One night not long ago, Eric Bennett, Fred Reed, and I were discussing how we all end up getting so busy that we don't have anywhere near as much time to ride as we used to. Well, if we had our way, that was about to change. We checked out a map tacked up on the wall and discussed some likely destinations. Living in California, we had a choice of riding to many different areas, including the mountains, desert, the coast, and pretty much everything in between. We were psyched to go somewhere, but there was still one problem: getting everyone's schedule in sync. From there the conversation quickly turned to taking a shot at a long-distance ride-not a ride of 300, 400, or 500 miles, but one of 1,000 miles. We were talking about the kind of ride you go on more to ride for riding's sake than making it to any particular destination.
Other than myself, the other guys had never ridden even close to 1,000 miles in a day. Anyone who has tried to ride that distance knows what an accomplishment it really is. The rest of you might be thinking, "Why the hell would anyone want to do such a thing?" Well, all I can tell you is that it's about the challenge and the feeling of accomplishment once you've completed a ride like this. As a matter of fact, the last time I made such a ride was on my way home from Sturgis 2004, when I rode from Spearfish, SD, to Las Vegas, NV, in one shot. That trip was in the 1,065-mile range, and as strange as it might seem, that was one of the best, most memorable rides I have ever been on.
With long-distance riding on our minds, we fired up the computer and found the home page for an organization called the Iron Butt Association (IBA; www.ironbutt.com). The group is made up of thousands of riders dedicated to safe, long-distance, endurance motorcycle riding. Based in the United States, the group boasts an international membership upwards of 24,000 individuals.
Becoming a member of the Iron Butt Association is different from most other groups one might contemplate joining. Instead of having to be sponsored by an existing member and voted into a typical organization, membership in the Iron Butt Association is earned by participating in different rides sponsored or approved by the organization. The jewel in the IBA's crown is without a doubt its Iron Butt Rally. This event represents the pinnacle of long-distance riding, as riders must navigate a course taking them more than 11,000 miles in the confines of an 11-day period. The second and more common way to become a member of the IBA is to participate in either the Saddle Sore 1000 (1,000 miles in 24 hours or less), the Bun Burner 1500 (1,500 miles in 36 hours or less), or the Bun Burner Gold (1,500 miles in 24 hours or less). IBA also has other, more challenging rides, which, once completed, allow participants membership in the organization.