There are so many motorcycle riders out there, and there are also as many different mixed reasons as to why each does what they do.
For me it is mainly about relaxing and clearing my mind. It is also though about pushing my limits and seeing what I can do. From riding 200mhp on an open road (topic for a different conversation) to working on and customising my bike, making it my own and doing as many different things as I can for experience.
I am someone that loves ticking the “To-Do” boxes and will do almost anything once, especially the things that terrify me.
So, when I saw that there is a ride called an Iron Butt (IB) and not many have done it, I decided this was another box that I needed to tick. And if I were to do it, I might as well go big and do it on a bobber: no cruise control or any other creature comforts. It was time I became a member of the Iron Butt Association.
To those not familiar, the Iron Butt Association is not a club as such. There are no membership fees. There is only one way to become a member – you must successfully complete and have certified an IBA Certificate ride.
Iron Butt Association (IBA): www.ironbutt.com
Iron Butt Association UK (IBA UK) – part of IBA: https://ironbutt.co.uk/w3/index.php
An IBA ride is any one of many different rides (https://ironbutt.co.uk/w3/certifiedrides.php), but the entry level ride called the SaddleSore1000 (SS1000) requires you to complete a minimum of 1000 miles in under 24 hours.
Chatting about this ride with my mate Pierre Louw, he decided to join me on this trip. IBA recommends this is done either as a solo ride, or in pairs: any more riders increase fuel-stop times and increase chances of a breakdown.
Having decided to go ahead with it, we agreed to do it mid-June (to be precise we did it on Saturday 11th June 2022) as the days are the longest then. We straight away shared the news with friends and family, which meant there was no turning back.
Although there are a few pre-planned IB rides in the UK, we decided to plan our own. This was mainly because of my small tank (12.5L): the route had to be planned fuel-stop to fuel-stop. Although my bike can do over 120 miles, we planned even shorter stops (every 105 miles) in case there were any issues with petrol shortages.
We also planned the route to start and finish close to home, so no need for trains or hotel sleepovers before or after the ride.
For anyone thinking about doing this, I highly recommend reading through the advice/guidance on the IBA UK site – from fuel, to stops, to food and what clothes to wear and take: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1_xVdpmTsjiA-zfNG-DI75mvS0deTivmau0ZQCrwx_BE/edit
IBA recommends you do about 50-100 miles over the minimum 1,000 miles, because when you send your documentation proof for validation, they work it out on the shortest available route from stop to stop. For this, we planned our route from Wokingham, up to the west of Scotland, to the east of Scotland, then down to the south east past Norfolk, across to Worcester and finally back home to Wokingham. The plan was for about 1,050miles.
At the very least, you must have a receipt from the start and the finish and a picture of those receipts with your odometer at each point.
#1 – Start: We started our ride from Regal Garage – Loddon Bridge, the one by Harley Reading at 03h06 (see pic above).
#2 – Solihull (B90 4EN)
#3 – Wigan – just north of Liverpool (WN6 9RB)
#4 – Carlisle (CA4 0AN) – from here on, in true Scottish tradition, we were met with rain and high winds in excess of 45-50mph: it was very funny looking at Pierre in front of me doing a wide right turn but leaning to his left to counter the wind: not something you see every day.
#5 – Glasgow (G68 0BJ)
#6 – Berwick-upon-Tweed- south-east of Edinburgh (TD15 1QQ) – Rain now stopped but still had wind for a while.
#7 – Darlington (DL1 3NL)
#8 – Retford (DN220PG)
#9 – Brandon (IP27 0ER)
#10 – Coventry (CV7 8NR)
#11 – Cirencester – Cotswolds (GL7 7JR)
#12 – Finish: We ended our ride back at the Regal Garage – Loddon Bridge, the one by Harley Reading at 21h51:
Total ride (excluding ride from home to start and finish to home) was 1,088 miles and took us 18 hours and 44minutes.
Only once I had plotted our actual ride on the map did I realise (and was pointed out by many…many other riders) we should not have finished in Wokingham, but should have continued to Colchester and then back up to Brandon.
During the trip, most parts of my body went through stages of pain and blissful numbness and back to pain. The worst part was my right forearm and wrist as I did not have cruise control.
Our trip started slower than average and ended up faster than average as the last 100 miles were the most painful, and the idea of getting off the seat and having a celebratory whisky and cigar became more inviting with every mile.
In summary, this was an outstanding ride with good company, but I will probably not do it again. I have the badge and pin to show for it… I do recommend everyone does it at least once.
First published in Slipstream August 2022