A great write-up from Tad Scott:
Several of our Butt Lite IX riders are blogging about the experience. One is a top 10 finisher, another gives us a first-time, multi-day perspective and finally, an Australian pillion riding in her first rally. They all do a great job of detailing exactly what this is all about. Enjoy!
Rider #32, 5th place – Steve Gallant: https://swervenortheast.blogspot.com/
Rider #7, 54th place – James Epley: https://fatboyrollin.blogspot.com/
Rider #75, 59th place – Rebecca McCallum: https://pillionpiglet.wordpress.com/
It is nearly a week since the end of Butt Lite IX. I’ve spent much of this week in a fog. I may be caught up on my sleep. I plan to keep a low profile this weekend just in case a nap sneaks up on me.
Each Butt Lite is unique. Each has its own highs and lows. This one shall be known as the Goat Trail rally. Not by design – at least not the rally master’s design. But thanks to Garmin we all had to deal with much more stress than usual as rider after rider found themselves on questionable “roads”. I lost count of the number of calls we got from distressed riders with napping motorcycles that refused to be lifted.
Many learned the valuable lesson – just because the GPS says to go down that road/path/trail, it doesn’t mean you have to do it. Be the boss of the GPS, not the other way around. As Rider #55 found out –
“Reading Comprehension” has been a mantra of TeamStrange since the very beginning. We’re just so old-fashioned that way. We think many of our Butt Lite IX riders would have been thrilled if we simply gave them way-points to visit with no context whatsoever. That might make a great rally. Go to this way-point and take a photo of whatever is there. Only how will you know what you should be photographing with no description? Take a photo and bring it to scoring and then we’ll tell you if it’s right or not.
No, that isn’t how we do things at Butt Lite. We insist that you think, read, comprehend and solve problems as they arise.
We have our coffee mugs. They are a staple of Butt Lite swag. They have become collector items. Sometimes we incorporate them in bonuses. Sometimes we don’t. On Butt Lite VIII there was no coffee mug bonus and when asked by riders if they needed to bring their mug with them we answered “No”.
At the beginning of BLIX we were asked if the coffee mugs would be needed – multiple times, in rider meetings, in the hall, in the parking lot. Our answer was, “Bring everything you think you will need.” That isn’t no. It wasn’t a trick either. We can’t disclose bonus information before the rally books are handed out. So that was the best answer we could give.
So imagine our surprise as rider after rider left their mug in the storage room before leaving Lexington on leg one. There was no mug bonus on leg one. But there was on leg two.
5) Collettsville, NC MUG Daylight 357 points
Two homes and an entire fence are covered in about 25,000 coffee mugs. As far as we know there aren’t any TeamStrange mugs on the property but who could tell for sure?
Take a photo of your Butt Lite IX coffee mug at The Mug House. Your fully intact mug and flag must be visible in the photo.
Follow Old Johns River Road until pavement ends. From there continue 1 mile on the gravel road to The Mug House.
Coordinates 35.95863, -081.71101
Two riders went to the Mug House without their mugs. They didn’t read the bonus ahead of time and didn’t realize they would need the mugs, which were safely stashed away at the hotel in Lexington. I guess the bonus name wasn’t a big enough hint. They were sad.
Something the three of us found very interesting – out of 303 total bonus locations all but seven of them were visited at least once. That made us very happy. It’s hard to cull the list and throw out locations to keep things manageable. And it’s hard to find something very special and then have no one go there. One of the seven lonely bonuses was one of my personal favorites:
84) Broxton, GA BAR Daylight 301 points
Dylan Ross is a self-taught artist from Douglas, GA. His work is becoming highly collectible and valuable. This mural, on the side of a barn, may be his best piece yet.
Take a photo of Barney.
US 441, across from Broxton Church of God. There is a driveway to a home next to the mural where you can pull off. Take care, as it isn’t paved. Also be courteous to the home owners.
Coordinates 31.63756, -082.89790
In the end, everyone found their way home safely. No matter what goes wrong during the rally, that is truly the only thing that matters. With time, it all becomes a series of great stories, told over and over whenever long distance riders meet.
“Did I ever tell you about the time I went to the Mug House on Butt Lite IX but didn’t have my mug?”
