2013 Iron Butt Rally
The Worlds Toughest Motorcycle Rally

Greg Rice - Rider 34

Ride Report
July 1, 2013 10:00 AM   To   July 12, 2013 8:00 AM

Click Here For Leg One

Click Here For Leg Two

Click Here For Leg Three

Click Here For Wrapup

This is my ride report for the 2013 Iron Butt Rally ( IBR ) put on by the Iron Butt Association ( IBA ). This report is a little long as I wanted to provide as much detail as possible. This is the worlds toughest motorcycle rally and maybe one of the toughest events you can compete in anywhere. The IBR tests a rider's skills and endurance over extremely long distances for eleven days. It's a whole lot more than just riding long distances, the rally is a sort of scavenger hunt, on steroids, it takes brains along with endurance and mechanical skills for the inevitable issues that crop up in the course of a marathon like this. The IBR is an amateur event attracting riders from all over the world from all walks of life, there are no big sponsors, no prize money, no umbrella girls, no crew or chase vehicles.

The first running of the IBR was in 1984 and started at Montgomeryville Cycle Center north of Philadelphia. The IBR is an elven day rally that covers all of North America excluding Mexico and is held every two years. The rally is a little like a scavenger hunt with riders given a list of bonuses than can be located anywhere. Each bonus is worth a certain amount of points and the rider with the most points at the end of the rally is the winner. Usually the rally is broken up into multiple legs and the 2013 rally was no different as it had three legs. The Start, checkpoint for leg one and the finish were located in Cranberry Township, PA. This is a little north of Pittsburgh.

Leading up to the 2013 IBR I had been trying to improve my rallying capabilities for a couple years after my 35th place finish in the 2009 IBR. I worked on my preparation and routing by ridding in rally's that I thought would help me improve. I competed in the 2010 IB5000 put on by the IBA. This was a five day rally that started in Denver, CO and finished in Spartanburg, SC and I finished in 9th place. This was a IBR style rally with one checkpoint and was very difficult. I also rode in the 2011, 2012 and 2013 Cape Fear Rally's finishing 5th in 2011, 1st in 2012 and 5th in 2013. The Cape Fear Rally is also very similar to the IBR.


The motorcycle I rode was a 2012 Honda Gold Wing with 80,000 miles on the clock at the start. I chose the wing because that is what I am comfortable with and what I have ridden in all of my past rally's. I have ridden over 400,000 miles on Gold Wings in the last ten years so I am very familiar with the wing. I also have completed many long distance IBA certified rides on a Gold Wing including two BBG Trifecta's, three 100CCC's, BBG3000 and another 12 individual BBG's along with another five IBA rides. So I know the Gold Wing very well and it has served me well over the years. It is probably the most reliable motorcycle you can ride and it has the most useable accessories like intercom, built in navigation, 80 watt audio system and a very large alternator to power anything you want.

You can click here to see more photos and information about my Gold Wing that I rode in the 2013 IBR.


Epilog First

This was one of the toughest IBR's in many years and their was many riders in the field who could win. There was a lot of big dog's in this rally including Derek Dickson, Eric Jewell's, Ken Meese, John Coons, Bob Lilley, Alex Shmitt and yes Wendy Crockett .

My heart was pumping when I found out I was in the top 10 of the 2013 IBR when Ira Agins called me to say I needed to attend a meeting with Mike Kneebone at 4:00 PM before the Finisher Banquet. At 4:00 PM 10 of us showed up at a meeting room and one by one we were interviewed by the "Council of God". I did not find out what place I finished at this meeting, only that I was in the top 10. I did not find out until the banquet later that evening but just knowing I was in the top 10 was unbelievable.

I want to congratulate everyone who started the 2013 Iron Butt Rally as just getting to the starting line is one of the hardest things you can do. I also want to thank all of the IBA staff and volunteers who make the IBR happen. With out them it would not be possible to hold such an event.

I want to thank the Rally Master for running such a well organized rally. Lisa Landry really pulls it all together and keeps everyone moving in the right direction. I also want to thank Mike Kneebone and the IBA for holding such an event so that we all can test our abilities and our endurance to the fullest and then some.

