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.
The Lahman’s have arrived. The official start of Butt Lite is when the first riders show up. There is bourbon & butter cake to die for.
Well, here we are again. The ninth Butt Lite. The fourth put together by the team of Bakker, Erbes & Smith. I suppose sounding a bit like a law firm is apropos.
Just like the others before it, the planning for this rally began immediately following the last. And just like the others we have exchanged thousands of emails, traveled thousands of miles and written thousands of words to get us to this.
An event like few others. For our participants it is six days spent traversing parts unknown via a motorcycle for no other reason than to do it. For the winner there may be a bit of glory but only from the very few who follow such things. That person will be guaranteed a spot in the 2019 Iron Butt Rally. And there IS a nice trophy for the top 10 finishers. But we don’t do this for any of that. We do it because we are Strange People in a Strange Land.
There is nothing else quite like riding a motorcycle for about 20 hours a day in every type of weather, on every type of road, in large cities and forgotten, empty small towns. This isn’t a race. It is an exercise in strategy, planning and managing your skills and expectations. Not too many people think this is fun.
But we do. It’s fun riding in it and it’s fun planning it. That’s why we keep doing it.
Because it’s strange and many of our friends and family simply don’t get it. And that makes us like it even more.
As of this writing we have 104 riders. Attrition has been slow in coming but recent weeks have seen an uptick. Life happens and sometimes walking away from it for seven or eight full days of total immersion in the task at hand is a luxury we can’t always afford.
Each of the four Butt Lites that we’ve been rally masters have been very bitter-sweet. And this one will be too. The three of us are always, always aware of the big shoes we attempt to fill. Every bonus, every tweak of a rule, every detail, carries with it the memory of the man who brought us together. And he is always with us. Guiding us to places that some won’t understand. Weaving humor, anger, and awe into every page of the rally book. We hope, as we always do, that this effort would make him proud.
So, if you will be watching us from your computer, make sure you follow this blog closely. All the good stuff will be here.
Thanks for joining us on our strange journey.
Butt Lite IX riders and staff will begin arriving at rally headquarters at the Marriott Griffin Gate in Lexington, Kentucky right around July 4th. The six-day rally begins at precisely 8:00am ET on Sunday, July 8th.
The riders will meet back together at the checkpoint in Maggie Valley, North Carolina mid-week for leg one scoring. Then they will be off again for leg two.
They’ll return to Lexington no later than 8:00am on Saturday, July 14th.
Join us here for all the action. We’ll be posting updates, stories, photos, videos, SPOT tracks and anything else we can think of before, during and after.
You don’t want to miss a thing so click on the icon at the bottom of the screen so you’ll get all the updates.