“I’ll never forget that goat trail Garmin sent me on when the rally book said you could get to the bonus on paved roads.”
“Have you ever heard of Belle Gunness?”
Another Butt Lite is done. We hope you enjoyed the ride. The food. The bourbon. And the stories.
Rider #22 was greeted by this guy in Kentucky.
The Rally Van scored 2 bonuses today after a grueling morning of auditing. It may be Leg 2 but we’re still working on Leg 1. We bagged our first SEC bonus and the -10 point camel bonus.
Most of us walk around with a very powerful device in the palm of our hand. We can reach all around the world, find the answer to any question, talk to all, comment on anything. And then you get to Maggie Valley, North Carolina.
Maggie Valley is a lovely, little town nestled in a valley of the Great Smoky Mountains in western North Carolina. It is surrounded by those beautiful, green mountains and apparently, cell service is sketchy – at best.
When scouting locations for our checkpoint we had a list of requirements that the facility had to meet. Hotel rooms, catering or on-site food and beverage, and wifi. It has all of those things plus motorcycle-friendly owners. This place seems to be perfect except for that sketchy cell service.
We no sooner pulled in the parking lot when we discovered we had zero coverage with the most important piece of our rally equipment – the Rally Phone. It had been ringing off the hook all day long mostly thanks to two bonus locations that were causing stress for the riders.
WSP – Broken Bow, OK – The rally book states that this is a Whispering Giant statue in Beavers Bend State Park. Only when the riders began arriving they were finding they were actually in Ouachita National Forest looking up at the Three Sticks Monument. How could this happen you ask?
Well, a simple error, actually. The three of us are equally OCD about bonus scouting, getting every word and comma correct and checking, re-checking, and checking again. RM 1 (as he will be known in this writing) scouted both of these locations, which are on the same highway about 50 miles apart. The plan was to use the Whispering Giant because it was a little more difficult to reach. (Of course.) Unfortunately, in the data entry phase the coordinates for the Three Sticks were entered in error. Our final check should have caught this when RM 3 (as he will be known in this writing) goes through the tedious process of looking at every single bonus location on Google to make sure what we think is there is there. That version of the site was fuzzy at best and frankly, hard to discern if it was a giant Indian head or not.
As the calls kept coming in the solution was simple – take a photo of the monument that is there, we will accept it and the rider will get the points. So, throughout the day the calls kept coming.
Meanwhile, in Athens, Georgia, the bridge right in front of Sanford Stadium was closed for construction. We aren’t sure how RM 2 (as she will be known in this writing) could not have been aware of this issue given all her other super powers but, alas, we were ignorant to the plans of the University of Georgia maintenance crews. The bridge isn’t critical to claiming this location but it made for the best spot to get a good photo of the stadium (part of the SEC Combo Bonus). And the calls came.
And the rally phone was useless. A trip was made to Walmart to get a phone on a different carrier (seriously y’all – Verizon has the BEST coverage). After many, many, many technical issues RM 3 was finally able to get the new phone to work & it had decent coverage. But not before RM 2 had sent out text messages to every rider telling them to contact RM 1 directly on his cell phone which had ok coverage.
All is now well. The phone debacle has been handled. And I think most of us would be perfectly happy to stay in this lovely oasis of minimal outside interference for many more days. But, the rally continues. Tonight is the check point and it will be very, very busy.
The riders have the opportunity to go through early scoring beginning at 9:00pm tonight. A benefit to this will be getting the Leg 2 rally pack at 6:00am tomorrow morning. Anyone who gets in after midnight will go through scoring beginning at 4:00am and will get their next rally pack at 8:00am.
So rally staff has a very busy time ahead.
It is unfortunate that we have had some riders who have had to withdraw from the rally. Troy Martin and the team of Ken & Linda Schleman had mechanical issues. Daniel Roth got word that his grandfather has passed away. Thomas Spearman had a family issue to deal with. Our thoughts are with Daniel & his family.
A couple of riders are having mechanical issues but will hopefully be able to make it to Maggie Valley to get scored. Fingers crossed.