This was the most difficult rally I have ever ridden in and maybe the hardest thing I have ever done. I think the 2013 version of the IBR was one of the most difficult IBR's ever and it was proved out by the number of DNF's ( Did Not Finish ) in the rally. To me there seemed to be less bonuses per leg and not as many large bonuses as in the 2009 IBR that I rode in. This made route planning more critical and the affect of missing a bonus was large at the scorers table. The amount of daylight only bonuses also required more endurance with the ability to ride farther and longer to reach the daylight only bonuses on time. I rode a monster leg in the last leg of the rally as I had to ride 4470 miles in 4 days to score the points I needed to be in the top ten. This required riding from Sacramento, CA through Death Valley ( it was hot, 120+ degrees hot ), Tucson, AZ to a missile silo, Galveston, TX for a ferry ride, New Orleans, LA for the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, Kitty Hawk, NC for the Wright Brothers Memorial and along the PA Turnpike back to Pittsburgh.

I learned a lot in this rally that I did not learn in the 2009 IBR. In the 2009 IBR I was so nervous I barley breathed throughout the whole 11 day rally. I know for sure I did not take a breath in 2009 until after the second day of the rally. This time I was more aware and was able to learn as the rally progressed. It still seemed like I did not take a breath until after the first day but I was able to learn a lot in this rally that I hope someday will come in handy.

Here is a Spotwalla tracking map of my route for the IBR

The Goal

This was a very difficult rally and required all a rider had just to finish. Some riders road a great rally and was lucky to finish in the top 10. This is the goal I set once I was selected for the rally. Here are photos of the trophy's and top 10 finishers. (Next two photos by Steve Aikens )

2013 Iron Butt Rally Top 10 Trophy's

2013 Iron Butt Rally Top 10 Finishers

The Payoff!

The planning for a IBR usually starts more than a year in advance as it is a big endeavor to ride in the IBR as it takes time and money to prepare for.  I had ridden in the 2009 IBR and finished 35th and I was unhappy with my finish so I wanted to take another shot at the rally to see if I could do better. The IBR is held every two years so I had to wait two years to try and redeem myself. I rode in the 2010 IB5000 and being a finisher guaranteed me a spot in the 2011 IBR but as it got closer to the 2011 IBR it became clear that life and work needed to take a priority so I had to withdraw. I could not wait to enter my application for the 2013 IBR which meant waiting another two years to take another shot and see what I could do. It was a long four years between the 2009 and 2013 IBR but it did give me time to plan and improve my rallying skills.

My planning for the 2013 IBR started in 2011 when I entered the Cape Fear Rally and worked on ways to improve my route planning. I developed a spreadsheet to help me better understand how many hours I could ride and how many miles I could ride in those hours. With the spreadsheet I put together the wining route with Chuck Gittner at my house the night before the rally and he and I went out to win the rally. The weather that year was crazy with tornados, hail and flooding rain. I did not take the rest bonus because I was running behind and came in 5th place while Chuck won the rally. This really gave me confidence and in the 2012 Cape Fear Rally I used the same route planning technique and won by 20,000 points. So I know had my routing skills down and needed to work on my endurance and efficiency during stops. I also rode in the 2013 Cape Fear and used the same approach and came in 5th place again.

Here is what my route planning spreadsheet looks like


Along with my rally planning spreadsheet I have a method I follow to enter the bonuses in my mapping programs ( Streets & Trips and Mapsource ) before I start planning a route. I have read and asked a lot of questions over the years trying to come up with a good approach that works for me. I read a lot of information from Brian Roberts and Jim Owen that they have posted on the internet and took from that to develop my method. Click here for more information about my method.


For all big events I ride in a create a weather webpage to give me a one page up to the minute national weather outlook along with information for over thirty cities in North America. I also did this for the 2013 IBR, click here for my 2013 IBR Weather Webpage.


