ‘no’. But then I said that 12 months ago after Butt Lite and look what happened!
Going into IBR 2019 I felt like I had some idea of what I was getting into. I knew it was going to be tough, I knew it would be uncomfortable, I knew I would be sleep deprived. Boy was I wrong. Only after my low expectations had adjusted to the sub-ground level reality did I start to relax and find my groove. I have so much respect for everyone who rolls across the finish line of an IBR, even if they’re not technically “finishers”: 11 days of pushing yourself to your physical, mental and emotional limits is tough and I can only imagine tougher if that isn’t “enough”.
Was it what I expected? Hell, no. I thought there would be some puzzles to solve similar to 2017 and I hoped I’d be able to make up for my lack of ride stamina by finding a way to route efficiently. No such luck. The mastery of Jeff Earls resulted in an old-school style rally that really tested the limits of what could be done. There were no ‘easy’ ways to maximise your points. Not only that, as we found out to our detriment on Day 1 the GPS coordinates for the bonuses were often many miles from where the bonus was actually located, requiring more miles and more time than initially planned.
As an example, the above screenshot is from our Day 1 route plan. The orange pin is where the GPS coordinates in the official files got us to, while the blue pin is where we had to actually go to get the bonus photo. The difference was 8.5 miles (roughly 14kms) one way, adding about 30 minutes as well as additional stress to our trip while I tried to explain where we were going and why that was different than what was on the GPS.
At this point I want to thank IBR vet Annette Cudlin as well as ‘Tiger’ Bill for giving us the best practice we could possibly have had for this IBR when they ran the Dam Hard to Say Round Up back in Australia last year! Just like the IBR, the coordinates often didn’t match the actual location of the bonus and that rally gave us some great skills that we used many times over in this rally. Did you two know something? Did you have inside scoop from Jeff?
More thoughts soon. For now, I’m still kind of incredulous that we did it (I knew Kiwi could do it, I just wasn’t sure I could to it)! I now have a “3 digit number” and I couldn’t have done it without the love and support of, first and foremost, my pilot, Kiwi, as well as friends and family, other riders and some other wonderful people I’ll tell you more about later!