Lynne Carey had a very exciting visit to the highest point in Mississippi. Lynne had been practicing her mountain road riding skills prior to Butt Lite. She dropped her bike on the way up to Woodall Mountain. And while she was shaken, she was determined to claim the bonus. She walked up the last half mile or so, got the photo and walked back to her bike. Then she had a get off on her way down the mountain. Thankfully, after a trip to the ER, she was released with a torn meniscus and no other issues. Her bike took the adventure in stride and so she got back on & continued her rally. Hats off to her. We’ll welcome her with a hug at the checkpoint.
Rally staff continues to bag bonuses. Jonathan celebrated the bucket list item of visiting the original Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant in Corbin, KY with a huge breakfast at Joey’s Pancakes here in Maggie Valley.
Mike Nolan’s SPOT has died. If anyone who will be at the Check point in Maggie Valley or is in the area has one he can borrow for leg 2 we would all appreciate it. Otherwise he’ll be lost for the duration of the rally. You can comment here or ping me (Lisa) directly. Thanks.
The first 24 hours is now over. All in all, it was a quiet day. Spending the night with the rally phone can be a surreal experience. Getting woken up at 3:30 in the morning from a very deep sleep and attempting to sound coherent when a bonus isn’t where it’s supposed to be can be challenging. Kind of like when you’ve had a few too many adult beverages and you are attempting to act completely sober. Not that any of the rally masters would know anything about that.
Quite a few riders have made the trek out to Broken Bow, Oklahoma to take a photo of the Whispering Giant only to find that the giant isn’t there. Luckily there is a nice monument of three broken arrows that will surely make a lovely photo. Yes, the rally masters are capable of making a mistake. Even after untold reviews and edits of the rally book by three sets of eyes, stuff can happen.
We’ve had a couple of camera issues – like Rider #1 has lost his already. With all of his Day One bonus photos on it. He is sad. Nothing like finding a Wal Mart during a rally to replace an important tool (not that I would know anything about that either). He plans on buying all of them (see below) but quickly noted they don’t take AA batteries so now charging the new camera has been added to his “to do” list.
Another rider is sad today because he forgot to change the time zone on his camera to Eastern time.
And there is the No Social Media Rule. They can give up caffeine and alcohol before a rally but asking them to give up Facebook is just way too difficult. Someone is going to be sad about that too.
The rally van continues to rack up the points with a stop at the happiest place on earth. We don’t think this Kentucky branch of Casa Bonita has cliff divers though.
The Rally Van takes the lead with 1100 points as we go for the distillery combo. This isn’t in the rally pack but we don’t care as long as we get bourbon.
Butt Lite IX sold out in hours. Then a fairly long waiting list was born. Based on our past rallies, we expected an attrition rate of about 20%. And then a strange thing happened.
Hardly anyone dropped out. There was the initial spattering of “I’m out, you’re in”. But then it was eerily quiet. After we opened up for a few 2019 Iron Butt Rookies and absorbed the rest of our waiting list, we had reached an all time high number of riders on the roster.
And then last week the flood gates opened. I could barely keep up with the withdrawals. And it wasn’t just the riders, we were losing a few volunteers too.
There were the typical reasons – work and family. As I’ve written previously, life happens and we can’t always fit in a six day motorcycle rally that requires a few days tacked on to the front and maybe a couple tacked on the back.
But this rally has had a rather large number of rather strange reasons for people to drop out.
One rider had a mild heart attack. She is, thankfully, recovering well. Another had an accident on his way to the start and broke his collar bone. One volunteer was feeling ill as he made his way to Lexington and at the urging of his wife, stopped in an ER and found out he had pneumonia. But the winner, up to that point, was a volunteer who had to have a toe amputated! We thought it couldn’t get any stranger than that.
But leave it to Butt Lite 7 winner, Josh Mountain, to out do them all. In typical Josh fashion, his reason for not making it to Lexington was totally over the top.
Apparently, he was bored in the week leading up to the start of Butt Lite so he decided to enter the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. And in his words, “I keep winning!” Who can say no to the chance of winning 8.8 million dollars? Winning Butt Lite gets you a really nice glass trophy (that you have to figure out how to get home without breaking) and an entry in the Iron Butt Rally. Frankly, I’d be playing poker too, if I was any good at it.
So Josh may not win Butt Lite this year but he wins the contest for best reason to miss the start. And his strategy to throw off his competitors in poker just validates the nick name he has earned in the long distance rallying world – Nut Job.