With the route planning worked out I need to save money and purchase all of the items I would need for the rally. I made a check list that included boots, AD1 pants, first aid kit, new H7 rally bulbs, camera, etc...  and I started working through the list. It took me a year to save up the money required and get everything on my list.


My preparation included trying to improve my physical condition as I do not exercise on a regular basis. I am normally pretty active and that is what keeps me in good physical condition. My plan was to start a exercise program six months before the rally that included running, bike riding and lifting light weights. Well this did not happen as I have been traveling every week for the last year and only home on weekends. I had so many others things to do over the weekends that I never had time to exercise.

When you ride your motorcycle for 11 days straight it pays to make sure your bike is prepared. And this doesn’t mean just changing the oil and slapping on new tires the week before the rally. There’s a certain amount of attention to every detail and not to do them all at the last moment. Some of the things I did was change my suspension ( click here to see what I did ), mount a run flat car tire on the rear, checked the electrical system and basically went over the motorcycle front to rear to be sure everything was in top condition. I was pretty sure the motorcycle was ready to rock!

I have a checklist that I use to be sure I do not forget anything, it is a little long but it does help me be sure not to forget anything. Click here to see my checklist. I started my packing for the rally two months before the rally. I start piling stuff I want to take on the dining room table as I think of things I want to take. I always take too much stuff and I try and to go through everything a couple times before I pack it on the motorcycle but still some stuff slips through. I do have a lot of things I do to prepare for a rally or a big LD ride but it helps me keep focused and is part of my preparation.


Headed To Start
The day came for me to head to the start of the IBR and let me tell you it could not come sooner. For about three weeks I was ready to hit the road and it was hard to wait. I had a 1200 mile ride to the start of the IBR and I wanted to make it in one day so I left out at 8:00 AM Thursday, June 27, 2013 hoping to get in late Thursday night / early Friday morning. It was already 87 degrees at 8:00 AM so I was hoping for a little light rain along the way. My route took me up the Florida Turnpike to I-95 to I-26 to I-77 to US 19 to I-79 and the exit for the host hotel which was the Marriott Pittsburgh North. I arrived a little over 18 hours later at 2:15 AM and except for the heavy rain, wind and lighting in West Virginia is was a pretty easy ride. There was an area roped off for IBR riders to park their motorcycles so I rode in and found a place to park. It felt good to be parking in the same area as all of the other riders. It makes you feel kind of special.

I had a lot of time to think on the ride up and I quickly remembered that I had forgot my heated jacket so I was going to ask Rob Wilensky  to bring his when he came to the start. It also gave me time to access my planning and preparation and to see if I was really ready to ride mentally and physically. I was pretty happy with my planning and preparation but not my physical condition as I had not really done much exercise leading up to the rally and I had been sick with the flu the two previous weeks and was still a little under the weather when I arrived at the start.

The ride up really gives you the time to think and a lot of things went through my mind including why the hell was I doing this. :) The the IBR is really a big event and I am amazed that I get the opportunity to participate. Some of the thoughts that go through your mind is I hope I don't crash, I hope I finish, I hope I don't make a fool of myself and I hope I do well.


Hanging At The Start
I checked in to the hotel around 2:30 AM Thursday night and took a shower and hit the bed hoping to get a few hours sleep before I got up and went down stairs to see who was there and say hi to friends I had not seen for a long time. I had three days to be sure I was ready to ride before the start Monday. I had everything I needed except for a heated jacket and John Wynes had brought his to loan me. I did need to get some rest as I was still a little under the weather and I had not slept well for the last week.

I slept for about 6 hours and I headed down stairs to see who was there and say hi to everyone. I saw a lot of the riders finishing up last minute things they wanted to do and others just spending time with old friends. A couple friends of mine ( Betsy, Anthony and Dennis ) needed help with their Garmin Zumo's so I spent some time helping them get them setup and configured. A couple others needed some computer help so I helped them also. There was a lot of spectators who came to the start to help friends prepare, see old friends and check out the motorcycles in the parking lot. I hit the bed around 11:00 PM as Saturday was tech inspection and I remembered how long tech inspection took in the 2009 IBR so I wanted to be up early to get a head start. I meet some IBR riders and friends ( Dianne and Bobby, Betsy, Rob, Dan, Gary and others ) for breakfast at 7:30 AM in the restaurant in the hotel. After breakfast I went and got in line for tech inspection and got that over quickly. Next was to pickup my IBR gear, video statement, waiver check, Spotwalla check, camera check and the final check was that all paper work was in order with Ira, Ed and Mike. I was done with everything before lunch and it felt good to have tech inspection process complete.

On Saturday we had a hair cutting event with the winner of the event getting to start the 2013 IBR first. I did not even think of entering the contest but I did enjoy watching some of the haircuts. If I remember 6 riders entered the contest and each got a unique haircut. I think there are some good photos on the web.

Copyright Tobi Stevens

Rex getting buzzed by Warchild ( Dale )

I went to On The Border for lunch with friends and the just hung out all Saturday afternoon talking to other riders trying to keep my excitement in check. Saturday is when we first saw the IBR poster ( see photo top left ) and started trying to figure out the theme of the rally. There was a plane, train, car and a motorcycle in the poster and many of us thought about the movie Plans, Trains and Automobiles. There was a no host dinner at the hotel Saturday night and all of the riders attended and I sat at a table with Kevin, Greg & Pat, Jeremy, Dianne, Bobby and Betsy. It was a good time to unwind from the pressure of tech inspection.

Photo at the No Host Dinner.

I hit the bed around 12 midnight to continue to try and feel better. It was hard to get to sleep and morning came quickly. I was meeting friends for breakfast around 8:00 AM and then help Dennis Powell hook up the audio of his Zumo to his new Gold Wing. You see Dennis's motorcycle burned to the floor only two weeks before the start and he had scrambled to get a new 2013 Gold Wing and get it rally ready. Sunday went quickly and the 4:00 PM mandatory rider meeting came quickly.

Here is a photo of the parking lot early Sunday morning.

At the mandatory rider meeting a lot of late information was given out and it was an opportunity to ask questions. We were also given the flash drives to take back to the room and test before the Start Banquet. I took mine upstairs and loaded the files on the flash drive to my computer. I was able to load all of the files with no issues and once I imported into Mapsource it gave me an idea of where the bonuses were located as on the flash drive was the bonuses for all three legs of the rally. I only had a few minutes to look at the possible bonuses as I had to get back down stairs for the Start Banquet.

Here is what I saw when I loaded the file from the flash drive.

After the rider meeting we all went outside for a group photo. It took a few minutes to get all of us to act right but we finally did and there were a few photos taken. I got one of them sent to me so I could post it on Facebook.

2013 Iron Butt Rally Riders

The start banquet was a buffet style dinner so we all lined up to get our food with a lot of laughter and joking going on in the line. You could tell we were all excited and nervous all in one. We all went inside to eat and wait for Lisa to start handing out the rally pack for leg one. It seemed like the dinner went quick and before you knew it Mike was up talking telling us the background behind this years theme. He told us about how Bill Watt had been working on the bonuses for five years and how it was his baby. Mike said Tom Austin picked up where Bill stopped and finished building a rally out of the bonuses. Then Lisa started calling names in the order of rider number and handing out the rally pack that included the bonus list, ID card and rally flag. We were told not to open the rally pack until everyone had received theirs. Before you knew it the last rider number was called and we all had our rally packs. We were given the okay to open the pack and be sure everything was there, rally flag, ID card and bonus listing. The bonus listing was not to long and we all quickly reviewed for things that stuck out like large point values. There was some information given out regarding the bonus pack including any changes. We were also told to wear our ID card and not to take it off until the end of the rally. There was one last opportunity to ask questions and then we were off to start planning our next three and a half days.


Click Here For Leg One

Click Here For Leg Two

Click Here For Leg Three

Click Here For Wrapup

Copyright © Greg Rice 2013. All Rights Reserved.
You can check out my website for more information, http://www.gregrice.com/